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Pick up the bags and get in the limousine

Posted on 01 Sep 2018 @ 8:52pm by Jacobina Newton & Xiuling Brooke & Lucas Bird & Tabitha
Edited on on 22 Sep 2018 @ 6:34pm

Mission: I Don't Care, I'm Still Free

Luke shook the farmer's hand with a grin, they'd been lucky. Gabrielle had fixed the space doors right before they landed, and the weather had been good to ensure a smooth loading. He'd mostly ignored Nick and Reeve's death glares and narrowed eyes at his back. They'd mostly done as they were told and Lucas was pleased to have been able to keep the genial smile on his face.

"Tyson, it's been a pleasure, say hello to the wife and tell her we're sorry we can't stay for dinner, next time maybe" he genuinely meant it too. He'd snagged a meal here while he was on leave once. He clapped the old Browncoat on the shoulder and released his hand. "We'll be off your land as soon as our mechanic gets back from part hunting," It was then that he noticed two figures walking up towards the farm, neither of which was Gabrielle. "Tyson, you expecting company?"

Tyson held a hand over his eyes to look in the direction Luke spotted the two women. "Naw, but I recognize one of them. Xiuling has been helpin' me with my rabbit problem. She's a good shot with her bow. Not rightly sure why she's here right now. She just did her weekly here yesterday. The rabbit Mary cooked up tonight was shot by her, in fact."

Luke frowned, they were a little ways out of town, so unless they had a reason to be here... It looked like they were carrying a fair amount of stuff too. At least, the taller one was. "I'm curious enough to stick around and find out, if you don't mind..."

"I sure don't mind. The company certainly wouldn't go unwelcome, since I don't know why they're here."

They'd made good time, even with the stop in the gun store. For a moment it had looked like the owner was going to short change her, but Xiuling was no stranger to bargaining and she'd managed to get the gun, a thigh holster and a decent amount of ammo for 50 platinum. She could feel the sweat beading on her forehead, despite the relative cool of the late afternoon, they were walking pretty fast, but purposefully rather than rushed. Her guitar case was slung across her back and her duffel bag slung across the opposite way, leaving her gun unfettered. Her bow rested next to the guitar along with her quiver full of arrows.

As they drew closer she could see Tyson standing with another man, wearing a long brown coat with jeans and well worn boots. He looked like he was about to leave when he paused, obviously having seen them and seemed to be waiting to see who they were. She pulled a smile onto her face and waited until they got closer before she spoke.

"Hey Tyson, who's your friend?" she asked as they drew to a halt in front of the pair of men. She glanced across at the guy with a wider smile, she definitely hadn't seen him around town before.

"This here is Captain Lucas Bird. We were just wrapping up some business, he's delivering some goods for me. What brings you and your friend... I don't believe I've had the pleasure, Miss?" He looked at Xiuling's companion.

"Pleasure to meet you, Captain, this is Tabitha," she said, shooting a smile at the girl before turning her attention back to the men. "She's not much of a talker," she added with a smile so that they wouldn't expect her to say anything.

"Nice to meet you both," Luke replied with a smile and a nod at both women.

"I'm afraid I've come to inform you that I'm going to have to break our arrangement, Tyson, circumstances have changed and I'm looking to book passage into the black," she said, focusing on Tyson for the moment. Luke's ears pricked at her talk of passage off world though, and it was definitely becoming clearer why the two young women were here.The stuffed bag and ammo box Tabitha carried certainly fit the role of traveller. In the time she Xiuling had been planet side most of her cuts, scrapes and bruises had healed but thanks to the large scar on her face she still wasn't the prettiest of pictures. The little redhead half-hid behind Xiuling, not holding the gaze of the farmer or the captain. She was wary of men. Not all of her abusers aboard the Reaver ship had been men, not by any stretch but they had been the most violent. Tabitha willed herself to keep things together and concentrated on the pain in her feet from the boots she wasn't used to.

"Why would you need to do a thing like that? You've got a good thing here, little lady." Tyson frowned and crossed his arms.

"I'll admit we haven't know each other long Tyson, but I know I've found a niche in the market here, and I wouldn't be giving it up unless I felt I had to," she sighed and shook her head. "I don't expect you to understand, and actually, I do wish we could stay," she considered making that the end of it, but maybe Tyson would be more sympathetic if she gave him a shortened reason for wanting to leave. "I saw someone today who'd make my life hell if he could and I'd rather not give him the chance," she shifted her bag on her shoulder and looked across the field at the firefly. "So, and I know this is a big ask, but if anyone asks after me, could you... feign ignorance, I'd consider it an enormous kindness,"

Luke considered the situation, Tyson clearly wasn't happy, and clearly neither the girl who was talking or the one hiding behind her wanted to actually go anywhere. He hadn't reckoned on taking passengers, but if they could pay he was more than happy to.

"You've done right by me, so that would be the least I could do. Good luck running from your troubles, though I hope you can find ground to stand, as I know things chasing you don't often just disappear on their own." He offered a hand out to her to shake—a show of respect and a means to seal his word—and spared a glance at Luke for a brief moment.

Xiuling tried not to visibly relax, but she probably did when Tyson said he would keep their secret, the one person who knew where they'd gone would not tell Pieter. She shook his hand and the corners of her mouth lifted in a smile. "Thank you, Tyson," she released his hand and glanced across at Luke. "So, I figured I'd have heard if you were looking to take on passengers, word travels fast around here, but could you be convinced to take a couple?" She figured at this point it would be best to be straight up.

"I could be, for the right price," he said with a smile.

"Well, I've got some platinum, and some fresh produce we'd be more'n willing to share if you need me to sweeten the deal," she replied, also smiling. She knew she didn't have enough platinum for a standard fare, not for both of them.

Luke tucked his thumbs into the waistband of his gun belt. "I'm no charlatan, I don't want to divest you of every penny to your names," He had to admit he was curious about the pair of them, especially the smaller one hiding behind her more talkative friend.

"We'll only want one bunk between us, so if you've got a room that we could put a mattress on the floor, then we'd be happy with that," she glanced back at Tabitha with a smile, she knew her companion well enough that she knew this would be the case, and hopefully it would save them money too.

"We might be able to make that work..." he said, wondering if there was such a thing as a spare mattress hidden on his boat somewhere, they didn't have to share a room what with there being no other passengers. Luckily for him, he and Alice had discussed their rock bottom price for passengers on different kinds of runs, passenger only or with cargo as a side job. "Normally, I'd be looking for about... 50 platinum per person, per day..." he said, figuring this would be easier if he named his starting price.

Xiuling took a deep breath, there was no way they could afford that, but that was his starting number, which meant he could be haggled down. "How many days we talking? To your drop off?"

"A week," he replied evenly, from the look in her eyes they did not have enough money for that, no one stuck on a backwater world like this would.

Well, fuck. They did not have that kind of money.

"How much flexibility in that 50 per day?" she asked, that had to be how much they would charge on a run they weren't already taking cargo on. Luke pursed his lips and looked like he was thinking.

"I know you don't have that much, so I'll be straight with you, having cargo does mean I can go significantly lower..."

"And would you be willing to knock some off for services rendered? We can help with the unload at the other end..." She offered, hoping he'd knock some off for that.

"I'll knock a days travel off for a days work," he replied. Six days, at fifty each would be 300 each. He could go less than half that considering they were being paid to haul Tyson's cargo.

"We can both cook too, and we've got produce we're willing to use to do so,"


"Tabitha can bake, we've brought the bread she baked this morning,"

"Right... What have you got?"

Xiuling sighed and chewed on her lip, wondering how honest she should be with the Captain about how much she had. She only had this much because she'd had some left over from her last job and not lost it while on The Hare

"I've got a hundred platinum and thirty credits, so does 15 plat a day work for you?" she asked.

Lucas crossed his arms, clearly deep in thought. At fifteen a day, even considering the meals they'd be cooking and the fresh bread they were offering, he'd be making a loss.

"I'm sorry, I can't go lower than twenty or I'm making a loss..." he told her, and he meant it, he was sorry he couldn't help them out for a price they could afford, but the fact was he couldn't take anyone anywhere for less than that. She hadn't even asked where they were going, which showed how much she needed to get off this planet.

"Captain! You won't believe what I found Nick up to in the med bay. I had to lock it up. I already warned Qi, gave her the code to access it, and we can warn Ella when she's–" Coby's voice preceded her as she approached, and she stopped short as she noticed the two women standing in front of Luke. "Oh, excuse me, I didn't mean to interrupt."

So they were a good sixty platinum short, this wasn't going well.

Luke could see the disappointment in her eyes, but there was nothing he could do about it. He looked up as Coby came over, shouting about Nick. "Don't worry about it, our negotiations look like they might've reached a bit of a stalemate," He glanced back at Xiuling. She nodded to indicate that she was fine with him dealing with his other issue for a moment, she needed to think about this. Luke looked back at Coby again. "What happened?"

"I caught him trying to pocket some of the medicine, mostly pain killers. Not sure if his plan was to use himself or sell when he and Reeve leave, but he would not talk when I confronted him. Good thing I keep a tight inventory on our suppliers, so I could make sure I got it all back." Coby looked to the two women. "Negotiations? Are we taking on passengers?"

Luke sighed, he could not wait to get rid of Nick and Reeve. "Keep it locked, anyone wanting anything should be going through you anyway," He turned back to the two women he'd been negotiating passage with. "This is Xiuling and Tabitha, our resident Doctor, Coby," he said, introducing them. "We were in the middle of talking price."

Tabitha had moved out slightly from behind Xiuling and into full view as the Doctor had hailed the captain and said her piece. Now, scars and all she was staring at Coby like a house cat stares at the neighbourhood dog, trying to decide whether to run or fight. The ammo box she was carrying in her right hand had been placed on the floor and the hand moved behind her back. Catching herself Tabitha controlled her emotions to the best of her ability and put the hand back by her side, but the stare remained.

Coby looked at Tabitha when she caught the girl staring. "Hello there, sweetheart, that's quite a scar you have." Her eyes lingered on the scar, it was old enough up have healed up, but not enough to really fade down. Coby would guess a few months to a year old, depending on what care that had been given.

Being addressed directly was not something Tabitha had expected from this conversation. She looked down at her right hand nervously and quickly moved it to adjust the large canvas bag on her left shoulder. The previously neutral expression on her face wasn't fooling anyone any more. Try as she might for Xiuling's sake she looked worried as she glanced back at Coby, then at Luke, Xiuling and back to Coby again.

Despite Tabitha's reaction, Xiuling forced herself to stay calm. She smiled at the Doctor before glancing back at Tabitha. "She doesn't talk," she explained, "But that don't mean she ain't useful. She'd be the one that baked that bread I talked about," She gave Tabitha a wink. All she had to do was hold it together a little longer. "But as we're what, 65 platinum short? makes it kinda irrelevant..." she said with a shrug. That was a difference she couldn't make go away with a smile and good bartering. They were going to have to walk away, maybe buy a horse and ride to another settlement, or live out in the middle of no where and come into town just to shoot rabbits. Straying too far from the settlements could be dangerous though, anyone could show up and claim they owned the land, and wild animals and bandits became more of an issue. This had not gone well.

Behind Xiuling the lid of the ammo box opened with a squeal of metal on metal and the smell of fresh bread began to waft amongst the ensemble. Tabitha carefully took the loaf out, still wrapped in the dishcloth and with a deep breath moved around Xiuling and took a couple of steps towards Luke and Coby. The large canvas bag on her left shoulder knocked against her side as she walked and made her look even smaller. The dishcloth fell away from the top and sides of the loaf as she took her steps and with hands trembling and her eyes full of fear she held it out to the giant captain. It was as good a loaf of bread as you would see in these parts and smelled mighty fine.

"Please?" She asked him in a small voice.

Xiuling had been about to thank the Captain for his time and walk away, but then she heard the squeak of the ammo tin's lid and glanced back at Tabitha, she watched as the young woman moved around her. When she spoke, Xiuling's mouth dropped open in surprise and she didn't even bother to school it.

Luke hated that he couldn't help them out, but was determined that his ship wasn't going to turn into a floating homeless shelter full of charity cases. There was always going to be someone he couldn't help, and it had taken him a long time to get to this point, and Alice would kill him for taking on passengers at a loss. Then Tabitha moved, and his eyes were drawn to her immediately. The smell of the fresh bread hit him and he instinctively breathed it in. It smelled amazing, and he couldn't help it as the corner of his mouth quirked up in a smile. And then, she spoke. Having heard Xiuling confirm more than once that Tabitha didn't talk he glanced up at the taller of the two and from the expression on her face she hadn't been expecting it either. There was no way she was playing him with the genuine shock registering in her eyes.

"Awh hell," how could he say no to that? He ran a hand through his hair and looked at his ship across the field. He sighed and looked back at the women. "You two work while you're on my boat, don't make trouble, and I'll crunch some numbers, see if I've got a few plat to spare,"

Coby watched the scene play out in front of her in silence. Xiuling's surprise, the Captain's conflicted expression, and Tabitha. Poor thing clearly has gone through something, what with the scar and the shy nature. But it was also clear the two of them were desperate, and whatever the cause, Tabitha found her tongue for the one word that hit the captain right in his conscience.

"I probably have a few plat I can toss in to help, let me know where it stands when you're done crunching numbers, yeah?" As she spoke, the breeze sent the scent of the bread into her nose and Coby's stomach growled. "And please, keep us in bread during the trip?" She smiled wide at Tabitha. The girl nodded earnestly at her and looked at Xiuling awkwardly not sure what to do next.

"Right, let's get back on the boat and find you girls a couple of bunks, before I change my mind," Luke said, turning and heading back towards the ship. With his back turned towards then, Xiuling visibly relaxed and smiled at Tabitha.

She stepped up next to her and helped her get the bread back in the ammo tin. "Well done," she whispered. "Come on," she said, jerking her head in the direction Luke had started walking. Although still shaking Tabitha smiled back and followed on clutching her bag to her side, her new boots kicking up The dust thereabout. They were still free, at least for now.



Lucas Bird

Xiuling Brooke


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