A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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Posted on 17 May 2019 @ 4:13pm by Tabitha & Jacobina Newton

Mission: I Don't Care, I'm Still Free
Location: Med Bay

The crates in the cargo bay had lulled Tabitha into a false sense of security. This wasn’t by talking to her. No, not even Tabitha was that crazy. It was by simply being there, implying through their very existence that the Valkyrie handled inanimate cargo, the kind of cargo that could be justifiably put into crates without people flipping their shit and calling the nearest welfare charity, if such things even existed outside of the core worlds. It was because of this that Miss Tabitha had been entirely surprised by the Valkyrie’s current cargo, three very much alive and un-crated individuals. This frustrated Tabitha. She was plenty mad with Luke for accepting this new cargo, not that Luke would have noticed. That would have required some interaction between the two. She was still avoiding pretty much everyone, lurking in her favourite hiding spots, lurking in her least favourite hiding spots, lurking in new hiding spots. The more time she spent on the ship the better she became at hiding. Wasn’t any man could find young Tabitha if she didn’t want them to, especially not cargo who, she was fairly sure, didn’t even know of her existence yet.

Still, things that day hadn’t been entirely bad. Some unfortunate timing had seen her hiding under the bed of the quarters she shared with Xiuling, the open door giving a clear view to whomever it was who was just about to walk past. But this cloud had had a decidedly silver lining, or to be more precise a platinum lining as the teen had discovered a single, dusty, linty, wonderful platinum coin under the bed. She was going shopping at the next port. She would share the find with Xiuling of course but that required change and she didn’t have any. She’d have to buy something. More was the shame.

The coast clear of ‘cargo’ Tabitha set out to find a more secluded spot, book in hand. It was the complete Cadence Trilogy, a large paperback consisting of all three books that made up Tabitha’s favourite series. She was reading the first novel again, probably for the sixth or seventh time. It was about an orphan girl, born in the core worlds who, despite her low origins managed to travel and experience the ‘verse and all its many pleasures and dangers alike. It was a well-known trilogy and had been her favourite Long before she was captured by reavers. Getting to her best reading spot (one of the few that had good lighting) involved passing the med bay. Tabitha easily silenced her way past the door, the Doctor inside none-the-wiser. But something halted her silent footsteps. Not quite sure why, she dusted off her shirt, arranged her hair a little and peered around the door frame with one blue eye.

Coby paused as she was doing inventory of her supplies again. She didn't expect the numbers to change much, just a bandage or two from minor scrapes, but old habits die hard and not every job she'd held had a crew as honest as this one. The hair on the back of her neck was standing on edge, as if she was being watched, so she slowly looked side to side, then turned until she spotted the sliver of face and one eye exposed at the door into the med bay.

"So, the ghost makes an appearance," Coby said with a sly smile. "Just floating past, or will you visit me a minute? It's been quiet with you hiding from our passengers."

Tabitha looked at Coby confused. She couldn’t imagine what the woman meant by this. It wasn’t as if Tabitha was particularly loud. But she emerged from the doorway in any case and took a step inside the med bay, scoping out the room again. Not much had changed since the first time she had been in there, a few things moved about perhaps. She moved closer and her gaze fell to Coby’s hands, interested in what she was doing.

"What you got there?" Coby looked to Tabitha's book as she closed the cabinet she'd been counting in. A small key was pulled from her pocket to lock the cabinet — it was where the more expensive and potent medicine was kept, after all.

The book was held aloft for Coby to see, and rapidly adjusted thereafter to be the right way up. It was worn, dog eared and certainly well read. It’s owner lingered a few steps away. She was worn and dog eared too.

"Cadence Trilogy? My sister liked those too. They're a classic. Looks like you've read it a lot?" Coby leaned against the edge of the exam bed, where she could easily keep an eye on the door, but she wasn't in the way of Tabitha being able to leave again should she want to.

Tabitha had read it a lot, but not that copy. The first copy had been with her on the ship as she and her family had departed Deadwood. It was probably still on the ship, or what was left of it at least, an empty, sorry shell floating forgotten in the black. This copy had been purchased in the same market Tabitha’s shirts and boots and bag and pretty much everything had come from for the princely sum of five silver. It had seen better days but it still had all its pages and that’s all Tabitha cared about. Of course relating all of this to Coby would have taken a short essay on her notepad and Tabitha didn’t have the paper let alone the inclination. The story was the same no matter the copy. She simply nodded instead and clutched the book to her chest affectionately with a smile. But she had to put it down to scribble a note for Coby on her notepad in any case.


She showed the note to the Doctor.

"Qi thinks the same, she didn't want the Captain to take them on. Can you tell me what gives you your bad feeling?" Coby frowned. If it was just a feeling, instinct, Tabitha may not be able to put it to words, especially written words given that she clearly wanted for continued education since her capture by the reavers.

Tabitha’s brow furrowed as she considered how to words. She was actually a rather intelligent young woman, but her education such as it was didn’t allow her to express herself well. She’d not had much need for a formal education on Deadwood, basic farming, sewing and housekeeping were her areas of expertise, that and hiding. It was while she was hiding from their ‘guests’ so effectively that she’d heard some of their chatter. But even if she hadn’t, she didn’t need to. Everything about them was lies. Tabitha had a sixth sense for danger and Adam, Natalia and Bast made her as comfortable as a housecat in a mud bath. But how to express that to Coby? And would she be believed? She concentrated on the notepad again and after a few seconds held it up to Coby again.

’ALoNE THEy ARE diffERENt. THEy HAvE To fAcEs.’

Coby frowned as she read what Tabitha had written. It was understandable for people to behave differently when dealing with strangers and when alone... but there was no reason to dismiss Tabitha's mistrust either. Best to tell the Captain and let him decide how to handle it.

"I'll tell the Captain about your concerns, okay? He'd be the one to handle it, if it needs handling. Can you do me a favor?"

Tabitha didn’t for one minute think the captain would listen to any concerns of hers, but she appreciated Coby taking her seriously. She was starting to like the doctor and starting to trust her, just as much through observing her as interacting with her, although it wasn’t likely Coby would know about the former. Tabitha observed everyone on the ship. Only Qi would probably stand a chance of following her into the dusty crawl spaces, maintenance hatches and vents she had discovered so far.

A favour? Tabitha shrugged. She didn’t know what it was yet, but she was clearly listening, waiting to find out.

"If you see or hear them do anything more than just act different in private—anything that is definitely a threat to the ship and crew—you come find me right away?" Coby paused. While every indication was that Tabitha was intelligent despite the lack of formal education, it might be a good idea to give her an idea of what she meant by a threat to the ship and crew. "And by that, I mean... if they do anything to indicate they'll harm one of us, or do something to the ship itself."

Tabitha nodded. She would probably try to find Xiuling first of course, she was still the only adult that Tabitha truly trusted, but she’d tell Coby too. She looked around the med bay and spotted the stethoscope Coby had been using the last time they ‘spoke’ one on one. Back then she had been so jumpy she wouldn’t let Coby use it. She’d been watching the doctor too of course, and she was beginning to trust her. Plus her hair still reminded Tabitha of her mother. She padded across the room, keeping an eye on Coby and picked up the stethoscope, placing the reading end on her chest through the unbuttoned neck of her shirt herself and holding the other out to the medic.

Coby smiled, slowly reaching out and taking the offered end of the tool. She watched Tabitha as she placed her end of the tool into her ears and listened a long moment as the teen's heart beat in her chest. Everything sounded normal enough. Coby smiled widely.

"Thank you, everything sounds like it's it perfect working order."

Tabitha smiled at this and released the end of the stethoscope to Coby. She looked around at the other medical equipment and then back to Coby expectantly, like she was expecting her to carry on the examination.

Coby opened a nearby drawer, pulling out a small metal mirror and a shallow jar not even half the size of her palm. Inside it there was an off-white cream. "This will help your scars on your face mend, just rub it on before you sleep. You're welcome to keep the mirror, in case you're hiding somewhere not near a mirror when it's time to sleep." Coby held out both items to Tabitha.

Tabitha took the items from Coby carefully, nodding her understanding. She would do as she was told for sure, anything to help reduce the scar that plagued her minimal mirror time. Coby clearly knew she didn’t always sleep in the room she shared with Xiuling, not at all since the guests came on board. She certainly appreciated the attention. Coby obviously cared.

The teen retrieved her book from where she had put it by the door, but instead of leaving she returned and placed the items Coby had given her on the counter, shortly followed by herself, cross-legged, having scaled the height with athleticism and no trouble at all. She looked at Coby for a second before the book was opened and, for the first time since coming aboard, she took her eyes off someone else in the same room as her who wasn’t Xiuling. Tabitha was more interested in her book than personal milestones, but this was certainly a milestone for her.

Coby smiled softly, and turned back to her tools and supplies. If Tabitha was happy enough to sit and read there, Coby was perfectly fine with her doing so.

Coby Newton



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