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She'll Be With You The Rest of Your Life

Posted on 22 Jul 2018 @ 6:59pm by Lucas Bird & Alice Mathieson-Song

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

Alice sat back in her chair, and sipped her tea—it was too hot for it, but it still was a comfort. Her eyes skimmed over the contract that sat open in front of her, everything seemed to be in order. Arya had done as asked, and the only blanks left were for the shares, and for the name of the captain. With luck, Lucas Bird would fill the latter, and the former would be up to how the conversation went.

With a tap of a finger, she attempted to connect by wave with the boat Lucas was currently working on. Their pilot answered, and when prompted for Lucas, he yelled without getting up from his chair and left the wave open, ignoring it as he waited.

The shout was conveyed through to the cargo bay, where Lucas had been checking over which crates had been moved in preparation for their drop off once they hit atmo. It would feel good to get rid of this cargo and get a new load on board. "Be right there!" he called finishing off that line before putting down the board and heading up to the cockpit. The walk wasn't exactly a short one, the Polaris Class Cargo Liner was a boxy freighter but she was as reliable as any of the other ships Luke had worked on.

"Gorramit Dimitri, at least make small talk if you're gonna keep someone waiting," He came up behind the pilot's chair and looked at the screen grinning when he saw who it was. "Let me transfer you down to my Cabin, leave Dimitri in peace," he said, tapping some buttons and sending the feed to the screen in his cabin before locking everyone else out of the system. That in itself was nothing unusual, they were all fairly private people around here and no one liked to accidentally eavesdrop.

He left the Bridge and once outside it again took the staircase up and along to his Cabin, once inside he moved over to his cortex terminal and turned on the screen.

"There we go, how have you been Alice, it's good to see you!"

"Dimitri seems a charming man," Alice observed with a laugh. "I hope you've been keeping yourself out of trouble."

"He's a good pilot, but he's not one for talking," Luke replied with a smile. "Mostly, only trouble I like is the good kind," he added with a wink. "How are things back at the old homestead, how's business?"

Alice shook her head, though she smiled. "The last harvest was especially good, and the share we sold more than covered costs of the share that was donated to homesteaders. Joe went and got himself hitched and his parents bought him his own farm, but he recommended a cousin of his to take on his vacancy. So far, Eric has been as good a hand as Joe ever was. The Truewaters certainly breed strong and loyal workers. Oh, and I've decided to buy a ship. Gonna need to crew her."

"That's good at least," he said with a smile and a nod, Joe was a good guy, reliable and proactive. A good harvest was always good news too, hopefully it meant his parents would fare better this year too, his not being there most of the year certainly made things harder on them but he just couldn't live that life any more. They did understand it though, even if they didn't like it. "Wait, you bought a ship? How come?"

"Why not buy a ship? Sometimes there are projects that are too delicate to trust to a middle man. And it would certainly make delivery of the donated crops more cost effective if I don't have to have the cost pass through five sets of hands, all taking a cut along the way." She grinned. "Mind you, that's once or twice a year. Would have to take on other work to fill the crew's time and cover operating costs."

"True, true," he mused quietly. "And if you've got the cash of course..." he added with a smile. Initially he hadn't been sure ship life would be for him but he had to admit that being out in the black was freeing. "Plus it means you're guaranteed that things will be done your way," he added with a lopsided smile.

"The luck of birth helped with the cash, though I try not to touch those accounts unless I can't help it. Want to keep a good safety net for Jiang when I'm not around anymore, you know? But I figure a ship is a good investment, and he's already expressed interest in it when he's old enough. I'm going to see he gets a good education first though." Alice glanced from the screen that held Luke's face, to the contact. "It's not that big, just a Firefly class."

Luke let out a soft chuckle when she admitted she'd used some family money to help her buy the thing. What good was being from a fancy core planet if you couldn't use it to make your life a little easier once in a while. "I'm not surprised he's interested in a Firefly, they sure are something. Just tell me she's a Mark III and you didn't get swindled," he added with a grin.

"Of course it's a Mark III; I know I grew up on the core, but I wasn't born yesterday." Alice shot him a look before rolling her eyes and shaking her head. "I did a walk through of the boat, and it appeared to be in good shape. I'll want a good mechanic to look her over before signing the delivery paperwork—especially since delivery was included gratis—but she looked clean."

"Only teasin' ya," he told her, still grinning despite the look and the eyeroll. "Got one in mind?" He asked conversationally, unable to help but wonder how she was planning to crew the ship.

"Well, I know a young woman who's worked on the crew of a few runs for me, Gabrielle Lemaire. She has a good mind for mechanics, and I know she's looking for work." Alice pulled up her notes. "Unless the captain ends up having someone they know better they want to bring in, I figure I'll put her in contact. She's at some dusty town called New Dartmouth, on Lilac."

"Makes sense if you know her work," he said with a nod, he raised an eyebrow when she mentioned the captain position and their opinion. Luke asked, tatally taking the bait at this point. Any man out in the black would more than happily captain a Firefly if given half a chance, and he was no exception. He's been made a first officer pretty quickly, practically hand picked by his predecessor out of the trusted hands a couple of years ago. Trouble was, captain gigs in this company were pretty cushy and unless they bought a new ship... even then he'd be up against every other first officer in the company...

"Who you hankering to ask to captain this ship you may or may not have a mechanic lined up for?" He said, a moment after his expression had drifted towards pensive.

Alice laughed. "I figured you would have opened with that question. It depends on if you're interested." She smiled and waited.

Lucas' thoughtful smile broke into a full on grin. "Maybe I didn't want to seem rude... If I'm interested, are you nuts?" He laughed.

"I didn't know if Huang Long Haulage was treating you well enough to make jumping out on it a stupid move. I certainly wouldn't hold it against you if you wanted to stay with stability." She knew him better than that, but couldn't resist teasing.

"Stability maybe, but there's not a lot of places for me to go from here, pretty sure they know that if I'm honest," he said with a shrug. "Plus, as much as the way they do things works, we get new hands almost every darn run at the minute and it's a pain in the ass," he drummed his fingers on the desk in front of him. "I can't leave them in the lurch, they have been good to me, so I will have to finish my stint here before I come home... If you wouldn't mind the delay," he really really really hoped she wouldn't.

"I can't fault that. How long of a delay we talking?" Alice input Luke's name into the contact. "If you tell me what port would be convenient for you to meet the ship, I can tell Gareth Owens to deliver her, and if you're receptive to Gabrielle as your mechanic, I can have her head there to do the final inspection on the delivery."

"Three Weeks," he paused and checked the schedule pinned to the wall. "Looks like my last post is... Athens, was going to catch a transport back to Hera as soon as I could, but I can meet the ship there if you like."

"If you're going to want to come to Hera anyways, might as well have them bring the ship here and I can take Jiang through to satisfy his curiosity while we have Gabrielle inspect her and make sure they're delivering her in the state they promised." Luke hadn't said one way or the other if he was comfortable taking her advice to hire Gabrielle, but Alice decided he'd eventually speak up if there was an issue. "Would probably also make hiring the rest of the crew easier if we were both in the same spot and could both do interviews. You have more experience in the black than I do, but I'd like to think I have a good judge of character, my choice of captain for my first boat aside." She winked at him.

"Sounds like a plan to me," he said with a smile. "I'll be honest, disappointing my sister by not swinging by to give her and the kids a hug probably isn't a good idea," he added with a grin. "Some people say crewing a ship is the hardest part, is Gabrielle interested in a permanent job do you know?" it was worth asking the question at least. Besides, was there a better way to try out a mechanic than to have them look over a ship you'd just bought. He knew enough that he'd see through any bullshit. They'd hired one mechanic on his last ship, and Lucas had practically ended up doing the job himself, meaning they barely limped into port. "I know plenty of dime a dozen mechanics, but someone with real skills is a little harder to come by,"

"She's had some issues with past crews she's been on not listening to her, particularly in the area of common sense. I believe she'll be happy if she finds a crew that have common sense. She should get along with you just fine."

"Common sense is unfortunately uncommon," he said with a nod. "People without it don't tend to last too long in crews I'm in charge of," He shifted in his seat, settling back a little more. "So do you have anyone else in mind?"

"I didn't want to pick out your whole crew for you. I ran into Gabrielle on the way back from purchasing the ship, which is why she was on my mind already. I can send word through some of my contacts to see if I can ferret up anyone else, or we can just post an ad on the cortex, and see who comes out of the woodwork?"

"We've got three weeks before I'm back, so how about contacts first and then a general ad if we need to," he suggested. "At the very least I want a decent pilot on this boat, and a couple of hands... But we don't have to start out with a full crew," and he definitely didn't want to end up with a boat full of people he didn't like.

"So, what's her name?"

"Her last owner had called her Raven, but there are a dozen boats out there sailing under that name, at least a couple of them Fireflys who've gotten caught on the wrong side of the law by Purple Bellies, so I had them put Valkyrie on the hull instead. We can discuss alternatives if you're not enamored with it; the contract lists her by the registry number so legally it won't matter." She tapped at the contract open in front of her, and leaned in towards the screen. "More important though, we need to talk about how the shares are going to split. I have to insist that I maintain majority share of the ship, since it was my investment that bought her, but I am open to hearing your thoughts on the split. And if you want to have any of your crew vested with shares or if you want to just pay them per job, or per month, or what?"

Lucas smiled when she said the Ship's name. "No I like Valkyrie," he assured her, before his mind was occupied by the thought of shares an paying crew. "Not sure I'd be comfortable offering a freshly minted crew member a share..." he mused out loud. "Don't wanna end up stuck with someone who isn't the right fit..." Maybe once they'd settled in he'd consider it. Some wouldn't be the type to want shares of course. "Maybe we look at it on a person by person basis once we get to know folks a little more. Is this a roundabout way of offering me a share? Cause dependin' on how big a stake in her you'd be thinking of offering me might change my answer on that of course..."

Alice shook her head. "Seems to me, a captain vested in his ship is going to run her truer than someone who just gets a pay day at the end of each job. Looks at long term benefits instead of just what benefits the current job. I trust you to run the ship well, even without the vested interest, but I also believe in incentives and mutual benefit. So how much interest do you want in the ship? And should we look at setting aside shares for crew that prove their worth, or just deal with redividing shares if someone earns that consideration?"

"I've saved pretty well the last few years, depends how much that'll get me and how much you wanna keep for yourself. I'm happy to set aside a small percentage for any crew that want in, but I'm not really interested in losing any of my share once I've bought in," he shrugged. "And if after a spell we find no one wants a stake, then maybe I'll have enough to make my share a little bigger, or not depending on the notion when the time comes,"

"You misunderstand me. I intended your shares to be like a signing bonus. I wasn't going to ask you to buy in," Alice insisted with a smile. Leave it to Lucas to never assume, she should have been more clear. "And if we hold a block off for crew to take eventually, we should have an idea how much we want to be able to give them once they've established themselves, so we know how much to block off. Would anyone on the crew be able to earn a share or only certain positions, would certain positions get a bigger share if everyone could? Hypothetically, we could split it 55% for me, 25% for you, and the remaining 20% would be available for crew to earn... and any profits paid out on the crew shares before earned by a crew member could just be folded back into the ship for improvements?"

Lucas' eyes widened as she spoke. "Wait, you're giving me a quarter share in the ship?" he asked, wanting to clarify before they moved on. He sat back for a moment, a little stunned, and still grinning.

"You were there for me when I lost Yáng. I don't know if I could have made it through that, and Jiang looks up to you. You're family."

Luke's eyes glazed over slightly, and the grin faded to a softer smile. He was pretty sure he wouldn't have made it through those first few months after the war if it wasn't for her and Jiang. He had his sister's kids of course, but with his nephew looking so much like his father it was harder than he wanted to admit to spend time with the kid.

"Thanks Alice, same goes for you too ya know," he said, glancing away before looking back. "That sounds amazing, thank you," he said, smiling a little wider.

"Just remember, I hold family to the same high standards I hold everyone else. This isn't some cushy nepotism job I'm giving you." She didn't dare believe that Lucas was capable of slacking off, but she couldn't resist the needling. She smirked at him.

"Pretty sure I hold myself to higher standards than I do anyone else," he quipped back.

"Speaking of standards, do you want to draft the listing we put on the cortex to call for crew applications... or shall I handle it, so you can focus on wrapping up your obligations there?" Alice finished filling out the contract with the share split they'd discussed. "I'm going to send you the contract for the ship. Formality, cover our asses if something unexpected happens." She frowned as she said it, but they certainly both knew exactly what she meant.

"I can come up with a few things I'd like included," he said with a nod, "otherwise I'm happy for you to take that, It'd probably be best if I get to settling things here as quickly as possible, or they'll try and rope me into another tour before they let me go,"

"They do that, and I'll send my lawyer after them. You can tell them I said that too." Alice shook her head. "Shoot me over what you want included, and I'll get listing up as soon as possible. Contract headed your way now." She tapped her screen and the contract headed off over the cortex to Lucas.

Luke laughed at her comment about getting lawyers involved. "I'll keep that in mind, but I've still got to do this the right way," he said, he owed Huang a lot, they'd given him a job when he'd been going through a shit time, trained him, put their faith in him, given him responsibility and a purpose.

The contract arrived and he set it aside to look over before he signed in a bit. He needed to talk to the captain first.

"I'll get that signed and back to you by the end of the day,"

"Sounds good. Don't hesitate to give me a wave if you have any questions about the contract, or anything else for that matter, otherwise I'll see when you make it back here."

Luke Bird

Alice Mathieson-Song


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