SPACE Misfits

Discussion in 'Private Roleplay' started by Alanna Marston, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. Alanna Marston

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    The Albatross
    Sometime during the flight to Phoebe


    It had been a long day of watching pixelated versions of The Albatross creep across starmaps and reading lines upon lines of poorly written programming. Keith probably could have gotten the work done faster and cleaner, but he had his own things to worry about. Plus, he didn’t know what a combat/nav interface was supposed to look like. Thinking about that reminded her of her old life, the one where she shot torpedos and tungsten slugs at people for a living. Everything had been way simpler then: ethics were black and white; you were either for Mars or against Mars and that was that. Now, with all the trouble she’d gotten herself into and the solar system going topsy-turvy, she wasn’t so sure about any of it.

    She peeled herself off of her crash couch and, after locking her terminal — a habit left behind by years of MCRN training — headed belowdecks. Her first thought was to get some sleep, but she knew she needed food first. Unfortunately, the mess hall was currently being taken up by OPA members, and since she didn’t fancy any encounters with them at the moment, she continued downwards. She found herself on the crew quarters deck, and, after a moment’s hesitation, knocked on Dieter’s door.

    “Hey, Blue. You in there?”
     
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  2. Dieter Kohler

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    @Alanna Marston

    The Albatross might not have been currently fitted as such, but it had the empty space and dimensions to fill the role of a light cargo ship. That's what Dieter had envisioned, when Violet and Keith first proposed that they keep the barely-spaceworthy piece of shit and go freelance with it. Hauler operations - running low risk, mediocre-profit deliveries on an as-needed basis for whatever client popped up in their vicinity. It would have been a fairly dull living, but a living.

    Now, here they were, on their first job. A combat operation in support of a radical political faction, with a hold (and everything else) full of human cargo. Hopefully - if they even survived this - this was not setting a tone for their future job lineup. Dieter spent the first day or two of the trip trying to keep their passengers from doing too much poking around - they weren't exactly well stocked on entertainment. It didn't take him long to give up on that endeavor. How much more damage could they really do to the flying scrap-heap, short of venting the thing and killing everybody on it? If Dieter died in said venting, then it wouldn't be his problem.

    So he resolved to spend his free time engaging in two of his favorite activities: drinking and sleeping. Today, he was experimenting with combining the two, trying to determine how much of the trip he could spend unconcious, avoiding the world outside his claustrophobic cabin. When a knock rousted him from a particularly boozy slumber, he jolted up hard enough to crack his head on the low ceiling over his bed. Cursing, he stumbled towards the door, yanking it open with every real intention of putting an OPA asshole out an airlock.
    But instead of a Belter, he found a Martian.

    "Oh," As bloodlust faded from his expression, it was replaced with a crooked little grin, and he made a quick effort to smooth down his matted, faintly greying air. As for smelling at least somewhat like a distillery - well, there wasn't much he could do about that. Water rations were beyond tight. "Red. What's up?"
     
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  3. Alanna Marston

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    There was a sickening crack from inside the cabin that was immediately followed by a torrent of curses. Obviously, Dieter had sat up too quickly and hit his head on the frame of his bed — something not entirely unexpected given the cramped quarters. Still, Alanna was beginning to rethink her decision to stop by when the door opened, revealing, as she expected, an irate Terran. It was completely understandable; the claustrophobia and mildly inconsiderate guests had set her on edge, too; but she took a step backward nonetheless.

    Fortunately, emergency escape didn’t seem necessary as Dieter’s expression relaxed into a smile. A moment passed while she took in his bedraggled appearance and faint aroma of alcohol.

    “Bad time?” She raised her eyebrows. “It can wait.”

    @Dieter Kohler
     
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  4. Dieter Kohler

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    "What?" Dieter looked at her, a little slow on the uptake, then shook his head. "Oh - uh, no."

    He stepped back from the doorway, and flopped down to sit on his bunk in the tiny room. It wasn't exactly built for company, but the rest of the ship hadn't exactly been designed for seventeen million passengers either - so square footage for conversation came at an even higher premium than usual. He gestured towards an ancient footlocker bolted to the floor, where he'd started gradually accumulating valuables. Valuables being beverages.

    "Come on in. Try not to be overwhelmed by the decor. Chez Kohler is undergoing some renovations."
    By that - he meant that everything he owned outside of liquor was haphazardly strewn about the oversized-closet he'd been calling home: clothing, gear, weapons. Orderly, he was not.
     
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  5. Alanna Marston

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    “Nice.” Alanna smirked as she took in the panoply of clothing, supplies and general knick-knacks strewn about the cabin. It was almost impressive how much Dieter had managed to cram into the tiny space while still leaving enough room to sleep, drink, and do whatever else someone like him would do in his spare time. It was also very dangerous. She made a mental note to lock (and seal, if possible) his door if they began maneuvering. With the Alby’s ancient, degrading hull, she wouldn’t be surprised if some of the harder objects could turn the wall into Swiss cheese.

    She glanced around, initially unsure about the stability of the footlocker, but Dieter didn’t strike her as the type of person to gesture to a non-working seat, so she sat down anyway. “Well, it’s certainly got character.” She gestured around at nothing in particular. “More than I can say for my room. Navy habits die hard, I guess…even the trivial ones about keeping your stuff organized.”
     
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  6. Dieter Kohler

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    @Alanna Marston

    Dieter shrugged a little sheepishly, as if just realizing how bad it actually was. "Ah. Yeah. Apparently, I managed to kill mine off, though."

    "Then again, I was on the other side. Maybe it's that all that hardcore Martian military brainwashing never leaves you." He gave it a second before smirking, indicating that he was at least partially kidding. The smile faded a little as a thought occurred to him. "Is...that what's gnawing at you, Red? Feeling treasonous?"

    It came out a little mockingly, but he didn't intend it to be. If du Plessis had mentioned possibly butting heads with the UNN, Dieter would have found a way out of the op, even if it involved a breaching charge and an escape hole from the staging area back on Tycho. He asked almost hopefully, "Or something else?"
     
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  7. Alanna Marston

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    Alanna laughed softly and shook her head. “If I were worried about being treasonous, I never would’ve become a journalist in the Belt. Mars is running some shady shit in there. And…I mean, this is different, obviously, but I still don’t think I’m betraying the…” She hesitated for a moment, trying to find words that a Terran might understand. “Mars’s identity is its vision, not its government. So I’m comfortable going against the state so long as I don’t give up Mars as an ideal, if that makes any sense.” She couldn’t expect an Earther to understand, but Dieter, who had left his planet for the dark and dangerous waters of the Belt, would be more likely to get it than anyone.

    But he’d asked her something else, and she realized she’d been unconsciously trying to avoid the serious part of why she’d come here. Nowhere to hide now. It wouldn’t necessarily be a bad or awkward conversation, but there was something comforting about leaving certain things unknown. Trying to get away from that mindset, though, was part of why Alanna had left the navy. She’d be a hypocrite if she didn’t plow ahead now.

    “Okay, here’s the thing, Blue. I…I love being on this ship. I love not being a lone wolf anymore. Hell, I love actually being in space, even if our ship is falling apart. And I’m really, really grateful that you’ve welcomed me onboard.” She pursed her lips and let her right hand rub at the base of her neck before continuing. “I don’t want to overstay that welcome. Don’t get me wrong: I’d gladly stay. I just don’t know what type of history you and Violet and Keith have, and if you three don’t want me to butt in, I completely understand.”

    The short speech left her a bit emotional, but, exterior hardened by the good old MCRN, it didn’t show.
     
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  8. Dieter Kohler

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    @Alanna Marston

    As Marston explained the terms of her allegiance with her homeworld, Dieter perked up, listened attentively. He hadn't considered that her profession might put her at odds with the Martian government. His ingrained prejudices had been seeming in, again. Every Martian was a brainwashed fanatic, right? Just the same way that everyone on Earth was a lazy, jobless layabout on government assistance. "Oh. That makes sense."

    He nodded his head. "Still, for what it's worth, Red: I'm not in this to kill any Martians. Some private security schmuck takes a shot at me, I don't lose any sleep putting him down - but if we get there and there's an MCRN force deployed, we dump our guests, flip and burn the fuck on out."

    He wasn't sure if it made a difference to her or not. He expected that it did. He'd served his planet once, back when he was young, starry-eyed and stupid. How shitty would it have been if he'd been cut down by some mercenary outfit, dying to protect some corporate or government secret? It wasn't fair. Dieter had built enough of an emotional callous when it came to killing that even the Belters from the other day were starting to fade from his mind, but he liked to at be able to envision a scenario in which the unlucky soul who got caught in his crosshairs deserved to be there. Maybe it sounded silly, maybe it was silly, but when he thought of coming up against the MCRN, Dieter couldn't help but picture some eighteen year old Martian kid who didn't know his ass from his elbow, a kid who'd never pulled a trigger outside of training in his life. If possible, he didn't want that on his conscious.

    The real issue at hand was not even close to what he'd been expecting. It wasn't even something he'd stopped to consider, much less discuss with the others. Marston had survived Ceres, and she was on the ship. She'd pretty much checked the same list of prerequisites that the rest of them had, with the exception of being complicit in stealing the actual vessel. For some reason, as inappropriate as it was, her very serious comment made him chuckle.

    "History?" He shook his head, pinching the bridge of his noses and trying to shake some of the grogginess away. "We've been together for what - a few weeks? You've been here for a pretty good chunk of that, Red." His expression sobered a bit. "I guess it might be worth having a chat about with them, but I don't see why it would be a problem. I mean, sure, Violet doesn't even know your name, but to be fair, she was dying the last time you talked to her. If it makes you feel better, we'll set something up with them. Nothing formal or official - a chat. Get to know each other a little better."

    He nodded at her. "You're certainly not stepping on my toes, Marston. I owe you. I'd probably be pinned up like a poster on some wall in Ceres if it weren't for you."
     
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  9. Alanna Marston

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    Alanna had been expecting several possible reactions, but a genuine chuckle certainly wasn’t among them. Some tiny flicker of indignation at his lightheartedness stirred in her chest — she had been completely earnest, and also thought she’d made it clear how much her place on The Albatross meant to her — but it sputtered out just as quickly as Dieter continued speaking.

    “Only a few weeks? I….Wow, that’s….You guys seem like old friends.” She meant it completely seriously, though she couldn’t keep a hint of relieved laughter out of her voice. The three must have really clicked together. Their camaraderie and loyalty — to the point of Dieter risking his life to try and rescue the other two back on Ceres — were at a level usually gained through years of teamwork and friendship. It was something she’d felt on the Olympus Mons, that sense of home and the feeling of emptiness when she’d been separated from her fellow officers. It was hard to believe Dieter, Violet, and Keith had achieved that in a few weeks, but here they were, and Dieter had no reason to lie about it.

    “Yeah. A chat sounds nice. I guess I should properly introduce myself to Violet at some point.” She smiled. “Thanks, Dieter. It means a lot. But,” she added, raising a finger, “you certainly don’t owe me anything. I probably wouldn’t have found a ship if not for you, and I doubt anyone on Ceres would be friendly towards a Martian right about now. I guess fate likes us.”

    It was over, and everything had gone way better than she was expecting. A tension in her throat Alanna hadn’t even noticed before seemed to have lifted. She was still sitting in the same cramped, falling-apart-at-the-seams spaceship, but she belonged. For now, at least. That made all the difference.

    “So, how did you three end up meeting then?”
    she asked, shifting a little on the footlocker. “I always assumed you got together one day, as friends, and pooled your money to buy the Alby.”

    @Dieter Kohler
     
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  10. Dieter Kohler

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    Marston had a point. The initial three-way partnership between the original crewmates was anything but normal. Usually, that sort of agreement, even between individuals who considered themselves friends involved research, planning, and stacks of legal paperwork. Finding two other people he could stand to share that kind of responsibility with would have been hard enough without the imminent threat of capture or death. What happened had been a perfect storm - a combination of the right skill-sets, circumstances and personalities. What were the odds of that going smoothly? One in a million. Maybe more. Then again, there was plenty of time for things to go to hell. Maybe that's where they were headed now.

    His eyes flicked over the Martian, sizing her up all over again. She was a reporter. The former cop in him wanted to clam up, stave off her questions with evasions and wit. True, they wouldn't make a very good cover story, but it felt a little weird listing the crew's rap sheet in narrative format to a member of the media, independent or not. As little as he knew about Keith and Violet, they at least had the shared experience of stealing the ship. They were linked by guilt, if nothing else. Just as she'd been with the details of the operation, Marston was innocent by way of ignorance of the details. Still, there was no overlooking the trust that came packaged with sharing a harrowing escape from danger. He felt compelled to give her the benefit of the doubt.

    He settled somewhere in the middle - didn't want to weave an elaborate tale that would fall apart the second she started talking to one of the others, nor did he want to exclude her completely from the crew's origin story. After all, pending agreement from the others, she was one of them.

    "We were on Tycho," he started, idly picking up a half-empty pint of rum off of his crash couch and turning it over in his hands, peeling at the label with his thumbnail. "When Johnson bought it? Last week. Place was in chaos. Almost exactly like Ceres, really - except that on Tycho the bullets were flying from the beginning."

    He held up his arm, pulled back his sleeve. The medigel had healed the wound almost entirely, leaving only a faint red gash where the round had stuck him. He tapped at it with his finger. "I caught one for Violet. Right after we met. Right about then, any Inner seemed like a friend."

    Again. Just like Ceres - like the two of them. He didn't say it, but paused pointedly to let the information settle. "The plan was to hitch a ride with her crew, but they didn't stick around. We met Keith after we tried hopping off the station on a tug - the one that's in the cargo bay now. We helped him pull the Albatross off station, burned for Ceres - and started the whole cycle of chaos all over again."

    He shrugged, hoping that her jounalistic nature didn't prompt her for the details. It wasn't so much doubt at that point that made him hesitant to share the legal status of the ship. It was a need-to-know type thing. She didn't need to know. If either of the civilized militaries impounded the ship, she might have a free ticket out of a jail cell. Deniability was a wonderful thing, in that way.

    @Alanna Marston
     
  11. Alanna Marston

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    Alanna had enough experience as an interviewer to see the signs of a person considering what information to hold back and what to reveal. Her instinct as a journalist was to pry, but it was really none of her business. She also wanted to feel annoyed that her new shipmate didn’t trust her enough to give her the full story, but she knew that would be wrong. It was her privilege, not her right, to be in the know — and to be part of the crew.

    Dieter really did seem to have bad luck. Or incredibly good luck, depending on how you looked at it. Cycle of chaos seemed to be an apt phrase for his situation, though the more she thought about it, the more she realized it could apply equally to nearly anyone in the system nowadays. What with the Eros massacre and the brinkmanship between Mars and Earth, nothing seemed to be certain or safe anymore.

    “Jeez, Blue. Sounds like something out of a bad action movie.” She took a moment to grin at the idea of Dieter, Violet, and Keith posing dramatically on a film poster. “Hopefully it ends like an action movie, too. With all this craziness, it’s going to take some serious plot-holes for everyone to get out alive.” Despite the joking tone, she immediately regretted sending the conversation down the dark path, but knew she’d be lying if she pretended she wasn’t a little afraid. She wasn’t the type of person to manage uncertainty with smiles and rainbows.

    @Dieter Kohler
     
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  12. Dieter Kohler

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    He laughed at that, not realizing how much he’d missed that sense of humor that was so common among military and law enforcement personnel, until just that moment. It was important to be able to laugh at anything - up to and including death - if it was something you could encounter on a day-to-day basis. It was nice to be able to unwind, get a little morbid with someone.

    “You’re not wrong there,” he said, uncapping the pint bottle and taking a swig of the stinging liquid. “I think we’re gonna need some serious plot-armor if we plan on staying in one piece at this pace.”

    He tilted his head at the room’s door, and all the less-than-welcome temporary inhabitants of the ship. “On the plus side, we’ve already got our cast of disposable extras.”

    Smiling, he angled the open bottle towards her without extending it - an invitation if she wanted a drink, but no implied pressure if she didn’t. Marston didn’t seem to be wound too tight about the current situation, but maybe that was just the ex-sailor in her, well equipped to deal with and mask stress. “I don’t think I got the chance to ask before, what with all the fighting for our lives and all. You catch any action in the service, Red?”

    @Alanna Marston
     
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  13. Alanna Marston

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    Alanna chuckled at the offhand comment about the OPA fighters on board. It was horrible to joke about that, of course, but her Martian brainwashing clearly hadn’t worn off enough for her to care. Plus, they were OPA — people like them would have killed her without a second thought on Ceres if she hadn’t managed to escape with Dieter.

    She hesitated for a moment at the offer of alcohol; then, still smiling accepted the bottle. “Thanks,” she said. “I probably shouldn’t have too much, though, in case we run into some company sooner than expected. Though I guess being drunk always seems to help in action movies.” So saying, she took a healthy drink. She hadn’t had good-quality rum before, and she suspected this didn’t qualify as ‘good-quality’ either. Still, the taste was welcome.

    “Actually, I did — way more than I bargained for, honestly. First couple of years in the fleet were on the Donnager, which was cool, but also really boring since nobody ever wanted to engage that thing. I got transferred to a standalone destroyer, which was apparently much more fightable for pirates.” She shrugged. “Didn’t really seem to make a difference, we killed or captured them all anyway, but we had some close calls.” She took another drink from the bottle and then offered it back to Dieter. “You know,” she said, giving a jaded smile, ”all the green officers on the Donnager wanted to see more action — me included. But it just ended up being gory and sad and tiring. That’s partly why I quit. Military is kind of a crappy job.”

    @Dieter Kohler
     
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  14. Dieter Kohler

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    “We’re running on movie logic, aren’t we? Drink up, Red.”

    Dieter blinked when she was finished speaking.

    “The Donnager? Shit.” Thinking back to his own Navy days, he clearly remembered the prescribed UNN engagement protocols for the Donnager and Donnager-class vessels. The entirety of that fifty page manual could be easily summed up in one world: ‘Don’t.’ As far as he knew, there weren’t many ships in Earth’s fleet that could have traded punches with that kind of warship - and yet allegedly, Earth had just blown the namesake of the line of massive vessels herself out of the sky. He tried to imagine what that would feel like - having a former home of yours simply ceasing to exist, along with everyone inside of it. He might have held back on the question with someone else, but Marston didn't seeem squeamish - probably wouldn’t melt to a puddle when posed with the question, so he’d asked anyway. “Did you still have ties with anyone on board when she went down?”

    He nodded at the last bit. “I was primarily stationed on a frigate. A lot of pirate patrols, interdiction - that kind of stuff. You’re right. All those romantic notions go straight out the window when that first PDC round punches through your hull like butter.”

    “It’s overrated,” he agreed about the military. “I’m glad I got out when I did.”

    He shifted, steepled his hands under his chin, wondering if he should stop there, with them on the same page. “Still…you don’t miss it? That high you get - the one right before the crash - where you went toe-to-toe, life and death, and you came out on top?”

    Maybe that was just him. For him, the rare one-sided battle with the occasional outlaw started off as enough, but they opened a doorway within him that he wasn’t aware existed. He hadn’t left the Navy because the conflict was too much. He’d left, packed it all up to go work security in the untamed frontier because it wasn’t enough.

    @Alanna Marston
     
    #14 Dieter Kohler, Jan 10, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  15. Alanna Marston

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    Alanna shook her head. “No, not really. I knew a few people, mostly the higher up officers who didn’t get shuffled around the fleet, but not well. In all honesty, the Donnager was a training ship. Two thousand crew capacity, big enough to scare away anyone without even firing a shot...kind of the perfect setting for the academy rookies to get their space legs. All my friends were long gone by the time...”

    She trailed off. It wasn’t necessary to speak the fate of the warship aloud, and it almost felt like doing so would make it more real. As if the present day were a dream or hallucination. “It doesn’t make it any less awful, but all those people on board when it happened…they died knowing what they’d signed up for. Or, at the very least, they died for something they believed in.” It was the one good thing about Martian propaganda: nobody ever died in vain.

    She took a deep breath and then let it out slowly as Dieter spoke. She knew exactly what he was talking about. “Thrill of the fight? Adrenaline pumping, tunnel vision, heartbeat-in-your-ears? Of course I miss it. I just don’t know whether its worth the price.” There were memories that came with that statement. Old events and people that flashed before her eyes — the first death she’d ever seen, young ensign’s eyes aimed lifelessly at the distant void; Sam, whose body had never been recovered from the hull breach that had claimed it; the young Belter child from the Olympus. She almost felt guilty for admitting to that animalistic love of conflict when they all had suffered so much for it. Almost.

    “I guess I’m too sentimental for my own good. Definitely too sappy for a real Martian sailor.” She forced the rogue images out of her head and laughed softly.

    @Dieter Kohler
     
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  16. Dieter Kohler

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    “A training ship?”
    Dieter wished he hadn’t said it aloud, hadn’t sounded so incredulous. It made sense. Back when he’d been in touch with the UNN intel community, the Donnager had been the shining new flagship of the Congressional Republic’s Navy, and by all reports, packed to the gills with the MCR’s best and brightest military minds. Of course, in those days, they had to be prepared to accept challengers. History had shown that nobody had the stones for it, so it made sense that they wouldn’t let talent go to waste by letting it idle on the floating deterrent. Until, of course, a few weeks ago. Dieter wondered – if the Donnager had been equipped with a veteran crew, if it hadn’t gone into the battle with the inexplicable ships that destroyed it with the complacent attitude of invulnerability – would the fight have gone any differently?

    He didn’t pose the question to Marston, just nodded respectfully. He might have been enemies with the MCRN at one time, but that didn’t mean he reveled in the deaths of its service members. In a way, he almost felt angry for them, the way they’d been ambushed for no explicable reason, how they’d died without any obvious reason. “I’m not sure they signed up for that,” he said quietly, breaking eye contact to stare at his toes for a second.

    Looking back up, Dieter grinned a little at her recollection of combat. So it wasn’t just him. He’d known that, of course. Lots of sailors had been frustrated by the limited engagements that peacetime operations had provided, and he knew for a fact that he wasn’t the only veteran who’d pushed out dangerous reaches in search of a second hit of the high the Martian had summarized. Was it worth it? No. Probably not. But it was one hell of a drug, and there was nothing like it.

    “You sure you want to go with the boarding party?” he asked, suddenly a bit more serious. “No one expects you to. I don’t expect you to. It’s different. On the ground, I mean. Face-to-face.” He recalled Tycho, where he’d dragged her headlong into a firefight, remembering that she’d participated. That hadn’t been a pitched battle, but it counted for a little experience. “I guess you know that, though.”
     
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  17. Alanna Marston

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    “I’m not sure they signed up for that, said Dieter, and looked intently at his feet for a moment. Alanna didn’t respond. She knew he was right, though she hated to think about it. Despite living in the Belt for years, despite not knowing a soul on the Donnager except maybe Captain Yao (who hadn’t seemed to like her much) and the XO (who probably liked her even less), the men and women of the MCRN were something like family to her. It was a bond that came from her Martian pride and years in the service, and, much as she tried to suppress it, it lingered somewhere deep in her subconscious.

    “You sure you want to go with the boarding party?” Dieter broke the silence by changing the topic, which she was grateful for.

    “I’ve actually been thinking about that,” she said, tilting her head. “I’m still willing to go. I’ve never been to Phoebe, but I know general Martian design which might be helpful, plus, extra firepower is usually a good thing. But…” She lowered her voice slightly. There was no reason for it — the compartmentalized hull of the Albatross was soundproof — but it made her uncomfortable talking about a shipmate behind her back. “I’m worried about our new pilot. She’s so young, and I don’t think she’s had any combat experience before, much less high-G training. If she makes hostile contact up here and…you know, doesn’t make it…we’re stranded.”

    She shrugged. It almost amused her how quickly she could go from emotional to nonchalantly discussing an imminent and risky combat mission. “Might not be necessary, but it could be smart to have a backup pilot. That’s assuming, of course, you have enough people to make the whole thing work on the ground. You think our friends downstairs will cut it?” A nod of her head in the general direction of their OPA guests made it clear, if it wasn’t already, who she was talking about.

    @Dieter Kohler
     
  18. Dieter Kohler

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    “Yeahhh,” Dieter dragged the word out for a second after Marston shared her concerns about Nevena. He had his o
    wn, but hadn't bothered to raise them. Too many other things to worry about - and additionally, crew skill redundancy was never a bad thing, ever. They could stand to lose just about anybody and still make it it home - but losing a pilot would be...problematic. “The infant wouldn’t have my first choice behind the stick, but at the time we weren’t sure whether to count you in on the job. Well. That, and Violet probably was only vaguely aware that you existed. Maybe she’s a prodigy or something, but you’re right - I don’t want to entrust our exfil to somebody younger than my magboots.”

    He shrugged. “Still. Up to you. I’d be happy for your help in either capacity. It’s not like we have the dream team assembled on any corner of this thing.”

    The question about the ground team prompted him to chuckle, shaking his head. “I don’t think it’s an issue of numbers, Red. We could land with a hundred bloodthirsty, die hard OPA fighters, and one entrenched squad of Marines or autoturrents would level us before we make the door. I’m really just banking on us not hitting contact.”

    That was a little dramatic, of course. Brute force assaults weren’t always doomed to fail, especially if they had the element of surprise. But if somebody was waiting for them, their untrained little coterie of miscreants was in for a rude of awakening.

    @Alanna Marston
     
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  19. Alanna Marston

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    Alanna nodded thoughtfully. Dieter was right, the success of their mission would be essentially up to luck. Whether or not there was an MMC squad still on the station, whether or not Mars still considered Phoebe valuable enough to leave a warship guarding it, whether anyone would be looking in the right direction to catch the bright flare of their course-change burns. It was a crapshoot, and it was something she’d been taught to avoid in MCRN training. Oh well. It wasn’t like they had another option.

    “I guess I’ll wait and see, then. If we read anything unusual nearby that might be a ship, I’ll stay on board. If not, I guess I’ll head down with you and hope Nevena doesn’t run into any trouble.” She shrugged and added, “It’s not like we have any ship-ship weapons, anyway. Best we’d be able to do is burn hard and try to slag any missiles with the drive tail. Not so good for escaping.”

    To be fair, though, she would be the one least in need of escaping. Dieter and Violet were both Earthers, whom Martians hated, and the rest of them were OPA, whom Martians hated even more. With the destruction of the Donnager, MMC teams were probably authorized to shoot suspected hostiles on sight. Everyone with half a brain could figure that out, and so Alanna couldn’t help but admire the brash bravery of their Belter companions, especially the man behind the plan himself.

    “So, what do you think about du Plessis? Seem like the kind of guy we can trust?” From what she’d seen, the man seemed like a surprisingly thoughtful and adept commander compared to the shifty OPA cell leaders she'd met in the past. But then again, first impressions weren’t everything, and Dieter would probably have a bit of a better idea of his character than she did.

    @Dieter Kohler
     
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  20. Dieter Kohler

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    “Mmm. Thanks for reminding me,” Dieter sarcastically muttered when Marston finished outlining exactly what brand of fucked they were, should any Martian (or armed, for that matter) vessel decide that it wasn’t a huge fan of the Albatross remaining in one piece. Underneath the cynicism, of course, was the same humorous comfort with morbidity that been there all along. If you couldn’t stand talking or joking about impending conflict, how were you supposed to stomach wading into it?

    “Trust?” Her question caught him off guard. He stared at her for a full second, then laughed. “I trust that he’s an unstable, possibly suicidally fanatic asshat, who I wouldn’t turn my back on for a heartbeat. Do I think he’ll follow through no matter what we find? Yeah, if it earns him a place on some OPA wall of fame. Do I think he’ll pay us? Probably. Hopefully.”

    Dieter shrugged. There was still the very real possibility that du Plessis might as readily slag them as pay them once the job was said and done. He made a mental note to keep at least a handful of Belters on board until they parted ways.


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