CERES Testing out the Wares

Discussion in 'Private Roleplay' started by Castilene Kramer, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. Castilene Kramer

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    Pale fingers moved deftly over the polished chamber, cracking open the cylinder to inspect the rounds tucked snugly within the chromed metal. Out of all the stations they needed to visit, she felt most irritated when anchored within the Ceres dry-dock. It was the way station between Saturn’s rings and other localities that needed ice for water reserves; it served largely as a hub for export, when it wasn't being used as a political poster child for OPA abuse and scandal. She understood why work needed to be completed here, she understood the trade network and the way things moved. But the inconvenience was the same; she was further from Earth than she liked.

    “They’re here.”

    Castilene didn’t respond immediately. Instead, she pointed her icy blue eyes towards the taller enforcer and cupped one hand around the business end of an unlit cigarette. Flicking the flint twice, a small fire formed against the paper wrapper and illuminated the cold features of her otherwise delicate countenance. “You tell ‘em to fuck off?” She finally offered, blowing a stream of smoke out from the corner of her mouth.

    “No. Figured you could do the honors. You’re the one that gave them old IFF codes.”
    “So, it’s port control?”
    “Yeah.”
    “Maybe they’re do for a bit of charm?”
    “New Yen is more likely to help.”

    She wasn’t particularly keen on that. Never a big fan of giving out money when she didn’t need to. Offering the man a nod, she tucked the revolver into the small of her back and kicked open the hatch, finding her way outside of the ship.

    The vessel was a small cruiser, hardly capable of disguising the militaristic foundations. Sleek, unnecessarily aerodynamic, and equipped with the implication of defensive and offensive countermeasures; it was lassoed to the mooring station by metal gravity clamps and corrugated utility tubing. Far below, the thick glass separated them from the perils of space and above, the confined aperture hinted at the onion like construction of the Ceres Station as it led the way to the Midtown Level and the Medina. Castilene fought the sudden sense of vertigo as she stepped out into the mooring dock, which seemed like nothing more than a span bridge that separated her from the black abyss below.

    “Thought ya wa gonna make us wai'tall day…” A short man spoke out abruptly, wearing a distinctly Earther style of clothing. A crusty wool suit, a hat with a tattered feather, and facial hair that stood somewhere between five o’clock and midnight. Castilene was sure she could smell him from 20 paces. Her eyes trailed to the other ship anchored to the dock, the exterior reflecting orange glitter from arc welders and installation of metal paneling.

    “Had a mind to, but then I thought better of it.” She spoke loud enough to resonate over the traffic and port control speakers, blaring indications of movement through the main docks from Pier 8 to Pier 11. Seemed unnecessary, considering their assignment of Pier 3; this was more convenient for her as it was just a quick jog to the interlink and express rail line.

    “Good ting ya didn’t.” He replied with a wide grin, revealing a mixture of yellow teeth and gold fillers. “Then I’d have ta take da goods and impound ya ship. But fer now, I’ll settle fer da wares…”

    Castilene didn’t let it show, but there was no way in hell either of those things were going to happen.

    @Renaya
     
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  2. Renaya

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    Renaya found it hard to complain at the maintenance order down on Pier 3. Something about a shorted command box for a dock? Of the countless orders coming through her com at her hip, she had glimpsed hers and tuned out the rest. Work was work and she was lucky to have it. Luckier than most, she often acknowledged, getting to work with her mind instead of being out mining the asteroids. Workers like that were replaceable. Technicians like her? A little less so.

    Her education was a cost endured by her employers. And she endured the countless assignments in return, two more years shy of only room and board until the debt was wiped. Bit of a win-win, if you asked her.

    At least it included medical.


    She frowned at the docking box wired into a waist-high pole, the error codes running across the device she had plugged in insanely frustrating to her. How could it override itself into not releasing the clamps? Made no sense. But the glitch was cascading into a tumble of glitches, something she sensed the owner of the ship would want dealt with soon.

    She turned down the com at her waist, catching the conversation of the smelly port control officer not 5 feet away from her. “Then I’d have ta take da goods and impound ya ship. But fer now, I’ll settle fer da wares…”

    She barely spared the group an annoyed look, her attention catching to the smoke drifting off the cigarette before she touched at the mask at her face unconsciously and knelt down. Without further ado she pried open the maintenance hatch at the base of the post and pulled out a board and a tangle of wires. Best just shut down the unit and take it in for debugging. The pier wouldn't miss a single spot for half a day.

    Deft motions unplugged and cut wires, the station powering down. The clamps hissed as the pressure was released on the ship, their presence becoming more of a figure holder than anything now. She stood up with it all, fussing with the wires, a step forward taken to tell the ship owner and officer what she'd have to do.
     
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  3. Castilene Kramer

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    "What was your name again?"Castilene uttered nonchalantly, blowing a puff of smoke skywards with pursed lips. The gray smoke wafted before being jettisoned into the ether by an exceptionally loquacious air filtration unit.

    "Neva said..."
    "Right." She nodded with a smile, ashing the burning tip of the cigarette to the ground with a tap of her index finger. "If I was named Jermaine Faulkner, around a bunch of beltas, maybe I wouldn't say either." She reached for her pocket and the men jumped. Smirking, she held one hand out to indicate no arms, and withdrew a hand terminal.

    "Boys are jumpy..."
    "We've right ta be..." Jermaine responded, still somewhat aghast by her knowledge of his identity.

    Flicking the screen with particularly well manicured finger nails, Castilene stopped on a page and nodded. The lights were all blues and greens and reds, but the image was sound. "That's you alright."

    "What of it?"
    "Well, there's no Officer Faulkner amidst the Port Authority that polices these docks."
    "Ya? How ya fuckin' know dat? Huh? You telepathic?"

    She didn't have the patience to explain his misuse of the word, instead leveling her cold gaze silently in his direction. Jermaine fidgeted before laughing, practically hooking his fingers through the belt loops on his pants. It seemed odd to Castilene; the man hoisted a pronounced belly, drunk on myco beers and filled with noodles, and revealed a set of tarnished suspenders beneath his wool sports coat. Not a belt in sight.

    "Dock is unda new management."
    "Outer planetary alliance by the looks of things..." It was easy to pick out. The gruff, the crew that bounced between scrawny skinny bones and roided out junkies. And then there was Jermaine, his popped collar doing its utmost to obscure the helmet scars around his neck from his rock hopping days. A bunch of criminals as far as she was concerned.
    "Ya fuckin' roight."

    She exhaled loudly, eyes moving to the technician that was approaching. By the stretch of bridge, this one likely had been close enough to hear the gist of the conversation. Behind Castilene, the tall enforcer plopped out of the hatch with a confused expression. "Hey, gravity clamps are out."

    Castiline grit her teeth as the realization came across Jermaines face. He reached for the small of his back and Castilene did the same. A shootout wasn't on the menu for the day but at least she had some cargo containers spanning the bridge and offering obstacles for the plastic rounds.

    @Renaya
     
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  4. Renaya

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    "Yeah," Renaya interjected, holding up the disconnected control panel as she approached. "That was-" It was corny to say the world around her slowed, and when she'd talk about this moment in the future she'd try not to use that phrase, but... her eyes fell the to metal being brought out of the two's folds of clothing ... Guns...?

    She gasped, the strained sound of her breath filtering through the mask... the device inside of it whirling softly... it was all she heard, the rest of her senses melting away.

    Until the first shot fired from over her shoulder, hitting at the feet of the woman before her. The shock slipped from her body like a slap of cool water. She dropped the tech she was holding and ran. She ran from the bullets behind her, ran from the port control officer, his own gun making loud explosions. Ran from that chaos that seemed to erupt around her, more than two guns firing in that moment.

    In an open deck with nothing for cover, she dove for the innards of the ship before her. Fuck manners, she fell hard to her knees and dragged herself where no bullets could reach her. She wasn't dying today to whatever the hell this was.

    What the hell was this?

    She dared a peek over a box only to see the woman following in her footsteps, bullets following her in. Reyana ducked back down, wheezing in fear. "C-command?" She gasped into her coms box. "Are you seeing this- f-fuck!" She splayed herself flat against the floor as a bullet ricocheted into the box besides her head.

    "Help."
     
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  5. Castilene Kramer

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    Where the hell is that technician going?

    Castilene bit down so hard on the cigarette that she chomped it off, squeezing the pistol several times with a few steps back. The cannon spit plastic in every direction with no actual focus on hitting people. Last thing she needed was for some dead bodies to end up on the gangway without the courtesy of being flung out of the airlock. She appreciated that aspect of Star Helix; the palm-scratchers knew how to dispatch of a gang member properly.

    Shouldering up against a large metal box, rounded corners splashed with the shimmer of ricochet fire, Castilene looked over her shoulder towards the inside of the ship. Beyond the technician and towards the enforcer that was standing behind her. "Pitter Patter!" Castilene responded as she ran up the ramp, hitting the emergency switch. With a languorous groan, the ramp retracted back into the ship like a tongue and the pressure systems wheezed as the clamp was sealed.

    "Get us off the mooring dock!" Rather than slide the gun back into the small of her back, she opted to clench it like a stress ball. Icey eyes turned towards the technician as the enforcer yelled across the ship. "Utility ducts are still in place!" Castiline shook her head. "Then rip them off the dock, we'll jettison them as we head towards Pier 10!"

    No answer came after that but the inflection of the inertial dampeners with the rumble of the engine meant things were moving along. Castilene didn't raise her gun to the kneeling technician, but she didn't set it aside either. "Please don't call anyone." It came out like a request. It assuredly wasn't.

    @Renaya
     
    #5 Castilene Kramer, Jan 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
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  6. Renaya

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    Most of Renaya's expression was hidden from view, but her eyes were wide and fear clear as day. She unclenched her fingers from the com, letting it clunk to the ground and skid away with their changing inertia. A moment was spent trying to catch her breath and ascertain the situation before her. Were they leaving Ceres? With the-

    "Wait, you can't do that!" She scrambled up, nearing flipping over the box as throttle was applied. She wheezed in shock, lifting herself up off it with a pained grunt. Outside, she could hear the scrapping of the limp gravity clamps and the screeching protest of the utility ducts.

    "You're gonna damage things!" The station, other ships, maybe the glass itself. "You can't set off without releasing them, you'll-" The crashing of metal told her her protests were too late.

    She gaped in horror.

    She'd have to fix that.
     
    #6 Renaya, Jan 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
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  7. Castilene Kramer

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    "Yes." Castilenes gaze hardened, if such a thing were possible, as she set her hand on the box and pressed her weight against it. "Better the station than us." It wasn't clear whether the technician had been included in the equation but for now, she couldn't be excised. Castilene spit the remaining filter of the cigarette away, plopping between the slats of grated metal.

    "You belters are always complaining about us Earthers messing things up...maybe we just felt like giving that claim some credence." Cas smirked with that comment, finding herself hilarious given the circumstances. The truth of it was that she found the young technicians passion for the care of the station to be charming, if not somewhat naive. Destruction like this meant jobs, meant some hustle and bustle from a group that spoke often on their lack of opportunities. Earth was rife with assisted living because there simply weren't options for work, but the mining and Ceres export meant some shareholder would likely send the proper yen to clean this up.

    Had to keep the cogs moving.

    "Find a place to sit until you've found your sea legs." The muzzle was cool now and with a stretch of her waist band, the pistol found its way back home. Lifting a tuft of white hair, she tapped on a previously obscured piece of communication-ware nestled in her ear. "Yeah. Get out of tracking reach and then scramble the IFF code. We'll try again."
     
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  8. Renaya

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    She would have loved to keep up her protest but the truth was she was barely standing never mind functioning. Clearly, the woman saw this as she ordered Reyana down, instructions that the tech obeyed.

    Reyana's breath grew tight and hard earned, an asthma attack driving the breath from her lungs and causing the most ungodly racket inside the mask. She closed her eyes, blocking out the chaos around her and reaching into the many pockets of her pants. A thin can of medicine was deftly stabbed into a port in the mask. A hissing noise of air sounded ... and then she relaxed, her lungs opening back up.

    She took deep breathes, trying to keep herself calm in this moment.

    "Only terrorists scramble their IFF codes," she noted softly, coughing before managing to sit up.
     
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  9. Castilene Kramer

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    Cas watched the scene unfold with mild intrigue. She couldn't recall interacting with a belter that needed their own form of oxygen; it seemed a dangerous situation when she effectively lived in a limited supply of semi-clean air. The taste was almost unbearable, traveling between Earth, the ship, and the Station.

    Take the pine and the sterility of the sun, replace it with antiseptic and cough syrup and tack on the stench of proteins and metal. That properly summed up the transition for Cas.

    "Is that right?" A lofted eyebrow indicated the sudden marriage of irritation and amusement as she leaned forward, inspecting the mask and the canisters. "Not everything is black and white..."

    "I need your help with the codes." The enforcer came down the stairs, leading up to the cockpit.
    "No you don't." Cas peeled her eyes from the woman and looked towards the enforcer. "Pick a value, it's not difficult."


    He grunted and sauntered off. Cas chuckled at that, knowing that if she had helped, he would have blamed her when they got caught up again by OPA enforcement. Leaning back from the technician, Cas crossed her arms over her chest. "You OPA? Did they feed you that bullshit about IFF codes?"
     
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  10. Renaya

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    Renaya's gaze sharpened, the canister swiftly tucked away from prying eyes. She pulled herself up, arms shaky, though that was less weakness and more the fact that she had just been shot at.

    "No. Do I look stupid enough to get caught up in that shit?" She shook her head, abruptly making the question rhetorical. She could already hear the woman's answer and she gave a sharp look to make it clear it was unwelcome.

    "I'm just a tech, and I'm telling you they're gonna see right through your scrambler. They launched new software last week, how else you think you got pegged now? Look-" She practically clung to the wall, rattling with the floor as a maneuver was made.

    "You should just- head back. I was there, I can say what happened. You don't need to play it like this," she tried to reason, a touch worried about her immediate future.
     
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  11. Castilene Kramer

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    Cas wasn't particularly keen on being told what to do. That sort of request was left to a command, far removed from asshole end of a potato shaped asteroid. "Seems you've got a special interest in getting back, safe and sound." The Operative hadn't spent her time running through the veritable ringer of UNN driven interrogation procedures just to be led astray by a fearful set of sage hued eyes. There were just certain things that were easier to see through, this diversion was one of them.

    Though admittedly, Cas was having difficulty getting a proper read with the face mask. A purse of the lips, the twitch at the corner of the mouth, or the movement of breath; the smallest micro-expression could tell a thousand words.

    Tapping on the communication device, she lifted her gaze towards the rafters. "Use the Pur'n'kleen codes we skimmed..."
    "The new ones."
    "Yeah. That should do."

    They were already out of the hold of the asteroid and were looping back. It was quite clear to the agent that whatever operation Jermaine was running, it wasn't on the up and up.

    "I appreciate your interest in our well-being. But if I go back to that dock, Faulkner will kill anyone left on the ship. Including an innocent dock technician. Now..." Her brow furrowed, eyes narrowing in the direction of the woman. "Is that what you want?"

    She wasn't going to get it, either way. But Cas was interested to see if the tech thought the claim might be a bluff.
     
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  12. Renaya

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    Renaya swallowed hard, looking between the woman and the bullet marks marring her rig.

    "...What the hell kinda stuff did I get myself into," she huffed, that answer enough. She raised up her empty hands in a gesture of surrender, resolving to leave the woman to whatever it was she was doing, so long as it kept them alive.

    Was she gonna have to file a police report after this?

    "You're... just looking to land under a different name?" She clarified. "No- no more bullets once you get that?" Castilene might see something to gain here. Renaya at least did. Codes, she had. A replacement body after the first got riddled with bullets...
     
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  13. Castilene Kramer

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    Cas wasn't keen on being told what to do but she did enjoy these small victories. The eyes could portray so much; the acquiescence to logic was a win-win in this situation, for both parties involved.

    "Good ole fashioned enterprise and entrepreneurial ambition." That was what this was all about, undercutting and overselling. Being the big wig in a consolidated market, taking over a niche and owning it. Then, like the fungus these people consumed, spreading outward and becoming the prominent establishment.

    Admittedly criminal, but hardly burdened with terrorist intentions. She'd leave that sort of spin for the Outer Planetary Alliance.

    Mulling over the question a bit, her eyes trailed to the distant view screen. The image of Ceres was like a peanut in the black of space, thruster and gravity emissions breathing contrails of steam into the void. It was interesting how the further away she was, the more attractive it appeared.

    "I didn't shoot first. My preference was for peaceful resolve, but I'll defend myself if need be." That was the truth of it, mostly. Bullets costed money and disposing of bodies cost even more. Reporting death to the higher ups got her a good lecture more times than not, meaning her time was wasted on top of that. "No more bullets if I can help it."

    Maybe this technician scurrying on to the ship was providence. Good luck sat with her a bit better than the prospect of sheer inconvenience.
     
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  14. Renaya

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    She studied Castilene for a long moment. "... Alright," she sighed, shaking her ahead and straining to reposition herself on the wall. How the hell did they move around like this? That was a question for the books, a grunt of being effort being made as she moved to the control module of the docking bay.

    "No need to get fancy, that's the kinda stuff they're gonna have an eye out for, especially after-" she gave an abashed look at the woman, deciding not to mention the call she had made. "...Well. Everything. Just give them this." She sent a code to the upper deck.

    "Come in like one of the oil rigs that does the daily delivers . Aint no body got time to look through those." She closed down the terminal, turning to cast the woman a glance over.

    "Why were they after you, anyway..." She asked, expecting a lie.
     
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  15. Castilene Kramer

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    The information was sent to Aug, the enforcer at the helm. He was, evidently, running the coordination and piloting for the time being. A good guy, a bit simple when things got down to it. While he seemed technically inclined, the truth was that he avoided responsibility at every turn. It made for a nuisance down the road; Cas was always getting blamed for their missteps.

    She assumed he was a relative of someone prominent in the training regime and got pushed through on things unrelated to his skill set.

    "Thank you." Cas uttered as her terminal finished sending the rest of the information, regurgitating it through the ethereal between this terminal and the next. Pocketing it, she fought the urge to light up another cherry and fill the room with smoke and ash. It was a habit that showed itself incessantly at the door to the stations but seemed to need kicking as soon as the ship thrusters fired on. It didn't help that she felt the sudden pang of empathy for the woman and her mask, though Cas was clearly unsure of its explicit purpose.

    Ticking her tongue, she found a seat in the haul and plopped down. Crossing one leg over the other, she eyed the woman. "Hardly small talk there, Ms. Technician. Sort of conversation that could get someone in trouble..." She paused, gaze shifting to the navigation terminal on the opposite wall. The haul itself was darkly lit but the terminal showered the surrounding floor with ambient blue, plastered with white decals that indicated ship, trajectory, and surrounding debris.

    "What's with the mask? Got a scar on that pretty face of yours?" Vanity, maybe? The canister indicated otherwise but the idea of a defensive conversation might make for an entertaining way to pass the time, from here to port.
     
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  16. Renaya

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    Renaya slid herself to the floor, not bothering with securing a chair as she trusted the thrust to keep her pinned to the corner under the navifation terminal. She let out a shaky breath, the situation sinking in properly in that moment for her.

    Well shit. Bullets- bloody fucking bullets-

    Her internal grumbles did not cease as the woman remained vague.

    "Hardly an impersonal question there, Earther," she shot right back, her tone thick with frustration. "Sort of conversation that requires a dinner first. And I don't know. Maybe something shiny to distract from your face."
     
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  17. Castilene Kramer

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    The corner of Cas' mouth lifted in a halfhearted smirk, though admittedly she was far more entertained at the answer than she let on. "Alright, prickly pear." With the way things worked on Ceres, the Operative was positive that a common belter technician wouldn't rightly know what that was or that it was a cactus. Hell, the only reason she knew what it was dealt entirely with her mother; She was a diplomat who cared for indoor plants during important phone calls, to help maintain focus.

    At least, that's what she told Cas. Truth of the matter was that she wasn't entirely fond of the plant, given its tendency to draw blood at the slightest touch.

    "Though I am curious...what sort of dinner buys that little secret?" Her hand had weaseled it's way out of the crossed position across her chest. A enameled coated nail indicated the mask once more. "We talking a noodle shop down on the Medina...or maybe fine dinning in the plaza?" She didn't rightly care but small talk was a whole lot more fun when it got bigger, intended insults be damned.

    The dampeners kicked and the engines wailed as they approached station for the second go. It occurred to Cas that she was actually in need of someone to accompany her to the midtown club, to keep up appearances prior to the exchange. She had a mind for bribing one of the homeless belters down in the thoroughfare. A good meal, a bit of drink, a little bit of yen to warm the pocket.

    Fair price by her estimation.
     
    #17 Castilene Kramer, Jan 30, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
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  18. Renaya

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    The confusion that squinted into her eyes said enough. What the hell had she just called her?

    She recognized in that moment that Casilene was playing with her. Like a cat playing with its food before it entrapped it, which felt like a deft comparison. She had no false impressions to the danger that surrounded this woman. An Earther being chased around by bullets was one thing, but a willingness to break parts of a station?

    Trouble. Flat trouble. No good came from lots like her. No good for Renaya, no good for the station parts. Which exactly why Renaya chose to play along. Folk getting caught up where they shouldn't would get tossed out hatches for less. Loose ends in a brutal world were hardly ever put up with unless they were liked.

    "A steak dinner," she answered, her chin rising stubbornly. "A real steak. From a real cow." Which she was absolutely certain Casilene would have no access to. Not unless one of those cargo boxes were about to moo.
     
    #18 Renaya, Jan 31, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
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  19. Castilene Kramer

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    That answer got the technician an outright smile. She must have been hopped up on pruno or tripping balls on bathtub skunk to think someone would buy her a steak on the scouts honor promise of getting beneath that mask. “Helluva secret to need a steak for unveiling…” The words split the Cheshire smile with hints of French and Southern twang; Cas was sure there was a mixed drink that perfectly described her dialect.

    “This isn't a Martian Frigate. And we’re too far away from Ganymede for that sort of meal.” Maybe it was an inflated ego. Though, with the way the woman raised her chin, Cas got the distinct aroma of stubbornness, if not outright obstinance. “I may have gone for a noodle bowl, though…”

    “Hey, I put in the codes…” Aug yelled down the hall, despite the obvious ease that came with an ear communication device. “Seems we got the clear to land in pier 11. Mooring station assigned.”

    The sly grin painting Cas’ faced turned towards something ever reminiscent of sincere. “Well, seems like you do know a thing or two.”

    The ship cut thrusters hard as it was guided back into the station via space suspended lights and the voice on the boombox.
     
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  20. Renaya

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    "S'not a secret," Reyana shot back. "I'm just not here for your cheap kicks." She shook her head, relieved to hear the news from down the hall. She lifted herself up with a soft grunt, rubbing at bruises she hadn't felt until now. A glance was caste to the hatch doors, the woman realizing she'd have some explaining to do once she hit deck again.

    Like why there were bullet holes in her work station, and where the utility decks went. Cameras would quickly reveal what she had gotten caught up in. Her attention tore to Castilene, finding an abrupt reason to be wary of the woman again. Well she was a lose end to her, wasn't she?

    "Well look, I gave you the codes. Clearly I don't want any trouble, so when we get there let's just-" she made a vague 'splitting ways' gesture.
     
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