By Kari and Khadaj
Once Sive entered the bridge, Zlanta got right down to business, showing her the various stations to her new crew-mate. Since most of them looked very much like her scout ship, only much more grand, Sive had no trouble absorbing all the information from Zlanta.
“I think I have the basics down now Zlanta, unless we come across some real bad storms or pirates I shouldn't have to bother anyone on my shifts,” she said, smiling.
“Ya sure knows yer stuff girlie, I tole the Captain Y'all would be fittin in here just fine. Yes sir, ya all is goin to fit in here jus fine," Zlanta said, patting Sive on the shoulder.
Zlanta's approval meant a lot to Sive, she found she liked the woman, she was even starting to feel at home on the ship, all the tensions of the last eight months was slowly draining away. She sighed, looking up at her crew-mate
“You know I think I'm going to enjoy being a part of the crew of the Angel... by the way, how did she come by the name of “Tainted Angel” anyways?”
“Well chile, let's get us some coffee and I'll tel y'all about it.”
They both sauntered over to the food dispenser and after getting their coffees, went and sat down at one of the consoles. Sive kept an eye on things as she listened to the interesting story of the Angel.
As Zlanta talked, Sive listened smiling in all the right places, but part of her mind kept wandering. Thinking about Jason, and how he made her feel. All warm inside but at the same time, scared too. Mentally shaking her head, she directed her attention back onto Zlanta.
“Looks like ya was elsewhere for a minute chile.”
Zlanta knowingly smirked. Sive quickly countered that remark.
“No, not at all, I was wondering where you came by that wild hairdo you have going for you.”
Both women laughed at that, enjoying each other's company.
Jason left Engineering having tasked Donny with creating a Farraday cage for the bug. He went up to the bridge to let Sive know what they'd found. He heard the laughter and decided just to listen for a bit. Zlanta was a fair judge of character, not one to fall prey to easy patter easily. Here she was, laughing and joking with Sive like an old friend. He pondered that for a moment, then heard Zlanta start some concocted story about the Angel's name, clearly not wanting to tell the real story.
"Don't listen to Zlanta's bs, Sive. She doesn't know what she's talking about."
Jason stepped onto the bridge and took the last remaining seat there. Sive was seated in the pilot's spot, Zlanta at comm. Jason leaned back in the sensor station's chair.
"When I got out of the Navy, this here ship was courier #ZLT-09426/AS-09. The Navy never bothered to name these ships. So...I retired, and the program at the time offered me this ship in lieu of my monthly pension payments. So, no cash coming in but I would own the ship free and clear.”
"By then I was getting a bit leery of what Unification meant in practice. So I took the ship and headed Outward, away from the Core and the Unifiers. She wasn't in great shape when I got her, but she was my angel despite her condition. She was my angel, however tainted she might have been. We've done well by each other since, and she seems to know the humor meant by her name. She's no angel in a fight, either. We've got a couple of pop-up turrets in case of trouble. Nothing to alarm the Navy, but most pirate ships are used to unarmed targets. I've let her be boarded when we're hopelessly out-gunned, but a couple of times popping the turrets and cutting loose has earned us a bounty.”
"So you're feeling at home?"
Her expression clearly says she is.
Sive turned her head when she heard Jason's voice, her heart beat a little faster as he sat down in the vacant chair beside her. Watching his face as he told the story of the 'Tainted Angel' made her warm inside, after he was finished she commented.
“That's quite the story, it's good to know that your... 'Angel' can pretty much handle most situations you come across in space. But at the same time I can also see why your looking for a medical person. It sounds like a pretty exciting as well as risky lifestyle you have here.”
Sive leaned back, glancing at Zlanta then at Jason, wondering, (Am I up to what could be some pretty hairy situations? But then again what have I been doing for the last five years... but living in the middle of hairy situations?)
In answer to his question of feeling at home, Sive smiled raising her eyebrow at him while nodding her head.
“Actually, yes surprisingly I am feeling at home on the 'Angel'.”
“That's good chile, wel I betta get goin now.”
She got up existing the bridge, smiling to herself. Sive looked at the retreating figure of Zlanta calling out.
“See you later Zlanta.”
"I have bad news and good news. Bad news: Someone gave you that pendant knowing you might run. It's got a pretty neat little tracer in it. Donny got it out, but I'm not sure the pendant will be repairable. The good news is the tracer still works as far as we can tell. We might be able to slip it aboard a Unifier ship and let whomever has been chasing you mess with them for a change."
He sat up and looked her in the eye.
"I like what you have to offer, Sive. You'd fit in well here. But that's up to you. I'd recommend not leaving the ship in Lacuna, but if we're successful ditching the trace you could leave any time after that."
As Jason told Sive about her pendent, she sat up starting to frown as he went on, once he was finished. She angrily replied.
“Who could have done this to me? When I think of all that I have gone through in the last five years! ...Oh gods...it makes my blood boil.”
Lifting a hand up Sive pushed a strand of hair off her forehead, taking a deep breath trying to clam down.
“Don't worry about repairing the pendent, I wouldn't wear it now if you paid me, knowing it's been used to track me all over the galaxy.”
Once she calmed down somewhat Jason continued, letting Sive know she would be welcome to join the crew, she knew it was the best offer she'd had in ages. Looking him in the eyes she gratefully replied.
“I don't really have to think about it, I would be happy to be a part of your crew, so far you all come across like one
big happy family, Lord knows that's something I think I could get used to being a part of.”
Jason opened his mouth- and closed it again. He thought for a moment, then nodded.
"You've got a place here. We can turn the stateroom you're in into crew quarters and do with three passengers max. Would you mind playing steward when we do have passengers aboard? It'd mean you would answer calls for assistance, help with entertainment programs, that sort of thing. Being the face of the ship to the riders, so to speak."
He watched her face, noting details. The way her hair fell across her shoulders. The quirk of her eyebrows when she focused on something. Her hands fluttering around her face when she was mad or confused. And of course he noticed the way her hips tilted when she walked or leaned against something. The way her small tight breasts moved ever so slightly even under the leather garment. His hands itched to find out if they were a handful or not...
Jason cleared his throat, face a bit warm.
"We'll be landing on Lacuna in about two days. We'll try to ditch the trace without letting on we know about it. And then we'll decide where we're going. For now, learn all you can about the systems aboard Angel. We'll get you on sims for the turrets. Never know when you might need that."
Sive listened to Jason as he explained her living arrangements and the extra duty of playing steward. Grinning while tilting her head.
“Now that shouldn't be much of a problem, of course depending on what kind what of passengers you take on.”
Looking down at her outfit she raised her eyebrow at him teasingly before asking.
“Do I need to wear a uniform now that I am one of the crew? I'm kind of partial to these kinds of outfits, but they certainly are not a deal breaker.”
Running her hand down her thigh she chuckled. Then suddenly realized that she might have gone too far.
“Don't mind me I'm only teasing you, I'll wear whatever you want me to wear.”
When Jason cleared his throat and started speaking again, Sive was fascinated, she really couldn't get enough of hearing his voice. (He seems a little uncomfortable, I wonder what that's about, I hope it wasn't what I said about my outfits.) Getting back to business.
“OK, I'll get onto the systems pronto, and as for the sims, I've always wanted to learn to shoot, you never know where it will come in handy in life... I might even end up being really good at it too." She laughed.
“Looks like I'll be plenty busy for the next couple of days, I think I'd better get going.”
Getting up Sive started to walk away, hesitated for a moment before looking back at Jason, thinking to make a witty comment, but thought better of it, shook her head quietly chuckling to herself as she left the bridge.
She'll wear whatever I want her to, echoes Jason's mind. The thought of her putting on a little...
And the way she looked back at him as she left suggested she had an idea how he was reacting. She didn't seem troubled or upset at their age difference, which was a positive. But he knew so little of who she was and what she wanted. Did she want to settle down and have a family? Travel and party and find someone new on each planet? Stay celibate?
Those questions followed him around the ship the next two days. Donny made a new housing for the tracer, one that looked a lot like a cargo manifest packet that would be attached to the outside of a shipping crate. They should be able to slap it on a crate going where they wanted it to go once they hit dirtside. His plan was to land, sell cargo, make a quick check for passengers and get off planet.
During their shifts Jason found himself talking with Sive more often, and seemed not to notice Donny and Zlanta's knowing smiles. Their conversations almost always seemed to have at least one double entendre, and often two or three. He often found himself wondering how whatever she was wearing that shift would feel to his touch, or how her skin would taste. He kept breaking the thoughts off short, only to have them sneak back in quickly.
Today he was busy enough to ignore those thoughts. The landing on Lacuna went fairly well, and soon enough they were in their berth. Jason had Donny lock everything down while Zlanta called the client to announce the Angel was docked. Jason went out to scope out the area and soon enough found a ship taking supplies to Evantson, one of the core Unifier worlds. The crew was just starting to receive cargo, so Jason made a note to have Donny wander by and try to affix the fake manifest to one of their crates. Sive was under strict orders to stay inside the ship and out of sight of the cargo bay.
He wandered back to the ship in time to meet the buyer they were waiting on. The deal went easily enough. This was a completely legit transaction for a change. Soon enough he'd contacted the portmaster about passengers looking for off-world transport Outward. Oddly enough there were two, headed to differing planets but ones that were close enough to make a joint trip. He gave instructions to Zlanta about cargoes and headed to the bridge to think.