“I am now,” the old man growled. “Didn’t I tell you boys not to stay out late?”
“We’ll have plenty of time for penance later, Shepherd. Right now I need to you drop the ramp. We’re going to be comin’ in hot and jumpin’ star-side in a rush.”
“Any casualties?” Copper asked.
“None of our own. I expect a few on the other side of things is making peace with their dear and fluffy Lord right about now.” Ty said, his voice cut by the wind and the sound of a motor in the background.
“Well that’s good at least,” There was a bit of silence on the preacher’s side of the line.
“Everything alright home-side, padre?”
“We’re all good here. Our passenger is settling in just fine,” a bit more silence followed, “I do have a matter that I need to talk to you boys about once you get home.”
“That sounds mighty ominous preacher,” Dru took up the com link
Copper laughed from the other side, “Nothin’ of the sort son.”
“Well then preacher, we’re almost there now we’ll talk then.” The line went to silence, and the Kokezaru brothers shared a meaningful look.
From her seat somewhat behind her brothers, Vanya did her best not to listen. It was almost tangible, the sensation of isolation even with family around. She wondered if she would reach out if she could actually touch the wall that was shutting her away from everyone around her.
Violet eyes came to rest first on Ty’s back. She couldn’t be mad at him for being the man of action and finishing off Mark. Her gaze slid over to Dru. She couldn’t be mad at him either, just because he didn’t object. They wouldn’t have gotten any information out of Chesterton Mark; everyone in the room had known it. So why did his fast death bother her? Was she so angry that she wanted him to suffer?
A word slowly pierced the bubble around her and she looked sharply to the boys. “Passenger?” That seemed like suspicious timing. “You’ve taken on a passenger?”
“Said it wouldn’t be for long,” Ty reassured his Mei Mei, “said he just needed a way off this here rock.”
The companion raised an eyebrow but said nothing. She wasn’t going to tell them what to do on their ship. She’d be safe enough on Alice. And if not, she could always shut herself in her room again.
“Home sweet home gents, lady,” Jackson yelled over the roar of the mule as they drove up the ramp and into the Looking Glass.
“Jacks, Joe help Vanya get situated. Dru and I will get us into the black,” Ty Jumped of the back of the mule, and toward the stairs followed by Dru.
“Shall we humble servants show you to your room ma’am,” Alice’s mechanic smiled.
Joe simply rolled his eyes and slung one of the overly decorative luggage bags over his shoulder, silently hauling the companion’s things to her new room.
Vanya’s lips curled in a thin smile at Jackson’s attempt at humor. “Be careful with that,” she called after the boy with her bag. “You need to save your strength for my crates.”
“Get your own crates.” The little electrician muttered under his breath as he passed through the doors of the ship.
“I’m sure I can find my way.” With a fleeting glance toward the doors to her new and former home, the tiny companion reached out to place a light hand on Jackson’s arm. “But I’d appreciate an escort… just in case my brothers have done some rearranging in my absence.”
“Right this way then,” Jackson laughed.
It was hard to ignore the commotion coming from the other side of the ship especially with the mule’s loud roar. Slowly Kayin rose from his bed and made his way down looking toward Ty, “What do you need my help with, Captain?” he cried out with respect awaiting his orders. He tried to look away from the all too familiar redhead that accompanied the crew of this ship. How did she end up here?! It was the Repose all over again. Still Kayin stood there in brown carpenter pants, and a dirty tan shirt ready for work, and orders from the captain who seemed to be ignoring him altogether.
“Naw I think we got i…” He stopped as he turned and actually noticed who he was talking to, “hey you were on that other boat right?”
“Yes, he was,” the companion answered coolly, drawing herself away from both men. “What are you doing here, Mr. Mason?”
He watched the woman, “I offered myself as a member of the crew, Ms. Janhatt. I wanted to be off planet to get closer to a personal matter. The Repose wasn’t heading toward that way and this ship was,” his words were sincere, serious, and while the eyes pleaded to her. For once he wasn’t lying.
Jackson’s eyes ping-ponged between the two. “I’ll just uh,” with a loud grunt he picked up Vanya’s trunk, “take this to your, ughn, quarters,” he turned and gingerly trudged toward the stairs, “and prolly give myself a hernia,” he sighed under his breath.
“Don’t forget the other three,” she called after him with a certain malicious humor.
Another groan reverberated from the top of the stair case and an unseen Jackson.
“He knows I would have carried your bags, right? Even if the Captain didn’t ask me to,” he looked at Vay with an amused smile.
“Alice doesn’t have a captain,” Vanya corrected absently, taking in Kayin’s appearance. “And it’s generally more amusing to let the people who don’t know me deal with the luggage.” Her violet eyes slowly met his gaze. “I intended to leave you without a goodbye.”
“That makes two of us….,” he sighed looking down taking a moment to let everything in before speaking. “If this is how it’s going to be…I owe you three years of explanation,” he said before grunting grabbing one of her boxes of luggage trying to follow Jacks as best he could.
Tyler and Durden slipped into their seats. Ty flipped a series of switches, sending a shudder of power through Alice, while Dru lay in their course. The Adams pitched into a wine that always brought a feeling of excitement to it’s caretakers. With a rumble from the outriggers, Alice blew all manner of dust and debris aside as she lifted off. Ty would swear that she seemed to be as happy as they were to put this dustball and all that had happened recently safely behind and choking on their exhaust.
Ty reached up and flipped on the ships intercom, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking. We will be breaking atmo momentarily and might run into some turbulence along the way. The command crew would like to kindly ask you to sit the hell down and buckle the hell up so as not to be bouncing around the ship. Thank you.”
“Very diplomatic of you,” Dru said from his seat.
“I try,” Ty replied as he pulled back on the yoke. Alice’s nose rose to match her pilots movement, taking a very nearly ballistic exit route. She shook and shuddered, fighting for every mile against gravity’s pull. From somewhere in the back echoed a loud crash, followed by a stream of cursing from Joe. “I did warn them. You heard me warn them.”
After a long moment where it seemed as though Alice would shake herself apart, the clouds thinned to nothing, the stars focused into sharp pinpoints, and the ship shed herself of the planet below. Tyler let out a breath and leveled Alice out, pointing her in the general direction that their course indicated. He glanced over the back of his seat, Joe’s litany growing louder as the young man hopped into the cockpit with one hand clasped about his shin.
“Language.” Entering the cockpit behind the young electrician, Vanya smiled gently as she scolded him. Then, leaning in over Ty’s chair, she smacked her brother on the back of the head. “You didn’t let me watch.”
“Sorry, mei mei,” Ty said with a grin. “I figured we all wanted to get star-side as quick as possible. Next time we settle down, you and I can take the shuttles out and play tag. I promise.”
“I’m going to hold you to that.” Her fingers curled in his hair affectionately.