The crate sat in the hold. Even in all the excitement that had jostled around the whole of Alice’s crew, it hadn’t budged from where they had secured it. For Vanya and Mason, it was the first time they had laid eyes on it, but it wasn’t so long ago that the others had stood around it as they did now with the prickly wonder in their minds. That damn box. Pandora’s box…
“Bie woo long…” Dru groaned taking one hand from where it had been folded across his chest. He ran it through his beard. A large red gash ran across his brow from where his head had kissed the sharp edge of Alice’s engine block. He shook his head and looked over to Jackson. “How bad is bad?”
“Bad is an understatement,” sighed the grease monkey with the tenor of defeat. “Compression coil’s turned us into Regina’s largest paper weight. Harmonic dampener’s fused to the block. So’s the Bearing. Fan’s locked tight.”
“Half the wiring’s burnt out,” added their electrician quietly. “Fire did a bad number on us.”
“Jao gao.” Dru shot a look to his brother. “I’m impressed you landed as nice as you did.”
“Put it together, you’ve got practically more to fix or replace than not.”
Their newest member put on a small smile. “Might be cheaper to pick up a new ship…”Unfortunately his levity was rewarded with a cold look from Durden. The man’s jaw slowly shut realizing he’d taken the wrong moment to try and lighten the mood.
Durden shook his head. Defeat wasn’t something that came easy. Slogging through the trenches, you were never done until your bullet found you. Mason may not have been right, but he wasn’t wrong. He sighed. “We’re humped.”
That was not a tone she liked to hear on her brother’s lips. Pulling herself out of her private, and highly unproductive thoughts, Vanya’s voice was as calm as always. “We’re not without our resources here.” She put a gentle hand on Tyler’s cheek and turned his head away from the box.”You’re going to have to let it go.”
Tyler heaved a sigh. He didn’t have to let it go, but sometimes circumstances have a way of changing your mind for you. “We’ve been in bigger holes. Could be worse.”
“Not sure how,” the boy snorted.
“Could be a smear across the landscape right about now,” Copper said, laying a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Or a streak of smoke in the sky. Miss Jahnatt’s right, we need to focus on what we have and trust in the Lord to provide the rest.”
A small smile tugged at the corners of Vanya’s lips. “This may not be the planet of my choosing, but let me see what I can do here.” She almost laughed to herself at the thought that Keith might have been right; she really was a mercenary. “I can make a few calls. Unless that interferes with the whole trust thing,” she teased lightly.
Tyler’s face darkened and he shook his head. “Might be the fastest way, might not. But with the shape we’re in, we can’t cut and run if something heavy comes our way. No, I think you need to stay close to home. Sorry, Mei Mei, but that’s how I feel.”
Wordlessly, she slipped her hand into his and accepted his decision with a single nod. She would never complain about their protective impulses, even when it seemed unnecessary. It was all part of being home. Unfortunately, so was near-disaster. “So we fix the ship.”
Jackson nodded, “You guys get me the parts I can do it, ain’t no doubt about that.”
“Just tell me where to start looking.” Mason spoke up feeling a little bad about his new ship comment. Maybe going out on a foraging crew would earn him a more favorable look.
“Regina’s a dustball, but there are bigger backwater planets we could be stranded on…” His arms folded back across his chest. “You used to work as a middle man? Go with Jackson start hitting some of the junkyards. Scout parts. See what can be bought on site, see what we might need to have flown in. If you’re any good your mouth’ll pay a long way on your trip with this boat.” Durden’s eyes were locked back on that crate. “Ty and I’ll see about finding the money to get us up into the black…”
Nodding with to Durden’s commands Mason agreed, “As long as Jackson can tell me some prices to work with…and he can give me the conditions of the parts. I’ll see to it we get junk quality prices for parts that are anything but,” he said with the utmost confidence. Before leaving with Jackson he approached Vay staring at her before pressing his lips to hers. The kiss is long and filled with such intimate emotion no one could deny what he was telling her without uttering a single word. After the kiss ended he stared into those very familiar violet eyes. There was so much to say, but work needed to be done. Mason reluctantly walked away nodding toward Jacks while heading toward the junkyards. He even took a moment to look back once or twice before continuing forward.
“I’ll get ya on the coms if we find anything,” Jackson slung a pack over his shoulder and began to follow Mason, “Bao Jone.”
Tyler’s eyes were narrowed as he watched Mason depart. “Right, well, we best be loading up the Dormouse and signal Kat for a meet up.”
Vanya didn’t turn to watch the pair leave. “Since I’m staying close to home I think I’ll start the cleaning… if you trust me to know what should and shouldn’t be thrown away.” Though her words were light, a faint sadness hovered around her smile.