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Dragongal

Miss Medic
Adira had spent the remainder of the meal relatively quiet. Despite the fact that she was usually fairly amiable, this setting seemed to have an adverse effect on her chattiness. She sipped at her drink, added a few comments here or there, answered questions that were posed to her, and just generally seemed out of it. As she would tell Silas the next day, she wished she had been able to enjoy it more and relax with the crew, but something about the formal setting made her on-edge in a way it never used to. Maybe, she had suggested, they would have to try again soon, at someplace a bit more affordable.

As for her talk with Stratton, Adira enjoyed the chat. It was amusing watching the WS operative be so chatty. She attributed it to being so hungover, but she didn't mind. As he talked about memory lane, Adira relayed some of her old stories as well, mostly about the ship she captained before she left WS, but something he said caught her memory. Something that she'd have to think about.

The rest of the weeks was spent preparing for their next journey. This meant procuring supplies - like actual food - and some ammunition, as well as working with Silas to make sure any work contracts were sealed tight. "I want these deals as tight as our airlocks. I won't have any bullshit fucking us over," she'd said. That was how parts of her days went. Some days, Silas forced her out of the ship to go relax and buy clothing that didn't double as literal armor. There had been a few short arguments about it, but nothing loud enough for most of the other crew members to hear. Still, she did appreciate being forced out in the end, since she did buy one or two nice things for herself. Now, if only she could convince herself to ever wear them....

The nights were entirely different. Some evenings she would stay in, checking with the crew to see if they had any concerns or thoughts on advancements for the ship, or just how they were doing in general. Other evenings, she'd leave at nightfall and return a few hours before dawn. If it weren't for the main door to the ship making noise, she'd have been perfectly silent, too. Nonetheless, it was unlikely she ever woke anyone, or was noticed by anyone who wasn't already awake.

One day toward the end of the week, Adira was in the kitchen, leaning against the counter. Through sheer luck, Stratton walked in while nobody else was around. Adira didn't seem to even notice him until out of the blue, she said, "Hey, Gramps? Y'know, I'm glad to see you aren't still such a stick in the mud."
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Stratton had just begun to refill his old water canteen when Adira spoke up. He chuckled at the initial remark and shook his head before freezing.

Gramps? Still?

The water was now pouring out of the bottle and rushed across his left hand down into the sink. Stratton blinked twice and looked at Adira.

"What did you mean by that last part?" He asked with a faint smile that vanished as fast as it appeared.

Have I met her before? Is she referring to something?

Silently Stratton made a mental note regarding the layout and cover of the room. At the same the weight of his service pistol currently holstered on his right hip also reminded itself.
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
A slow smirk spread across Adira's face. So, he hadn't figured it out before her. She set down the glass of water she had been sipping at, and jumped a bit to sit on the counter. There were a few seconds of silence, just so he could have a fair chance at figuring out the hint. At the same time, Adira was doing her best to try to judge if he was faking it or not. He seemed too confused to be faking it.

The chances of him being randomly assigned to her ship were slim, but not impossible. As for him being forgetful, well. She had forgotten, too.

When he still seemed genuinely confused, and actually a bit hostile really, the captain gestured to her hair, the ends of which were as white as possible while still being a natural shade. "And here I thought I was slow for not noticing sooner. Twenty years, a few extra inches, and changing my hair from white to black really fooled ya, huh?"
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Stratton was perplexed. Her hair?

"I-"

Then it dawned on him. He dropped his canteen into the sink and turned to face her completely.

Twenty years younger. Shorter. White hair. A jumpsuit two sizes too large. A thin layer of grease and oil.
Let's not forget the cheeky smile and laughter that echoed through the corridors.

Stratton couldn't believe it. He tilted his head and narrowed his eyes. "You?" His tone was surprised, shocked even.

"The infamous Adira Rik was our stowaway? Our Little Ms. Pirate?"

He pointed at her in an accusive manner. "You better not be messing with me right now."
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
Ah, there was the recognition. Adira supposed that it made sense for him to be cautious about this - that certainly wasn't a new trait for him.

She grinned, more amusement than cockiness now. "Come on, who else would remember?" Well, he was a WS operative, so she probably better give some proof before he got suspicious and all. "You all found me hiding behind a loose panel tucked up by the engine. I bit the guy who found me, then ran again, you all found me a day later. I interned in the medical bay when the engineers didn't need anyone cleaning their tools. The Captain had me helping with some small paperwork and logistics at one point...?"

Adira shrugged and leaned back a bit. "I went from being a wrench monkey kid to navigations to Academy to being a captain."

She looked him over, then shrugged again. She knew her record. And she knew that he didn't have all of her records, either. But her name carried weight in some circles, especially in upper ranking WS. Her smile faded to being a bit more wistful and tired. "And are you really so surprised that the little Pirate became," Adira gestured to herself, "this?"
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Stratton chuckled and shook his head. "I had no idea." He shrugged.
"They never told us where you got sent off to. I'm glad the system didn't mess things up for you."
He seated himself on a nearby stool and chuckled once more. "I'm glad things turned out good for you. I know your reputation and I've read a good portion of your file. Things could've turned out way worse for a kid like you."
Stratton smiled faintly. "I'm glad it didn't."

"When did you figure it out?" He asked, crossing his arms.
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
Adira just smiled and shrugged. He evidently hadn't read a decent chunk of her files, which made sense since they were locked. "Well, you were talking about finding a stowaway kid. Which isn't as uncommon as you'd think, but I kind of started putting the memories together. Took me longer than it should have, but I wanted to be sure."

Adira shrugged and added, "Not surprised they didn't keep you updated on me. Now-General Ford actually took me under his wing, made sure I got into Academy early, whole nine yards." Another cocky smirk appeared on her face. "You can thank him for the locked records."
 

Vudukudu

Farseer to the Warsong Clan
Kepler remains largely isolated for the next few days, though the two reports he sends each day to Kestrel and Silas to keep track of his inhibitor implants become a little sloppier each day. First, its small things, like an extra space or a single typo. Then, he begins to explain symptoms. Headaches that come and go in moments, strange code writing itself while he runs vulnerability checks on the ship's cyber-security defenses, flashes of text obscuring his vision. Each message ends with the same signature "Condition: Operational" and the same Thought From the Machine God, "You may say, it is impossible for a man to become like the Machine. And I would reply, that only the smallest mind strives to comprehend its limits."

When Kepler does emerge from his quarters to eat, tend to the ship's computers, or otherwise, he does not hide his ritual self-flagellation. Precise shallow cuts, the flesh around them pulsing an angry red, are plainly visible on any flesh visible under his neck, and he is quick to swat away concerns if anyone vocalizes them. "The blade is sterile and the wounds are kept disinfected. They will not jeopardize this unit's efficiency. The Doctor need not be concerned, and as per Waning Stars' Act of Tolerance, my religious activities are not the concern of medical or governmental personnel unless they pose a threat to others." He explains curtly, then goes about his business unless further interrupted. An itch in the back of his mind reminds him one such as he shouldn't deign to explain himself to apes, and he adds another scar to silence it.
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Stratton shook his head. "That's the last time I get drunk. Can't even keep my lips sealed," he said with a chuckle.

Nodding towards Adira he continued; "I'll be sure to forward my thanks to Ford then when I file my next report. Not bad for a stowaway." He glanced to his left and right. "Now that it's all out in the open, how do you want me to go about with this information. I presume Burns knows parts of your story but the others are still very much in the dark."

James raised an eyebrow. "Correct?"
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
Adira looked around the room as well, just to be sure nobody had managed to slip in. "Silas knows..." she paused to think, then sighed, "I'd say most of it, including some of the locked files, excluding others. I don't find much to be shameful about my past as a stowaway, but as for everything else, regarding the crew?"

The captain looked around again, then shrugged. "Doesn't seem especially relevant. And until it becomes relevant, I have no intention of bringing my past up. I'd hope you feel the same?" Adira didn't see any use in telling the rest of the crew about her past. Hell, she was pretty sure they had seen enough about her military experience in the news anyway. Bringing it up would just be odd at this point. Everyone on this ship had their secrets, and she would respect that as long as hers were respected as well.
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Silas had spent his time in the day mostly being bored; he tried some of the things Adira had suggested to him like reading to try and pass time without working himself to death in the bowels of the ship. While it was a hobby he enjoyed, there was a modicum of danger at any given moment and it was tiring to say the least. While he couldn't stay on a single book for long, he at least was able to keep himself occupied from his workaholic mentality for half a day. He finally got fed up with attempting to read and messed with various things in his room; polishing his sidearm, checking his suit for malfunctions, simply admiring the beauty of the interior of his room. He ensured that he held his end of the bargain and monitored Kepler's consistent bookkeeping of himself. He didn't want to cause unnecessary problems by ignoring reports, and kept up to date with Kep to ensure he was feeling alright daily. Nothing could quell his appetite for something exciting though. Eventually he left his room to see if anything exciting was going on elsewhere in the ship.

That's when he passed by Adira and Stratton talking in the kitchen. He had originally intended to go down to the medbay to bug Lydia since she was the only person he knew was on the ship for certain. However, seeing two people interacting that originally seemed rather weary of one another piqued his interest and he found himself standing in the threshold of the Hub and kitchen to join in on the conversation. "Discussing mutiny without me?" he asked with sarcastic disappointment in his voice. "I never get invited to the fun parties."
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Stratton shrugged and nodded. "It's not my story to tell, Captain." He glanced briefly towards the sound of another person approaching.
"We all have our secrets, no doubt. As for yours my lips are sealed," stated Stratton just as Silas arrived.

Chuckling, James nodded towards the newcomer. "Not at all, Burns." He cocked his head towards Adira. "Topic of the day is galactic domination."

Adira would notice that Stratton's somewhat concerned expression a couple of seconds earlier had been replaced by his more common laid-back attitude. If the envoy had any lingering doubts or further questions there were no signs left of them nor were there even the slightest of hints that the previous conversation had surrounded such a delicate matter.
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
Adira looked up at Silas as he walked into the room. She was interested in what secrets Stratton himself might have, but she knew better than to pry. If Stratton had a poker face, Adira's facades were face good enough to make anyone else fold. The captain smiled casually at Silas and said, "We were thinking that if we modded the ship slightly and maybe invested in a few missile launchers, we could have half the galaxy within our rule in a year or less."

With a sigh, she leaned back some more. "We just need to finish another contract or twenty to actually be able to afford that, of course." A pause, then a smirk. "Or we can steal the stuff we need! Long as someone doesn't rat us out."
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
"Okay okay," Silas held his hands up with a laugh. "Universe domination is still a bit away. After all, we don't even have a crown. What's the point of enslaving everyone if you don't get to wear a crown?" Silas was glad to see the two of them interacting without Adira giving glares to Stratton. He wasn't sure what happened but they seemed to have found common ground. Either way, he added in, "Waning just gave us a huge 'Thank You' gift for the information on the alien space station we were at. Clearly it's just to ensure our 'cooperation and silence on the matter' as they so eloquently put it. However, silence money is still money, and they granted us a lot of it. My guess is that the lab funding Burman's research is affiliated with Waning and they don't want bad press. As long as Burman gets jail time, I don't mind being silent about this."

"These funds could keep the ship completely stocked for the next couple months, at least. I mean, we don't need to do any more contracts for a while. We could explore, visit some places, maybe solve an eon-long mystery in a few days. The possibilities are endless. But while I was looking into Waning's charitable gift, I came across something. I picked up a Soviet distress call a few hundred systems away. Now, my Russian isn't the best but I used an active translator for it - I'm almost certain it spoke of the Mutter's Spiral. I think we might want to follow up on it."
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Stratton chuckled at the mention of a crown though his features turned serious as Silas spoke of his employer and their gift. "You know what they say Burns; 'Silence is gold.' Let's make sure to use the funds well."

When he mentioned a distress call, a Soviet one no less, Stratton crossed his arms and glanced at Adira. The mention of the Mutter's Spiral made him narrow his eyes. A Soviet ship on its own was a juicy stockpile of intel but the ship that was once home to Kestrel and her sister? Information procured onboard could boost Waning Star supersoldier programs for decades to the point where Icarus would have no choice but to withdraw and scale down their organization.

A terrifying thought. Even more terrifying is the thought that such information could fall into the hands of bloodthirsty pirates and terrorists.

Stratton glanced at Adira once more before looking at Silas. "I think it's in our best interest to help out. Intergalactic treaties regarding stranded crews aside we might want to investigate the call out of sheer courtesy. If I recall correctly Kestrel and her sister used to call that ship their home and I'd rather not get spaced because we didn't save their relatives and friends still onboard."
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
For her part, Kestrel spent the last few days prior to the big silence payment taking in the sights of the planet. It's not as if she's seen so many that they're all boring and there's a certain novelty in wandering around one of the giant sitting target most species called home. Even now, a few years living among them, Kestrel genuinely couldn't understand why people in cities on planets didn't build a bunch of spaceships or even space stations and immigrate there. At least something with engines, that could fly away from trouble.

Kharmin Kharmin
The plethora of people do provide her with one opportunity; a chance to go shopping with her sister. Although the girls hadn't exactly been 'close' growing up, Kestrel wholeheartedly approaches the prospect of a shopping trip by catching Alysson just as the other woman's woken up, rambling through a big long shopping list and list of sites to see before insisting her sister get out of bed, get dressed and join her. There's a certain cheerful relentlessness that she's managed to keep, even enhance since their mutual days aboard the Mutter's Spiral. It's plain she won't take no for an answer.

It doesn't hurt that Kestrel offered to use the shopping trip as a chance to get Alysson a larger wardrobe, a range of personal utility items and possibly even fund a piece or two of advanced tech. Living aboard the Ambivalence hasn't exactly made the blonde soldier a rich woman but she also hasn't had much in the way of expenses. Which means the ability to splurge.

Once their shopping spree was finally done, Kestrel returned to the ship with a lighter wallet and a lighter heart. Buying stuff didn't make up for years of distance and years of difference either but circumstances had made Kestrel and Alysson closer than they would situationally have been otherwise. A tour of the city's shops made for a useful olive branch, after all.

Vudukudu Vudukudu
Upon her return, Kestrel checked up on Kepler's logs and frowned at his report. The self-flagellation was weird but she'd seen weirder out in space. The sight of so many inconsistencies so soon was the real concern. Kestrel jots back a message to Kepler, asking him to outline exactly what symptoms or threshold he'd consider to be 'too far gone and in need of stopping'.

And then she made a note of visiting one of the planet's data centers to utilize the city's intranet in the hopes of digging up some information on cyborgs, symptoms and the inevitable descent into madness. Her own data was, well, dated. And trusting the suspect was one of the most elementary things a Cavanaugh learned from an early age not to do.

The Jenkins Curse The Jenkins Curse Dragongal Dragongal Viper Actual Viper Actual
Frowning slightly as she pondered over the cybernetic data, Kestrel popped by the kitchen for a bite of something only to find it half-crowded with half of the crew here. The tell-tale looks they shot her suggested she'd been a topic of conversation, or possibly Alysson or some other element concerning her. A Cavanaugh was trained to catch tells during interrogations. And while these people were her allies, her training didn't just put itself away just because she thought of them all as friendlies.

"You look like you have something on your mind," she observed, eyes mostly settling on Silas but glancing between Stratton and the Captain. "Let's hear it."
 

Vudukudu

Farseer to the Warsong Clan
When Kepler's comms-slate chimes with Kestrel's request for more information, he promptly begins working up a reply. His people on Borealis have a considerable wealth of knowledge when it comes to cybernetic neural decay, enough to rival most planetary medical associations, and he is forthcoming with what he himself has been able to dig up. The message contains dozens of neatly hyper-linked citations from medical journals or reports from Engine-Seers, and goes on for several pages about the varying difficulties of applying one standard of judgment to the mechanically-gifted when symptomology and causation appear so wildly variable and uncorrelated, even among those with identical implants. Following the technical observations is a twenty page philosophical treatise on the subject of the continuity of consciousness and brief thought experiments about the morality of ending life and different conceptualizations of the self. Fortunately, he does step down to a simpler answer in the conclusion of his reply.

"One's own eyes are suited for seeing everything but themselves, Master Cavanaugh. In light of this, this unit is compelled to offer this; my judgment is insufficient for the problem at hand. I would, however, suggest focusing on the following battery of personality defects, selected for how easy they would be to notice in me: emotional outbursts, episodes of violent rage, and erratic physical movements. Other purportedly common symptoms, including social isolation and an affinity for semi-intelligent machinery, are already core to this unit's being and would offer no new information.

Finally, Master Cavanaugh, it occurs to me that an apology is owed. In times of distress, I have been taught to rely on the 7,401 Precepts, a doctrinal and instructional guide to living for my kind. Much of its contents would no doubt be as alien to you as many of your beliefs likely are to me. It is regretful, then, that I have put you in this unhappy position for lack of another Engine-Seer to enact these final rites. I offer my sincerest apologies for any undue stress caused by my condition and the burden laid on your shoulders."
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Silas was the first to speak up when Kestrel entered the conversation. He cleared his throat before saying, "I caught a distress call that I think may have been talking about the Mutters Spiral in Russian. It was hard to make out, but I'm damn near certain. I think it's worth looking into. I was about to come find you and Alysson for your opinion on the matter. You're our Soviet experts, after all." It was clear by his tone that Silas was all in on the idea of helping the Mutters Spiral. Of course, he knew there was a chance the distress call was faked to attract potential pirating targets, but Silas figured it was way too coincidental for it to be a message from the specific ship two of his crew came from. And, even if it was a pirating ship looking to bring in easy targets, Silas was certain his team would give them a fight so tough they'd probably just disengage. Hell, he could just sic Kestrel and Kepler on them and they'd probably cut through the pirates like butter. Now that they had other combat proficient members like Stratton, he was confident in the crew's ability to repel attacks. Plus, his ship was - as the classical Humans would say - Bitchin'.

When the conversation finished, Silas mustered the crew in the Hub for an official announcement on what the plan was. Once everyone had gathered, Silas stood in his usual briefing spot alongside Adira. "Welcome back all; It's good to have us all back on the ship rearing to get some intense, life-risking action. A good portion of you already know the general idea; A Soviet ship sent out a distress call recently from a few hundred systems away. It happened to mention the Mutters Spiral - a Soviet vessel that our two resident Soviets happen to have lived on prior to joining this crew. As their shipmates and friends, we owe it to Kestrel and Alysson to offer our help to their ship. We've got plenty of funds leftover from the last job to easily cover all our expenses for the next couple of months at least. We're going to restock on ammunition and supplies before taking off directly for the signal. We'll be using a Boosted FTLT jump so even though it's far away, we should get there relatively quickly. While we're all here, I'll give a quick update on a few changes; Our medic, Lydia, was mustered for mandatory Waning medical assistance at Tethia, so we'll be down a crew member for, honestly, a long time. In addition, Jane has decided to stay behind on Corverant instead of risking a potentially dangerous mission such as this. Since we're down a member, I took the liberty of searching for a replacement of Lydia. Unfortunately she's not much of a medic, but I'm just happy we'll be at full strength till we can find another of Lydia's ilk. She should be arriving soon, and once she's here, we'll be leaving immediately. Back to the mission at hand; We're pretty much flying into this blind with no idea of what we'll find. Adira will make sure we don't get out of FTLT too close to make sure we have time and spacing needed to get the hell out of there if it's too hot." After a brief pause, Silas concluded by saying, "Any questions?"
 

tristiloquy

想要睡十小時
Risa fidgeted with the key in her hand as she approached the ship's entrance. A few days ago, someone who called himself "Side Burns" had contacted her and asked if she was interested in working with his crew. She didn't have any other jobs to do, and anyway, it was probably another crew that she'd be unable to get along with and end up leaving. As long as she was getting paid, she didn't really care who she'd be working with.

The lock clicked open and she pulled on the door, huffing quietly as it proved to be heavier than she'd initially assumed. When Risa managed to open the door far enough, she slipped in and shut it. "Side Burns" had been clear about the directions, and even if she somehow did manage to misunderstand him, it was fairly obvious where she needed to go. Glancing at the minimal surroundings, she slowly wandered down the hall, running her fingers against the wall. She'd been on many other ships before, but none like this.

By the time Risa reached the doorway of what was probably the ship's hub, she could hear the ends of a briefing filtering through. She gently eased the door open, peering through the small crack. Right next to the door was someone who, judging by how close they were to her, wanted a quick exit or a spot where they could observe the rest of the room. In the middle was presumably the "Side Burns" that had recruited her, if the facial hair was anything to go by. She quickly made note of everyone else, faintly glowing eyes darting from side to side.

But for someone who was supposedly intelligent enough to be a tactician, this wasn't Risa's most well-thought-out idea -- she was an unfamiliar presence, seemingly spying on the crew and wearing a suspicious mask that concealed half of her face. What could possibly go wrong?
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
When Kestrel arrived Stratton hesitated and glanced at Silas and Adira before taking a symbolic step back. It was better for the brass to explain the nature of the distress call, especially seeing as there was no way to know what kind of emotions the information would cause the blonde super-soldier.

Thankfully Silas's usual casual tone and down-to-earth way of explaining the situation didn't seem to garner much in the way of anger, fear or sadness from Kestrel. Unsurprising really knowing who Kestrel was and how she acted. Still, based on his own personal experience Stratton knew that even the most cool-headed individuals could reach their breaking point in an instant- assuming the right button was pressed hard enough.

Once the meeting started Stratton found himself standing in the room near Silas and Adira. His expression was rather neutral as Silas went over what he knew- which was rather limited. The added fact that there would be no medic accompanying them on a possible rescue mission/hostage rescue wasn't all that comforting. Losing an extra gun didn't help either, though that just meant that the group would need to compensate by slinging even more lead into the air.

"I could try and reach out to Intelligence, see if they've snooped up anything." Suggested Stratton before continuing. "Though knowing the Soviets there might not be much to snoop up."
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
"Unfortunately no, I didn't get the entire message. I only had time to hastily write down the coordinates. We're pretty much blind on this one, unfortunately. However the Soviets aren't known for being outright hostile to non Soviets, so maybe things will go over well. And if they're actually in danger, and we help alongside previous members of theirs, they may be willing to accept us. Although, this is a lot of hypotheticals. We won't know until we're there."

At the prospect of having Waning pull information for them, Silas pondered a moment. "See if you can get anything before we enter FTLT. If not, no worries. I doubt Waning would have anything on a Soviet vessel anyway. But good idea nonetheless." After a brief pause, Silas assumed there were no more questions. He felt bad guiding his crew into an unknown danger, but he felt compelled enough by his friendship with the Soviet Sisters. He expected the crew would do the same for just about everyone else on the ship. They'd been running together a while now; no need to see them as heartless mercenaries at this point.

Silas heard the soft sound of the door to the hub being gently opened. He turned, knowing they were expecting company. "Ah, there she is. Everyone, this is Risa. She'll be another one of us since we're currently missing out on some important firepower. When it's this dark I'd rather not leave us with a smaller crew. I'd have hired more too, but no one else was willing to venture into space for a Soviet distress call." Silas reasoned. "Alright, Adira'll take us to a Boosted FTLT launch site and we'll get out to the signal in a matter of hours. Get your gear ready within 10. Stratton and Kes, I'm relinquishing all combat authority unto you. Once lead and energy starts flying, you two have control. Kep, you have full authority with devices and the like. Dismissed." Silas let out a breath. He was never good at talking to a large group. He felt like he spouted walls of words at people, and didn't like feeling so high and mighty with bossing others around. He hoped his informal speeches came across more as a fellow crewman than as a boss of any sorts. He just wanted everyone alive and well at the end of the day.

He turned to Risa, saying, "Welcome aboard The Ambivalence, Risa. I'll guide you to your room." He motioned down the hall, to which they turned the corner and approached a door on the starboard side. "Here you are. Not much but it's yours and it's private. I'll see to showing you the ship in an hour or two, Adira and I need to plot the course to the Boosted FTLT jump station. In the meantime feel free to talk to the others of the crew or just explore on your own. Once again; Welcome aboard, Risa."
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
Adira wasn't quite as willing as Silas to call the Cavanaugh sisters real "friends," but, this mission had enough potential benefits for everyone involved, and it would be an interesting flight, if nothing else. It was a shame they had lost their doctor for the time, but it just meant they'd have to rely on their pooled medical experience for a while. Adira stood beside Silas as he debriefed everyone on the next mission. She wasn't exceptionally fond of the idea of Stratton asking Waning Stars for more information, but there was the chance it could help keep them safe.
Adira looked over Risa when she walked in. So this was the new girl Silas had mentioned. So far she seemed a bit meek, but only time could tell. She definitely had a smoother entrance to the cry than their most recent member, Alysson. After all, this new one had actually been invited.

While Silas took Risa to be shown around the place, Adira headed to the bridge to get started plotting their ship's path. As she passed RIsa and Silas to go to the bridge, she introduced herself with a brief, "I'm Adira. You can call me Cap if you prefer," then continued on to the bridge.
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
The Jenkins Curse The Jenkins Curse
The mention of the Mutter's Spiral was all it took to get Kestrel's attention. But that mention didn't yield much of a response from the blonde soldier, at least not at first. She nodded a bit, acknowledging Silas' brief overview before lapsing into silence. Even Alysson's curious looks her way didn't result in a lot of give. Kestrel was many things but reserved or guarded rarely. And yet she seemed deliberately remote, even as the owner of the Ambivalence summoned up the crew.

During the briefing, her eyes flickered between Silas and Adiria as the context was laid out for them. She nodded once as assignments were given out. And still her face remained frozen, emotionless.

Viper Actual Viper Actual
Once Silas dismissed them, she glanced Stratton's way and said "We'll need to connect on chain of command, or maybe division of purview depending on our skillsets."

Then, to Silas directly, Kestrel said "Thank you, boss." Just a crack in that ice showed as real warmth bled into her words. "However this plays out, thank you."

tristiloquy tristiloquy
Risa, being new crew, gets a nod but what passes for Kestrel's usual sunny smile is a ghost of itself.

Kharmin Kharmin
One by one, the crew filtered out of the Hub until only she and Alysson were left. Her sister made the first move for once. But decisive as Kestrel usually was, she remained quiet and remote and Alysson's fussing with the beverage passed entirely without comment or even reaction.

Then the other Cavanaugh started making some damn good observations. Finally, Kestrel's brain started to work again.

"Suspicious," she repeated slowly, then nodded just as slowly. "Yeah, that's one way to put it. It's a pity we don't have any context for the transmission, or the transmission itself. The name of our ship wouldn't mean much to anyone else but if the tranmission also mentioned that it's Crusader-class, it might very well be a lure to bring in scavengers to prey upon."

She snorted once at her sister's wry comments about access codes. "If this were about us, the person who transmitted that message would have to know who we are. Know the Mutter's Spirial by name. Know where we are. If they just wanted a meeting or a kidnapping, far easier to come here rather than cast a net into interteller space and try sifting through the whole ocean of it."

"No," Kestrel said, her mind still working the problem. "It sounds like maybe a Russian transmission meant for another Russian ship. Maybe they know where it is. Or maybe they've found one of our colonies seeded along the way. Either way, that's bad for us. Bad for our people." The blonde's soft blue eyes softened further as she added, "At least, if your experience is anything to go by."

Kestrel took a breath, held it, sighed it out and rubbed her eyes with the palms of her hands. "I never thought I'd hear that name again," she said softly. "I thought I'd made my peace with it too. But here we are, and here that transmission is, and we're all flying to investigate and I honestly don't know what I think, how I feel, what I'm going to do when we get there."

She took another breath, shakier than the one before. A tremulous smile formed on her iips. "You asked what do I make of the news? I think it's the best and worst thing, both, all at the same time. C'mere, won't you?"

Kestrel held up her arms in plain invitation. "I could use a hug, even if you don't."
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Silas did little more during his time between the briefing and their quick jump to the FTLT Booster. He lazily checked on a few systems in the ship to ensure they still ran but otherwise he didn't do much. He was almost unsure of what to do with himself for the time being. He checked every fuse, every wire, every switch in the week off they had previous to this new, surprise mission they were embarking on. He knew every spot of the ship was double checked over countless times. It may have been the first time Silas felt there was nothing left on the ship to optimize. He did what he could to help Risa get into the swing of things during their time jumping to the booster. Other than that, he spoke to a few of the crew members about anything, or just filed bothersome paperwork.

He hoped whatever happened over the course of the next few days, they'd find the Mutter's Spiral intact and undamaged. Best case scenario it was a malfunction and they just needed a quick refuel. Worst case scenario - there wouldn't be a Spiral to go back to. He kicked the idea out of his mind of a worst case scenario.

It only took a matter of hours to get to the Booster, a sphere about the size of a large asteroid. A hex pattern busied the hollow shell, with a single hex missing from one side. They approached while Adira cleared them for travel. Soon, the hexes opened up to fit The Ambivelance through easily, with a similarly sized exit for them. Inside, the sphere was awash with purples and blues violently swirling around. It took a chemical engineer to understand what was going on inside a FTLT Booster, something Silas had little interest in. As they passed through, the ship sped up exponentially until they reached the exit - to which the ship began skipping past stars so fast their light barely registered them all. It would only be a matter of minutes to cross the hundreds of stars on their way to their destination - Boosted travel was thousands of times faster than normal FTLT. Silas didn't get to use this kind of travel often but he found it a spectacle every time.
 

Vudukudu

Farseer to the Warsong Clan
Once Kepler's filled in on the details, he spends most of the time on their journey wired into his work station in the cockpit with Adira. The standard exchange of ship IDs, pass codes, and verifications passes through automatically thanks to basic functioning computers, and the rest is practically a formality. Drone ships are essentially capable of making the same maneuver, provided they broadcast their destination ahead of time. As Kepler has long since discovered, his fellow humans prefer to have a captain and pilot aboard any ship, even if they never actually enter the cockpit. Dozens of "captained" luxury cruise liners stand as testament.

His typical disinterest applies equally to the light show offered by boosting, and he remains plugged in despite the brief loss of ansible connection caused by their jump. When he reconnects, he finishes compiling the results of his last few hours of work. The collected files, organized neatly for consumption, detail the last several sightings of the Mutter's Spiral by merchantmen, star system defense platforms, and other open-source intelligence platforms available for the hefty subscription he purchased with his pirating money. The rest is scattered tidbits about the Soviets, their vessels, and a handy chart explaining that ammunition taken off Soviet corpses will not chamber properly into the crew's arsenal. With that done, he wires the file directly to the various data-pads on board, then parts ways with his computer to sit in the cockpit.
 
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