It was also boring. The view of space through the big, industrial, easily-replaceable single-plate cockpit window on the Redfall bridge offered no recourse for his wandering mind. He kicked back. He propped his hands behind his head. He examined his feet, wrapped in airtight grip-mesh that form-fitted to his hind-paws. He wiggled them. This was also gray, just a different sort of gray.
He plucked up the radio mic that talked to the ship's insides.
"So busboy," Thor asked, "Ever been to Skylat?"
He had however thoroughly decided he hated the ship's captain. Thor simply never shut up. Worse still Thor would inevitably get bored and activate the ship's PA just to chatter away about whatever was going on. This cause Oliver to sigh, and then try to ignore him for an hour. Then after an hour of a one-sided conversation, Oliver Finn would pick up and respond. Oliver Finn then hit the white button on the wall and sighed before he spoke. "No." He said with his heavy voice.
"Skylat's great," he said to the battered old microphone, "It's this free starport we're headed to, edge of civilization. Beautiful bitches, just beautiful, lots of booze, swimming pools the size of small lakes. We've got time on this load once we hit the pickup point. Want to cruise town with me?"
Thor experienced other several seconds of ominous silence, but soon the heavy baritone of Oliver Finn called back at him. "We need more lemon-scented floor cleaner. You are also running out of those little meat biscuits you like." Oliver then looked over at the pantry and opened it. He actually wasnt lying. Bit Bit's bacon disks! With real Bacon! Was down to its last bag.
It was time for a little detour. He sat forward in the pilot seat and set a new course.
"Yep," he said, "gotta have my fucking biscuits. Try not to mention that to the ladies."
Thor put the mic back in it's saddle and sat back in the chair, swiping around along the digital representation of their route to stop off at Skylat station. He was getting pretty tired of torturing the janitor and needed a break. Nobody had told him that he would be a solo act except for some company hired shit-cleaner. The only thing that had kept him from hooking the intercom into his jams had been a vague embarrassment about listening to classical tatiya hini strings music. Elves were hot. But there was culture there he found that he liked.
Point was if he was going to be alone he would rather be totally fuck-ling alone rather than put with the retarded ex soldier.
They docked a few hours later. Thor parked it like an asshole, which was hardly noticable because everyone else seemed to park like assholes.
"Right so," he said, scratching his eyebrows, "best bars are in Taitown, few streets over. Local joints, second floor type shit. Try not to get involved with anything too seedy. Do not try 'snuffle'. Bad time, even off naked women."
Cybernetics didn't quite seem to be working right, when they connected to her they gave a bad response, but even if they did work correctly, she doubted her legs could handle the pain of supporting her body, without extensive braces. Here on the ship she was at least welcomed, and her chance to learn as a medic-in-training was secured. Though she was aware that no one wanted to be the patient of someone who was still in training, she hoped they would understand that even the most seasoned and trusted medics had to start somewhere. Since she joined, her services haven't been needed, but she had learned quite a lot just by studying, and the quiet nature of the ship at night gave her plenty of time to practice on her prosthetics.
She rolled her wheelchair off the ship, in rather casual clothing as she glanced around next to the others. She was a fairly standard human, albeit small. Straight black hair and blue eyes adorned a soft and somewhat cold face. "I'd recommend not trying local street drugs, period." She mused. "Especially off naked women."
Now the skipper was a small furry man, which meant like furry beasts he liked things warm and cozy. The Ship was balmy for the OGRE, who had taken to working in his work pants, walking shoes and a tank top that left his augmented muscle structure free for all to see. Finn went to his quarters. A spartan room, more akin to a closet with a metal bunk attached to the bulkhead. He grabbed his clothing bag and removed his work clothes. He put on a dark grey t-shirt, a pair of olive green cargo pants and a cloth clasp belt, then tucked his shirt in. Finn was indeed an ex-soldier, but he did not come on this ship with a gun. He did, however, pull out his old combat knife. It was a large weapon, nearly two feet long, and thick, clearly tailored for the massive hand of an OGRE soldier. It came with a small brown leather scabbard that he clasped to the belt of his pants. The clasp was at an angle so the composite handle was easy for him to grab, draw then slash in a single movement.
The massive man trailed behind Giles. "Skipper." Oliver said greeting the animal man with a polite nod of his head.
Giles would then see Oliver's emerald green eyes do a quick up and down of her, then move away. She was tiny. Indeed his forearm was nearly as big as she was. Her appearance was the first thing he noticed. The Chair. He didn't know her story. He had no idea why she couldn't be repaired, though, money was always a factor for such conditions...as well as newer space born pathogens. The emotion he felt looking at the disabled woman was not sympathy nor pity. His initial reaction to seeing Giles was he was simply thankful he was not like her.
"But moooom," he said, "the naked women are the best thing here."
He held that pleading, theatrical lean towards Eleanor for only a few moments longer before straightening and deadpanning. He smoothed the collar of his miniature pilot's jacket, complete with the cream-colored Wing emblem on the back of it, and over the left breast. On someone else the sheepskin would have been warm, but on Thor it was largely decorative.
"Anyway, seriously. The two of you had better get used to this station because it's right smack in the center of most of the trade runs - right on the path between the land of the glow-spotted giants," he continued, referring to the Ersetu, "and the Alliance in the west, and our own beloved capital. Hell, we'll probably drop a few cans here, too, sometime. So, seriously. We've got a day or two to kill before I go paw at the local office to give us something to haul in the direction we're going. What do you, mon camarades, wish to see first?"
It took her a moment even when she observed it, to really understand what kind of face that he was making. It was slight and hard to read, but it was something that surprised her, something she had never really seen before. It wasn't shock, nor any degree of pity or real sympathy, it wasn't even the opposite, there was certainly a form of recognition, but beyond that she simply couldn't tell what kind of response had to her state. Curious, and she had considered herself fairly good at reading the facial expressions of other species, perhaps it was just something new.
"All in all I have no real qualms with any suggestion." Giles responded, before she quickly clarified. "Though I'd prefer to not be offered drugs, regardless. I'd imagine there's some decent food or entertainment nearby, considering the proximity to the spaceport."
"I think fresh food is the best thing for any of us. Even alien food would be a good change from those freeze-dried packs we've been having. I'll pass on the drugs and...entertainment. Besides your payment hasn't even cleared, Captian." Finn said looking down at Thor.
There was a Public House nearby the dock called Gretchen's. It had an unassuming face, and the inside seemed filled with locals from the shipyards taking lunch or drinking 'coffee'. The whole outfit was kitted out in 'Kowlani' fashion; old shipping crates welded together formed the bar, which was kept dim in dull yellow lighting. The stools were unprocessed scrap wood that had been aged with use and worn smooth, and the floor had a dizzying array of carpets from all over the universe. One of them was shag, and Thor stopped to scuff his bound feet over it.
Someone with a keen eye for that sort of thing might notice that, despite the decor and the patronage of Thor, a suspiciously unclean fellow, Gretchen's was spotless and the visage manufactured.
"Hey hey hey," he said to one of the waitresses, "What's the special?"
The waitress was human. She wore a dark blouse with a long skirt, and tennis shoes. Her accent was a bit difficult to place, but might have been alliance, since she didn't look genetically modified. "Beef wellington?"
"Choice." He looked up at his two companions. In the medic's case, he didn't have to look up too far. "Here you go. I'm going to dip out and see what sort of shit the post office has for short-order. Get me one of the specials and I'll be back before it's finished."
He turned the corner that led to the bar's door and was busy fiddling with his right jacket pocket to get his flip lighter to relight his smoke. He found it wedged between his keys and the carton with the rest of his smokes. In one quick motion, he pulled it from his jacket, pulled it to his face, and flicked the cover off while his thumb rested on the starter. Pressing down, the twin jets of orange and blue flame danced out with a soft breath of warmth and the soft crackle of burning paper as he took a draw to catch the cigarillo before closing the letting loose of the starter and closing the cover to his lighter before returning it to his pocket.
He stopped at the edge of the Gretchen's door, leaning on the walls underneath a light to finish off his smoke before going in. He knew he could probably smoke inside, but he wanted to stay in the dim station lights just a bit longer, it reminded him of home. His real home back on Washington. He let himself drift into a numb thought as he took semi-frequent draws and slow exhales as his cigarillo burnt down. As the paper burned into the faux, pseudo-wood tip, James took it from his mouth and flicked it out into the opposite side of the street before leaning and turning to enter as a Foxguy walked out. He nodded to him as he began to walk, his Alliance accent smooth and low against the drone of the station air system's symphony.
Gretchen's was about what Giles expected it to be, a mix of unkempt yet orderly, structured to feed and serve the needs of its patrons, but clearly lacking in the time and hands to keep everything in top order. She immediately grunted as she glanced down at the wheels of her chair as they went over the varying carpets. One or two was fine, but the absolute amalgamation of fabrics and textures, depths and smoothness of them all threatened to catch her wheels, and she didn't want one of her first words with Oliver to be a request to yank her wheelchair free. She shifted upward at her earliest convenience, pulling herself into a tables chair with relative easy, pulling the wheelchair close and out of the way of others.
Shifting to a more comfortable posture, she took a gander at the menu of the place, glancing over them with relative quickness. She wasn't a picky eater, but she knew what she liked, and what was typically 'safe' to order from a place you'd never been to on a planet you'd never heard of. "Well, it's definitely something new. What do you tend to order at places like this, Oliver?"
Oliver's green eyes fixated on Giles who had spoken to him. "Salad." He responded calmly. "And bread. I don't eat meat." He said not even looking at his menu.
In fact, it took the whole damn meal. The salad wasn’t very good for the janitor. Giles had taken the safer bet – mac n’ cheese. It was even warm when she got it. The waitress was nice even to James Calloway, who hadn’t sat with them. The gristly Alliance cowboy got waited on last, and he was still waiting on his food when the Tai Pan fox-pilot sauntered back in between two women.
One of them wore a dark hoodie, dark eyeliner, a pair of long, stylishly mis-mashed stockings, one purple and one white, lined in metallic colors. Her large hoodie reached her ass, but her ass was halfway exposed by the bodysuit upper she was wearing. The shoes gave the style away; this was the sort of clothing that Tai Pan upper class wore, to tease the lower classes with their utter lack of interest in sex by proclaiming how much sex they could be having. The other one wore a mask and more traditional elvish clothing - which is to say, it obviously wasn't store-bought, or at least not the sort of store that normal people bought things in. It was fashionable, robed without being voluminous, tight in the proper places, and in a very, very dark blue color that neared black. Her boots were sensible, but they were boots that would have been more properly found in some anachronistic play about ancient history.
This didn’t seem to bother Thor in the slightest. He was busy scrolling through a last-generation freightscreen rimmed in 1992 Beige. It had come with the ship.
He barked, “Listen up ladies,” and then paused to look up at the actual ladies. “Figure of speech. I’ve never seen the Ogre act like a proper lady, yeah? Total fucking savage. Picks his damn nose too. Really tiny penis.”
Thor demonstrated by holding the fingers of his paw apart. Small indeed.
Demonstration over, Thor hooked a foot on the edge of the stool and clambered up to toss the freightscreen on the table. “We’ve got about twenty pallets of dry good crap, a few postal bundles, and these two passengers heading on with us to Rarjuni. Get acquainted because we’ve got a few more fucking days.”
He looked at the bare spot on the table, and then squinted around. “No alcohol? What, are you all dry?”
The first job opening posted was for a dockworker. It didn't have benefits and paid the money equivalent of a loaf of bread a week. James scrolled down with one hand while taking the bottle of Alliance-import beer. When the scroll stopped, he huffed as he sat his bottle down with a dull clunk. It was literally a job for a male servant in the capital. Scroll. Space Trucker, Scroll. Cattle Driver, Scroll. He reached the bottom of the page and placed his datapad on the top with a sigh just as his hand accidentally hit the bottom of the screen.
The datapad pulled up the last job on the page, which was old and probably filled. Jame took a longer swig of his beer before he noticed it. It didn't say an explicit job description, it just listed 'Looking For Crew.' It was also about three weeks old. Out of curiosity, he leaned back into the booth seat and pulled up the dossier that was attached to it. He'd just reached a picture of the hiring ship's captain when the Fox guy had come stumbling back in with two women in tow. "Huh..."
He waited for him to finish speaking, judging him in his mannerism and speech as if he was the one looking over prospects for hire. Hell, he didn't even know if he was still taking crew. At any rate, he was unemployed and desperate to send money home.
"Hey, uh," He looked down to his datapad before looking up again, "Captain Fan. You want a beer?"
There wasn't a whole lot to say about the Mac'N'Cheese, it was warm, and it was Mac'N'Cheese, about as high quality as one could expect from a random restaurant that didn't deal well in pasta. The taste wasn't great, but it wasn't awful, by all means it tasted like the kind you'd get from a buffet or self-served at a cafeteria. She thankfully had the foresight to drown it in salt and pepper, though it did little to improve the taste, even if it did make the overall mush more bearable. Perhaps she should have gotten something else that would be have at least tasted better, even if it would be more risky in its quality or her own taste, but it was past that now and she didn't have enough of an appetite to order anything else. She was at least kept from complaining about it by the realization that she wasn't even given the worst of it, the reality dawning upon her as she saw the poor excuse for a salad presented to Oliver.
The two Tai-Pan caught her eye, and her already baggy eyes narrowed as they moved about. She didn't like Tai-Pan, she tried not to be so direct in declaring a dislike for an entire people, so she would specify, she disliked the higher castes of Tai Pan, the ones who were all high and mighty about their superiority over both their own people and those who were not. She had stopped counting the offers she'd gotten from their type a long while ago, and she'd learn to ignore them for the most part. She'd hoped they wouldn't be carrying them as their passengers, but she wasn't exactly the best at picking up what they were to do from initial statements. "Perhaps I'll drink once we're in for the night." She responded in a droll tone, glancing about the place. She wasn't sure why, but restaurants, no matter the type, seemed to lose their appeal when the food no longer held up its standards.
"Anything fragile in the cargo? I'd prefer to not have it break before it's even on the ship."
Taianese walked into the room. Thor spoke loudly and made remarks about Oliver's body as per usual. Oliver had finished his salad took a swig of his root beer then eyed the boisterous captain. "Can we save the little man syndrome bullshit and get to it already?" The OGRE grunted, his green eyes falling on the newcomer.
“Holy sweet fucking god,” Thor said in a total theatric deadpan, ignoring that someone had called him ‘Captain’ instead of ‘Skipper’, his preferred titular pronoun, “Yes, I’ll take a beer. Grab a butt-cushion and slam it down there, pard’ner, you’re hired.”
He looked back to the other crew and to the pair of gentile ladies who had found their own places, one beside Giles and the other grabbing a final chair from a nearby table to sit. They moved with a strange unearthly grace that made them, somehow, even more out of place than the diner’s post-post-modern décor. If they were aware of this odd presentation, or that the tables they were sitting at were made of smashed-together bits of plywood and bullshit, they didn’t seem to care.
Thor launched the freightscreen’s navigation mode, zooming out all the way to show a clear greenish line that streaked off into the dark cosmos, indicating that they were going to the Rarjuni system. “Right. Well, as you blindfucks might have known if you’d read where you were going before you signed onto my merry little craphauler, this current run is from Skylat – here, that is – to the Duke’s palace in orbit of Glass. As to the fragility of our cargo, it’s –“
One of the two women, the shorter one with dark tresses framing the white, faceless mask, provided; “Not fragile at all. It is food, for his grace’s Golden Days.”
Thor picked up with only a mild glare towards the young masked girl, “Which is a big, fancy, week-long festival. Clogged all the damn freight up going one direction and fuck me if we’re going to get something getting back out of that shitshow. Any other questions?”
James pointed to his waitress, holding up his half-full bottle of beer with one hand and two fingers for two more. As soon as he knew that the waitress had seen his signal, he stowed his datapad in his jacket pocket before standing up. He took a few steps towards an adjacent table, sipping at his beer once he stopped, and took the spare chair to move. He placed it in a spare spot and sat down with a quiet sigh and listened to Thor's briefing.
He had a limited knowledge of the logistics of freighter work, he knew how to fix most things from his two years in an engineer's job a couple years back, though with the ship being Taianese, that might not be easy. He could pilot, but he knew some Skippers preferred to helm their own ships. Finally, considering the crew size and what he could guess was all of them, he'd no doubt be deck crew for loading things. That couldn't be that hard.
Backing out of his thoughts, he didn't have any immediate questions about the job that he wouldn't bring up later once they were aboard. "Sounds good enough to me, anything I should know about the ship?"
“Yep, that’ll be nice, no more shoving shit around for me. Smooth sailing from here to-”
“When can we leave?” asked the apparently younger Taianese, heading off Thor at the pass.
“When I’m done with my fucking beer?”
The night ended with several realizations. One of those realizations happened to be that Thor Fan could not hold alcohol. Vaguely, Giles would have remembered that canines were not supposed to drink alcoholic beverages at all, but Thor seemed to be an exception to that rule. After one beer, he became more loquacious. After two beers, he became pensive. At three beers he tried to bite Oliver’s foot off, which was objectionable enough that he had to be carried back to the Redfall squirming. He had to be deposited in the small hammock set up above the much more person-sized bed in his sparse sleeping quarters, which confused the drunken fox, proving that he couldn’t quite claw his way out of no-stretch polyester. Eventually he quit trying and fell dead asleep.
The ship did not leave that evening. People went to their rooms, or explored the ship, but without its pilot the ship didn’t go anywhere. The two taianese stayed together, fastidiously obscuring their faces from positive identification until one of them hit the showers. Then, the second one snuck in, fooling nobody, and the other three crew were treated to some illicit night sounds that at least Oliver would have eventually found annoying.
And then it was quiet.
Not quite quiet enough.
On the flight over here, Oliver had noticed that the Redfall sometimes made sounds not unlike many of the ships of the line that had been converted into freighters. At first it sounded a bit like the moaning sounds the taianese had been making – but after a few more times, it sounded more like a lowing noise, such as a cow might make if it were in some type of pain. It couldn’t be the ship flexing in its moorings; that sound was metallic. And it couldn’t have been the engines, which were cold. The sound registered too low on the spectrum of sound and didn’t echo.
Giles heard it too, as did James, though to James it sounded as though it was coming from beneath his room, from one of the maintenance corridors a level down nearer to the hatches for access to their freight container. He could hear whispering, too, coming up from the grating, though not a language that he had been used to hearing. It sounded sort of like elvish, the way that the pointy-eared bastards that ran his country sometimes spoke to each other. It was disconcerting, however, enough that it was remarkable.
He prepared to leave his room a minute later, walking over to the personal wall console that doubled as an alarm clock, personal computer and anything else you cold think of. He began to try and dial up Thor, but given his condition earlier, he instead dialed up the medic. He spoke quietly yet understandable, looking down at the grating beneath him.
"Miss Giles, this is James. Do you hear what's going on down below?"
Fire, it felt like fire, crushing and twisting nerve endings in response to her defiance. She bit her lip as she forced herself into a stand position, still heavily leaning against the bed as she tested the waters of the foreign legs once more. It was still deeply uncomfortable, she held no illusions of walking today or anything else beyond standing, and even that would only last so long before the discomfort dislodged her balance and sent her sprawling as she did on unlucky nights. Something caught her attention though, something that she, at first, simply didn't notice. She went silent, ignoring the dull ache as whatever it was became audible once more. She almost immediately scoffed, lowering herself back to the chair while her hands savagely undid the bindings.
She loathed the Taianese, but quite honestly that was an understatement. Just looking at them, or hearing about their many escapades brought a bitter taste into her mouth that no amount of drink would drown. They were the apex, the shining pillar of what biology could be turned into and the raw result of human and alien advancement, and worst of all is that the species was collectively aware of it, and acted as if they lacked the capacity to understand what the world 'humility' was. She tried to shut the noise out of her head but something else did first, as her small, lithe headpiece rumbled just in front of her ear, and James' voice called out as if he was standing in the same room. She had her console hook up to her headphones, which didn't envelop her ears but instead simply hooked around the back of the head, a directed speaker vibrating sound through her cheekbones instead.
"I'd prefer that I not be hearing the Taianese making more Taianese, but unfortunately they seem to be quite noisy." She responded back.
"Pardon me?" came the feminine voice from outside. It was the girl in the hood with the raven hair, rather than the taller girl in the mask. "Are you the second in command? I can't wake up the Captain."
James' door just got the knock. Funnily enough, the Janitor also received a thump-thump-thump on his portal's doorframe.
He was was cut off when the knock echoed through his quarters. He swore he heard something similar after Giles spoke from beyond her microphone as well, an odd coincidence. "Apologies, Miss Giles, I have a visitor." He left his microphone on, taking steps towards his bedside to grab his discarded shirt from earlier in the day and slipped it on. As soon as his neck went through his shirt he called out, "Can I help you? It's like... bumfuck late."
He slipped his arms through his shirt and adjusted it but did not open the door. He was slightly crimson, thinking that one of the two elves had come up to either apologize or make some sort of note of what had happened minutes ago. What was odd to him was that they moved oddly silently and quick but he knew just how quick some people could be. He still awaited his answer, and idly his hands brushed over his face as he did so, pulling at his tired face.
The raven-haired girl would have a curious sight, an already short human woman sitting in desk chair, missing both legs- Albeit she would already have seen that about Giles. "Yes? Second in command? Well, maybe, I'm not versed on ranks. But how can I help you?" She questioned with an odd look. This was certainly an obscure hour to be going around the ship, and if they were seeking to wake the captain then it certainly seemed to be something of importance.
The face that greeted James when he opened the door was surprisingly human, considering that it had been previously hidden by a mask. She had a gun, and a serious expression, and she was strikingly bald. The Taianese garb was still there – what little there was of it – but the woman with the dark eyeliner had lost the hoodie somewhere and it seemed like what she was presently wearing had been hastily thrown on over her wet body. It clung in ways that would excite the imagination of anyone into wet t-shirt contests. It hid absolutely nothing.
For all that, she looked serious - it was the expression. A middle-aged woman with the sort of eyes that made people uncomfortable. Tattoos spiraled around her neck, and a few of them met her jawline, giving her a rather arcane look overall. Either that, or she was into punk rock.
“We’re in danger,” she said, frankly. “I’ll explain later, but you need to get armed, and quickly. It doesn't have to be a gun, but grab something.”
- - - -- - - - - - - - ---- - - - - - --- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - -
The youth before Giles seemed sheepish, and young, and beautiful, and a little embarrassed. This had been the woman behind the mask, not the one in the hoodie – and she had long jet-black tresses that curled a little bit and shone in the light, framing a face so fine it could have been a picture, and crowning a pair of ears that stuck out in high points from within the wet tangle. She oozed charisma. She had a face that could launch a thousand ships, to take the expression to its extreme. She had an ephemeral beauty that can only be vaguely described in words.
She was an elf. And not just any elf. Giles had seen her before.
Liruliniel Whitemeadow, one of the triplets of the Duke of Rarjuni, was standing in front of Giles soggy and embarrassed and smiling breathlessly anyway.
“I’m sorry to bother you at this time of night,” she explained smoothly, despite the flush she wore, keeping her robe closed in front of her. “But I tried to wake the … skipper? Just like I said. And he is too drunk to fly the ship. Can you fly the ship? We need to leave in a hurry, I’m afraid.”
"Here," he tossed a brown all-weather jacket at her as he opened the zipper and began rummaging through it, "Get yourself decent." After tossing a few folded shirts aside onto his recently-disturbed bedsheets, he pulled out a civilian model Alliance laser pistol and an in-ear comm link. He placed the ear comm in his right ear and checked the charge of the power cell already inside. He seemed suspicious, looking towards her with his eyes before taking another one and pocketing it. He stood back up, leaving his bag open, and motioned towards the door.
"Let's go, and you better go explaining now."
This woman was familiar, and it took Giles several seconds to fully recognize who she was. She would have some degree of awestruck if the circumstances and situation didn't rear their ugly heads in her mind.
Liruliniel Whitemeadow is on the ship.
She was in a hurry.
...Why was Liruliniel Whitemeadow on the ship?
The sinking realization hit her in a way that she couldn't prepare, Liruliniel most certainly would notice the drop in her face. The only reasonable response Giles could think of was that Miss Whitemeadow didn't want to draw attention to her traveling. "Miss, if you don't mind me asking, why the sudden hurry?"
“The egg,” she said, “It’s about to hatch, and we need to embark.”
- Corridors. –
The story came out in staggered bits as James followed the serious, mostly naked human down towards the bay with the cargo attachments. They were hooked onto a large freight can, the Redfall being a cargo-hauler, and the door and airhatch back towards the freight stood locked open.
The woman he was following was named Miriam, and her charge was the Lady Whitemeadow, with whom she informed James in no uncertain terms – as though he needed to guess – she was in love. She had been convinced to elope, without much preamble, and with her was something of extremely rare value that she did not particularly explain. Only that it was important, and that it was doubly important it did not come into the hands of Duke Aniseth Whitemeadow, or make it to its intended destination. This was the cargo they had been carrying, en-route to the Golden Week party on Rarjuni. And so here they were.
As it turned out, she did not have to explain for very long.
The egg was contained in one of the temperature-controlled crates, which had been hard-sealed against tampering. A panel on the side was flashing red, with a small timer that could now be read in minutes, instead of hours. They came upon two other individuals standing next to this – Lady Whitemeadow, and Giles, who had been led down a similar corridor. The ship’s third crewmember, the Janitor, was nowhere in sight, but they were joined by another human in clothing quite a bit more nondescript than either of the others. “Lark” – how Liruliniel had told Giles to address her – introduced him as “Jacob,” and he had simply nodded.
This left all five of them watching the canister slowly count down to zero.
The symbols flashed slowly, red, and red, and green.
Lark patted her hands together in time with it, and when it stopped and clicked open, revealing a marzipan egg with gold speckling on the shell, not yet cracked or hatched, she dipped her hands in and smoothly removed it. Nothing happened, except that the container shut off. Miriam checked the egg over, murmuring something to Lark in elvish, and then she left the elf to her coveting.
“Now,” said Miriam, “which one of you can drive the ship? We need to get moving.” When she drew blank looks she added, "That would have sent a notice to any of the Meadow-wing ships in the vicinity that it's been tampered with. We do not have much time."
He'd learned quick in his past few jobs that it's better not to ask too many questions out loud, and don't fuck too much with royalty. He'd read what happened to Lord Sutauto, and heard plenty more through scuttlebutt at the bar. He momentarily wondered where it would get him before he just finally kept staring at it like some regular movie henchman. He finally twisted his lip a bit before he flatly made a statement.
"Shit, I'll drive."
"What kind of egg is it? What's going to hatch?" Even if the container before her had a big label, she wasn't willing to take any assumptions. She needed an answer from the people who had brought it. She had never been witness to an egg like this hatching, though she knew enough of the general rules from her studies. Things could go wrong, though what exactly depended on what was in the egg. "I'd recommend we bring it to the medical bay as soon as possible." Giles cautioned as the timer reached zero. There was a dark look on her face, one of contemplation. Of course she waited for the input of the others, but her thoughts lingered anxiously elsewhere.
What would happen if they got caught? Would they be considered traitors or criminals? Giles was a civilian, she didn't want to be considered either by anyone.