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Episode 1: All That Slithers
Topic Started: Jan 3 2017, 04:11 AM (640 Views)
The Lionheart

In a dock on Santo, a beast sleeps. The Lionheart is a large ship, not easily roused from slumber. He sleeps with his mouth open, the ramp to the cargo bay extended, ready to receive the crates that comprise his next delivery--the first with a full crew. Captain Andrea Davos stands at the bottom of the ramp, shading her eyes from the glare of the sun. Her eyes are fixed on a nearby warehouse where she knows her reptilian cargo currently resides. She awaits not only her cargo, but also her crew--after all, transporting live animals is not a job easily accomplished alone.

Soon, the Lionheart's maiden voyage will begin...
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Andrea Davos
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It was going to be a long day. Andrea had not slept at all last night. As usual, she'd stayed up worrying. She was going to be captaining this ship, and that meant it was her job to make sure things went smoothly. That meant coming up with every possible scenario the Lionheart might encounter on his maiden voyage, and having contingency plans for them all. And since that was how she went through life anyway, it had been easy to let her mind keep running through the night, consequences be damned. So here she was, running on zero sleep, several cups of coffee, and a day-old pastry. Her whole body felt like a live wire, her thoughts whizzing at a mile a minute.

Luckily, all of those thoughts revolved around one core concept: this trip, and how to make it a successful one. At the moment it was...she checked her watch. 10:23. The cargo service that was set to deliver the Lionheart's cargo for this voyage should be arriving any minute now, bringing with it ten large refrigerated crates, each filled with exactly five snakes. Why a zoo needed so many snakes Andrea did not know--she'd asked, of course, but had received in answer only vague mutterings about breeding experiments. They'd offered a nice sum of money for safe transport of the plethora of reptiles, though, so she'd taken the job. If nothing else, it would definitely be a step up from her last venture. As far as she was concerned, sheep were demons, and she'd be happy if she never had to have them in her cargo hold again.

After thirty-one more seconds spent chewing her lower lip and tapping her fingers on her thigh, Andrea saw a couple mules emerge from a warehouse further down the docks and head in her direction. It seemed to take them an eternity to reach the Lionheart, and as they pulled up, Andrea was already walking toward them. She exchanged greetings with the first man off the mules, and even put up with a couple sentences of small talk about the weather. After that, though, it was straight to business.

"So, this is it, then? All fifty of them?"

The dock worker nodded. "You got it. Fifty snakes, sleeping snug in these refrigerated crates." He glanced at the crates, then back at Andrea, eyebrows rising. "If you don't mind me asking, what do you need fifty snakes for?"

Andrea offered the man a small, tight-lipped smile that stayed confined to her mouth. "Transporting them to a zoo. That's all I know about it."

The man let out a low whistle. "Must be a big zoo. Good luck with that." He looked back at the mules. "So, anywhere in particular you want them?"

"Actually, yes." Andrea reached into the pocket of her pants for her Corpad. Tapping the screen, she pulled up a diagram, which she showed to the man. "This is a layout of my ship's cargo space. You see the numbers arranged around it, one to ten?" She waited for the man to nod before continuing. "That's where I want each crate to go. Ten crates, in order, in exactly those positions. Can you do that for me?"

The dock worker studied the diagram for a long moment, his brow furrowed. Finally, he nodded. "We can do that for you, no problem." He kept his tone neutral, but Andrea could see on his face that he thought her request just a tad silly. She didn't care; she was used to that reaction. She'd spent a solid hour on the diagram, and would not stray from it. This was the optimal layout for the crates, allowing for ease of movement through the cargo bay and accounting for the possibility of rough flying that would shift the crates. With this arrangement, they should be in for smooth sailing.

That was the hope, anyway. As the dock worker turned to his comrades and relayed her instructions, Andrea kept her eyes on them as her mind sped on to other matters. That was the snakes taken care of. Her crew, though, was another matter entirely. Her timetable had the Lionheart taking off at noon at the latest, but for that to happen, the various people she'd chosen to hire on--after extensive, very thorough vetting--would have to show up on time. She made sure to stress the importance in the personalized waves she'd sent each of them, and was hopeful that they would arrive in a timely manner. But, she reminded herself as the first of the crates settled into its designated space in the cargo bay, she could not control everything. Try as she might, some things would always elude her grasp. And other people were always the worst offenders on that front. Andrea's hand curled into a fist, nails digging into the flesh of her palm. All she could do now was wait. It was insufferable.
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Ivan Kravenoff
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Thrill Seeker
"Then this bear, he towers over me, like a mountain! He lets out a mighty roar!" Ivan stood up, not the wisest decision a man sitting in the back of a mule ever made, but the story demanded the commitment to the pantomime. The veteran hunter spread his arms out wide, twisted his face into a snarl and gave his best impression of an angry bear. His driver, a rather young man with dull brown and a lopsided grin was suitably impressed.

"How big was this thing?" The young worker asked in awe, the stories of Ivan Kravenoff always impressing those who sat and listened. This young boy, named Daniel, Ivan had asked him his name of course, was no exception. After all, what excitement found carrying boxes and crates could match that of a man who bested beasts across the 'Verse?

"Bigger than many, not as big as all." Ivan sat down, crossing his legs beneath him in a manner suggesting remarkable spryness for a man in his late middle-age. "This bear is towering over me, but my rifle is lost, my pistol is empty, just the knife and tomahawk left." Those same two weapons, along with said pistol, were sitting on his belt at that moment, clearly visible for all to see. The carbon steel of the axe was polished and gleaming, the silver revolver loaded and ready for quick draw, bone handle on the skinning knife with easy reach. He was a professional, best appear one.

"The bear, he lunges! But Ivan is quicker than the great beast! I role aside, drive my knife through his ear! Take tomahawk to his stomach! We fight a great battle but ultimately, no bear is a match for Ivan Kravenoff!" To emphasize the point, Ivan removed the strip of dark brown fur from his belt and held it aloft, showing, to all the world, that he was many things, but a liar wasn't one of them.

"You took that from the bear?" Daniel asked in awe, gazing back towards the strip of fur. "A bear you killed in melee?"

"From the top of his head!" The hunter responded before hanging the trophy back on his belt next to a loop of bones that rattled as he walked. "As a foe so worthy, that bear deserved his own place. I keep him next to this particular one," he tapped a scalp of hair on the belt that looked suspiciously human in its composition, "Now that was a battle."

"So what happened next? With the farmer?"

"Right! Rosa! How could I forget her!" Ivan leaned back and smiled slyly. "She was ever so grateful to Ivan Kravenoff for saving her herds from the marauding bear. She thanked him with monies but, there was a more personal reward she wanted to give him." He smiled, "God what a woman! Crimson hair cascading down her shoulders! Built by God himself, all curves!" He held his hands before his chest in his best impression of a woman's bosom, "Out to here!"

Daniel's eyes practically fell from their sockets at the mental image of breasts so large.

"Naturally, she wanted to thank me all night long for my hard work. As a gentleman, I was only too happy to oblige her request." He chuckled at his own joke, smiling fondly at the memory. "But now is the time for steady work. A man has to eat, young Daniel, even Ivan Kravenoff cannot eat dust! So He finds work when hunting is slow, hunting is slow now, so work is now. See?" He tilted his head to the side, the wide-brim of his cowboy hat casting a very long shadow.

"I think so," Daniel responded cautiously.

Ivan clapped him on the shoulder, "Good lad."

They rode the last few minutes in silence before Daniel parked the mule outside the Lionheart, Ivan's new home for the foreseeable future. A quick glance at his watch showed the time to be almost 10:30, which was good, his new employer had mentioned a noon departure and Ivan wasn't going to delay that exodus. He was professional and not even a night of heavy drinking and whoring would keep him from fulfilling his duties.

Uncrossing his legs and hopping off the steady mule, Ivan took both his dufflebags and slung them across his shoulders, leaving his pistol, knife and tomahawk still within easy reach. Daniel lifted the far large carrying bag from the back of the mule, groaning beneath its weight. "What'd you got in here Mr. Kravenoff?"

A fair question.

"My tools of the trade!" He bellowed happily. "Taxidermy kit, tranquilizer darts and guns, nets and traps of differing sizes, hooked poles for wrangling, assault rifle, sniper rifle, carbine, shotgun, antique buffalo rifle, very expensive but worth it, two more pistols, more knives and a few grenades. Just the essentials. Oh, and snacks, Ivan tends to get hungry." Leaning back into the mule to retrieve his last item, Kravenoff stated, "I like you Daniel, I think I will tip you well." The dock worker liked that bit very much and picked up the heavy bag without further comment.

Retrieving the stuffed and plaque-mounted buffalo head from its place by his feet and silently thanking the universe that those majestic creatures had been spared extinction, so that he could hunt them, he beckoned with the trophy for Daniel to follow him towards the open maw of the Lionheart's cargo bay.

There she stood, Andrea Davos looking every so handsome in the flesh, with milky-white skin and midnight hair, cut short in a way that wasn't unflattering. There was something to be said for a more mature woman...

Careful Ivan, this is employer, for obeying, not for sleeping with. Do what she says, without smartass comment maybe? She does look like she could use a good bedding though...No, focus on the task at hand!

Despite the two bags on his back and massive buffalo head in his hands, Ivan bowed politely. "Captain Davos. I'd remove my hat but well..." He held up his trophy and chuckled,"I'm Ivan Kravenoff, hunter of men and beast and I am very pleased to make your acquaintance. I trust the time we spend together with be very memorable and profitable, yes?" He paused, allowing Andrea to bask in his prescience for a moment before continuing, speaking slow enough that his thick Russian accent didn't garble the words. "I have many weapons and supplies, is there a place I can put them so young Daniel can be paid? I also need wall space for this."

He'd said quite a lot. Fortunately, the buffalo had no preferences as to which wall it occupied.

Ivan smiled one last time, it was good to finally be back to work.
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Olivia "Liv" Kallan
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Liv poured milk into her bowl of cereal, quickly grabbing a spoon and tossing it in. She'd only woken up an hour ago and yet, she still felt exhausted. She'd told Andrea to get some rest for their big day today, but Liv had barely discovered sleep herself. Unlike her captain and friend, though, she'd at least gotten a decent amount of sleep. At least she was somewhat rested for the day and the adventures that came with it.

The anthrozoologist picked up her bowl, taking a spoonful of the cereal she'd brought specifically for this journey. She took a bite, going into the dining area where her CorPad rested on the table. She noticed a message from her older brother and quickly opened it. She hoped to God it wasn't Matthew telling her he was returning to her freelance work or there would be hell to pay. Not because she was responsible for her brother's actions. She was not her brother's keeper, but because Liv could not help but be the mediator and involve herself in her father and brother's affairs.

The young woman was exhilarated to read that his job application had finally been picked up. He now had a job on an Alliance ship. That would surely please their father, not only because it was steady, but because it was for the Alliance. Liv set down her breakfast and picked up the CorPad. After taking a photo of her in her new abode, she sent it to him along with a message that read "I'm proud of you! Save lives, Matty! - Liv".

Once done with that, she tucked the device under her arm and picked up her bowl of cereal again. She went to the cargo bay where they would be expecting crew to show up any minute. The only reason Liv was here so early was because she'd decided to stay the night in her new bunk. Might as well get used to it now, right?

Stepping into the cargo bay, Liv noticed a mule arrive with what appeared to be one of their crew. She took note of all of his weapons and then looked at the plaque with the buffalo head. She turned up her nose. He was aware that they weren't hunting animals, right? They were transporting them. In fact, this was a strictly animal friendly ship.

Liv stayed off behind Andrea, watching the interactions between the new captain and the apparent hunter. She took another spoonful of cereal, her attention being stolen by another mule approaching. With her friend dealing with the new crew member, Liv went to deal with what appeared to be another delivery. She glanced toward the man who was setting up the other crates. If those were the snakes, what were...

"Medical and veterinary equipment," the delivery man said, answering Liv's mental question. Ahh, that made sense. They hadn't received those yet. Their vets and their doctor would have to unpack those later. Liv signed for them with one hand and gestured for him to set them inside. Once the first crate was set in the cargo bay, Liv sat on it, crossing her legs while she continued to eat her breakfast. She set her CorPad next to her.

Andrea was going to have a conniption. Liv could sense it and she knew she'd have to be the one to get her to relax.

"Planning to hang that thing somewhere?" Liv asked before taking another spoonful. She gave a short smile that disappeared as quickly as it came.
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Olivia "Liv" Kallan
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Holly Anne Sanderson

Holly was on time, as always.

Well, technically she was a little early, but for her, early was on time, and on time was late. Her equestrian coach had been former military, and so his timetable had been skewed to leave ample time for unforeseen circumstances, and she'd never been able to shake the habit.

As she approached the Lionheart, she saw the mules lined up with their cargo, standard refrigerated reptile transport crates, with their control panels giving temperature readouts. She checked them at a glance as she passed by the train of vehicles, and approached the ramp, making sure that nothing was overly out of range.

She was more inclined to care for mammals, and her training specialized her towards the fuzzier denizens of the 'Verse, but snakes weren't terribly difficult to look after either. Keep them fed, keep them warm, keep them healthy.

Nice and simple.

At least, that was the plan, anyway.

A new job meant new people, new challenges, but she was grateful for the opportunity. She'd been searching for gainful employment a while, living off of her savings, reticent to dip into the family fortune that her parents kept insisting was there for her to use, should she like. She liked being more independent, making her own way, and so she'd signed on as the Zoologist (or at least one of them) for the newly operable Lionheart.

She continued her trek past the containers, and moved on to the pallets of supplies and equipment, making a mental note of the contents, and nodding approvingly to herself. The captain was either well versed in the requirements of caring for myriad types of animals, or had someone on her staff that was.

The ship seemed well stocked, and ready to transport whatever creatures were thrown at it.

Holly smiled. She hated having to "make do" as much as she had at the zoo, worrying about budget and payroll and such. It was not why she entered the field, but came with leadership. It'd be nice to just focus on the actual work again.

She mounted the loading ramp, and approached the only person she'd met thus far. Dr Kallan was an anthrozoologist, which had a lot of crossover into both anthropology and zoology, Holly's chosen fields. She'd met the Doctor briefly, and only once, at a conference on Santo whose purpose Holly couldn't remember, but Dr. Kallan was striking, and left a memorable impression.

"Doctor Kallan. It's good to see you again. I'm Holly Sanderson. We met at the conference a while back." she said, not realizing that she'd interjected herself into an already in-progress conversation. "How've you been?"
Edited by Holly Anne Sanderson, Jan 4 2017, 03:23 PM.
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Trouble Adjacent...
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Esme Fuentes
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My darling Esme, I know that you're probably not going to see this till you're settled in but I wanted to wish you all the best in the 'verse on your travels. I am so proud of you. Don't forget to write often and I hope we can speak daily but if your job gets hectic I'll understand. They are lucky to have you and I wait with the utmost impatience ever till you're back home with me. Can't wait to hear from you, remember I packed your gun in your personals so move it somewhere safe when you get there. I love you more than the stars themselves. - Aris Wolfe


A small smile appeared on Esmerelda's lips as she read the message from Aris on her CorPad. She had a moment before walking to the docks and decided to see if Aris had messaged her anything yet. The note was touching and a pang in her chest made her want to drop everything for the nearest ship back to Osiris. Esmerelda wasn't exactly excited to be leaving her fiancè or even her normal job to go on a transport ship filled with animals. She didn't even really like animals if she were being honest but it was one of the avenues she could do as a part of her rotations for residency. And it seemed like the best option to get off planet. It was her last year being a resident before taking her board certifications to be a licensed physician and she promised Aris that after she was done they could finally get married. But now... Everything was changing.

Including her job.

It took a lot for Esmerelda to convince Aris to let her go to Santo alone, he wasn't exactly keen on letting her travel to a border planet by herself but Esmerelda was having none of that. She packed two bags one full of personal items and another full of her medical tools and some useful antibiotics and immunizations for toxins (and other animal-related injuries). As she walked to the docks she couldn't help but notice the type of people on Santo. Rugged and tired soldiers and civilians a like crowded the docks, the countless strip clubs and brothels made it hard to form a pleasant opinion of the place too. She wouldn't admit it just yet but Esmerelda was already counting down the days till she got to see Aris again.

"Ah hijo de tu madre, what was the ship called?" Esmerelda muttered while she looked at her CorPad quickly "Lionheart"; right. She wandered down the docks looking at the signs till she finally found her ship. Seeing a few people around the cargo bay she made her way over. She had Matthew Kallan to thank for the job— well that and his sister who agreed to give her the job in the first place. She made a mental note to send him a message when she was a bit more settled in. That and Aris was probably worried about her already and she'd need to reassure him that she hadn't be kidnapped by space pirates and sold into slavery.

Wrinkling her nose at the smell of animals she side-stepped a few of the men loading up the cargo bay and glanced around. There were already plenty of people around the cargo hold but Esmerelda was looking for one in particular. There was a woman who had to be Matthew's little sister sitting up top some crates having breakfast it seemed.

Esmerelda walked over, bags in both hands looking tired. " Sorry, excuse me." She passed by the red-headed woman. "Doctor Kallan? I'm Doctor Esme...Excuse me, Dr. Esmerelda Fuentes. We spoke a while back when I was with your brother on Osiris? I just wanted to get settled and get out of people's way if you don't mind. So who do I need to talk to do exactly that?" She glanced down to see what Liv was sitting on only to see a medical insignia and she sighed quietly. Guess I'll be unpacking that too, she thought.


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Dr. Esme Fuentes


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Isabel Cortes
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Even before she decided to travel regularly, Izzy had learned to pack lots of things into as few containers as possible. Her fathers had liked to travel from time to time, and had taught her the best ways of doing things. For her, that sort of packing meant her luggage tallied up to her personal tool kit (locked of course, to keep the contents from growing legs and walking off), two sea bags almost as big as she was, and one smaller 'carry-on' type bag. The lot of it was neatly arranged and securely strapped to a small hover cart she had invested in before leaving Sihnon. The cart had been necessary for her tool kit anyway, so she had gotten one slightly bigger than she strictly needed so she could use it to transport the rest of her things, too. Shipyards were chaotic by nature, and not all of them had employees readily available to help people with their belongings. Izzy was the sort that preferred to do things herself as much as possible anyway, rather than relying on other people. Especially when she heard stories of lost or damaged luggage. She was protective of what was hers, and liked everything to be in top condition.

Having packed the night before except for the barest necessities and her CorPad, she was able to spend her morning in a relatively leisurely way. After dressing for the day and packing away the last bits and pieces that needed packing, she had taken her CorPad and gone down for breakfast. Coffee, eggs, pancakes, bacon, hash browns, and fresh fruit with sweet cream. Once she had eaten her fill, she returned to her room one last time to retrieve her luggage and check to make sure she hadn't missed anything or left too much of a mess before checking out. As always, she hadn't done either.

Pushing the hover cart ahead of her, Izzy made her way through the crowd towards the docking bay she had been told to go to. She had spent the past three weeks on Santo, working general maintenance at the shipyard in exchange for pay, and room and board at one of the local hotels while she waited for another shipboard job to come up. It wasn't a bad arrangement, but there was still too much of the 'Verse out there she hadn't seen yet, even after so many years of moving about in it. She had turned down one job, due to not getting a good 'feel' from those offering it. There was reason to believe they were pirates, and not the glorified 'honorable' sort often found in holovids. Izzy wasn't desperate for the work, and those who were skilled the way she was could afford to be a little picky. Maybe it was a somewhat cocky way to think to some people. She saw it as simply knowing her own abilities, knowing what her skills were worth, and refusing to settle for less.

A short distance away from the docking bay, Izzy noticed a number of people going to and fro, entering and leaving the ship as they went about their business. A quick check of the time showed there was still plenty of time yet to departure. She decided to wait a few more minutes to approach and let the cargo handlers do their thing and get gone before she did that. Waiting would also give those who were coming on as crew time to shift off to wherever they needed to be. In her experience it was better to wait a few extra minutes than add to the traffic jam inherent with take-off preparations. She wasn't going to wait more than ten minutes, though, which ought to be plenty of time from the looks of things. She wanted time to stow her gear, and check over the engines before they took off. Moving her hover cart to the side where it would be out of the way, Izzy flipped it to idle, and watched her surroundings as much as she watched the time.
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Andrea Davos
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It seemed the 'Verse had decided to throw her a bone. A third mule pulled up, and it seemed to be carrying a person rather than cargo. One of her crew was already here. Good. Whoever it was, Andrea was already predisposed to like them. Anyone who arrived this early was okay in her book.

When she saw who stepped off of the mule, though--and, more specifically, the buffalo head he carried--Andrea's joy shrank just a little. Of all the crew members to arrive earliest, she had not expected Ivan Kravenoff to be the one. It was in her nature to question the wisdom of every decision she made in her endless quest to foresee and prevent disaster, but the decision to hire Ivan weighed on her more heavily than any other decisions she'd made regarding the Lionheart's crew.

Put plainly, the man was strange. She'd done as much research on him as she could, but had come up with little. His parentage raised no red flags, but as soon as she'd tried to look into his service for the Alliance during the war, she'd come up against a hard wall made of classified information. There was nothing more frustrating to her than answers being just out of reach. Ivan was one big eccentric question mark, and she was not happy about that.

But, as the buffalo head reminded her, Ivan was in possession of some useful, if…unconventional skills. She did not expect him to have to hunt down any of the creatures the Lionheart would be transporting, but in a short interview she'd conducted with him a short while ago, he'd impressed her with his widespread knowledge of various animals and how best to subdue them. With that, he would make a good counterpart to those on the ship who were more scientifically-minded about animals. Still, though…she had planned for the man to bring on his various belongings, but had not factored in any trophies. That was unexpected, and thus, it drove her crazy.

"Captain Davos. I'd remove my hat but well..."

Well, he was certainly polite. His accent would take some getting used to. It took Andrea a second to parse his words before she responded. "It's good to meet you, Mr. Kravenoff," she said, nodding in greeting. "I've set aside a bunk for you already. If you head inside, it'll be on the second deck, above the cargo bay, up that far ramp there." She pointed. "Your bunk will be on the right side, the third door. There should be ample space in there for your equipment." She eyed the buffalo head for a moment, and her smile slipped slightly. "As for your...decoration...we'll have to discuss its placement at another time." Her eyes slid away from Ivan's face as she spoke, focusing on yet another approaching mule behind him. She hadn't placed any more orders for today, just the snakes. Everything else, she'd scheduled specifically to arrive before the snakes, figuring that she should save the most difficult task for last so everything else would be settled. Then, what was...?

Then she saw Liv approaching the mule, and her smile disappeared entirely. She was already stepping past Ivan before she remembered to toss back a curt, "Excuse me." She kept moving, taking long strides after her first mate, who sat on the crate eating a bowl of cereal, careless as could be, as though she hadn't just thrown the delicate balance of Andrea's world completely out of whack. "What is this?" she demanded of her best friend, arms crossed. "I didn't ask you to order any more supplies. Did you order these on your own? Without consulting me?" As she spoke, her right hand toyed with the wedding ring on her left ring finger, twisting the band around and around. It was a nervous habit she'd picked up years ago and never managed to put back down. "You can't just bring more cargo onto the ship like, that, Liv!" She pulled out her Corpad, again displaying her map of the cargo bay. "I have this diagram for a reason, you know. I've planned out where everything should go for optimal spacing. Then you throw these new supplies into the mix...I know they're necessary but..." She threw up her hands. "Would it have killed you to consult with me before just placing an order?"

She waited for Liv to explain her act of treason, but just then another voice entered the conversation. Andrea jumped at the sudden sound, and quickly spun around to see who had dared to surprise her. She was dismayed to see not one, but two other women approaching. A quick glance at each of their faces was enough to confirm who they were. As both women greeted Liv, Andrea glared at her first mate, hoping to make it clear in her expression that ordering the medical supplies was the last decision Liv would make on her behalf. The arrival of more crew had saved Liv from a lecture now, but she would hear it later. Andrea would make sure of that.

"Doctor Fuentes. Doctor Sanderson." she nodded to each in turn. "I'm Andrea Davos. I'm the captain of this ship. So, to answer your question, Doctor Fuentes, I would be the person you talk to to get settled. I have cabins prepared for you both on the Lionheart's upper deck, but since my first mate saw fit to order a delivery of medical supplies without consulting me..." Her words came out close to a growl. "I'll need to talk to you both about how best to store these supplies."

Out of the corner of her eye, Andrea saw someone else approaching, hover cart in tow. That would be Isabel Cortes, the Lionheart's mechanic. She, thankfully, didn't seem to be bringing anything with her other than her personal effects and the tools of her trade. Andrea thanked the 'Verse for small mercies. She spoke to Liv out of the corner of her mouth. "Can you go greet Miss Cortes, please, Liv? Without any more surprises, please."

OOC: We'll have deckplans soon, I hope. Then placement of things should make more sense.
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Brooks Bergstrom
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In all honesty, the past three weeks had been a blur.

The gremlins had followed him again. They seemed to follow him wherever he ended up. Sure, sometimes they'd take their sweet time in finding him, but they found him all the same. Every ship that he'd worked on had fallen on disaster, which would cost him his job. The latest victim of the gremlins was the Badfish, a particularly insane short-jump freighter that operated around the border planets. The captain, a self-proclaimed Rastafarian professor who went by the name of Looseweed, was also loose with the ship's discretionary funds. So when, after four months of fairly successful (if not chaotic and fast-paced) jobs, the twin engines suffered a catastrophic failure at the same time, the Badfish was grounded, as ol' Loosey had managed to not save enough for repairs. Bergstrom couldn't afford to wait around for the captain to make the deficit up and get the engines replaced, so he shook hands with the professor and made his way. Jah bless, Rasta.

And then came the blur. Filling the hole where work used to be wasn't hard to do on most worlds, and Santo was better than most. There was no shortage of bars, clubs, seedy establishments to drop the savings into and make the hours pass by effortlessly. He could take his time forgetting about his bad fortune and get all his repressed craziness out of his system before finding new work.

And finding new work hadn't taken long, given his long list of references. Brooks was an amiable guy, he got along with all his past captains (even the ones who managed to undo their own ships,) and his record was solid. When the ship called The Lionheart was looking for a pilot, he made sure to contact Captain Davos as soon as he could make his fingers work. He did the interview with only the slightest hangover, and was offered the job no problem. With a week to prepare, he spent five days blowing the rest of his savings, a day in bed with a blonde couple (this was strictly recovery time, they both enjoyed just cuddling, it seemed) and had spent the morning packing his possessions up and downing the gnarliest prairie oyster he could find here in town.

With his single oversized duffel slung over his right shoulder, and the smaller items tucked into the pockets of his peacoat, he strode through the streets at a languid pace. There was no need to rush: there were still fifteen minutes or so before he was expected, and The Lionheart was just around the way. The sights and smells of Santo were worth experiencing at one's leisure today, before he headed out into the unforgiving and largely samey Black.

Spotting The Lionheart, he noted the pileup on the ramp: mostly women, though there was one safari-master looking guy there carrying a large head. Already not boring. He noted some movement around the side of the ship then, and decided to investigate while the logjam cleared itself up.

Making his way around, he spotted a hovercart piled with a few bags, and beside it...

"Izzy...?"

Isabel Cortez. They'd worked together, once upon a time, on a ship called the Prince Edward. That ship's captain was a particularly irresponsible rapscallion called William Lutz, who came with a particularly nasty gambling problem. This, of course, led to its natural conclusion: Lutz lost the deed to the ship over a game of dice, leaving the crew stranded on Fiddler's Green for a week or so before they could find reasonable passage off. In the meantime, he and Izzy had... gotten to know one another. But they ended up going their separate ways.

Ways that had, apparently, eventually led them back here.

He approached her with a familiar confidence, leaning on her hovercart and setting his bag gently beside her own. He gave her his most charming smile. "I can't believe you're here. You're not... working on this ship now, are you?" He slapped a hand against the hull of the beast. "I heard the pilot is horrible. You're going to have all kinds of headaches ahead with this idiot."

Izzy was talented, and so was he, and they each knew that about the other. They had actually worked rather well together, and considering their previous trip together didn't end in tragedy, it was honestly really good to see her again.

In more ways than one.
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Ivan Kravenoff
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Ivan was standing happily outside the ramp, waiting for a response from his new employer when another crew member made herself known, walking towards the ramp from the inside of the Lionheart. She was blonde, with piercing eyes and an ethereal quality to her features, holding a bowl of cereal in her cream-colored hands. She was absolutely captivating, like a siren of earth-that-was.

My God, another gorgeous woman! Calm yourself Ivan, this is work, be a professional.

"Planning to hang that thing somewhere?" She asked him slyly, taking a spoonful from her bowl and swallowing gracefully. She shot him a short smile that vanished after a moment. It was a beautiful expression.

"Of course!" He answered her boisterously, shifting the heavy object to one side to free up his left hand, "This great beast did what bear, lion or even man didn't! Almost killed me!" His words may have sounded horrific but his tone was anything but, suggesting he was proud of the bison's combat prowess. Pulling his shirt up with his left hand, he revealed a rather brutal and impressive-looking circular scar to the left of his stomach, right above his gunbelt. "I was hunting this heard of buffalo on some massive park for a client on some moon. Name is not important." He shifted the stuffed head slightly so the point of one of the horns was almost level with the scar. "Millions of buffalo, a glorious massive herd that shook the ground when they ran! Let me tell you, brought tears to this hunter's eyes! Magnificent beasts!" He gazed off momentarily, seeing the herd in his mind's eye before carrying on with his tale. "This one, the alpha, gored me really good, punched the horn clean through my skin like a knife and cardboard box. Hurt real bad." He gave a wheezing chuckle at his understatement before putting his shirt down again. "I just managed to shoot his heart with my revolver while impaled on the end of his horn! Very good shot, even by my standards! Bought very nice buffalo rifle after that, very nice, an antique." He nodded, like that description was supposed to mean anything to the woman. "He deserves his place on wall for what he did, if some beast almost kills me better, he'll get wall spot. Simple as that."

Before he could launch into another tirade Captain Davos cut him off, "It's good to meet you, Mr. Kravenoff. I've set aside a bunk for you already. If you head inside, it'll be on the second deck, above the cargo bay, up that far ramp there." She pointed in the direction that she'd mentioned. "Your bunk will be on the right side, the third door. There should be ample space in there for your equipment. As for your...decoration...we'll have to discuss its placement at another time."

Before he could thank her for her generous professionalism, and accepting him aboard a ship of angels and Valkyrie, she was stepping past him towards the cereal-eating woman with a simple, "Excuse me."

He was about to instruct the young dock worker to bring his things aboard when Davos launched into an angry, verbal assault on the other woman, something about how she, Liz, her name was, should have consulted captain Davos before buying more supplies.

Careful Ivan, Davos likes her house in order, I can respect that, tidiness, very helpful.

Not wanting to interrupt, or be disruptive in any way, Ivan took a step back and waited for the right opportunity to take his stuff aboard. Judging by the rapidly expanding number of arriving crew members, again, mostly women, that opportunity would present itself shortly.

He smiled, tipping his hat slightly to better block the sun and waited. Life was good.
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Isabel Cortes
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Seeing that she had been noticed, Izzy raised a hand slightly in acknowledgement. It would have been rude to do otherwise, in her opinion. She continued to wait before approaching though, wanting to let some of the traffic clear up before doing so. As for her luggage, Izzy had admittedly considered bringing along a small store of basic parts, but in the end had decided against it. In her brief conversations with the captain, Izzy had gotten the impression the woman was sensible enough to have ordered at least one replacement part for things that didn't need specialized lifting equipment to get in and out of the engine. Not every ship captain was like that, though. That was a lesson she had found out the hard way. As far as tools went, Izzy... like most mechanics... preferred to work with her own personal tools rather than using someone else's. It was similar to the way chefs preferred to use their own personal kitchen implements. And like chefs, mechanics didn't tend to like other people using their tools.

The sound of her name drew Izzy's attention away from the goings-on at the ship. When her eyes confirmed what her ears had already told her of the identity of the speaker, she grinned. "Brooks! Good to see you again" she exclaimed happily. Naturally, her eyes ended up roaming over him. She never could keep herself from checking out an attractive male. "Still as handsome as ever, I see" she added playfully. It had been quite a while since they had last seen each other, but she very much remembered him. How could she not? It wasn't just the... extra time... they had spent together, either, enjoyable though that had been. He was just the sort of man that stuck in a person's memory.

"I've been on this dirtball for the past three weeks" she said with a small shrug. "And if you mean Lionheart, yeah I am" she answered, flicking her head at the ship when she said its name and arching an eyebrow at him. His next comment made her laugh. Not quite a belly laugh, but definitely a full-throated and unselfconscious one. "Oh, is that so?" she asked, eyes sparkling in amusement. "Sounds like I might have to whip him into shape, then" she couldn't resist adding. Izzy was fully aware of the innuendo contained within that comment, and may or may not have been deliberately phrasing her comment in that particular way.
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Olivia "Liv" Kallan
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Ivan quickly started an anecdote that Liv had no interest in hearing. In fact, her expression fell for a moment, disappointed that the man had not caught onto her disapproval of the "decoration". So, the man was clearly a hunter. A skilled hunter. And not for the purpose of feeding himself. Oh, no. He seemed to do it for fun and Liv could not approve of that. She glanced at Andrea for a moment, curious as to her opinion on the man's choice of hobby. She also couldn't help wondering what in the world she was thinking by hiring this man if she did know about his extracurriculars.

As he told the story, Liv could think of several reasons the buffalo would attack him. It was her profession after all. Luckily for her, Andrea cut him off. She let out a breath of relief, taking a bite of her cereal again and letting Andrea handle their new crew member. This would most definitely be an interesting trip. That was obvious from just the three of them.

"Thank you," Liv whispered when Andrea came over to her. She looked back down at her bowl again, but quickly returned her attention to her captain as the older woman began scolding her. Liv's eyebrows rose. The only person who had ever spoken to her like this was her father and even he'd been a lot gentler, because Liv was his little girl and his only one. Liv almost felt like a daughter being chastised by her mother which was strange, because Liv didn't remember what it was like to have a mother.

"Would it have killed you to consult with me before just placing an order?"

Before Liv could defend her choice, along came another crew member. Actually, along came two crew members, both of which were directing their questions to her. She glanced at Andrea and then the two other women in front of her.

"Doctor Kallan. It's good to see you again. I'm Holly Sanderson. We met at the conference a while back. How've you been?"

It was the coppery red hair that sparked Liv's memory. She tried to remember everyone she met at conferences and conventions, but she knew it was inevitable. She was bound to forget someone. However, she was very happy it didn't happen when she needed to remember most. It would have been incredibly humiliating to not remember her and then have to spend months together on a ship working together.

"Yes. I do remember you. I am doing decently well," Liv answered. Her eyes shifted to Andrea for half a second as if instinctively hinting to the current tension between the captain and the first mate.

"Sorry, excuse me. Doctor Kallan? I'm Doctor Esme...Excuse me, Dr. Esmerelda Fuentes. We spoke a while back when I was with your brother on Osiris? I just wanted to get settled and get out of people's way if you don't mind. So who do I need to talk to do exactly that?"

So this was Esmerelda Fuentes! Liv grinned. She was actually very excited to meet the young doctor (well, she was older than Liv, but still). In fact, Liv had been most excited to meet Esme. She was the one who had convinced Andrea to hire her. Besides, Matthew never let Liv meet any of his friends. Before she could reply, though, Andrea had stepped into the conversation.

"Doctor Fuentes. Doctor Sanderson. I'm Andrea Davos. I'm the captain of this ship. So, to answer your question, Doctor Fuentes, I would be the person you talk to to get settled. I have cabins prepared for you both on the Lionheart's upper deck, but since my first mate saw fit to order a delivery of medical supplies without consulting me... I'll need to talk to you both about how best to store these supplies. Can you go greet Miss Cortes, please, Liv? Without any more surprises, please."

Really? Really, Andrea? She was just going to put it out there like that? Liv set her bowl down on top of the crate, sliding off of it. She looked at the two doctors who had approached her.

"It's good to see you again, Holly. I'm so excited to meet you, Esme. My brother spoke highly of you," Liv said before turning to Andrea and stepping closer to her. She leaned in closer to the captain and gently grabbed her shoulder. "Andrea, we need these supplies if we wanna get anywhere. We leave at noon. They have an hour and a half to unpack them and get the crates off the boat. Relax. Deep breaths. I'll have them out of your hair. Just trust me, Captain."

Liv then walked down the ramp, heading toward their mechanic and the man who had just approached her. She looked back and forth between them, catching bits and pieces of their conversation as she approached. She cocked an eyebrow. What were the odds of them hiring two people who knew one another... Or maybe the gentleman was just someone she knew and they were chatting before Isabel left.

"Well, it seems you two know one another. I'm Liv Kallan. I'm the first mate of the Lionheart."
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Olivia "Liv" Kallan
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Brooks Bergstrom
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Brooks grinned when she reacted positively toward him. He didn't think that she'd be upset or mad or anything like that, but considering the two of them had some... history, and hadn't spoken since they'd parted ways... well, there was always a chance that someone had hurt feelings about that sort of thing. They were never serious or anything, but they weren't exactly a secret, either. A little awkwardness, at least, may have been expected, but even that didn't seem to be the case.

"Brooks! Good to see you again! Still as handsome as ever, I see." He grinned at this. It was an easy thing between them, the conversation had never been stilted or forced. And setups like that came with easy replies.

"And you're just as gorgeous as ever. Must be all the engine grease, keeps your skin nice."

He ran his fingers through his hair, looking her over as she looked him over. She hadn't changed a bit. That would make the new ship situation even easier, as well - having someone to naturally team up with was never a bad thing.

"I've been on this dirtball for the past three weeks," She started, and gave a little shrug. That was funny - he'd been there for the same amount of time. It was simultaneously strange and not that they'd never crossed paths. It was a small world, but not that small. Besides, they'd both more than likely found themselves some company in the meantime. Well, he knew he had. She probably had, too.

"And if you mean Lionheart, yeah I am. Sounds like I might have to whip him into shape, then."

He grinned at her laughter, at her smile. Still as shiny as ever. He waggled his eyebrows at her. "You brought a whip? Is that standard maintenance equipment? I knew about the chains and things, but the whip is new." He was happy to play with her; their give and take was what made the days back on the Prince Edward bearable. He was starting to wonder whether or not they were going to pick up where they had left off when a voice piped up beside them.

"Well, it seems you two know one another. I'm Liv Kallan. I'm the first mate of the Lionheart."

He turned his attention toward the approaching woman (another attractive one, if that could be believed.) He gave her a grin as she approached, holding out his hand. "Ms. Kallan, a pleasure. I'm Brooks Bergstrom, I'm to be the pilot of this lovely boat. And speaking of lovely, this is the lovliest, most talented mechanic in the Verse, Isabel Cortes. Believe it or not, we worked together before on the Prince Edward, and not to toot my own horn, but having a pilot and mechanic with a rapport is, well, a boon to any ship." He winked toward Isabel. "Especially when the mechanic is the gorram best."

He paused, and squinted his eyes, looking just slightly above Ms. Kallan. "She can be a bit... chatty, sometimes. But don't hold that against her." He grinned to punctuate.

This was going to be a lot of fun.
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Esme Fuentes
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Doctor Fuentes. Doctor Sanderson. I'm Andrea Davos. I'm the captain of this ship. So, to answer your question, Doctor Fuentes, I would be the person you talk to to get settled. I have cabins prepared for you both on the Lionheart's upper deck, but since my first mate saw fit to order a delivery of medical supplies without consulting me... Esme stopped listening for a moment, she was looking around seeing the crates and the animals being moved from one place to the other. Her nose wrinkled a little, Esme was trying her best to want to be here. She snapped back, I'll need to talk to you both about how best to store these supplies. Can you go greet Miss Cortes, please, Liv? Without any more surprises, please." Oh right. Supplies. Wait, was Liv leaving their company so soon?

"Well, I think we can separate them between human supplies and animal supplies?"
Esme mused. "Let me know how I can help, I suppose. I'd like to put away my things first if that's okay?" And connect with Aris who must be wondering what is taking her so long to get on one ship. She hoped he wasn't as nervous as she was feeling, it would be nice to just sit somewhere and catch up on the rest of her life first. Check in with her parents (after Aris since he'd need to be soothed first) and perhaps with Matt if he wasn't off doing, well, whatever it was Matt Kallan did.

Esme just stared between the three women, well she certainly wouldn't have any problem here. She smiled a little to Liv, nodding. She didn't want Liv to leave just yet, she grabbed onto the other woman's arm gently.
"Let's catch up later? Matt sent some things along with me for you, they're packed in my bags somewhere... She was distracted as she noticed a few others and made mental notes to say hello to them. With her attention back to the captain she offered a polite smile. "Just point me in the right direction, captain and I'll be out of everyone's hair. Then perhaps we can discussing at length where I'll be storing some of my medical kits?" She didn't bring much since it wasn't her responsibility but she did bring a few things of her own to be safe. She had no idea what to expect out there other than animal bites and maybe some bumps and bruises here and there.
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Dr. Esme Fuentes


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Isabel Cortes
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Izzy was definitely not upset. As far as she was concerned, their… relations… had ended amicably. And as far as she knew, though it had been casual between them he had kept to her rule about not getting to know anyone else while their history had been happening. To her way of thinking, that meant there was no reason to be upset. Things ran their course, people parted ways, and life went on. Sometimes, though, people crossed paths again. Sometimes, things could resume. Sometimes they didn’t. Getting uptight and anxious about everything wasn’t her way. Maybe it was a side benefit of growing up around Companions, or maybe she would have been like that anyway. Whatever it was, there were no hard feelings on her end, and no awkwardness.

”Eso, y orgasmos frecuentes” she replied with a saucy wink to his comment. ”And a healthy dose of good genes” This easy flirtatious banter between them was something she had missed. She hadn’t realized how much she had missed it until now, either. It had been far too long since she had been around anyone she could fully be herself with. Most people were uptight about sex to some degree, even if they didn’t realize it, and tended to judge others when it came to the subject, again even if they didn’t realize it. She didn’t get the judgey vibe from Brooks, and she knew herself well enough to know he wouldn’t get it from her.

She had found some 'company' while she had been here, but no one she had gotten attached to and no one it would pain her to leave for 'other' reasons. Women had needs too, after all, and 'going solo' so to speak only took you so far. Not having run into each other before now was slightly odd, and a bit disappointing too. It made Izzy wonder how many other times they had been on the same planet at the same time and not known it. She wished for a moment that they had kept in touch since parting ways... even if it was only a wave now and again... but there was no changing the past. And at least they were here now.

"Only a small one" she admitted, flashing a shameless grin. She had in fact brought a modified flogger. A little something to spice things up should she find any 'company' but modified and softened in a way that it would be harmless and not cause true pain or leave any marks. "There is only a limited amount of space on board a ship, after all. And no, it's not standard equipment. It's my own personal addition. Never know when such a thing will come in handy." She was about to add in an offer to show it to him later, but the approach of another person interrupted the flow of the conversation.

Izzy held her own hand out in turn, and gave the woman a friendly smile. "Nice to meet you" she said. She let Brooks ramble on, nodding a little at the parts about the two of them having worked the same ship before and the chemistry... work related chemistry... between pilot and mechanic. "It doesn't hurt when the pilot is the gorram best, too" she tossed in, winking right back at Brooks. She let out a soft huff of amusement at his comment about her being chatty. "And he's a shameless flirt in addition to being fully aware of exactly how handsome he is... but don't hold that against him" she replied, teasing him in return.
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