Prologue...   Posted by Shan Yu.Group: 0
Shan Yu
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 the works of Shan Yu?
Wed 12 May 2010
at 06:09
Prologue...

Ever so slowly, the man’s hand inched toward the pistol.  The tips of his fingers carefully slid along the grip, his forefinger instinctively seeking out the thin steel band of the trigger guard.  His hand settled comfortably on the well-worn grip and he tightened his fingers, lifting the pistol and bringing the muzzle to bear on the target in one smooth, well-practiced motion.

”Scout, if you don’t shut up, I swear by merciful Buddha I’ll fill you full of lead.”  Stacey Yanoro silently mouthed the word *BANG* and simulated firing his pistol, complete with fake recoil.  With a sigh, he then returned it to the table next to the bed, dropping it the last few centimeters, resulting in a heavy thud.  The rather scruffy dog which had been barking at the door to Stacey’s hotel room paused and turned at the sound of his name, a quizzical look on his face which easily and harmlessly deflected the imaginary bullet.  Stacey barely had time to roll over in the narrow bed and pull the blanket tighter around his curled-up body when Scout renewed his barking.  Gritting his teeth, Stacey was about to unleash a new torrent of verbal abuse at the pooch when there was a knocking on the door.  The former Captain of the mid-bulk transport Aurora mumbled to himself, Wo de ma…can’t a guy get a decent night’s sleep around here?”, then called out louder as he swung his legs out of bed, ”Just a minute!”

Scout turned again, and seeing his master getting out of bed, was apparently satisfied that he had done his duty in a truly superb manner and saw no need to continue his ever-so-subtle notification that a visitor was at the door.  Instead, he took advantage of the situation and hopped up onto the vacant bed, quickly settling down and reveling in the nice, toasty-warm spot that had been so generously vacated by Stacey just seconds before.  The man glared at the dog a second, then looked at the pistol, then back at the dog.  Sighing again, Stacey just shook his head in defeat and pulled on his pants before shuffling to the door and opening it.

A young Chinese woman stood at the door, and before Stacey could say “Good morning”, she immediately launched into her presentation.  ”Captain Yanni, your dog too noisy, wake up everybody.  Anyway, Mama downstairs now, she say she wanna talk to you and your others.  I already waked them up…they gonna meet you down in the restaurant.  Why you in bed so long, anyway?  It’s already eight o’clock, for goodness sake.  You sick, maybe?  My English getting pretty damn good, huh?”  Without waiting for a response, she turned and quickly disappeared down the hall, muttering in Chinese…something about “dog” and “menu”…leaving Stacey trying to remember exactly what she said.

The young Chinese woman was named Lin, and she had a tendency to deliver messages in a rapid-fire manner, stringing several occasionally unrelated sentences together into one long, non-stop, single-breathed ramble that invariable left Stacey frowning, trying to decipher the contents.  What was worse, for some reason she had trouble pronouncing his last name, so she took to calling him Captain Yanni.  Stacey wasn’t fully convinced that her difficulty in pronunciation was legitimate, but he gave her the benefit of the doubt and had just gotten used to it.  Lin was the daytime desk clerk at the Celestial Dragon Hotel in New Dunsmuir, Beaumonde.  She was also the niece…or granddaughter…or great-granddaughter…or something…of Mama Fong, the tiny, wizened old matriarch of the hotel and the adjoining bar, The Brass Pelican.

Yanoro had arrived three days ago, after he and his nine companions had been left in the middle of nowhere with a shuttlecraft, the clothes on their backs, and a pocket full of credits as payment for their last job working for the millionaire tycoon, Rafael Bettencourt.  Their ship, Aurora, had self destructed at the hand of Dr. Emilio Mendoza, and virtually everything they owned had been destroyed with it.  Several members of the crew had spent time on Beaumonde a month earlier, and suggested that they return to the hotel where they had stayed then.  It was a decent hotel, and also served as a fairly good location to scout out spacing jobs.  Besides, nobody had a better idea.

The crew’s pilot, Scott Maxwell, had quickly picked up the nav beacon for New Dunsmuir and after an hour’s trip, guided the shuttle to the public shuttle parking facility nearest the hotel.  After a short walk through the bustling streets of New Dunsmuir, the group spied the Brass Pelican…the bar’s namesake, a three foot tall brass pelican, perched on a ledge above the entrance.  Anticipating a reunion with the establishment’s owner (but not so much with her bodyguard, the silent, tattooed, hulking Chu), the crewmembers entered only to find that Mama Fong (and Chu) were absent.  One of her many sons was filling in for her, and explained that Mama was away, but would return sometime in the next several days.  Until then, the crew was welcome to stay at the adjoining Celestial Dragon Hotel…for a modest price, of course.

The hotel/bar served as a welcome base of operations which allowed the crew to regroup and resupply.  Virtually everything they had was destroyed when their ship exploded, but with their payment for the Bettencourt job, they would be able to replace most of their personal effects.   After splitting their reward and the cash they had hastily collected before leaving the ship, each member ended up with 4,168 credits.  There was some dispute from the abrasive engineer, Jackson “Greaseball” Freemont, as to whether young Lydia Li should receive a full share, but then there was ALWAYS some kind of dispute arising from Greaseball.  The issue was ultimately decided without bloodshed in Lydia’s favor, and each member sought to spend their earnings in a variety of ways over the next couple of days.

There had been an unspoken understanding that they would buy a new ship with their combined earnings from the Bettencourt job.  Unfortunately, over half of the crew members decided to pursue other opportunities, leaving insufficient funds for the remaining crew to pool their savings and buy a new ship.  Greaseball was the first to go, leaving early the first morning at the hotel to try and find Sianan Kita, a Registered Companion that had been an original member of Aurora’s crew.  Apparently he had developed an attraction for her before she left the crew, and several weeks ago he had decided to seek her out on his return to Beaumonde.  Erin Wells left soon after.  She had never planned on a permanent job as a crewmember in the first place.  She had joined to escape from Ixion Station, and now that her contract was fulfilled, she also parted ways.  The first afternoon saw Scott’s departure.  He bought the shuttle from Aurora, paying each of the other nine crewmembers 50 credits, and left for parts unknown.  Also on that first afternoon, Shepherd Gregory Delatorie returned to his monastery there in New Dunsmuir, but expressed interest in rejoining the crew should Stacey find a ship so that he could continue to spread the word of his order, and seemed to spend more time with his former crewmates at the Brass Pelican than at the abbey.  The former First Mate of Aurora, Will Ambrose, had been increasingly experiencing complications from the serious wounds he sustained on Miranda.   He left on the second day with Dr. Horace Mann to try and seek the care he needed.  Dr. Mann believed he could pull in some old favors and get Will seen in one of the hospitals designated for Alliance military veterans on Ariel.

Of the four remaining crewmembers (including Stacey), all chose to remain at the hotel in hopes of shipping out together.  For the next two days, Stacey watched the monitors in the bar that ran job openings and checked for any cheap ships for sale at the Maritime Guild hall.  Makani Ano and her young ward, Lydia Li, found the anonymity they were looking for at the Celestial Dragon, and spent the first few days shopping to replace their destroyed clothing and personal effects.  Cole Jackson, the Aurora’s “security” chief and last member of the crew to remain, spent his time helping out where he could, looking for ships for Stacey, and keeping an eye out for the two women.  None of them had any idea where kharma may lead them.

Glad to finally have a chance to meet Mama Fong in hopes of obtaining her assistance in finding a ship, Stacey shut the door and got dressed, donning his least wrinkled shirt and taking a quick moment to look at himself in the mirror to see if his beard stubble had reached the “gotta shave” stage yet.  Nope.  He grabbed his gun belt and strapped it on, dropping his heavy pistol into the well-worn holster.   He strode to the door, calling over his shoulder, ”Hold the fort, you mangy mongrel.”

He left his room and headed for the stairs, anxious to finally see what this all-powerful dowager of the Brass Pelican looked like.   Recalling Lin’s comment about Mama seeing him and “his others”, he hoped to collect his comrades and present them all at once, as a show of respect.  He decided to wait in the small restaurant in the hotel and grab his crewmates as they appeared, then they would proceed together into the bar to finally meet Mama Fong.


TEN MINUTES EARLIER…

The last three days had been a whirlwind of activity for Makani and Lydia.  They had moved in to the Celestial Dragon Hotel, along with Stacey and Cole, and had spent much of the last days partially replenishing their wardrobes with their new-found wealth.  Of course, this was easier said than done, since they were also trying to be as nondescript and unnoticeable as possible, and Makani had to largely forego her Registered Companion ways, which might draw attention.  Their future plans were somewhat undecided…wherever their paths took them, they had to remember that Lydia was hunted, and a simple mistake could easily lead to her death.  Fortunately, they felt that recent circumstances were ideal in helping to cover their tracks.  Not only had they been on a secret voyage to a near-mythical location, their ship had been totally destroyed and there seemed to be no way that they could be traced, outside of sheer, blind luck.  Being aboard a small, insignificant ship, with friends to help protect them, had given them a sense of security, and given the choice, they would have liked to continue plying the space lanes with Stacey.  So they stayed at the hotel, waiting (and hoping) for Stacey to find another ship before too long, hoping that they might be able to find a berth there.

They had adjoining rooms at the hotel, with a door between the two that remained open constantly, and the two young women spent almost all of their time together.  Today they had awakened about 7:00 with nothing in particular planned for the day, and they leisurely went about their morning rituals, when there was a knock on the door.  It was Makani’s custom to ask for visitors to identify themselves before she would open the door, but before she could do so, a voice came from the other side of the door.   ”Miss Makani…this is Lin.  Time to get up, and tell Lydia to get her lazy butt out of bed before she get too fat to move.”  Lin was one of the Fong clan, a young woman employee at the hotel who had taken an instant liking to Makani and Lydia, and who never allowed an opportunity to pass to make some joking remark at their expense.  ”Mama Fong downstairs now…maybe you meet with Captain Yanni in dining room and everyone see her being all together.  Wonderful Mama Fong doesn’t like stupid people…maybe Lydia should stay in room.  What you think…my English getting pretty damn good, eh?”

Exaggerated laughter trailed away down the hall toward Cole’s room as Lin quickly made her exit before Lydia could mount any kind of counteroffensive.



Tap…tap…tap…

A quiet voice follows the soft taps on Cole Jackson’s door at the Celestial Dragon Hotel.  ”Mister Cole?  I’m sooo sorry to disturb you, I hope I’m not waking you up.”  Cole’s experience with Lin, the hotel clerk, was very different from everyone else’s, for some reason.  Her puppy eyes seemed to follow him whenever he appeared, and her normally rather boisterous manner gave way to polite bows, countless stammered apologies for being unworthy, occasional giggles, and a rampant reddening of her cheeks if he happened to look at her.

Like the others, Cole had spent the last few days collecting a few items he considered necessary for whatever venture they might pursue.  Never hard to please when it came to accommodations, he had settled in nicely at The Celestial Dragon…he had a clean room, a warm bed, and good food.  Who could ask for more?

Cole pulled open the door, revealing a furiously blushing Lin.  ”Mister Cole, I’ve been asked to let all of you know that Mama Fong has returned and would like to see all of you.  I’ve already told fat, ugly Lydia, who has very big, gigantic feet, not tiny like mine, and old Makani, who isn’t young and thin like me, and now I must go tell Captain Yanni, so I can’t stay and talk…if you want to talk, maybe.  I am being very sorry to disturb you so early, so please don’t be mad at me.”  There was a pause, then she hurriedly bowed and shuffled off down the hall with exaggerated daintiness.  There was a halt, then the sound of soft footsteps returning to Cole’s door.  ”I almost forgot…maybe you all meet in restaurant, then see venerated Mama Fong.  Uh…thank you.”  She bowed again and quickly moved back down the hall.

This message was last edited by the GM at 18:04, Fri 14 May 2010.