woke to the sound
of the goddamn door chime Ezra made when he was bored one night while
they were up in the valleys skinning dead Moss-Bucks, the sound drilled
right through his head churning his stomach and starting of the
migraine he had been building from all the Psi-shifting yesterday and
to think he had encouraged Ezra to make that damn thing.
“Damn Ez why the fuck did we make that thing it just encourages people to keep trying, they use to go away iften we didn’t hear ’em knockin’ through the hull?” he grumbled in pure misery as he reluctantly forced himself to access the time on his Battle-net despite the flashes of pain it caused as his mind rebelled against any Crystal use at all in this state, finding it almost eight in the morning to his shock as he didn’t often sleep this late he was usually up with the sun unless he didn’t get any sleep at all. It just proved how tired he had been when he finally fell into bed when they got back to town the night before.
Ezra snorted just as disgruntled by being woken from the first good sleep they had managed in days, “We made it because Madeline Trantor asked me to make one for the lifeboat as they were losing customers and it was just as easy to make two while we were at it.”
The noise came yet again and they both winced at the noise, “They ain’t givin’ up!” sighed Vin as he carefully got up from the straw mattress while Nathan’s Senata bruise balm let ‘em move easily it still hurt some and yesterdays non stop exertion hadn’t helped a lick. Forcing himself to a standing position swaying as the pain in his head bloomed in warning, a warning he ignored as he forced himself to breathe thorough the pain all the while wishing they had actual beds to sleep in as that would have made it a lot easier to get up in this condition. Finally standing he slipped on his slippers before reaching for the Empire Chamber Coat to cover his nightshirt, if he was answering the door he was gonna be slightly decent plus the Chamber Coat gave him the option of being armed, he thought slipping his Reaper into the Coat sheath even as he grabbed his mares leg not even having to look to know Ezra was arming himself as well, an unarmed Ghost Warrior was something that just didn’t happen unless by force. Once they were reasonably decent they made their way down stairs to answer the damn door knowing it wasn‘t Chris or Buck as they had long since been given the access code and if it was one of the other three they‘d be hearing words.
“Small airlock, I made them sound the central chime differently to enable us to ascertain the direction the visitors were ringing from, the smaller airlock chime code has the higher pitch we are hearing.“ Ezra said tiredly taking the lead when Vin made to head to the back cargo airlock. “Which I will definitely be changing, that is a God awful racket to endure.” he grumbled quite disgruntled he had no idea that slight change in pitch would be so painful.
Vin nodded painfully, thankful for both at the directions and the decision to change the chime code because that pitch was more than just agony with a migraine coming on it felt like a spike was being drilled into his brain with every sound of the chime, turning left instead of going straight ahead to the back airlock as he intended he followed Ezra to the opening in the cargo wall door into small airlock that was both a access to the outside and a door to the control room, one good thing about this airlock being smaller they had already done a lot of work to secure it which meant they had already installed the security camera system here unlike the cargo one which only had the basic security of a code lock. Letting Ez bring up the view from the hidden camera they both frowned at finding old Cody the messenger from the Comm. Office looking extremely impatient for the delay as well as worried.
Sighing in disgust Vin reluctantly nodded and Ezra punched in the door code and broke the seal letting the hydraulics trigger the door opening mechanism. Opening an outer airlock door wasn’t exactly like opening one of the inner doors as you had to decide a number of things first, if in space, only a working platform extended, while on a planet of in a hanger for that matter that same platform extended further before opening up to create stairs to ease access down to the ground, the cargo airlock platform on the other hand extended into a ramp. The stairs were the reason they didn’t use this airlock most of the time as they were more ladder than stairs which made carrying things up and down them precarious the smaller airlock also had no shelter as the airlock dock opened to the side which made the back cargo ramp both easier to use due to being a ramp as well as the back airlock gave a canopy over the ramp when it rained as it opened upwards.
“Thank God, I was beginning to think I was wrong and you actually had gone with Larabee and Wilmington in that other Cart I saw leaving town!” the old man said with feeling, then taking in the fact both men were in their sleep wear he flushed and licked his lips his mind savouring the fantasy fodder even as his mouth babbled an apology. “Shit boys! I’m sorry I woke you two, I was expecting Mr. Tanner at least to be up by now as he usually is. Damn, I should have realised you’d sleep late given how late you got back to town last night!“ Cody said the seeming remorse in the stream of babble that didn’t let them get a word in at odds with the lustful projection of his mind.
Sighing Vin shoved his mare’s leg in the big pocket of his Chamber Coat watching Ez do the same with his own gun, old Cody was harmless for the most part just damned uncomfortable for them to be around for long as he tended to project his emotions more than most people and had an annoying obsession with both of them so it was like being dipped in slime being around him at any time due to the perverted lust he always ended up projecting at them.
“Cody get to the point, Ez and me ain’t had any Autumn Blue yet so ain‘t up to translating ya babble.” grumbled Vin really not in the mood for dealing with the man, he’d over done the TK yesterday and had the makings of a doozy of a migraine coming on which meant his shields were shit.
In front of him Ezra winced at the discourtesy but not terribly surprised given the building Psi induced migraine Vin was obviously heading for, dealing with a perverted Psion courteously just wasn’t possible in that state, only Vin’s immense training let him give even that curt interaction. Psi Etiquette on the Ships was incredibly strict for a damn good reason, what was pleasure for one person could often be perversion for another and back in the Dark Times when they were just learning to control the excessive sensitivity of a Psicon mind people had little tolerance for such mental intrusion even if it was involuntary due to lack of training or ability to shield against someone of Psicon sensitivity like with this perverted old man.
The Dark Times gained it’s name not just for the advent of Sith in their society and the brutal often extreme measures needed to contain them but the savage often deadly evolution of their laws and social mores often leading to desperate experiments to find the best training and moral compromise to live with their new sensitivity. In those days a perverted old man like Cody wouldn’t have existed or if he did he would have learned long before he reached puberty let alone such a elderly age to shield such a perverted mind as he would have either been kept locked up to save him from being or constantly challenged to a reaper duel for such mental intrusions because what was forgivable in a child learning their Psi Shielding was considered mind rape in an Adult Psicon.
Learning to tolerate such barely shielded perverted minds on a daily basis had actually been the hardest adjustment the people of the Confederated Legion of Terran Ships had to make when they finally reached the Human Corridors. The lesser Psion’s making up the people of the Human Corridors they rejoined hadn’t the discipline or evolution in the form of multiple shield levels to stop a Psicon picking up such things so couldn’t be held to the same Psi standards as a Citizen of the Ghost Legion. It was the main reason they had been so standoffish and wary oif interation in the early years of their arrival, they had to adjust their laws and retrain their reactions to accommodate that innate difference. Lesser Psion like Cody were now a special subsection under the untrained category in Legion Law concerning mind intrusion and the Legion had to adjust their Psicon training to stem the automatic retaliation for such an intrusion from a Adult. “Forgive him Cody he overdid the Crystal work yesterday needed to fix my mother’s cart so he is suffering the makings of a migraine and the door bell didn’t help as it aggravated the situation so Mr. Tanner is not up to polite conversation at the moment.”
“Gosh! I’m so sorry I woke you Mr. Tanner, I’ve seen you with those Crystal headaches you should go lie down again and rest seeing it’s Mr. Standish I’m here for anyway.” he said and again the sympathy was faked and it was just to much for Vin to deal with in this state.
“How’s about I just go put the Autumn Blue on and take some pills while ya hand over what ever ya got in that mail bag ya got clutched in ya hands as if it were flawless as ya obviously dieing to do.” grumbled Vin turning his back on the airlock leaving Ez to deal with whatever the man wanted, if he had stayed much longer he would have been shoving his Reaper in the man‘s gut, that was part of his training physical not Psi reaction to mental intrusion that wasn’t a deliberate attack. A necessity for a Psicon Warrior like Vin whose instinct was to reflect and amplify the old man’s own perverted thoughts back at him at such a amplified level the man would end up a vegetable from the Psi shock, people stepped wary around someone wearing Psicon Warrior Insignia of any Rank for a reason it was a warning they could use Psi to kill and were trained to do so.
Slowly Vin headed for the kitchen thankful for the dimmer nightlights still lighting the Carrier he didn’t think his head could handle normal lighting yet he certainly wasn’t in the mood or shape to deal with old Cody at his worst. Bad enough he now had to assimilate the filth he already absorbed from that old man, thank god he was a Battle Psicon and it hasn’t gotten past his surface barrier he thanked him even more for a working Battle-net as using the matrix of the comp in his brain it wouldn’t take more than some meditation to shift it into is Battle-net Crystal memory instead of grey matter then treat it like any data to be understood and compiled so he could regulate it to the trash bin of his Battle-net so he could get rid of it otherwise the thoughts and emotions of that old pervert would be like slime fouling his reactions all day.
With a sigh he started the Autumn Blue the physical motions taking very little of his conscious mind as he worked on the problem unfortunately it wouldn’t work as he couldn’t work out Cody’s reactions so his Battle-net couldn’t process the data as he was missing something. Grumbling he started again: the initial bolt of delighted lust on sight of them when they answered the door. Pausing Vin frowned finding the problem why the heck had the old man reacted like that, no matter how hard he tried Vin just didn’t get what caused that reaction so couldn’t understand it enough for the comp to get rid of it. It was a damn mystery they had been decent enough for the most part while a man‘s nightshirt weren’t exactly full cover like a woman’s as they were shaped like a normal pull on shirt but longer, they still reached to mid calf instead so were on the long side even if not to the ground like a woman’s. They still more than covered a mans assets and they‘d also worn the ankle length Chamber Coats over that. So what the hell had Cody so hot an bothered had Vin stumped? Giving it up for the moment Vin reached for the medicine cabinet as the pain of the migraine spiked from the Crystal work even simply using his Battle-net was murder in this state.
Vin was just swallowing the Fed-migraine pills down with the just made Autumn Blue when Ez came back with a frown on his face carrying a small box and security pouch in his hand. Vin grimaced and said sarcastically, “Poor Cody, ya just ruined his day he was expecting ya to feed his fantasies longer than that.”
Ezra snorted, “I wasn’t in the mood either that man‘s mind is a Plasma toilet with the Plasma almost dead so it keeps overflowing raw sewage!” he said with a disgruntled growl of his own, he hated that old man. Ezra stopped suddenly a frown of true worry crossing his face as he took in just how pale and drawn Vin actually was, annoyance flashed as his eyes then dropped taking in the open bottle of Fed-medicine knowing just how bad Vin had to be to voluntarily take that Federation poison. “Should I dig out that saucepan Buck gave you to vomit in before, seeing you are feeling bad enough to actually take that shit?” he asked dryly.
“Don’t start Ez, I know I overdid the Psi-shifting yesterday but it had to be done, this poison will at least hold off the migraine completely the side affects will hit me in a few hours then I’ll start spewing.” Vin said with a wain grimace. “Iften Cody’s mind hadn’t been spewing that filth at us I’d be better.”
Ezra sighed exasperated, “As I know you won’t go back to bed now you are up, please go and sit on one of the bungles of blankets before you collapse!” he ordered pointing at the tarp covered blankets they had divided and wrapped into seat high bales to use as seating for the moment they were looking for something to use as a table with them but hadn‘t found anything yet. ”That will give those pills a chance to work meanwhile I’ll start breakfast, if those pills work as fast as they usually do you should be able to eat something light by the time I finish cooking it.”
“Any idea what had that perverted bastard so hot an bothered he was acting like we was barely dressed?” said Vin puzzled hoping Ez could give him the key to dealing with the thoughts he involuntary absorbed from that perverted old man. “My Battle-net won’t let the data go until I understand it!” he added disgruntled.
Ezra looked up with a frown only to realised what had happened and snorted, “My Dear Vin you can be incredibly innocent at times, remember your psychological training in understanding human sexuality and review it again.”
Vin flushed a deep red in realisation, “He was perving on our feet and ankles!” he exclaimed incredulously that was just wrong.
“Exactly, remember your training it has been noted that often when a portion of the body is rarely seen it can quickly become an obsession, a fetish if you will. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed before this that a foot and ankle fetish is a common fetish in the Human Corridors probably because the long dresses Corridor women wear keeps them out of sight and seeing a man barefoot is just as rare so has become equally sexually stimulating for those who desire men who have the same fetish perhaps even more so as most men wear boots so their feet and ankles are even more covered than females who for the most part wear stockings and shoes not boots, because of this obsession we usually have a few men congregate just to watch the stages arrive in hope of seeing a hint of ankle as the men and women disembark the vehicle. Old Cody is one such man unfortunately, it just so happens he finds male ankles more sexually stimulating than female simply because he can indulge that desire concerning females at the cathouse by paying a little extra the working girls are will to let him play with feet but his male fantasies are another matter they have no outlet which means we were giving him quite a peep show ?” he said disgustedly with a pointed look down briefly pulling his right foot out of the slipper he was wearing and showing off his own sockless state before putting it back in the slipper.
As Ezra spoke the confused thoughts he picked up Cody that he hadn’t been able to understand sorted themselves out, “Yuck, he was fantasising about tying us up, making us cum then smearing it all over our feet and licking them clean, then fucking us when he was hard enough from playing with our feet.” the disgusted outrage in the younger Ghosts voice plain. “I should shoot that old pervert, the world would be a cleaner place without him.”
“Amongst other things!” Ezra said just as disgusted at the thoughts but at the same time very much amused at Vin’s outrage the younger Ghost was just so innocent about some things it was quite endearing.
Glaring at Ezra’s continuing amusement Vin growled, “Ain’t funny Ez, he was perving so bad it made me sick to stay near him as I couldn‘t keep him out.”
Instantly sober Ezra said in concern, “Forgive me Vin I should have realised your empathy would be playing up due to the incipient migraine you were building to, are you all right? I imagine being near that perverted fool in that condition must have been extremely disgusting. Cody is uncomfortable to be around at the best of times due to his incessant fantasies about us but usually we can shield.”
Vin sighed, “I could block it once I was out of sight of him. Now I just got to deal with it, knowing what had him so lustful gave me the key to working on ‘em. Ya gonna open that mail?” he said pointing at the box and what seemed to be an official pouch Ez still carried to change the subject.
Accepting the change of subject Ezra snorted, “They came in on the afternoon stage from the Port yesterday so it can easily wait until we finish breakfast by then turning the lights to a normal brightness to read whatever is in the pouch won’t be agony for you.” he said dryly. “I think the box is merely the surged Data Freddie said she sent as I am not expecting anything else from Allcon space so it can wait a little while longer as well.”
“Might want to deal with it immediately Ez, we got no way of telling iften Genesis has spies in town waiting for ya to get something from Freddie, iften it were me I’d be hedging my bets that way just in case even if I thought Freddie dead on that Corridor Ship, best we power surge some Milk Crystal to put in that box as if that’s what was sent. We can hide the real stuff in my main safe that way iften they’s spying on us and get nosy about the box from Allcon and steal it they won‘t get the real Data.” Vin said thoughtfully but still pretty curious.
“And why pray tell would someone in Allcon be sending me power surged reverted Milk Data?” Ezra said a little scornfully knowing if they stole the Crystal they would expect to be able to recreate whatever was on them in such a case be it Photos or the Data they were searching for so they would know.
“Abby made out that box was from the husband of a old girlfriend sending ya the old photos after he destroyed ‘em, ya a Ghost easy enough to say ya made the Crystal for the photos because ya couldn’t afford purchasing it, I gave the Maybourne’s back on MesaTex some Crystal shifted from Milk to Third and Fourth grade as a donation to the Orphanage as they couldn‘t afford the Crystal for the schooling let alone just to take some pictures of the kids as they grow.” Vin said with a shrug but he still made it plain he wanted it opened.
Frowning at the box thoughtfully with that in mind Ezra nodded at the point Vin was making, meaning even the Federation Tech’s couldn‘t tell the difference between natural and shifted so gifting it to a Allcon lover wouldn‘t have been unheard of, it would just make him seem an incredibly cheap boyfriend by Ghost standards. Not the most pleasant of reputations to be added to his already tarnished reputation but it could not be helped besides he was Courting Vin now so he was the only person he needed to impress with his credentials as a lover. Sighing Ezra flicked his reaper to the lowest setting and opened the box, Vin was such a child until his curiosity was satisfied, finding it packed with the expected surge disrupted Crystal, the Milky white of the Milk Crystal threaded by the grey ribbons showing the pathways of the surge as it reduced it to Milk, upsurged Milk would not have the grey.
“There are four Crystals Ghost cut which is a problem as they are suppose to be from Allcon and I wouldn’t have given Ghost cut Crystal to my girlfriend.” He paused picking up the accompanying letter to find the name of his girlfriend, marvelling at the fact Freddie went all out and included an actual hard copy letter with the Crystals, he quickly read it and snorted. “Edwina!” he finished using the name in the letter to name his supposed girlfriend.
“Just grab four Crystals from the drawer and surge ‘em while I put those in the safe unless someone already got at ‘em the shape of the Crystal in the box ain‘t common knowledge.” Vin said getting up with a groan to grab the four Crystals from the box and head for the hidden safe he had the gold in. As always it took a little work to access it as he had to disconnect and move the recycle tank out of the way but that just made it harder to find unless they knew about it a thief would find the decoy safe in the control room and stop looking. He was about to put them in when he noticed something and got up to get four of the plain white Tredar Data caps from his draw then taking of the caps already on them and putting the white caps on in their place he finished sealing the safe then moved the tank back into position and connected it again.
When he returned Ezra was putting the last of the dummy Crystal he surge reverted back to milk into the box as if that was what was sent from Allcon, Vin casually dropped the four caps he took of the hidden Crystals before seeking a seat again that much exertion hadn’t been a good idea. “Abby had some false labels on the caps may as well use ‘em on these to complete the illusion, Picture Crystals usually have names and dates on the protective socket caps.“
Ezra sniffed at the letter Abby had written but got to work putting the caps from the other Crystal on the Milk he surged, “My girlfriends were all quite genteel I doubt such an idiotic jealous brute like that would be able to keep a Lady like Edwina long.” the muttered comment made Vin snort because that was just Ez getting into the mindset of the cover story as they had been taught during their Intelligence training. It was a way Ez could set his reactions so that when Edwina was mentioned his reaction would be natural and would fool surface Psi, it was a delicate trick but Ez was a master at it, the trick of it was to half believe the lie yourself and that comment had so many half truths it was a master piece. It wasn’t a lie that all of Ez’s Allcon girlfriends had been of the strata of society called genteel so naturally if Edwina ‘was’ his girlfriend from those days she would have been as well, the brute comment was merely a summation of the character Abby had projected in the letter so also a truth in it’s own way because if Edwina’s new husband had indeed written it, that was what he seemed like from the letter.
“What’s the other thing Cody gave ya, it looks official in that security pouch?” Vin’s asked finally seeing Ez had finished working out his reactions to the destroyed memories and the letter so was ready to move on to the next piece of mail he had actually been more curious about it than the box.
“It has waited this long it can wait until after we have breakfast,” decided Ezra with a grimace seeing the official Federated Empire Crest on the pouch. “I have no intention of reading anything from the Federation on an empty stomach it arrived yesterday so it can wait a little while longer.” he said blandly. “We shall open it after we have finished our morning repast. Then after that we shall see if you feel well enough to finish your morning ablutions and dress for the day, for while you have recovered some you are still shaky so will undoubtedly need my help with that!” he said blandly.
“Ya ain’t gonna let me live this down?” Vin realised with a sigh.
Ezra snorted, “Be thankful I haven’t called Jackson and don’t think I have forgotten you owe me a conversation about your true TK rating.” he said as he headed for the kitchen. “I suggest you meditate and deal with the consequences of your foolish Psi expenditure, you are starting to radiate distressed feeling to such an extent my own stomach is ready heave in sympathy.”
Vin groaned could this day start any worse he thought, resolutely sitting down to deal with the slime from Cody starting to cloud his emotions like a fog.
At the same time they had been woken by the Carrier door chime Phillip Atwater over in the Volcano woke to the sound of a knock at the airlock door to the room in the volcano he was using, sighing as he realised he was alone in the big bed yet again it quite ruined his morning waking up alone when he went to sleep with company, a quick check of how cold the sheets were where they had slept had him actually pouting and wondering when the hell he started trusting those two men enough that they could get up, get dressed and actually leave the room without him waking. It was actually a little freaky the way he trusted them the only other person who didn‘t wake him was Glindala and they hadn‘t slept together for more than a bit of comfort in years both of them long since realising years ago that their adolescent attraction was more hormones than anything, they weren’t blood siblings so it wasn’t incest so the Mom’s had after due deliberation just made sure they had the talk and used protection then let them get it out of their system or get married the second preferably but that never happened, Philip’s Cross Shield nature didn‘t lean in the right direction for a long term commitment to a woman to ever work.
His musing was interrupted by another knock and he sighed, grumbling under his breath about annoying assistants and absent gunslingers he left the big bed he had inherited from Ellsworth to answer the knock, he had been forced to take over the main room once he decided to hire an assistant as it would have looked strange housing a lowly assistant in Ellsworth’s room while he himself kept the smaller room with the much smaller bed, the simple fact was Ellsworth liked his comfort and was willing to pay for them out of his own pocket if need be, not that he did thought Philip with a snort having seen the creative accounting to pay for the big seven foot by seven foot bed. Philip of course having been in the man’s head knew he had purchased it with the intentions of having a mistress for the time on Dis-Pater the man disliked whorehouses finding the ease of it a let down. Ellsworth preferred the thrill of the hunt, a whore or willing mistress just didn’t satisfy the man any more having developed a decided preference for forcing a woman against her will to his bed then breaking them completely using his Psi to make them perform like a whore for his amusement using his Psi to control them until he discarded them. The arrival of the bed had told Philip he was hunting for his next victim fortunately he had only gotten to the stage of making a list of the woman he was interested in, his death had thankfully put a stop to that as well.
In many ways the only person disadvantaged by Ellsworth’s death was Philip himself as his workload doubled so much he had quickly realised he needed help which was why Phillip had put the add for the assistant on the Port news-web as well as the Clarion, most of the Port interviews had been disappointing but he had picked up an unexpectedly qualified applicant for the job on his return to Four Corners the man was married but still willing to stay overnight occasionally if the work load required it which was more than the Port applicants were willing to do they all wanted to live and work at the Port not commute to Four Corners at all even using Crystal Dawn recourses, while not ideal he had actually been willing to do that to get a qualified assistant to limit his sudden workload unfortunately all the Port applicants had been worse than useless.
Wincing at the chill of the room compared to the warm bed Philip pulled on a dull bronze Chamber Coat he had made for him in Four Corners in relief, he had seen one on display in the Potter store and having started to feel cold of a morning once the rainy season started had commissioned the making of one for himself, it wasn’t the first time he had been grateful for the purchase and probably wouldn‘t be the last time either given the fact Hades Autumn was coming up on May the halfway month on the nine month season after that it began to move towards Winter so would start getting colder the closer to Winter the Autumn growing season progressed. Which could be a problem so far they hadn’t bothered with any heating in the Volcano as they intended to be gone before Winter but if this morning was any indication that was something they would have to change. He’s have to have his new assistant look through Ellsworth’s notes and see if he had any plans for that if not he’d have to talk to the Mining Engineer Morgenstern for ideas that would keep within the budget, his own time in the Dis-Pater mines had been on a continent closer to the equator where the seasons were more gentle a few solar Plasma heaters had been enough in the mines offices and quarters he knew. Until he came to Hades he hadn‘t realised just how extreme the long seasons could be at the higher latitudes he was already contemplating purchasing a warmer coat to survive the rest of Autumn it made him realise why the town was quietly frantic about getting rebuilt before Winter.
Pausing to slide into the waiting slippers and gather his reaper and shove it into the coat sheath, he finally headed for the airlock while he knew he had no need for the Reaper as this section of the Volcano had separate security his training with the Death-maids was ingrained, being armed in some fashion at all times was instinctive he would rather answer the door naked that leave it behind, Atwater Crèche didn’t raise fools who took chances and his Death-maid Mom’s would take turns paddling his behind if he ignored his training and didn’t carry his reaper even if he thought it safe.
It wasn’t until he actually reached the airlock and started to seriously lock down his shields in preparation of meeting another person that he realised the Chamber Coat while long and covered the vital parts wasn’t exactly something to wear in front of company without something under it. Snorting ruefully at that thought he realised he was being a prude which would normally be a good idea given his extensive social training first as the Braithwaite Heir then under his new Mom’s tutorage, he could honestly say the old Empire Fleet Officer training they drilled him in made his Braithwaite social training look tame but in hindsight he could see the point Atwater was a new Corporation not old Federation Banking money like Braithwaite the Heir of which could get away with arrogance as it was expected for a man of that rank. A Fleet Officer on the other hand was suppose to be a Gentleman in the face of everything when in the presence of a superior officer or high ranking Court Lord decorum and modesty was expected it was closer to High Allcon training than Federation social training which could be a bit crude in comparison. Fortunately with Ellsworth dead and in the privacy of the secured level of the Volcano he could relax such stifling protocol even with his new assistant living here occasionally because he seriously doubted his new assistant had a repressed sexual bone in his body, he seriously doubted Charles Trevallyn would complain if he opened the door sky clad just whistle in appreciation for the show like Glindala would, so he stifled his sudden qualms and answered the insistent knocking self consciously running a hand through his bed hair grumbling about his taste for bossy people being his downfall.
Charlie blinked at the unexpected vision of his boss standing there in nothing but one of the fancy Chamber Coats Mrs. Trantor had started making. Damn, and he thought Atwater a wet dream yesterday in that expensive business suit, it had nothing on the full effect of seeing him all sleepy, ruffled and well fucked like this with just hints of that gorgeous body at throat and ankle showing he was naked under that coat. It was a good thing he knew his own worth in and out of bed and knew his own looks were just as spectacular in their own way because a lesser endowed man might end up depressed comparing themselves to such a beauty on a daily basis. It did tell him what some of his new wages would be going on, he had to get Tommy one of those coats for his coming birthday his husband would look just as gorgeous all fucked out and sleepy in one.
“Good morning Boss!“ Charlie said brightly recovering enough to shove the mug of Autumn Blue he was carrying into Atwater’s hand making the older man blink in confusion before realising what he now held and gratefully start drinking it. Charlie hid a smirk, Atwater had warned him he wasn’t civilised before caffeine so he decided to make a presumptive strike and solve that condition the same way he did with his own pre-caffeine grumpy people, having two caffeine addicts of his own had taught him all would be forgiven if he had caffeine in hand when waking them. Morning sex also got him forgiven but that was only for his personal caffeine addicts not his boss, no matter how sexy and gorgeous he was standing there like the well fucked hero from one of the old Empire Porn Crystals Tommy’s Grandpa left him as the only Shield inclined of his generation.
The first blissful sip of the deep blue chocolate tasting stimulant cleared Philips mind and made him slightly more mellow although even Autumn Blue waiting for him didn‘t make up for the cold and lack of morning cuddles or the fact he now realised his assistant was a morning person. “When did they leave?” Philip asked grumpily not bothering to hide the fact he had company the night before Trevallyn was sharing this section when he stayed over so hiding such a thing was impossible.
“They left over an hour ago with the first load of rubble and as you didn’t come out I guessed they must have snuck out on you after fucking you through the mattress like I do my two on occasion, so I let you sleep as long as I could get away with it, good new is you can have a water shower this morning as the engineers finally got the water supply connected for the bathroom they made so the potable one has been removed. I’ve already tried it out and it has decent pressure probably as it is being fed by the lake behind us and they finished installing portable Plasma Hot Water tank Ellsworth brought in from the asteroids, they used the barge array to charge it probably because they also wanted hot water this morning. I suggest you go use it Boss as you definitely need it given you look and smell like you’ve been rode hard all night and put away wet and enjoyed every damn minute of it.“ the younger man said laughing Psion enough to get the gist of what was actually pissing off the older man but as he was missing his own morning cuddles he didn’t have much sympathy especially as the older man got sex last night and he didn‘t.
“God, protect me from morning people! Why exactly did I hire you again?” grumbled Philip sipping the Senata Coffee like the necessity it was not looking forward to a luke warm shower even if he needed it, the big hot water tank they were using wasn't big enough to supply all the volcano with hot water all the time so they settled on maintaining warm water as a compromise.
Charlie snorted holding up a hand and counting the reasons off, “I’m eye candy, better yet red headed eye candy.“
Philip smirked amused at the comeback, “That was actually a point against you, Red hair isn’t one of my attractors.” he said virtuously.
“Liar, every one wants to fondle the glory that is my hair, it’s a real burden.“ Charlie said with a totally fake, poor me pout that cracked Philip up.
Getting back in control Philip said dryly, “Despite the irresistible lure of the Trevallyn fiery mane. I assure you kid, you’re safe I don’t step in someone else’s pond and you have two murderous spit-fires who would dismember me without a blink if I looked at you cross-eyed.”
“You can look, but not touch!” Charlie sing songed childishly. Then he said seriously but still smirking, “Mainly because all three of us often go strolling looking at the eye candy at the Port so it would be hypocritical of us to stop others looking at us when they do the same thing.” he chuckled amused. “But I assure you Boss, while I‘m a happily married Cross-Shield with one of each at home I won’t be making a pass at your gorgeous self although I must admit trying to add you to the harem might be interesting,” he said with an appreciative leer at the man standing in front of him naked but for a Chamber Coat. “And God, you are true eye candy Boss, even more so with that scrumptious well fucked look you’re sporting at the moment.” he said thoughtfully wondering what seemed so familiar about it.
“Down boy, you’re too young for me I like older men, keep that leering up and I’ll tattle to your husband and wife!” Philip said with a snort making the other man flash him a smile that almost made him forget he preferred older men.
Charlie snorted having realised what was triggering his memory, “I’m not the one standing naked but for a Chamber Coat recreating that pornographic painting of Admiral Galwain leaning against the bulkhead of the Imperial flagship looking tired and fucked out but sexy as hell, you know the one immortalising in all it’s porno glory how he looked the morning after he surrendered to the Emperor at the battle of Falcon Corridor.”
Philip grimaced he had been told he looked like the Admiral more than once so made a point of reading all he could about the man and he knew the truth about that painting, “That isn’t the compliment you think it is, there was nothing remotely romantic about Galwain’s fate after the Battle of Falcon Corridor. You only have to read Dowager Empress Josette’s diaries of that time to work that out, she didn’t pull any punches, she made no bones about Galwain being her son Jordane’s chattel forced into her Son’s bed against his will, the old Empress actually protected Galwain as much as she could at court especially from the cutthroat internal politics of the Harem, Jordane’s wives tried to kill him more than once over the years they saw Jordane’s obsession with him as a threat to their own standing and as Chattel he was at their mercy until the old Empress stepped in moving him into her section of the Harem under the pretence of needing a servant to look after the orphaned child of her youngest daughter.”
“Woah!” Charlie said frantically recognising a history lecture coming on, “Down Professor, I’m not really interested in learning ancient Empire history, I get enough of that from my husband.” he grumbled good naturedly. “I only mentioned it because you really do look like the holo-photo Tommy has of that Painting it‘s probably the chamber coat adding to the illusion as it is designed after the Empire Great Coat Galwain is so infamously wearing in that painting and before you start Tommy has already ranted a number of times that the painting was a PR job made to blacken Galwain’s name and reputation turning him from Hero to Whore as the Emperor realised he couldn‘t afford the Rebellion to gain a martyr to their cause which would have happened if he had executed Galwain. ”
Philip chuckled, “Didn’t mean to break out the history lecture, I’ve been told I look like him before and while I don‘t actually see the resemblance myself, the comparison has happened enough times for me to research his life. You have to dig deep to get past the smear campaign to find the real man and the truth of what happened after Falcon. In fact his life before the rebellion is spectacular as well as he was one of the most decorated officers in Empire Fleet before he handed in his commission and joined the rebellion out of the blue. The first big lie the Empire told was that he surrendered at Falcon, the truth is Galwain was captured and it took almost pulverising his ship to do that, they ended up cutting him from the ruined bridge of his flagship and he died on the operating table twice and was revived by frantic surgeons who knew Jordane would have them executed if he died. Count Retyn, Jordane’s personal historian wrote that Jordane was frantic to keep him alive as with a martyr the rebellion would take years to squash.”
“I’m going to have to introduce you to my Tommy so you can compare research he’s obsessed with the Admiral.” chuckled Charlie. “I’ll just have to make sure he knows he can’t try making you our fourth just because you look like him.”
Philip blushed, “I think three in a bed is more than enough!” he said dryly.
“I say!” laughed Charlie really amused. “I’d be dead before I hit thirty if I add another to our bed. Besides considering what I saw leaving this morning you’ve already got your hands full and good God, what is it with the Seven being so gorgeous it should be illegal. I thought Tanner and Standish were enough to give a man a hard on when they traded us Moss for bacon but then I saw Larabee and Wilmington coming out of your room this morning and almost had to find a bucket for the drool. I hope the other three aren‘t as heart stopping, it just wouldn’t be fair to the rest of us poor mortals.“
Philip smirked, “The other three have their points but Sanchez, Jackson and Dunne don’t seem to have a hint of even the slightest Shield in their nature so are at best only eye candy as you call it and they might even object to that you never know.” deciding any further mention of the Seven was heading into emotional areas he didn’t know the man well enough to talk about Philip turned the conversation back on the younger man going back to the playful conversation they got sidetracked from. “Since Red hair really isn’t one of my attractors why did I really I hire you?” he asked not realising his innocent flirtation was pretty devastating giving the way he looked at the moment.
Charlie hid a sudden gulp as he brought his reaction to heal reminding himself sternly that he was a married man and Atwater was his boss with two deadly gunslingers in his bed who would probably kill him all over again once his two finished. “I still say you are lying about that but for some other reasons lets go with the fact I’m a trained bookkeeper and actually know what you are doing with all those pretty numbers you like to play with, plus I crossed my heart that I really can do my multiplication table and everything and willing to play with a big boy Auditor like you.” he said sing song again making Philip snort he made Auditing sound like a play date.
Charlie smirked but lost the childish voice, “I’m also willing to sleep over a few nights here a week if needed which the others weren’t prepared to do without a lot of complaint and extra credit. I only insisted on at least three hopefully four nights at home to stop my husband and wife storming the place demanding me back which you agreed was reasonable and finally the selling point, I’m discreet.” he said with a pointed look at the messy bed behind Philip making him blush as he realised just what the bed was like, as he was distracted involuntarily glancing back at the evidence of exactly how athletic the night before had been Charlie grabbed the almost empty mug from his bosses hand before it tipped with a chuckle, making the older man half glare, half pout at he loss of his morning caffeine. “I’m also bossy so go get your gorgeous arse bathed and dressed Philip, you have a lot of Comm. messages waiting for you including one from your sister in what’s probably your family encryption code. I‘ll have breakfast waiting for you in twenty minutes, don‘t forget the meeting about the barge airlock removal is at half past nine which is why I decided to wake you.”
Pouting for real now Phillip obeyed wondering if he shouldn’t have picked one of the meek little yes men or women who applied instead, before laughing at the very thought knowing one of them would have driven him to murder within a day if he had been forced to hire one, he wanted an assistant who not only could keep up with him but able to keep him focused as he tended to loose track of time when immersed in the numbers.
Vin leaned back against the wall with a sigh as he finished the light breakfast of toast, the migraine finally succumbed to the Fed-medicine enough to turn up the lights. “So ya gonna look at that pouch now?” he was dying of curiosity the Human Corridors only used hardcopy for official letters or when the rich were making a point which was why Abby used it in the box of Crystal she sent.
“Of course! You might be able to stand the lights now but I strongly doubt you are up to more than sitting there for the moment you are still pale as a Ghost.” he said with a laugh at his deliberate pun that brought a groan from Vin as expected. Leaving Vin to rest he went and got the letter pouch amused at how nosy Vin was. Once back on the blankets he carefully he broke the Federated Empire’s Legal Seal on the pouch and brought out a thick letter as well as a Federation Bank Credit Crystal in confusion turning it over for some clue to it’s origin and why the devil the Federation was sending him money. Frowning he finally opened the letter noting in passing it was on the usual cheap rag paper the Human Corridors Governments used for hardcopy, only Dis-Pater had the trees plentiful enough to contemplate pulping them to make the ancient paper Terra had been known for.
“Good Lord, it’s about the Evening Star, the Corridor Ship Freddie put her name on, the investigators have finished their investigation and while the findings are not available as Corridor Security has taken over the case the Insurance Company is satisfied enough to begin making the payouts. It seems Freddie forgot to tell me she put my name down as Next of Kin on the Insurance they make you fill out when booking passage as it is part of the fare, I suppose she thought it safe enough as such records are sealed unless needed and she was attempting a red herring move and this way the eighty percent insurance refund would be sent to me when she didn‘t claim it at the other end.” he mused before reading on.
“Oh dear, they have tracked Erica Stanford‘s movements up to that trip backtracking all her identities to her original one so have worked out her real identity was Fredericka Standfishes and Corridor Security will be making enquiries of her employers namely the Corporation Genesis is operating under in Frisco Corridor as to what set her into flight just in case it had something to do with the destruction of the Evening Star.”
“Damn, hate to say it but lets hope Genesis covered their tracks we don’t need the Federation sticky beaking into a Ships cover Corporation it could bring our whole house of cards here in the Independents down.” sighed Vin. “If it wouldn’t hurt the rest of the Ships I’d vote we let ‘em swing but it would bring the Federation down on all of us tarring all the Legion with the same Murderous brush getting us all killed, we best head out to the Barge later and worn Uncle Dayfad the fat is about to hit he griddle because of Genesis again,” Vin said with a sigh the fallout from the last Genesis mess namely the accidental Terra Forming of Dis-Pater was still hitting them after all these years and now this. “Uncle Dayfad ain‘t gonna be pleased.” he grumbled and weren’t that the understatement of the century having to cover up a Sith plot to protect the Confederated Legion of Terran Ships would be making him seethe not to mention making him be like a wounded bear to be around. “So how much is that insurance payout on Freddie?”
Frowning Ezra retrieved his data pad and inserted the Bank Crystal then winced at the total but not surprised, Corridor Ship accidents were rare but happened as proven by the Cargo ship that ended up Terra Forming Dis-Pater and even basic minimal level insurance based on the minimum five credit a week wage common most places added up over time. Every passenger was forced into purchasing insurance when they travelled at the end of the trip eighty percent of that cost was refunded and the Insurance companies pocketed the rest. “Five thousand Fed Credits as you know they base the insurance cost on the age of the passenger, Freddie was fairly young but still an Adult so was forced to purchase the twenty year payout, meaning her kin or whoever she named would receive the equivalent of twenty years wages in the event of her death which the authorities are satisfied occurred so the insurance company has paid it.”
Vin grimaced, “That‘s about seven and a half thousand Redemption Credits, don’t seem right taking it as she’s alive but iften ya don’t, it would raise a lot of eyes and generate a lot a questions.”
“I know and I agree it doesn’t seem right but I do admit it would come in handy, I have been ploughing all the Credits back into Gambit Corporation and Senterra Corp. has only just started making a viable profit as you know.” Ezra said wistfully gazing at the balance on the Credit Crystal in thought.
Vin snorted, “Ya have to keep it anyway for her safety so why not use it to set Abby up with a life on Hades, besides she ended up part owner of Gambit when she became ya sister so call it her investment capital iften it makes ya feel better.” he said with a laugh. “It ain‘t as if ya gonna get all of it anyway what with the bank conversion charges and inheritance tax the Federation lumps on a person you‘ll lose a third of that if ya lucky probably more.”
Ezra sighed knowing it was a sad fact of life under Federation Rule the Inheritance tax would indeed be a killer on such a payout.
“I have to talk to the Judge again soon about my own finances anyway so I’ll come with ya, hopefully he knows a way to limit the tax on that.” Vin said thoughtfully when Ezra looked interested he flushed. “I ain’t heard anything back about them refunding my bank account on MesaTex yet, the Judge has been looking into it for me now I’s been cleared, but it’s taking a while the Fed’s are always quick to take money but not give it back, they confiscated my account when I got wanted and now my name’s been cleared I want my money back and they‘s stalling.” grumbled Vin he was about at the end of his patience over that, it had been months since he was cleared it should be fixed by now. He had almost fifty thousand Fed-credits in that damned bank between the Blue-buff hunting and the bounty hunting seeing he only went after the ones with high bounties it all added up. After what that frame up and that bounty cost him he weren‘t about to just gift that money to the Federation without a fight. “What’s got that thoughtful look in ya eye?” he suddenly asked finally noticing how quiet Ez had gone and the look he got when planning a con.”
“I was thinking I have here proof of Freddie’s death being legally confirmed, I really should make enquiries about her Genesis estate in light of this letter. Not to mention the joy of making Genesis squirm by making waves about them not notifying me of problems as is my right as her Next of Kin which of course would bring up the fact her husband Daniel must be dead or the marriage alliance with his Cluster dissolved or he would be the Next of Kin listed on her insurance.“ Ezra said butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth innocent.
Vin snorted but gave it serious thought, “It might get Freddie some of her stuff back.” he mused seeing the pro’s of it not the least of it a added layer of separation setting Abby apart from Freddie now that Freddie had the equivalent of a Death Certificate but it would be a nightmare sorting out that legal tangle of who inherited what. “Set Maude on ‘em,” he finally decided. “She’s the Dowager Matriarch of ya Ship, it’s her job to oversee Cluster Alliance and the legal stuff to do with it and she‘s more than up for the job of milking Genesis for everything she can get.” He gave Ezra a sidewise glance and added sweetly, “Unless of course ya want to do it yourself, wouldn’t be my thing what with the legal aspects, the tracing of bloodlines, the sorting of who owns what seeing her husband is dead as well which they would have to admit to,” he mused thoughtfully seeing even more work there, Kin claim could get complicated in the Confederacy and this would obviously be one of ‘em. “Not to mention the fight over which ship can claim Freddie and her husbands genetic contribution to the Armageddon banks, it will be a right legal mess.” Ezra’s growing horror as he went on adding to the list of problems Freddie’s legal death would bring him was too much for Vin to keep a straight face about, he collapsed in chuckles.
Ezra threw him an annoyed glare but drew himself up and said regally, “Quite right Captain Tanner, thank you for reminding me of such an obscure but vital level of job responsibility in a ship hierarchy. Morrigan does indeed have a Dowager Matriarch in place acting as Regent for many things it would be unseemly for me to tread on her toes and bypass her in such a discourteous fashion especially as she would enjoy the job immensely. I‘ll believe I will leave such things in Mother‘s extremely capable hands.” he said with dignity refolding the letter to give to Maude but pocketing the Bank Crystal he had no intention of letting his Mother get hold of that.
Vin just continued laughing which finally set Ezra off and they spent a few minutes enjoying the thought of Maude ripping Genesis to shreds.