Third Expanse

Prepping for Launch

Hand Cramps, Ice Cream, and Nightmares

Session Two – August 6th

There’s nothing better than a one night stand! No expectations. No commitment. Just a night of raw lust shared between two consenting adults. Oh… and massive hand cramps! This would definitely be something Captain John Robert Leslie would have been all too happy to share, if he were the “bed and brag” sort, but, not only was he not the kind of person to tell everyone every detail of his previous nights (or afternoons, mornings, mid-evenings, etc) coitous, this was also not the sort of pain one would suffer after feverously massaging… ones companion. No… the hand pain he was feeling was a bit sharper. Almost like being stabbed, and the blade carving slowly down to his wrist. Not the way John likes waking up.

“Good morning, Captain. Did you sleep well?” The question came with a very heavy, suggestive tone from John’s one-night-stand… the lovely (or, so we assume as we’re human and Vuria are a bit different than we are), Mrs. Judith West, Air’s resident “dirty dock manager”.

“How could I? You kept me awake all evening.” John said with a wink as the pain in his hand subsided.

“Of course I did.” Judith said, a smile in her voice. “Now please get your things and leave.”

John found himself momentarily stunned. “Ok… let me just freshen…”

“Sorry, John. No time. Your cloths are at the door and you know your way out.”

Only mildly put off by the abruptness… and the fact he slept in the nude, John rose from the bed, collected his things and walked out of Judith Smith’s cabin into the corridors of Air Station… the busy corridors of Air Station, with scores of eyes looking upon John’s mostly exposed body. Truthfully, this only made him grin. The Captain was not ashamed of his body… and there are hundreds of women who would attest to that.

In fact, John was so comfortable with himself that he hadn’t even covered his little captain up. He wasn’t intentionally flashing, it was simply he had no modesty (well, that’s what most of those who saw him in the hallway told me later, anyway).

One particularly lovely young lady (human this time, so I can promise you the “lovely” and “young” adjectives are accurate) caught John’s attention as his captain’s staff had… strongly… caught hers. With a little word play, John had convinced the girl to allow him to show her all of his talents in her quarters. Perhaps I could have given you the dialog spoken, but that would be giving away the secrets of a truth master tongue. If you want those secrets, you’ll just have to find the Captain yourself.

In any case, John’s morning romp was cut short before making more than a few feet down the hallway by none other than the girls boyfriend! Yup… she has a boyfriend, and he was a big one… muscle wise. Unlike John, the boyfriend had a little more modesty and so we couldn’t have a literal dick measuring contest. The next best thing happened, though, as the boyfriend came up from behind John, spun him around, and…

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing with my girl?!” The man shouted.

Someone may of heard John mumble a “that’s about right” just before a chuckle… but then again, people love to embellish, so, choose to believe that as you will.

As the man growled down at him, John said “I wasn’t aware she had a boyfriend.” Though, I don’t think the words stuck with the large man, as he swung at John.

One thing sleeping with so many does for a person is given them good reflexes. The skills to know just how to move and adjust ones self to… rise… to any situation… or so John liked to think, and this situation only enforced that belief, as he easily dodged the mans clumsy swing.

With a very precise and solid swing (critical success on the dice), John sent the jealous boyfriend sailing a foot or two down the corridor where the oaf landed like a sack of potatoes on the ground. To put an exclamation on his strike, John said firmly to the boyfriend “I didn’t know she had a boyfriend.”

“You’re an asshole!” The girl shouted at him as she ran over and cradled her boyfriend, who still lay groaning on the corridor floor.

John lifted one eye brow to the statement. Was she serious? Oh well, dodged crazy then. Without another word, he simple turned and walked away, presumably to find some maintenance closet or public bathroom in which to actually dress himself.

Only a day to go before the ship arrives!

sadhva, known as the “Mysterious Woman” by most on the station, found that after she managed to secure a job from that… young man (far too young for her tastes to be honest), Xander… she felt restless. Damn, but Air was a boring place. Sure, Fresher wasn’t exactly the happeningest place in the galaxy, but surely there was something! A back alley brawl? Surely a Fight Club!?

Sadly, as much as she tried talking to people about fight club… she could find nobody who spoke about fight club.

Xander Rhysland rose from his childhood bed and looked upon his room. Only one more day to go. But this was going to be a busy day! He needed to buy supplies for the ship! Equipment batteries, medical supplies, food… beds, for all he knew! He was going to be bouncing around the suppliers on Air like a mad man.

Barely eating any breakfast, Xander rushed out the door to his shuttle… yes, it was his. Look, just because YOU didn’t have your own orbital shuttle when you were a kid doesn’t make Xanders a spoiled brat. He’s a highly educated, responsible young man, and this family gave him the shuttle as he was the best pilot among them. No, that excuse didn’t work for me either. I don’t know… maybe he’s just spoiled!

Before he could settle even his foot in the door, he heard his little sister Aurora call out to him, “Xander! Can I come?”

Xander turned to his sister, who, at ten years of age, stood only half a head shorter than he was. “I’m going to be running around the station doing nothing exciting.”

“It’s boring here! Please?” she pestered him.

So… we learn Xander is a bit of a pushover. Sure, sure… this is his little sister. I suppose we’ll see if only she has the power to turn him into a puppet.

Needless to say, Xander took little Aurora along with him, promising his mother to return her safe and sound by evening… as if he was going to pack her and take her with him. Sheesh.

For the remainder of the day, Xander did exactly as he said to Aurora, he went about from vendor to vendor, haggling first for the cost of a days worth of storage space, followed by the supplies he decided he needed for his new ship… He may have accidentally bought a months worth of nothing but chicken nuggets and ice cream for the ship… or maybe that was just Aurora’s imagination… hmmm…

Finally, after dragging his little sis around to all of the larger merchants on the station… Xander found himself suckered into taking Aurora to one of Air’s better cinemas for a movie… and popcorn… and candy… and a large orange soda… and a slushie because he’s leaving and he’ll never see her again and never again get a chance to buy her any slushies and does he really want to leave without buying her a slushie and… well… Xander bought her all of it. He told himself because he was a good brother. Frankly, I think he was just gullible, but what do I know?

No sooner had the movie begun when an urgent beep came from his PDA. With a quick glance, he saw it was an active voice call from Fe Dewolff, and, seeing as she was the one that brokered his purchase of his ship, he decided to take it.

“Good news, Xander!” Came Fe’s voice when he answered the call the moment he stepped out of the theater. “The ship will be arriving at Air by 8am tomorrow morning.”

“That’s great!”

“Indeed!” Fe agreed with a smile. Plenty of time for our meeting at 7am. No, no… you didn’t forget anything, Xander. It’s just a job was brought to my attention that you should be aware of. Your Captain friend may join, but, really, it’s a small matter. 7am, at Docking Access Seven. Sound good? Wonderful! See you then." And the call ended.

Truth be told, Fe didn’t actually talk over anything Xander. It’s just… I didn’t want to write all of the “yup” and “ok” and “ah ha” that were his typical responses during this particular conversation.

Needless to say (but I will anyway), Xander returned to his sister and, after the movie, sent a message to his employees, telling them to meet him at the ship for it’s arrival, then returned to his family farm for one last night before his big day.

With one day remaining before this employer’s ship was due to arrive, Archer took the opportunity to spy**cough** I mean, check up on his employers’ records. This, of course, is something most normal people do BEFORE getting hired. Meh, I’m sure it’s all good.

Captain John Robert Leslie, lived in the Fresher system for the past 10 years. Had made a decent fortune with a small claim (now sold) in Gagnon’s Star. Spent most of his wealth in the down payment of the company’s first and only light freighter, as yet unnamed… not surprising as the ship hadn’t even arrived.

The good Captain has also been in jail a couple times, but due to small skirmishes or public drunkenness charges… for which he’s on record as stating the party at fault are the drinking establishments, as he’d’ve preferred to be drunk in the bar. They choose to put him in public. No serious criminal record was found.

Xander Rhysland, third child of four in the Rhysland family. Parents are the owners and operators of the Rhysland Farms, one of the bigger production farms on Fresher. Older brother Nicolas Rhysland arrested multiple times for possession, and possession with intent to sell. beyond the one bad egg, however, no red flags on Xander himself.

You would think after almost getting caught by the authorities that Aniah Silvershade would lay low until she left Air… but, no. Well, yeah, she kinda does, but no.

With one day left on Air, she felt determined to nab… something. Information is what she really wanted. Information about what, she couldn’t tell you, but information none-the-less. Information sold for good money, and she knew the best place on Air to sell information was to Judith West.

Of course, to sell information you needed information, and you’d be surprised at one of the most common sources of that information… people just leave their PDAs out all over the place. Humans particularly. They were such easy marks. All she had to do was strike the Nibble Tail pose and they would all just coo… this made Aniah chuckle as the act of gripping ones tail in both hands with face down facing was actually a very seductive pose to Squeelah. Well, maybe that wasn’t all she had to do, and, to be honest, it made her uncomfortable making the pose, but, if it helped her get what she wanted…

This need brought her to The Meat Pocket. Perhaps not the best named sandwich shop, but it was popular enough on Air that there was almost always a small crowd, and from all levels on the station, from passer by, to station operations personnel.

At a glance there were two marks just screaming her name. Both had their PDAs just sitting there on their tables’ edge, and both were looking in a completely different location. She shrugged… both were human… go figure. She nonchalantly scurried up to the first mark and deftly swiped the PDA, dropping it from her palm into one of her many pockets… thankfully for her, being a technician gave her an excuse to wear overalls with lots and lots of pockets.

The second mark didn’t go quite as smoothly. As he fingers started brushing the PDA off the table, the mark… a dark haired, pale eyed business man… chose just that moment to look toward Aniah. She was busted. She knew it. With a quick thought, she continued the swipe, but, instead of aiming for her pocket, she let it fall to the ground with a loud clatter.

“Excuse me!” called the man, “what do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m so, so sorry sir!” Aniah stammered convincingly as she rung her hands together. “You were about to knock it down. I was only trying to catch it… I missed.” she said the last part with a small frown and the most subtle widening of her eyes. Human’s called it “puppy dog eyes”. As if! She was far cuter.

The man’s expression softened to Aniah’s ruse and he smiled. “No, I’m sorry. Thank you for trying though.”

“Of course sir!” Aniah said brightly… the dumb ass immediately looked away. She hadn’t even moved, standing right next to the PDA placed, once again, right at the edge of the table, and the dumb ass immediately looked away! She was amazing! She brushed the PDA right into her pocket and, not wanting to tempt fate, walked right out of the Meat Pocket. Humans were so… gullible.

She had not rented any cabins since her little hacking scare the day before. Instead, Aniah Silvershade found a lovely little, out-of-the-way vent that was just big enough for her to be comfortable and far enough from normal traffic she felt safe enough playing with her ill-gotten gains.

She started by examining the second marks PDA. Such a simpleton, that one. In fact, he was so simple that he had absolutely nothing of interest on his PDA. He was an accountant. That’s it. Nothing special. Nothing exciting. Nothing… worth selling. He had a sizable bank account though. Good. She needed a nice little weapon. Her new employer was going to be taking her to new places and you could never be too careful, being a small, helpless Squeelah and all. She bought a small black market electrolaser that had a little more juice than average and arranged for it to be located in supplied ear marked for her employers ship… how fortuitous was that?!

As for the first mark’s PDA, at first she thought it was going to be another boring affair, until she started thumbing through some barely encrypted personal files. Oh this was interesting! She began to wonder if her new employer could be… hmmm…

For his part Chitterie was anxious to leave. He wasn’t a fan of staying in one place for very long, and, I suspect, nor were many of the inhabitants he dealt with. None-the-less, Chitterie was a charitable fellow and decided to spend the last couple of evenings volunteering in one of Air’s smaller clinics located near the maintenance hangers. He was a doctor, after all, and there was this nonsense others kept annoying him with revolving around “practise”. As if he’d ever loose his edge, but still, it was better than sitting around doing nothing… except for that damn prick.

“That damn prick” was a tall, blond doctor that worked in the clinic Chitterie volunteered at. The man had a tendency to condescendingly calling Chitterie a monkey… as if he could ever be confused with such a low brow creature… no wonder humans evolved from such beasts. Seriously, Chitterie would have bit the man’s nose off if he had to work with the retch longer than the two evenings.

Chitterie was only a mere several minutes from the end of his volunteer shift on the final night before he was due to finally leave with his new employers when the door to the clinic opened to a rush of frantic men and women dressed in coveralls of varying oil stains and burn marks, carrying in three severely wounded and screaming men.

“You have to help us! There was an accident. These men need help now!”

The two other doctors in the clinic rushed in and each had some of the mechanics bring a man to a nearby bed… for which the clinic only had two. Chitterie found himself with the last of the wounded, with deep lacerations and second and third degree burns, no bed, and medical supplies across the room.

Chitterie was a professional, damnit, and he deftly calmed the wounded man’s friends and made them his aides. For the next eight hours, Chitterie pulled off a miracle by not only saving the man, but stabilizing him enough that he could be easily transported to more appropriate medical facilities.

Exhausted, dirty, and needing a shower, Chitterie looked about the clinic at the state of the other wounded. Only one other man was saved. That damn prick oversaw the care of the only one of the two men to die. With dignity and humility as he walked out of the clinic… Chitterie gloated at that damn prick.

As Chitterie walked down the hall to his rented cabin, he glanced at his PDA. It was 6:40 am and there was a message from his employer… “Ship will be arriving at 8am. Please meet promptly at Docking Access Seven”. He stopped walking down the corridor and stared at the message…

Laying in his bed nearby, little three year old Timmy was startled awake by a monster’s roar so terrifying he would not sleep soundly through the night for the next six years.

Sadhva’s second day wasn’t any more exciting than the first. She tried entertaining herself by attempting to find a weapon. A pistol, to be specific. They were easier to hide and they still dropped most enemies… especially in places like this… but she didn’t just want any pistol. No… she wanted a pistol that would make grown men piss themselves upon seeing it. She wanted a pistol that made even heavily armored soldiers sweat in fear.

She had absolutely no expectation of finding such a pistol, but it kept her entertained, and it worried many of the weapon shop owners of which she enquired about such a pistol.

All said and done, however, Sadhva’s day was uneventful (no, she did not find a pistol). She decided to turn in early… sheesh, what else was there to do with no fight club?

She read the message that was sent about meeting her employer by the ship that was to arrive in the morning, then fell asleep easily enough, but, her dreams darkened as the night progressed. Battle fields filled with corpses. Starship crews suffocating from hull breaches. Empty, bombed out hovels filled with a void that crept up behind her as she frantically searched for her loved ones… searched for a way out…

Sadhva’s screams were heard through many bulkheads. Station security took little time coming upon Sadhva’s cabin and gaining access. What they found upon entry was a woman, sitting bolt upright in her bed, eyes closed, screaming a horrifying scream. Try as they might, they could not wake the screaming Sadhva.

It took medical longer to arrive. By the time they had, Sadhva’s voice was long past strained and sounded more as if it had been gutted. The medical nurse injected Sadhva with a cocktail that brought her out of her dreams, and slowly woke her up.

Sadhva opened her eyes to soaked sheets and clothing, a horridly painful throat, and a room of strangers. She tried to speak by stopped, immediately as the pain in her throat was too much. Seeing her try, the nurse handed her a pad to write on.

“Who are you, and what happened?” Sadhva wrote.

“Security received reports of screaming coming from your cabin. They found you asleep, but in distress and contacted medical. Are you alright?” Answered the nurse.


“Of course.” The nurse handed Sadhva a cup of water.

“Thank you.” Sadhva said softly as the water soothed her throat a little.

“We would like you to stay in medical, for at least 24 hours to make sure you’re alright.” the nurse said.

“Really, there’s no need. This has happened before. I’ll be fine.” Sadhva slowly replied.

“This has happened before?”

Sadhva looked around at the strangers in her room; most of which were clearing out. When it was just her and the nurse, she answered, “Night Terrors.”

Xander Rhysland was waylaid by his mother as he attempted to sneak out the door in the predawn hours of the morning.

“No breakfast? Not even a goodbye?” Xander’s mother accused.

“Early appointment. I really need to get up to the station early.”

“That’s fine.” his mother said. “Not like I’m not going to see you tonight or anything.”

Xander sighed. “You win, but I really can’t stay long. I need to be at Air before seven.” and sat down at the kitchen table.

Caught for breakfast by his mother, he’s saddened to hear his father was out in the fields for harvest and would not be able to say goodbye, but he wasn’t too surprised. His father wasn’t exactly happy with his son’s plans.

The breakfast was nice and Xander was able to give his mother a proper goodbye with promise to return for a visit as soon as he could. Finishing his plate of food, he picked up the last of his things, entered his shuttle, and began the hour long flight to Air.

Smooth ride, right? Yeah. He ran a little later than he wanted. By his estimates he was going to arrive on Air just before seven am. He was probably going to be a few minutes late to his meeting with Fe.

That’s when he got the impression that he wasn’t alone… “Aurora?”

“Hi Xander.” Came the voice of his sister as she tried hiding in the back of one of the shuttles cargo containers.

Damnit! He was late as it was. He had no time to return Aurora home. Maybe after his meeting. He’ll have plenty of time then!