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Old June 3rd, 2017, 09:38 PM
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Leitz Leitz is offline
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Default TDW:1416 Season 4 "Freedom Isn't Free"

[Iron System 208.068.0105 Fleet Time]

"G54FE3 Reporting, sir."

"Hold on." Beinon said without looking back. He had seen the reflection of movement in the plexisteel's reflection and made a bet with himself about who it was. She sounded about right.

Still, he didn't want to mess this up. Guthr had gotten some goo from the shop mixed up for him to seal the loose pane of plexisteel in the turret. Beinon liked looking at the stars, it was a far cry from life fully underground or under the water of Haearn. He had claimed the turret as it was totally useless otherwise and moved his office into it. Since the office wasn't anything but a sheet to sleep on and half an old notebook to write on, the unused turret would do. He'd have it cleaned up and fixed up for the Captain's review; when time came to talk about a full time place on the crew Beinon would have made an impression.

He gently needled the goo into the crevasse between the pane and the frame. Creator knew what had kept the thing from leaking, maybe it was. Still, the goo would set in a day and be sealed for the trip to Wardn. Beinon's nose was three centimeters from the pane and his eye caught every nook and cranny. The goo was in the best he could do. One long strip of fastenal tape and he was good.

He liked the view of the stars as long as there was a full atmo or four centimeters of plexisteel between him and open space. He smiled. It was a good job. He was learning as best he could and trying to make sure when time came to be judged he stood straight. Creator knew he had made stupid choices for a long time; this might be his last chance. He worked on his smile and turned to face the woman.

His smile froze on his face.

Her already threadbare top was fully loose and he could see the scabs and scars of enslavement. Her chocolate skin was blotched with ashen gray that matched the rough patches of hair left. If she carried a large box she might weight in at three dozen kilos. Maybe. Skin was tight against her ribs and whatever normal shape a woman should have was denied her.

As she started to undo the tie at her waist Beinon finally got his mouth to move.

"Stop." He wasn't sure he had heard himself, much less if she heard him. "Stop, please."

"They said you wanted to see me." Her gaze stayed locked on his feet but her hands paused.

"I do, but..."

"Am I not pleasing?" She whispered.

"Yes, you are. It's not like that." Beinon felt his face warm. "I mean, you're beautiful, but I didn't ask you here for that. Those rules are gone. Your life isn't forfeit for the slightest mistake."

She started to rock from side to side.

"Look, I'm sorry, I'm still getting used to this myself." Beinon sat in the remains of a gunner's mount. "Let me try to fix this. I'm Crewman Daniels. Please call me Beinon. What's yer name?"

"G54FE3, sir." Her rocking slowed slightly yet her hands were still at the tie straps to her trousers.

"No, lass. Yer name. Them that numbered you are gone." He hadn't done well with her, that's for sure. Still, maybe the truth would cover where his words weren't enough. "Lookit, some of the others said you was good with ship engines. I know you couldn't say that before; one mistake in the engine room and your supper. It's different now. I got the word straight from Captain Webb himself; we get a new start. Someone with your smarts can make it big time."

His eyes fell on her bare feet. They were small, and pitted. Two toes were missing and another looked broken.

"Look, I'll be straight up with you. If I recruit you to work and you do a good job then it makes me look good to. I'm wanting a better place for myself. But I'm not as some; I'll take you with me if you work hard. I'll tell the Captain you did a great job if you do."

"They say he's gone and the pirates are coming back." Her scant muscles pulled skin tight. "We'll all be dead then."

"He's coming back. I've talked to the bridge crew and they are sure of it. We're nearly to the planet and in a few hours the first load of food will hit the kitchens. Imagine it! Can you still eat?"

"Bad teeth." She whispered. "I...they said I'm dying."

His breath caught. "From what? Why didn't you say something?"

"No one cared." She whispered. "No one wanted me."

Beinon stood and stepped over the frayed power cable. He was less than half a meter from her and she shrank back. With his best care he buttoned her tunic back up.

"Let's go talk to the doctor. If you can be fixed then they can fix you."

"I can't afford it." She said. " body doesn't do what I tell it to. I was going to be next."

"You're with me now. I'll make sure it's taken care of." He looked back at the turret. "Look, don't take this wrong, but you can hole up here. No services rendered, no payment. Just the stars."

"This is freedom?" She wrapped her thin arms around her chest. "It's really free?"

"No, lass. Freedom isn't free. This time, though, we're not the ones to pay the cost. I'm right thankful for the chance and plan on doing my best. I'll do the best I can for you as well. Okay?"

[Iron System 208.068.1715 Fleet Time]

She had cringed as he tried to lead her to the sick bay. Yet she had gone. The doctor had scanned, poked, prodded, and hadn't answered before Beinon had to report for duty. Part way through his shift he had seen her talking to Chief Engineer Chen. His duty as Crewman took him from the engine room to a second full shift in the kitchen preparing hundreds of fish. He pulled himself back to his office and wanted nothing more than to pass out completely.

She was there. She had found a sheet of her own and taken his for good measure. She snored.

He turned off the main light and use his flashlight to find a spot. Work boots made a smelly but functional pillow and he did a quick look to make sure she was okay.

Her hand clutched a small worn thing of lip color. Bright blue, judging from her lips and the three marks on her cheek. He paused and smiled. Over her head, in bright blue. He clicked off his flashlight and curled up sheetless. His mind settled on the writing; she had claimed her space. It was a good sign. It was a good name.

Chronicler, the Domici War
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