Star Key

Session 2

Horse Meat

Star Key: Session 2

Both Sir and Eveline were taken in tow by Captain Ern, the affable man leading them up through the ship to the top deck and their new quarters. He pointed vaguely as they climbed the stairs giving general idea of what each deck contained, but told them that they could always explore later. He seemed quite relaxed at taking two complete strangers, not just onto his ship, but into his crew. The way he avoided asking any questions left a feeling of uneasiness in the two however, like getting on the ship was the easy part. After a few minutes of climbing the stairs the captain showed each to their quarters and told them to make themselves at home.

The quarters are sparse, but spacious enough to fill out with some personal belongings and a touch of home. They’re about 3 meters by 3 meters with a bed against the wall directly opposite the door. Inside the room you find that there is a small desk and dresser. The desk has a chair for seating. There is also a small wash closet (tiny bathroom basically).

Sir takes about three seconds to glance around the room then turns back to the captain, “Quaint.” He steps out ready to move on.

Eveline enters the room and looks around. Her hawk adjusts its wings, then flies over to the desk and perches on it. She puts her bag on to the ground, and opens the drawers of the dresser to see if there’s anything in them.

The dresser drawers seem to be empty, in fact, if the dust in the bottom are any indication, they’ve been empty for some time.

Eveline notices the dust and cleans it out. Once it looks clean enough, she puts her things in one of the drawers. After making herself at home, she takes out a book and sits on her bed to read until it is time for dinner.

As Sir steps back into the hall the captain takes him by the arm and steers him back inside. “Please familiarize yourself with your quarters for an hour or so before dinner. Don’t go wandering about until later.”

“Oh, uh… If you insist.” Sir walks over to the bed sits down on the edge and kinda looks around awkwardly. “Thank you, Captain. I shall uh… put away my stuff.” He smiles obviously looking like he would rather explore the ship some.

The captain smiles and closes the door on the strange little man.


The Attorney Protectorate of Operations hovers in its quarters, tendrils darting across forms and papers, trailing over Inyx script before shoving them in one of a wide array of appropriate files. The Inyx preference of physical manifests over audible electronic translations had a tendency to slow the myriad of legal tape even a mid level Inyx would have to process on a regular basis, though you would never know it to watch them work. As it read and sorted, the APO hummed in a somewhat unsettling tenor as its personal slave finished the less demanding legal work of an interstellar conglomerate.

“I’ve been studying the creature that’s come onboard.” It says happily, barely above a hum.

“The creature?” The gaunt man across the table asks, looking up.

“Oh yes.” The squid replies in sing song. “Oh, yes. I’ve learned a great deal indeed.”
-
The young girl sees the ship sitting in it’s port. Like a great hunting bird it stood, unwieldy on the solid ground, yearning for the freedom of the skies and the great dark beyond. Once it may have been a gorgeous red, now it was faded, weary, comfortable with itself. The back of the ship lay open, a large cargo bay revealed half-filled with containers strewn about haphazardly.

A lone figure waits just inside the cargo bay, sitting upon one of the cases. As he sees the young girl approach he stands and waits for her at the top of the ramp.

As Gloxria stood there thinking this may the best option for the time being and the circumstances that were handed to her and headed towards the ship. Her dark hair was covering part of her face when she realized it was highly unlikely anyone would be able to place her. Gloxria came upon someone and requested permission to board, she attempted to suppress her desperation, this was the only option and had no idea what else to do, she had to leave soon.

“Hello, is there something I can do to help you? Are you looking for a ship?” The man looks around, but seeing no one else nearby looks back to the young woman. “Let me call the captain for you, he can help.” He speaks into a small communications device and a reply is heard. Looking at the young lady once again he says, “ The captain is coming back down. Are you looking to take passage?”

“Yes.” She stood there awkwardly, waiting.

After a few moments, in which the man inside the ship appraised Gloxria appreciatively, another man entered the cargo bay from the stairs. He came to stand before her with his hands on his hips. “Aww, another guest I see.” He looks the young lady up and down, “And what can I do for you? Looking to get off world?”

“Yes.”

“Great! Well we’re heading to Mertactor, the system capital. If that’s acceptable to you, we can arrange something. Do you have fare to pay for your passage?”

“How much?”

Thinking quickly the captain answers, “Well, normally the passage would be 3500 credits, but since the trip might take a little longer, 2-4 weeks actually, I’m willing to set the price at 3000.”

Gloxria thought to herself. A voice inside her head said this man could be persuaded, and it may be time to use what little charm she may possess. She thought of what her mother would do when she was trying to be seductive, but in less of a mom way. Gloxria stood up straighter and stuck a hip out, which felt completely unnatural. “2-4 weeks is a bit longer than I had anticipated…” She tried to sound like she was really going to say no, hoping this man would not see straight through her. She stood there a moment looking thoughtful and expectantly for him to respond.

The captain senses that she really needs to get off planet for some reason but she doesn’t want to pay full price. He decides that maybe she can help around the ship some other way while she’s there. He’s sure he can find something for her to do so decides that he’ll give her a little better deal. “How about this then, I’ll set the price at 2700, if you help out around the ship. Maybe in the mess hall or something while we travel. Deal?” He sticks his hand out waiting.

“I can cook!” she blurted out. She quickly shook his hand and headed onward.

The captain smiled and nodded to Chel. “This is Chel, “ he told the young lady, “He’ll show you to your quarters. I’ll notify you when it is time for dinner. Try to stay out of trouble til then.”
-—-
The intercoms buzzed in the rooms of Dila and APO. “Dinner in 5, got some fresh fish to fry.” The voice was that of the overly energetic Pilot Ace. “Oh, and captain says to be on your best behavior, so don’t try to enslave anyone.” The last was added only to APO.

D: Dilaziepr glances over to the intercom, a stripped weapon resting on a small desk folding out from the wall. She grabs a dirty rag from the tabletop, wiping her hands of the grease adorning them before slipping her gloves back onto her hand. Lifting an arm, she rubs her left shoulder for a minute before slipping back into her blazer. Glancing into a small mirror, she straightens her clothing before starting out the room, locking it behind herself habitually.

“As if we would have to try.” The voice of the young girl chuckles to itself, genuinely amused at the prospect. “Do you wish to engage in the… how do they say… ‘Face stuffing of the horse meat’? I understand you choose to participate from time to time.”

The personal slave glances up towards the APO, then at the door, before returning to his electronic tablet. “Thank you,” he begins, “But I have a lot of work left to do. If you need anything, be sure and let me know.”

“I have never once hesitated to let you know of any inconvenience to my person.” The girl sounds almost dumbfounded. “Why would we begin now?”

The slave stares at the Inyx for in awkward silence until the APO assumes their conversation is ended and it floats out the door.
--
A soft knock comes upon Eveline’s door pulling her attention back from her book. A few seconds later another knock echoes on Sir’s door. “It’s about time for dinner.” says a slightly accented voice, “Captain said to come fetch you.”

Eveline jerks awake, realizing she had drifted to sleep in the few hours of downtime she’s had. She mutters “ok” to the voice that had come through her door, and stands up drowsily. Her hawk, Eustace, flies over to her shoulder and perches there. She combs her hair back with fingers and adjusts her clothes to look at least moderately presentable. She makes her way out the door and sees the small alien. “Hi,” she says, hoping not to strike up conversation but wanting to look somewhat engaged in the crew members.

They see a short alien covered in a tan fur, but wearing overalls that were caked with grease and other fluids from various mechanical and electronic devices.

Sir tries to busy himself about his quarters. Really all he does is hang his backpack up on a hook and tries to dust off some of the furniture and get into a hacking fit in the process. He hears the call for dinner and unhooks his rapier and knife and lays them upon the bed heading for dinner. Sir nods politely to the creature as he turns for the stairs.

The alien nods and smiles widely to Eveline and to Sir as they come out of their rooms. Both notice that she’s a typical looking Aslan female. Eveline notices that the Aslan is missing a button on her overalls and also has some grease in her fur above her ears, like she was wiping the fur back repeatedly. The Aslan dashes ahead of the two and into engineering rather than down the stairs to the mess.

Eveline watches the alien run away. “Strange creature….” she remarks. She smiles at the other person walking with her. She doesn’t follow the alien, instead going down the stairs to the mess hall.
-
As Sir and then Eveline enter the mess hall they see that they are, seemingly, the last to arrive. Both are taken aback by some of the stranger members of the crew, and by the Aslan female that had called them both down having beaten them to the table. The captain motions them to some of the empty chairs at the longest table in the room and clears his throat to speak.

Eveline notices that the Aslan female sitting at the table, while nearly identical in appearance and dress isn’t the same one as before, as she has both buttons and no grease above her ears.

The captain is standing at the head of the table, looking at each of his crew in turn. “Well we have a few new faces with us today, so I thought it would be a good idea to introduce everyone before we got down to a bit of business. I’m of course Captain Ern. This is my ship, the Crimson Raptor. Those that have been with us awhile know that I do what I can to keep the ship and the crew happy, taking whatever jobs come our way. It’s a good life if that’s what you enjoy. If it’s not, well, then you’re welcome to jump ship at the next port, no hard feelings. As long as you’re here though it is MY ship, and if I tell you to do something, you do it, no questions asked, at least not until later.”

He turns to Dila next and nods, prompting her to go next.

D: Sitting stiffly in her chair at the table, black glove’d hands folded in front of herself, Dilaziepr offers a nod to the captain at his gesture. She is dressed severely in dark blues, a high collar nearly reaching her chin. Physically, she is somewhat imposing, even sitting she is easily the tallest of the humans in the room, her skin a dark coloration and black hair cut short.

“I am Dilaziepr,” the Zhodani starts evenly, “and I am here to ensure that there is no undue trouble.”

The captain considers Dila’s brief introduction but thinks better of asking for any more from the powerfully built woman. Instead he turns to the strange yellow alien and asks him to introduce himself. Both Sir and Eveline can see that the strange creature is a Hlanassi, though they aren’t that common in this part of the galaxy.

Ace stands up, his tall Hlanassi frame unfolding to his full seven foot height. Covered in shiny yellowish short fur. His large ears stuck out from the sides of his head at a less than appealing angle. He smiled widely and spoke with a melodious voice, sounding too musical for such a tall creature. “I’m an Ace, I’m the Baron. I’m Ace Baron, the pilot. I take us where I want to go, where the captain tells me I want to go.” He smiles again, even more widely. “This ship has taken me places I’ve never dreamed. I’ve never dreamed of the places I’ve gone. I just want to keep going.”

Ace sits back down with a great effort, folding himself back into his chair, the smile never leaving his face. The captain, also smiling, turns to the Inyx, who bobs in place at the table, rather than sitting in a chair designed for the bipedal creatures.

“I am the Attorney Protectorate of Operations, Paralegal treaty injunctions, copyright claims and violations, conglomerate starship activities, OSH 7, Affinity Interstellar.” The nine foot alien monstrosity practically sings in the voice of a young human girl. “On this ship, I am more colloquially known as a ‘Fixer’. Because it is my great pleasure to fix things. Contracts, treaties, sensors, arrays…” The singsong voice of the girl fades into a low, electric hiss. “…People.”

A little hesitantly the captain, unnerved as usual to the APO’s strange mode of communication, motions for Chel to stand and introduce himself.

The human male stands up. He was also tall, about 6’ 4” and heavily muscled. Surprisingly, when he talked, his voice was rather soft. “My name is Chel. I’m Answerin. Captain Ern took me on to help keep the ship protected, I’ve been doing that for several years now. Between myself and Vila, we keep the ships operations running smoothly.” He also sits back down.

As the captain motions toward the Aslan female sitting at the table, the door to the mess opens and another Aslan female enters. Sir is surprised because to him, they look identical, though Eveline saw that they were most likely sisters.

“Aww,” said the captain. “Just in time, well why don’t you and your sister introduce yourselves.”

The Aslan sisters stood together. While they looked nearly identical, seeing them standing next to each other showed that one was a few inches taller than the other. The taller spoke first. “I’m Hylikeasus and this is my sister Hylikeasos, but around the ship we’re Thing 1 and 2.”

The smaller Aslan spoke up. “I’m not Thing 1.”

The taller responded, “And I’m not Thing 2. We are however the ships engineers… of a sort.” The smaller sister poked her in the ribs. “The ships engineers, right. That’s us.”

They both started talking to each other quietly with the rest of the room looking on. After a few minutes of silnce, the captain turned towards the rest of the table. “Well, I guess we can introduce our two newest members now.” Turning to Sir he gestures for him to go next.

Sir stands at a uninteresting height of 5’9". His brown hair stands in disarray most of the time when it is not covered by his bowler cap which currently resides in his room. However upon half his skull instead of hair a metal plate runs from the back of his skull down to the brow line. His clothes are of ordinary travelling clothes and leather jacket.
Sir nods to each as they introduce themselves and begins at his cue, “Miss Dilah-… Miss Dilez-… Miss D,” He smiles nervously a bit intimidated “Ace, quite the poet. Attorney Protectorate of Operations, very sharp looking if I do say so. Chel, good to finally be formally introduced and ah… Hylikeasus and Hylikeasos, pleasure to meet you.” He stands up slightly straighter, “My name is Sir, and I will be of paramount use to this ship.” He nods again smiling but saying no more.

The captain looks at him, waiting for anything more, but then shrugs. ‘Why he thought, do we have such people on this ship.’

He turned to the last crew member and asked if she would mind introducing herself.

Eveline smiles awkwardly, a bit taken aback by the large squid creature and its voice, as well as some of the other passengers. Eveline is of average height and build for a human woman, and the only thing truly remarkable about her appearance is her auburn hair. “I’m Eveline, and I’ll be working on the ship, at least for awhile.” Her hawk squawks and flaps a wing up. “Oh…and this is Eustace. He gets a mite touchy at times, but generally stays on my shoulder. Don’t mind him, and he won’t mind you. Hopefully.”

“Eeeeuustice~” The APO practically sings in barely concealed excitement. “Yes. A good name.” The excitement seems to die, replaced with childlike contentment. “It will do.”

“I…er….yes, it is good name, isn’t it?” Eveline finally responds to the squid creature, very unsure of exactly WHAT was transpiring. Its voice was very unsettling.

The captain smiles resignedly. “Well, I guess since I have such a verbose crew I’ll just get down to brass tacks and you can all get to know each other better some other time. We have a job. I mean, besides the one we got hauling the freight to the Capitol. I was contacted about investigating an overdue salvage ship that was due back to port a few weeks ago. We have the coordinates of where it was heading and we’ve been paid a sizeable sum upfront to check it out. It’s a quick Jump 3, so it should only take a week to get there, and we’d still be in Jump distance to the Capitol. The client is on board with two goons. I want you to be on your best behavior around them. I think they’re working for Trexalon, so be careful what you say to them. They’re powerful people, but they pay well.”

“Much of Affinity’s investments in this sector are carried and enforced by the Trexalon conglomerate.” The girl’s voice contained an audible smile. “The plea for good behavior is mutual. Please do not embarrass us.”

“Thank you. These guys can make us wealthy, or cause a lot of problems with our business. With luck it won’t take too long to find the salvage ship, or verify that it’s not there. Either way, it should be some easy pay. If there’s nothing else get some dinner and get some sleep, we leave with the rising sun.”
--
Dinner was set out buffet style on the counters in the mess, plates and drinks were sitting out as well. Ace vaulted over the table to grab a plate and proceeded to catch the food that missed that which he hurriedly shoved in mouth. Thing 1 and 2 both left the mess without eating and the others made their way more sedately to the food, getting plates and finding seats back at the table.

Instead of heading for the buffet where the food was set out Sir chose to instead head for a seat. Taking off his jacket he placed it upon the back of his chair and sat down. He chose to merely sit and watch as others filled their plates and began eating

Eveline was quite hungry, so she got up and went to get herself a plate of food, careful to avoid bumping into any others. She tried to keep a smile on her face, but was actually sizing everyone up and determining if anyone seemed dangerous. It was really to early to tell.

Chel sat quietly eating his food slowly as he sized up Sir, sitting without food. “Not hungry?”

APO drifts away from the table towards one of the mess walls, slipping some of its tendrils around an almost glaringly alien gadget mounted on the wall. At the Inyx’s touch bits of the metal exterior begin to recede and open, the APO slipping several of its tentacles slowly through the openings, singing quietly to itself as it does. It’s difficult to overhear over the din of the mess hall, but it seems to refer to an old man and his snoring.

D: As the captain finishes his address, Dilaziepr stands from the table to fetch her own food of plate. She allows the more rambunctious Ace to go first, before filing toward the food to select her own plate of vittles; while she is far from as excitable as the aforementioned whirlwind of eating, she gathers a fairly diverse plate. Returning to the table, she begins to eat her meal slowly and sedately. Sir earns a glance at Chel’s comment, but nothing more. She largely ignores the sapient squid’s antics.

“What? Oh, not exactly.” Sir sits up and turns to Chel, “I haven’t been hungry in quite a while now. However I thought it would be polite to at least stay for the dinner conversation. Also I know food has a limited supply on a ship and do not wish to decrease its supply any faster that necessary. Not hungry, but more so just need not to eat.”

Chel looked about puzzledly. His own plate was piled high with various fruits and vegetables, as he didn’t eat any kind of meat, but not eating anything at all? That was a discipline that he knew nothing about. “How very strange. When was the last time you did eat?”

Eveline watches the conversation develop. She gives her hawk a carrot to chew on. It doesn’t need to eat, per se, but does enjoy chewing.

The APO withdraws from the wall mounted machine, the object closing itself as he does. Floating over to the table, the Inyx bobs, largely motionless, for several minutes, before speaking.

“Ah.” The girl says in an oddly manufactured way to no one in particular. “What a fine meal that has filled us all with delicious horse meat. Now for the ceremonial display of post orifice stuffing contentedness.” Two tendrils reach up to the large, striped tie around the Inyx’s core and, with some difficulty, loosen it slightly before falling back to its sides. “Ah.” The APO repeats.

“I believe it has been a week or so. I can eat food but I simply need not and consider it partially wasted upon myself as I could not taste or smell it anyways. However texture of food I can feel so I eat food more as a… amusement. See I believe it to be an odd side effect of some internal power source—internal to me that is— that powers my bionic hand and leg. I still can enjoy the effects of a good drink though.” Sir winks and casts a grin around the table.

D: “The most delicious of horse meat,” Dilaziepr replies to the squid, slicing a pungent, hard-shelled food in half with a smooth motion of a table knife. She glances toward the chromedome casually. “That looks to be a fairly invasive reconstruction,” she comments. “Shrapnel?” She finally shoots a disapproving glance toward the cybernetic bird crushing a carrot into mush in a fairly violent display of vegetative abuse.

Eveline notices the tall woman glaring at her hawk. “Would you like to feed him?” she asks, hoping to glean some information about the woman based on the response. The way she’s looking at Eustace is unsettling, to say the least. The woman might be watching.

Chel smiles again at Sir’s easy going manner. “Amazing. I wonder if it was intentional or not. Either way, that’s quite incredible.”

Sir answers both questions together, “I do not know. All I do is that it has happened and its how I continue to operate. I prefer not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Might get bit if I’m not careful.”

D: “I would prefer to not waste the food,” the Zhodani responds levelly. “It would be a shame to make a mess.” She lifts the half to her lips, tilting her head back with a slurping noise. “A gift horse?” she asks Sir. “Why would anyone gift a horse?” She pauses briefly. “And amnesia?” She ‘shares’ a glance with the blind Inyx.

The APO ‘turns’ to Zhodani. It is not truly towards her or away from her, but he’s learned that bears little relevance on whether or not non-Inyx believed you were paying attention to them.
“Sometimes carefully aimed blows to the head fail to kill a bipedal alien, and only cause convenient memory loss.” The girl says cheerfully.

Eveline raised her eyebrows at the woman’s response, but says nothing in return.

Sir merely looks oddly at Dilazieper and brushes over her comment “Yes quite. Unless of course my memory was erased intentionally.” He taps lightly on the metal plate covering part of his skull, “Although I do not think they would have left such sloppy evidence had it been intentional.” Sir stands up and begins to put on his jacket, “I do believe I shall be heading back to my room. Have some notes I’d like to write down.. You know… before I forget.” He winks at his horrible joke and step lightly towards the door. “Good night!” he calls as he leaves.


There was a knock at the door of the passenger quarters where the young lady had been most of the afternoon.

Gloxria had been in her room for the time being, mostly just a bunch of bunk beds, luckily none of them filled. When she first got there she took off her purple leather boots and let her feet breathe, still not used to wearing shoes a lot, they are so constricting. In an attempt to stay agile she decided to jump from top bunk to top bunk, something that was an inner child need to fill. Being an only child without many neighboring children there was never a need for bunk beds. Afterwards trying to calm her mind from unnecessary wandering Gloxria laid on each bed to figure the most comfortable mattress. She was partway through when there was a knock. “What the noodle?”

The captain knocked again on the door, this time calling quietly. “Hello the room? Just making sure you haven’t died or anything. Hope I’m not waking you up.”

“Of course not.” Still trying to decipher sarcasm… “What can I do for you?”

Opening the door a bit the captain peeks inside. “I brought you some dinner. I’m sorry I forgot to send someone down for you, but I had to have a talk with my crew. I don’t know if I properly introduced myself before, I’m Captain Ern. What’s your name?”

“Gloxria” she replied quickly, unsure why. She took a second to wonder why she was so jumpy and tried to calm down by taking a deep breath.

The captain set the plate of food down at a small table just inside the door. “Well Ms. Gloxria, I’m glad to have you on board. You let me know if there is anything I can do for you.” He pointed to a small com device on the wall next to the door. “Just ask for me here and we can find someone to help you. Tomorrow I’ll take you up to the kitchen and see if you can really cook. Honestly, anything would be better than the auto-chef.”

Gloxria attempting to tap into her charm again which was slim tried to smile at the Captain to show appreciation, which may be pointless but what the heck? She managed a small side smile which probably looked more like a stroke victim than a girlish quality. “I’ll do my best.”

The captain smiled widely back at the young girl before wishing her a good night and stepping out of the room. ‘What a sweet girl’ he thought, as he stepped out of the room. ‘almost like…’ His thoughts drifted off for a moment before he shook his head to clear it. ‘No sense dwelling on the past.’ He headed back up to the Top deck to get some sleep.

As the captain stepped out, Gloxria thought to herself how weird that encounter was. She scanned the door for a lock, but wondered what the point was. She continued her quest of finding the perfect mattress in the room, of which when she found it marked it was a small ‘X’ to signify it was her choice.

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