A Choice To Make


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Scene Title A Choice To Make
Synopsis The Captain of the Cerberus gives the crew a choice. Stay and Fight… or Go.
Date December 20, 2018

The Cerberus

The Cerberus was once a military ship, a Coast Guard Island Interceptor to be exact. The annoying and bright orange and white pain had long ago chipped off leaving it a familiar grey. With a crew of fourteen, it was a formidable foe. It was also one of the few ‘battleships’ on the seas.

Being a military ship, it wasn’t the most luxurious of accommodations, even the mess hall was cramped and not really meant for holding the whole crew at once. A few lucky had been able to snag the metallic tables and chairs, which made up the dining area; the rest were forced to find a wall to lean on. Among their ranks are former prisoners of the blacksite he was warden of, notably the other two heads of the Cerberus..

No doubt the rumors were already making the rounds, the galley was buzzing with conversation. That is until the captain of Cerberus step into the room. “Evening all,” Benjamin’s voice rumbles loud enough to reach all. The room falls into silence then, all eyes turning to him. “Thank you for coming.” These meetings were a tradition. “Good to see everyone..” A chance for everyone to hear their next mission and make a choice. “Well almost everyone, I know Delia is still out, but I will be making sure to fill her in.” To stay with the boat or go find a new crew to join.

Folding hands behind his back, the captain falls quiet to collect his thoughts, to shape his words finally… “I know the rumors have reached you. The Sentinel is coming and they’re bringing the whole fleet.” He gives a moment for the room to calm down, he offers an apologetic look to Huruma for the surge of emotions that will come with that announcement.

“Can’t we just leave?” Comes one frightened voice in the crowd.

“We could. We could.” Ryans concedes with a nod of his head, “But, more than ever the people of the Pelagos need our help. We leave, all of those people die, for sure this time.” The buzz of quiet voices fill the room again. “We’ve spent years protecting them, this time is… well, it’s for our lives and theirs. This is a new purge, ladies and gentlemen, they don’t plan to leave anyone living, anywhere.” They’re living the hell from the last one that flooded the world. “I’ve been working with Adam on some strategies and how we can use the numbers we have to our best advantage.”

Spreading his hands, Ryans looks at each person he can, “So as is tradition, I’m giving each and everyone of you the opportunity to leave and find a new ship or stand with us. No one will judge you for your choice.”

As soon as the call went out, Squeaks grabbed up a place in the mess hall. It’s not an expected seat, not one of the chairs or part of the standing room. Small as she is, she’s claimed a table to sit criss-cross on and she’s brought a bit of narrow rope to practice knots with too. It’s almost an obsession, a new thing learned and then practiced religiously until it’s second nature. Her small fingers work the ends over and under and through again and again while other members of the crew file in and fill up the space. Blue eyes, full of cautious curiosity raise from the length of rope every so often to watch as other crew members find their way into the space.

Even though she hasn’t been on the Cerberus for very long, she’s integrated herself into the crew easily enough. She hasn’t let her youth or inexperience set her apart from even the most seasoned sailors, and it shows even now, with a casually wondering expression as the captain begins to talk about rumors. And trouble?

A new purge. That’s definitely something she’s familiar with — the teenager had just left a world behind where that very thing was happening. But a Sentinel isn’t something she’s seen ever. Maybe it’s like the Hunters. It’s a little scary to think about.

Her brows knit a little at the voices around her. Some worried and others boasting or angry, she can’t really tell for sure, but none of it makes much sense. Squeaks tucks her legs in closer and sits a little taller. Her eyes go from watching the people around her to the studying Ryans. There’s almost an expectation that the decision has already been made for her. That’s what grown-ups tend to do, and it makes her eyes narrow a teeny bit more. But if it for reals is her choice… “I’m not leaving,” is a quiet statement.

For her part, Geneva has chosen not to sit even though she’d arrived in the mess hall before many others, but instead has been lurking in the darkest of shadows gathered in one corner of the room. Alone, as much as that is possible, with so many others around now. She had heard the rumors, as they all had — actively sought them out, even, collecting them with a wary vehemence strange for the young woman with such a placid, distant demeanor.

When Captain Ryans formally announces the news about the Sentinels, her own emotions are a spread of grim and muted acceptance, arising without fanfare; she had seen this coming. And she wasn’t alone.

“I’ve seen my share of heroics. I know how it ends,” she says, as quietly as Squeaks. Many, if not all of them, had lost people in the Flood or before, but most had not watched the closest person in their lives die right before their eyes in a display of said heroics. Annette had not died so she could do the same in a battle with no good ending.

“I will go and help the Travelers. They are in need of help, as well.” And their path does not end in a mostly-dead world, are the words that go unspoken. “I… wish you all the best of luck.” She then lapses into silence, unwilling to take the spotlight away from the captain or any others, but her brooding eyes tell of the dark mesh of thoughts that are still gathered behind her gaze.

There is no missing Huruma at the front of the galley as it fills, and even as the crew settles in she remains there, arms folded behind her back and red coat open. She was never military, but once in a while it seems as much. Her manner is stony, features forcibly impassive despite listening to the chatter. As the Captain arrives she gives him a nod, and prepares herself for the inevitable tide of voices and emotions. Ben’s apologetic look earns a small grimace that might be a smile. It’s fine.

Huruma provides no answer, not right away. Instead she sights out the deepest reactions of them, even if they are hiding in the corner. Geneva’s loss of her sister isn’t something she will forget, either. There is another from the blacksite that catches her eye, and when he sees her staring the tall, wiry man shies from the look. He’s not the only one, though most do it out of habit, not guilt.

“No pressure.” She adds.

Adam has been pacing the periphery of the meeting like a caged tiger for too long. The occasional cough into a closed fist reminds the others of his presence, reminds him of his frailty and the hubris of what Benjamin is proposing. But were it not for Ben Ryans, he'd be wasting away in a concrete cell still.

“For what it's worth…” Adam finally speaks up, and Geneva feels his eyes on her before he even makes his way closer from the edge of the room. “This isn't about heroics, it's about survival.” He points toward Ryans, finger wagging. “This man? He isn't a hero, he's a survivor. The people surrounding him? Survivors too. Because this man has stared death in the face and lived so many times, death’s decided to screen his bloody calls.”

Brows knit together, Adam’s stare levels back on the crowd. Briefly on Geneva, but only enough for her to know he sees her. “You leave, the Sentinel don't just evaporate into the air. Now, fifty years from now — who knows — they'll find you. This is about dying alone an’ afraid, or dying for a purpose.”

Though he has been uncertain about having such a young crew member, Ben also knew whether here or on another boat, she was be faced with the same thing. He would feel better to have her on their boat. So when she says she is staying, he offers her an encouraging smile. Looking at others in the crew, who after having the youngest of them say their staying, many are hesitant to walk away.

When Geneva says she’s leaving, the Captain inclines his head and to a few others that speak up. He has never argued it in the past and he would not now. He takes a breath to start to speak again, but then Adam speaks up. Brows tip upwards and then he looks a bit… embarrassed to be called out like that in that way. “I don’t know about that… “ However…

“He right, though” Benjamin rumbles out in agreement. “This isn’t about heroics, never has been. Even before today,” He motions vaguely in the direction of the Pelagos. “We need them as much as they need us. This isn’t the same world it was.. Even 10.. 15 years ago. Without these people, we wouldn’t have survived this long. Without Lowe’s help,” even if it did cost at times, “We’d be dead in the water somewhere. Without the fuel these places provide us, we are no more than sitting ducks and eventually, our options would run out.” He doesn’t sugar coat it.

“I don’t do it to be a hero, folks,” He gives them a lopsided smile, “I do it cause it’s the right thing to do. For us. For our survival and future.”

Her head swivels to meet stares and strange looks after her quietly spoken statement, first on one side of her and then the other. Squeaks has been a survivor for as long as she can remember. That’s how it was in the Wasteland, you survived. And even though there might have been heroics, there’s probably even stories of some of the people who did the very dangerous things and only barely survived, the fight wasn’t about looking fancy and brave.

Her feet get under her, so she perches, squatted on the table. It doesn’t change her height very much, but moving — even small movements — seems better than sitting criss-cross. Her eyes flit to Huruma then Geneva, then to a group intent on leaving. It might be confusing, if she didn’t already make her decision.

When Adam starts talking, and then Captain Ben does too, her legs push and she stands up on the table. She doesn’t think she’s a very brave person, but she is a survivor. And her reason for staying is because she left another world behind that was just surviving. The implant scar on her arm is a reminder of how that world turned out when people didn’t fight back. Squeaks takes a half step forward and, as she raises a hand in the air, calls out, “For our survival and our future!”

“Then those fifty years will be a triumph,” Geneva replies to Adam in a benign but also tired-sounding tone, not returning his gaze. “Better fifty years alive, than dead defending a dead world.” Despite her words, those familiar with her know that her choice to abstain from the battle is not due to fear of her death— indeed, those who really know her know just how often, in fact, the distant-eyed girl has contemplated effecting her own death.

Rather, it is something quite different. A wish not to exhaust precious lives defending (to her) a watery wasteland…. and a hope for the Travelers who are sailing into another, brighter life. A few other crewmates who had also chosen not to participate are gathered close to her now, muttering amongst themselves. She does not join them.

Huruma watches those that gather near Geneva, and lastly the girl herself. That exhaustion, not physical, she can sense on her. It’s been that way for some time, and when she more or less abstains completely, it’s not a surprise to hear it. Squeaks and her little stoked fire are hard to ignore, however. Geneva simply gets a hard little nod from the dark woman, pointed in its purpose. You do you.

“My, listen to you… and here we only just scraped you off of the dock.” Huruma steps up to where Squeaks has installed herself up on the table, eyes on the girl’s and hands on her hips. The table makes them relatively eye-level, and for what seems a long, held breath, Squeaks earns a hard study.

“You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” It comes less an accusation, more at a hush, Huruma’s head tilting with her words. Her lips curl in a half-smile, edged with something harder that shows in her low voice. “Survived.” Clarification. “You probably know nothing else. I can empathize.”

The word ends with her turning to scan those that seem keen to remain with the ship, drawl lifting smoothly in volume, deeper voice just as commanding— albeit in another way— as the captain’s.

“Once you make your decision, that will be that. We are all in this for the longest haul of our lives. Perhaps, the very last. I will not be cowed. Never again.”

Watching the split in the crew, Adam looks to Ryans, then down to the deck. They’d said their peace and he'd been mostly quiet throughout all of it. But one thing keeps nagging at him, a piece of solace he might be able to give, something that might inspire on his side of the line, and Geneva’s.

“A very long time ago…” Adam says somewhat quieter than he'd intended. “A group of people not all that dissimilar from those gathered here, faced a tyrant. They faced insurmountable odds, and they faced a difficult choice.”

Adam looks to Huruma, then around at the other crew members. “They could flee their homeland and secede it to an invading force, or they could stay and fight and possibly die defending what was theirs. I'll tell you, on that day they fought the dragon.”

Shoulders squared, Adam furrows his brows. “They fought the dragon, and they won, and those who didn't live t’see their victory were never forgotten.”

“This is our dragon,” Adam indicates, arms spread wide, “and we’ll win.”

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