A New Chapter


ff_huruma_icon.gif ff_ryans_icon.gif wf_squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title A New Chapter
Synopsis For the crew of the Cerberus there is changes on the wind.
Date January 11, 2019

The Cerberus III - The Pelago Docks

In the weeks since the huge battle with the Sentinel, Captain Ryans had barely rested. After declaring the U.S.S Decatur as the new Hound ship, he’s been working everyday to pull together a new crew, as a majority of the old crew have been killed. It was an easier task than he anticipated, since so many felt lost after all the death and destruction dealt to the Pelago and others needed a place to pour their anger.

Today he was overseeing the crew that was in charge of rebranding the ship, now that it had finished with repairs. It had been a long debate, but the old Captain had agreed to rename it. The Cerberus III would be a far more formidable ship than the first one to be named.

With arms crossed, Benjamin watches the crews dangle over the side on boards, painting the hull with care. Each stroke of a brush slowly covering over each letter of the name U.S.S. Decatur. There was a sense of satisfaction, like they were wiping the name from history even if they couldn’t wipe away it’s bloody past.

Ryans’ vigil is interrupted by the heavy thump of helicopter blades. A familiar sound ingrained in the bones of his youth. He manages to look up just in time to see the Hound’s newly acquired chopper swing into view, with a freshly painted classic Fighter Pilot SnoopyGood news just behind the back doors and the name ‘Snoopy’ extending down the tail. The Captain raises a hand, greeting the younger man piloting it, before it disappears from his view to the landing pad at the stern of the ship.

How that guy didn’t crash with all that fancy flying was beyond Ben. He’d heard rumors about the man’s ability, so maybe luck was on his side.

Pull together, pull up, all hands on deck. Maybe not so much the last one, lest she kick someone off of the boat. The crew lost a lot- - and the trio of Cerberus' heads did as well. The captain's family was as much Huruma's too- - and the loss of crew and of Adam has been heavy.

But an empath treads a delicate line. Huruma has always stepped carefully before, though now she slips, now and again, overwhelmed by the crawling of the Pelago's emotions and her own mixing like paints. That she's had to relearn everything gives even small things the potential to spiral into anger over despair.

There aren't many pharmacies these days, much less ones which carry treatments which have helped that Her of another world.

So she bears it.

"And you're sure about it?" Some things never change, though, including Huruma's silent steps and slipping in from just out of sight. "The name." Clothes salt-dried but mended by better fingers, Huruma still seems shrunken in her coat against the chill. One sleeve is buttoned up to where her arm aches and itches, phantom fingers still trying to flex against the cold as her other ones do. Physically, she's been a mess for these weeks, and it shows not unlike it did with Adam and his own illness. Wan and skinny, eyes with deep circles, the sleeplessness in the eyes.

“Can I learn to fly it?” The question interjects from outside the small circle made by the captain and first mate. Curly red hair tousles in the wind thrown by the sea and the disappearing helicopter, partly obscuring the blue eyes that turn to the pair in charge.

Squeaks’ voice matches the wide-eyed wonder that seems to fit oddly in her current state. Still pale, thin from weeks of uncertain recovery from the knife that had sunk into her lower back; the tightness of pain is carried in her shoulders and back. But she's alive and looking less like she's hand in hand with Death every day. The young teen should be in bed still, or below decks in a chair. And yet she’s escaped to fresh air and excitement, using the railing to bear the weight her legs aren't ready to yet.

It's probably no surprise that she finally managed to get topside. The noise and activity is a tempting lure, especially the sound of Snoopy and it's thrilling that it's actually for reals.

Leaning heavily on the rails, knuckles gone white with a grip that supports a lot of her weight, Squeaks cranes her head for a look after the chopper. It's hidden now that it's landed, but she still tries. “Primal. It's Snoopy, like the World War Two flying ace, right?”

“Completely certain,” Ben says with a rough chuckle. “I think the Captains will appreciate the change from Decatur. Trading ships will be less nervous for one. Plus, we want people to hope and the further we push out, we risk being mistaken for the very people we are hunting down.” As much as he wanted to use the name to lure in those cells that had not yet learned the news, this was the smarter choice.

Of course, the following inquiry from one of their youngest ship mates gets a twitch of amusement from the Captain as he looks at the girl. His shoulders sink and hunch like there is a weight upon them suddenly, but Squeaks finds herself feeling lighter. “While normally I’d say that was up to Sheppard, but I’m afraid that might be off the table for a while.” Turning his attention to the painters he continues to explain, “Helicopters take a lot of fuel, we’ll have to conserve. So for now, it’s strictly for recon or emergencies.”

Who knew when they would find more fuel to not only fuel the new ship, but the helicopter as well. Ben wouldn’t admit his worry about keeping themselves going, even though Huruma could feel it.

Huruma's breath leaves her in a sigh at Ryans' answer. It's not quite what she meant, though she can't fault him if he's deliberately steered away from retiring the name for something totally new. She turns her chin to look to Squeaks as the girl finds her way to them, discomfort shifting from the matter of vessels.

The dark woman's remaining hand lifts and comes down over the girl's far shoulder, more or less set on drawing Squeaks a little closer.

"He is a decent man, I'm sure he would at least show you the inside." Huruma's response is a calm one, purposefully so for the sake of the teen. "Perhaps he could use a co-pilot, someday." It's not getting her hopes up, but displaying a practical reason to fly. She looks up to the Captain, weary, though somewhat smoothed by their company.

The tightness of pain eases some as her weight is lifted, and Squeaks casts a knowing look up at the Captain. Her eyes wander after that, while Ben and Huruma speak to her question, to look at the people working then to the actual work they're doing. Eventually to the sea as she's drawn into their cluster. The scarcity of fuel is universal. It was even a factor in her world, and it isn't a surprise that it's a factor here. The two worlds, while one is flooded and the other is a wasteland, are the same in so many other ways.

But she contents herself with the possibility. Things can't be bad forever, even though right now they seem hopeless. It's a different kind, too, the aimlessness and uncertainty. How does anyone rebuild from what they've stopped? So many questions and deep, heavy thoughts, but none of them become voiced. The teen leans into Huruma, head and shoulders resting against the woman’s side. Eventually her eyes lift, returning her attention to the captain and first mate.

There is a grunt in agreement with Huruma and a short nod. “Ultimately, it’s up to Sheppard,” he offers vocally as well, not expecting that the new hound would disagree. “Don’t be surprised if he gets inundated with requests from some of the younger crew members.”

Pulling his scrutinizing gaze from the men painting, Ryans shifts his attention to the young girl. “We’ll be getting underway in a few days, do you feel you’re ready to get back out there?”

Always something about the warmth of someone else while at sea, even in something as small as leaning on one another for a touch of support. The empath surely needs it, and her expression certainly eases from its tired intensity as Squeaks' presence provides. Huruma's eyes shade somewhat, mouth a thinning line out of consideration. If she has a concern, it is unvoiced.

“Yes,” Squeaks answers, but not right away. She studies Ben’s face from the comfort and protection of Huruma’s side. She knows she's ready, that she won't let herself be left behind, but she wonders what the two in command think. “I've been waiting on you two to be ready to go.” The teen tucks in a little bravado, just in case there's any doubt.

“Good,” the Captain says with a sharp nod of his head and an approving smile at the girl's resilience. “You’ll be taking the bunk next to Huruma’s. You’ve got a day or more before we leave so take that time to settle in.”

Reaching over Ben rests a hand on Jac’s shoulder, giving it an encouraging squeeze. “It’s good to have you back, young hound. One of my best,” he says with a grin, “but no longer the youngest of the crew.”

He turns to sweep his gaze over the gathered ships, as if searching for something. “You are not the only one we’re waiting for,” Ryans explains. “News arrived a few days ago,” his focus turned to Huruma, cause she could no doubt feel that small light within the swirling darkness of his grief.

“Ben was found by a salvage ship,” the Captain said with a touch of hope in his gruff voice. “He’ll be joining us.”

Huruma's eyes flutter open the rest of the way, sparked away from a drained idling. She takes another moment to focus on Ryans, visibly chewing on forming a response. One doesn't come terribly quickly, and even then it's nonverbal. It's been difficult to smile about anything in months, it feels like- - but there it is, weak and a little forced, though present and honest. The empath slips away from Squeaks to cross over to the Captain and wrap her good arm over his shoulder.

There hasn't been much time for things like that, either, so focused on everything else and the fact they survived at all. To hear this news… it finally coerces her to at least this, a single step towards physical comfort rather than psychic.

Surprise flickers across Squeaks’ face as the captain reveals who it is that’s joining the crew. Her brows raise, but Ben is saved from any questions when Huruma moves. The teen shifts her weight when the first mate steps away, adjusting so she can lean on the rail again. “Primal,” she breathes, excited and relieved. Not just news but good news, news she knows the captain needed.

The faint smile he gives Huruma deepens the lines in his face some, but only a fraction of a second when the guilt settles in for feeling happy about Ben when the rest of his family is gone. He pats her hand gently before turning his attention to Jac. “You and Ben will be the equivalent of Deck Cadets. You’ll learn the ropes and help relay orders when Huruma and I need them passed along.”

Benjamin shifts his attention at the painters, the first letters of Cerberus start to form before their eyes. “I offered Jonathan Smith a spot on the ship as the third head, but I think the man’s heart is too gentle for what we do.” He smiles a bit at the thought.

“To be honest, I don’t think I’m ready to replace Adam,” The Captain admits turning to look back at his right-hand to see if she agrees with that. “I imagine over time someone will show themselves. One of the old crew, maybe.”

"We don't need to." Just a hushed thing, an agreement. Not now. Yet. "It will come around." Huruma is hesitant to let go of his shoulder, instead angling in beside so she can look to Squeaks. Cadets, huh. Her mouth presses into a thin smile, proud, if worn.

"About the same age, too, I think…?" It feels like it's been a lifetime since she was able to see him. Perhaps it has. "When?" If it was a few days ago… Huruma's eyes move away to calculate an invisible number in the air at the horizon.

Something in Squeaks’ expression shifts when the captain describes the new duties. Vague amusement mingling with adolescent sarcasm. “Isn't that what I do already?” is an off handed joke cast to the ocean. It isn't exactly what she'd been doing, more responsibility for sure and she recognizes that. The more official capacity — no longer just a stray pup cutting her way into the crew — makes her stand taller somehow. Even as she remarks quietly, “My age. Finally.” Someone she could better relate to.

“Close,” Ben says with a small nod and a bit of a smile, “He’s a few years younger, I believe. And within the next few days, depending on the weather.” That last is directed at Huruma. “Could be today, it could be days.” Though she knows he’s hoping for today.

“And yes, young hound,” Ben finally addressed Jac’s question, “It’s what you had been doing, but now it’s… official.” He moves to rest a hand on the girls shoulder, giving it a squeeze.

Watching some of the crew working to get crates on the ship, a combination of ammo and food stuff. Ben straightens looking at new and old faces. “After talking to the Council of Captains, our main mission will be protecting the Pelagos.” Which wasn’t really a change, it’s what they always did. “However, more have stepped up, too. Which means when we have intel, we will also hunt down the Sentinel bastards with the very ship that was once their flag ship.”

There is a slight growl to his voice. Ben wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of his days doing just that.

"Lovely." Huruma murmurs in response to the task they'll have on hand in the future. She will more than gladly partake. Shifting away to stand closer to where she can study the broadside where the painters are working, her good hand idly cradles the tender elbow in its temporary sling. The cold feels so strange against it.

"For now, though, I just hope we have time to breathe." Brow furrowed, Huruma looks to the Captain, features showing lack of energy more than before.

“You think there's more out there?” Jac slants a side eyed look to Ben and Huruma, her face schooled to idle curiosity. With the Decatur theirs, she wonders how many of the Sentinel actually remain. With her elbows, she leans against the railing again. It eases some of the strain of recovery on her back. She watches the workers for a moment, before looking up at the captain and first mate. “They'd be stupid to try anything, if there's even any left. I bet even the pirates will think twice before testing us.”

“Perhaps,” Benjamin rumbles with a hint of amusement at Jac’s comment, glancing over his shoulder towards the open sea with a touch of sadness and longing. The old man loved and respected the sea, it’s why he joined the Navy after all. “But then, I’m sure the Sentinel thought the same thing about us after they hit the Pelagos and sank the Cerberus. Still, we rose up and defeated them.”

Ben glances at Huruma, having purposely avoided commenting on a hope for peace. Then again, she doesn’t need to hear what she can already sense. A restlessness.

“However the wind blows, one thing is for certain, this is the beginning of a new chapter,” Ryans says thoughtfully, “And for once, there is hope of a better future for our kind.”

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