Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:41 pm

Gathering the fleet.

McNally had called Regan to the bridge, a wave had come in from Sihnon....

"What you got for me, Rudd?" Rudd was a scruffy little man. Even as a marine he had always looked like he'd slept in a stable wearing his dress uniform. More than once Regan had found an excuse to absent the man from parade during an important inspection, which had suited Rudd fine. Make no mistake, scruffy as he was, he was a helluva soldier. He'd once carried 200lbs of unconscious corporal over his shoulder for three miles to get the wounded man out of danger. He could shoot out an eyeball at 300ft when most people couldn't hit the horse the target was riding. He just couldn't look neat. As a civilian he looked scruffier still. Regan had to stop himself from wincing as he looked at the mess on the screen. Was that egg yolk on his shirt? Or just a very old patch of oatmeal...?

"Two fellers asking around the spaceport. Nasty looking. Wearing a blue sash for a belt... Didn't mention you by name, or the Rose, but they wanted to know if a ship had come through recently with a skipper with red whiskers. Thought you oughta know..."

Regan muttered his thanks, and closed the channel. Gorrammit! He prowled off the bridge and down to his cabin, reaching for the razor....

Half an hour later the com went again, and many an eyebrow was raised in the crew lounge as the now clean shaven captain headed back for the bridge....

The incoming wave was short and precise, a statement from the bank that handled the company's finances. The first half was simple stuff, incomings and outgoings, the remaining balance in Black Rose Spacefreight's account. The second half was more interesting. It reported the receipt of two documents into the bank's safekeeping. The first was the registration papers for a traveller class ship called Roisin Oiche, the 'Night Rose', in joint ownership of Black Rose and Tobias Irvine, her captain. The second was... What??!! He read it again, then shook his head as if dislodging the information and turning it on it's head, then read it a third time. Then he stabbed the intercom button.

"Hopscotch, get up here. now!"

A few moments later, the bridge exploded with colour as what seemed like the 'verse's entire supply of pink pyjamas entered. What made it worse was, she had been cleaning her assault rifle when he called, and was still holding it, unloaded, adding to the effect. Regan stared at her coolly for a few moments, then poked the screen with a finger. She read the contents, nodded, and beamed at him.

"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" he asked. She bit her lip, staring out of the window for a moment, as if going over a decision already made, but secretly doubted. She looked back at him and nodded again, deadly serious now. He looked down and read the information again.

"Registration papers for Huntress class spaceship "Roisin Fuil", the 'Blood Rose'. Joint ownership between Black Rose Spacefreight and Captain Astrid DuPont." ....

Regan nodded to the seating at the back of the bridge, and both of them sat down. For nearly an hour he questioned her, pushing to find out if she had the guts to command a crew. A couple of times she was close to tears, once she nearly hit him, but she stood her ground. He tried his best to tear her down, undermine her confidence, but she hung on and pushed back just as hard. Finally, he sat back and simply watched her. Her eyes glistened with barely suppressed tears, but her jaw was set with determination, and she met his gaze steadily.

"Damn!" he thought, "the little princess has balls! In fact, she's pretty incredible..."

He put a hand gently on her shoulder, and spoke softly. "If I'm gonna trust a crew and a ship to a captain, I have to ask myself one question. Would I accept their command myself? Would I trust them to make the right decision? To keep me as safe as anybody can be out here? Would I trust you? I had to push you, to see what you've got. I know how you handle a gun, I needed to see how you handle a hard assed old spacehound with an attitude problem..."

He drew a deep breath. "Ok Astrid. I'll fly with you. And, if needs be, when I'm on your ship, I'll take your orders." He stood up. "C'mon Cap'n, let's re-introduce you to the rest of the crew..."
If you ain't crew, you ain't family...