Plans & A Warning
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(Back to the point where they're taking off from the port once Wulf and Xara are onboard...)
Shea wasn't joking when he said take-off would be turbulent, but once the ship was out far enough away from the ambient gravitational fields of the docks the ride smoothed out considerably. Xara and Wulf took their cue from Shea, when he unbuckled and stood up. "Well, we're outta there," he grinned, rubbing his hands together. "Off to more adventures!"
Shea got Wulf and Xara settled in, then invited Wulf to go on a little tour of the ship with him. In between telling him where they were, Shea told Wulf the story of him and Alba. He finished with, "She was just scopin' you out, man. Nothin' to worry about. Now if you see her with red eyeballs and red pupils, THEN you gotta worry. The black ones are for some special sort of 'seeing' they do, to put it simply."
"Hope I passed," Wulf half laughed.
"So far," Shea winked. What Alba told him about Wulf was this: he'd just recently awakened to the fact that he'd better straighten out because things were falling down around him. That put him 'on probation' as far as they were both concerned, but Shea wasn't going to tell him that.
"Hey...I just wanted to tell you...I really appreciate you doing this for us - gettin' us outta there. I'm still tryin' to wrap my head around it all, bein' set up like I was. Kind of a mind-blower, ya know? I realize it's mostly for Xara...."
"Yeah, it is. Xara cares about you. She has for a very long time," Shea replied, directing him into the galley. "This is where we cook our food and relax. Sometimes one of the girls will whip up a big pot of stew or a casserole, but mostly you're on your own if you want something to eat."
"Understood. Yeah - I just figured that out about Xara. I guess knowing she does what she does, I thought I was...."
Shea erupted into laughter. "You mean bein' a hooker? Xara ain't no hooker - high-class or otherwise. That's her cover Wulf. That way, the people who have information for her or need her help can go see her without anyone payin' it much mind. You never caught on to that?"
Wulf scratched at his head. "Ummm...no. Why didn't she tell me?"
Shea shrugged. "I dunno. Maybe she wanted to see if you'd love her anyway. Who knows? I gave up long ago, trying to fathom how women's minds work. They're labyrinthine - twisting, turning, dead-ends, but there's always some side-door ya miss somewhere along the way, if you've got a little patience with 'em." He waxed philosophical now. "You know, it's like what makes the difference between boys and girls. What's up-front with women isn't necessarily what's in the back room, and it's all convoluted and interiorized. Guys, they think in pretty much straight lines and up front."
Wulf laughed. "You got a point there. Never thought of it that way."
"Yeah, well that's what happens when you're out here all the time. Gotta do somethin' to keep your mind busy or you go bonkers. You know, I've known Xara forever it seems and I've known about you almost as long. Now, we finally meet - but I gotta tell you Wulf: just don't pull anything stupid. Okay? If I get caught with you on board, I'm screwed. I'll lose everything. So just be cool and everything will be fine. If I tell you to do something, you do it. No questions, no hesitations. You got that?" Shea opened a side door, ushering Wulf down a flight of metal stairs.
"Yeah. I understand." Wulf threw up a cautionary hand. "I don't want no trouble with you, and I sure don't want trouble with your lady."
"This is the cargo bay. All the units are refrigerated, but the bay itself isn't. Alba made that so. We got tired of freezin' our butts off loadin' and unloadin' stuff down here." He motioned for Wulf to follow, then sat down on one of the crates. Wulf joined him. "Something here you need to know. It's true I smuggle stuff for people but pretty much only those I've been dealin' with for a long time. Somebody new approaches me about it, I don't give 'em the time of day. Things are good the way they are, an' I'm not about ta mess that up. Not for anyone or anything. We're just makin' a couple more runs, then I'm goin' back to Torna Blas - takin' Alba home. I like it there. We're gonna stay. Yeah, the Rindarians are kinda spooky but if you're straight up, then ya got nothin' to worry about. At least, that's our plan. I wouldn't advise you goin' to another mining colony. They're probably lookin' for you to do that - given what you've been doing. The agros - well, the people are mostly nice but it's pretty boring there, unless you like bein' a farmer."
"Uhhh, no thanks. Not my speed." After all these years of hearing about Shea and being just a bit jealous of his friendship with Xara, Wulf could see why she liked him and why she kept him as a friend. He was alright, Shea was. Couldn't help but like him, himself. There was no need for jealousy. Shea was all about Alba and business. Xara was just a friend - a good friend, but that's all. "So, where do you recommend we go? Alba's world?"
"It's your best choice. Besides, it's a lot like Terra - only not all polluted, over-populated and raped of every resource. If you want to end up in a place where you can walk out under an open sky, breathe clean air and live like a real man should...yeah, that's where I'd recommend. I've got connections there. There's some different sorts of animals there - some of them are dangerous but as long as you stay in the city, you're safe. You'd be set up good, if that's what you want. Like I said though, you don't pull no crap there or they'll dispose of you in a heartbeat. Won't even blink. You think you can do that, Wulf? Seriously. You think about that and you talk it over with Xara. If you don't, then you'd best pick an agro and be cooped up in a domed city the rest of your life, pickin' crops. It's your choice, man.
"You're gonna have to do some serious soul-searchin' brother," Shea continued, "and be real honest with yourself. I know. Been there and done that, when it came to Alba. I don't want to see Xara get hurt - not by you or anyone else. You keep her in your thoughts while you're pondering all this, because women like Xara and Alba are more of a rarity than a commodity - especially out here. Count yourself lucky she feels like she does about you. I know it sounds like I'm tryin' to tell you what to do, but I'm not talkin' out my backside. I know what it's like where you're going. Just call it some 'brotherly advice', instead of anything else."
"No. No, I don't take it in the bad way. Once Xara showed me the info she had, my life kinda flashed before my eyes. I came to realize a lot of things in the time it took for her to get ready." He shook his head, eyes half-closed. "I've been kinda cocky an' reckless. I'll admit it." He laughed abruptly. "Guess I could use a bit of 'rehab' from someone who knows better."
Shea stood up from the crate and offered Wulf his hand. "You an' me - we're two peas in a pod, bro. I learned my lesson early in life though, when my boss got popped for planning to pull off a real high-profile heist. He got greedy and cocky. I learned then, just keep a low profile and don't get greedy. You can stay in it for the long haul, make some money and keep your freedom - or you can take the fast-track and end up going down in flames. Which one makes more sense, eh?"
I do appreciate your visit and your lovely comments! I hope you're enjoying the story or at least the images. Can't do a whole lot with the 800 x 800 limitation of the Writer's Gallery, sadly.
Hope you're having a fine week dear friends!
- April 24, 2013
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