Another sunrise... (RP)

Charlie makes his way through the refugee housing centre with a roll of papers under his arm, whistling. There’s a low murmur of activity here; people filing paperwork, arguing over rations restrictions (not that anyone is ever pleased with the amount of food available), triple-checking figures. As Charlie passes a group of desks, he hears a pretty young thing say that one of the refugees has had another child, which makes three since she got here, and they’ll need to be moved to a larger cottage, which’ll mean turfing the Harringtons to the one across the other side of the camp. Mr. Harrington, who’s working in the room next door, hears this and steps out, but Charlie has kept walking. The conversation grows loud behind him, and he shakes his head. Can’t have a quiet day around here, can we?

He finally finds the desk he’s looking for, and unfurls the paper on it, revealing a plan of the central camp. The owner of the desk, a young engineer, looks at the plans with a mix of curiosity and dismay. “What are these?” he asks.

“That’s the taverna,” Charlie says, gesturing. “We’re over here somewhere, Paul.” He traces his finger along the edge of the map, then follows a zig-zagging line inwards. “And this is the life-support system. It’s been out of operation since November.”

“What? Why?”

Charlie shrugs. “Someone burned it down. Don’t know why. Can I leave these with you? I want to get it sorted out, but we’re low on equipment as it is, and unless we’re willing to explain to the locals that we want to take their terraformer apart and bury it, I don’t know what to do.” Paul nods, Charlie nods back, and he heads back through the building, through the minor fray (Mr. Harrington is saying something Britishly angry now, sounding far too polite).

The sun is struggling through the clouds outside - late spring, the first of June, but it feels far muggier than it should be. Charlie walks between the houses for a while, listening to children shouting, the sound of a tractor chugging lazily in the field nearby. It feels strange still, being outside of a walled city, and Charlie is struck with a sudden pang of indecision. He’s outside, now. He can go anywhere he chooses, back to the taverna, to see one of the music hall shows, he could go all the way to Portree or just start running until he hits the sea. It’s like flying, again. Which way do you want to go? He shrugs the mood off and heads towards the taverna and the infirmary. He pauses briefly outside, transfixed by the sound of an airship limping weakly towards the half-rebuilt mooring tower.

#23 has resolved not to bother with the coat next time. It’s still far too warm to comfortably tolerate, if the residents aren’t used to seeing the differently alive comfortable in an open shirt with short sleeves in late autumn by now, they’ll never be. The docking tower has thankfully been rebuilt enough for embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, though refuelling/charging capacity won’t be back until the proper replacement seals arrive for the hydrogen tanks and piping (Lancaster takes priority, they have rather larger hydrogen containment needs at the shipyard, of course).

“Captain Herman, do I see before me the fruits of yet another instance of your being last out when a human settlement falls?”
“Two-three-foxtrot, so you’re still not dead again. I do keep telling you you’re ruining my chances with anyone in earshot when you use that name, I’m going to blame you if my bed’s empty and cold tonight.”
“I sob abjectly at your misfortune, internally, then Captain Hellion. Am I correct in guessing you’re here from Alicante?”
#23 gestures at the cautiously hopeful line of humanity disembarking past the two and being directed to the command post in the taverna building by equally haggard looking soldiers. They’ll likely be moved onward to St. George, #74 is unlikely to be able to find space here for this many.
“Aye, via Command at The Rock, thank Christ the winds were calm for the trip here.” Hellion turns to regard the Lusty, Her starboard turbine is now shut down and the damage to half its blades is all to visible. “Pretty sure it was Azazel that tried coming after us on the way out, also thank Christ I insisted on that third rearfacing harpoon emplacement. 'least she’s meant to be coming to Lancaster for a repair and refit anyway around now, might come back here for the nightlife after I’ve dropped her off though. It’s kinda dead over there after dark since they had to repurpose half their bars to replace the housing blocks that got burnt down.”
“Well, the… night life is certainly not quiet here. The various individuals Petrov and Bogdanov do a booming trade by virtue of having the second largest building in the camp’s hub, even sharing it with an infirmary, wet lab and command post.”
“I’ve heard the stories. Weeell, everyone’s heard the stories about Flint’s Taverna. Okay, that’s the last of the refugees, I’d better get my sweet wounded girl over to the skilled ministrations of the shipyard engineers, should be an easier flight without the extra weight but that turbine’s shaking itself apart fast enough as is.” The two grip one another’s forearms, friends seen again alive and glad for it, then #23 descends the tower as Abe Hellion’s ship shudders back upward to safe flight altitude and sets a course northeast.

His eye is caught for a moment by the glint of sunlight against the metal shoulder insignia on a uniform within the refugee crowd. Army, Major, and Alicante is… was a civilian settlement, must have hitched a ride from Gibraltar then. Hopefully good or at least neutral news from The Castle upon The Rock. The fellow’s lost again in the crowd an instant later, well if it’s important it’ll come up at the staff meeting in an hour or so.

More people to support on the same resources, and some plan involving repurposing some of Dr. Montgomery’s TR-HortAccelerators… Today seems a little cooler now, maybe it is getting into coat weather after all.

#74 shuffles along to the taverna with a cup of tea and a sheaf of papers under her arm. She looks around - birds are singing, there’s only the lightest suggestion of a breeze- and it’s a perfect afternoon. She might sit outside, on the balcony. In fact, she will. As Chief Operations Officer for Hanover Camp, she is entitled to sit wherever she wants and do paperwork. Plus the fresh air will be good for her necrosis. Chronic. Chronic Necrosis. She says the words a couple of times to get used to them. Then she shrugs, and gets on with it. There’s a load of things that require a signature, and then - ah. The Package. She pulls out the thick envelope, reads it, and wonders exactly how she feels about it.