Paging Esteban Cortez

With Vas squaring things with Tojiro, Serena headed towards the Cross Cut Saloon to drum interest and talk up the Lunar Veil.

“She is one of the best ships in the galaxy. We haul everything, and if you’re just taking yourself, the Captain makes sure passengers are priorities over everything.” Serena offered. The man was the third person she talked to at the bar, but he was different than the rest. For one thing, he came and sat with her, not vice versa. For another, he didn’t ask if she were looking for whore work.

“Well that does sound pretty interesting… kinda ship your rahding in?” He asked. The man was well-groomed, clean, with a warm and easy smile. His clothes were nice, not overly fancy … not like Adler. He was far more sensibly dressed with little to no flair. His clothing was worn but well cared for. Clearly, a man who traveled enjoyed comfort but knew how to rough it. “Pardon mah rudeness but ah believe ah failed to catch your name young lady?”

“It’s a Firefly class, so … probably not the prettiest ship out there, but we had a mechanic that took care of her real good, and mah name’s Serena.” The teen replied in a sing-song voice. “Some people on the ship say it Suh-reeeena, some say it … Ser- ray-na, Captain calls me pigtails on account of I usually wear pigtails, and the crew chief calls me kid even though I’m not all that younger than ‘em. Any is fine. What’s your name, Mistah?” She picked up on the drawl he had, not quite Doctah Adluh’s, but unique and fancy sounding all the same.

“Most call me Cortez but givin’ ya charming nature I insist ya call me by mah givin name, Esteban.”

Serena practically beamed with the compliment. “Esteban. Are you lookin’ for a ship, Esteban? I got a list of where we’re going next.”

“Well with the ship I was set to fly with seems to be having some problems. A faithful Firefly is a tempting alternative. Wouldn’t be happened to passing my Priam then would you?” He asked.

Serena looked at the ceiling for a moment, ticking down the list in her head. “Yes! Actually we are. I mean, we have a couple a stops before then, but we can get you there. We have state rooms and double rooms and single rooms that are small, but they’re still nice and they’re clean and your door locks on the inside, and… oh, I’m supposed to be more mindful about rambling.” He was easy to talk to and had kind eyes plus a warm smile. Something about him just put the deckhand at ease.

“Oh, no… don’t let me stop you your enthusiasm is, as they say… infectious.” He said with a warm smile as he took a sip from his drink.

“Oh! If you have anything like that, we got a ship’s doctah on board. You’ll like him, he talks fancy, just sorta like you. And he’s also a dentist. Not many ships can claim that, now can they?” She boasted. “Get your teeth fixed while you’re in the black?”

Esteban laughed. “Sweetheart you're a riot. Charming and innocent, ah rare combo for ah spacer girl like yourself. Infectious as not so much as ah disease but rather… your enthusiasm is catchy.” He explained. "Ah’ve ridden many ah ship with an onboard Doctor, though ah must admit it has become a more rare site nowadays.”

Serena chewed the inside of her lip, she hardly would call herself ‘innocent’ in almost any situation, but at the same time , that was nothing she wanted to share off the bat with a stranger, even if that stranger didn’t so much feel like one. “He’s an amazing doctor. Fixed up my hand when it got broke, and when Gil’s got cut. I thought the crew chief did it but turns out it was Gil, he’s a deck like me, he got his hand cut legit. I mean, I hope you don’t need his … medicabilities, but just know you’d be in good hands. And he got this chair that he says is the safest place to be on the whole boat no matter who you are and where you been.”

“That is certainly ah Doctor like policy.” Esteban agreed. “So given your most colorful sales pitch who do speak to arrange such an excursion?”

“The Lieutenant, she can tell you about fares for different rooms and destinations and take your credits.” Serena said excitedly. She'd gotten a bunch of passengers in one day! That would have to show the Captain… something! “And then me or the crew chief or our other deckhand can help get you settled, and show you around the ship some so you’re comfortable. I… can bring you there, if you wanted so you can talk t’her.”

“Well given your popularity so far ah feel compelled to book my spot sooner rather than later.” Esteban chuckled. “Whenever your ready darlin.”

Serena giggled and scooted up her shoulders at being called “darlin” before sliding into her coat. “I’m all set, we ain’t that far off, you won’t regret it Mr… Esteban! Honest and swear.”

“I doubt I will regret it at all.” The man said shrugging on his coat to follow the pigtailed pixie to her ship.

((JP Winters & Blitzen))

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