“Giubilante Con Calore”
T H E I N F I N I T Y S E R I E S
* II *
Author: D. Sanders
The Rest of this can be Found here:
“I’m already looking for him. You coming Beau?” Eran said grabbing his coat.
“Absolutely.” Beau grabbed his coat and turned to Tovi. “What does he look like sweetie?”
“Like Papa. Only his hair is like an orange. But he has freckles too.”
“Curse of the Redhead.” Val chuckled. “We’ll hold down the fort go find him, we have some thanks to pay that kid.”
“We’ll be back!” Beau waved over his shoulder as he and Eran headed out back into the port city near where they’d found Tovi.
Phineas wasn’t hard to find when you knew the right people to ask. Eran stopped a few thuggish looking youths and after a few bribes of cigarettes their leader was ratted out. He and Beau headed down an alley toward an old abandoned store. It was rat infested and filthy but warm, the fire in an old oil drum warmed the room and a single occupant sat there looking angry at the world. He shoved up from his chair the minute Eran walked in. He was skinny and his hands and feet were still too big for his frame, he’d be a tall kid when he grew into his extremities.
His wild red gold hair stuck up in a million places and his blue eyes were a fire with rage. “You’re the bastards that took Tovi. Bring her back you filthy bastards.”
“Whoa, slow down kid. Sit back down.” Eran said lighting his cigarette and looking around the room.
“I will not, I know pig pirates like you. She’s just a baby!”
“I said sit the fuck down kid. Don’t get your panties twisted, Tovi is fine.” Eran said sitting at the table and grabbing Phineas’ shirt and hauling him back into his chair.
Beau made his way into the room, and opted to stand, he did not want to touch any of the surfaces in this room, it was a disgusting. No wonder Tovi had been so dirty.
“She’d better be.”
“She is. My brother adopted her, she’s going to be fine.” Eran said and Phineas looked a little skeptical, but sat to listen.
“I don’t believe you, but I’ll listen. What do you want?”
“Tovi told us you helped her.”
“Yeah, so? She’s a baby man, no one else would help her. The adults here give a shit. I should know.”
“So does her new father. He grew up on these streets too, he knows.”
Phineas scoffed “Look there’s only one kid that lived these streets that got out. He’s famous man, worked the Diamond Casino since he was eight, ruled the underground and fed the other kids until he disappeared with a trader. So unless you tell me your brother is Crispin Tinks you can think up another lie.”
Eran chuckled. “See Beau, I told you when I picked up Cris he was a notorious little shit. He left a legacy of hope for these kids and he’s still clueless about his fame.”
Phineas looked dumbstruck. “Wait a minute, none of you are old enough. You’re bullshitting me.”
“Seeing is believing Eran.” Beau said and Eran nodded.
“Come with us kid.”
“Not a hope in hell.”
“Do you want to see Tovi or not? Damn you’re as mistrustful as Cris was. I’m not lying to you come or not it’s up to you.”
Phineas stood and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Don’t try anything funny.”
“Of course not.” Beau said as they walked back to the “Infinity” leading Phineas to follow in their wake.
Phineas stood jaw agape at the scene in front of him, he’d followed Beau and Eran into the “Infinity” and his mind was envisioning all sorts of scenarios, none of them what he was greeted with.
There was a handsome young man, with very long hair sitting on the floor, with Tovi there with a brush and in the man’s hair was a riot of bows and ribbons clipped in, he turned an embarrassed face to the rest. “Don’t ask.” Was all he said as Tovi turned to smile.
“I made Daddy PRETTY!”
Val was red faced on the couch in the living area, his eyes watering with mirth. “You sure did princess.”
Cris just rolled his eyes and let her pull his hair, she was hardly more than a baby after all, she’d wanted to make him pretty like he’d made her hair. He looked a complete idiot.
Eran burst out laughing and Beau smirked and turned to Phineas. “See we told you, she’s fine.”
“Hi Phineas! I got a Daddy and a Papa!” She looked absolutely adorable in her new little dress and ribbons Phineas was afraid to touch her she was so clean, but he knelt down and smiled at her.
“Do you like it here?” He asked and she smiled brightly.
“Yeah! Come see my room!” She took his hand and pulled him toward the door off the circular living area. All the cabins opened out into this large main space, the galley off to the side and five other identical separate cabins opened into this area. Down the aft corridor off this space were more living cabins for transporting human cargo and hosting temporary guests and various personal storage rooms, the medical unit and science center room was down this corridor as well as the computer mainframe and weaponry relay center. Then at the end of that corridor lay the shuttle bay, the larger shipping bays and the engine rooms. To the stern of the ship and down another corridor was the flight deck and cockpit. The “Infinity” was a very comfortable ship, it was a top of the line Cruiser Freighter. It was built for crew creature comforts for long hauls in deep space. It was a home for its crew as much as it was highly functional for business purposes.
Phineas stood there gaping at the frilly pink and white nightmare of a room. It was every little girl’s sugar coated dream. He didn’t realize he was crying until Cris walked over and handed him a tissue. The bows out of his hair he stood there next to Phineas in the door as Tovi showed him all her new toys one by one.
“Thanks.” Phineas grunted wiping his eyes.
“Don’t sweat it man. I want to thank you.”
“For protecting her. She’ll be able to forget this shit hole.” Cris sighed and Phineas turned to look at the young man beside him.
“You talk like you know.”
“Trust me, I do. I grew up just like you man. I know what sorts of pigs troll these streets, you saved her from them. I wish I’d have had someone like you for me when I was her age.”
“Me too.” Phineas sighed. “Why’d ya think I did it?”
Cris nodded “The best thing that happened to me was getting off this rock when I had the chance.”
The penny dropped and Phineas turned to stare at Cris. “You really are Crispin Tinks aren’t you?”
“I used to be. Eran adopted me to get me off this planet, the name is Crispin Callum now, but yeah, you’re looking at the Former Tinks of Diamond Underground.”
“Shouldn’t you be like thirty or something by now?” Phineas asked looking a little skeptical of the youth beside him.
Cris laughed nervously. “Twenty-eight, lets just say I look fabulous for my age.”
“Eran looks REALLY fabulous for his age.” Cris chuckled as Tovi carried over the octopus Beau had been looking at earlier.
“Ah god that’s… Val! Why did you buy that ugly thing?” Cris grimaced and turned to his husband.
“It’s purple, I like purple.”
“You have no taste. God that’s a hideous toy.”
Phineas just stood there trying to absorb the shock. Eran appeared and jerked his head for Phineas to follow. They sat down at the game table in the main room and Eran leaned back in his chair.
“Are you satisfied she’s fine?” Eran asked and Phineas nodded.
“Just who are you guys?”
“The answer will depend on yours. I like loyal people, I like trustworthy people. I like you, you didn’t have to take care of her, but you did. That’s a good man, good men are hard to find. How old are you?”
“Good, makes this easy, you’re old enough to accept employment. You want a job kid?”
Phineas looked up in shock. “Seriously?”
“I’m never not serious. You’ll learn that. We can use an extra hand now and again, it’s just the four of us, and Val could use an assistant. You want the job?”
“Dude! Yes, I’ll work hard honest.”
“Save it kid, I’m pretty good at spotting good eggs. Despite the package they come in. I spotted Cris, you’re a lot like him. Now, this job I offer comes with a stipulation. We have secrets, secrets you’re sworn to keep if you take the job.” Eran said handing over a contract.
“I’ll tell you who we are and you have to sign this and swear to keep your yap shut.”
“I don’t rat out my friends.”
“Good, sign that and welcome aboard the “Infinity”. Phineas Kale.”
“How did you know my name?”
“I have ears everywhere.”
Phineas signed his name and Eran took the paper and handed it to Beau. “Right, now Tovi is still too young to comprehend all of this, but you are. You already noticed. Our ages are a bit deceptive in appearance.”
“No shit, you should be a lot older if you adopted Cris, and Cris don’t look no twenty-eight. Who are you guys?”
“My name is Eran Callum, I am one-hundred and eighty-seven years old. A very long story short the four of us cannot die and we will never age. That’s why we look as we do. None of us will tell you how we came to be the way we are, it was an accident that thankfully will never be repeated. We took care of those nasty loose ends. But being immortal is a bitch and too many people ask too many questions. We like our lives as they are and we’d like to keep them this way. You don’t ever tell anyone about us, I’d rather not become a target to people who like to try and kill me, it fucking hurts and is pointless.”
“Immortal? That’s a bit hard to swallow.”
Eran leaned over and cut his finger and Phineas watched dumbstruck as the finger healed right in front of his eyes.
“We are a team, we are a family. Welcome to the family business. We’re not pirates by the way. Just smugglers. We take the jobs to fund our adventures. We like to have fun, plain and simple and that takes money.”
“God Eran you make it sound so BORING.” Beau moaned from his chair. “You’ll get used to him, he’s really not so mean.”
Phineas laughed, almost hysterical. He was still in shock.
“Well it’s best he know right off the bat if he’s coming with us. A lot less easier than trying to hide it from him.” Eran grumbled tossing Phineas a credit disk.
“Your first job. Go get yourself some decent warm clothes, collect whatever you want to bring with you and be back here in three hours, I’m locking down for the night at midnight local time. In the morning we’re leaving for Pirotaine, it’s fucking cold there this time of year so make sure your clothes are warm. Got that?”
“And don’t call me sir. It’s Eran, we do not use titles on board the ship. Get, your time is ticking.”
“I’ll be back! Thank you! Thank you all!”
Phineas cheered as he ran down the gangplank he wanted to be back as soon as possible. He’d been praying his whole life for this chance, he was not going to lose it.
Eran did always have a good eye for spotting people with impeccable character, the one exception being Enjoe and even then he’d gone against his better judgment in hopes that his influence would have helped straighten him out. Enjoe could not be blamed, his brain had not been firing right his whole life thanks to his augmentation.
While Phineas was out, Eran made a few calls and cleared his warrants for him. It really helped that Eran had contacts in high positions all over the galaxy. Within twenty minutes, all charges were dropped and Phineas was cleared for departure from the planet.
Being fifteen, he didn’t need adoption, he was of legal age to accept employment, only just, but fifteen was fifteen and the Mirastornian law said he was of legal age to apprenticeship. Val’s name was on the apprenticeship application, he’d teach Phineas the finer points of engineering, and he really could use the help doing maintenance if just for someone to pass him tools as he lay suspended in awkward positions.
Val was reading Tovi a bedtime story as Cris tucked her in when Phineas returned, just a couple of bags in tow. “See its habit to be frugal.” Cris whispered as Tovi dropped off to sleep.
“We’ll cure that.” Val whispered back as he set the book down and a sleeping Tovi got a kiss from both her father’s as they tiptoed out of the room.
“Welcome back Phinny.” Cris grinned and Phineas grimaced he hated that nickname.
“Don’t mind Cris or Beau, they like to tease.” Val said smiling and holding out his hand. “We didn’t get to meet properly. I’m Val and you’ll be working with me as my apprentice.”
“I really cannot thank you guys enough.”
“You can thank us by bathing and burning those clothes you’re currently in.” Beau said taking a look at the clothes Phineas bought and rolling his eyes.
“He’s worse than you were.” Beau commented carrying the bags into one of the remaining two vacant cabins off the main room.
“This one is yours. I made up your bunk and you’ve a chest there and a closet there I’ll help you fill once we get to Pirotaine. This is your bathroom.” Beau said going through the room flipping on the lights. “Strip and give me those.” Beau commanded and Phineas stepped into the bathroom and then stuck a hand out to turn over his tatty and smelly clothes to Beau.
“Good, get cleaned up, and I’ll have something for you to eat before you turn in, you look hungry. Welcome aboard Phinny.”
“I really hate that name.”
“Well get used to it.” Beau laughed as Phineas peered through the crack in the door.
“Will you all leave the kid alone to shower in peace? You’re all fucking mother hens, I swear.” Eran poked his head in the door and everyone vacated leaving Phineas time to clean up.
The hot water felt incredible, he’d not had a shower he could remember in years. He watched the dirt swirl down the drain, years worth of it, years worth of misery, years worth of wondering where his next meal would be found, years worth of survival. His tears meshed with the water and he wept thankful tears of release, it was a miracle, his prayers had finally been answered.
He used the entire cake of soap and must have washed his hair a dozen times just for the sheer joy of it before he stepped out of the shower and dried off.
He dug out of a drawer his new thermal pants and a clean overly large t-shirt and wandered into the main room with a towel still wrapped around his head.
Everyone else was seated at the large card table, also dressed comfortably for the night. Beau smiled as Phineas joined them. “There’s a sandwich and a protein shake on the counter for you in the galley. Not a lot, but it’s late.” Phineas nodded, grateful for any morsel and went to go grab his meal.
He came back out, food in hand and was going to sit off to the side when Eran motioned for him to join them at the table. “You’re a part of this crew, you’re always welcome to join us.” Phineas moved to sit at the table and devoured his sandwich in a few minutes. His shake took a little longer, protein shakes weren’t the best tasting but they certainly filled you up with much needed nutrients.
As he ate Beau reached over and took the towel away. “Cris can I borrow some of your detangler and comb?” Cris nodded and went to grab his detangler spray and a comb. “This must be tamed.”
Beau set about combing out Phineas’ shaggy mane of orange hair, the same shade as stray tabby cats. “Such a nice looking kid really under all that dirt. What do you guys think? I think he needs it really short, it will suit him best.”
“Don’t ask us, you’re always the one with the eye for that crap.” Eran grunted lighting up a much needed cigarette, he’d made sure Tovi was in bed before he lit up inside.
Val got up and brought back a pair of scissors. “I think so too. He’s all hard angles, God, I remember being fifteen, I was all gangly like him too.” Val said and Phineas could not imagine such a large man being a skinny teenager.
Phineas just sat in silence and let Beau cut his hair, he’d always just cut off the bits when it started to hang into his eyes, he’d not had a proper haircut in his entire life, let a lone a mirror to cut it himself.
He watched his hair fall into the towel he held up, wondering if he’d have any hair left by the time Beau got done. “There, that is so much better.” Beau finally stopped snipping and carefully took the towel to shake it out outside. He came back with a mirror. “See, nice looking kid under all that.”
Phineas just stared, that certainly was not him staring back. He looked like night and day.
Val chuckled. “I think he’s still in shock.”
“That can’t be me.”
Cris laughed. “God I remember feeling like that after Mandy got me cleaned up too. That’s you kiddo. Feels good don’t it?”
Phineas smiled. “It sure does.” Just then a door opened and a sleepy-eyed Tovi wandered out, her teddy in hand. She walked over and crawled up into Val’s lap.
“What’s the matter Princess?”
She didn’t say anything, she was half asleep, she just curled up on Val’s lap and went back to sleep.
“She usually sleeps with me. She doesn’t sleep well alone, she gets scared.” Phineas said smiling at her. Val nodded and let her stay curled up on his lap for comfort. He just dealt the cards around her, she’d adjust and they’d put her back in bed when they decided to turn in for the evening.
Cris just smiled fondly at Val and Tovi. It was precious, he was the perfect father figure, and large enough for Cris to curl up on, it must be heaven for Tovi, all that warm comfort wrapped around her. “I want a picture of that you make a perfect Papa.”
Cris wandered off and brought back a digital recorder and just recorded the moment. “She’s gonna hate me for all this when she’s a teenager.” Cris laughed as he put the recorder away again.
“She’ll live.” Val chuckled as he shuffled the cards and dealt everyone, including Phineas, a hand.
“Ante up. Five card stud, jacks are wild.” Val called and the game lasted until about midnight.
Eran secured the ship, Val tucked Tovi back in bed, and everyone called it a night.
Phineas sank into his new bed with a sigh, for the first time in his life he wasn’t afraid to go to sleep.
He didn’t awake until morning when Tovi bounded in still in her nightgown to wake him up for breakfast.
He’d found home at last.