While Daisy was on Paquin she was introduced to a man named Ryan Huff, a journalist and war correspondent from the Core. While normally she wouldn’t put much thought into such a random meeting, Huff’s insistence on meeting the crew of Blackbird is only justified when he mentions to Daisy some of the Crew’s previous exploits. With that, Ryan Huff invites himself to dinner once the ship returns from the cargo run to Triumph.
That night, the crew prepares a feast. They bring the following:
Annadale — artichoke hearts stuffed with mozzarella cheese and sun dried tomatoes, and two bottles of Blue Sun Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (2507).
Bobby and Daisy — Bean stew and homemade biscuits.
Tarsh — An assortment of beverages (colored fruit-flavored drink, regular and diet SereniTea, and whiskey from the Earth That Was Distillery.
Oliver — A whole chicken. Cooked, thankfully.
Kazuto — An assortment of finger sandwiches.
Jackie — A berry cobbler.
And their guest, Ryan Huff, brings Pâté de protéine, and Dùn dé Shíwū.
Dinner is simple, everyone enjoying the foods and drinks, and conversation light. Finally, Ryan Huff admits that he’s been following the crew’s actions since their work with Alexander Henry on St. Albans. Huff knows that the crew’s work helped destroy the IAV Cumberland, and he uses that information to get the crew to open up about their own backgrounds.
Through the course of dinner this is what’s revealed:
As it turns out, most of the Crew has ties to the Core. Annadale is from Osiris, as is Bobby and Daisy. Tarsh knows he is as well, but his fractured memory doesn’t let him know any more than that.
Bobby and Daisy Burke admit to being all but “on the run” from Core-based bounty hunting guild that has blacklisted them. They’re hoping to regain their stature with that group by capturing a fugitive named Sergei Chesnekov — the mark whose escape forced them to lose standing in the first place. The revelation about Chesnekov appeals to the rest of the Crew when the Burke’s say that there’s a ₡1,400,000 reward for the man’s capture (dead or alive). They also admit that Daisy’s time away from the crew on Paquin was in order for her to follow up on some leads. From what she found out, Chesnekov has last seen heading to the Georgia System and has several contacts within the Independent forces. There’s no leads as to what he’s doing there, but the money’s too good for the Burke’s (and the rest of the Crew) to pass up.
Tarsh admits that he was part of the Alliance Army, but has since deserted because of a series of tests performed on him without his full consent. The tests enhanced several aspects of his mental ability — namely, hand-eye coordination and computer tech ability. Also, his ability with a variety of weapons was toyed with, resulting in him becoming a well-built super soldier of sorts. Unfortunately though, the enhancements damaged part of his brain and has erased most of his long term memory. Tarsh is now an amnesiac capable of extreme violence and sabotage.
Oliver offers his own backstory, though thus far it’s nothing compared to the rest of his deadly crew-mates. Oliver was a prince of his tribe on Lazarus (his words), and “touched” by the Red Phoenix goddess. Through some unknown steps, he was sent to Stony Wall Sanitarium — a minimum security hospital designed for people “touched” in some way or another. He isn’t sure how long he was there, but once the Alliance began their military presence on the world, the bughouse was closed and the Alliance confiscated it for their own purposes. The good and bad of the situation was that all the inmates/patients were given a clean bill of mental health and sent on their way. Soon thereafter, Oliver met a goat — Mersa — and has started his journey to find his dead sister, Isabelle.
If Oliver’s story wasn’t strange enough, during dinner he begins to refer to Annadale as his sister, even calling her “Isabelle.”
Annadale’s story hits a little closer to home for several crew members.
She tells them that she was once a member of the Alliance Navy, stationed on the IAV Constantine under the command of Evan Ambrose, a former General-in-Chief of the Alliance Forces. To make matters worse, Annadale was a member of Ambrose’s crew during the bombing of Athens (Christmas Day, 2507), which lead to thousands of deaths and the displacement of thousands more. Her desicion to leave the Alliance came with Ambrose’s treasonous departure from the Alliance; Annadale followed him as Ambrose defected to the Independents. Her reasoning was more than loyalty. She admits to everyone at the table that she and Ambrose were lovers. However, Annadale realized there was more she could do to stop a war that she now feels strongly opposed to. She admits that she left Ambrose, hoping to find a better use for her ability.
This new information carries weight for Kazuto because of his own background. Kazuto was/is a student from the University of Allied Studies (Athens). The Alliance’s Christmas Day bombing of Athens lead to the school’s destruction. Kazuto’s real concern though is for his sister, Kana Correra, who was involved with an independence-minded social activism group. For all Kazuto knows, Kana’s involvement could have lead her to be killed or taken captive by the Alliance. Despite Annadale’s part in the bombings, Kazuto promises that he harbors no ill will towards her. He’s just grateful that Annadale has seen the error of her ways and is trying to right her wrongs.
By the end of dinner everyone has a new understanding of each other. The crew decides it’s in their best interest to leave Red Sun and head towards Georgia. With any luck they can find folks who might need their supplies or need their help.
As Ryan Huff is being escorted off the ship, Oliver pilfers a small bag from the man’s pocket. He presents it to the crew. Inside is a diamond the size of a plum.