Sunset - 13th of Achtus, 2711
The notion of a stroll was already enough to set the bells of anxious over-caution ringing away in Oisin's thoughts, but the mention of the upper deck was like being stabbed through the chest by an icicle. A dizzying maelstrom of conflicting motives and notions cascaded through his mind, his eyes shifting between Joyah and her siblings, to the ceiling, the floor, the doors, windows - they might even have rolled back in his head and stared at the inside of his skull, were it not for the overwhelming sense of responsibility that loomed like an antic in the frantic cognative deep.
Obviously, if Joyah was allowed to wander around on the upper deck unsupervised, she would never be seen again. She would trip and fall to her doom, assassins would leap out of the shadows and murder her, a stray bird would crash into a window, shattering the glass and sucking her out into the cloudless sky - it was an inevitability. Paranoia was not the fuel that drove Oisin's frantic thoughts: it was experience. Over his years as a mercenary, Oisin had found himself subjected to or responsible for children on countless occasions, and with alarming regularity, those experiences resulted in abject chaos. Whether it was fate, divine intervention, a prankish sense of humour from the mona, or just statistically improbable random chance, it didn't matter. If he let Joyah wander off alone, she'd either get herself killed, or all of them killed. That was just a fact of life.
Of course, if he left the younger siblings unattended, they would undoubtedly set the room on fire, causing the airship to explode and sending them all plunging to their demise amid a tangle of flaming debris. That was the dilemma that Oisin's mind faced: a question of which doom to deny, and which to embrace. His mind worked frantically, like the hind legs of a young pup trying to scamper across an icy lake. "I should, uh -"
Other people! Oisin had spent so long in the solitude of the passenger lounge keeping an eye on the kids that the presence of other mercenaries had for a brief moment slipped his mind. Only a handful of their usual band had been necessary for this particular contract, and for the most part they had managed to spend the trip conspicuously elsewhere. Officially, they were off ensuring that other parts of the airship were safe and secure. Unofficially, they'd no doubt found a quiet corner to drink and play cards, leaving Oisin with the unenviable task of enduring their young charges. Such was his role within their merry band, assuming there weren't any injuries to patch up, of course: the butt not just of their jokes, but also of their metaphorical crossbow, with the unenviable task of shouldering all the excess kickback and recoil.
But then there was Vex. In Oisin's case, his treatment was a reaction to his circumstance and nature: the Wick, the orphan, the youth who'd stumbled into becoming something only a few shades above a pet or mascot. In Vex's case, his treatment was a reaction to him being a complete and utter ersehole. Oisin wasn't sure what the Hoxian's real name was, and wasn't convinced that anyone else remembered, either: vexing is what he was, and so Vex was how he was known. While Oisin had volunteered for this particular assignment - something he hoped he would not be foolish enough to do again - Vex had been volunteered. And, while Oisin had been tasked with keeping an eye on their young charges, Vex had set up camp just beyond the door: not because a few children required the attention of two mercenaries, but because that was the only place he could be without anyone aboard having to endure his company for more than a few minutes at a time.
Mind finally locking onto some sense of order and direction, Oisin held up a finger to halt the young Mugrobi in place. "Just, uh, one moment. Hang on."
A few steps backwards, and Oisin's backside collided with the doorway of the lounge. A few fumbles, and it slid aside. A few more steps - three back, two left - and Oisin found himself standing beside the low crate atop which his fellow mercenary was uncomfortably slumped. "Vex?" Oisin hissed, speaking from the side of his mouth. The mercenary barely reacted, responding only with a slightly deeper, rattling inhalation that emerged from somewhere between the chin pressed to his chest, and his tightly folded arms. A flicker of a scowl danced across Oisin's features, and a booted foot collided sharpy with the sleeping mercenary's ankle. "Vex!"
The Hoxian snorted himself awake, a few jerking head movements aiming his blinking eyes in different directions to take in the details of his surroundings. As they settled on Oisin, Vex mustered a disgruntled grunt.
"I'm taking one of the girls to the upper deck," he announced, with far more confidence and certainty about the wisdom of such an act than he actually felt, careful to leave no wiggle room for protest from the Hoxian. "Keep an eye on the rest, alright?"
"Yessir," Vex replied with absolutely no conviction whatsoever, eyes already closed once more. Oisin's mouth opened, entertaining the notion of protest; perhaps Vex sensed it, or perhaps he just knew the younger mercenary well enough to preempt, shrugging aside his concerns with a quick squirming adjustment of his folded arms. "If you're worried I can't keep some dumb rich kids alive for more than ten minutes, I'd recommend making sure you're back here in less than that."
Oisin's expression shifted through various variations on scowls and glowers before settling into resignation. "Fine, fine," he muttered to himself, unleashing a sigh that carried with it as much frustration as he could quickly expel, before taking two steps back to the right, emerging back into the frame of the doorway, and mustering a smile for Joyah.
"I should probably come with you," he explained, as amiable as he could manage. "Wouldn't want your family to feel like they aren't receiving the kind of service that they're paying for."