Naturally, Ray, Kim, and Jim looked at Gabriel a tad incredulously, though more with surprise than anything. Ray quickly moved to meet the newest visitor to his cockpit, saying as he went, "You're something of a miracle, Mr. Martinez."
"Don't thank me, just get this chick off my hands," Gabriel very graciously responded. "On second thought, I think we need someone else to talk with her. No offense, but you three aren't much for a party, and that's all she seems to want. We need Clive Lockwood on this. Don't give me those looks. I know more than you think I do."
Ray decided to head off in the direction of the passengers, where Clive waited, oblivious, and no doubt still asleep. He muttered as he went, "Might as well..."
"You do that, Chief, and we're going to continue this little confab in the meantime," Gabriel smiled. "Now, who's up for waffles? Anyone? Doubt we have any anyway. No problem. We can improvise. Sweetcheeks, how about some coffee?"
Kim seemed to cooperate if only to be anywhere else. That left only Jim, who was the most amiable of them. He thought for a moment before asking the obvious: "You play a lot more rough than you really are, don't you?"
"It has a way of motivating people," Gabriel said. "I've found that people, even if they don't act like it, respond really well. It's good to have a little attention on yourself. It gets the job done. So Jimbo, how's about we have us a real chat? Enough with the bullshit. I figure we have upwards to a thousand people onboard, between all the compartments. Most of them are cool as a cucumber, but then there's a few ornery ones like us. You might play sweet, but you wouldn't be here right now if you didn't have something of a hotstreak. I read people better than they do themselves. So relax with whatever protest you might have cooked up. I like you. That's a good thing.
"While you were busy poking around, messing around, I was busy getting the real work done. I acted when you reacted, is all. Don't sweat it. I work best under pressure. A few hours ago, people needed to release some tension, get some positive energy going, and so that's what I provided. You get the good vibes from the bad ones. And that's what I want to talk to you about, because I figure you'll understand, better than the rest of them. I want to talk about reasonable chaos.
"We just lost Earth, and we got separated from the rest of the fleet. There's a thousand of us, and only a small handful who are of any immediate worth. The word for all that is chaos. Most people associate 'chaos' with a negative experience. Me, I like to embrace it. But in a controlled way. Like I said, 'reasonable chaos.' That's what you get when you try to make sense of a sticky situation, one that doesn't make a lot of sense, that only seems to be screwing with you. That's been my whole life, and I can guess that you might understand why. But that's also the way the world works. That's the nature of reality. Reasonable chaos. Everything has a reason, Jimbo, even if we can't immediately see it. I expect this situation to work itself out. I've got faith. Strange to hear myself say that. Reasonable chaos says that I shouldn't sweat it, and that's what I want to say to you, because you seem to be someone who'll understand."
Gabriel slapped Jim on the back, and walked away, just as abruptly as he'd come.