"Well, I only just got here. So I guess the deal is I go where the Captain sends me" replied Zach. "On other ships though I've served as a lookout. The only man or beast who'll spot an enemy ship on the horizon before me is Oswin here."
"I'm also pretty good at killing things. I thought that might come in handy too." he remarked, thumbing his bowstring again.
Time passed slowly in the rum barrel, ticking by slowly. James could hear the sounds of movement around him - soldiers and merchants moving their goods from ship to shore to ship and every combination in between. Every now and again, he could make out words; the crude jokes of sailors, the occasional tirade of an overworked crew mate, now inebriated to the point of distraction.
Speaking of inebriation, the barrel smelled of cheap booze, almost to the point where it was unlivable. Still, James endured. It was as he was considering giving up and trying a different approach that he felt movement. A second later, and his chances of trying a different method were vanquished as he felt the barrel tipped onto its side and rolled in an unknown direction. The experience was dizzying to say the least.
As he was moved up a plank - evident by the subtle change in the direction of down - he heard speaking. "OY! Roberts! Give me a hand with this one; I think it's nails or something 'cause I can barely lift it!" The movement paused for a moment, as another crew mate approached. "It ain't heavy-" a new voice said - presumable Roberts, "-you just can't lift it on account of your scrawny little arms. Now let a real man try."
A few seconds later, with a mighty shove, the barrel moved again. Seconds later it stopped, and the first crew member began to laugh. "A 'real man' huh? Let me know if you find one. Now come on, we need to get this aboard before our 'wonderful' officers start yelling at us for lollygagging. Heaven help us if that bastard St. John finds us. Or Cromwell." he said, shuddering at each name.
James felt the barrel move forward, the two men pushing as one. "Or Lanester" Roberts said, forcing the other to audibly cringe. "Don't even joke about that." the unnamed crew mate said, continuing his push. "Who knows what that crazy bit-" he started to say, but the remainder of the words never reached James ears. Instead came the feeling of free-fall and the soft landing on what James could only guess was a net.
Then everything was quiet save the sound of boots on hard wood and the muffled voices of conversation.
A moment after George knocked, a voice called out from the other side of the door, saying "Enter!".
Silas stared at the list for a few moments, taking into account what he needed and what he didn't. With the exception of a few tools, there were none he couldn't live without for a few days. "I'll be in touch, Silas." Jason called out. Silas looked up to see he and his new friend walking away. Silas called back "If you must. There shouldn't be no trouble with most a d'ese tools, but you'll be need'n to find another belt cleaner 'cause I'll likely be a need'n that."
Turning to his supposedly Imperial companions, he asked "So, where was we?"
"So what kind of ship will I be working on? Oh, and the name's Roy."
Jason gave a nod of affirmation to his new charge. "Jason Aurora. I work as chief engineer on a Barracuda-class airship - The Mermaid, they call it. If you're as good with your hands as you say, then you'll be reporting to me." He gestured to the approaching dock, the ship coming into clear view as they left the bazaar. "She's an older one, but that hasn't stopped her from being one tough bitch. A good thing, given our line of work."
'Speaking of a tough bitch...' He was stopped by a familiar sight as he broke from the crowd. Sheska's eyes bored narrowed into their familiar glare, staring straight through him. "Jason, what the fuck were you doing around Imps just a few moments ago? And who's this?"
Jason visibly bristled at the mention of the Skyfolk Imp. He hadn't caught his name, and to be honest, he didn't care to know. It'd make the inevitable business of killing him go down easier. He jutted a finger back in their direction. "Trust me, Sheska. If there weren't guards out the ass here, one of us wouldn't be breathing right now." Shaking the grim idea from his head, he turned to gesture towards Roy. "And this is Roy. A gunsmith, or so he says. He's interested in giving life on a ship a try, and seeing as how we need all the skilled labor we can get our hands on, I see no reason to turn him down."
He turned to Roy, his a playful look in his eye. If there was one thing he liked about Sheska, it was how she broke in green recruits. "Kid, this is First Mate Sheska Skulk-Hound. You won't be reporting to her, at least not directly, but that doesn't mean you get to show her any disrespect." He shot Sheska a cocky smile. "After all, that's MY job."
She glanced between the two of them with a quirked brow when Jason finally replied, clearly flustered at the mere mention of the Imperials that had walked away.
"Trust me, Sheska. If there weren't guards out the ass here, one of us wouldn't be breathing right now.".
"Good thing you have more restraint than me, though hopefully I'd have shown up before you got yourself killed. I'm betting whatever Head Engineer we get after you die is twice as insufferable, with half the skill.", she said with a sly smirk, chuckling softly to herself.
"And this is Roy. A gunsmith, or so he says. He's interested in giving life on a ship a try, and seeing as how we need all the skilled labor we can get our hands on, I see no reason to turn him down."
Her expression changed to one of interest as she looked the boy over again and nodded. "A gunsmith, eh? That could be rather useful. In fact...", she said, trailing off as she twisted her arm to draw her revolver.
Then she held it out to Roy. "Here you go, young pup. I haven't been able to maintain it properly since I lost my arm, and I'm pretty sure there are a few other things that needs fixin' about it. Its a good pistol, just needs some love. Consider it a test of your gunsmithing skills.", she said lightly, before her expression turned murderous and she leaned forward.
"If I go back aboard and find out you messed with the engraving, lost it, or did anything to change it unnecessarily, I won't bother trying to use it on you, I'll just gut you like a pig.", she told him quietly.
Then she grinned and patted him once, firmly on the shoulder.
Turning back to Jason, she put her hand on her hip and frowned. "By the way, I don't suppose you've seen Izzy around the marketplace, have you? Been hoping to talk to him.", she said, concern starting to show in her tone.
"If I go back aboard and find out you messed with the engraving, lost it, or did anything to change it unnecessarily, I won't bother trying to use it on you, I'll just gut you like a pig," Sheska said and looked as if she not only meant it but had done it before.
"I-I'll make sure to take good care of it," Roy promised and gingerly took the gun from her.
"A .44 caliber Colt Dragoon?" he muttered to himself in surprise, examining the gun. Now there was a gun you didn't see every day. The revolver would need to be cleaned but otherwise seemed to be in pretty decent condition. The engravings would be a bit bothersome. Still, he'd need to disassemble it and a busy streets was definitely not the place to do it. Hopefully there'll be a quiet corner somewhere on the ship. He unloaded the gun, wrapped it in a clean piece of cloth, and put it safely away.
He then looked up to make sure no one had meanwhile been telling him anything or just left him there in the street. It wouldn't be the first time he got distracted and missed half a conversation.
Hector stared gloomily at the cobbled together hat that was nestled on top of a stack of boxes at the end of the bed, well not really the end of the bed, the stack of boxes he had found to extend the bed. He grimaced at it as he continued to inspect, the hat that matched his suit, his raggedy old suit.
He had impressed Sheska through luck and bravado, but he needed something more worth while that would keep him on board. The people they had recruited at the tavern were more use to the Captain then him, he couldn't help but wonder why she let him stay on board; was it because he was a misbegotten like her? Nevertheless, he needed to find something more then bravado and luck, maybe a new suit while he was at it.
No time like the present to do so. He promptly jumped out of bed, possibly a little too quickly, banging his head against the ceiling of the cabin. Briefly rubbing his head he grab his hat of the impromptu bed extension and whisked through the tight, ideal for him, low, not so ideal, hallway tilting most of body so he would fit with banging any of his extremities until he found his way up to the deck.
As he excited the doorway he flourished his hat and placed it square on his head, curious what the new recruits were up to and what he could learn from them or the...senior members of the crew.
Inquisitor Ring; we have new information. The Invincible has just pulled into port this morning. They claim to have engaged the Mermaid several days ago; damaging the vessel but failing to sink. Their reports put the pirates in Helium this morning."
Relieved to hear those words he turned to the runner, Andrews, a fresh faced optimistic lad, still in awe of the empire, the kind of man the inquistor held in absolute contempt.
"Well then we best be off to investigate, no doubt you obtained the shipyard where the Invincible is undergoing repairs?" The Inquisitor inquired, he was confident of a reply in the affirmative, his assistant was thorough if not skilled.
"Indeed sir, they are docked in eastern quarter, they sustained some fairly substantial damage are currently undergoing repairs, and resupplying." Andrews continued to speak, rushing of data about losses and requisition orders for funds that had been placed at the embassy. The inquisitor listened, placing significant effort on appearing to be intently focused on the data, but to be honest he had the information he needed. When Andrew finished he smiled at the inquisitor, evidently revelling in a job well done.
The inquisitor dismissed Andrews with orders to search the city for any clues as to the whereabouts of the Mermaid in the city, before grabbing his imperial greatcoat and leaving the embassy. He walked calmly through the streets of Helium city, filled to the brim with the filth of humanity he reflected, before revising his opinion upon contemplation of the other cities of the world, all of them despicable holes of suffering and self absorbed ambition, each one a testament to the sins of man.
He arrived at the dock and cast a critical eye over the ship; she was damaged but not nearly beyond repair. The gleaming exterior was marred upon further examination by the obviously makeshift repairs, perhaps an impressive site from a distance but like her empire she failed to impress at anything more than a passing glance. The inquisitor quickly glanced around before identifying a member of the ships crew standing causally on the gangway rifle in hand; evidently though the inquisitor; this man had been lumbered with guard duty.
The inquisitor approached the man, smiled and said "Good evening sir, I'm with the embassy here in Helium City and I'm afraid I need to have a word with your captain, Rear Admiral Adriana Victor Elizabeth Lanester" The man nodded and then dashed of up the gangway.
He waited and hoped that the captain was actually inside the room. "Enter!" was suddenly shouted from the other side so George opened the door and stepped in. The room was dark, very dark and it took his eyes a few seconds to get used to the darkness He then saw a giant stack of papers and a woman who seemed to be his new commander. She seemed to be in her late twenties and wasn't bad looking but she was obviously a noble, not that he hadn't expected that. "Well... care to tell me to what I owe this visit?" she asked, clearly annoyed at the interruption.
It was obvious that she was annoyed at the papers too, he had picked a very bad time to introduce himself. He took a military stance and then spoke, "Greetings Rear-Admiral Lanester, my name is George Maelstrom. I have been assigned to your crew, and thought it best to introduce myself before doing anything else. I am very sorry for interrupting you with your paperwork." He made a bow, knowing most nobles would appreciate that.
"Well then I think you will do very well here. A good lookout is always a handy thing to have." Samuel replied leaning against the railing of the ship.
"So have the chance to meet any of our fellow pirates yet?" He asked.
"Eddie and Sheska." Zach replied "Eddie's friendly enough, although I'd be surprised if he could tell one end of a ship from another. Sheska... well, I can't tell if she's always no fun, or if it's just been too long since she last got any!" Zach finished with a wry chuckle.
"Anyone else I should watch out for? I'm looking forward to meeting the Captain at any rate."
Garrett stood back after Jason declined his offer of help; 'each to their own' he thought as he listened to the remainder of the conversation. It appears that all Jason wanted was to borrow some, with the future intent of purchasing some tools off of Silas. From what he could gather, Jason must of been a member on board The Mermaid, and have recently come into some money. The gentleman who crashed into Jason soon went with him back to the ship.
After Silas had finished discussing the terms of the tool hire and possible purchase, he turned to Garrett and Vasco.
"So, where was we?" He asked.
"I believe we were on our way back to the Invincible. Perhaps we should move quickly, lest an encounter like this happening again."
Samuel couldn't help but laugh at what the man had said, especially about Sheska.
"Yes I have heard Sheska can be gruff, especially to the new pirates we get." Samuel said to put it lightly.
"Hmm I wouldn't have much in the way of people you really need to look out for in our line of work. If you do you'll run into them and gain firsthand knowledge soon enough. I think you'll find most of us can get along fairly well, though some not exactly because they are the friendliest of people to begin with." He replied.
James was careful to not make a noise, like screaming in terror, or something else silly. He was sure nobody was watching though, and felt safe enough to come out of the awful smelling barrel. James positioned himself, aiming his legs and kicking the barrel open, and sticking one out and pushing the other end of the barrel, sliding himself out. He was definitely on a net. His leg fell through the net, but he was thankful the rest of him didn't follow.
James sighed, grabbing hold of the net, falling through all the way, and started climbing towards the ship, thankful for his upper body strength. He made it to the ship quickly, jumping in, and began looking for a hiding place, and if he needed to break a face to keep his cover.
"I believe we were on our way back to the Invincible. Perhaps we should move quickly, lest an encounter like this happening again." Garrett said in response to his question. "Then lead the way." he said, falling into step behind the Skyfolk Merc and the good Doctor.
George and Inquisitor Ring
"Greetings Rear-Admiral Lanester, my name is George Maelstrom. I have been assigned to your crew, and thought it best to introduce myself before doing anything else. I am very sorry for interrupting you with your paperwork." The man said, bowing at the conclusion
Adrianna stared for a moment at the Skyfolk man, a little confused. She knew the Invincible had become something of a dumping ground for non-standard Imperial sailors that they couldn't really get rid of, but to actually have a second Skyfolk under her command was a bit strange.
"Very well Mr... Maelstrom was it?" she said, waving him forward. "Your orders please." she said, matter-of-factly, needing to understand why he had been put under command - at least officially. It also didn't hurt to question Skyfolk looking to board Imperial vessels in Helium City - who knew if what he said was true.
Adrianna put the papers she had been reading down - a ship manifest for rum barrels of all things - to get a better feel for the new crew mate. He was fairly tall and perhaps 5 years younger then her. He wore Imperial colors, though his dress was hardly a standard Imperial uniform. "So Mr. Maelstrom, I like to know my crew as best I can; tell me about yourself."
Before George had a chance to answer however, a second knock came at her door. "and people wonder why the paperwork for this vessel takes so long to complete." "Enter!" she yelled at the door, which promptly opened to reveal a rather out-of-breath runner. Adrianna waited for the man to catch his wind, then asked him to deliver his message.
"Admiral; a man from the Imperial Embassy is here to see you." the runner responded, leaving Adrianna nothing to do but sigh. "I swear, if this has something to do with that damned party.." she thought to herself, leaving the promise unfinished; she wasn't sure what she'd do. "Very well." she said, standing from her seat and donning her greatcoat. Directing Mr. Maelstrom to follow her - she didn't want to leave the man in her quarters.
Stepping out into the unkind brightness of Helium City, she made her way to the gangway and down to the Embassy Representative. From a distance, she could tell he was some kind of military, but his rank was covered by his coat. Lacking the knowledge of who was supposed to salute whom (she suspected him, but it was never good to assume), she reached the bottom and held out her hand in to make a hand shake, saying "Rear-Admiral Lanester" as she did.
As James moved through the ship, trying to find a decent hiding place, he noticed several problems. First, the decks were open and empty, save for the wooden beams that held the upper decks in place. Those few areas where materials were to be stored were few and far between, and sparsely populated at best. The only place with decent hiding spots available were the black-powder stores, which of course had the disadvantage that they could explode with but a spark.
Speaking of the black-powder, the ship seemed to have an inordinately large supply of it; almost without reason. The same could be said of the number of cannons. In a moment, the kind of ship he was on became apparent; an Imperial Frigate.
At least the decks were all but empty.
As Drustan arrived at the port, he could make out several thing. From high above, he could see a group of Imperial sailors at the entrance to the port, seemingly waiting for some event to require their return. Further up, he could make out three figures (one of them clearly Imperial), making there way toward his prize. At the ship itself, he could make out the bustle of dozens of crew members loading the vessel with all manner or supplies and what appeared to be a pair of officers in discussion at the bottom of the gangway.
Drustan stood there for a moment, admiring the Invincible as he struck a Captain Morgan Pose on a nearby crate. His gaze drifted down to and around the ship, working their way through the sight trying to find the right way on board. His eyes discovered a pair of figures chatting close to the shore, and judging by the clothes they were wearing they seemed fairly important. Drustan leapt down from his perch and strode over to meet them, scaring a few pedestrians in the process. He stood clearly on the docks, making his presence as minimally intrusive as possible. He didn't call out to the two and interrupt them, and instead gave an obvious wave to get their attention, and them patiently waited for them to finish.
Was in fact in a café just off of the market proper, sipping burnt coffee. He'd been sat there for a good while now, in a near catatonic state. He sat at his table, staring straight ahead, a plate of food cooling in front of him. He'd expected returning here to be... strange to say in the least. But something felt wrong. He shouldn't be here. The crowds, the din, the people... it was all setting his frayed nerves afire. There'd been a day when this was his life. Moving amongst the crowds unseen, a predator. But they were long behind him, and all that was left was this - a wreck of a man, that had needed to hide after less than 20 minutes of exposure.
But the reaction had been this bad last time. He'd figured he would be fine, half the reason he'd offered to come along for the supply trip. Maybe, maybe just another few minutes would settle him. Just five more...
The alley was filthy. Annis wrinkled her nose in disgust and turned, her coat sweeping. The contact was late. They'd arranged a time earlier in the day, and now he was running damned late. If he'd been part of their crew she'd have had him put to the Cat O' Nine Tails, a lash for ever 5 minutes past the agreed time. But him not being on the crew was rather the whole point.
They were travelling incognito as is. She was only here with one other crew member, Stanford, a marine. He was dressed in plain clothes (with concealed armour and a plethora of weaponry) and she herself wore her plainest trench coat. Odds were this disgusting mask would help to put forward the idea that she was just some jumped up pirate scum looking to off a rival. After all, best to have a misdirecting cover story should her little venture be cut down before it could finish.
She turned at the voice, sabre drawn in an instant. But the rotten-toothed man in the bowler hat was familiar and she sheathed it, putting a hand out to stop Stanford landing a bullet between his eyes.
"Early?" she started but he waved a hand dismissively and approached her amiably.
"Early, late, dun't matter in the end. Job's a job and you en't gone elsewhere to get it done. So we do business, yeah?"
He stood right next to her, his fingers twitching, eyes darting out of the alley. Maybe this had been a bad idea. If he was just some common mugger after all out to make a payday...
He held a hand out. Against her better judgement, Annis dropped a package into his palm. He felt the weight.
"Name of the ship and a third of the fee. You get the rest when it's done. There's also a little something to get you going."
He slipped the package open and looked. A quarter-pound of chemical explosive and a pistol prised from the cold dead hands of a pirate from three months back lay within. His eyes slid back to Annis' impassable face.
"Fee's usually half up front."
"We're not usual." This from Stanford. He made a show of his own, much larger pistol. The man grimaced and sucked his teeth, (probably reinfecting himself with whatever rotted them in the first place, Annis thought) and nodded.
"Third it is. Fair's fair. You can leave a message at the Mangled Eel, dive about three blocks south of here. We will once we've got started, and will again once it's done."
Annis nodded. "Good. I'm not paying you to stand here and talk."
The man smiled a hellish smile.
"Nah, love. No yer not."
And with that he faded into the blackness of the alley, and was gone. For an ex-agent of the Empire, he was beyond repugnant.
Annis. Sneered after him.
"And that's that. This is between you, me and the captain Stanford. Now let's get back to the ship before the stink sets in."
"By the way, I don't suppose you've seen Izzy around the marketplace, have you? Been hoping to talk to him."
"Isaac? Can't say I have, least not since he left this morning. Knowing him, though, he's probably holed up in a cafe, chugging caffeine 'till his heart gives out." Jason rolled his eyes with a nonchalant shrug and moved to board the ship. He never understood why Isaac was so enamored with coffee - it was bitter and stank worse than motor oil. If he needed something to keep him awake, he could always take up smoking - Jason certainly wouldn't mind having somebody else to bum a cigarette off of, at the very least.
As he boarded the ship with Roy in tow, he moved with him until Sheska was out of earshot before pulling him to the side. "I know Sheska can be hard to work with, but just bear with me. I'd usually tell her to have one of her thugs clean her gear and not waste your valuable time, but you are new, and she loves to test greenhorns." He reached into his satchel and produced a cigarette, lighting it and placing it between his teeth. "So get that done as soon as possible. I'll have my own tests to see if you're worth MY time... and don't worry."
He took in a deep draft from his cigarette before letting it out in a single breath, letting himself crack a wolfish grin. "My tests will be much more... interesting."
She only spared a glance when Roy looked down at the pistol she had given him to maintain, and suppressed a smirk. You'd probably be even more impressed as to how I got it, she thought, before looking back at Jason when he replied.
"Isaac? Can't say I have, least not since he left this morning. Knowing him, though, he's probably holed up in a cafe, chugging caffeine 'till his heart gives out.".
She nodded, and grimaced. "You're likely right. Christ knows that shit can't be good for him. I'd probably insist that he drinks rum like any other pirate with sense, but... Well, Izzy being Izzy, he has his reasons. Anyway, I'm like to be out for a good while, and I'll see about dragging Izzy back to The Mermaid along with me when I'm done. See you then.", she told him with an absent wave.
Turning towards the marketplace, she put her hand on her hip, closed her eyes, and sniffed the air twice. She could definitely pick up the scent of coffee, along with the even fainter scent of musty parchment, something she came to associate with their navigator.
Following the smell, she made a beeline to a rather rundown café, and as soon as she entered had to exhale a breath. "Shit, this place stinks. I don't understand how anyone can drink this stuff, 'specially since it doesn't have any damn alcohol in it.", she murmured under her breath.
But she noticed Isaac sitting by himself at a small table, steadily drinking his coffee and staring straight ahead while a plate of food sat there getting cold. Shaking her head and sighing, she strode to one of the servers, asked if there was any rum, and was rewarded with a bottle in exchange for some coin. If nothing else, Helium had that going for it: Booze was everywhere there was food, and in some places where there wasn't.
Taking the bottle with her, she strode over to the table and sat directly across from him, smiling softly as she tilted her head. "Hey there, Izzy. Mind if I join you?", she asked quietly.
James began thinking of ways to either get out of this or go with it. His mind was coming up frustratingly short, his only plans were to either back out, which he felt it was too late to do anyways, reveal himself, and probably be shot, or hide away until the ship finds a more suitable flying home, which would result in many more variations of getting shot.
James exhaled in frustration,
'This isn't going as planned!'
'There was a plan here?'
"ARGH!" The man turned, punching the nearest wall. He figured he was alone enough to not have to worry about people hearing it or him. Unfortunately, no satisfying hole. James slammed his head against the wall, sliding it down.
"I'm so screwed."
"Very well Mr... Maelstrom was it? Your orders please. So Mr. Maelstrom, I like to know my crew as best I can; tell me about yourself." George was a bit surprised by her attitude, he had expected her to be more hostile. Still she didn't seem to hate him for being sky folk yet so he grabbed the letter with orders from his backpack. He was just about to start talking when they were interrupted by a loud knock on the door. "Enter!" she yelled, which opened to reveal an out of breath runner.
"Admiral; a man from the Imperial Embassy is here to see you," the runner responded, causing his new commander to sigh. "Very well," she said standing up from her seat, making a gesture that he should follow her. George wasn't about to disregard an order form his new commander. He put his papers back into his backpack. He stepped out of the room and followed her, while looking around the ship. He spotted the Embassy Representative, he knew this wasn't going to end well so he decided to keep quiet. His new commander greeted the man, and George took a military position besides her.
Roy followed the chief engineer onto the Mermaid, taking note of the ship's damaged state. It looked like he wasn't going to be short of work for the time being. He also took note of some of the people on the deck, especially the misbegotten with six arms and the Neobedouin with the parrot.
A bow? Seriously?
"I know Sheska can be hard to work with, but just bear with me. I'd usually tell her to have one of her thugs clean her gear and not waste your valuable time, but you are new, and she loves to test greenhorns," Jason said then placed a cigar between his teeth, making it harder for Roy to understand him.
"So get that done as soon as possible. I'll have my own tests to see if you're worth MY time... and don't worry. My tests will be much more... interesting."
"Oh I don't mind. It's not often you get to work on such old guns," Roy grinned, eager to get started. He wondered what those tests (or was it just one test?) might be but figured he'd find out soon enough. "I'd better get started then." He walked over to some crates that were sitting on the deck, waiting to be loaded into the ship's cargo hold. He took out Sheska's gun and spread the cloth he'd wrapped it into earlier onto the crate, then sat down on a smaller crate and started to disassemble the gun, carefully placing each part onto the cloth, making sure nothing could roll onto the floor. God forbid he lose any parts.
"Hey there, Izzy. Mind if I join you?"
Isaac all but jumped out of his skin, but fought the impulse. You'd only know from the sudden slosh as his cup jolted in his hand. He looked over and smiled.
"Shes. Hi. Sure."
He pulled back the chair beside him for her to sit in.
"How's readying the ship going? We got much longer in town?"
He inwardly prayed the answer was no.
She frowned the moment she saw him jump, knowing that he was usually more collected than that. But she relaxed a little when he smiled, so she returned it in kind.
"Shes. Hi. Sure.".
Standing up when he offered the chair next to him, she slid over and sat down, pulling the cork out of her rum bottle with her teeth. Once she spat it out, she set the bottle down and looked him over with a small sigh. "You know, Izzy, if you want to drown your woes or troubles... I don't think coffee is your best bet.", she said, before sniffing what was in his cup and recoiling in disgust.
"Ugh, and that particular cup of coffee smells like the next best thing to raw sewage.", she added.
"How's readying the ship going? We got much longer in town?".
"Well, it's going.", she said after taking a swig of rum.
Once she swallowed, she set the bottle down again and continued. "We have some new recruits, including one that seems to have more balls than brains. Sam went ahead and took care of getting most of the supplies we're going to need, and I passed by Jason on the way here. But, we have some time yet before we can leave. There's repairs for one, my arm for another. And something else that the Captain mentioned that I figure you ought to hear from her. Some party or somesuch.", she said with a wave of her hand.
Then she leaned back from him and looked him in the eye with concern. "But, don't worry about that, what's troubling you? I've unloaded a burdened mind on you often enough to see that you're in a similar state, so talk to me. I am your friend, after all.", she added, reaching over and placing a gentle hand on his shoulder.
A mountain of a man greeted the group as they continued to walk down towards the Invincible. Vasco wondered what this one wanted. First they had encounter the incarnation of pig-headiness that was Silas, then they had met and saw a member of the Mermaid recruiting another, now this. From the look of him, he was a brute, a brute with a crimson mane and a Skyfolk brute at that. No doubt he had seen their entourage and was looking for trouble. Trouble was, the man bore himself like he was well-known and Vasco, from simply staying from the fray of battle and staying in the medical bays, was at a lost to who it was. Pivoting on the stick, he turned towards Silas, Garrett and the others, asking a half-retorical question, "I wonder what this gentlemen wants, hmm?"
"Ugh, and that particular cup of coffee smells like the next best thing to raw sewage."
Isaac looked at the mug and conceded the point. "The is perhaps not the best place for coffee. But hey, it's comfortable enough right?"
He was trying his best to ignore the mysterious stains on the table and the dark looks from the staff. They didn't ask questions and he wasn't a regular here, which was all he needed.
Sheska went on to talk him through the details of how things were going with the ship. After he'd helped out a little at the market there hadn't been much for Isaac to do so he'd wandered a little. Then, it had come over him and he needed to find somewhere to hide. He frowned at the mention of a party. Something to do with the Tripartite agreement presumably. Then Sheska leaned towards him.
"But, don't worry about that, what's troubling you? I've unloaded a burdened mind on you often enough to see that you're in a similar state, so talk to me. I am your friend, after all."
She put a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
Isaac smirked, but he knew she could read him. One of the only people who could. There was no point putting on a brave face when Sheska was around, she had always berated him for bottling stuff up.
"I... I had another flashback I think. You know back in October when I sorta flipped? Like that but not as bad. Instincts took over and I needed somewhere to hide it out. It was... weird. Started seeing enemies everywhere. Thought I saw familiar faces. Old familiar faces you know?"
He shifted and leaned closer to his friend, his voice dropping even lower.
"It's... it's always like this here Shes. Always going to be most likely. The Ggun are still active here and they keep an eye out for defectors. We're both safe as we're ever gonna be and more exposed than anywhere else here. And that gets to me, every time. You know how it is when you're brought up with paranoia being just a part of you? I've never really gotten rid of it."
She watched as he smirked, but relaxed when he didn't try to put up a wall between them and confided in her.
"I... I had another flashback I think. You know back in October when I sorta flipped? Like that but not as bad. Instincts took over and I needed somewhere to hide it out. It was... weird. Started seeing enemies everywhere. Thought I saw familiar faces. Old familiar faces you know? It's... it's always like this here Shes. Always going to be most likely. The Ggun are still active here and they keep an eye out for defectors. We're both safe as we're ever gonna be and more exposed than anywhere else here. And that gets to me, every time. You know how it is when you're brought up with paranoia being just a part of you? I've never really gotten rid of it."
"I know, Izzy. Same thing with me and killing. I still get the occasional... Urge, for no apparent reason.", she murmured, but she shook her head and locked her eyes on his.
"But, if there is anyone here looking for you, you may as well stick close to me. I won't let anyone hurt ya.", she said with a smile as she wrapped her arm around his shoulders.
Then her expression darkened. "If anyone, Imp or otherwise, tries to hurt you, or Beth, I will hunt them down and kill them in the most painful and humiliating way possible. No one harms either of you and gets away with it.", she finished, her voice vibrating with restrained fury at the thought.
"That's just about the creepiest reassurance I've had in a while. But seriously, I'm glad."
He turned to Sheska and clasped her hand.
"Same here. I've got your back Shes. Always."
And for the first time in his life, Isaac couldn't have been more sincere.
She glanced back at him and snickered at his reply.
"That's just about the creepiest reassurance I've had in a while. But seriously, I'm glad. Same here. I've got your back Shes. Always.".
"Good, because it's true. I care about you Izzy. In fact, you and Beth are the two people I care about most. I'd count Old Asimov too, but...", she trailed off, then she shrugged.
"Anyway, I'm glad you have my back, because I'll need the help. I've only got the one good hand for now, so I could actually use your pair right now.", she said with a wide grin.
"See, I also went off the ship to see about getting a few things. Ammunition, winter clothes, and... A dress.", she added with a grimace, looking away due to embarrassment.
After all, if this party that Beth told her about was what she was afraid it was, she would need some sort of fancy clothing, and a dress was properly ladylike. Not that she would normally wear one under any other circumstances.
The Inquisitor watched the sailor dash up the gangway, before quickly returning, followed by two officers. One of them was evidently the rear admiral, formally dressed with her rank displayed, tired looking and with what appeared be ink stains on her hand. The other one however was a more unusual figure, wearing a set of very non standard clothes he stood out from the rest of the crew. The two figures glanced around before noticing the inquisitor and approaching.
Guess it's too much to hope for only one of them joining me. Time to be professionally vague.
The Rear Admiral came to a halt in front of him, before offering him her had "Rear-Admiral Lanester" . The other figure halted to the side before coming to attention. Either trying to impress or a stickler for formalities, and with that attire it certainly isn't the latter, probably thinks of me as some jumped up official . He fimly shook the offered hand of the Rear Admiral "Lieutenant Commander Isaac Lee Ring on attachment to the embassy in Helium City" he replied to her implied question "Sorry to have disturbed you. I have a message o f the utmost importance which I have been told to pass on to you and you alone. Do you mind if we find somewhere where we can talk without being interrupted?"
"Anyway, I'm glad you have my back, because I'll need the help. I've only got the one good hand for now, so I could actually use your pair right now. See, I also went off the ship to see about getting a few things. Ammunition, winter clothes, and... A dress."
Isaac started to laugh but then he saw Sheska's expression.
"Oh... you're serious about the dress? Wow. This party thing properly formal then?"
He drained the cup and stood. He'd been hiding in here long enough, it was time to make a use of himself.
"Luckily for you, I happen to know a couple of the best tailors in town. Pretend to be enough different people and you kinda learn this stuff." he explained with a shrug.
"As for ammo, you'd know better than me. Shall we?"
She had been cleaning up the glass shards on the floor of her cabin. Afterwards she had felt like she had done nothing else than work the whole day, despite that she had wanted to take a break after flying the skyfolk ship. Beth had made a brief inspection of the goods that they had brought onto the ship, and taken a new bottle of rum. Unsurprisingly, it was a cheap brand, which made her realize that she really needed to do some personal shopping before they left Helium. As the captain, she did at least deserve to drink real alcohol.
She didn't have enough warm clothes either. She did have plenty of dresses, but since she was used to a warmer climate, none of them would suffice. When she had gone through her wardrobe, or chest with clothes, she had found an old tri-cornered hat and put it on. It would have fit someone with an eyepatch better, she thought and laughed, but kept it on as she left her cabin and headed up on deck.
Beth saw several new faces which she hadn't seen before, but passed them and walked down the gangplank. She searched for a secluded spot, from where she could keep an eye on the ship and the city. Eventually she sat down on the makeshift wharf which allowed ships to dock at the tower. She let her legs dangle over the side of the planks and leaned against a barrel, which she hoped belonged to her crew.
She began drinking and humming to herself.
She had made her new cabin more homely, before checking her face in the hand mirror she had brought with her. At first it had been hard to believe that anyone could be that easily fooled, but her sister had convinced her otherwise. Maybe if they had been in a different time.
Well, all those years serving the empire did help a bit. She could get recommendations, if anyone asked for them. She also had the silver star attached to her attire. Wilhelmena shrugged, and decided to get a fresh breath of air. Once outside she saw the admiral surrounded by some faces she thought she recognized. Though when she had seen them before was difficult to tell.
It would become difficult after all that, wouldn't it?
She had abused the machine, but not as much as those who were keeping the second one for themselves. Wilhelmena had made sure that her actions created as little ripples as possible, which had been easier than expected considering everything. She smiled wearily, and hoped that she was reaching the end of it.
Sheska glared when he started to laugh, and she quickly jabbed a finger at him and scowled. "You laugh now, but do you know what it's like to wear a dress? They're all so frilly, and keep me from moving the way I want to. You can't run, or roll, or jump in them unless you want to fall on your face, and the only person I can think of that can fight very well in a dress is Beth.", she told him firmly, just before standing up.
"Luckily for you, I happen to know a couple of the best tailors in town. Pretend to be enough different people and you kinda learn this stuff.".
She nodded and sighed. "Then lets get that over with. And honestly, I'm glad you're the one accompanying me with this bullshit. I definitely wouldn't want Sam, or god forbid, Beth to come along.", she said, shaking her head as she grabbed her rum bottle.
After draining half of it in one large draft, she simply sat it down and jerked her head to the doorway. "Lets go, Izzy.", she said, smiling a little as she patted his shoulder and led the way outside.
Garrett watched from near the front of the group as a conversation was taking place between Adrianna and man he had never seen before; he also noticed another man standing behind Adrianna, definitely didn't look Imperial judging from his attire, more like a Skyfolk, but for what reason was another Skyfolk doing here escaped him. Whereas with the other man he definitely had a purpose. An imposing figure standing an inch or two short of six foot, and sported a short, and a very much Imperial hairstyle. From what Garrett was getting off of him, he had definitely seen action, though not in the traditional sense.
He waited a moment for there to be a pause in the conversation before speaking.
"Afternoon all. Apologies to you both for interrupting this conversation, no doubt the business is important so I shall not waste too much of your time. Just thought I would inform you Rear Admiral, that myself and Vasco were able to acquire the services of a shipwright, who is willing to help with necessary maintenance and upgrades to the Invincible; and as luck would have it, he happens to be an old friend of mine, so I can vouch for his experience. May I introduce Mr. Silas Rainecroft." Garrett remarked, gesturing towards the man in question.
"Old Silas here just needs to have a few words with the Engineer before work can begin, though he has told me it could take a few days for the necessary work to be completed. Speaking of, has the new Engineer arrived yet?" He then asked.
Isaac flipped the front of his pocket watch open and checked the time.
Ten minutes, ten minutes she'd been in that damn room with the master tailor. Isaac could be up and in a decent looking suit in less than one as a matter of instinct. Admittedly the suit would look like it had been through a warzone, but that wouldn't take too long to sort out.
He'd used Simmyns once or twice before in his past life. They were good at what they did, had an eye for detail and above all, they were effortlessly discreet. When some local Skyfolk duchess or pampered Imperial wanted his or her special new raiment to be a surprise at the next society dinner you pretty much had to be.
He tapped his foot and looked out the window at the passersby. Maybe he should get something for himself. If they were going to attend this thing (not that he necessarily was), it paid to look presentable. Maybe a matter to worry about later. After all, he still had a few bits and pieces from the last time he'd needed to look smart tucked away in the cabin, and in a pinch they'd be cheaper. Not to mention already fitted with the necessary pouches and hidden straps to keep his gear on him.
"Will they be much longer?" he asked the man at the counter. He looked up from the ream of cloth he was cutting and shrugged. Isaac rolled his eyes.
He was about to ask again when the door finally opened. He turned to look...
At first, Sheska was rather dubious when it came to the tailors that Izzy took her to, and after stepping into the private area where they conducted the fitting, she was right to feel that way.
They ordered her to strip, which while she knew she would have to, still felt uncomfortable about it. After measurements were taken, and she nearly broke the master tailor's assistant's nose, they finally started to make suggestions on what might suit her. So she endured.
It was almost fifteen minutes when she finally stepped out into the main shop.
What she wore was a long, blood red dress that hugged what few curves she had, and had a long slit in the right side of the skirt, revealing one of her bare legs as she strode forward. It had a single thick piece of fabric that wrapped up and over her left shoulder, hiding the scar she had and keeping it up, all the while dipping low enough to reveal what little cleavage she had. And riding up the left side of the dress was a simple but elegant black floral design.
Stepping forward, she held out her arm and looked at Izzy expectantly. "Well? How do I look?", she asked quietly.