"I must ask however; you're in Helium City; a place where thousands of vessels that pass every day - why would you wish to fly aboard the Invincible when it is neither the easiest nor the best paying of vessels?"
Drustan paused for a moment, refusing to let celebration best him. "Well Admiral (I might as well start calling you that now), that is a multi-sided question. On the first side, I couldn't tell the working conditions at a far glance, but the second side is more important, and might take a while to explain. If you don't mind me rhetorically asking, ma'am, have you ever been trapped? Have you been ensnared in such a way that not just your body is behind bars, but your soul as well? Have you been put in such a position where death is inevitable, but neither quick or glorious? A position where all you can do is lie and languish until you are no more? Then, out of what might well be nowhere, your saving grace appears? It arrives unexplained and unexpected, whether you knew it's existence or not. All you can do at that point is say farewell to your previously imminent demise and rush away, to return to the life you knew, never to look back."
Drustan paused for a minute, letting his monologue sink in before concluding. "You see, Admiral, that was what my stint in this trash heap of a city amounted to as I lied in an alleyway, drowning in familiarity and rum, as the Skies brought forth your ship, in all its glory, and presented me with the life I once knew and love."
Again he paused himself, although this was for different reasons. "So, Admiral, now that my extended monologue is over, what would you have me do?"
"Pleased to meet you Mr. Mongoose. I suggest that, in the future, you do not break into Imperial Ships - they tend not to take kindly to stowaways."
'But yet you do?' James cocked an eyebrow, returning the smile and crossing his arms. James paid attention when he heard the sound of footsteps, some new people! Who probably dislike stowaways. James stooped slightly, tensing his muscles. He figured he could take em, easily.
"Look, James. Do you want to stay on this ship? If you do, pretend to be my engineering assistant or something and say we have some emergency repairs we need to make or something and I'll find a way to let you stay."
"Hm?" was about all James could get out, relaxing somewhat. She turned back around, introducing herself to the one who spoke.
'New engineer? That explains why she's here.'
"And this here is James... why don't you introduce yourself James."
"Hullo all, my name's James. Obviously. I'm her assistant" He smiled, and rubbed the back of his head, relaxing completely.
Truth be told, Zach didn't share Eddie's enthusiasm for ballistics. However, he needed something to do and, if he felt he was indebted to Eddie, then the least he could do was help out, so he got to work.
The good honest labour was strangely therapeutic, after a while. He was still no fan of oil and gun smoke, and below decks The Mermaid felt stifling, but he supposed that he could see the upside too.
"How long have you been on The Mermaid?" he asked Eddie.
Roy was giving Sheska's gun a final polish when a vaguely man shaped shadow was cast on him and didn't move. He looked up and saw the misbegotten with the numerous limbs craning over him.
"Umm...Hi? Can I help you?" Roy asked, having missed the tall man's question. He put the gun down for the momentand waited for a reply.
Isaac had known Sheska for some time now, and when chatting with her he had grown into expecting certain behaviours.
These behaviours did not, however, usually include Sheska grabbing him by his shirt and kissing him.
He was still stood there a little bemused, as she spoke.
"You're right though, we should get back to work, or if nothing else, back to the Mermaid. Up to you."
"Uhm... yes. Right. Well, I've got nothing else to do, so I suppose we go back...?" he stumbled through the sentence a little. As they made their move, Isaac returned to his usual demeanour of sober silence. With any luck Sheska would mistake it for how he generally acted when they were out and about in the city and not catch that he was deep in thought.
He wasn't sure what to make of this. Obviously, she was drunk. He could taste the alcohol (so that's what rum was like), so maybe she'd just gotten emotional and acted in the way that, to her, made sense. But... she'd always felt like a sister more than anything else. He didn't have much experience here, but sisters conventionally didn't kiss their brothers quite so intimately right? Sod it, this would be a problem for another time. She was clearly still hung up on Beth, provided she got over that and things got... peculiar, he'd try talking to her.
He just hoped he wouldn't make matters worse.
"Thank you Ms. Baker-Cromwell. Like Mr. Crovus and Mr. Roque, you have leave of the ship as you like, though please prepare your uniform or some similar outfit for this coming evening; we have been invited to a gala tomorrow at the Presidential Palace. I'm sure I mustn't tell you that we must show the Empire still honors its agreements with Helium City. If you have a chance before tomorrow evening please inform our new quartermaster - Ms. Heatherington-Portnoy - of the state of the ship."
Annis blinked, almost imperceptibly stunned.
New Quarter Master? That was her duty! At which point her subconscious reminded her that she was now the Second Mate, and that duty should more than take up her time. This may take some adjusting.
And as for the gala... Annis didn't want to comment, but they had a mission, and the sooner they returned to it, the better. Did the Empire honestly think that the Rear-Admiral had time to waste socialising with a bunch of slack-jawed Skyfolk and so-called "neutral" Helium nobles?
Bah. She'd attend, she'd been ordered to do so, but she didn't have to like it.
Annis nodded to Lanester.
"Of course, Rear-Admiral. I believe I have time now to brief her. Please ask her to make her way to my... to the Quarter Master's cabin as soon as she is able."
And with that she turned on her heel started to stalk away.
It was about here that Annis caught herself - she'd questioned the Admiralty again. She hadn't even thought about it this time, just assumed they were idiots for arranging attendance at this gala. Was something wrong with her? This post was perhaps beginning to take its toll. Maybe the shift in work would refresh her mentally.
She could only hope.
"How long have you been on The Mermaid?"
Eddie paused a minute, rag holding his face, looking around the hold as if expecting the powder and cannonballs to answer the question for him,"Don' know, really."
"Got picked up....somewhere around 'ere, I think, every port looks the same ta me. Just got off the last ship since the Cap'n died from a bit of splinters to the heart, ol' man stayed alive for two weeks with that thing in 'is chest. Then the First Mate took ova' and that was the end o' me time aboard. Afore that, I was on anotha ship, big bloomin' thing too, thirty guns a side, got scuttled by an Imp fleet, we barely made it out o' there, but that's where I got me coat, though it was a bit shinier at the time, and the fella wearin' it didn't take too kindly to me tossin' him over the side. Wasn't my fault her boots were so polished they slipped on the deck, after all.
"And before that, I was on a little ship, smaller'n this one, crowded too, two hunnerd hands at least,"He stopped a moment and began counting his fingers, stopping at around forty,"Yeah, lotsa guys there. Raided more merchant ships than any other place I've been on though. And even before that I was just a kid on Cap'n Truddiuk Beaksly's ship. Got my first little gig as a cannon boy, not like we was expected to live fer long, Imps always aim for the cannons first. But I was too good fer those Impierialisals, they got all the trainin in the world, but they don't know a good wind from a fair wind. Jus' as they were tryin' ta get away, out of cannon shot, I got a good shot off and killed their top...brass? Is that wha they call 'em? Anyways, killed 'em, and ripped through their rudder chain. Damn Imps don't know what to do when they're ship breaks on 'em, only real advan'age they got on us Pirates. So, I don' know, a few years maybe?"
"Uh.. yeah, I'm the new Engineer for the Invincible; that's me. You may call me Ciel. It's a pleasure to meet you Mr...?" Ciel responded with rather quickly, as if she was nervous about something. Garrett could at least breathe a sigh of relief, finally getting a name to associate with her face, which now he had a better view of it, looked somewhat pretty, despite the scar going down the side of her face; and her reddish pink eyes reminded Garrett of his own to a degree.
"And this here is James... why don't you introduce yourself James." Ciel then added afterwards, referring of course to the gentleman beside her.
"Hullo all, my name's James. Obviously. I'm her assistant." James said as he smiled, rubbing the back of his head. Garrett could sense that something was up between Ciel and James, as the gentleman looked as though he didn't quite fit in with the scene that he was framed in; but Garrett would play along for now.
"Alright, I guess that checks out, might have to ask you two a few questions later, but we'll see what time we are left with. In any case, my name is Garrett Corvus, I act as the bodyguard to Rear Admiral Lanestar. The beaked gentleman to my left is Vasco Roque, the Invincible's on-board doctor, a man of respectable skill in his profession, which certainly came in handy a few days ago."
"And this man on my right is Silas Rainecroft, the shipwright who we've hired to help make repairs and upgrades to the Invincible. The two of you will need to talk about the specific nature of the work required. The two gentleman behind us have been ordered by the Admiral to act as an escort for Mr. Rainecroft; which means you and your assistant will have to put up with them as well." Garrett added at the end, pointing to the two crewmen who stood at the back of the group.
"Uhm... yes. Right. Well, I've got nothing else to do, so I suppose we go back...?".
"I guess so. Let's head on back then, Izzy.", she said, grabbing the wrapped package that was her outfit for the upcoming party and strode out surprisingly steadily despite being drunk.
The trip back was uneventful, particularly due to the fact that her friend was silent the whole way. But, since he didn't seem to be upset, merely thoughtful, she wasn't worried. The only problem was the massive staircase of the Chase Tower that led up to where The Mermaid had docked, but they climbed up regardless.
By the time they had gotten onto the deck, she was back to scowling like she usually was, and she spotted both Hector and the other new arrival, Roy, speaking to one another. As she walked over, she spotted her revolver on top of a crate in front of the young gunsmith, and quirking an eyebrow, nodded to them both.
"Hector, why are you bothering Roy while he's working on my gun?", she asked slowly.
"...have you ever been trapped?..." the mercenary said, beginning his long monologue. Adrianna listened closely to the monologue, each word finding resonance. Though he's asked the question rhetorically, she could not help but think of her answers: she was trapped, as he claimed to be. Though she hadn't realized it at the time, the Empire was her cage. Sure, it was a gilded one, one she enjoyed and protected vehemently, but she still knew it was a cage. And she had been freed from it, however secretly. As the Invincible was Durstan's savior, hers had been Garrett. In the end, she found herself envious of Durstan's ability to state his truth so openly and wished she might one day do the same. The way he said it left little doubt of its veracity; she no longer had any complaint.
"Very well Mr. Cynwrig; I understand your reasons and ambitions. Report to me at 1300 hours for orders. Until then, you have leave to gather your personals." she said, while standing at the top of the the gangway, the Lt. Commander a few steps behind her. She turned away from the merc, walking out of view before he could say another word.
She quickly moved to her quarters and opened the door; allowing Lt. Commander Ring to enter first. A moment later, she stepped in herself and closed the door behind her, the soft click of the bolt locking the only sound. "Very well Lt. Com. Ring; you said you needed to discuss something with me in private?"
Ciel breathed a sigh of relief as James introduced himself as her assistant. The plan might work. Now all she needed to do was get away from the officers before something went wrong.
"...The two of you will need to talk about the specific nature of the work required. The two gentleman behind us have been ordered by the Admiral to act as an escort for Mr. Rainecroft; which means you and your assistant will have to put up with them as well." Garrett said, after introducing themselves.
Having finally calmed down a bit, Ciel spoke up, a smile on her face. "It's a pleasure to meet you Dr. Roque-" she offered then turned to Garrett, where she stumbled over her own words for a moment before adding "Mr. Corvus, and Mr. Raincroft. I would be happy to discuss the state of the ship. Unfortunately, James cannot join us. He seems to have lost a great deal of his personal belongings; the embassy was supposed to deliver them but never did. I was trying to help him requisition a new uniform, but we're still unfamiliar with the Invincible. Do either of you think you can help him acquire some new personals? I hardly think the rags we were able to find will suffice once we set sail." she said to the pair of people, hoping to both explain James's apparel, fix the apparel situation, and escape the other officers as quickly as possible - not to mention give James his place on the ship.
"I was supposed to see to it his supplies were delivered, so you can take the costs out of my commission if needed." The plan was perfect. Now, just to hope that James would know how to fake technical knowledge long enough to get some new cloths... that wouldn't be hard right?
"Hector, why are you bothering Roy while he's working on my gun?" Sheska asked, having returned to the ship.
"It's ok. I was almost finished," Roy cut in, "I just need to reload it and then I'm done. Now where did I put those bullets..." he muttered and started to go through his numerous pockets. They contained everything from small pins and metal rods to bits of wire and metal.
Roy had to pause his search for a moment when he pulled out a small bird scull with worn markings and a strip of leather attached to it - an old memento from his lost tribe. "Now how did this get in there?" He considered simply throwing it overboard but in the end stuffed it back into a pocket with a frown.
He finally found the bullets and after loading the gun handed it back to Sheska. "There. As good as new."
The Inquisitor followed Rear Admiral Lanester up the gangway to the H.M.S. Invincible, before waiting quietly by her side as she was assaulted by a plethora of tasks. After calmly dealing with them she motioned the Inquisitor to the captains' quarters before locking the door and turning to face him.
"Very well Lt. Com. Ring; you said you needed to discuss something with me in private?"
The truth, but as little as possible. Enough to satisfy her that I have the required authority and should be extended all the help required, but not more information than is necessary. Besides Imperial Officers generally tended to favour getting strait to the point.
The Inquisitor calmly smiled before carefully removing a letter from the inner pocket of his jacket and placing it on the table in front of the Rear Admiral. "Indeed. I'm here about a recent encounter you vessel had with a pirate ship, going by the name of The Mermaid. I seek a person on the ship and would appreciate any information you are able to relay to me about the encounter, specifically with regards to a grey skinned female misbegotten." The inquisitor gestured to the letter on the table before continuing "In case you need to check my credentials."
The Inquisitor hated dealing with fellow imperials. The necessity to demonstrate his authority almost inevitably removed even the slightest hint of subtlety. The letter itself made his job painfully obvious to the extent that he tried to avoid carrying it on his person unless absolutely necessary for fear of it being discovered.
Samuel watched from his positions as Sheska, Roy, and Hector interacted. He realized that eventually he would need to go below decks and get the files for the new pirates ready. Medical exams were a necessary minor pain of being a doctor. Time consuming though they were, if not done it meant that he could end up being surprised by some abnormal growth of bone from a broken arm back when they were a child. If that surprise were to happen in a high pressure surgery, well it could make quite the difference. Eventually he would need to talk to Sheska or Beth and get a list of the new crew from them.
'The life of a pirate doctor. Tedium interspersed with moments of either fun or sheer terror. At least I can perform research in peace.' He thought with a smirk.
"Mr. Corvus, and Mr. Rainecroft. I would be happy to discuss the state of the ship. Unfortunately, James cannot join us.... Do either of you think you can help him acquire some new personals? I hardly think the rags we were able to find will suffice once we set sail." Ciel said with a definite smile on her face, feeling calm about how introductions went.
"I could possibly try and talk to either the Quartermaster Portnoy or Rear Admiral Lanestar herself, see if we can't arrange for something to be delivered to the ship during our lengthened stay here due to the request for a upgraded engine if I recall correctly. Should I prove successful, I'll need to know what size you are James, care to elaborate on that?" Garrett asked as he looked at James, trying to find out if he was telling the truth or not.
"Hector, why are you bothering Roy while he's working on my gun?" She asked slowly.
The sudden appearance of the Sulk-Hound startled him, possibly more then the gun going off earlier; for someone much shorter than him, she certainly knew how to loom.
"I'm not bothering him, I was just wondering what he was doing" He replied innocently, "
She stopped outside the tavern by the name of The Wet Bitch. It was a place she'd never like, but it was also a place no one expected her to come too. She turned around one last time, and checked the streets, before entering. The inside was dank and close to empty, except for a couple of people. The neobeduin was waiting for her, but wouldn't recognize her as she was dressed now. It was expected.
Wilhelmena strode over to Jennifer, and sat down, which the woman objected too, as she was waiting for someone. She had a few ways to identify herself as the one she was waiting for, but the fastest was to simply lift her eyepatch and show a characteristic eye. It had been expensive, and she had killed the creator afterwards to make sure it remained unique. The eye was a marvel of engineering, a clockwork wonder with a blue shining pupil. It had a number of varying functions. She prefered to keep it concealed. An eyepatch was a less distinguishable feature.
Jennifer grinned, but tried to stifle her laugther. "That is a pretty outfit."
She would let the neobeduin have her fun, the woman had become irreplaceable a few times over, or would become. It was getting annoying. "Did you purchase it?" Jennifer nodded. "How many does that make? Those I represent will need as many as you can get."
"Three, but if they provide us with more gold, we can..." She tapped her fingers on the table, and left the sentence unspoken.
"I'll give you more. You'll need to get the means for the rest yourselves. There's a limit to my resources as well. Besides, they need to be spent on other things than that. Which brings me to the second task I asked you to perform. Did you bring it?"
Jennifer reached down below the table, and pushed a medium sized box out from beneath it. The box shook for a moment, then stopped moving. "These are not ordinary. I would not wish them upon anyone."
Wilhelmena would use any means at her disposable. After all, she already had, it would be strange to stop now. She put a larger purse on the table. "This should cover another one, and your trouble for acquiring these for us."
Rising from her seat, she picked the box up. "I'll see you in the future." She said, and left the tavern. Now she needed to get the rest of her luggage from Remmington's mansion, though she'd have to be careful with the contents of the box.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Dr. Roque- Er- Mr. Corvus, and Mr. Raincroft. I would be happy to discuss the state of the ship. Unfortunately, James cannot join us. He seems to have lost a great deal of his personal belongings; the embassy was supposed to deliver them but never did. I was trying to help him requisition a new uniform, but we're still unfamiliar with the Invincible. Do either of you think you can help him acquire some new personals? I hardly think the rags we were able to find will suffice once we set sail."
'A fast liar? Wait, she just call these rags? Do I have to wear a uniform now?!' James cringed slightly at the mere thought of having to wear one of those things. And he was to sit around the engine, handing spanners to Ciel all day, instead of blissfully punching faces and riding in the crows nest? James sighed quietly, unnoticed as Ciel continued.
"I was supposed to see to it his supplies were delivered, so you can take the costs out of my commission if needed."
That raised the question of James pay check.
'How much to assistants get payed? Probably quite a bit in hazard... And suddenly there was bright side.' James smirked. All he had to do was fake some tech babble if needed, and he got paid. How hard could that be?
The fact that the taller misbegotten was visibly startled made her snort and chuckle softly to herself, and she tilted her head when she heard his reply.
"I'm not bothering him, I was just wondering what he was doing.".
"He was repairing my gun, or at least I would hope so.", she said, her tone amused as she turned to look at Roy.
"It's ok. I was almost finished. I just need to reload it and then I'm done. Now where did I put those bullets..."
Sheska watched as he fumbled in his pockets to find ammunition for her revolver, but she quirked a brow at the implication. "Wait a minute, you carry .44 caliber rounds on you all the time? What other calibers do you have in those pockets?", she asked while she looked him over with new curiosity.
But when he loaded it and handed it to her, she took it easily and inspected it carefully. Drunk as she was, she knew that revolver well, and knew how it was supposed to look. With a grunt, she set the package she had down before properly cocking her revolver and aiming it at an empty bottle someone had set on the railing of the ship.
She glanced at both Roy and Hector once, then decided to play it up, making her hand sway and her face screwed up into an expression of intense concentration. "Alright, lets see if I can...", she slurred deliberately, fighting against a smirk.
When she fired, her arm straightened properly, her face relaxed, and the bottle on the railing shattered.
"Good work, Roy. You've passed my test, now see to Jason so that he can put you through your paces.", she told him with an approving nod.
Report to me at 1300 hours for orders. Until then, you have leave to gather your personals.
Drustan bowed his thanks to Adrianna, the gratitude evident on his face removing any need for words. Seeing as this was the proper time to make his exit as the Admiral made hers, Drustan exited the Imperial docks, leaving a confused set of guards wondering why they didn't see him enter in the first place. Striding through the city streets, this time with a completely opposite mindset, Drustan planned his next move while trying to remember where he had slept the night before, if it was at night at all.
"...rounds on you all the time? What other calibers do you have in those pockets?" Roy caught Sheska asking while he was going through his pockets.
"Well, I try to have a few of each type at hand," Roy explained as he watched Sheska try out the gun. "For test fires and such. Can't give a gun back unless I'm sure it works, right?" Especially if the owners were the murderous sort like Sheska. Still, she seemed to be a pretty good shot, hitting something as small as a bottle while drunk wasn't easy though the first mate seemed to get a bit more drunk while shooting. Roy figured it best not to comment.
"Good work, Roy. You've passed my test, now see to Jason so that he can put you through your paces."
"Right, any idea where I might find him?" Roy asked, scanning the deck.
As she slid the revolver back into its holster and patted it once out of affection, she listened to Roy's reply to her question.
"Well, I try to have a few of each type at hand. For test fires and such. Can't give a gun back unless I'm sure it works, right?"
She nodded, seeing the logic in that even in her drunken state. It was when she picked up the wrapped package again that he asked where Jason might be, and she looked at him blankly.
"Well, I'd have to say that the engine room would be a safe bet.", she said rather blandly, before gesturing to the steps leading to below the deck.
"Head down there and go down another level, then head straight back. If Jason isn't there, then, ah, try to find someone named Fry. If I remember correctly, that's the name of his current protege.", she said before shrugging.
"Really, I wouldn't know. The engine room is Jason's charge, and he orders around everyone that works down there. It's like Eddie and his cannons, and Izzy with everyone who tries, and fails, to be a decent navigator. Me, I just handle the fighters and the general crew. That's why Jason's the one judging when you've proven yourself, while Hector here has to answer to my sadistic ass.", she said, gesturing vaguely to the nearby misbegotten.
Then she smirked. "Don't get me wrong though, Jason is a... Hard person to please when it comes to mechanics.", she added.
"Don't get me wrong though, Jason is a... Hard person to please when it comes to mechanics," Sheska said with a smirk.
"I'll keep that in mind, thanks," Roy said and headed down the stairs to the engine room after making sure he hadn't left any of his tools on the crate.
The hold of the ship was dark and got darker the further down he went. Roy disliked the dark and not being able to see but luckily Sheska's directions were pretty clear and he soon found his way to the engine room.
"Hello?" he asked as he stepped inside, squinting in the dark to see if Jason was there.
Zach listened to Eddie's service history with interest. It would seem like he had quite a few stories of his own to tell.
"So, what was it that first made you want to serve on ships?" he asked next.
"...a grey skinned female misbegotten." the man said, before placing a letter on her table. Adrianna picket the letter up and opened it briefly. She didn't bother reading the message - it would say the same things it always said. Instead, she glanced down to the bottom to confirm the signature at the bottom, as well as the wax seal.
It was in order.
From just his words, it was clear the man wasn't some simple ambassador - here to scream about the "injustice" of having his party invitation revoked - but a Chuno Ggun Inquisitor, hunting a pirate of some value. This wasn't the first time she'd met an Inquisitor before; it wasn't even the worst case she'd encountered them. In fact, all things said and done, it was once of the friendlier encounters she'd had.
"Shall I continue to refer to you Lt. Com. Ring, or would you prefer Inquisitor?" she asked, before proceeding - it was always good to know how to address a Chuno Ggun for as many of them preferred the subtle approach as preferred to revel in their authority. She waited until he replied before continuing.
"We did encounter a pirate vessel by the name Mermaid - approximately three days ago. We exchanged fire - both ships taking damage - then attempted a boarding. During that boarding, I remained aboard the vessel, so I cannot be certain of this specific Misbegotten, but my First Officer - Exeter St. John - reportedly engaged a Misbegotten of that description; removing her arm before The Mermaid managed to escape. Her injuries were reportedly serious; if she's still alive, then she is no doubt in search of a replacement arm in the City. While docking, we spotted The Mermaid in port here in Helium - Port 7, Dock 36." She said, giving the Inquisitor most of the information she knew about the vessel.
She debated internally for a few seconds before adding. "My Second Mate and I have put in motion a plan to sabotage the ship - with no traceable connection back to The Invincible or the Empire to protect the Heluim City trade agreements."
That was everything she knew. "If there is anything else The Invincible can aid you on, please allow me to know. That said, The Invincible is on an important mission of its own and has reasonable cause to attack The Mermaid. If you make a move on The Mermaid or its crew while in Helium, I ask you to keep the actions discrete so as not to delay our own mission."
Jason perked up as he heard Roy's voice. He must have finished his errand with Sheska. He extinguished his welding stick and handed it over to the workman to his right. "Finish touching up this pipe. I'm gonna be busy showing this greenhorn around." The workman nodded in affirmation and turned to work as Jason walked to the squinting boy.
"Sorry about the dim lights. It normally isn't so dark around here - the boiler sees to that." He gestured to the engine block at the room's head - it was massive metal block taking up most of the floorspace, with copper pipes snaking every which way into the floor and ceiling. "We got lucky on our trip over here, you know. We had an... altercation, but the engine itself only took superficial damage. Like I said, tough old bitch." He took out a cigarette and pressed it against the boiler's red-hot steel plating. It smouldered for a moment before lighting, and Jason placed it between his teeth with a grin. "One of the few benefits of working in this hellhole. Don't have to buy your own lighters."
He reached into his satchel and produced his clockwork arm. It appeared to be a nearly perfect facsimile of an actual limb wrought in intricate clockwork and steel - the only major addition it needed was plating to protect the delicate parts within. "Unfortunately for us, Sheska didn't walk away from that little scuffle as well as the ship. That's were I - and, by extension, you - come in." He placed it on the table and attached the wires protruding from the base of the arm to a voltmeter, and stressed each in turn. "As you can see, this may well be one of the most advanced prosthetic arms ever built. But... we have a couple of problems. First off, the thing took me three years to develop - it's not something I can recreate at the drop of a hat. And second, I originally developed it to fit myself in the event of injury. You'd be surprised how dangerous my line of work can be."
He turned to Roy, gesturing to the arm. "That means it isn't properly sized to fit Sheska. We'll need to retool it. My test to you," He reached once more into his bag and produced a length of measuring tape, tossing it Roy's way. "Is to take detailed measurements of Sheska's remaining arm and develop a plan to start this process. I'd do it myself, but we cast off as soon as the ship is able, so I'm strapped for time. Don't worry about wanting for equipment - we'll have plenty of that soon enough. I'll leave the arm in your care until your report back." He bit down on his cigarette, the smoke mixing with that of the coals in the boiler. "I certainly hope you're a good machinist, kid. If you break this arm, I'm gonna break YOURS and throw you off the ship myself. We clear?"
"So, what was it that first made you want to serve on ships?"
"Eh?"Eddie looked up again from his work over the cannons, though they were nearly done,"What's wid you and all these questions? I'm 'ere now, that's all that matters anyways. You don't see me asking you how you came to the idea that a bow was better in the sky than a gun. Or why a Groundling like youse up here in the fi'st place. Now do ya?"
With the final gun finished, or at least as much as Eddie was planning on doing, he threw the rag back in the corner and suited back up, holster and gun first and carefully, then the coat. Unfortunately, he forgot that he'd rolled his sleeves up and was forced to take it back off to correct his mistake.
"I could possibly try and talk to either the Quartermaster Portnoy or Rear Admiral Lanestar herself, see if we can't arrange for something to be delivered to the ship during our lengthened stay here due to the request for a upgraded engine if I recall correctly. Should I prove successful, I'll need to know what size you are James, care to elaborate on that?"
"Yeah, sure I guess? I don't remember my measurements, might need to do, or redo, that one. Or I can go without the uniform for a little while longer? It's not THAT important..." James shrugged, his half truths and optimistic thinking were more outward thoughts than any real attempt at guile.
"Still, you're the superior here."
Zach shrugged. "What can I say? I'm a curious soul." he answered, his usual easy smile returning. "Comes with the territory I guess. Back on the ground, it was my job to puzzle things out. Perhaps that's what I'm doing now, only with words instead of following tracks and the like... Look, point is I'm trying to gain some perspective. I left my home because in one way or another I was always trying to get somewhere else, and when I first saw a ship it seemed like the answer to all my questions, something that could take me places I couldn't even dream of. You though, you're Skyfolk right? Being up in the air must seem as normal to you as the ground did to me. So, was that enough for you? Are you here because you're looking for something else, or because you know you've already found everything you're looking for?"
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?! GET THE HELL AWAY FROM MY THINGS!!!"
Yet again, Drustan Cynwrig found himself at odds with the dilenquent youth of Helium City. For three months, Drustan felt like he had become the focal point of all criminal youth activity, and not in the good way (if there was one). If they weren't fighting him, they were trying to rob him. If they weren't trying to rob him, then they were harassing him. If they weren't harassing him, then they were arranging for others to do what they couldn't. And if they weren't doing that, well, they still existed. As Drustan snatched his duffel bag of possessions from one thug and smashed in the face of another, he sprinted to the door of his temporary lodgings but was stopped; a smarmy teen with a slight crown of black hair threw himself around Drustan, wrapping his arms around the large Skyfolk's throat. Refusing to be stopped on his date with destiny, though, Drustan tripped himself, sending his considerable mass rolling over the threshold and crushing the young punk until he felt like an aged jelly. His ebony leather duster fluttering behind him, Drustan laughed a laugh of triumph, as he had finally overcome the last obstacle this godforsaken metropolis had to throw at him. He had been freed.
Seeing that the fence had yet to be installed, Drustan decided to teach he dock security a lesson and entered the same way he had before: by dropping off a large height from someone's roof. He strode again onto the Invincible, refusing to allow any of its majesty to slip from his mind. After standing on the deck for a couple of minutes being confused, he managed to triangulate the location of his new quarters by probing questions in the various crew members as they milled about the deck, doing whatever redshirts do.
As he approached his new abode, Drustan placed his things down by his bunk and sat down beside it. If he remembered correctly, then he was supposed to find the Admiral at 13-something. Sticking his head out of a porthole due to a lack of a clock, Drustan stared straight up, then drew his head back inside because the sun stared directly back. Desperately blinking in an attemp to get his eyes back, Drustan decided to take a nap, then go find the Admiral, as he remembered a fairly important-looking person trying to talk privately with her.
Concluding his thoughts, Drustan sat on his bed, leaning against the wall, and had his first content sleep in a long while.
So, was that enough for you? Are you here because you're looking for something else, or because you know you've already found everything you're looking for?"
"Hella the Skies, you ask too many questions. You was brought on to be another body, not ta talk our buddies to death. You wanta talk to sommone about feelings and philo-sulpheric quesions, go lookin' fer the guys in the engine room, or Isaacaiah. I'm just here for the ride, and I don't intend on gettin' off this tub till I die."
Roy paid careful attention to what Jason told him to do, his eyes luckily adjusting to the dim light.
"I'll leave the arm in your care until your report back. I certainly hope you're a good machinist, kid. If you break this arm, I'm gonna break YOURS and throw you off the ship myself. We clear?"
Roy couldn't help but smirk. He had expected to be put to welding pipes, this was something much more difficult but also more interesting.
Roy had spent a good seven or so years apprenticed to an inventor so he liked to think that he knew at least a thing or two about engineering, though not nearly as much as he knew about firearms. Looking at the intricate clockwork arm however made him feel the same way he had felt on the first day he had started working for Mr. Cirrus and the inventor had shown him a small clockwork mechanism and told him to figure out how it worked - lost and awed.
Luckily Jason had only told him to come up with a plan and not actually retool the arm himself. Besides, Roy could make a gun out of nothing but a chunk of wood and piece of metal, how hard could it be to machine parts for an artificial arm?
"Do you have blueprints or something like that of the arm?" he asked, putting the measuring tape away. Getting the measurements of Sheska's arm could wait, first he'd need to figure out how the mechanical arm worked so he'd know what measurements he'd need to take and the blueprints would be a good place to get started.
"You wanta talk to sommone about feelings and philo-sulpheric quesions, go lookin' fer the guys in the engine room, or Isaacaiah."
Isaac had been strolling through the bowels of the ship when his over-paranoid ears had picked up something that sounded like his name coming from the Cannon bay. He picked out Eddie's distinctive slur and a voice he didn't recognise. That was odd, he was able to pick out most voices, and even if he didn't know some crew-member's name he'd at least have an idea of what they sounded like. Must be one of the new recruits they'd picked up.
He'd entered the room, out of sheer curiosity and sure enough Eddie was stood chatting with a Neobedouin man whilst going about his work.
Isaac looked at the pair, before remembering why he was down here.
"Oh Eddie, you seen my fob? I think I dropped it somewhere around here during the battle and I need it back."
He pointed at the Neobedouin.
Zach inwardly sighed. He liked Eddie well enough, but trying to make conversation with him could make getting blood from a stone seem like child's play.
That was when a face he so far hadn't seen entered the room. Something about him raised the hairs on the back of Zach's neck, although he hadn't done anything to remotely intimidate anyone. It took what seemed like forever for Zach to focus properly and piece it all together. The way he stood, the way he talked, the look in his eyes... it was all there, even better hidden than it had been with Sheska, but none of it could elude Zach completely.
'Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me, another one?! What is it with this ship?'
"The name's Zach," he said, smiling pleasantly at the other man "and you are...".
"Oh Eddie, you seen my fob? I think I dropped it somewhere around here during the battle and I need it back."
"Eeeeeyup,"Eddie replied, quickly walking behind Zach and patting him on the back,"Zichary-Zoppity-Zap, this is Isaaciah,"He moved behind Isaac and did much the same,"Zippity-Zap, Isaaciah. Now you two enjoy your talk, and I'm not even sure what it is you're talking about, but Zichary sure does, he's like you. He likes words and talking."
After having positioned himself behind Isaac, Eddie took three steps backwards through the door and closed it behind him. Finally away from that weird Groundling, yeesh he'd been a motormouth. But it was back to the top deck for the Skyfolk, that and the beams above, he was done for the day, time for a nap...
The newcomer smiled at Issac.
"The name's Zach, and you are...".
But before Isaac could reply he was interrupted by Eddie.
"Zichary-Zoppity-Zap, this is Isaaciah," He moved behind Isaac and continued his "introductions. "Zippity-Zap, Isaaciah. Now you two enjoy your talk, and I'm not even sure what it is you're talking about, but Zichary sure does, he's like you. He likes words and talking."
And before Isaac could get a single other word out, he was gone.
"But what about... fine."
Isaac sighed and looked to the other man.
"Zach was it? Isaac Traynor, ships' navigator."
He held a hand out.
"You haven't seen an old fob-watch have you? Silvery finish and a cracked face..."
"Yeah, sure I guess? I don't remember my measurements, might need to do, or redo, that one. Or I can go without the uniform for a little while longer? It's not THAT important..." James shrugged.
"Not to worry, James. Perhaps we can find out during your medical exam."
Vasco injected the current conversation. So here was the engineer and her assistant, but the lout looked like a poor intimation of one of the gentry than someone with any skill with machines and their inner workings. Less monkey wrench and more monkey with a wrench, one might say. Nevertheless, the assistant could be simply be the brute in this pair. Indeed, they were quite a pair, both scarred and both scruffy. Maybe these would be the two jokers in the pack? Remembering the old proverb about appearances, his thoughts turned to other matters and he turned to Ciel.
"The same goes for you as well, madam. However, there is no rush." Dr. Roque said, "Garrett and myself are busy with the resupply mission as it is."
The doctor then turned to Silas, "Mr. Raincroft; may we take our leave. I am sure that all will be well with the help that is here."