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Oct 22, 2021 12:48 AM
Thorn scouts Sunless Skies
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"There are better materials available all the way up to 'flesh and blood.' That... wouldn't be so easily detachable, but if you wanted it..." 

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She shakes her head rapidly. "No no no no. Not 'if I wanted it'. That would suck, if you did something big like that just because I wanted it? If you want it. And it's- Kind of a quick escalation, too, isn't it? What you have now is plenty cute. I'll drop it."

She gives Thorn a quick kiss, though. "Kinda sweet to offer though. Let's go meet Captain DeVries."

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She kisses back and smiles. "Let's! Lead the way, intrepid gunner. And I'll think about the other thing on my own time."

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She leads the way!

 

Maximillian DeVries is short, with neatly trimmed hair, gold rim glasses, and wearing a suit and tie. He welcomes them aboard his locomotive and into the Bronzewood trimmed galley, a bulky Pelignore class trader that Lenora estimates is worth four to six thousand Sovereigns. Lenora formally introduces them.

"I know Miss Lovejoy is reasonably reliable," Maximillian DeVries says, "And she has given her recommendation. But I do not yet know that about you... Thorn. Why should I hire you, precisely?"

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"Because I'm worldly enough to know how to handle myself in strange situations and sensible enough to listen to more experienced heads. And because I'm a crack shot with my pistol, if need be for hunting or defense."

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Captain DeVries nods sharply at this, writes down a short note, and proceeds with more interview style questions. What would she do if she suspected a crewmate of stealing? How would she respond to needing to pull an extra shift? Would she describe herself as a patient person? Does she have any non-locomotive technical skills or training?

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Report theft to the ship's officers and let them sort it out. She wouldn't quite be "eager" to pick up extra shifts, but it's not far off the mark. She is not patient by nature but she's learned how to be. She can make her own ammunition safely given the tools to do so. She has had training to improve her ability to recall things accurately and precisely.

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"This sounds reasonable enough. But as you are inexperienced and signing on for just the one circuit there is no signing bonus. I'll offer you six Sovereign per week, in half week increments, with a modest bonus paid out upon our return to New Winchester if I make a good profit."

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"I'll take it. The experience is the important part to me." 

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"Miss Lovejoy, your offer is-"

"Fourteen."

"Nine. I am doing you a favor by considering your friend."

"I know I'm a better gunner than Bonnie, and I know my business on other jobs too. Could save you hundreds in damage if we have to fight."

"Be that as it may, my budget is not infinite. Nine."

"Mmmm. Twelve."

"Ten."

"...Deal."

"Very good. You can go claim cabins now, we leave tomorrow morning at six thirty, be here and settled by then. I know you'll need training, Thorn, you'll get it underway."

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"Thank you for your time." 

She goes and drops her packful of things in a cabin aboardship, then pops back out to see how Lenora's doing with stowage. 

"Charts?", she asks. 

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Lenora will have to pack later, she doesn't habitually carry all her stuff around in a backpack.

"Charts if you like! I thought you needed to go to the bank first?"

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"Yeah, but that's the start of charts. So let's do it." 

She goes to the bank and retrieves three gold coins from her safety deposit box. From there, it's to a second jeweller's to sell the gold. And then there can finally be charts. 

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Lenora's search strategy seems to be calling upon people in their houses or looking for them in shops or clubs they habitually use. She gets more names to try from a few, and tips them a shilling about it.

"-Hey," she suddenly says about an hour into this project. "Just had a thought. We can probably look at charts for a lot cheaper than we can get a copy of them. You, uh... Have a pretty good memory so you could write it down later. Or use something special to help you do that." She winks, despite having failed to be subtle about the suggestion of invoking OTC.

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"There's some drawbacks to that plan; I'd prefer something fairly purchased. But if it gets truly desperate then I'm open to the option."

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She looks confused for a moment, then says, "Ah. I guess it would be kind of unfair..."

Back to it then.

Eventually she finds a Traumatized Tutor who used to be a navigator but kept his old charts. They're four years out of date. He says they have a decent route for Lustrum, good detail of the area around Port Prosper and Magdalene's, a few extra routes for all the other major ports of the Reach - including Hybras - and is pretty spotty anywhere else. He also has a few even sketchier scraps of the Albion region, mostly just a shortcut from the Relay towards the Clockwork Sun and the Royal Society.

He wants either two hundred Sovereigns or a hogshead of Starshine. Lenora's face tenses at the mention of Starshine.

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Thorn pulls Lenora aside to confer.

"I can afford two hundred but the charts' quality is dubious. From the look on your face at the hogshead of Starshine I don't want to supply it. I'm tempted to ask to see them before purchasing..."

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"Starshine is super illegal. It's not actually that dangerous, it's like... Nostalgia? Slightly addictive nostalgia. But... The Establishment bans it everywhere it can. Considering that someone had to fly up and down hundreds of miles of places to map them out I don't think it's that high a price, a full and complete atlas of the Reach would fetch five hundred easy. Could probably negotiate him down some. Or keep looking."

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"I can't afford much more than this. If it's a good deal I'll take it, but I'd like to try to negotiate him down for more safety margin. You're better at haggling; could you do the honors?"

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She tries to haggle him down.

Well, unfortunately she seems to have haggled a bit too hard in this case. He raises his voice, and the price to 210 Sovereigns, and irritatedly tells them to buy the damn charts or get out.

"-I think we should go," she says sheepishly.

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"... Yeah, let's try another place. We can come back after he's cooled off if we need to."

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After they leave she comments, "I think it's just... Weird to be buying charts. General ones, I mean. I've heard whispers of charts of particularly useful secret passes and shortcuts selling for a lot, but just, charts of the sky-in-general? For some reason it seems like every captain maintains their own. Maybe it's leftover culture from the Neath. Where the islands weren't in a consistent order or locations for two different captains, but were usually the same for the same captain. The Neath was really weird, by all accounts."

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"And of course if you inherit an engine, you inherit the previous captain's charts in most cases. It's just building one from scratch that has these problems. Which means most charts are currently in use. And puts us in an awkward position. If only I had the training as a navigator to make charts of our trip round the sky with Captain DeVries..." 

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"It's a bit late to go acquiring those skills since we're leaving in the morning. I want to get an early night and rest up a bit. Maybe I should show you my cannon, that's something I can do without messing up. And the search for charts resumes when we return."

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She reaches out and gently pets Lenora's hair a little. "It's okay. We all mess up sometimes. I'd love to see your cannon."

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