This post has the following content warnings:
Jun 28, 2022 5:38 PM
A Sable and her Ship find their Crew
Permalink

It's always nice, trading at the Cumaean Canal. She spends the morning sipping coffee in town while she catches up on surface gossip. She collects various bits of intelligence about who's up to what. She keeps in touch with a few friends.

And then around midday a surface barge makes it through the canal. A Tanned Merchant that she's made an ongoing arrangement with brings a hold full of surface produce, and she has a matching load of darkdrop coffee beans for him. She and her crew haul pallets of beans up from the hold of the Heart's Handbasket, her ship, and wait at the staging area as the Merchant's deckhands unload their cargo as well. She walks up, apocyan and irrigo streaks bouncing gently in her currently peligin curls, and clasps his wrist with quiet smile.

"Pleasure doing business with you as always."

He grins, leathery fingers wrapping around her wiry wrist in turn. "Likewise, carissima. You and yours have been well?"

"As ever," she replies with a smirk. "My ship is one of a kind, and we keep each other safe." She snugs a living wooden sculpture of a woman into her side.

"Good, good. Perhaps one day you two will finally come have a drink with me in Naples."

She shakes her head with a chuckle, dark feathered wings spreading briefly behind her. "And perhaps one day you'll remember that the sunlight won't be as kind to us as it is to you, and instead come down here early enough to get lunch with us."

He laughs, and they exchange various bits of news. The various crews start transferring pallets while the two captains finish their chat. No one notices two stacks of mirrorcatch boxes being exchanged, tucked away among the lettuce and the coffee.

When the conversation wraps up, both captains and the wooden beauty start hauling pallets as well. The job is done soon enough, both holds full once more. The boxes disappear into a hidden compartment, lost beneath pallets of fruit and vegetables.

And then she dismisses her crew for the rest of the day, and resumes chatting and hearing people's stories.

Total: 354
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

Several hours later, when she's long since switched from coffee to cocoa, and she's listening to a poet recite a tale of lost loves in a fathomless fog, a messenger bursts in.

Apparently her crew is in jail. The runner stammers something about a bar fight.

She shakes her head, gives the kid enough of a tip to buy a meal, and strides off to hear first the constables' and then her crew's versions of the story.

When she finally speaks to her hired hands, as they plead for bail, she's fed up. Her hair is gant, all color drained away save violant curls that drip like old blood and twine around two streaks of apocyan. She will not let them forget this lesson.

"This is the third drunken fight in as many ports. This is the third time in a row you've asked me to spring you from lockup after insulting the locals and getting in over your heads. I can't afford to keep enabling this. I'm done. Beg the constables for mercy instead."

And she turns on her heel and stalks out.

Permalink

When the Skipper comes aboard, the Fierce Figurehead of the Heart's Handbasket has settled up the tab at the café and is there to meet her with a gentle embrace.

"You gave them every chance. You gave them every warning. It's okay, love."

She guides her captain back toward their quarters, and reconnects herself to the rest of the ship as she passes the end of the tether.

Permalink

 

That night, someone climbs up onto the ship from the zeeward side. 

Permalink

The Handbasket creaks idly, as ships tend to do. She is also aware of the child-weight presence stepping onto her deck, which is a rather less common trait.

For now, the Stowaway is merely silently observed.

Permalink

The Stowaway pokes around on deck for a bit, locating the entrances to the crew quarters and the cargo hold. 

And then she creeps into the cargo hold, investigating for any discreet gaps in the crates. Whether she finds one or not, she slowly, very carefully, starts to arrange as hidden a cubbyhole as she can. 

Permalink

The hatch to the hold is unlocked, and its hinges do not creak; it swings silently open. The pallets and crates of surface produce are fairly tidily arranged, and stacked two high toward the back. With a little bit of scooting things around — the crates slide surprisingly easily and quietly across the deck and each other — she can arrange serviceable nook for herself under one crate supported by two others, all the way to the far side from the hatch. If she looks around attentively, she might notice a stack of soft blankets off to one side, used for padding delicate artifacts.

Permalink

...Tempting. But they might have counted the blankets. Better not. 

She curls up in her cubbyhole and is soon fast asleep despite the objectively uncomfortable conditions. 

Permalink

The Figurehead smiles sadly in her captain's quarters. This one seems harmless. Decent instincts, avoiding the blankets, but it's a pity the child will have such an uncomfortable surface to sleep on. She returns to her half-sleep, arms tenderly around her love.

Permalink

She wakes slowly at first, and spends a few moments gradually accruing self-concept as her mind sloshes to life. A slow, peaceful smile stretches across her face, shreds of dreams slipping away and awareness settling.

Permalink

And when selfhood has finished settling about her, a kiss is pressed to her cheek from unnaturally soft wooden lips.

"Good morning, love. We'd best shove off toward London, and we're making breakfast for two today. We acquired a stowaway — child-weight and seemingly harmless — during the night."

Permalink

"Well. That certainly starts today off interestingly. Didn't get up to mischief?"

She sits up and starts carefully preening her feathers.

Permalink

She helps with the harder to reach ones, and rubs her shoulders.

"Not a bit. Arranged a little nook out of the crates aft of the hold, either didn't trust or didn't notice the blankets, and went right to sleep."

Permalink

She stands with a nod, stretches, and gets dressed: underwear, sturdy trousers, socks, boots, blouse, and a long black coat — the last two items with slits for her wings. She cracks her neck and gives her ship a kiss on the cheek.

"Cast off while I start breakfast, and we'll greet the ragamuffin together?"

Permalink

She nods and smiles, and sets about untying the moorings and firing her engines. The ship is soon underway.

Permalink

Breakfast is made, a lid is placed down to keep it warm, coffee is brewed (one mug being sipped from, the other as a peace offering), and Skipper and Figurehead quietly walk into the hold and over to their Stowaway's nook to observe for a moment.

Permalink

She is sleeping...peacefully might not be the right word. She looks uneasy even now. 

She's definitely not a small child. A little short for her age, yes, and more underweight than can possibly be good for her, but she's definitely a teenager a ways into puberty. 

 

Permalink

Lucky ragamuffin, then, that she chose this ship to stow away on. The Skipper crouches down, considering things. She probably needs clear expectations, clear kindness, and few if any demands. And she definitely needs someplace she can call home. A welcoming, patient smile stretches across her face at the thought, and a few cosmogone and viric streaks blossom alongside the streak of irrigo in her peligin curls.

She holds the still-full mug forward just a bit. The savory aroma of fresh coffee wafts toward the girl.

"Wake up," she says gently. "I've got fresh coffee for you, and we can talk over a hot breakfast."

Permalink

Her eyes snap open, and she freezes, staring at Sable like a rabbit looking down the barrel of an elephant gun. 

 

"Okay," she says cautiously, taking the offered drink with trembling hands. 

Permalink

She's careful as she lets go, watching to be sure the girl doesn't spill any on herself.

"Best have a sip or two before you get up, or pass it to me when you do. It's still pretty hot. There's sugar and powdered milk in the galley if you want some."

Permalink

She sips it. 

It's REALLY bitter. 

She doesn't make a face. Any kind of generosity has been far too rare to be picky. 

Asking for sugar and powdered milk would probably be risky, but...sugar and milk are food, she's not sure she can afford to turn that down when she has the opportunity to get some without stealing. 

 

 

"Yes please."
Permalink

She nods with a smile, and scoots back to be more thoroughly out of the way, then stands. "Up you get, then. I've got a hot breakfast, with enough to share, under a lid in the galley."

She holds out a hand at an angle that could just as easily help the girl up or hold the coffee for her.

Permalink

She cautiously takes the hand, still holding the coffee in the other.

Permalink

And a gentle but strong tug helps her to her feet. The captain lets go of her hand once she's steadily vertical, and turns to walk out of the hold and toward the galley.

Permalink

She follows her cautiously, looking out for a chance to bolt if it presents itself. 

The dismay when she sees they're already out at zee is swiftly hidden. 

Permalink

Nope, escape attempts were predicted and disallowed. If she wants to leave after hearing them out, they'll gladly let her off in London, but they're not mentioning any of that until they've made their offer.

The hatch to the galley swings smoothly open as they approach. The Skipper and Figurehead step inside and sit down on one side of a small, booth-style table, just big enough for four people, or six if they're cozy. The captain pulls the lid off a serving platter in the middle (which rests in a convenient indentation in the table to keep it from sliding), revealing a steaming pile of scrambled eggs, with melted cheddar and bits of sausage mixed in, and fresh scones on the side. A jar of preserves sits in a divot next to the platter, alongside two glass dispensers for sugar and powdered milk. A plate, fork, and knife rest on each side of the table (again in little dips).

She sets her own coffee in a safe spot and serves herself a big helping of eggs and a scone.

Total: 354
Posts Per Page: