Of Fishies and Flamethrowers
Chapter 4: Storm Brewing
Location: Steamhawke - Workshop
Timeline: Day 1
The fog hung heavy around the ship and there were times when Wren wondered if they were still moving at all. While he still had his wits about him, able to tinker with his machines and make some progress (though slower than he'd like), it was his past that he was having a hard time remembering. There was a brother in there somewhere, he knew. But for the life of him, Wren could not remember the boy's name or even where he was. But even as he struggled to recall those facts, the blond instinctively smiled that mindless smile as he, the tinkered down in his own corner of the workshop.
Wren leaned back in his chair, feet up on the desk in front of him as he took a screwdriver to the three-pronged hook-like device in his lap. A twist of a screw here, and an adjustment of a gear in the inner compartment at the invention's base and Wren raised it up, pointed towards the wall just to the left of the door, and squeezed the trigger. The hook shot forward, the cable attaching it to the base extending several feet. And then the hooks unfolded outward into a propeller and spun at high speed, blasting a gust of wind forward.
"Oh," he uttered, a surprised sound. That was unexpected. But it was the most progress he'd seen since the fog!
Niles heard a sound coming from the workshop she was about to enter. Damn, someone was already in there. She'd been meaning to try to fix her harpoon, the same one given to her by her old friend, who was unmercilessly murdered by her uncle. She barely used it while performing her job as a sailor, but used it a hell of a lot to show off her skills to her crew mates.
When it first started malfunctioning she kicked it a few times and slammed it into the ship's poles some more. Hitting it before in the past had managed to make it work but that time it broke into some pieces that hung off a few springs. What she held was not a harpoon, but a pile of metal and glass.
She peeked in and saw a man tinkering with a strange gadget. The blond looked up, giving the Elphin a slight wave of his hand as the propeller stilled and sprang back to its base.
"Hey," she said, "human man. How long will you be in here?"
She didn't want anyone around while she tried to fix it. The man seemed to know how to fix things but Niles was too full of pride to ask for advice. Even if the elphin girl had no idea how to fix man-made weapons and gadgetry.
Wren just continued to smile, a touch of amusement on his lips at her blunt attitude. He'd seen the Elphin in passing, but had never actually spoken to her before. For the life of him, he could not recall a name. "I don't know. Until I feel like going somewhere else, I guess," he said with a faint shrug.
"Did you need something, Elphin lady?" And there was a slight laugh as he ran a hand through his hair before dropping his legs to the floor and sitting up a bit straighter in his chair. "You wouldn't be here if you didn't."
"What if I came in here because of all of that incessant noise you were making?" she asked, "You know, to see what was going on?"
He glanced at the broken harpoon in her arms.
"And you just happened to be carrying that around with you?" he asked with a pointed smile, gesturing loosely towards the shattered remnants of the weapon in her arms.
Okay, he had her there. She walked further into the room and threw her broken weapon onto a table, sighing.
"My harpoon is broken, okay? That's why I'm here. When you're done, um, tinkering with those whoosy-what's-its and thingy-things, call me and let me know, okay? I want to be alone when I'm working on repairing it."
Nile's idea of "repairing" actually meant smacking it with a wrench and swearing. She began to head out of the room. But even with the references to 'whoosy-what's-its' and 'thingy-things', Wren was smiling in amusement. In the next instant he was on his feet and arranging the weapon's pieces on the table so it wasn't so haphazardly thrown about. Obviously, she'd have no clue what she was doing. Wren would just have to take things into his own hands.
"Oh, I can work on this now and then get back to the whoosys and thingy-things later," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. He'd always had a tendency to jump between projects anyway. And regardless of Nile's own intentions, Wren had already sorted the broken harpoon into the project category. The blond picked up the longest intact piece of the harpoon and inspected either end, turning it this way and that. It would need a new shelling, and it looked like the spring had broken into a few pieces as well.
"Phew, you did quite a number on this." He sounded a bit impressed. "How'd you manage it?"
"Oh, well, I'm pretty skilled at shooting with anything!" she gloated, "I was able to figure out how to use it when it began malfunctioning a little and... Hey, stop touching that!"
That harpoon had great sentimental value to her and the fact that someone she barely knew had his hands on it made her uneasy. It was only thing Heath gave her that she had in her possession. She glared at the engineer and stormed over to where he was standing.
He didn't seem to notice. The man seemed too intrigued by her harpoon and his plans for it.
"Are you listening to me?" she growled.
"Oh, I'll start listening once you tell me what happened," he answered cheerily. Wren was blind to her discomfort, focused only now on this new project in front of him. The side of the harpoon was malformed and dented in, as if it had slammed into something from a very, very unnatural angle. Riiiiight. 'Malfunctioning'. Wren did not buy that for a second.
The young man set the broken weapon back down and strolled back over to his desk, grabbing a toolbox that was set just to the side of it. He hauled the whole thing back over and on top of the workshop table. Reaching in, he pulled out some clamps, pliers, hammers, screwy-looking things that he could not remember the name of, plus a few screwdrivers of various shapes and sizes.
"I'll have to replace the casing and the entire spring mechanism." He was talking more to himself now then to the Elphin. "Maybe I could get something more light-weight. Then it will go farther, though that may also make it a bit less accurate." The lighter the weapon, the easier it was for it to be pulled of course by a breeze. He mused over that a moment as he he pulled out the remains of a spring entirely.
"What's your name anyway? It's good form to know a client's name," he said absentmindedly, bending over the weapon.
"Cl...Client?!" she exclaimed fuming, "I...!"
She paused and took a deep breath. She glanced at how he began sorting the parts of her weapon. This man was probably trying to help her and he knew what he was doing. If she actually wanted it to be fixed maybe, just maybe she could swallow her pride and let him take care of it?
"Niles," she croaked forcing a smile, "is my name. And yours?"
She extended a webbed hand for him to shake, but Wren seemed to take no notice of it, absorbed as he was in his newest project. The man reached blindly to the right, fingers closing around a screwdriver that had been dumped amidst the pile of gadgets and tools.
"I'm Wren," he answered distractedly, unscrewing a plate on the launching mechanism and pulling it away, giving him a better look at the insides. He raked his free hand back through long blond bangs, pursing his lips thoughtfully as he took a good look at the inside which fortunately wasn't too much of a mess.
"Oh," he mumbled absentmindedly, finally looking back up at Niles again to see the outstretched hand. With a cheerful grin he grasped her hand and shook it firmly. "But good news is that your javelin is very much salvageable. It mostly just needs a new casing and spring. The launching mechanism here is mostly intact, though I could always do some upgrades all around...."
Wren straightened up, one hand still on the table as he smiled cheerfully at Niles. "How do you feel about a flamethrower?" Okay, so maybe it wasn't so much an upgrade as a complete and totally new invention, but there was no harm in thinking outside of the box.
Niles smiled nervously at the man's suggestion.
"That's, um, cool, but I think you forgot," she said pulling back her shirt collar to reveal her gills, "that I'm amphibious. That would dry me out after one use. I practically have to splash myself with a bucket of salt water every 4 hours and..."
She paused and squinted her large, black eyes at Wren and crossed her arms.
"This is the first encounter you've had with someone from my species, isn't it?" she asked in a low voice.
Wren paused, blinking at her and seeing the Elphin for what seemed to be the first time. "Oh, right, right, of course. That was silly of me. No fire." And just like that the flame thrower and half a dozen other options were crossed off of his mental list.
She was fairly new to the surface world. She had lived the last five, previous years with her best human friend. However, she assumed that the treaty after the great war between mankind and elphinkind gave elphins the chance to settle virtually anywhere on the surface. It was a bit strange to her.
"Where do you come from, anyway?" she demanded.
Right after those words came out she regretted it. If she was asking about his past, he would most likely ask about hers. She salvaged her mind for any plausible lie that she could use. She found none so she decided to revert the conversation's direction back to her weapon.
"Thank you for the help," she quickly mumbled. She hated nothing more than thanking people.
Wren was looking back down at the broken weapon now, still grinning cheerfully. He'd opened his mouth, about to answer her first question, but when the second quickly shoved it out of the way he shut it obediently and just hummed slightly in response.
"Oh, it's no trouble," he responded after a moment, waving a hand dismissively at her thanks. "It shouldn't take too long. Why don't you check back here in a few hours and I should have something ready for you."
Niles wasn't too keen on that idea. Leaving her baby alone with a man she just met was not something she was ready to do. She observed how quickly he was working on her harpoon. He did seem very skilled when it came to machines and he was already in his own world of gizmos when she entered the workshop.
"Fine, Wren," she said, giving up, "I'll be back. But if that thing is a flamethrower or a seahorse or something when I get back, you'll be in trouble."
Wren laughed a little at that, giving Niles a silly smile with a slight shake of his head. "Now that's just ridiculous. How would a seahorse help you out in battle?" When the young man turned back to the broken javelin, it was with something a bit more focused in his eyes despite the seemingly permanent smile fixed on his face. And just like that, he completely ignored Nile's further presence while he dived into yet another project. Maybe he'd actually finish this one.