Chapter 6: Desperate Times
Timeline: Day 5
The dock in front of the Steamhawke was emptying out, as sailors were returning to their ships, be they sky ships or water ships. Several ships were making ready to fly off.
A tall man held onto a black leather suitcase, his top hat under his other arm, and watched the ships prepare to leave. Slowly he made his way to the part of the dock in front of the Steamhawke and smiled. "This will do."
The men and women on deck looked up from their work as they saw a well-to-do man slowly walk up the gangplank. A cabin boy was elbowed and sent to fetch the captain. As Daenelia walked on deck, the man turned his head to this new sight, smiling from ear to ear like a fool.
Daenelia frowned at the stranger, as she noted the suitcase, the top hat and his fancy clothes. "Not here for the job of swabbie, are you?" She said a little rudely.
The man shook his head casually, unmoved by the captain's rudeness. "Nay, ship sister. I heard that your fine vessel was due to travel to the Western lands, and I have business over there that I must attend to. I seek passage on your ship, and will pay for any expenses to take me there." He spoke calmly, placing the top hat on his head and bowing as he spoke.
The tone of voice and his choice of words placated the captain, but it was mostly the mention of pay for passage that prompted her to smile back. Elias's money had run out, when chief engineer Brem had asked for money to buy some essential spare parts. There had been no other passenger to take, and no one had any goods they wanted the Steamhawke to bring. It was very clear in Seaport that the Steamhawke was no trade ship. "Ah, you must have heard about our luxury cabins!" Daenelia exclaimed.
When the ship had undergone repairs after the big sky battle with the Sky Tiger, Daenelia had taken the opportunity to realize some of her dreams for Steamhawke. The balcony at the back of the ship was one. Even if Brem had ridiculed the idea and suggested that she'd better stay off the balcony when the giant fans below it where propelling the ship forwards. 'You might get sucked in, Cap'n,' he'd said. Of course she'd ordered new furniture for her own quarters, with Elias's money. And the passenger cabins, as well as the Master's cabins, had been redecorated as well. Even the crew had recieved new hammocks, courtesy of the Captain. It was the little things that kept her crew happy, she was sure.
For a very brief time, Daenelia had dreamt of leaving piracy behind and make the Steamhawke into a passenger cruiser. Like the ship she'd try to steal from Elias. But then she'd remember the thrill of chasing ships, finding loot on board and taking what she could. And the treasure of Quazlatah that she'd hoped to find in the Old West.
Daenelia stretched out her hand in greeting. "I am the captain of this fine ship," she said with a smile that was almost crooked. "I am sure we can come to an agreement on the passenger fee. You'd have a room to yourself, meals can be shared with the crew or for an extra fee, you can share my meals. And I will even throw in room cleaning services for free. Weekly." McGinty would probably try to clean the room daily if given the chance. She always had to bar the door for the swabbie if he was in his cleaning mode.
The tall man smiled pleasantly, slipping both hands into his pockets and rocking back and forth on his heels. "If you'll excuse my manners, I'm afraid I don't shake hands. I think I will pay the side fee to share meals with such a fine feathered captain, and I admire your willingness to allow me aboard; however, I must ask of you. Do you have a room with two portholes I can use, other than my main room?"
Daenelia went over the available space in her head. The ship wasn't very big. And there were only so many closed of rooms. "There's the forwards kitchen cupboard," she hesitantly offered. "What exactly do you need it for?"
"To do experiments in, Captain. The exact specifications might seem unfeasible at the time but I can assure you, no crew member is at risk with my testing, and all safety precautions are taken before tests begin. They generally involve improvements to current technology or new forms of warfare...the blueprints of which, must be kept out of certain hands, if you know my meaning." The tall man winked, and strolled closer to Daenelia, hands clutched behind his back. "You may call me Xanos Knyghtshade, of the House Knyghtshade of Germannia. The crew may only know me as Xanos, for now. As I am sure you have heard a little of my family, no one must know I am aboard your ship other than you, your crew and your officers." With that information out, he strolled past her and made his way up the gangplank.
Daenelia took a step back as he walked past her. The name did ring a bell, but nothing that immediately struck her. But Xanos did handle himself like a man who was used to getting what he wanted, and right when he wanted it, too. She hurried to catch up with him and said loudly: "If you don't mind sharing, you could use the engineer's workshop." She paused as she remembered one room that was available. "And we have the handyman's room available." She added quickly: "For a price of course." If he wanted it badly enough, he'd pay good money.
Xanos looked over his shoulder at Daenelia and nodded. "The handyman's room will do splendidly. As for a price, we can discuss that in private with your...handymen...and come to an agreement that suits all parties involved. I have furniture that I will be taking with me, in the form of an alchemist's set, an iron working table, and my custom crafted bed. The money is at the bank in Seaport; tell them about the fee, say it's about Mr. Xanos Knyghtshade's trip, and they'll do the rest. I made sure of it before I came here." With a smile and a wink, he hooked out his long arm towards Daenelia, for her to put her arm around his elbow like a dainty lady of the aristocracy.
"Now, Captain Daenelia Bradley of the infamous Steamhawke: care to give me a tour?"