The Harder They Fall
Mission: Chapter 7: Going West
Mei-Xiu speedily wandered the ship looking for paint to color her drawing.She had drawn one of her dolls,Miki,a slender one with pale skin,black hair and light eyes but the picture was missing any such coloration.It was in a box in her room which was locked in case of Kichi.Suddenly,a song she had just learned on the ocarina came out of her red lips.
"Automaton fights for his family
Protecting them from the threats all around
But deep in his chest is one broken gear
It keeps his feet dragging on the ground-"
The singing automaton had apparently not been paying attention to where she had been going because she started to fall over a nail when she caught herself by one of the claws in her knuckles.Which of course was when she noticed she'd been spotted.If it was a crew member it would be one thing,however this was a passenger who could tell someone else and then whoever was looking for her would find her.She stayed on the floor,motionless,not sure what to do.
"Well, that's a pretty song," came a light but high pitched voice. Bridget Perry was walking towards Mei-Xiu slowly, with deliberate criss-crossing steps. "Where did you learn that?" She lowered herself to the floor elegantly, straightening and fluffing up her dress as she sat down next to the fallen automaton. She seemed in no rush to either help the girl up or get help. Bridget had little eye for unfortunate things happening to other people. For all she knew, the girl was alright. She wasn't crying or bleeding, so she must be alright and ready to entertain Mrs Perry. Bridget looked at Mei with her eyebrows raised, ready to be answered.
The good news was that the woman appeared not to have noticed the claws,the bad news was that there was a splinter between her knuckle claw and her "skin". She winced,it really hurt.Mei-Xiu reached her other hand over and yanked it out,leaving a small but fixable hole with a fortunate lack of fluids.Since the other woman was sitting down,Mei also stayed down and looked her in the eyes."I learned it in a book of ocarina music."
Bridget's mouth formed a perfect circle as she showed her surprise. "You can read? I thought all sailors were illiterate!" And then she giggled, putting a dainty hand in front of her mouth. When she was done, she rearranged her dress, so she could move her fake leg in a more comfortable position. It wasn't easy, sitting down with a prosthetic leg, and she did want to show it off. The small foot of the fake leg was wearing a normal boot, but by hiking up her skirt, she was showing off the sparkly golden adornments on the leg. Bridget smiled contently when the sun made the gold shine bright.
Mei-Xiu raised an eyebrow at her comment about sailors,she didn't know whether or not that was a compliment or an insult.She might be insulting sailors in general or perhaps was merely making an observation.Then she saw it. Was that a leg made entirely of gold? A lot of people had body arguments but she might as well take a chance,after all she was showing her leg off.Maybe she was trying to hint at something... Mei tried to express non-offensive curiosity,"Are you an automaton?"
"What's an automaton?" Bridget asked brightly. Then she giggled. "Well, since I don't know what it is, I am sure I am not one. Is it something rude? I can be quite naughty sometimes! Is an automaton naughty?" She leaned in close to Mei-Xiu and whispered in a conspiratory tone: "Are YOU an automaton?"
It became apparent that Bridget might not be terribly bright.At least she wasn't offended by Mei's question but boy could she babble...Another thing Mei-Xiu realized was that it might not be a good idea to be honest with someone this chatty."Um,uh" She pulled at the soft white collar of her shirt,"Maybe,I was looking for some paint for my art.Have you see any?"
Bridget vaguely thought of the art supplies in her luggage, as any lady had. One never knows when one wants to do an aquarel of a cloudy sky. But she was sure this girl wasn't in need of aquarel paint. "No," she said. But she might show how to make paint from egg yoke and pigments. She had some ideas of food she could use. "Did you ever make paint?" She asked in a happy tone of voice. "It's awfully clever and exciting. And messy," she added with a stuck out tongue and a screwed up face. "We can make some in the kitchen," Mei-Xiu interrupted her: "Mess hall."
"... Mess hall," Bridget repeated as if she was learning a foreign word. "Come along then," she said cheerfully as she walked towards the back of the ship.
"It's... this... way," Mei-Xiu stopped talking and decided to leave Bridget walking in the wrong direction. She picked up her drawing and things, and looked around for Kichi. Bridget was a strange woman, she decided, and one she had not much in common with, perhaps. She sighed a little in disappointment. For once it would be nice not to be so unique.