What is shared
Chapter 7: Going West
Timeline: As McGinty predicts a storm
Mei ambled hazily through the crew deck, mind full of memories. She heard Shou's voice in her mind, as she relived the conversation she had with him, just before she joined the Steamhawke.
"There are a lot of ships here, but none of them appear to be up to any good," Mei said.
"I know, but this is the best way to avoid drawing attention," Shou said as he looked around him. "A pirate ship will happily accept someone with a bounty on their head."
"Why can't I go with you?" she pleaded.
The man sighed. "I'd love it if you could, but this is the safest way. For us both." He added that last bit while looking in her eyes.
"I-I ... I mean, you are the most important person to ever enter my life and I am glad you did. You gave me more than anyone else ever did! And not matter what happens," Mei said, "I want you to know that I care about you too, Father."
"I love you too, my little may flower ... "
The woman smiled at the memory of a man who showed an automaton the goodness and compassion in humanity, and, by extension, the capacity for such in all forms of life. Distracted by her memories, she didn't see a man walking backwards into her path.
"Ow! Why did you do that", Mei said as she took a few quick steps back. Akito turned around. The engineer had an instrument in his hands, which he seemed to use to measure something.
"Excuse me, Miss," he said as he gave a little bow to Mei. He'd never paid much attention to the automaton, she had a female form, and it was hard enough for Akito to accept women on the ship as it was. He didn't know why, but he felt the urge to either protect them from the harsh life on a sky ship or berate them for choosing this life.
Mei noticed that Akito was from the Far East. But not Gamshan, as he did not have the correct look for that. Akito ignored her and walked on. "Wait... You're.. the engineer, aren't you?" Mei asked as she walked after him. She was determined to find out where he was from.
"Yes, Miss," Akito said. "Excuse me, I have work to do."
"Where are you from?" Mei asked curiously.
The blunt question caught him off guard. "I..., I am not sure, actually," the man said, as he squinted at the sky. "Do you know me?" he asked the young woman. As the words left his lips, he cursed himself. He felt too vulnerable admitting he didn't know much about his past. Still, an Eastern automaton, and his only clue being a letter he had, he had to ask. Even if the chances were slim.
Mei blinked in confusion, "I'm sorry, no." She wondered how Akito could not know where he was from. Then again, she knew very little about her origins and maybe it was better that way... And maybe she should start a new life out West, she hadn't completely made up her mind about that. For some reason she wondered what Azzo would think. She shook her head, "Maybe it's better that way, maybe there is something you don't want to know." Mei certainly had plenty of things in her past like that.
Akito narrowed his eyes a little. He had seen the young lady fight, he had heard about her extraordinary skills and he could not help but think he was imagining the sadness in her voice. But he did not understand why anyone would not want to remember their past. Living without a past had haunted him and made him feel incomplete. Unfinished. "I can't agree," he said softly. "I must know where I am from, who my brother is, how my family is." He bowed his head, pretending to fiddle with the machine in his hand. He was supposed to measure air velocity, to bring back a report to the Chief Engineer. They were supposed to find out why the ship had been slower to travel. One of the options had been that there was a strong wind into which the ship was trying to fly. Though Akito had also heard rumours of sabotage.
"Family is everything," Akito said in a strong voice. He looked up. Almost perfectly above the Steamhawke dark clouds were forming, blocking off the sunlight.