Mission: Chapter 8: Pirates and Cowboys
Erm waited patiently for the Captain to finish her business in the private section of her quarters. She walked out the door of her rooms, rearranging her trousers, and nearly bumped into the young apprentice engineer. "What?" She blurted out.
"Captain, Master Brem told me to tell you, that Akito told him that we're running low on dextrocite coals. We have plenty of regular coal, but we have no dextrocite extract to infuse them with." He looked at her with an innocent expression, clearly trusting the Captain to have a solution.
"Well, we're in the Old West, there are at least two workshops in town that sell dextrocite extract." She pulled her shirt straight. "Brem doesn't need me to tell him that."
"But Suh... Captain!" Erm said with more force. "Master Brem said... he never thought we'd run out ... that fast. It's as if... it just disappeared." Daenelia frowned at that. Many things had disappeared, many of those things had been eaten by Harriet, or at least blamed on the icari. But dextrocite, what would she want with that?
She hurried past the boy and went down one deck, on her way to the engine room. She passed the Doctor's quarters.
Miyra heard loud footsteps and slightly raised voices. She looked up from where she sat on one side of the deck, sharpening small stones to make into the points for her arrows, and vaguely wondered if anything was wrong.
Daenelia in the meantime had reached the engine room in the bowels of the ship and approached Akito directly. "What's this about running out of coal? And do we have enough to fly a short distance if needed?"
Akito calmly explained that the dextrocite infused coal usually lasted longer, that he already had Erm scout for more supplies and that there was enough left to make a short skyward journey if they needed to. "I just thought it was strange that we should run out, when we haven't done any flying for days." He tried to keep a blank look on his face, but really he wanted to lay the blame at the Captain's feet, for not setting guards when she should have. What a weak woman she was.
Daenelia nodded. "Good thinking, Himuro," and with that she left to go up on deck again. She paused and turned around. Maybe she should ask Brem and Akito if they had any suspicions on why the dectrocite was low.
Miyra noticed Daenelia's slight distress. Not that Daenelia was normally distressed, just slightly... unsettled. Yes, that was a better phrase for her sure-minded Captain. "Is something wrong?" She asked.
"No. Yes. Well," Daenelia was kind of distracted. "It's just...," she looked at Miyra and thought she might as well share the news, since it would probably soon be all over the ship anyway. "We've kind of 'misplaced' a whole load of dextrocite. When we haven't been using any." She peered at Miyra. "How could that happen, I wonder."
"Well," Miyra seem to have improved with the making of her arrows. A routeen task was perfect for getting her mind back on track. Also, she could pretend to be scraping his filfth, heartbreaking face again the sharp rock until it- "Is there a hole where the dextrocite has been kept? Are there any other skyships around that could have persuaded some of the crew to trade it for?" Those were the first thoughts that came to mind.
"At the risk of Tainting themselves? Not very clever; the money they'd make off the sale would never cover their future medical expenses. If the ore's still hidden within the ship finding it shouldn't be hard; don't you guys have a dextrocite meter? Please don't tell me it's welded to the wall or something of the like." Mistake had followed the sound of hurried footsteps here, thinking that there had been some serious accident in the engine room that would require immediate medical attention. On hindsight, an accident like that would have incited a lot more than just hurried footsteps. At least a good 20 seconds of screaming and general chaos, more like.
If Miyra felt anything when the word Tainted was spoken, she didn't show it.
"Perhaps they could use someone who is already tainted." She smiled to herself. She had no appreciation of this man - whoever he was - overrulling her points. "Perhaps another skyship could be stranded and risk their own crew to steal some of ours?" She turned to Daenelia. "I would suggest checking where the dextrocite was kept first. I'm no expert, but that might provide some clues as to what has happened."
"If there were, I am sure Brem would have put two and two together," Daenelia said. "It just seems to have disappeared, without anyone noticing. Almost as if... it was taken by someone on board. Himuro said no one noticed it missing. We haven't needed any. And we haven't had any visitors on board. Have we?"
"Well," She glanced over at Mistake. "I haven't seen him around before. Perhaps he's your thief, and just trying to contradict me in order to prevent me from guessing too close to the truth." It was a long shot, but then, she wasn't feeling herself.
Daenelia shot a look at the new doctor. What did she really know of him? He'd just happened to be around to save two of her crew, and offered to take care of them. Obviously for a fee, but like her other doctors, she basically hired him on a whim.
Mistake just looked at her, as far as Daenelia could tell. His outlandish dress and his impassive face made it hard to determine his real feelings. "Well," she said slowly, "we wil not rule anyone out. But the doctor has been quite busy attending to his patients, and has not left the ship unattended for long enough to sell the dextrocite on." She looked at Mistake for confirmation.
Mistake nodded and turned his head to look at Miyra. "I have been busy enough with my patients. I am also well rewarded for my efforts by our good captain here." He seemed to be looking Miyra over as if maybe she was one of the patients in need of care. It was hard to tell, with his voice so neutral.
"Well then. Has anyone else been making rumours, making the crew uneasy, being suspicious?" Miyra asked.
Daenelia laughed. "Just about everyone," she said. "I don't know half of what is going on these days, but one thing I do know: on a pirate ship, everyone is doing something suspicious." She looked amused. She was just about to open her mouth again, possibly to regale her audience with a tale about some schemes her former crew got up to, when Brem stuck his head around the mast.
"Just though I'd inform you, Captain, that the dextrocite has been located again." He wanted to say more, but the lookout and the doctor were listening in. "It seems Akito and Erm just didn't ... look .. close enough." He narrowed his eyes. "Or... as if the dextrocite appeared where I left it. As if by magic." He added that last sentence with a glare in Daenelia's direction.
"Oh, I see," the captain said. "Good. Keep me informed." Brem wasn't quite sure what she meant, but he nodded and said goodbye to the others.
"Well," Daenelia said. "Looks like our mystery solved itself." She took a deep breath and made her way back to her quarters.
Mistake looked at Miyra. Miyra looked at Mistake. Their eyes narrowed as susicion took its root.