Ladies and guns
Chapter 2: The Map says 'Go Here'
Location: Steamhawke Deck
Timeline: Day 3, just after breakfast
The Steamhawke was on course and though the skies were calm, the lookout reported good weather and the crew was in high spirits, the Captain worried. Even though the crew was quickly thrown together, they were all as friendly as could be expected from hardy sailors. Amongst themselves a pecking order was established and though the young cabin girl, the shipwright and the lookout were all young, the crew treated them without any malice or hostility. Maybe a bit of teasing here and there, but that was expected.
As Daenelia stood on deck with a mug of excellent coffee in her hand she saw Laudine run from one end of the deck to another, carrying a message or tool for a sailor. Daenelia realised it must have been quite a shock, coming from your mother's safe home on board a ship full of pirates and misfits. And that was not even counting what they might be up against out here in the skies. Laudine was not typically soft, though. But Daenelia suspected the cabin girl needed some skills in self defence.
On the poop deck, Ashrieda stood behind the helmsman. Daenelia saw the way Ashrieda was looking over the crew, as well as looking out into the skies. Her stance was one of relaxed confidence that could surely spring into action immediately. Her whole attitude clearly told everyone not to mess with her. And they didn't. Not unless Ashrieda made it her business to mess with you. A plan formed in Daenelia's mind, as she looked from the young cabin girl to the seasoned tactician. She caught Ashrieda's attention and beckoned her over. Then she bellowed "Fortescue! A word with you!" The two people made their way over to the Captain.
Out of habit, Ashrieda wondered vaguely what she had done this time, and how much trouble she was about to be in. Then she remembered that she'd been relatively trouble-free thus far. She gave herself a mental pat on the back. But then she wondered what the girl -- Fortescue, wasn't it? -- had done, and what in the world did it have to do with her? Would it involve some novel form of punishment?
Laudine had run over to the Captain as quick as she could when she heard her name called. The girl would admit that her experience so far wasn't exactly living up the adventure she had pictured in her mind. The work she had to do as a cabin girl was already getting pretty boring too. They had just left, though, and she hoped that the longer they were out, the sooner things would get interesting. As she approached the captain, Laudine made sure to put her biggest smile on her face. She didn't want anyone thinking that she didn't actually want to be there, because she still did.
"Master Sjaarda, I'd like to ask you a favour," Daenelia started, as the two looked at her questioningly.
"Yes'm?" she asked, an eyebrow raised.
Daenelia gestured to Laudine. "Young Ms. Fortescue here has never set foot outside her home before stepping on to the Steamhawke. I am afraid she may know little of how dangerous the life of a pi--.. sailor is. I'd like you to teach her about self-defence and the use of a gun, in case we tun into trouble sooner rather than later."
Oh. If the truth were to be told -- which in Ashrieda's case wasn't as often as it ought to have been -- Ashrieda was a terrible teacher. Naturally, of course, she wasn't going to admit this. She looked from Fortescue, then to the captain, and then back to Fortescue again. Kids. Guns. Corrupting youth. This was going to be fun.
"You ever fire a weapon before?"
Even though the rest of the trip had been pretty boring so far, Laudine's eyes widened and her face showed genuine excitement at the thought of learning how to use guns. It was one of those things her mother would never had let her do back home, and so it was naturally also one of those things she wanted to do the most.
When Ashrieda asked her question, Laudine was a bit embarrassed to answer, "Well...no..." Obviously, if Ashrieda was being asked to teach her, she must have known much more about guns than Laudine did. And it hurt Laudine's pride a bit to have to give the answer she did.
Ashrieda grinned, and pulled her own gun out of its holster. "Aww. Well, that's all right, we can get that out of your system now. Here you go." She held out the gun towards Laudine, but then, thinking better of it, quickly snatched it back.
"No wait, that's not the best idea, isn't it?" She didn't wait for an answer, but she unloaded the real bullets from the gun and replaced them with blank ones. Killing anyone, even accidentally, within the first week would not be the best idea either.
"Watch this. This is a revolver. The chamber where you put the bullets rotates each time you shoot, so that's how it gets its name. This pointy thing at the back, that's called the hammer. You have to pull it back with your free hand, like this." As she narrated, she went through the motions, pointing out the hammer to Laudine and then pulling it back.
"You see what I did? That's how you make it fire. If it's not pulled back, it's not gonna fire, so it also acts like a safety mechanism to keep you from shooting yourself in the foot or something. It's single-action, so you have to pull back the hammer every time you wanna shoot, so it's not really good for if you're all alone and surrounded unless you got quick reflexes, but you'll probably have a bunch of other people backing you up on here, so you'll be all right. If you're hiding out somewhere and you wanna take out someone when they're not expecting it, it's good for that too. It's still my favorite, though."
She looked over the edge of the deck, making sure that there weren't any specks about that resembled people. Even blanks could be dangerous if one was too close. Satisfied that everything was all clear, she fired over the edge.
Everything Ashrieda had just done went right over Laudine's head. One minute she'd had the gun in her hand, and before she knew it the gun was gone again. She did her best to follow what the other woman was doing as she instructed Laudine in how to shoot the gun, but wasn't sure if she had caught it all.
"All right then, now it's your turn." She held the gun towards Laudine. "We can practice shooting a few times, and then I'll teach you how to load it and stuff. That sound good?"
Nervously, Laudine took the gun from Ashrieda and for a second she stared at it, almost as if it was some kind of wild animal that was going to bite her. All the talk about being caught in a fight had gotten to her a little bit.
"Yeah...that sounds fine," she said, trying not to let her nerves show. She wasn't very successful in doing so, though. Laudine could feel herself blushing a little in embarrassment as she once again showed her lack of experience. She took the gun and pointed it over the edge of the deck. Her hands shook as she pulled back the hammer and Laudine tried firing a shot like her teacher had before her, and the shock from the shot made her arms jerk even more.
The captain winced as the shot went off, but smiled immediately at the girl's bravery at shooting for the first time. This was going well. Daenelia clasped her hands behind her back and wondered off.
"Hey, good job there!" Ashrieda declared, clapping Laudine on the back. "Way better than my first time. Damn near popped a good one in the Captain's leg. He didn't like that all that much. Here, lemme see that for a bit, and I'll show you how to load it up." She took the gun from Laudine and began demonstrating again how the different functions worked.
"You open the loading gate here. The little hole where you put the bullet is called the chamber. Make sure the chamber's centered, like this. Put the bullet in, and rotate. Do the same thing with the next bullet, and with the next. Don't load it up all the way, though, you're gonna wanna leave at least one chamber empty. 'Cos when you let the hammer back down, see, you're gonna wanna do it over an unloaded chamber, say if you accidentally hit the hammer real hard when you're moving around, or if you accidentally let the hammer down too soon when you're trying to load it up, then it'll go off and you can probably figure out what'll happen then. So, leave one empty and then you'll avoid prison."
Laudine had started grinning with pride after Ashrieda had praised her shooting ability. She was filled with so much pride that any nervousness and fear she'd had before were gone. In fact, Laudine was so busy silently praising herself that she almost missed what her teacher was saying about loading the gun.
"Yeah, I got it," Laudine told her quickly, trying to cover up the fact that she almost hadn't gotten anything.
She grinned. "It's probably a lot easier to punch someone in the face, but a gun's handy too. Why don't you practice firing a few times, and then you can see if you can load it up. Got any questions?"
"You were on another ship before this one?" Laudine asked as she took the gun and pointed it over the ship's railing again. She knew it wasn't exactly the kind of question Ashrieda had meant, but she had never really specified what questions to ask and Laudine was a curious girl.
Well fudge, that hadn't been the kind of question Ashrieda had been expecting. She made a mental note to herself that she was going to have to word things more specifically around this one.
"Yup," Ashrieda replied. "I've been on ships for as long as I can remember. I used to travel with my pa, and then I started travelling on my own."
Now that she thought about it, she thought that she might have been around Laudine's age when she herself starting pirating, or maybe a little older. Did Laudine even know that this was a pirate ship? And if so, did she care? How did she even get here? Did she have a disappeared parent too? But those weren't questions that one could ask, obviously, because that meant that she'd have to reciprocate with facts of her own, and that wasn't something she liked all that much.
"It's rather interesting. You get to see everything and find adventure and stea--I mean, meet other people. Don't you? You may want to point that a little higher there, that keg would appreciate it."
A bit embarrassed at being corrected, Laudine aimed the gun so her shot went higher than it would have previously. As she about Ashrieda's response, Laudine took a few more shots. She was starting to get more comfortable with the gun now, just a little bit. It was even kind of fun.
"I guess you do," Laudine replied, although she hadn't met anyone besides the others on the ship. It was still early in their adventure, though, and there was still lots of time for her to find the person she was looking for. Laudine refused to even consider the possibility that she could be wrong about where her father was.
"Uh huh," Ashrieda agreed. Prying for information without giving away any information of her own was never an easy task, nor did it actually suit her. One would think that after all of these years, she would have gotten better at it. When all else failed though, it was always best to get straight to the point.
"So -- how did -you- end up on here anyway? 'Cos even with all the perks, they're not a place you'd just for the hell of it, would you? All kinds of nasty things and nasty people and unsavory...stuff that requires guns."
"...It sounded fun," Laudine admitted half her reason for being on the ship. She wasn't sure how well it would go over if she told everyone she was on a quest to find her long lost father. Most of the crew would probably call it childish, but she was a child.
And it really had sounded fun. As much as Laudine loved her life with her mother, it had also been getting boring for the last few years. This had been her chance to finally escape that.
"Oh," Ashrieda replied, shrugging carelessly. "Well. That makes sense."
Actually, it didn't at all, in Ashrieda's opinion, but everyone else wasn't entitled to her opinion, despite her thinking that everyone ought to have been. Speaking of people who needed her opinion...she glanced back towards the helmsman and wrinkled her nose.
"...well, anyway, yeah. You play with that for a while. Call me if you need anything, don't kill anyone, et cetera."