Camaraderie: Wild Conclusions
Chapter 8: Pirates and Cowboys
Location: The deck
Walking up on the deck, Nate sighed. Daenelia told him of what Dottie and Akito saw, the brawl earlier in the day, and what happened to Ashrieda and Melisande. It all seemed to have happened in a few short hours, and with him being a night owl, he was put on guard duty. Grumbling, he looked around and noticed Melisande holding Chago's hand, their clothes looking damp in the soft light emitting from the lantern. The memory of his most recent conversation with Dottie after she sobered up from her drinking game came to mind.
Her face turned into a pleading expression, "Nate, please tell me you haven't said anything to Miyra."
"Well of course I did. I couldn't wait for you forever."
She placed her hand into her forehead, "I told you to wait! You've always been impatient...what you thought you saw didn't happen. That ice princess is a tough nut to crack. She didn't know about Miyra, but she's a frigid prude. I got some interesting information and emotion from her, but nothing there."
"No! No!" He remembered Melisande hair flying through the wind as she and Chago held each other, "You didn't see what I saw! They were going at it. Maybe she's ashamed and just clammed up? Maybe he's blackmailing her for something. That's it, that scumbag has something on her! I mean she's pretty mysterious."
"Blackmail? Don't be ridiculous, Nate. She's probably Merovingian and Chago is from one of those former Merovingian colonies here in the Old West. You know how touchy feely they get in greetings and stuff."
"Yeah, but he's not even ethnic Merovingian, he's Espanian. That's suspicious in its own right!"
Dottie rolled her eyes, groaned, and began to lecture him history she remembered from her privileged youth, "The ethnic Espanian region of the Merovingian Kingdom. They had that nice special deal program to get them out here in the Old West because the government feared disloyalty. Offered land at a discount rate. I told you this before. Just don't do anything more stupid and go apologize to Miyra."
Nate, slowly walked up to the couple, trying to think of something to say. No, he was confidant something was up with Chago. He was cheating on poor Miyra with this new girl Melisande, and manipulating her somehow. He would figure out what was going on and be there to pick up the pieces. They would see what a great guy he was.
"Oh, hello," Melisande was the first to notice him, "I do not believe we have formally met. I must apologize for these clothes. We just got done with sword practice."
"Sword practice. That it explains it. It also shows something's up because he only does sword practice with Miyra." He thought to himself.
Nate felt his voice come out in staccato nervousness in spite of his efforts to seem nonchalant, "Yeah, the doctor and the captain have you hidden under lock and key. You're named Melisande and our new combat engineer, right? I'm Nate, one of the deckhands. Nice to finally meet you. So Chago...when did you first bump into her?"
Chago wouldn't say he had liked Nate too much; Herring, Ivan and a few others were rather on his list of friends or almost friends. However, he was a crewmate, and the articles were articles. He had to accept the man as such, and he didn't actually need to like him. He felt something off in the man's voice now, even if he couldn't say exactly what.
"I met her last night, why are you asking?" he answered promptly, arching a brow. "It seems none of us two can properly sleep, so a bit of movement was doing only good!"
The "movement" was, of course, the swordplay. And it did achieve, indeed, something. Soothing the nerves and channeling the worries into something positive.
"Movement?" Nate eyed Chago suspiciously. Figures that pervert would say something like that. He cleared his voice to answer Chago's question, "I just don't want to be the last person on ship to meet someone. I hate being the last to know anything, ya know?"
Seeing both men glaring at each other made Melisande feel uncomfortable. She did her best to ignore the feelings of mistrust in the air. Reaching out her right hand to Nate, she smiled, "It is a pleasure to meet you."
"Likewise." Her hand was small like Dottie's, yet outside of some small calluses he assumed were from handling swords, were soft and feminine. He felt himself grin at her smile. It was distant, but still had a gentle quality to it. While Nate had come to love Miyra's energetic exuberance, Melisande's refined elegance had a nice feel too.
Nate stared at Chago, "You both seem awfully close for only meeting someone twenty four hours ago. Funny how life is like that."
Chago didn't realize how Nate had misinterpreted his words.
"Well, people who have a common past get close quickly, because they can relate to the other immediately," he answered in the same matter-of-factly tone, looking at Melisande with a friendly smile which was meant only for her, not for Nate. "We have both been in the army for years, so having common friends and enemies help with it."
This was not a secret - one could rarely be a wardog without army training, in her case, and he had never hidden the fact that he had been a soldier in the past war. Indeed, their friendship had come suddenly, but it wasn't based on thin air; there were common experiences, even if happened individually to each other in their own corner of the world. And the part with "common friends and enemies", which Nate could interpret concretely, physically, was meant, actually, to hint deeper, at the nightmares and shock as enemies, and at the army brotherhood in general as friends.
"Right, right," Nate nodded before turning to Melisande, "So Dottie told me you spent time in Elladia. What island was it? 'Cause we spent time in Mypos and the way they treated women there...well it should be a crime. It got pretty rough for Dottie at times."
Melisande felt her body tense, if she said Lesba, what would Herring think? There would be no getting around the fact that she served a nation that committed genocide against his people. Even if she lied and said she never saw the battlefield, she still would have to admit she improved the weaponry used for the slaughter, "I...it...um---"
So this was it. Chago could add two plus two, and news about the war had crossed continents and seas. This had been her war, exactly how the pacifying mission had been the start of his. He felt the change in her tone, and his glare towards Nate sharpened. How did he dare to make her uncomfortable with such prying questions? She'd tell what she could, when she could, to those whom she trusted. If she didn't trust anyone yet with details about the war which was still troubling her, it was up to her and this man shouldn't importune her.
"I guess it doesn't matter. I mean there's so many of them, right?" Nate scratched his head awkwardly, seeing Chago's protective gaze didn't help how bad he felt for asking. Dottie was right, it was certainly a touchy subject.
Just as Melisande responded with a relieved smile and a nod, the sudden sound of large caliber guns filled the air. The three of them ran over to the area closest on the ship to where it was. Nate grabbed his telescope and put on his goggles that were hanging at his neck. He found he didn't need them at night, but they did help seeing further into telescopes.
"It's coming from the wagon. Two people outside of it are arguing about something. They're pointing to the ship! Chago, go wake the captain and Jefferson!" Nate felt the stress come out of his voice as more gunfire erupted.
Chago half wouldn't have wanted to leave them two alone right now, but half recognized that Nate's request was legitimate.
"I'm on my way."
As Chago began to leave, Melisande pulled out her revolver. Nate turned to her, "Hey, you're injured and we'd like to keep our combat engineer around! You can help by waking Herring. I'll be fine. It'll take a while for them to get from there to the ship if that's their game."
"Noted." Was what he heard as she left. Alone in the silence, Nate felt not only fear, but the realization there was a big hole in his life, but he didn't know what it was. He hoped in addition to everyone being safe from the mounting chaos he felt was coming, that maybe Melisande or Miyra could help him fill that emptiness that plagued him.