Chapter 2: The Map says 'Go Here'
Location: On deck
Timeline: Morning of Zepper Chase
The morning air was crisp against Julians face as he staggered out of his quarters onto the main deck of the Steamhawke. The sun was just rising, setting a passive glow across the bow of the ship, and the old man took a deep breathe of cool air before he started his rounds, lighting up a crumpled, hand rolled cigarette.
It was morning routine, an unnecessary and slow routine he'd made since he'd joined the ship not so long ago; waking at dawn, wandering the decks for a while, then finding himself a (preferably warm) meal to start the day. Today was no different. The heavy *thunk* of his cane against the decking echoed around the near silent decks. There were a few men and women awake here and there, some tending to duties, some finishing up for the night. None paid much attention to the old man; he was new on board, but had made it clear that his morning walks were Julians time, and only Julians.
Unfortunately for the new Master Gunner, someone on board seemed to have taken that the wrong way.
"Top o' the mornin', Salazar!" The voice came from behind Julian and he stopped in his tracks, a scowl forming on his face. He knew just who it was.
"Isn't it a pleasant sunrise" the second man grinned, leaning slightly over the railing. It was Julian Robinson, his clipped british accent pitched at just the right tone to annoy the old man. The master gunner turned around and at the sight of the other Julian his scowl grew even deeper. "Yes" Robinson continued, "I love this time of the morning. It's so quiet on deck, the only real opportunity to feel alone on this crowded rust bucket."
Salazar, the older of the two Julians on board, the most easily aggravated of the two Julians on board, and the Julian on board who had the shortest fuse, just growled. A dull, gruff nod of his head. He looked at the man before him for only a few seconds, taking in the usual sight of the one person on ship he couldn't yet put up with, and then he turned away.
"Yeah. Great. Get movin', Robinson." He shook his head, turning tail and hobbling off across the deck. He wish, prayed and hoped that the shipman, smelling of alcohol, wouldn't follow. He knew, however, that he wasn't getting rid of him that easily.
The warmth of the younger man's brandy-smelling breath confirmed his speculation. Robinson was standing right behind him. "What's made you so crotchety mister Salazar? You hardly ever talk to the rest of us and when you do, you never sound happy. You remind me of that twisted bastard cook of ours. Is he your son mister Salazar?"
'Mister Salazar'. It reminded the old man of his days in boot camp. this hard assed, squinty eyed squad leader; he'd never use the mens' ranks, or their first names. Mr this and Mr that. He winced at the thought of the old days, still hobbling away from his younger namesake, pretending he hadn't heard.
"You don't have a job to do this mornin' Robinson? I can give yer one easy enough, y'know?" His voice was cold, suggestive. These kids never got the hint.
"A job? A job? I'm practically running this ship myself! Did you see who the captain chose as first mate? Dottie's got nothing between those little ears of hers." The rant accelerated. "The captain clearly doesn't have a clue when it comes to picking her crewmates. Freaks and little girls. And freaky little girls. And too many old men!" he shouted the last two words, while pointing at Salazar.
Julian, the older one, stopped at that last comment. He'd given a beating to comrades and enemies alike for a lot less then that. He felt the blood rush to his head, his ears burning hot, and he turned around to stare down Robinson with his single, dark eye.
"That so, Robinson? Think yer can run this ship better than the cap'n?" He didn't wait for a response though, jamming his cane up into the air and jabbing the drunken seaman in the stomach. Hard. The poor sod toppled over, grabbing his stomach and crying at, falling to his knees as Salazar's cane came back swinging around, slapping the sailor across the face.
"Don't yer be letting anyone else hear you talkin' like that, son." And so he nodded, content with his work, and turned tail again to continue his morning stroll. A small smile spread on his lips; maybe it'd be a good day after all.