Softly like a cloud
Chapter 2: The Map says 'Go Here'
Location: Engine room
Timeline: Day 3
As always the engine room was busy with people and with sounds. Erm was stacking barrels of something, and Brem was around, cleaning some tools. Captain Daenelia stepped around gingerly, to avoid tripping over coal or shovels. Erm took a break from his work and looked at the Captain. "Captain!" He said loudly. The Captain stared at Erm, until the boy started to stammer something about a new apprenctice. "Master Brem never said anything about... I mean, am I still...? Will he be replacing me, Captain?" asked Erm in a decidedly boyish voice.
The Captain frowned. A new apprenctice? Then she saw a girl with blonde hair standing next to a bucket of water. She looked like she had been working hard, all covered in soot. The kerchief she was holding was not going to help her get rid of the black stuff on her hands and face so easily. Daenelia looked around for Brem, wanting to ask him about his new apprentice. But the chief engineer had disappeared. Daenelia took a few steps to stand next to the girl.
"Excuse me? Who are you?"
Skye nearly dropped the kerchief as a voice from behind startled her out of her daydream. Spinning around to see the Captain staring at her, she slipped the cloth, which was hardly more than a rag by now, into her pocket, and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
"Skye Carlson," she replied, with a quiet confidence, meeting Daenelia's eyes. "The new apprentice engineer." She paused a moment, then added, "Master Brem hired me."
"He did, did he?" Daenelia was already giving Brem a hiding for hiring people behind her back. With the bottom of the treasure chest in sight, there was little money to spare. And hiring pretty blonde girls was not a top-priority. "Well, when Brem comes back, tell him to come see me. I want to know why we could not keep up with the Zepper. And with the sails damaged, I need these engines to be in better than excellent condition."
Daenelia coughed. The dust was getting to her. "Carlson, you do understand this is a pirate ship, yes? You look too young to be running from anything. I would be happy to set you ashore in Elladia, if you prefer. If you decide this is not for you." 'Damn it,' Daenelia thought. 'I should have made that sound more like an order.'
"Not running, Captain," she replied. "Just sailing, and far away I hope." Her mind flickered briefly to her absent father, probably in a drunken stupor at this very moment, but she quickly focused on the Captain. "I love fixing things, Captain," she said, feeling the need to explain herself, and yet holding back slightly as not to sound idiotic in her enthusiasm. "Engines, especially-" and she waved a hand in the direction of the engines, her eyes dancing "-ones like these, are amazing."
Skye glanced earnestly at Daenelia. "Your ship is amazing," she told the Captain with a slight shrug. "It would mean the world to me to work here." She smiled slightly, and then bit her lip. "But, I understand if you already have a full crew, I can always find work elsewhere." She trailed off and glanced at her feet.
The girl seemed to know about engines. Brem would not have hired her unless she did, Daenelia realised. Though somewhere in the back of her head the thought that he simply hired something pretty to look at, was not easily pushed away. The engines needed a good team to be kept in shape. The engineer of her former crew used to say, that there is no such thing as an overcrowded engine room. It was not just hard work, or precise work, it was also dangerous. The more engineers there were, the better prepared for losing them. And without engineers, a ship would quickly get stranded on water, sentenced to a slow travel speed.
Daenelia nodded slowly. "Very well. You can stay of course. Who am I to argue with the chief engineer of the Steamhawke?" She smiled. "But tell Master Brem that one more insolent message in the heat of a chase and I will have him hung upside down from the main mast."