Barking dogs rarely bite
Chapter 2: The Map says 'Go Here'
Location: Steamhawke Deck
Timeline: Day 4
There is a saying, you can't teach old dogs new tricks. Daenelia wondered about this when she saw the old master gunner hobble around on the deck. It certainly did not look as if anyone needed to teach him something new anyway. The Captain had learned the hard way that age does not make a man or woman any less useful. Old knowledge was often worth more than young exuberance. But still, at their initial meeting, the Captain had had her doubts about hiring an old man. Especially if there were so many swift-footed youngsters on board.
But Salazar could hold his own in any company, because he did not seem to care about company. That's why Daenelia was reluctant to approach him now. It was why she had been wary to hire him.
--- less than a week ago ---
Daenelia had been sitting in Barnacle's Bar for yet another hour, waiting in vain for someone decent to show up to be hired. An older man walked in, with some difficulty. Inwardly Daenelia groaned, and thought she had to reject another old sailor, who had a lifestory to share. She'd already had three old men tell her how their wife died, their daughter kicked them out and how they would love to go out to sea again. To feel young and useful. She felt as if McGinty had written a note and stuck it to her back: 'if you're over 60, please talk to the captain to hire you, I am lonely and need another oldie to talk about the good old days'.
Julian hobbled absentmindedly through the bar. The second he stepped in, his lone eye darting around the room, he'd decided who the 'hiring Captain' was. The word on the street that she was a women had helped, but from his experience Captains always had that certain aura around them. She was the one, and she was watching him. He shrugged it off, making a clumsy, slow beeline to the bar where he dropped a few coins down and grunted to the bottle of whiskey a few feet away. The barman, a familiar face to Julian, just smiled and poured the drink. Double shot.
Salazar turned then, feigning to observe the large, bustling room, and took a solid swig of his drink. Then, after a few moments, he ended the charade, downed the rest of his drink, and started off across the room. There was no doubt between the two that he was headed across to the Captain, their eyes already locked. He stumbled his way there, pushing through the other patrons with no regard to their rude remarks as he hobbled by, and came to to a halt before his future employer; cane in one hand, glass in the other.
"Top o' the mornin' madame. I'm your new cannon deck commander, Julian Salazar." There wasn't even a hint of sarcasm of humour in his voice. He just stared at her, sincerely, and took another swig of his drink.
--- The Steamhawke ---
Julian was having a dull day when he came across the Captain on the decks. She'd been standing there, as she often did, watching over the crew with no clear interest, but a man in Salazars position understood all too well. He'd led men and women before. He knew what it meant to find respect and trust and loyalty in their eyes. The Captain wasn't a fool, he knew it. She knew how to keep her ship in order and her crew happy.
The guns below deck cleaned and tended to, his morning patrol finished, the Master Gunner slowly hobbled over to his superior, offering the faintest sign of a smile in greet.
"Cap'n." He tipped his hat, despite it being along the lines of a beanie, and stood along side her. She didn't have to approach him, after all...
"Morning, Master Salazar. Any problems?" Salazar shook his head, while squinting. The Captain and the Master Gunner shared a quiet moment, staring at the crew being busy.
--- Barnacle's Bar, less then a week ago ---
Her sensible side was screaming to tell him to get lost, that she did not need an old drunk on her ship. But there was something in his eye, his stance, that belied the first impression. This man had an edge that had been sorely lacking in other new recruits. And she could not deny seeing the experience at living dangerous shine through. Or at least, she hoped that that was what she saw.
"Salazar?" She looked at the crew lists. "We do have an open position. Any references?" She placed her hands on the table and lifted her chin to look at him.
References? He rolled his eye - the dramatic facial expression losing quite a bit of steam, so to speak, due to his eye patch - and shifted his weight onto his cane as he took a short swig of the whiskey.
"Fought in the 2nd Regiment of the Old West Frontliners. Sergeant and leading my own fireteam in a few months. Mind you, I don't see how any of that's necessary knowledge for a lady in you're position. You're a Captain." He said the last statement as if his meaning was obvious. Given the look he received though, it seemed his message had been lost along the way.
"Yer not looking for people who have a resume, is my meaning. Yer lookin' for the hardest men and women you can find. You need followers. You need leaders. You need people who can do their job and then do it again, without complaint. And you need men, old hardened men, to ensure that they do it." His raised his eyebrows at that last bit, offered a half smile that seemed over-rehearsed, and took another quick swig.
"And I can assure you, Cap'n: you won't find a pair of hands more qualified in the Barnacle, nor in the bay, than the two here before you." He assumed she would ignore, for now, that said hands were either clasping a glass of whiskey or holding his body weight up on the old cane.
From any other man this would have sounded like exaggeration, but Daenelia simply saw a man whose experience and strength of character she could use. Stronger hands and backs could be found, but someone with will and intellect to direct them was what she needed most, right now.
"You're hired." The simple statement almost drew a smug expression from Salazar, and a hidden smile from the Captain.
--- The Steamhawke ---
Salazar let out a long breath, closing his eye for a moment and enjoying the cool afternoon wind that had come up from the East as the hulking Steamhawke made way. He then stood there in silence for a while, beside the Captain, watching over the ship and the crew. It was the type of moment he recalled sharing with Captain Hunter back in his army days; they didn't need to say much. The mutual understanding, the mutual thought, it was all that was needed. Both knew their place and the moment allowed both to more understand the other.
That thought alone gave the old man a smile - he'd been skeptical, at first, but less than a week had assured him that this women, their leader, was the real deal. The crew was safe with her.
The wind changed direction for a moment, making the sails flap noisely. The quiet pair looked up, the moment broken, but not the bond they experienced. Daenelia had a hard time trusting people, really trusting them. Yet with this old man she felt that trust could be built, over time.
"Hmpf." Salazar made a noise as he started to hobble away. Daenelia thought quickly, and could not come up with anything else than: "Master Salazar. Care to join me for some coffee and whisky?"