Steering for trouble
Chapter 3: Mypos or Bust
Location: The Turtleshell Bowl Tavern
Timeline: Day 2 Morning
The weather on Mypos was warm, the people mostly friendly and the tempting smells of cooking came from a little tavern near a smallish square. The colours of the flowers in boxes on the window sill beckoned Captain Daenelia Bradley to come closer, sit down, relax, enjoy. She was in no hurry, she decided. It was still early enough, and she did not have to rush back to the ship right away. The rest of the party that had accompanied her ashore were enjoying the new dances that Lleryn was teaching them. She decided to take a break from dancing.
As the Captain sat and simply enjoyed herself, a tallish and rather scruffy-looking man entered the tavern and, without as much as a glance around, made a beeline for the bar and the tavern keeper behind it. Upon spotting the new arrival, the aging and somewhat plump man sighed and, leaning over the bar, said, "Hello again Alkaev. Turn out your pockets." This seemed an odd request at best, but the man, apparently named Alkaev, didn't seem too troubled by it. He did so, revealing a lack of anything inside them but a few scraps of paper. The tavern keeper nodded. "Good. Finally listened to the 'no pets' rule, I see. What do you need?"
"No, no cats. Couldn't find any," Alkaev explained before segueing into his next topic, "I need vork. Do you have any knowledge of ships in the dock in need of crew?"
It was the unusual accent that she noticed, which reminded her of the strange doctor they had picked up a few days back, or was it simply her instinct that made her turn her head in the direction of the two men having a conversation. Daenelia assessed the man's looks. Not too imposing, strong looking, an honest face. Well, to Daenelia most people had an honest face. Before she could think she said: "What kind of work are you looking for?"
Alkaev turned at the sound of the Captain's voice and offered her a smile. "You know of vork available? I am sailor by trade, apprenticed under helmsman when I was young. I prefer to vork as helmsman now, but I'm not picky." He extended his hand to shake, "My name is Isaak Alkaev, at your service."
Daenelia stood up and extended her hand. "I am Daenelia Bradley. Ehm ..." she looked at the tavern keeper who, being Elladian, was looking suspiscious at a woman being so forward with a man she did not know. Daenelia was sure she'd be thrown out if they found out she was a sky ship captain. "Well, I do know there is a ship docked, which may need some sailors. Probably a helmsman." The thought of not having to rely on McGinty when they were flying, and having more time free from the wheel herself made her happy. A helmsman would be wonderful to add to the crew. It would also make her navigator Fern happy, to have someone who would just go where she said to go.
"I am ... I can promise you, ehm..." Daenelia had trouble being subtle, so she decided to just be honest. She beckoned Alkaev to follow her, away from the eyes and ears of the tavern keeper. "I am the captain of the ship, The Steamhawke. I would be happy to offer you a job, usual rate, and a cut in whatever we ehm... salvage." She said that last part with a wink. Alkaev looked at her questioningly.
"Salvage. Vait, vhat?" An almost-comprehending expression crossed his face, though he seemed to need a bit more prodding to fully understand. He didn't need to wait long for Daenelia to continue.
"Well, we ehh.. sometimes find ships, or we board them, and ehh.." This would not be the first time Daenelia mentioned being a pirate only to have to fight her way out of a sticky stuation. And a fight with this guy could be very ugly indeed. "You understand?" She asked a bit desperate.
It took a moment for the oddly-accented man to parse what she was saying, but after a few long moments he nodded slowly, his eyes darting furtively towards the tavern keeper who was by now halfway down the bar engaged in conversation with another patron. "I tell you vhat. I vill go, yes, and ve can talk further."
As the pair walked towards the door, the tavern keeper pulled Daenelia aside. "Aren't you going to pay for your drink?" Daenelia pulled a few coins out of her pocket and put them in the man's extended hand. He closed his hand quickly. Daenelia motioned for Isaak to go first out the door, when the tavern keeper piped up again. "And his bill?" Daenelia looked at Isaac who shrugged somewhat sheepishly. She sighed and reached for the last few coins in her pocket. "Is this enough?" she asked. The man murmured grumpily and waved them both out the door.
"Now, don't feel obligated, Mister Alkaev, but I am in need of a skilled helmsman." They were walking along a quiet street, in the better part of town. "But I do have to warn you, we're not some merchant ship."
Isaac nodded, glancing over his shoulder to check for listening ears.
"And you don't mind? I mean, all share alike on my ship. But I ask loyalty in return. Not just to me, as captain." The last two words were whispered, as an old man and a young child passed them, the old man looking frowning at Daenelia. "But to the rest of the crew, your mates. Our success, our survival even, depends on each other. A lot of it comes down to ... trust."
The pair walked on slowly, in silence.
"Can I trust you. Mister Alkaev. That is the real question." Daenelia looked at her nails, as she waited for an answer.
Isaak was silent for several moments, his expression unreadable, before he began with, "You vant family of sorts, yes?" He waited for Daenelia's nod before continuing, "Let me tell you story as ve valk. It isn't long but it is important. There vas boy in Slavic Imperium, he vas not good son. Alvays fighting and betting, then he got into sailing and trained under helmsman. Became helmsman himself for," his voice dropped, he whispered the next words, "Smugglers, later pirates. Vas hush-hush, required trust or whole operation vould fall apart." He began to speak at normal volume again, "He eventually came here. Not once has he--me--ever betrayed crew. I vas raised in the old vay, vhen that meant entire operation could be harmed by one person and the Imperium would deal out harsh punishments all around and if you hurt operations, you never vorked again." With a grin, he tapped the side of his nose. "Hush-hush I can do. You can trust me vith life..." again he paused, this time to ponder something, grudgingly admitting, "But maybe not vith money. So, vhat do you say?"
Tugging at her heart strings again, Daenelia felt tears burn behind her eyes. But it wouldn't do for her to start bawling her eyes out in the sun-filled streets of Mypos, with a fellow pirate standing beside her. She'd have to toughen up, again. She cleared her throat and smiled.
"Welcome to the family, Mister Alkaev."