This One's for the Girls
Chapter 9: Steam City
It was getting dark but there was light from the windows of the working men's bar across the street from the dormitory. Daenelia stuck her hands deep into her coat pockets and walked in. She saw Maraea talking animatedly with a group of factory workers, who were listening to her every word.
"And of course you can ask for a decent wage!"
Daenelia tapped her on the shoulder. "Can I talk to you?"
Maraea nodded quickly at the Daenelia before turning her head towards the bartender. "Drinks on me. I want them piss drunk within the next hour."
The bartender smiled at her as numerous men rushed to get their free drinks from him.
"Ah, Captain!" she said, warmly. "What's on your mind?"
Though the free drinks on offer were tempting, Daenelia decided to just blurt out the question to Maraea: "Fancy being First Mate?" The crowd was just getting rowdy as she spoke and Maraea cupped a hand to her ear as she said: "What?"
"Jefferson just quit on me," Daenelia shouted. "I need a new first mate. Interested?"
Maraea smiled as soon as she heard the news about Jefferson. The rest was sure to follow, but she was not so easily convinced.
"As much joy as it gives me to hear such news, I have conditions. The first being that I don't have to call you "Captain." I view such a job as a partnership, and will accept nothing less. We will discuss things, as we are both experienced Sky Captains. You will not order me around, but I will highly value your suggestions as I hope you will mine. You shall hold ultimate power over decisions, and the crew, but when it comes to me; we are equals. This is a relationship built around respect, not hierarchy. The moment you get tired of this, demote me back to a simple pirate on your crew."
She tested the waters as she continued to speak. "The second condition, Daenelia, is that you and I are going to enjoy the night, and drink like pirates are meant to."
When she finished speaking, a few men in uniform and armed to the teeth walked into the bar. "It seems the second condition might have to wait."
"Where's Scott Macgrory?" one of the soldiers was barking at the bartender, while his fellows tried to stop anyone from leaving.
"I'm Macgrory!" announced one of the workers that Maraea had been talking to. He stepped forward and put his hands on his hips. "I know why you're here. The boss wants us to get back to work on his terms. But I've been listening to this girl here, and she makes a lot of sense. We're not heading back into the factory until Mr. Hitchins listens to our demands. Are you with me boys?" he asked, turning to the rest of the men. They bellowed in appreciation. Macgrory punched the air and the rest of them followed suit. He turned back to the soldier, still cheering. The soldier struck Macgrory in the head with the butt of his rifle and the man fell to the floor, dead.
"Rest of you! Back to the factory!"
The solder was lucky enough to get the last word out of his mouth before a blade went went through his heart. Maraea pulled out the blade as she kicked at his body with such force that he was thrown backwards. She used that distraction to shoot a few soldiers before she flipped behind the table to where they were originally sitting.
The future First Mate turned the table on its side to use as cover then looked at Daenelia.
"I see around ten more. The soldiers must have expected resistance. How?"
"One thing you learn the hard way about dealing with the Western military..." - the captain held that thought to fire blindly over the top of the table - "is that they're used to showing force to deal with their problems. Now, about those conditions of yours..." Daenelia was interrupted this time by the barrel of a rifle appearing over the top of the table, a soldier thrusting his bayonet at them. She wrenched the rifle out of the man's hands, stuck it into his chest pointy-end first, and pulled the trigger. "You can't have a sky ship with two captains. It just won't work."
"Right now we have no sky ship at all, or have you not noticed?" asked Maraea sarcastically yet playfully, throwing a bottle to distract an oncoming soldier. "Good point," replied Daenelia, standing back to back with her fellow pirate.
"You mean bad point. The very fact that it is a bad point IS my point." She moved the table forward, tripping a soldier, than impaling him on her sword. She quickly threw him off and continued speaking. "This bar could be a sky ship and its patrons; the sails. You understand?" She jumped on Daenelia's back and used it to launch herself towards an approaching soldier; sword first. Once Maraea made contact, she flipped over the now dead soldier and engaged in a sword fight with the rest of them. "We make the rules, Daenelia. We make them work. We are pirates." She ducked out of the bayonet's way, and slashed the poor bastard's throat.
Daenelia smiled and decided she liked the cut of Maraea's jib. "I like the cut of your jib, Maraea," she said, as she threw a knife at a soldier who raised his gun. The knife his his left arm and he dropped his weapon as he grabbed the wound.
"Just to make sure though, I am still the captain," she had reloaded and shot a bearded man who ran at them. She twirled around and ended up on Maraea's other side. "If you so much as hint at taking my crew from me," she knocked a few teeth out of the mouth of a man swinging a fist in her general direction, "you'll face my personal rules."
Maraea threw her sword at the farthest soldier and dodged the two blades coming her way. "I don't hint; I do. And if you already mistrust me, then I don't see how this will work out." She caught the arm of one man, broke it, and pushed him into the other one. "I have no interest in taking your crew, Daenelia. If you knew my story-" She shot both of the soldiers in front of her. "-then you would understand how that very thought makes me sick to my stomach." She walked over to the dying soldier; her sword still in him. "I trust you, Daenelia." She pulled her weapon out of him, put it right back in. "Please trust me."
The room was filled with wounded and dying and dead. Survivors were stumbling out the door in retreat. Daenelia put her pistol away and looked at the scene around her. "I don't think that's a problem," she said to the woman who had had her back all the while through the fight, which they had miraculously come out of unharmed.
"This place is getting kind of ... stale," she said to her new first mate. "Why don't we celebrate your new rank over a drink somewhere else?" It was only a matter of time before reinforcements would come by. She only hoped that the tall tale of two women taking on a group of soldiers would not be taken too serious or the ground in Kanesville might become too hot, too soon.