A Gesture of Trust
Mission: Chapter 10: Brakes on a Train
Herring Finn was slumped brooding in the corner, watching the largely flat scenery fly past the window, when Daenelia returned to the Peacock's quarters, not in the best of moods herself. She hadn't lost a great deal of coin to the conniving stranger but it was the principle of the thing. She was supposed to be the thief not the victim. She vowed to find the exotic foreigner but first she needed to deal with a little crew management.
She had noticed a deterioration in Herring's already normally gruff demenor since he lost his left arm in his fight with the machine man back when they stormed the Church of the Machine. The elphin had always been proud of his mechanical arms and he invested a great deal of his identity in them. She had no prosthetics herself but she's seen enough crew with false limbs come and go and had seen others lose actual limbs to have a good sense of empathy for the elphin.
It was some indication of Finn's depression that he had found one of the passenger's shirts to cover his usually bare torso. Daenelia could count the times she'd seen the elphin's chest covered on the fingers of one hand - she grimaced inwardly at the expression, making a mental note to be careful with her words when talking to the deckhand.
Between staring out of the window Herring occasionally glanced down at his remaining hand which he flexed thoughtfully from time to time. He noticed the captain approach and issued barely more than a grunt in greeting.
"How's it going, Finn?" She tried a smile, but it left her face quickly after a look from the elphin.
"What do you think?" he growled. He repositioned himself so that his back was towards her.
"Brem will fix you a new arm, you know," she said soothingly.
"It won't be the same," Finn replied gloomily, "but it's not just my ... arm. It's ... everything. I joined to sail the skies, captain. Not to run from town to town." He picked lint from his pants with his hand.
"You know this is only temporary," she replied, "I'm as eager to get back the Steamhawke as anyone, but I wanted to talk to you about something else."
"Go on," Finn harrumphed, flexing his fist.
"When we get the ship back, when we get back up in the sky ..." Daenelia paused for effect, "I want you as master gunner."
Finn narrowed his eyes at the offer. It was a good offer, or would have been from any other captain. But not a lot of respectable and honest captains would offer such a position to an elphin. It was one of the reasons he ended up with Steamhawke. "Alright," he said after a moment, studying the captain's face. "Why?"
Daenelia took a deep breath. "Because I need someone who I can trust, who won't turn and flee, someone who ...."
"Has fewer options," Finn finished her sentence. To her credit, the captain nodded.
"But it's not a empty offer, Finn," she added quickly. "I am glad I'm the one you're stuck with. No, wait, I am happy to have you on board. I count myself lucky. It's a silver lining..." She stopped herself when she noticed Finn cocking his head and trying to hide a smile. That was unusual enough to shut her up.
"I'll accept that position, Captain," he said. "And I will hold you to it, when we go out into the skies again."
She held out her right hand to shake on it, and Finn grabbed it. "If you don't, I will tear off your arm." He said it casually and Daenelia assumed he probably meant it as a joke. She laughed.
"Now captain," Finn said, sitting a little straighter, "do you have any orders for your Master Gunner?"
"Find some guns?" Daenelia suggested slyly. Finn laughed at the suggestion, but his mind was already going over possibilities.
"Aye captain," he replied, "I'll need a few men." He wasn't going to take on the rail marshalls alone, not with only one arm at least. Which reminded him, he needed to talk to Brem.