Chapter 13: The Crew

Leliana’s eyes rolled back as she lost consciousness.

Almost.

She jerked upright just in time to miss indenting the deck with an imprint of her face. Teena, the tiny engineer, had just given Leliana the most complete and brutal verbal beating of her life. But at least she momentarily knew everything about flying ships.

“Goodness, are you okay?” Teena didn’t even halt mid-sentence, she just transitioned what she’d already been saying into concern for Leliana as she lost her footing. “Sorry you’ll have to watch your feet until I’ve had a chance to clear up all this grease, it can really be quite slick if you’re not used to it I know.”

Leliana fought back a sudden wash of nostalgia, irritably wiping a tear that almost slipped out. Teena was a miniature version of Tilly, whom she didn’t realize she’d been missing. I wonder if he got in trouble after I got out. Her thoughts were interrupted by the most hideous screech she’d ever heard in her life.

“What the-”

“Oh woops! Gib!”

A billowing explosion of steam popped the propeller out of its base along the side of the ship, dissipating once the shaft drove back into place. This sequence played over and over, getting faster and faster. Teena flung herself at Gib, who in turn hefted her onto his shoulder. He got a good grip on the girl, then spun a few times and launched her across the ship.

Leliana’s jaw dropped while Teena’s screams of glee –

“Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”

Turned into screams of woe.

“eeeeeooooohhhHNNOOooo!”

Fading quickly as she sailed over the rail.

Leliana bolted, hitting the same railing a few seconds later. She was about to leap when she noticed a grappling hook already wedged into the side, right where she was about to go over. She peeked over the side, coming face-to-face with a smiling Teena. The girl was perched atop a nest of red hair belonging to a pale, freckled young lady climbing a rope.

“Catch me!” Teena bounced to Leliana, hands out. Leliana caught and hauled her up, and the girl hopped into the round propeller base and started hammering away.

Leliana helped the other girl to the deck as well, who gladly took the offered hand.

“Thanks. She’s a lot heavier than she looks!” She gasped between breaths, letting herself fall to the deck with a spatter of sweat.

The hatch next to the cabin slammed upward, and an old weather-worn face slowly materialized from below. The old man slowly walked on deck with a squinty smile. “Ah, Karina you’re back. You look dehydrated, drink some water.”

“I’m not dehydrated gramps! I just like to sprint long distances sometimes for no reason, and then catch stray women who can’t keep their hands off my tools.” Karina went to grab some water as the old man joined the growing party on the ship.

“Hello Sekkel, and Kari I’m glad you made it back as well. I wanted to introduce you to Leliana, she’s the second half of our security force. She’s already agreed to hop onboard with the same terms as the first gentleman, any objections?”

Leliana started when she heard her own name. So much went down in the last two days that she forgot she was supposed to be disguised. “Hey actually, I was using another name in this town. Is it alright if I keep an alias, or….?”

Jovi panned slowly to look at her. “Why, exactly? Are you wanted?” Those wide eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“No, no. Nothing like that, I just was toying with different names, that’s all. It’s a good way to test ’em out, don’t you think? Just announce it at the gates and, you know.” She trailed off, feeling the eyes on her. “Or not, I don’t want to complicate things.”

“We’ve had a bit of bad luck with false names historically, Leli dear, let’s stick to normal ones if it’s all the same to you.”

“Yeah, that’s fine then.” Leliana hoped.

“Hi Leliana pleased to meet you, I’m Kari.” The redhead shook her hand excitedly. “Teena’s responsible, older sister.”

Teena’s ears perked up. “Wait, what. Older?! You’re 3 years younger than I am!”

“Being responsible makes you prematurely old, so I’m basically older.” Kari shrugged and hopped side to side while Teena tried to tackle her knees.

“Get back here you rust headed b-”

“Greasemonkey!”

The two pounded across the deck, playfully knocking each other down and yelling mild obscenities.

Jovi pointedly ignored them.

“Sekkel, Leliana mentioned that she still needed to make a pick up from the market later, have you already inventoried the supplies below?” Jovi’s booted food already jammed in door of the only room above-deck and checking items off of a clipboard.

“Yes, I have. The only thing I should need is a pin-up of her gloriou-”

“Did you know she beheaded a man last night. Lopped his head right off I was told. Big guy too. An interesting anecdote I thought you might appreciate. On that note, Kari, can you show her below-decks where she might store her belongings, point out a free hammock? Best show her where all the peepholes are while you’re at it.”

Sekkel rumbled a deep, gravelly laugh with no hint of shame. “I haven’t opened up any new ones since last time.”

What in the world was she getting into?

***

A pair of eyes watched the merry crew onboard from darkness. They narrowed as Leliana slunk below.

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Author: keyboardcouple

A couple who write and learn in front of their keyboards.

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