Along the docks
Chapter 6: Desperate Times
Nate Winters moved carefully along the Seaport docks, trying his best to hide his limp. He couldn't hide that his arm was in a sling, but the mean look in his eye kept away anyone that would otherwise take advantage of his injured state. Nate had been beaten black and blue in the final battle with the Sky Tiger and lost consciousness before it was all over. Doctor Yorvlad had patched him up, although the less said about the state of the sick bay post-battle the better. The moment his legs worked again, Nate was out of there and off the ship. He'd reassured the captain that he only wanted to get some fresh air, but in reality he was deciding whether or not to leave the crew.
Tanith hummed quietly to herself as she ambled down the road, thinking about nothing in particular. She was, she decided, going to have to go somewhere new soon before she got too bored of life at the port and starting breaking some harmless little laws. Tanith knew from experience that what started out as a few inoffensive crimes to keep boredom at bay often led to more crimes which led to the authorities catching on eventually and, as much as it amused her to do so, she wasn't in the mood for talking her way out of a prison sentence - mainly because it didn't always work. Turning a corner, she almost bumped into the man coming towards her. Coming to a quick stop, she squinted at the man for a moment before letting her eyes widen in alarm and dismay. "Oh my, I am so sorry. Are you okay? You don't look okay. Not that you don't look not okay, you look kinda...like someone came at you with an elephant or something. Or you ran into a wall. Did you? Did I bump you? I didn't mean to. I can't see very well, you see." Her words came out in a rambled rush of sentences and, after pausing for breath, she added a slightly more comprehensible "You okay, mister?"
This girl talks too much, thought Nate. "I'm fine, thanks. Well, apart from the broken arm. And the twisted ankle. And the fractured cheekbone. And the stab wounds. So actually, I'm not that okay at all." Tanith raised one eyebrow and then the other as Nate spoke. "So who are you, and do you always talk so much? he asked.
Now close enough to see the injuries better, Tanith gave a sympathetic wince. "That does not look good." She decided, pausing briefly to glance at the aforementioned ankle before added "What happened anyway? Did you get into a fight? Are they maybe still following you?" At that thought, she glanced around nervously, dropping her voice to a near whisper "Cough once if they're listening. We can make a run for it." She considered her words briefly. "Well I can anyway. You could make a hop for it, maybe? Or hide - there's a house down there where the owners are on holiday. Quite a nice place actually, backdoor's unlocked." Tanith suggested, jerking her head to indicate the direction the house in question was in.
This girl's tongue was fast, and Nate could feel himself falling under her spell. But after the hell he'd been through, Nate wasn't the naive young man he used to be. He'd heard of this scam. A young girl invites you somewhere nice and quiet and the next thing you know you've lost your coin and maybe your life as well. "You evaded my question, who are you?" Nate asked again. He'd find holes in her story and expose her.
Tanith paused, her silence just long enough to sow a seed of doubt about the reliability of her answer before, with a careless shrug, sticking out her hand. “Tanith” She announced blithely, “Tanith Lars.” And then, feeling that her name alone wasn’t enough to answer the question, continued with the words “I’m a musician” and a quick gesture at the violin-shaped bag slung over her shoulders. “And you didn’t answer my question either, what happened to your face, Mister...?”
"The name's Winters. And I got clubbed with the butt of my own rifle, and lost consciousness. I'd have lost my life if it wasn't for my crew mates." Nate came to the realisation that he'd be lost without his friends. No matter how rough things had gotten, he'd pulled through because of them. And now they needed all the help they could get. What was Nate thinking, planning to leave them at a time like this? He sighed and looked at the girl again. Perhaps she wasn't trying to trick him after all. "Like I said, the name's Winters. But you can call me Nate. Were you in a hurry to go somewhere?"
"Ouch" Tanith commented sympathetically, not really paying attention to what she was saying. Her mind was revolving around all the feasible implications - and there weren't many - of 'crew mates'. "Hurry? Oh, no. Not at all." She paused and smiled innocently "I was actually heading down to the docks, looking for a ship to see if I could get a job aboard. As a musician - or singer, I guess. Don't suppose you'd know anyone recruiting?"
Nate smiled. "Im a deckhand aboard a sky ship. It's called the Steamhawke, and it's a ship of..uhhh... adventure! At least, it will be once again if we manage to get it repaired. New crewmembers are just what we need. You'll have to talk to the captain of course, but I'm sure she'd recruit just about anyone.. uhh... no offense!" By the time he had finished speaking, Nate felt like his young self again, filled with excitement about what was to come.
Nodding excitedly, Tanith grinned. "Then I guess I'd better go talk to your captain then." She turned back to the docks, waving merrily over her shoulder at the man as she left.