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Selecting a Replacement

Writers: Kurt, Devin, AL
Date Posted: 18th September 2008

Characters: Jerroll, Lerra
Description: A new potential crew member is interviewed, following the untimely departure of the last.
Location: Elsewhere on Pern
Date: month 11, day 23 of Turn 4
Notes: Mentor approved while under mentorship.

"Jerroll!" Lerra's sharp voice could not be ignored. It cut through the sounds of the dock, the shouting of the men ashore, the creaks of the ships and the rumble of the water. She stepped out of her cabin, hands upon her hips and surveying the scene.

"Captain?" he asked as he approached.

"You're with me." Lerra's gaze fell across another of the crewmembers. "Gerart, keep them in line till we get back." She strode across the deck and down the gangplank.

Business, then. He fell into step beside her, walking just a bit behind. The hold they were staying at was a bit more liberal in their views, so Lerra could act like the Captain she was. The people here remembered female seacrafters, were descendants of them, and still had a degree of respect "We need another crewmember." Lerra cast a sidelong glance at her firstmate, amusement crinkling the edges of her mouth ever so slightly. "One seems to have fallen overboard."

"Yes. After one assaulted our new cook," he said darkly. Shards, if he had gotten there later ...

"He suffered a better fate at your hands than he would have at mine." Lerra picked up the pace, weaving in and out of the crowd that milled about the dock. "I'll not have such filth on my ship."

"Edele was right there. I went for quick and clean instead of satisfying and bloody."

"I wouldn't have given him that luxury, whether she was watching or not." Lerra snorted, then glanced around. "I have an old acquaintance who runs the inn. I think he'll be able to give us a lead to someone trustworthy."

"Good." Jerroll dodged a man pushing a cart.

The two made better headway once off the docks where the crowd thinned. She moved purposefully, strides long and quick. She came to a stop at an old stone building and pushed the door open, moving inside without any hesitation. She paused only once inside, then turned and made her way to a gentlemen about her age, hair white, eyes a pale blue. "Rew." Lerra actually gave the man a smile, if a small one. "Long time no see."

"Aye, Lerra, tis good t'see ya." The man let his gaze fall upon Jerroll and he nodded once in a polite acknowledgement before turning his attention back to the captain. "What brings ya' here?"

"I need someone for my ship." Lerra nodded toward the door, as if the man could see through it and gaze upon the Silver Sails stationed at the dock. "Someone whom I can trust with my...rather delicate situation."

"That be so?" Rew lifted a hand and rubbed the stubble upon his chin. Then he pointed a long, calloused finger at a man coming down the stairs. "That be Tarken over there. He'll be just the man for you. Last captain died and the first mate didn' take much t'him, but he'll be a good man fer ye' Lerra."

"Tarken, eh?" Lerra turned to study the man, younger than her, though it was hard to say how old he truly was. "Thanks Rew." With that, she crossed over the room and caught the man just before he was heading out the door. "Tarken, a word."

"Beg your pardon?" Tarken was tall and wiry, with brown hair that had been pulled back into a tail that hung down his back. He had angular features, and skin that was bronzed and weathered from exposure to the sun and wind. "Appears you have me at the disadvantage ma'm, seein' as how you're familiar with me, while I'm not with you. He hooked his thumbs into his belt and squared his shoulders. "Come to collect a debt? And here I had fooled myself into thinking I was all paid up."

"Rew said you were in need of a ship." Lerra's arms crossed over her chest as she looked the man over. "I'm in need of a crewmember. Interested?"

Jerroll hung back and tried not to look intimidating. He studied the man, trying to get a sense of him. So far, he seemed ok.

"A seaman without a ship is a hard lot," Tarken agreed. "Begging your pardon, but am I to take it that you're the captain of a vessel?" The implication was unspoken, but it was still there. Female captains might not be unknown, but they were still less than common.

"Is that a problem?"

"No, not, not at all," Tarken said quickly. "Was just making sure I had my facts straight, is all. So _captain_, perhaps you can tell me a bit about your ship, and the sort of work she does?"

"We're a trading ship, with a bit of business on the side. Certain...activities to keep us afloat, so to speak." Lerra's hold upon his gaze was sharp, unflinching. He would be a fool not to understand what she was saying.

"Well now," Tarken remarked, "you must do what you must do to earn your way in this world, do you not? Sounds like good business sense, and I do prefer working aboard a vessel what's run by sensible types."

Lerra cast a glance toward Jerroll, a silent gesture in search of his opinion. When given the affirmative, Lerra turned back to the sailor. "All right. Meet us at the eastmost dock in two candlemarks. We're the Silver Sails." Her eyes locked with the crewmembers. "We'll see what you've got."

"Aye aye captain," Tarken gave a curt nod. "I'll go and pack my duffel."

~ ~ ~

Jerroll was waiting for him when he arrived. "Got a few questions for you."

"Aye, figured you might," Tarken regarded Jerroll levelly. "All right then, ask away."

"Do you have any problems we should know about? Drinking on duty, that sort of thing?"

"A good sailor's always on duty while he's at sea," Tarken gave a hint of a smile. "And I do take a drink now and again while I am at sea. However, if you mean posted duty times, then no, I do not. What other bad habits are you worried about? I'm not partial to mutiny, if that's what you mean."

That got a chuckle out of Jerroll. "That's good to know. You seem to have no problem with Lerra being Captain, so that's a good sign. You respectful of women in general?"

"Well now," Tarken folded his arms and leaned back. "That is an interesting question, isn't it? You all seem like folks that sail straight, so I'll not turn this into a wherry-chase. Truth to be told, women at sea is not something I'm accustomed to. From where I come, women stay home, mind the hearth, raise the brats. That sort of thing. Don't mean I'm adverse to things being otherwise, just letting you know what I'm used to.

"But if on this ship, you tell me there's a woman for the captain, first mate or crew, that's fine by me. If that's how you say it is, that's how it is."

Jerroll nodded. "Good. I'll warn you that you'll be under extra careful watch for a while. The last new sailor we took on tried to force himself on one of the crew. I threw him overboard. If there's any chance you might do something similar, it'd be better if you turned around right now."

"I won't ask," Tarken said after a brief pause, "whether you mean literally or figuratively. But I'd say that sort of thing goes a bit beyond just a lack of respect." He spit on the docks. "I guarantee you won't have to worry about me in that regard."

"Good. Very good." Jerroll smiled. "You still have to get Lerra's approval, but you have mine."

"All right then," Tarken smiled wryly. "Any words of wisdom prior to my interview with the captain, then?"

"Be respectful, and be yourself."

"Sounds doable," Tarken rubbed his chin. "So...are you taking me to see her now, or should I just wait?"

"She's in her cabin. C'mon." Jerroll boarded the ship.

"Yes sir," Tarken slung his bag over his shoulder and followed Jerroll on board the ship. He looked about as he stepped onto the craft that might very well be his home for the forseeable future. Not too shabby, he decided. Certainly could do a lot worse.

Jerroll led him across the deck and down the stairs. He stopped in front of the Captain's cabin and knocked.

"Come in!" Lerra barked, the words slamming their way through the door.

Jerroll stepped into the cabin and moved out of the way to let Tarken in. "He passed my inspection, so now it's time for yours."

Lerra leaned back in a chair, idly using a knife to clean the dirt from her nails. She stopped for a moment to gesture that they close the door.

"Goodday, captain," Tarken offered. "What information about myself might I provide to t'you?"

The captain looked up at the sailor, straightening. "What ship did you serve before this and how long have you been sailing?"

"Been shipside since I was fourteen," Tarken replied, "which makes it about eighteen turns now. My last assignment was aboard the Surfskimmer. That was a three turn tenure...till our captain's time came and the mate took over."

"And why, exactly, did you not stay on?" Lerra could have asked these questions earlier, but it was better to do so privately. Easier to get the truth that way.

"Just differences of opinion," Tarken said. "He saw things one way, and I too often saw them another. Not that he was incompetent...quite the opposite. Just eventually we decided I'd be better off sailing on another vessel. Of course, that whole row over the barmaid back at the port was entirely coincidental."

Outwardly, Lerra's expression didn't change, her stare as cold and hard as ever. Inwardly, she couldn't help but be at least a little amused. "I run a tight ship, Tarken. A very tight ship. On my boat, you work hard, do as you're told and keep your mouth shut or you will find yourself wishing you could just walk the plank. Do I make myself clear?"

"Clear as a cloudless night sky," Tarken nodded. "I work for my keep, so long as I'm given my fair due."

"You'll get your fair due. I don't cheat my crew." Lerra looked over to her first mate and nodded slowly. "Jerroll will show you your bunk."

"This way, Tarken. Welcome to the Silver Sails."

Last updated on the September 19th 2008

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