Skill, Luck, and Terrible Ideas (pt. 9)

“Mesa! Always on time!” a woman crowed down at me from the deck of a twin-masted luxury schooner emblazoned with the words ‘The Constellation’ visible clearly in the first warm rays of morning. On deck, a half dozen deck hands were prepping the shop for launch.

“Good morning, Captain,” I said. 

Lally and the others pause behind me to look up at a woman with sun-bleached hair and a bright white smile in a wrinkled tan face, leaning her elbows on the glossy black taffrail of the handsome schooner. 

“These are Lally and his companions,” I said. “May we come aboard?” 

The woman guffawed loudly. “Since when have you had to ask? Get up here!”

Once we were on deck and she confused Lally, Zvonko, and Hunt into stunned silence with unsolicited hugs, she stepped back beaming.

“Welcome aboard! I’m Captain Gisela Koning. At your service.” The woman bowed, bent at the waist with a sweeping arm gesture. She wore fitted trousers and a weather beaten white blouse. “And I’m thrilled to be a part of the action. We shove off in thirty minutes. Breakfast will be served in the galley an hour after departure. In the meantime… Harold!” 

A clean-shaven Caucasian man straightened from securing a nearby line on deck. Harold Fernsby. An unrealistically fit man in his early fifties, Harold always wore the same blue-and-white striped shirt and dark trousers. His short wavy hair, which was the color of the sun, gave him a strange, ageless quality. 

“Give Captain Lally, Mr. Zvonko, and Miss Hunt the grand tour and finish by showing them their cabins.” At Harold’s look of surprise, Gisela hooked an arm around my neck and grinned. “Don’t worry. Mesa will help me with the lines.” 

Harold looked at me blankly for a moment, as was his way. Then he saluted smartly as if touching an invisible cap and tended Lally and the others. 

Gisela spied the twin blades sheathed behind Hunt’s hips as she turned away with the others. “Pretty,” she said, causing Hunt to glance back. Gisela nodded to the blades. “I have a pair just like ‘em.” 

After the others had gone below, Gisela yanked my neck down to whisper in my ear through clenched teeth. “You brought Miss Hunt? Are you psychotic?! What do I do if she guts you on impulse all over my beautiful deck before we even make port?” 

“Wash the deck.” 

She smacked me hard over the head. 


[to be continued…]

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