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11 July 2007 @ 01:05 am
Lieutenant Commander Adam J. Kaufman of His Majesty's Royal Navy, recently(ish) dishonorably discharged, has himself a ship, and he is looking to find himself a crew.

...okay, so it's not really his ship, but shhh, don't tell him that. In any case, it still needs a crew, and preferably a crew that doesn't mind much if its actions aren't, strictly-speaking, quite sanctioned by the Crown. You know. Trading-type actions. Which are really more like plundering-type actions. Which miiiiight potentially get them hanged if certain disapproving folks happen to catch them, but let's not talk about that bit. Ex-Navy commanders still need to eat, y'know.

He's kept his uniform as spotlessly neat and pressed as it was when he still had rank, but it still doesn't attract much attention in the deafening, smoky tavern. He doesn't carry himself convincingly like an officer anymore, and he doesn't have anyone with him for law-enforcing backup. He does have that obnoxiously talkative alchemist/surgeon/philosopher that they picked up from the East India Company, but not even a blind man would mistake Suresh for a naval officer, the way all that gold jewelry jingles when he walks. The man's clothes are brightly-colored enough to be practically audible, never mind the ruffles. Still, he's handy enough with a pistol, and Adam has a serviceable secondhand sword.

Now to...you know. Actually talk to prospective crewmates. However the hell they're going to find them. It's a large tavern, if they can make themselves heard over any of the racket.
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:07 am (UTC)
It is, indeed, a large tavern, with the usual complement of rogues, rapscallions, scalliwags, whores, and other folk of ill-repute.

Like, for instance, the blindingly drunk woman in a dress that might have been quite nice before it was apparently used to mop a stable who is rather insistantly pressing into the good man of science after alarmingly lurching up from her table.

"Say," she slurs, comfortably, "You oughta remind me of shomebody."
aheadofhistime on July 11th, 2007 05:09 am (UTC)
Suresh ignores Adam's disdainful snort. Really, is it necessary for him to do that every time a lady (or the occasional gentleman) ignores him in favor of his pretty Indian companion? Suresh hardly thinks so.

Especially as the...ladyhood...of the wench in question is dubious at best. Suresh keeps his various flounces and trailing bits of fabric well out of her reach.

"I don't believe we've met, selvi. You must be mistaken." Especially with such staggering amounts of rum impairing your vision, he doesn't add, though he considers it.
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:09 am (UTC)
The wench pouts, sullenly, and wraps her arms around him.

"But I'm shure," she says, laying her head on his arm, "An' if we haven't met, wouldja like to?" Squirm, leer, suggestive eyebrow waggling.

A group of upstanding gentlemen with about three quarters of the limbs they need between them at another table, watching this, begin to cheer.
aheadofhistime on July 11th, 2007 05:11 am (UTC)
Suresh vaguely remembers Adam explaining that this is why he's not allowed to carry anything of value in his pockets when they go ashore. He never quite understood that. Kaufman is a strange and enigmatic man sometimes.

He disentangles himself from the wench and catches up with the would-be commander, failing to notice that a few bits and pieces of his jewelry seem to have mysteriously made their way onto the woman's person. He'll never miss them anyway.
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:11 am (UTC)
The wench settles back down to wait for her next victim paramour, and Our Heroes soon find themselves deeper inside the tavern, in the midst of what seems to be a slight conflict.

"YOU FILTHY SCUM!" A grizzled old greybeard shrieks across a table (and a sparkly pile of loot) at a rather smug Oriental man surrounded by what appears to be his crew. "YOU COWARDLY, CONNIVING WHORE'S POXES, YOU CHEA-"

Everyone in the immediate area tenses, and the man quiets, wide eyed, as the smug man grows even smugger, if such a thing's possible.

"Now," he murmurs, with only a trace of an accent, "I might want to think about what I was about to go accusing a good God fearing man of, if I were in your unenviable position, old man." The older fellow grumbles and slinks off, and the captain smirks.

"Anyone else want to try their luck at a game of Liar's Dice?" He asks the tavern at large.
agentoftheocean on July 11th, 2007 05:12 am (UTC)
Suresh doesn't, as evidenced by his starting to walk away, but Adam grabs his arm.

It's not that he likes gambling, per se. He doesn't really; it's more of a risk than he generally likes to take. But accusations of cheating aren't to be taken lightly, after all--cheaters need to be put in their rightful places!--and besides, even if it is a dice game, Adam is convinced that he can find some way to use his obviously superior intellect to gain an advantage.

LEGALLY. That is SO not cheating. Shut up.

In any case, he's in. "I don't care to try my luck at it, good man, but I'm willing to try my hand."
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:13 am (UTC)
Adam is taken in in one long, disdainful glance, and the man - pirate, let's be blunt, he screams it from his elaborate hat to the tips of his boots - bites the edge of one ragged, blackened fingernail thoughtfully.

"Then please," he purrs, graciously, waving at the seat across from him, "Take your place at the table, and your man as well. I assume your...familiarity with our little amusement, but of course, if such a game be below your refined sensibilities, I'd be more than honored to have the pleasure of explaining it to you."

In more blunt terms: I see what you did there, Mr. Navy.
agentoftheocean on July 11th, 2007 05:13 am (UTC)
Adam doesn't bother to correct him, even though Suresh bristles and refuses to sit down.

Mr. Navy does not, in fact, know how to play, and this bugs the hell out of him, because there is nothing Adam hates more than not knowing how to do things. Naturally, he covers this up with giant buckets of snot.

"Show me," he commands, summoning all his Naval authority.

...former Naval authority.
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC)
The captain just raises one surprising elegant brow and nods, waving at one of his nearby crew. They play through a single round, and there's very little instruction offered out loud, beyond the simple laying of bets on both side and the rattle of dice and cups.

Hopefully, the good (ex-)member of the Navy will be able to keep up, yes? Perhaps his Naval authority will help him!

When it's done, the captain flicks Adam's dice across the table and offers him a pleasant, contented smirk.

"What are you putting at stake?" He may not be just talking about the bet. The Navy...is obviously not much loved, in these parts.
agentoftheocean on July 11th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC)
Adam, ever-prudent, has organized separate coin purses for whatever they might need to spend money on while ashore. Food, lodging, bribery, et cetera, all in different pouches in various places secreted about his person. He reaches into his jacket and plonks the heaviest of said coin purses solidly onto the table (tossing it would have been too flippant for a man of his gentlemanly upbringing.)

And he's just not going to dignify that question with an answer beyond that. It's nobody's business but his, why he was stripped of his command. He's certainly not going to give the story to some smug stranger over a dice game.

A dice game that he's quite certain he's going to win. It is a game of cunning, in a way, and he has a good head for this kind of thing. He confidently rolls up the sleeves of his jacket and gets to playing, Suresh watching disapprovingly over his shoulder.
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:15 am (UTC)
Adam's certainty is perhaps misplaced, and almost certainly the wrong way to present himself at this particular kind of game- with almost anyone else, that'd be the right way to get this table sticky with something rather precious to his continued existence. Luckily for Adam, the good captain doesn't seem too popular around these parts, and as the game progresses a small crowd gathers around him and his companion to cheer or boo as seem appropriate- or inappropriate. These are drunken pirates we're talking about.

Also luckily for Adam (luck seems to be favoring him tonight) he's managing, somehow, to make one lucky bet after another. After another. After another.

As time wears on, the captain slowly loses his smugness along with most of what's in front of him, and then starts snapping terse orders in Korean to his crew which fetch new bags of loot, and then vouchers for cargo-

Really, he should stop, but the Navy man is so disgustingly smug about it, and he can imagine the look on his face if he were to back out.

So the game goes on.
agentoftheocean on July 11th, 2007 05:15 am (UTC)
The look on Adam's face would honestly be more relieved than anything else. Sooner or later, he knows his luck is going to run out. Probably sooner. He's not nearly as prudent a man as he likes to think he is, but he's not ready to admit that to himself yet, so he's been rationalizing his continued playing with the thought that if he backs out now with all this loot, it's really going to outrage the large complement of men with pointy swords over there. He doesn't doubt that a lot of them would be more than willing to stab him and Suresh to get their money back.

And so I'm to keep playing, like a fool, until I lose everything I've rightfully won? I shan't concede to these outlaws.

He stands up from the table before the next round starts, throwing Suresh a discreet 'please god have your gun ready here in a second' look. "Gentlemen, I think my business with you is through. Perhaps luck will favor you more next time."

...that was totally Adam's idea of being a gracious winner. It probably didn't come across that way.
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:16 am (UTC)
Oh, no, indeed it did not. The captain does not look pleased, and neither do his many men with their many pointy swords- but he has a fair idea of how well reneging on his bets would go for him, here, so he grits his teeth.

What's on the table is what they needed for repairs, provisions, shot, gunpowder, and the dozens of other things necessary to re-outfit his vessel, and losing them...well. That simply won't do, will it?

He smiles, coolly, and rises to his feet as well, offering Adam a genteel nod. "Perhaps. Well played, sir, but it pains me to note you seem to have no way of carrying your winnings away from here. As a gentleman, I must offer the services of my crew." Adam will know what a shark looks like, one imagines. There seems to be one across the table.

"I insist on it, in fact." Adam will also know what empty space looks like, and he'll note how much of it seems to have developed around where they're standing.
aheadofhistime on July 11th, 2007 05:18 am (UTC)
And this is why Suresh is never, ever going to let Adam do the talking for them EVER AGAIN. He steps hastily in before Adam can open his mouth and lead them both to pretty much certain death, even if he's bristling at the injustice himself..

"Aiyā," he says, in the most humble tone he can manage (which still isn't saying a great deal, but it's considerably better than Adam's) "perhaps my companion here was too greedy. We will take only what we can carry ourselves."

Suresh isn't known for being prudent with money, but in this instance, he knows Adam doesn't have any right to complain at all.

Unfortunately, what he and Adam can carry between them is still quite a significant portion of the winnings.
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:18 am (UTC)
"Oh," the captain says, "But what kind of man would I be if I let another's rightful winnings tumble from his grasp? I implore you, do not subject me to such an insult to my character."

At that, he turns and offers his men instructions in Korean, and soon what's left on the table is in the arms of a few extremely well-armed men of perhaps less than impeccable character.

The captain just keeps on smiling, and gestures to the door. "Lead the way, if you please."
aheadofhistime on July 11th, 2007 05:19 am (UTC)
Suresh can't shoot his way out of this, not with so many of them, and he knows Adam's not nearly talented enough with that sword to take out more than one or two of the pirates.

There's really nothing for it. He makes Adam go ahead of him and slips out the door, one hand on his pistol, carefully watching his back.
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:19 am (UTC)
They head outside, down the narrow, crooked side lanes and backstreets that led into the tavern- the ocean can be heard, is tantalizingly close, but can't quite be seen except in brief glimpses.

Once they're quite safely away, the captain, who has been smiling rather pleasantly but silently all this time, speaks.

"Really," he says, "I should slit both your throats and have your corpses rowed out to sea. That would be only reasonable, don't you agree?"
agentoftheocean on July 11th, 2007 05:20 am (UTC)
"You have an interesting definition of 'reasonable,'" says Adam acidly, before Mohinder can stop him. Nobody ever said Adam wasn't naive--it's a decent part of the reason he's not, and will probably never be, the captain of the Hellequin. He has the ambition of a leader, but he doesn't have the street smarts.

"Surely, sir, if you have a drop of honor in you, there's another way to resolve this."

He thinks he can hear Suresh behind him, mumbling what sounds like a prayer in his Indian tongue.
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:21 am (UTC)
"I don't believe you heard me, sir," the captain says, demeanor sharpening to a point as fine as those on the various weaponry his men are now holding, "I only said I should, not that I was. You see, you've placed me in a rather difficult position, and I intend to remove myself from it with a minimum of discomfort on my part." He begins pacing, circling the two men.

"You see, your...earnings," he says, scornfully, "Were acquired in perhaps too public a place for me to simply dispose of you without questions being raised, and unfortunately there are those who take advantage of such questions to provide certain answers that I...to be concise, will omit, except to say I would prefer they not be advanced to the general populace. One might submit that I might as easily take my property back and leave you unharmed, but I have no doubt that somehow the tale would come tumbling out, and I'd be left as I was in the first case."

"Furthermore." He stops, turning on his heel to look Adam dead in the eye. "Despite however far you have fallen - and that I cannot discern, only that you have, because no right thinking Navy man with any future ahead of him to speak of would wander into this place - I suspect you may yet know a few ears you could whisper sweet words into that would have me hunted down and hung, and I find there's no man alive more willing to be treacherous than one seeking to have his honor returned to him." Once again, he starts walking, this time seeming to focus on Mohinder. He seems the sensible one.

"So, my hand is forced. I cannot sail without what's mine, but I cannot take it back by force, so I propose an exchange- no, a theft, in truth, because what I offer you is worth more than this paltry prize a thousand fold."

"Gentlemen." He lowers his voice to a conspiring murmur. "Give me what is mine, and I will give you the ocean. I will give you the winds and waves and countless stars, and every port in this sea and beyond. I will give you navigation, flawless and unfailing, charts more precise than those drawn up by any man living and a compass to point you home."
aheadofhistime on July 11th, 2007 05:22 am (UTC)
Suresh is a man of science...almost through-and-through. Adam seems about ready to scoff in the good captain's face, whether because he doubts the man's claims or because he doesn't have nearly the level of residual Naval authority that the captain is implying he does (Suresh has traveled with Adam long enough to know this for a fact), and hearing it from a pirate's mouth makes him bristle.

Mohinder steadies him with a hand firmly on his arm. It's rare when he has to be the sensible one in a situation, and giving up such an immense sum of gold for what sounds like it must be a swindle is anything but a sensible thing to do. But his curiosity is piqued. He can rationalize it by saying that he doesn't think he'd make it out of here alive if he refused, but that's not why he's staying to hear more.

"And how, aiyā, can you give us such a thing?"
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
The captain smirks, drawing back from the two men. He had been hoping the taller man would be baited to further stupidity...but that would only have been a slight diversion, a way to take the edge off his frustration.

"Easily," he says, "Though it galls me to. I have in my possession a treasure, a precious tool that outdoes the most modern navigation equipment on the seas. I know this, because I've used it to. I can have it brought here in but a moment, so you can examine it for yourselves, for I am sure my word will not satisfy you."
agentoftheocean on July 11th, 2007 05:26 am (UTC)
Technology. Adam can just imagine how Mohinder's eyes must be sparkling at the thought. He wants to be skeptical--hell, he is skeptical--but while he's nowhere near the man of science Suresh is, he'd be lying if he said he wasn't intrigued. He's always had a knack for working with modern navigation gizmos, new inventions, things that will steer his ships and help his mathematical brain work even more quickly and accurately. He wants to investigate this.

"Then by all means, produce it. My companion here is an expert on such matters. I'll trust his appraisal."

This isn't said to pacify Mohinder--Adam doesn't care much about that; the worst Suresh can do is bitch at him--but to attempt, however futilely, to intimidate the captain just that little bit more. We shan't be taken in by some paltry magic trick.
hellboundknaves on July 11th, 2007 05:27 am (UTC)
The captain nods, his pleasant - and really, it is pleasant, almost as if they're discussing some mutual fascinating topic - smile firmly in place, and turns to crisply deliver an order to the man next to him.

The fellow receiving these orders does not look pleased. He doesn't sound pleased, either, bursting into a rapid stream of angry words that the others soon join in on, with many empathic chopping gestures at Adam and Mohinder. What that could possibly mean becomes a moot point as the captain snaps something, his pleasant smile thinned to something nearly feral.

Sullenly, two of the men break away from the group, and trudge off towards their destination. The wait is silent, with the captain only tossing a single nod at his business partners/captives. His men, meanwhile, glare at them balefully.

It's readily apparent this is the most comfortable and congenial meeting that the world has ever seen.

The two men that went off come back with five more compatriots, and a rather small woman in the centre of the group. The captain moves immediately when they're close enough, sliding into the group and taking the woman by the arm to bring her forward.

"And here you have it," he says, pulling her a little farther forward, "My most valuable possession, to be fairly traded."
Madeline Yi: subduedquietsideways on July 11th, 2007 05:27 am (UTC)
The woman - though not so long ago a girl, by the look of her - the captain (Dak Ho, he told her to call him) has by the arm keeps her eyes carefully downcast, seemingly reacting to none of this. She's slight in build and it's not very hard to imagine she could be pretty, if she didn't look so worn. Her hanbok is completely white, including the ribbon on her chogori, and she seems almost lost in the billowing cotton.

Under her untroubled shell (untroubled save for her tightly curled fists hidden in her sleeves) Jin Yoon is filled with questions. She feels ripe with them, even, like a fruit. Why is she here, why did he bring her from the ship, who are these men, why is she being held out like a-

She knows she should stop having questions. They never help.
agentoftheocean on July 11th, 2007 05:29 am (UTC)
Adam is not a belligerent man. Snarky, yes. Violent, no. But his first impulse here is to draw his sword and fight, because clearly these bastards must be insulting him.

"What is this? Do you take us for whoremongers, sir? Slavemasters? There are no women aboard my ship, and you promised us navigation equipment, not--" He gestures disgustedly at poor Jin Yoon, unable even to find words.

Suresh, though, is looking at her with just a tiny glimmer of that odd scientific light in his eye. Adam kind of wants to kick him.
(no subject) - aheadofhistime on July 11th, 2007 05:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
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