“Come along now you two.” said the big burly man. John looked up at the man and nudged Laura; they meekly followed him, shuffling about on the moonlit deck. The stars peeped out faintly, the last rays of the setting sun putting them to shame. A full stomach worked wonders on their attention span for the chicken had put them in an extremely sleepy stupor as they went to visit their new living quarters.
Olly remained at the fire side, watching as all her crew dispersed, as the dinner was now over. The scents from the leftover chicken wafted to her nose and she was extremely tempted to take some. She gritted her teeth though, telling herself it was for the soldiers that had been on duty at the time of the dinner and ignored the occasional smells of perfectly cooked bird.
Then a voice interrupted her silent musings on the new ‘cargo’ they had taken aboard. “On course for upper south America Cap’in.” the deep voice pushed through the heavy fog of thought in her mind. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Daniel himself.” She replied laughingly.
“Good to see you when you’re off duty, sweetheart.” He replied, kissing the crown of her head. She pushed him into the chair next to him, rolling her eyes. “Danny, we’ve been over this. We’re kind of incompatible in the situation.”
“And what situation is that?” he asked, lifting an eyebrow, a grin playing around his lips. “The fact that we’re smack dab in the middle of a massive rebellion, and we’re on one of the most hunted ships in the entire world at the moment.” She replied, putting emphasis on every single word.
“Oh, that situation.” He slouched in an obviously fake grumpy way. She rolled
her eyes. “Daniel. Daniel. Daniel.” She shook her head. “You’re ridiculous.” He tossed back his long black hair out of his eyes. “If I wasn’t would you count me as one of your closest friends?” he jested. “No, probably not. I depend on your ridiculousness to balance out the times when I have to play serious.” She put on her mock-serious face.
“Aye Aye Cap’in! Balance you out! Yes ma’m!” He snapped up and at attention. “At ease, soldier.” She laughed. “See you in the morning. Enjoy your chicken. It scrumptious.” She then left for bed, her curls bouncing on her shoulders.
John woke up slowly the next morning, the gentle rocking of the ship keeping him from coming awake even close to quickly. At first, he was confused by his surroundings. He was in a hammock, in a strangely shaped room made of wood. There were no windows and light only peeked in from the slightly ajar door.
The air was mostly warm but behind it was a sharp freshness that reminded him of the sea. Then it all came back to him. He remembered the fire, the travelling, and his new ‘caretaker’. He groaned. This was not what he had in mind for the next few weeks; or even days for that matter.
A hammock above him held a form that was most likely still asleep, judging by the way slow breathing filled the room. He carefully avoided bumping the other hammock as he climbed out of his own. He rubbed his weary face and then found to his surprise, he was still wearing his clothes he had been rescued from the fire in.
He then realized there was a lump between his shirt and the sweater he was wearing over it. He felt around inside and realized that this was the piece of paper the commander had sneakily given him before leaving port.
He held it in his hands a few moments before giving into temptation and opened it a bit to peek inside. He found, to his disappointment, that it was full of strange squiggly writing he couldn’t decipher in the least. He ground his teeth irritably, and went out the door softly, deciding to deliver it to Olly.
He stepped onto the deck of the ship to be blinded by the sun’s sudden rays in his eyes. He took a moment to get his bearings and then looked about to see who was assembled at this moderately early hour. He saw a table had been set up on deck and Olly plus three men he hadn’t seen before were sitting at it. One was young with a long black ponytail; the other two were just starting to get their first grays. They seemed to be arguing passionately.
John sauntered over to them and held out the piece of paper to Olly. She took it with a grin. “Morning sunshine, what took you so long?” He looked at her with surprise. “It’s barely 5:30 in the morning! The sun hasn’t even come up all the way!” he pointed toward the glowing orb which was halfway past the blue horizon.
“Here on the Shadow Wolf most of us our up at five in the morning if not four thirty. Now what’s this?” she looked down at the slightly crumpled paper in her hand. “The paper the general gave me. I forgot I had it ‘till now.” He replied, inspecting the crew on deck for signs of weariness.
“Now what you really mean is that you wanted a look at it before you handed it over. But you couldn’t read the writing now could you?” Olly saw through him immediately. The crushing part was, this had been partially John’s plan, but he really had forgotten about it though he had wanted a look before as well.
“Well boys, this is good news. It doesn’t change our plan a smidge.” She passed around the piece of paper and they all looked it over satisfactorily. Olly turned to John and asked politely, “Would you like to accompany me to the mess hall? I hear we got eggs at the last port!” John nodded his head in agreement though absently as he was still trying to determine what all the little squiggles meant.
Olly took his arm and guided him firmly in the right direction. He eventually wrenched his attention away from the symbols and walked down with her. They entered a sizzling hot room full of crew mates that were ready for some sustenance. They got into line and Olly anxiously peered ahead of the line. “Oh I really hope he made omelets! Do you think I could pull rank on them and skip ahead?”
She said these things mostly to herself and John was guessing she wouldn’t pull ahead, no matter how curious she was. She danced on her tiptoes to see ahead of her men and women and they ignored her, as if she did this every day.
The line inched ahead and they reached the serving place where the server put omelets onto Olly’s plate. She squealed with delight and raced to a largely empty table where John soon joined her with his plate of food.
Several people exchanged a ‘Mornin’ Cap’in.” with her before Laura joined their table. She was slightly bleary eyed, but other than that she looked ready for her first morning aboard the Shadow Wolf. Olly smiled as she detected a bit of seasickness in Laura’s face. That was how it had been on her first day as well.
“Well, I’m sure that paper told you all about us, now it’s time for us to learn about you.” John said, looking her full in the face. She looked up from her omelet, one eyebrow raised. “I thought we covered that yesterday.” She said evenly.
“All you told us was when you joined the army. That’s not nearly enough; tell me about your position in the army.” Olly raised both eyebrows this time. “Why on earth do you need to know that?”
“Curiosity.” He replied blankly. She stared him down for awhile. He looked back with a vicious look. “Can’t argue with that look, can I?” she smiled and Laura watched the pair of them, her omelet forgotten.
“I’m a captain of the nearly undisputed best ship in the Fighting Lions, probably in the world.” “Nearly undisputed?” Laura cut in. “Yeah, there’s this one ship that’s stationed over in Iceland. Never seen it, but I guess it must be good if it’s comparative to this one.”
“And that’s it? That’s all you are? Just a captain?” John pressed. “What else is there? I’m the captain of the Shadow Wolf! How much more do I need on my plate?!” “Seriously.” She grinned. “Clever aren’t you? Alright, I’m a smidge more important. I control three more ports. One in Europe, a Californian one, and one down in upper South America. We’re heading to the South American one for a shipment of weapons.”
“What about the people up there? Who were they?” “Two of them were generals from the Mexican front, General Harner, and General Jassno. We’ll be dropping them off with a ship that’s to rendezvous with us just before we get to the South American border.” “And the other one?” Jon inquired further.
“That was Daniel. He’s my second in command.” Olly said before taking a bite of her omelet. “Actually, I prefer Danny.” said Danny himself, plopping down beside Olly. “Yes, Danny, my number one.” Olly said half rolling her eyes. “Yes, yes, Olls, I know you think I’m cramping your style with the newbies.” He tickled right behind her jaw where he knew she was ticklish.
“Danny!” she said with laughter, “That tickles!” He laughed too and said, “I know!” Laura and John exchanged glances and Laura asked, “Are you two a couple or…?” she trailed off. They looked at each other for a split second before firing off into a long explanation of how they had been friends for the last nine or ten years.
“So, you two are like best friends?” Olly opened her mouth to respond but Danny cut in saying” We aren’t ‘like’ best friends we are best friends.” Olly nodded. “Pretty much, yeah.” John turned to Danny, “So, what’s your job on this ship?”
Danny put on his thoughtful face for a moment before replying, “I check up on the crew, make sure they're happy and up to standards, that sort of thing. I also keep Captain Olly in line here. Sometimes she goes off the deep end either way. She can go totally nuts in a good way or a bad way; I got to make sure she stays in the happy middle area.” Olly gave him a look of frustration before cleaning the remnants of her breakfast off her plate with the fork.
“I also have to be sure she doesn’t eat the ship’s supply of omelets. It’s her favorite breakfast food.” He mock-whispered to them. “Daniel, I am perfectly capable of lying off the omelets for a while.” He gave her this look that spoke volumes and she admitted, “Ok, I’m obsessed with omelets, what’s so wrong with that?” “Nothing Olls! Nothing at all.” He winked at John and Laura.
“What about you two? What’s your involvement with the Narravi?” Danny inquired sharply. “The accusation was totally false. We have no linkage with either the Lions of the Narravi. They probably went after us because we had no ties with either.” Laura speculated.
“Do you sympathize with what the Narravi are doing? Do you think that what they’ve done is acceptable?” Olly asked with no accusation in her voice. “Well… we think that... uh…” John stammered. “Will you give the position of the Shadow Wolf away to the Narravi if you get the chance? Deliver us into their hands?” Olly was peering into their faces as if that way she could tell their sincerity. “Of course not!”
John said, mortified at having been asked that question. “We’d be idiots to thank our rescuers by delivering them into the hands of our would-be killers.” Laura justified.
Olly gave them a grand smile while Danny continued to eat his omelet. It was quite a good omelet. Olly stood to bring her dishes directly to the cook while Laura, John, and Danny talked. She meandered up to the cook and he took the dishes from her. “Are you nervous about our ‘visitors’ Captain?” he asked, putting them in the sink.
“Very.” she confirmed. “Charlie, you know more about the social workings on this ship than me. I want you to keep an eye on those two, most especially John. I want you to find out everything you can about them.” He nodded with a wink. “Aye Captain.”
Olly trudged up the stairs, soon met by Danny, who had also retreated from the dining hall. “Good omelets.” He said conversationally. “I’ve had better.” Olly said seriously, lost in thought about the two they had recently picked up out of nowhere.
They were met by the gentle wind, tossing their hair back, Olly’s a shimmer of red, and Danny’s a sea of black. The sea sparkled when they looked toward it, as if in greeting. Olly and Danny walked to the starboard edge of the ship and looked down into the depths of the water. They had scarcely left port last night and already the water was too deep to see very far down.
Silvery fish hung just below the waves lapping at the wooden structure of the lower ship. They moved in complex patters, the little school looking like a moving art work rather than fish that could be trapped and eaten. Olly looked at them solemnly before tossing a few crumbs of bread Charlie had given her into their midst.
The fish had never seen bread before but they attacked and devoured it immediately. Danny looked down at them too, but having nothing to offer, kept his hands jammed inside his pants. The silvery fish seemed to wave at them before swimming on.
“Everything ship shape Ms. Swiller?” Olly called up to the woman who was directing the massive vessel. “Aye! Ship shape she is Captain! She’s happy to be back on the water like the rest of us ma’m!” Olly called back up to her. “Keep her steady! Let’s keep her happy!” Swiller smiled down at the Captain before resuming her work.
“Happy to be back at seas where you’re the biggest baddest ship? You’re such a sweetie.” Olly whispered to her ship, stroking her gently. “If you two are finished?” Danny intoned. Olly pulled herself away from the beauty and went to stand beside Danny at the prow of the ship. “Sorry, a captain and her ship as it were. Isn’t that right Wolf?” she asked to the ship in general.
As if in response, the boards beneath their feet creaked in response to their weight. “Aw, I knew she still loved me.” Olly crooned. “You two need to get a grip on yourselves. We’re in the middle of a mission here!” Danny accused, waving a hand in front of Olly’s face. “Oh calm yourself Daniel.” Olly ordered. “It’s the first day of a brand new mission, we’re out at sea, my ship loves me and the weather is perfect. Stop being so grumpy.” She punched him playfully on the shoulder while he stared darkly out at the sea.
“Yeah, a perfect day for combat. Ships just love fighting in the beautiful daylight.” He cast her a sideways look and Olly realized what he was implying. She squinted out at the horizon to see two obvious dark splotched she had missed before. “Great. A perfect day ruined.”