I watched, terrified, as the last of the other ship's boys walked to his new job. I'd been standing like an idiot raking my brain for any skill that might be of use to this ship.
"Well, Orphos?" Pete asked expectantly. "That just leaves you." I was terrified. Charlie had said something about reading and writing being helpful, but it didn't make sense.
"I- I can mop floors, Sir." I wasn't trying to be funny.
Pete raised eyebrow. "And...?"
My mind was blank, the boilers maybe? "I used to work the boilers at a... school."
Pete laughed loudly. "You? Workin' boilers? Sorry, son, but even if I believed you, we've got plenty of men on that. Anything else?"
His words dashed my last hope. "I'm off this ship for sure."
"You know, boy," said a voice from behind me. "Not all work is about brawn and oil."
I turned, and was surprised to see Mr. Simmons walking up to us. "Sir?" I asked.
"Did I hear you say you once worked at a school?"
"Yes, Sir." I said, hope rising again.
"Well, did you learn anything while you were their?"
"Why, yes. I know how to read and write well, and I know arithmetic and science, too." I didn't want to brag, it just sort of came out."
"Excellent!" Simmons was not the same man who had asked my name on the docks. "For some time now, I've felt like the only competent person on this whole vessel. Pete, I'd like this boy to be my personal assistant."
"Of course." Pete agreed. "Who knows what else he's good for." And with a wave of Pete's hand, my station on this ship was secured. "Hooray!"
Simmons had led me to the front of the ship which seemed to be almost completely dedicated to this man. There was a classroom, a laboratory, a private cabin, and several storage compartments completely filled with his equipment. "And here's my cabin." Sims presented grandly. He must have seen my face light up, because he quickly said, "Don't get your hopes up, Flint, you'll still be slinging your hammock with the rest of the crew."
"Why is do you get such luxurious quarters?" I asked.
"Why, The Voyage proudly holds the record for the most journeys. It's travelled to more places than any other ship on Aeronia. It's a ship of scientific discovery, my boy. Not only that, but she's remarkably formidable in a fight. This ship hunts science as well as pirates, truly the pride of the Air force. I get these accommodations for being such a valued man of science, and therefore, a crucial part of this crew " It was obvious that he'd been a part of many of these journeys.
We spent an hour or so acquainting me with all of Sims' tools and specimens, talking freely all the while. He really enjoyed talking about The Platinum Castle, but when my parents came up, he avoided the topic to a disturbing degree.
A whistle sounded from outside. "Ah," Sims said. "That's lunch, why don't you go round up your friends and get something to eat?"
Just then, it hit me: I was starving!