Apprehensive Partnership

a story
2021-02-15 20:55:43,
2021-02-16 06:20:52
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The hull ramp was lowered and Arnett stepped down it carefully into the sun. Gwendolyne was more cautious behind him, climbing down the stairs as if they were ladder and squinting into the sunlight. Arnett took some steps away from the Scorpios II and looked at the town they were at. It was a decent sized town. From where he had stopped the Scorpios II he could see the main street and a variety of businesses and small houses on their main street. The customary gaggle of children were running out to gawk at the Landship. The townspeople were going about their day.

Arnett sighed, preparing for his trip into town. Until the exasperated moan of annoyance came from behind him. Arnett turned and glared at Gwendolyne.

"Where are we?" asked Gwendolyne.

"Harrison," said Arnett, "Small boom town. Stay on the ship."

Gwendolyne made a noise of disgust, "Am I under arrest? Am I to stay in my room?"

Arnett turned and glared, "Get out. Go one, on your own. Piss off. I don't care."

Arnett turned away and began walking into town. Gwendolyne crossed her arms.

"What am I supposed to do, here?"

"I don't care," said Arnett, "I'm going to find some work on the way to White Haven. Maybe I can make up the loss caused by your deception."

Gwendolyne furrowed her brow as Arnett continued to walk away.

"If you aren't back here when I leave," shouted Arnett over his shoulder, "I will make the bold assumption you sprouted wings and flew home. My conscience will be clean!"

Arnett continued into town. The first little house he passed has a small pen outside with some Chanka scurrying about inside. An old man sat in a rocking chair by the road. He and Arnett shared tips of their hats.

"Heya, old timer. I'm heading to White Haven. Got anyone with Ciam who has business that way?"

"We mind our own business here," said the old man.

Arnett shook off the cold reply, "How about where can someone buy a drink around here?"

"Sounds like your business," grumbled the old man.

Arnett rolled his eyes, and continued his stroll into town, "Fine day to you."


Arnett spent the next few hours around the town's bar and general store. He couldn't find a single person looking for passage or anyone looking to ship wares to White Haven. Arnett found himself paying to refill his canteen with water and a small package of roasted nuts.

Eventually he decided to head back before the sun began to set. He headed down the street.

Coming down the opposite side of the street, Gwendolyne sauntered up to him, a victorious smile on her face. Arnett sighed, avoiding eye contact with her.

"How goes your search, 'Lieutenant'?" She asked with gusto.

Arnett narrowed his eyes at her, "It's a small town. I couldn't count on any more then a washroom break and a quick snack."

"Get sloshed at the local pub?"

"I'm piloting," smiled Arnett, "How about you? Managed not to die?"

"I fared much better," said Gwendolyne, "I got a job."

"That was quick," said Arnett, "But hopefully it won't cost you more then you make. Anyways, good riddence."

"It's a good job," said Gwendolyne, "Bringing cargo to White Haven."

Arnett's look turned to suspicion, "Is that so... I went up and down this little town and didn't see a single-"

"Maybe I'm more approachable then you are," she smiled, "You know you aren't as likeable as you think."

"You are one to talk," said Arnett, a smile forming, "What are you going to do when they realize your idea of shipping their goods is waiting for the next train to roll through here and hopping on? Trains only stop at little downs like these every so often."

"Oh, I'm not taking a train," said Gwendolyne, "In fact, I know a washed up old Landship weirdo who is in desperate need of direction."

"Ballsy leap in logic," said Anrett, "Unless you plan on shooting him as well."

"Come on, Joel," said Gwendolyne, "You need this. You don't have a plan in White Haven."

"Neither do you!" said Arnett.

"That's why you need me," said Gwendolyne, "You need some direction right now."

"Do I?"

"You don't have anybody," said Gwendolyne, "Where's this crew you talked about? Where's your family? I've been chasing you around Antiford for what feels like years, Joel. I thought you'd head home after-"

Arnett's hand shot to his pistol, his face clouding over, "Don't you dare."

"You don't HAVE anyone, Joel," said Gwendolyne, "And because of you, neither have I. You owe me."

"A job?" said Arnett, "I can't trust you as far as I can throw you. All you've done is lie, try to murder me, and accuse me of murdering one of my closest friends."

"He was my brother," said Gwendolyne.

"What use do I have for you, anyway?" said Arnett, "There's no free rides on the Scorpios II."

"I have a commission, work," said Gwendolyne, "I've also been on my own for a few years now. I'm not just some girl stumbling through the desert. I've worked on engines a little, I've been on the receiving end of a Pirate attack. I've broken into places."

"Broken in?"

"I sew, I can cook a little. Not well, but I've survived. I can read and write and have worked as a clerk's apprentice for a few months so I know some finance."

"Easy, what are you? Some sort of super person?"

"I didn't claim to be good! I just... learn well," she said, "You had my idiot brother with you for some time. The standards can't be too high."

"Hey," said Arnett. He stepped closer, pointing at her, "Abbott was loyal. He was brave. He had courage in the face of certain death. He had good humour. He was more then just a gunner."

"So you need a gunner?" she asked.

"I don't need anyone," said Arnett.

Gwendolyne crossed her arms, "You owe me. You owe Joseph."

Arnett closed his eyes and sighed. Slowly his arm lowered.

"Rules," he grumbled, "Trial. A test. One screw up? You are gone. You are more then gone."

"Alright, then," said Gwendolyne, "I'm not sleeping on the floor, either. I need a room."

"So sad. There are no rooms," answered Arnett, "There are bunks or the women's room."

Arnett held out the roasted nuts, "And that room is by the cannons."

"Uncivilized," Gwendolyne said, "I'm begining to think you aren't a real Lieutenant."

"And no guns for you," said Arnett, "Not for some time."

Gwendolyne said nothing to that, grabbing the package of roasted nuts from him. Arnett began walking toward the Landship.

"And pay. You'll have a reduced pay for some time until I can trust you."

"Slave labor."

"Down payment on the risk I'm taking," said Arnett, "This isn't the royal academy. Your education isn't cheap."


"I need to figure out where you'll fit in terms of crew," said Arnett, "You're pretty bad in a fight."

"I got the drop on you."

"And in the end it was I who spared your life," Arnett stroked the scruff on his chin, "We'll start with some maintenance. Maybe cooking and cleaning. See how much of a chance I want to take-"

"I'm not a maid," said Gwendolyne, "I won't be your cook."

"Hardly, but you have big shoes to fill," said Arnett, "I've had gunners, I've had mechanics, I've had muscle. I need to figure out where you sit in the needs of the ship."

"And where are all these amazing partners now?" said Gwendolyne.

"Making a living on their own paths," said Arnett, "They are out there... somewhere."

Gwendolyne smiled to herself. They had walked far enough down the road to spot the Scorpios II. Below it was a stack of crates that weren't there before. Gwendolyne nodded to them.

"At the rate I'm going, I'll be off doing my own thing as well before you can blink."

"Hopefully," sighed Arnett, "Hopefully before I have to bury you."

Gwendolyne shot him a glance, but she chose to leave the comment, looking back at the ship.

"Gwen," she said, "Joseph always called me Gwen. My friends called me Gwen."

"Right, murderess," said Arnett, tilting his hat, "And you already know my name. I shall accept 'sir' as well."

"In your dreams," Gwendolyne said, she stopped and turned to Arnett, "So what will it be? I don't like dancing around it. Partners?"

Arnett looked to her with an eyebrow raised. After a moment or two, he allowed a chuckle to escape and he walked on to the Scorpios II.

"You are hired," said Arnett, "But you are no partner. I am your boss. If I'm the Lieutenent then you can welcome yourself aboard, Private Abbott. We will renegotiate your status later on after you've proven yourself useful or proven yourself useless."

Gwendolyne watched him walk ahead, shaking her head, "You're not even a real Lieutenant."

"Now hop to it, employee," yelled Arnett over his shoulder, "I need these boxes loaded, pronto! They are needed in White Haven!"

Gwendolyne frowned, "On my own?"

"You got us into this mess," said Arnett, "Consider this your first chance to prove yourself. Chop-Chop."

Gwendolyne narrowed her eyes at him, and shook his head, "What my brother saw in him, I'll never know."

Tossing a handful of roasted nuts into her mouth, she walked up to the Scorpios II, and prepared to load some boxes into the Scorpios II.