It was a remarkably clear night on the New Babbage docks. The spring rains had fallen and taken with them some of the industrial smog that normally filled the air. In places, it was almost possible to see the sky. The clear air made approach a little less treacherous as Captain Firecrest guided the Albatross downwards.
The job was a simple, but hopefully lucrative one. Wiggyfish, the foul-smelling and dangerous swimmers native to the waterways and sewers of New Babbage were apparently considered a delicacy in the city of Ravila. In exchange, the Albatross would be returning with a hold full of Ravilan wine, a beverage loved by those in Babbage, but hard to obtain since it’s export had been outlawed.
The ship settled lightly in the water beside the dock and her Captain leapt down to secure fore and aft lines to the jetty, just across from Loner Lane. On deck, the Captain’s Fiancé, Rowan, began to untie the gang plank and lower it ready for cargo. Russ watched admiringly, distracted for a moment by a gust of wind playing with Rowan’s frizzy hair, draping a few loose strands over one of her long, pointed ears. She descended the ramp to join him and smiled.
Scottie Melnik sat on a box of wiggyfish, his feet up on another box, his fingers laced behind his head and leaning back against yet another box of the foul-smelling delicacy. He watched the couple go about their work securing the ship, “Smooth sailing, I trust?”
“No troubles.” The Captain replied as he and Rowan walked over.
“Not even elven nausea.” Rowan added with a smile.
Scottie quirked a brow, “How is elven nausea different from human nausea?”
“It happens at different stimuli, they say.” Rowan said as the pair stopped looking up at the crates. “It is rather subtle.”
Russ chuckled. “How many crates have you got for us?”
Scottie nodded and pushed himself off the crates, stepping to his side and waving his hand to gesture at over a few dozen large wooden boxes, “Okay then! Roughly thirty. Got enough room for all of these?”
“We do. Hold is emptied ready.” the Captain replied, motioning to the gang plank.
Scottie nodded and took a step away from the crates, “They’re all yours. Meet the contact at the tavern as instructed. After a few trips it’ll become a routine and all will be well and good!”
“Excellent! Let’s get these crates stowed.” Russell replied. He began hefting the slightly odorous containers up the gang plank, Rowan quickly moving to help.
Scottie watched the couple work. “Do get this to Ravila as soon as you can. It doesn’t get to smelling any better if you dally.”
“Won’t be a problem, we’re leaving immediately.” The Captain called down breathlessly as he and Rowan lowered the last crate into the hold.
“Perfect. I appreciate your commitment to timeliness.” Scottie called up to them. “I may need you to come directly back after this one. We’re running a little short on wine at this point.”
“Should be fine.” Russ said, striding back down the ramp. “We don’t have any other business planned on this trip other than a little romantic shopping while we’re there.”
“Oh yes. Do stop by the Merchant Quarter. Plenty of lovely places to shop and find unique items, of course…” Scottie advised with a sly grin.
“Shopping, shopping!” Rowan said, smiling happily.
“Anything I need to know about the contact?” The Captain asked, stopping in front of Scottie and drawing Rowan into a casual embrace.
Scottie rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “You’re to meet him at the stroke of 10:00 PM at the Wrong Elephant pub. He goes by “Winston” and he dresses rather gentlemanly and will have a red rose pinned to his lapel. Though he may find you first just by the smell of wiggyfish on you.”
Russ glances around to make sure no one was eavesdropping. “Is he um… fond of nocturnal activities?” He asked.
Scottie chuckled, nodding, “In fact he is. But he’s a professional and you won’t have any issues with him, I assure you. Aside from some haggling. He’s a good man to know, so keep that in mind.”
“Right. We’d better be off then.” The Captain said, kissing Rowan on the cheek as they began to ascend the plank.
“Alright, you two take care then!” Scottie said, waving. “And good luck!”
“I’m so excited!” Rowan murmured in Russ’ ear as they raised the gang plank.
“Yes, first time to Ravila!” Russ said, kissing her again before stepping to the ships wheel.
The Albatross lifted into the air, foul smelling water dripping from her hull.
Scottie cupped his hands around his mouth and called out, “And do be careful of the others. They may not be as professional as Winston!”
The ship began to accelerate over the sea, raising upwards and disappearing into the smog.