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Pirate Introductions Part Four

Cyan assured Tepic dinner would be better than just bread and water, which perked him up no end, then a new pirate appeared along with Joseph. To Tepic’s amazement, it was a sleek Red Panda, one of the rarest moreau in the Steamlands.
“ello Miss, don’t see many red pandas round these parts!” he greeted her cheerfully, a bit disconcerted when she smiled a sharp-toothed grin and wiggled her fingers at him.
“so far i met the Gunner, the Quartermaster, a limping weasel an a lass who may be the First Mate, so who is you?” he asked, continuing “hopefully yer the cook, cus i’s starvin!”
the panda flounced her hair and smiled a bit more broadly, striking a demure pose. “I’m the hired muscle” she said, fluttering her eyelashes.
“darn…..” Tepic muttered, before looking back at her, “still, you have a very nice tail.”
“Thank you” she replied. Despite her pleasant manner, the smile never reached her eye….. She leaned to one side, eyeing Tepic’s tail. “So do you. Might be tempted to have it for my trophy wall when this is done.”
“blimey! who’s this?” Tepic asked as a new crew member arrived, “Reckon yer should be chargin admission at the door, Cyan, we’s could make a fortune!”
The new arrival also had a magnificent, though unusual tail, something Tepic had to comment on.
“good ter see so many decent tails in one place, must be sad fer poor Mr Joseph, not havin one….”
“I’d be lost without my tail.” Cyan said, smugly.
The look on Joseph’s face showed the barb had struck home, as the panda stood aside to let the newcomer through.
“I’m the chef.” she announced, handing Tepic a mug of ale, a slice of thick beef and some obviously freshly baked bread, already cut and thickly buttered.
“ah! at last! best person on any ship!” he joyously said, accepting his dinner with a wide grin.
“I figured cooking was better than being sent off to the Rif.” the chef shrugged guiltily, “they’re mostly nice.”
“that’s a tidy dinner!” he said, examining the food in his hands, he could see there was mustard on the beef, a real treat.
“Enjoy!” the colourful lady said as she left, and he settled down to eat. After the first bite and sip of ale had been swallowed, he gave a sigh and commented ” now that’s the best reason any of yers given fer signing on, tucker like this!”
He finished his food with relish, then, the remains of the ale close at hand, he studied the panda closely, it was clear she was in fighting trim, even with only one eye.
“so… Miss Muscle, yer not one of the Riff?”
“I go where the work is” she replied, smiling that predatory smile again. “Or where I can forward my….research.”
“Research?” Cyan asked uncertainly, there was something in her tone that was off-putting.
“Yes” she replied, with a wink, or a blink, with only one eye it was hard to tell.
“yer on a flat fee, or a percentage?” Tepic asked. It was important to know these things, in case they could be used later, but she ignored him and asked a question of her own.
“So….you’re the lead for the local urchins, I gather?”
“ha! there ain’t no leader of all the urchins, we’s free folks, like the pirates here!” he said, this was a question lots of people asked, not realising the independence of the urchins.
She fluttered the lashes of her good eye murmuring “Well done. Not-quite lies sell so much better than whole cloth, Tepic Harlequin. But we’ll go with that and call you a ‘locus of influence’ then”
“ain’t exactly like we’s mates chattin over a beer, though this ale ain’t bad” came the boy’s response, not entirly sure what she meant.
She nodded, a touch of amusement in her eye. “Indeed, we are not. Exactly.”
The long day and the good food caught up with him and he yawned, commenting “reckon it’s time i was gettin me head down, that dinner has set me up nice fer a kip.”
The panda steped away from the cell to lean against the far wall, arms crossed and eye half-lidded, presenting an air of inattention as the lad curled up on the floor and fell asleep.

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