This one was shorter than the other, with maybe an oriental look to her. She approached the cell and examined Tepic before stating “You are a little fox. Hmph.”
“ello Miss, is yer the cook come ter feed a poor starvin boy his dinner?”
“Cut the act, Tepic Harlequin of New Babbage,” her voice was sharp, almost hissing in accusation, “former leader of the BUM’s!”
The boy was impressed, as the Babbage Urchin Militia were a short lived organisation from some time before, it was quite amazing their fame had spread even to the pirates. It was no time to change tack though.
“errrrr…… i’s still hungry….”
“Hungry, we can take care of.” she smiled as she said this, with mo warmth in her voice, “The captain sent me with an offer you should not refuse.”
Blimey, Tepic thought, they must really want me to join them!
“Your friend here also accused us of being party to the murder of the one you called Dibbler. It was not us.” she continued.
“i has yer word on that?” he asked.
“It hardly fits what we have done so far does it? You have met the crew have you not? Did any poison you to keep you silent?” her arguments were to the point, “We have not slit your throat for no purpose than to ensure you cannot escape?”
“that Joseph bloke would have, given the chance…..” Tepic remarked, eliciting a laugh and response ” He is an extra hand in this working for his pay. He is not of our crew till recently.”
“an yer been decent enough, given the circumstances…. but…..”
“The Captain claims he does know who killed Dibbler.” the carrot was clearly dangled.
“i does notice yer ain’t given yer word yet..” he said, cutting through the pretty words.
“I give my word that we were not the ones who killed your friend.” the lady said, finally a clear reassurance that Tepic had wanted.
“Dibble,,,” muttered Cyan, the lady picking it up swiftly and adding “Dibble. Yes.”
“then we ain’t at war..” he said softly, this changed things, at least from his point of view.
“Your friend is here with us as one of us until this job is over.” she stated, “Then the captain will tell him who really killed Dibbler. Dibble, your little friend I suppose.”
“he were one of us, yer know what that means.”
“You can join Cyan in his oath, protect the crew, and learn the secret, or be shipped off to the Rif in chains.” she offered, “The Captain isn’t feeling like leaving a young fox alone in the ocean it seems.”
“so that’s how it is, is it?” he said, considering his options, “them other two, Leon’s crew, yer sent em off ter the Riff?”
She nodded and said “They’ll be ransomed at the end of the job.”
“if the Riff ain’t sold em on….” Tepic intimated, apparently striking a nerve.
“Sold them on? WE are not slavers.” she was firm in that statement, then wavered slightly, “Some of us are, but we are not. It comes from having many different pirates working for a common goal when usually we are enemies.”
It was time to play his next card, and Tepic asked “well……. yer part of the Brotherhood then, i take it?”
“No member of the Rif is part of the Brotherhood. We have our own ways.” she replied, and Tepic’s hopes were briefly crushed until she continued, “However, this ship is part of the Brotherhood for now and we act accordingly.”
“The whole Rif is working on this one?” Cyan asked, a thought occurring to him.
“Three of the pirate bands are.” she said, turning to the other boy, “One of them did kill Dibble. That one was not us.”
Behind her, Tepic was wiggling and searching in the hem of his trousers, triumphantly drawing out a worn, old coin.
“then i claims me rights as a member in good standin, by recognition of this symbol….” he said boldly, holding the coin out to the lady, who took it and examined it closely. After several seconds, she nodded, apparently accepting the token for what it was, asking “Yes? And your rights as you think they are?”
“yer not the band i’s lookin for, so we’s not at war….” he stated, receiving a nod in return, “i asks ter be set down in a friendly port so’s ter continue freely on me search.”
“Hmmm. You can ask that yes.” she acceded, “We aren’t making to a friendly port in a long time so you’ll have to wait unless…”
“an i takes no part in the war yer got on with the City, unless yer takes it ter me streets” he offered.
“Well, as I said, join the crew and we can get you to a friendly port quickly. Don’t join, well I suppose you’ll be stuck here till we can get you to a friendly port. With all do haste.” she smiled, the impression that might be a few months, “Think about it, the dinner will be down shortly.” On that, she left.
“hmmm… that didn’t go too badly.” Tepic spoke softly, having avoided the choice for a while longer.