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The Great Coffee Shortage: The Parlay Begins

The Babbagers were taken to the battleship after their success over the trials.  To their dismay the pirates surrounded them and threw them into the brig after a through search.  Bookworms revolver, hidden knives, and boot knife were all confiscated.  Even Tepic seemed put out that so many of his tools were discovered.  Emerson, though he claimed he was not a ‘cell’ kind of guy, was allowed to keep his ‘interesting leaves’.

Tepic tried several methods of getting equipment for his escape.  Cyan had to get Beryl what she wanted, and she was enjoying the stolen silks she found aboard.  The cunning fox had Cyan passing Beryl items the prisoners needed.  Once in her possession she would….need to be reminded she was supposed to pass them along.

Tepic made sure Cyan was not around to see these exchanges so he would not get in trouble.  Unfortunately, others were aware of his quick thinking and his breakfast was drugged the morning of the parlay.  The poor fox devoured his sausage, eggs, bacon, potatos, buttered rolls, a slice of ham, and orange juice.  The cook had insisted that all of the prisoners and guests ate well.

Tepic hoped that in the parlay they could maybe get the cook in the deal. Even as he found out he had been drugged he took his nap stuffed and content.

Ambal led them upstairs with the others to meet the First Mate, Faitha.  The Captain was nowhere in sight which was a good thing for the adventurers.  She stood above them near the helm, dressed in an oriental headdress and clothes that set her apart from the others.

“So, you are here to parlay. And the captain, he has said and I quote, ‘How could they have killed the angel, this is impossible I am sleeping in today for strength.’  You may parlay with me until he arrives.  Our agreements shall be binding in that time.  Why are you here and what do you want?”

“Because I have great things to promise!” Emerson assured her.  “You won’t be sorry, I have bigger promises than anyone!”  The pirates and his own companions looked less confident in his abilites.  Only Beryl was certain Emerson would come out ahead in the end.

Faitha did not betray her own thoughts to her audience, “Very well.  Make your promises then.”

“Okay well,”  Emerson paused a moment and then stage whispered to his friend Rayn, “Psst.  What am I asking for?  I need to know how much to offer.”  Ambal nearly fell over laughing, he put a hand on a nearby wall to steady himself.  The double knight was not detered, “We all want a cup of coffee to start with, yes?”

Rayn replied with an annoyed growl, “Coffee, stop attacking Babbage, return prisoners and Babbage citizens.  Those are a good start.”

“I guess there is no way to monetize the attacks without looking like a total villain,” Emerson mused absently.  “Okay, we want to stop it all.  Got it.”

He climbed the stairs and joined Faitha.  She was much shorter than Emerson who towered above her, but she had a way of making it appear she needed to look down to see him.  He smiled at the intimidating pirate standing before him but shivered slightly, “I am Sir Sir Emerson Lighthouse and I have come to bargain.”

“Well met and fought, though you act a buffoon when you like,”  she replied.  There was no disrespect in her tone.  She turned from him and looked out the windows at the clouds of steam.  “You have requests, I heard several of them.  You want the fighting to stop yes?”

“Yes that is the primary concern.”  Emerson nodded as he stood his ground.  “Without that on the table I have to turn and walk away.”

“Of course,” Faitha responded without hesitation.  “What are you offering in exchange?”

“What am I willing to give up?” Emerson asked rhetorically. Bookworm and Rayn listened carefully to make sure Emerson did not give away the city. “Nothing for the concession on the fighting.  That has to be made as a show of good faith. After all, our lives are on the line.  After that you will get a concession, I swear.”

The First Mate considered this a few moments before she nodded, “Very well, the fighting will cease for now from*our* forces.  It is almost the season of Air Kraken.  We were to leave before it began anyways.”

His companions let out a sigh of relief.  Emerson had ended the attacks without giving away anything yet.  They were more concerned to hear him admit, “I have a little and a big concession to make so we can make a couple of deals.  I have anti-air-kraken artillery at my place in Wheatstone.  You can moor there if you need to, that can be my show of good faith.”

Captain Hienrichs sputtered in disbelief below.  She was neighbors with Emerson.  They would be moored next door to her home.

“We live free in the Riff,”  She replied, though did not turn it down.  “A nice offer perhaps.”

“I also offer accommodation at the Gangplank should you be trapped during air kraken season.  Perhaps we could even discuss a deal?  Running tourists up to hunt or view if you are against blood sport!  There is a lot of money in air kraken watching.  I could broker the arrangements!”

Fatiha turned towards him, a sly smile to her lips. “Done. Your Gangplank and your house to moor a ship will come in handy to our tribe.”

“Mr. Lighthouse!”  Bookworm shouted belatedly.

The knight was not done yet.  “It’s a win win.  But we need the kids to be freed first.  Today in fact.”

She did not respond immediately, but the pirate did not seem to mind this arrangement either, “Perhaps we could release the fox child to you today.”

“Hold on, I need to confer with my colleagues!”  Emerson nodded and she allowed him to take his time as he descended the stairs.  He faced their hostile glares, “Okay, for next to nothing I can get Tepic released.  We still need to get Cyan free, right?”

“What about the coffee?”  Rayn asked with some annoyance.  Emerson blinked as if he had forgotten it already.

Bookworm asked softly, but intently, “You’re letting them moor at your place?!”  She looked at Ambal who assured her he would love to visit.

“Book, don’t worry.  You can live next to me because you are used to me, but how long do you think *they* can put up with me?”

“Someone said their captain is a lot like you,” Rayn commented dryly.  Bookworm whipsered to him, “If this pirate captain truly is like Mr. Lighthouse, listening to them converse is probably going to make my brain explode.”

Emerson coughed once, and returned to Faitha above, “Sorry about that, I just needed to check on something.  Listen, a mooring in Wheatstone is priceless.  Book and I, her mostly because she’s in front, have a great view of the ocean.  You’ll love it.  But we need ALL the kids released.  Otherwise…otherwise we leave this for another day.”

“Agreed,” Faitha accepting the offer easily.  “All the ones shipped to the Rif and that have not been set on a dinghy in the middle of the ocean will be released.

Bookworm looked horrified, “What?!  In the middle of the ocean?!”

“I can sweeten the pot,” Emerson began, but then Beryl looked up sniffing. The real captian was approaching.

Captain Khopesh stumbled onto the deck, his airship legs not fully under him it seemed.  Sleepily he cried out, “Fatiha!  What is the situation?  Is the drug pusher dead yet?”

“He lived, if you recall Captain,”  Faitha replied with no loss of composure at his sudden appearance.  The captain screamed out an obscenity in frustration as he remembered and drew his swords.

Emerson turned around to study the captain.  “You pirates are so uncouth..hold on is this one of those ‘complicated situations?'”  He shook his head and reached into his pocket and pulled out a tesla leaf steamer, a gift from Victor. “I need a little sage if you two are into drama.”

“We have already come to several agreements that will benefit the Bechar.”  Faitha explained and passed along what had been agreed to so far.

After a few puffs, Emerson fixed a stare on Khopesh, “Hold on, I am a double knight, and even though I am thrice retired I protest in the name of chivalry.  You sir, are a cad.”

Khopesh turned to him with some anger in his eyes, but he snorted, “Fine.   We finish this parlay.  And remember, you are only safe by pirate rules until after parlay.”

“So be sure to ask for free and safe passage back,”  Faitha added, which got her leered at by her captain.  Her passive face turned into the same sly smile she had shown Emerson previously.

Emerson took a few more deep breaths and then asked Khopesh what he wanted.  The two began to banter for some time going back and forth. Finally Khopesh shared what he truly wanted, “That clockwork who humiliated me in Mondrago!  I shall have her porcelain head hanging over my cabin.”  It was clear to everyone that the Captain was not as reasonable as his First Mate.  Some lamented that he had not stayed asleep, including his own crew.

“This seems like and extremely good idea to me!”Beryl shouted.  The pirates and Babbagers briefly wondered what side she thought she was on at this point.

“You know what,” Emerson said, his buzz not nearly strong enough for this.  “You kind of ‘Piss me off’, to use your vernacular

Khopesh extended his pinky and began to pronouce his vernacular like a londonite, “So terribly sorry to hear that, old chap!”

“You know what, this guy’s hiding something, it’s obvious,”  Emerson retorted, turning to the others.  He turned back to Khopesh narrowing his eyes.

“Like the fact that the doll beat him up and completely humiliated him?”  Beryl asked with a glazed hint in her eyes, that was no less amused.  “He’s talking about Princess Manisha.”

Khopesh pushed Emerson back with the blunt side of his blade, and then turned to Beryl incredulously, “THAT?!   That clockwork was your Princess?!  The face that launches a thousand racing ships?”

Emerson huffed and laid off the heroics for a moment as Beryl looked up, confused, “Didn’t you know?”

“I see,” the captain muttered dangerously.  Emerson looked like he was regretting that last round of purple sage.  He was losing track of the conversation now.”Is pity I didn’t take her head then and there.  She likes you Babbagers.  You know where she is.  You capture princess, take her apart, bring me head!”

“We have already agreed to end the blockade and we should for the air kraken come soon, and return the Babbage children.”

“Yes, release the kids all of them.”

Khopesh turned to Faitha and they discussed the wording in their own language.  Emerson remained silent before he ruined that part of the deal.  Finally he cried “Yes, this seems acceptable!”

“Do we spit in our hands and shake or something?  I heard you pirates are into weird rituals like that.”

Instead Khopesh raised his swords again and ululates terrifyingly to signal the end.  “There, it is done.”

Faitha smiled pleased with how this had turned out.  “Good, this means we keep the coffee, but the fight is done.”

He turned to the communication tubes.  “All hands, gather all the stinky Babbage children to cargo bay 2 and prepare to jettison them from the ship.”

“Wait!”  Emerson cried in shock.  “How high are we?”

“Above the clouds,”  Khopesh turned to Emerson, “You asked for the children released. Perhaps you should have been more specific.”

The companions and crew stared in horror as the cargo bay doors opened.

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