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Marigold and the Freebird

ARoyalist Apr 22nd, 2018 (edited) 52 Never
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  1. >You are Marigold
  2. >and you have been newly appointed to Ensign in the Equestrian Royal Navy
  3. >your station is on a Galleon called the "HMS Freebird"
  4. >the wind is picking up from the south and almost instantaneously the crew have already begun the adjustments to slow the ship despite it being only a temporary, albeit a bit strong, breeze.
  5. "Captain, shouldn't we maintain our sails original positioning? a single gust is hardly enough reason to adjust sails?"
  6. >Captain Soft Shores even toned and experienced voice greets your ears  
  7. >his knowledge of the sea outweighed anything your teachers could tell you, and many of the had taken to calling him the "old Stallion" due to his many life experiences on open water
  8. >but if you were just to look at him, anyone could tell you he wasn't old, getting there maybe, but his dark aquamarine mane still had much of its color the same as his similarly colored, yet lighter toned coat.
  9. >"I'm sorry Ensign, but the crew knows these waters as well as I do, we are entering a new sea current and with how quickly the temperature is changing that gust of wind is our first 'hello' from a much more powerful one coming up ahead. I simply assumed a Pegasus like yourself would have picked up on it before a Earth pony like myself."
  10. >while its true that more rural and country Pegasi probably could have without a doubt. You were born in Canterlot, and spent most of your time indoors making you what other Pegasi refer to as "a grounded" pegasus
  11. >the Captain leads you to front of the ship where he points out to the endless blue ahead decorated with a few graying clouds
  12. >"you see there, Butters?"
  13. >you've not quite taken to the new nickname the crew has given you.
  14. >especially after you learned its a more or less derogatory one representing your rank
  15. >but you look out to where the Captain has show'd you
  16. "I- I don't see anything Captain."
  17. >and you don't. in fact, as far as you can tell, its just open sea with a few patches of clouds in the distance
  18. >"then you'll have to trust me when I say there will be a grouping of Islands coming up ahead. and our next port is just beyond them."
  19. "are we to sail around them then Sir?"
  20. >"Nope, we are going straight though them. Our cargo has a time limit and we need every moment we can spare."
  21. "A time limit? I thought we were hauling--"
  22. >"we are, but it needs to arrive on schedule."
  23. >before you were able to question the reason for the speedy trip the Junior Lieutenant aptly named "Junior" by the crew interrupts
  24. >Junior was the previous Ensign assigned to the ship meaning despite being the lowest ranking officer on the ship she is still your superior as you, in all technicality, hold no rank.
  25. >"Excuse me Captain"
  26. >The captain turns to face his fellow earth pony
  27. >its interesting seeing the differences in commanding, from you have gathered from other officers its usually the Captain who addresses the crew giving direct orders oh what to do
  28. >but not on HMS Freebird. No, on the Freebird you might think Junior was the one in charge but in actuality she is more or less the Captains mouth piece relaying orders from the Captain letting him maintain a calm and collected state of command.
  29. >"Yes Junior?"
  30. >Junior removes her cap revealing her Mahogany colored mane
  31. >"The wind is picking up like normal sir, but the crew is worried. Those clouds in the distance are beginning to gather we might have a storm greeting us."
  32. "Meaning sailing into those islands will be far more dangerous with the shallower waters... But at the same time, if we take shelter in there and wait the storm out we should be safe enough"
  33. >Junior gives you a confirming nod before returning to the Captian
  34. >"exactly. what do ask of the crew Captain? Do we still chance sailing through the Isles, or take shelter in them?"
  35. >Soft Shores wastes no time answering the lieutenants question
  36. >"We take shelter, as much as we need to arrive at Griffon-Claw Bay speeding there wont do us any good if we lose our ship."
  37. >"I'm sure the crew will be happy to hear that Captain."
  38. >Junior gives a slight bow before placing her cap back on her head and turning back to the crew still working on various sections of the ship shouting orders
  39. >"Alright fillies! The captains given the order we take shelter and wait out the storm."
  40. >The younger and much newer members of the crew give a sigh of relief while the ones who had been sailing with Soft Shores had already been expecting his command and continued on with their duties
  41. >starting off as little black dots in the distance the Islands that everyone else was telling you about come into view
  42. >and after another hour or two of sailing the ship begins to slow and creep its way into the shallower waters
  43. >all around are small landmasses with towering cliffs each littered with barely hanging rocks and trees
  44. >in some places the overhang nearly covers the entire ship and you occasionally hear the drag of the ship against the rocky bottom
  45. >The Captain gently places a hoof on your shoulder to ease your tension while calmly speaking to the crew
  46. >"Easy now, take it slow through here, There should be a alcove up ahead but keep your eye on the waters depth-"
  47. >the ship lets out a long groan as a rock under the water scrapes against the bow
  48. >Junior quickly jumps on the crew
  49. >"The Captain said "EASY!" Treat it like a fine lady for Celestias sake! take it slow don't go rushing in you heavy handed mules!"
  50. >Junior is repaid with a few short insults and excuses all of which she ignores without a care
  51. >she explained to you that some of the crew need a little quip here and there to kill stress
  52. >but if they ever got out of hand neither she nor the Captain would tolerate real insubordination
  53. >"we set anchor just ahead, the alcove is just there."
  54. >the ship turns into the small watery path and the anchor is set.
  55. >you look above and around the ship and see no immediate threat of falling rocks
  56. >even if the storm hit here the most you'd have to worry about would be minor damages
  57. >not only that but looking down the waterway you can see a easy exit to the maze of rock and land
  58. >"See Marigold? there was nothing to worry about. I told you, the crew knows these waters as well as I do. We'll be safe here waiting out the storm."
  59. >you force yourself to give a convincing laugh
  60. "Y-yeah, I never had any doubts Captain.."
  61. >your shaking legs however might not have helped your case
  62. >the captain just smiles before walking back to his cabin leaving you and junior alone on deck with the crew
  63. >safe and sound just in time to hear the cracking of lightning welcomed with a downpour of icy rain.
  64.  
  65. >with the rain escalating into a downpour the crew heads below deck while Junior and yourself return to the Officers cabin
  66. >the two of you, now sheltered from the rain can begin to take it easy.
  67. >While the Freebird is a Galleon with a relatively decent sized crew the number of officers on board is what you might call 'skeletal'
  68. >in fact besides the Captain and Junior and yourself there is only one other officer, and he's the head cook.
  69. >So the space kept to hold half a dozen more officers had much more elbow room than you expected.
  70. >Junior is already changing into a dry set of clothes and getting comfortable by the time you close the door
  71. >"So what do you think of her, Butters?"
  72. "huh?"
  73. >Junior smiles as she takes a seat at the center table
  74. >"the Freebird. What do you think of her?"
  75. >you walk to the dresser that normally would be shared by several others and pull out your spare uniform
  76. "Shes a fine vessel, sturdy, well kept, and shes fast enough to out maneuver a thunderstorm"
  77. >Junior laughs
  78. >"Darn right she is, and all that is thanks to the crew and those in command."
  79. >you can tell she was clearly referring to herself
  80. "The Captain does know his stuff as far as I can tell."
  81. >you grin as your slight blow to the Junior Lieutenant ego hits home
  82. >"That's for sure, and he's taught me everything he knows. You can tell how much trust he puts in me by how he gives me command of the crew."
  83. >you turn and face the mare
  84. "You know, if I didn't know any better Junior Lieutenant, id say you think you're a better fit for Captain than he."
  85. >Junior glares back at you
  86. >"No in fact I don't. I wont tolerate anyone on this ship thinking THEY might be either, Ensign. So i'd be careful making accusations like that when you haven't even been broken in to the way things work here."
  87. >you zip your lip
  88. >whether or not you think Junior might be lying about her own standing doesn't matter. Shes your superior and you are the new pony on the block.
  89. >and with the officers on board being in low supply friction amongst them could have dire consequences
  90. >the mare begins to chuckle to herself before breaking out into a full blown laugh attack
  91. >"you- you should have seen your face-"
  92. >okay now you're confused, just a second ago she was scolding you for questioning her and now shes rolling on the floor in a giggle fit
  93. >laying on her back she looks up at you from the deck
  94. >"relax Marigold I was just foolin' with you."
  95. >she rolls back over and sits up
  96. >"I'm not that egotistical or hard headed and heavy hoofed. Its just a joke!"
  97. >wait she was just joking with you? this whole time?
  98. >you've been on this ship for a week!
  99. "You've been acting like that for a whole week around me just for a joke?!"
  100. >She grins sheepishly
  101. >"Well... yeah, it wouldn't have been a good joke if you saw it coming."
  102. >all those times the Captain asked how the two of you were doing and every time you told him that the Junior Lieutenant seemed to have a stick up her butt, more or less.
  103. >you wondered why he always tended to grin and look away while saying he'd take care of it!
  104. >there's a knock on the door and the Captain steps in
  105. >"So Ladies, how are things-"
  106. >you don't let him finish
  107. "You're such an ass Soft Shores!"
  108. >the two of them break out into laughter as your face gets red from a mix of embarrassment and anger
  109. "this whole time I thought it was because I was the new face on the ship!"
  110. >the captain hangs up his coat still trying to control his laughter
  111. >"well you weren't wrong Marigold."
  112. >Junior chimes in again
  113. >"-Or should we keep calling you Butters?"
  114. "YOU TWO STARTED THAT WHOLE THING TOO?!"
  115. >Soft Shores takes a seat next to Junior and casually leans back in the chair
  116. >"Now now Ensign, is that any way to speak to your superiors?"
  117. >that stupid grin is still plastered on his face making your face even redder
  118. >you turn away with a overly girly huff
  119. >"Come on now Butters, tell us you're sorry and we will forgive you for your insubordination."
  120. >you still hear them chuckling and you turn your head facing them again
  121. "I apologize to you?! You two are the ones pulling pranks!"
  122. >they don't respond, just continue to grin at you.
  123. >you know what they want you to do
  124. >but you're not going to do it
  125. >nope!
  126. >nu-uh
  127. >...
  128. "Fine."
  129. >you take a deep breath and bow over dramatically to the only other officers
  130. "Please~ forgive me oh righteous ones~"
  131. >they both start to clap at your performance and each so graciously forgive you for doing nothing wrong in the first place
  132. >the Junior Lieutenant leans over ans whispers into Soft Shores ear before they turn and look at one another knowingly
  133. >"Oh~ that's right~ good point Lieutenant"
  134. >the mare grins slyly and looks at you
  135. >the Captain does the same
  136. "what is it now, Sir?"
  137. >"Now you need to apologize to Junior for not ever asking what her real name is."
  138. >What? you know her name.
  139. "its... Its like... rosy or something... right?"
  140. >she shakes her head
  141. >"Nope, close. its Merry Reeds. You know, like the plants!"
  142. >Reeds lifts her uniform to reveal her cutie mark
  143. >a small little grouping of reeds in the water.
  144. "Oh, I'm sorry Reeds. I thought-"
  145. >She waves her hoof letting the uniform cover herself again as well as dismissing your thought
  146. >"no don't worry about it I never really introduced myself anyway."
  147. >yeah no kidding
  148. "Speaking of which, was the crew in on this too? I'd imagine you acting like that and it not being your normal self might have confused them otherwise."
  149. >The Captain answers for her in a more serious tone
  150. >"Oh no, while on deck and in front of the crew Miss Reeds is as rough as she was with you."
  151. >"Yeah, you see like I explained before it helps the crew when they think they have a bit of muscle leading the group. Especially the colts"
  152. >"But since we are all officers here and there isn't any need to do that in a casual setting she doesn't."
  153. "So what happens when someone DOES get out of line?"
  154. >Reeds stands up and puts on her serious face and sizes you up while walking around the table to stand in front of you
  155. >she gets a little too close for comfort your noses are almost touching and her eyes are locked on your own now
  156. >her voice is stone cold
  157. >"You think you could take me Butter Bars?"
  158. >wow, you never noticed how much bigger she seems compared to you
  159. >you'd guess its only a couple of inches taller, but she might as well have been eight feet tall and made of stone
  160. >you take a step backward
  161. "Okay, I see your point."
  162. >She raises her hoof menacingly before gently booping you on the nose with a giggle
  163. >"you're such a girly horse. Yeah sometimes ponies get out of line, but trust me I can hold my own."
  164. >"Luckily though, no one has gotten seriously hurt. well maybe besides some blows to their pride."
  165. >Reeds returns to her chair and you cant help but grin at this whole new encounter
  166. "Hey Reeds?"
  167. >"yeah"
  168. >your grin turns into a full blown smile as you join them at the table
  169. "I think I'm going to really like the Freebird."
  170.  
  171.  
  172. >the storm drags on into the night
  173. >and while the Captain said he'd love to stay and chat some more he decides to retire for the night and suggests the two of you do the same
  174. >Reeds was all to happy to do the same
  175. >"We have a lot of sailing ahead of us in the mornin' I think it would be best if we follow the captains lead and head to bed"
  176. >you couldn't agree more. especially after a yawn escapes your lips
  177. "sounds like a plan. I was getting pretty tired myself"
  178. >Reeds giggles before heading to her cot
  179. >"Oh were you? I couldn't tell. That yawn had me fooled."
  180. >you give her a smile before making your way to your own cot
  181. "Goodnight Reeds."
  182. >"Night Marigold."
  183. >you put out your lantern and the room is slowly engulfed in darkness
  184. >sleep comes to embrace you as you lay your head on the pillow
  185.  
  186. >Morning comes quickly, and by the looks of things you are one of the first to rise
  187. >you go through the morning routine of washing yourself with soap and wet rag as best you can
  188. >and while your mane doesn't look the best, you quickly learned that putting it in a slight braid gave it a slightly better appearance
  189. >you look it over in your small mirror before giving a slight sigh
  190. "the struggles of being a city mare at sea."
  191. >feeling content with how everything turned out given the circumstances you head out on deck
  192. >the sun is just barely rising over the horizon leaving the dawn sky filled with lovely warm tones complemented beautifully by the blue sea
  193. >many of the enlisted have already rose and are checking the ship for any serious damages that may have occurred during the storm
  194. >you do your best to keep out of their way but you inevitably bump into someone
  195. >"excuse me ma'am"
  196. >the apology is more of a formality, you can tell by the tone the Stallion is more annoyed that you got in the way then they are of bumping you
  197. "Oh- No, my apologizes. I should have paid more attention to where I was."
  198. >you give him a soft smile and take a step back as he is about to go on with his work when something strikes him
  199. >"Oh, I don't know if anyone told you yet, but Cook would like to meet you."
  200. >this catches you by surprise just a little
  201. "Cook? as in the head cook?"
  202. >the stallion doesn't stop to listen, just shouts back while tying several ropes together and pulling them tight
  203. >"Well, who else would he be? He's waiting below deck just through the crews quarters"
  204. >you give the stallion a frown and start walking away
  205. >there was no need to be rude, you were just asking a simple question
  206. >you open the hatch to head below deck and the muffled sounds you heard while approaching turn into loud roars of laughter
  207. >dozens and dozens of ponies are crammed into every nook and cranny not taken up by supply
  208. >the smell reminds you of a gymnasium only a thousand times worse now that food and the strong smell of alcohol have been added into the sweaty mixture
  209. >you have to force yourself from gagging at it and you wonder how all these ponies could be laughing and EATING with this stench being so prominent
  210. "Ugh. I think I might be sick"
  211. >you place a hoof over your nose and do your best to walk through the masses of rowdy crew enjoying their breakfast of...
  212. >honestly you'd rather not think about what food they are having at this moment.
  213. >you end up having to shove your way through many of the crew who are all to aware that Ensign is not officer
  214. >so they just treat you as anyone else on the crew and occasionally shove back or the even bolder ones give the occasional cat call
  215. >its a little odd once you start noticing that many of them are coming from the mares
  216. >thank the princesses you eat above deck with just Reeds and Soft Shores
  217. >it then dawns on you that you have no idea what Cook even looks like as you finally make it to the ships galley
  218. >there are several ponies scurrying around moving different foods dishes and cups this way and that
  219. >well better get their attention
  220. "Excuse me! I'm looking for Cook?!"
  221. >a pegasi mare points her wing towards a door in the back and shouts back to you
  222. >"He's in the back making sure the grog is being properly rationed."
  223. "Thank you!"
  224. >you head to the door and step through but not before you hear the mare a final time
  225. >"No problem Butters."
  226. >you roll your eyes and shut the door a littler harder than you expected
  227. >You might have gotten over Reeds and Shores calling you that since they explained it was just a joke to them and they wont do it anymore
  228. >but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable when the rest of the crew is still going to
  229. >inside the room you can see giant barrels and tubs of rum, water, and lemon juice all being mixed together in a larger container by a team of several unicorns and two earth ponies
  230. >the earth ponies are hauling the barrels back and fourth where needed and the unicorns are pouring each one carefully and mixing them together
  231. >you can tell they are putting extra care into making sure each mix is as evenly distributed as possible to save ingredients
  232. >So hypnotized by the work that goes into making the drink that you don't even notice a large deep blue Stallion approach until he pats you on the back
  233. >"Nice to finally meet you! I'm Cook!"
  234. >you let out a little yelp in surprise and jump slightly
  235. >you hadn't even heard or seen him approach you at all, one second he wasn't there, the next he was.
  236. >he laughs at your surprise and offers a hoof to help you regain your composure
  237. >"Sorry about that, I tend to use my magic to get around here quicker."
  238. >he lifts up his hat and parts his large grey mane to reveal his horn better before letting them return to their resting positions
  239. >"I was hoping to have met you sooner, but my job keeps me below deck most of the time."
  240. >he smile is genuine and you accept his gentle gesture with you own hoof
  241. >at least you thought it was gentlemanly, until it turned out to just be for him to shake
  242. "Ah... yes, hello Cook, I'm Marigold the ships new Ensign."
  243. >"Marigold huh? I thought your name was Butters?"
  244. >you shake your head 'no'
  245. "No. Its Marigold, the whole 'Butters' thing is just a misunderstanding."
  246. >"Well it fits you, being you have a light yellow coat and all."
  247. >you smile a bit and attempt to point out the flower is also yellow
  248. >though you doubt it will do much good
  249. "Yeah, just like Marigolds are."
  250. >"huh, I thought they were kinda orangeish- Anyway! while I'd love to chat some more I have a lot of ponies to feed"
  251. >various cups and ingredients are already being lifted in his magical aura before he even turns to look at where they are
  252. >oh thank goodness a chance to get above deck and get some clean air!
  253. "Oh I understand, it was very nice meeting you-"
  254. >turning away you realize he must be more familiar with this kitchen than anyone else if he can do all this without even looking-
  255. >suddenly he turns you back around to face him again, his magic still working away behind him
  256. >"OH wait! before you go, would you mind doing me a favor?"
  257. "Uh, okay. what can I help you with Cook?"
  258. >several trays of food and grog are levitated over
  259. >"Could you take this to the brig? I know we are supposed to be cutting prisoner rations, but I cant in good conscious ignore their hungry bellies because a piece of paper told me to."
  260. >while his words seem very upbeat and smile quite genuine, his eyes are pleading with you.
  261. >you can tell he's just a good pony trying to do what right even if that means going against orders
  262. >you give him a smile and a nod back
  263. >how could you say no to him with a face like that?
  264. "sure thing Cook, I can do that."
  265. >"Thanks Butt--uh, Marigold. Oh and don't tell the Captain either!"
  266. >and in the blink of and eye he vanishes presumably to get back to work
  267. >all you have to do now is take these to the brig.
  268. >you feel a drop of sweat run down your cheek as you look at the door to the crew quarter out of the corner of your eye.
  269. "ugh... once more into the breach."
  270.  
  271. >The second time through is just as bad as the first
  272. >however this time you are also carrying the trays that Cook gave you on your back
  273. >you stiffly extend your wings to the sky to help keep the stacked trays balanced on top of one another
  274. >its a good thing you thought to do this, the ponies down here don't have the luxury or even the concept of "elbow room"
  275. >but with effort and no small amount of patience you finally make it through the mass of sailors and deck hands
  276. >you even feel a bit of pride knowing that you might even have done better this second go round.
  277. "Well, that wasn't so bad. I might be getting use to it already."
  278. >but not the smell. oh, princesses no.
  279. >The smell is going to haunt your dreams for weeks.
  280. >Focus Marigold. You're doing Cook a favor, don't get distracted.
  281. >you look around the ladder to the hatch you originally came down
  282. >the room you're in should have a door to the brig somewhere
  283. "Now, Cook said it was just past the- AH HA!"
  284. >you spot the door with its iron reinforcements just to the side
  285. >you walk up to it and slowly push the door open with a grunt of exertion
  286. >once it gets going it becomes much easier
  287. >you step inside and see three different cells two smaller ones on either side and a larger one in the back
  288. >there's a lantern hanging just out of reach of anyone inside the cells giving the only light besides a small hole casting a light on the head of a stallion prisoner sleeping in the largest cell
  289. >in fact all of the cells have sleeping ponies, though their appearance is quite different from the normal ponies you encounter
  290. >you take a few steps closer to one of the small cells holding two resting earth ponies and slide two of the trays of food inside as quietly as you can while at the same time getting a better look at the pair
  291. >each of their coats are slightly matted and dirty, with small patches and lines where some of their coat must have been trimmed away.
  292. >no... wait...
  293. >upon further inspection those splotches of missing fur reveal several scars and healed up cuts
  294. >you give a glance to the other prisoners in the two other cells and if you squint you can see they all have this in common
  295. >not only that, but they all have at least one small hole in each of their ears
  296. >were these stallions wearing ear rings?
  297. >you stifle a giggle at the thought of these ragged and tough looking stallions wearing mares jewelry and slide the rest of the trays inside for each of the prisoners
  298. "Well, that's that. Favor to Cook, accomplished."
  299. >revealed that you accomplished this task without even having to interact with the would be criminals you make a step to leave, only to trip and fall
  300. >there's a crash of metal as you tumble down to the floor, followed by the sound of gut busting laughter from all around.
  301. >as you stand back up you realize all the ponies around you are holding their sides and laughing
  302. >"O-oh by the code, These Equestrian naval mares are just too easy to fool-"
  303. >"Nah- I think we just got lucky. Look at the insignia on her uniform."
  304. >"A newbie?"
  305. >"As new as one can get, doesn't even have her hooves wet"
  306. >you are fuming at the collar as you look to see one of the trays had been slid under your hooves causing you to fall
  307. >without thinking you flare out your wings and shout at the ponies behind the bars
  308. "WHAT A NICE WAY TO SHOW GRATITUDE TO THE PONY BRINGING YOU FOOD!"
  309. >a mare from the cell on your right leans herself against the bars
  310. >"Oh ease up tenderhoof. We're just trying to make the best of a bad situation."
  311. "You know, we are SUPPOSED to be cutting your rations. In fact I was told to not inform the Captain that we hadn't yet before I brought them here!"
  312. >some of the laughter begins to die down and you can even see a few of the ponies begin to show signs of feeling ashamed of themselves
  313. "I don't know why we aren't following that ruling, it only makes sense to do it since you're all prisoners anyway, you probably did something pretty bad to be hauled off and away like this anyhow."
  314. >you start to feel rather proud of yourself for your scolding of these criminals
  315. >in fact you even feel like your standing a little bit taller than normal until you notice that the ashamed looks quickly harden into spiteful glares
  316. >even though they are behind bars you suddenly don't feel as confident as you did before
  317. >you tuck in your wings and take a few steps backward towards the door as they begin to grumble
  318. >"Leave it to the Equestrians to be so self righteous and act like they are High-Horses."
  319. >"growing up in a place were everything is handed to you on a silver platter will do that. She's probably from Canterlot or Cloudsdale"
  320. >the only one not glaring at you or quietly grumbling is the mare from before
  321. >all you get from here is a soft look of disappointment like one a mother might give to a misbehaved child
  322. >you don't plan on sticking around these ponies anymore and you slip out the door closing it shut behind you.
  323. >you take a deep breath and gather yourself after that little ordeal
  324. >they called you an Equestrian right?
  325. >so that must mean they aren't from Equestria
  326. "So then what do THEY know about Canterlot!? They've probably never been there in the first place."
  327. >You never met ponies that rude and dirty in Canterlot before in your life
  328. >heck even the ones that come close are still far more polite than this group was
  329. >oh, what does it matter, you wont be needing to interact with those ruffians anymore
  330. >Cook will just have to find another pony to deliver them food next time.
  331. >you brush what bits of food stuck to your uniform away and flap your wings a few times for good measure before heading back above deck
  332. >the sudden change in light takes a bit of getting used to since you had been in the darker underbelly of the ship for so long but you eventually get your eyes to adjust to the bright sun and blue sky gracing your vision
  333. >you discover the ship has already been set out to sail when you finally see clearly
  334. >the fresh sea breeze cools what remains of your fiery temper and fresh, pure, clean air fills your lungs
  335. "Ahhh that's so much better than below deck."
  336. >"So thats where you had gone off to then?"
  337. >the Captain smiles and gives you a slight nod
  338. >"I never expected you to actually go down there unless ordered to. Glad to see I was wrong"
  339. >for a brief moment you contemplate telling the Captain about the whole rationing not going how its supposed to
  340. >but you don't.
  341. >it not because you don't want to punish those asses for being so rude to you, you do!
  342. >but that would lead to Cook getting caught up in the mess too, and he doesn't deserve that.
  343. "The smell was the worst of it, oh, and the confinement, and the rowdy crew. But it wasn't that bad."
  344. >"Welcome to life at sea Miss Marigold, I'm sure you will get used to it after a while."
  345. "I certainly will try Captain."
  346. >Soft Shores pats you on the shoulder
  347. >"I don't doubt that you will. We still have a bit of a way ahead of us and not much time to waste. Be sure to pay close attention to the Lieutenant and I. We need the finest officers we can get."
  348. >you smile brightly and give the Captain a salute
  349. "Yes, Sir."
  350.  
  351. >the next few days at sea are uneventful, you keep yourself close to Soft Shores and Reeds slowly learning the ins and outs of sailing and commanding a crew
  352. >emergency drills are run every so often like prepping the lifeboats, closing the sails, and the crews favorite, gunnery drills.
  353. >Why that's their favorite you'll never know.
  354. >If anything, the thought of needing to actually use these pieces of artillery against other living creatures makes you more than a little queasy as the sound of a dozen eighteen-pounders begin to rack your ears
  355. >B-B-THOOM!
  356. >your ears are ringing from the shock but just faintly over that you can hear the Reeds shouting as she shoves past you to shout to the crew
  357. >"Get the next load going! the more you brake the more fire you take!"
  358. >you do your best to stay close to her and avoid the scrambling gun crews and powder runners as they clean, sponge, load and prime the next volley
  359. >"Come on, come on ladies, I don't fancy dying if we get into a fight because you're too slow!"
  360. >while some of the smoke from the shots escapes our from the ports enough of it flows back under the ship to keep a gray haze over everyone inside
  361. >You can only just make out Reeds raising a hoof before she swings it back down
  362. >"FIRE!"
  363. >B-B-THOOM!
  364. >One of the cannons closest to you lurches back a bit further than you expected and slams into you
  365. >you recoil at the impact getting the wind knocked out of you and you enter into a short coughing fit, not at all helped by the smoke of the cannons still lingering.
  366. >"Well done everyone, Marigold, what is their time?"
  367. >you reach into your pocket and examine your watch as you stand yourself back up
  368. >you manage cough out
  369. "Three minutes and... eight seconds Lieutenant"
  370. >The crew who had been looking to you for your answer now turn to the Lieutenant for her approval
  371. >"The Captain and his long-nines did better. We will have to keep working on it, but that's good enough for today alright everyone get this place cleaned up and tell Cook I said to get you some grog."
  372. >the crew erupts into cheers at the thought of getting more of their beloved, and only, drink of choice while on the Freebird.
  373. >you walk over to Reeds as the gun crews pack up
  374. >she taps you in the chest with a friendly grin
  375. >"get the wind knocked out of you there, Butters?"
  376. >one last cough slips out as she taps
  377. "Yeah, got a little too close to one of those guns. I wasn't expecting it to recoil that far."
  378. >She nods but while she's looking at you her eyes seem a little distant
  379. >"You have to keep your eyes peeled Butters. If something occurs and we need to do this for real, there's going to be a lot more going on to distract you."
  380. >she has a very solemn tone to her voice but once she notices she shakes herself out of it and puts on a smile
  381. >"But you're doing good, a few more of these drills and I'd bet you'll be the one telling me how easy it is."
  382. "Well, I don't know about that. You seem to have it down to a 'T' I'll probably never be as clear headed as you during these."
  383. >you notice that her ears dip slightly before she starts to head back up to the deck
  384. >she walks right on past you without even looking
  385. >you didn't do something wrong did you?
  386. >"We have a bit more to do Butters, just because the crew gets a break doesn't mean we do."
  387. >you watch her for a moment before following her lead
  388. "Yes ma'am. Whatever you say."
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