A Gallant Seaman's Suffering


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Scene Title A Gallant Seaman's Suffering
Synopsis Captain Ryans is given grim tidings by one of his crew.
Date December 5, 2018

Oh, gentlemen of England…

The sea crashes in salty spray, birds cry from their flight along the vessel’s path. Clouds fill the sky and a misting rain turns the air briny when it hits the sea spray.

…that live at home and ease…

There is no one scheduled to be aboard the Cerberus this afternoon, not with the vessel docked in the Pelago for what amounts to shore leave under Benjamin Ryans’ watchful eye. And yet, ghosts still haunt the rust-streaked ship.

…little do you think upon…

Adam Monroe stands at the port side of the ship, spooling loose rope into tight coils. There’s three spools laid at his feet, another hundred foot length of rope halfway wound around wrist and elbow. There’s a familiarity in the motion, something like a meditative quiet in his eyes, and in spite of his somber, breathy singing.

…the dangers of the seas.

The Cerberus

Docks of the Pelago

December 5th

3:12 pm

But Adam’s quiet time is bound to end, for down the wooden stairs and winding scaffolding walkways, Captain Ryans and Huruma are on their way back.

Heavily booted feet don’t exactly offer a quiet approach, but then again Benjamin doesn’t have a reason to be silent on his own ship. A pack full of supplies bounces against his back, strap hooked to a hand over his shoulder. Spotting Adam on the deck of the boat, the old man nudges Huruma and points him out.

His pace quickens until he is able to board the boat. His gait surprisingly light for a man pushing seventy, no doubt aided by his own ability. “Everyone is settled and getting looked over.” He offers, his approach angled towards to the distracted man, his voice rumbling loud over the sounds of the seas. “And a bit of good news,” he offers to his friend. “I was able to secure an appointment at Lowe’s, get some of the damage we sustained in that last fight repaired.” He doesn’t exactly explain how he got it, but… Not important.

Ben gives the boats railing a loving pat, “She’ll be good as new.” It isn’t their first appointment with the woman. “Ready for the next mission.”

Huruma doesn’t need help seeing things, much less a nudge- and Ryans gets a slanted look as he points out the lonesome sailor spooling rope. Yeah? She gives it a noncommittal noise that says ‘yes, I hear him’ or some equivalent thereof. Without outside factors she doesn’t tend to join in on the sea shanties.

The pack on her shoulders is similarly full, the strap crossed against the skin of her chest and the collar of her long, slitted coat. Her push aboard is not quite as light-footed, and her boots click harder against the deck. Stop making her look so… unsprightly. She’s the youngest sea-dog, you guys.

Thump. Huruma drops her pack on top of another spool of rope sitting astride the wheel-cabin. Whatever is inside doesn’t need tended to right away, by the sound of the landing.

Adam’s slow turn up to Ryans and Huruma is beset with a look of uncertainty in his pale eyes. Frowning, Adam lays down the half-spooled rope and wipes some beads of mist from his brow. “Might be sooner than later,” he says in a quiet tone to Ryans and Huruma, eyeing the docks where shipwrights are scrubbing barnacles off of a smaller tugboat. “Been waiting for you lot t’get back, we should… maybe walk and talk?”

Taking one more look at the dock crew, Adam adjusts the collar of his jacket against the spray of the misting rain and looks toward the stairs up to the pilothouse. “Heard some blather from the dock workers, ships that came from down south. Nothing’s good news, I’ll tell you both that much.”

Something changes in Ryans when Adam speaks, his expression smooths out into something much more serious. The other man has Ben’s attention. “Is it ever good?” he counters with a heavy sigh through his nose. “Alright…” he finally says, motioning to the others to proceed him to someplace.

A glance goes to Huruma who Ben gives a rueful smile, “Good thing we found something stiff to drink, somehow I think we are all going to need it.” It’s obvious the old man’s mind is already thinking ahead to what he’d need to do, if they need to leave quickly.

Walk and talk usually doesn't bode well, exactly. Huruma looks after Adam's nerves, catching the smile from Ben with a wry one of her own. Adam earns a closer look, pale eyes giving a glimmer. “Sounds like that, yes.”

As they move to follow Ryans, Huruma takes the back, giving a cursory glance over her shoulder to make quick note of dockhands. Her ability will make sure they get privacy, at least from anyone coming too close. “Ready to spill?”
Adam slides a languid look at Huruma, then leans up against the console near the ship’s controls, arms crossed over his chest. There’s a tea kettle on a hotplate here, just now starting to steam, a few tin cups arranged around it. He’d been ready for this conversation.

“We might need to leave,” is how Adam frames his news. “Permanently.” His tired blue eyes alight to Ben, then over to Huruma. “The Sentinel just wiped out what was left of Pelago Norfolk, down in Virginia.” He turns his attention to the floor, jaw briefly clenched. “Word has it they’re headed up here, a whole fucking fleet of them. From what I’ve been told, you can see Norfolk burning for miles.” When he looks back up, Adam has a haunted and fearful look in his eyes. Huruma can feel it in his bones.

“They’ll kill us all.” Adam says with certainty. Even him.

There is a soft curse that erupts from Benjamin at the news, a hand scrubs over his mouth and the other rests on his hip, as he turns away to look out at the Pelago. He had no reason to doubt Adam’s information, brows furrow, Huruma able to clearly feel the chaos of his emotions. “The whole fleet? What has got them all wound up?” The fingers on his hip drum silently.

“Do we know how many ships are incoming?” That is probably the answer that Adam wasn’t expecting. Blue eyes look at what ships are docked, wheels turning. “If we run, we will always be running. Not to mention, how many of the people in the Pelago have we brought back? How many kids are under Eric’s care?”

“Are you suggesting we just abandon them?” Benjamin turns back to Adam finally, motioning to the world outside, there is no anger in his tone, just a simple question. “Not to mention, you really want to go tell Mary and my boy, that we are going to leave everyone they care about to die, without even trying?”

Huruma is silent as they enter the cabin, and remains that way throughout Adam’s explanation of far-away events. And they’re heading northward. Her cheekbones and jaw tense up in a grinding sort of quiet, shoulders tense when she folds her arms. It’s something about the palpable fear that disturbs Adam that has her unfolding again.

“The sky. The sky has them all wound up.” Huruma murmurs an answer aside to Ben, mouth twisted in a frown. “They must think something is happening. Or will happen. Why else would they come blasting through settlements now?”

“It is not what he said, even if he was thinking it.” is a gentle rejoinder for Ben as well, softly spoken at the tail end of his questions of Adam. “What would you propose, then? We stay and stand our ground?” So to speak. “With what fleet? We would need something- - or someone- - that could punch holes in the hulls of steel-boned ships. Where would we possibly get that firepower?” It’s not a hopeless question, but the men can sense the notes of despair in her words even without an ability to do so. “There is only upriver or across the sea, otherwise. Take everyone and go. There are other land masses. Africa is practically as much land as it ever was.”

Adam is quiet, though the look of appreciation he affords Huruma for her support is lingering. When his attention moves to Ryans, it's with doubt in his eyes in spite of the reinforcement. “I think Huruma’s right. The aurora, the… weird happenings. People' who been talking about hallucinations, seeing places… things.” Adam looks aside, worriedly at that.

“If the Sentinel heard of it, if they experienced it, they'll blame us, they'll think we’re at fault.” And in that Adam shows his true concern. “If what happened down south is any example, this could be another purge. We barely fucking survived the last— ” Worked up, Adam hunches over and balls up at his mouth and coughs violently into his fist.

Once he's stopped, he looks up at Ryans with uncertain eyes. “We’d need nearly every person, every ship, and even then…” he briefly looks to Huruma and then back again. “They've at least a dozen ships.”

“Look.” He starts with a sigh, recognizing their reluctance. “The council is in a couple of days,” Benjamin finally says after a moment, obviously digging his heels in. “We see what support can be drummed up and we go from there.”

“I get wanting to just run and a part of me wants to, but… we run and we won’t be able to stop,” his voice rumbles softly, leaning forward to look at the clouded sky. “The moment we do, we’re all dead. Like you said, we barely survived the last one, I don’t think we’ll survive this one.” Turning his attention to Huruma, “That includes on land, they will be all over, not just the sea. We take them down, we send a message.” He points out the window of the wheelhouse, “Only place remotely safe would be in the Stormfront and even that is iffy.”

Ben spreads his hands, “Do or die. We either run and delay the inevitable or we stand our ground and give the kids a possible future.”

Huruma is already tense when Adam looks to her, and it doesn’t abate that well while he speaks. It remains strung in her shoulders, tight and rigid. The mention of another Purge has her visibly sick, features twisted in discomfort. When Adam’s energy gets the better of him, Huruma moves to put a hand to the middle of his back, offering a small note of calm so that he doesn’t go into a fit. Besides that, the touch is a reassuring one. She worries, even if he hates making her. “Get some tea in you, before it turns into a spell…” It helps. Usually.

“They cannot take warships on land. That is so much of what they have against us…” Huruma sounds uncertain when she looks to Ryans next, eyes stark against her face. “Even if everyone stayed to fight… what would be left even if we won? A Phyrric victory here means even less chances that the survivors thrive… The world is immense, the Sentinels can not be everywhere at once…”

Despite her attempts to reason Flight, Huruma’s own nerves seem to get to her too; the strain of her eyes, the hush of her voice, of course she is afraid. The first time, she would have been gone if not for Ben’s interventions. Now that it’s back, and she can see it coming- - “I do not want to die. But… you know that if you stay, so will I. Neither of us abandon the people we love, and I am your friend from this world to the next. So.” Here they land. Somewhere in the reluctant middle.

Adam exhales a sigh through his nose, nodding slowly as he wraps his arms around himself. A whistling sound rises in the kettle on the hotplate, and Adam steps over to it and pulls it from the heat, pouring hot water into the tin cups, flooding the dried hibiscus leaves and bringing a floral scene into the room. “The Confessor’s ship…” Adam says as he finishes pouring the last cup, “we saw what it did to the mainland when the purge started. Those missiles have a short range and small payload, but…” He doesn’t need to explain further, Ryans knows what the Decataur is capable of.

Picking up two of the cups, Adam walks them over to Huruma and Ben, handing them out. “If you’re sure about this, you’d best gather all your little ducklings somewhere safe.” Adam’s blue eyes, ringed with red and shadowed in fatigue level square on Ryans. “Family’s all we have now.”

“How about I promise not to make a full decision until I see what happens at the Captain’s meeting,” Ben concedes, taking the cup from Adam with a mumbled thank you. The radiant heat feels good on the sore and stiff joints of his hands, a reminder that he isn’t as young as he was. Still he was proposing going into battle.

“But have I ever steered you wrong?” Ryans asks with a touch of amusement. Though it sobers quickly. “Except, that time when I tried negotiating with Sawyer. Not my finest moment admittedly.”

He looks into the cup of tea for a quiet moment, “We need to check around and see if we can’t get Mary and JR on a boat out of here. Delia and Lucille won’t budge if they decide to stay and I’m not going to make them leave.” Holding up his cup he looks at them both, “If we squirrel away family, I’d have you both go, too. Family isn’t always blood. Thank you for sticking by me all these years.” Ben’s voice is a bit gruff as he says that, even though there is a smile. For Huruma, she can feel his doubt in himself lying underneath the confidence. “To family.”

Huruma's touch lingers as Adam moves away, hand hovering at her side before falling. She nods in thanks when he returns with the cup, mulling quietly with a stare into it. A nod comes for Ben's compromise. When the meeting happens.

“Well… There was that time with the arena ship…” Huruma mutters, glancing away from the captain. “You were lucky at least one of us was good with knives.” Her sobered smile is still kind about it; her expression shifts at Ben's words, brow furrowing with the downturn of lips. “If you hadn't come back for us in the first place…” A pause, heavy but pointed. “Between that and actually caring, you gave us every reason to stay.”

“That, and our faith in you, I think.” Huruma's lips turn up at the side again, eyes brightening. A flush of reassurance nudges at him, a subtle mix of calm and courage against the edge of his anxiety.

Adam makes a noise in the back of his throat and looks to Huruma. “Nnnh, yeah. That. I think the barker running that ship still has my bloody kidney. I hope it's failed on him like my last two.” Adam exhales a rasping, bemused laugh at that.

“To living boldly, or dying with convictions.” Adam goes to raise his teacup, as if offering a toast, then pausing as if remembering something. The wryness fades in Adam’s eyes, and it's clear the weight of the situation is settling heavy on him in spite of his light tone and irreverence. Rather than let that be his sentiment, he shakes his head and chooses to amend his unrequested toast.

“To family,” Adam finally agrees, bringing it back around. “Whether you wanted them or not.” Though he's trying to be glib to hide his anxiety, it isn't a mask that fools either Ben or Huruma.

They know how much he needs them. And right now, they're going to need each other to survive.

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