Choosing a Crew
Jeborah led them back inside and proposed they have dinner with him while they discussed how to crew the Ariel and while dinner was being prepared he led them on a tour of his galleries of art. He was quite proud of his collection and described each painting and statue in such exquisite detail that a bored Silver looking down at a sleeping Morph half hanging out of his shirt pocket muttered to him. “I envy you, Mophy. I really do.” He got an almost silent ‘shush’ from Mrs. Hawkins as his reward.
“And this is my prize exhibit.” Jeborah pointed at a statue of a half nude woman with no arms. “I had to bid a million pounds to take this one. They say it came from humanity’s home world.”
“Would it have been two million if it still had both arms?” Silver inquired.
Mrs. Hawkins hid a smile behind her hand as Jeborah huffed up and then the old one broke down laughing. He placed a hand on Silver’s shoulder. “You, Long John Silver, are the first to ever point that out and remind me that art is only in the eye of the beholder.” He looked up as a faint bell chimed. “Ah, I see dinner is ready. Let us retire and enjoy what my chef has prepared.” He led them down a hall to a candle-lit table with four plates set.
A variety of courses were offered and enjoyed with a busy staff clearing the finished one and returning with the new offering. Only one interruption occurred when Bourgan Beast Stew was served. Silver took one taste and frowned. He put his spoon down. This caused Jeborah to inquire. “Is there a problem, Mister Silver?”
“I know each chef has his own take on a famous recipe but this one is missing the Rose Garlic from Steven’s world.” Silver informed Jeborah.
“And how the blazes would you, a pirate, know that?” Jeborah snapped.
Silver got a very cool look in his eyes and he tensed. He was about to reply when his dinner companion interrupted as she told Jeborah. “My son Jim didn’t talk much about the time he spent with his friend here on the RLS Legacy, but one thing he did rave about was the meals that Long-John Silver served on that voyage. Jim said he could even make hardtack taste like a meal fit for a king. My son swore that Silver had the makings of a first class chef so you might want to listen to his opinions.”
Jeborah looked at her and then at Silver. He drummed his fingers on the table before he said to one of the servants. “Fetch the chef.” As the waiter left he said coolly. “We will see what type of cook you are, Mister Silver.”
“I don’t need this.” Silver snapped as he started to get to his feet.
He stopped as Mrs. Hawkins lay a hand on his where it pressed against the table. “Patience, John. Jeborah means no insult and I’m sure that you had lots of pirates complain about what you cooked or they threw it back at you. Didn’t they?” She smiled and patted his hand again. “Just sit, please.”
He smiled at her. “They certainly did.” He nodded to Jeborah. “Sir, you have my apology. It’s been years since I cooked in the grand restaurants at the Galaxy Center and I seem to have misplaced my manners.”
Jeborah nodded and then frowned. “Did you really cook at the Center?”
“Many, many years ago.” Silver replied as he sat. “It may be that me memory has gotten faulty.”
The waiter returned followed by a being with twelve tentacles and a long black drooping mustache that looked odd against his pale-green skin. “Chef Pierret as requested, Sir.”
“What is the problem? The meal too cold? I will have the busboy cashiered for this.” The Chef said as he stood there with his tentacles on his hips.
Jeborah waved a hand. “No, no, Chef Pierret. The temperature was just as right as always. There is a question about the Bourgan Beast Stew. One of my guests thinks an ingredient was omitted.”
“Which ingredient? I follow the old recipe handed down from my ancestors exactly.”
Mrs. Hawkins replied before Silver could. “I believe it was the Rose Garlic from Stevens World. Wasn’t it, John?”
Silver smiled a little bit inside. The lady was standing together with him and deflecting the budding wrath of the Chef. ”Yes, it was.”
The Chef frowned. “The Rose Garlic, madam? Leaving that out would be a disaster.” He picked up a spoon and turned to his patron. “With your permission, Sir, I would sample the dish called into question.”
Jeborah waved his hand in permission and they all watched with fascination as the Chef dipped a spoon in the stew and sucked it in with no sound. He swirled the liquid around in his mouth and abruptly his eyes got large. He sputtered and quickly picked up a napkin from the table and wiped his mouth and then bowed to Jeborah. “Sir, your guests are quite correct. The Rose Garlic is indeed missing. Since I am in charge of the kitchens and all that goes on there, you will of course have my resignation immediately.”
Jeborah looked from the Chef to Silver and then back again. “I, of course, exercise my rights to refuse your resignation, Chef. Just see to it that it doesn’t happen again.”
The Chef bowed. “Thank you, Sir. It most certainly will not happen again.” He strode from the room with an angry look in his eyes.
Silver leaned over and whispered to Mrs. Hawkins. “I’d not want to be the sub-Chefs back there right now.”
She grinned and patted his hand. “Now, wasn’t that better than walking out?”
Before he could reply Jeborah said. “Mister Silver, you also have my apology. It seems age is not a guarantee against making a fool of one’s self.”
Silver grinned. “It’s all right, Sir. I’ve just developed discriminating tastes over the years.”
“Indeed.” Jeborah replied. If you ever want a job as a chef you only have to apply here.” He shook himself. “A most interesting night, but that brings us back to the original reason for this dinner. The selection of a crew.”
Mrs. Hawkins smiled at Silver. “I hope you don’t intend to bring a crew like you had on the RLS Legacy. That would make for an interesting voyage.”
“No.” He replied. “We need a different crew but we still need men and women capable of fighting because Flint will be armed to the teeth. Besides, I know of only two or three ex-pirates who when confronted with all that gold would not act like, well like pirates.”
“In that we think alike.” Jeborah said. “What would be perfect would be a troop of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines who also knew how to sail. But, since we don’t have that I will have to supply the next best thing.”
“Ah, you mean one of your merchant marine companies.” Mrs. Hawkins said.
“Indeed, I do. But not a company. I’m caught with most of my companies on my other ships and no time to recall any of them. What I have is a group sent back for refitting, a platoon under an experienced sergeant.” He replied.
She turned to Silver. “Jeborah was the first to insist his crews be made up of two groups with one able to fight militarily as well as sail. It made for a very lethal combination. What none of his competitors could ever figure out was how the crew handled the divided command responsibilities of fighting and trading so smoothly.”
Silver nodded. “The word amongst pirates was that the ships with the flying turtle insignia were to be avoided at all costs. Only Flint ever dared and brought it off using his Treasure Planet technology. He looked over at Jeborah. “You said they were refitting. I take it they are not at full strength.”
Jeborah sighed. “They are missing all their gunners, and several all-purpose yard-arm workers. The gunners I can supply for four of the guns from among my family. The remaining four you’ll have to find with your recruiting, along with a helmsman, a star-drive engineer, a communications specialist, an environmental expert, and about fifteen yard arm rats.”
Silver grinned. “I can come up with a helmsman. Mister Orfeo who came here with us is excellent in that calling. He’s no longer a pirate and took the oath before the Queen’s representative. You can count on him. The drive engineer and a gunner I think I can supply for they are the same person. Mister Balone is a Dronian who was a former pirate who went with me to Treasure Planet last time. I say former because according to the Dronian laws he had his mind washed for his crimes of piracy.”
“And is he still any good as an engineer?” Jeborah asked. “I hear that the washing his people do their criminals cures them but leaves a train wreck behind in their minds.”
Silver shrugged. “He was the best gunner and engineer I ever knew and if he’s half as good as he was then he’ll be better than anyone else you could find. Besides, there’s no way he could ever become a pirate again.”
Jeborah considered this for a moment and nodded. “All right, we’ll try them. The rest will be filled by my agents and I can guarantee that you will only find honest sailors among them.”
Silver frowned. “They’d better also be prepared to fight. Or they’ll do us no good against Flint and his gang. And on another note, how are we going to handle the divided command problems that Mrs. Hawkins mentioned?”\
Jeborah sighed. “I’m tired and I think we can cover that better tomorrow morning after you meet the platoon.” He rose to his feet. “I’ll bid you good night. My servants will show you to your quarters.”
As they walked down the hall, Sarah Hawkins asked. “Are you as sure of the Dronian as you sounded? At the piracy trials he acted like a stereotype pirate.” Scenes of the purple being built like a small dragon came to mind as he yelled. ‘I kill you!’ at her son on the witness stand.
Silver paused by his door which was just across from hers and said solemnly. “He and I are bonded. I’d trust him with my life.” He made a quick bow, sweeping off his hat. “Good night, Mrs. Hawkins.”
She nodded back. “Good night, Mister Silver.” She closed her door and looked around the room. “I hope you’re right because I may be trusting my life to him too.”