Shore Leave, Chapter One

(This story should stand alone, but it does use characters from a previous story. If you didn't read the first Adventures of Captain Arcolier, you may want to start there first.

Jaimie smashed her ceramic beer mug upside the thug’s head in a spray of dark ale and pottery chips. “Damnit! I knew we should have held off until we could put in at Haven. Every time we come to Coventry sooner or later we get in a fight.”

The recipient of her blow dropped gracelessly to the floor with a loud thump. Tammy rolled her eyes and shrugged expressively at her Captain. “We’re just too hot for these rubes to handle. I wasn’t even flirting with him, honest!”

Jaimie snorted derisively and studied her Chief Engineer. On the ship Tammy wore her hair up in a loose bun, but for tonight’s pub crawl she had let it down into an artfully disarrayed mass of raven curls that brushed her shoulders. Those shoulders were bare, as Tammy had pulled the sleeves of her green peasant blouse far to the side and tucked in the bottom to pull the shirt tight across her chest. A skintight pair of black pants and high leather boots completed her shore leave ensemble. Jaimie arched her eyebrow and shook her head. “Girl, everything about you from clothes to attitude is a flirt for some of these goons.”

Tammy grinned with mischief, her eyes sparkling with glee. “As I said. We’re too hot for these rubes to handle.”

Jaimie looked ruefully at her own outfit, now spattered and streaked with beer foam. “Maybe I was, but I now think some fresh clothes are in order. Let’s take a quick trip back to the hotel so I can change. Then we can try that bar down by the wharf.”

“This place was dullsville anyway.” Tammy stood up and dropped a few coins on the table. “Let’s roll.”

Only a few members of the crew of the Beauteous Revenge had opted to stay in Coventry. Stinky Pete had elected to stay aboard the Revenge and supervise her repairs. The Revenge was currently in drydock orbit above the planet where she was getting a new engine installed as well as a host of minor repairs. One-Eye had lead the majority of the crew on a skiing holiday on the northern glaciers, leaving only Jaimie, Tammy, and Jonathan Walker from the bridge crew to stay in the city of Coventry proper. Of course, there were a couple of crewmembers on duty and in charge of gathering footage, just in case something interesting occurred. It was an ironic fact of Jaimie’s life that the complete camera coverage of the Revenge made the continuous footage gathering less obtrusive than what she experienced when on shore leave. She glanced briefly at the pair of hovering drones that accompanied her and Tammy on the pub crawl - the constant reminder that Captain Arcolier is never truly and completely “offstage”. Jonathan had declined to go drinking - he had found a poker game that interested him more. They had agreed to meet in the morning because Jonathan had heard of some underground hoverbike races going on outside town and he had convinced Tammy that it would be more interesting than any in-town entertainment.

That beer mug smash was a nice moment and Jaimie hoped the drones had caught it from a dramatic angle, but unless something more interesting happened this entire shore leave would be edited out of her next installment. Shore leaves were touch and go, sometimes they got fantastic footage and sometimes it was just boring. Jaimie didn’t get to be one of the top-rated franchises in gray market entertainment by spewing her entire life online. Her fans bought a particular pirate fantasy, and she had to ruthlessly prune away anything that contradicted that image.

It was an another hour before Tammy and Jaimie entered the bar Tammy had noticed earlier in the day. Outside a robotic (and quite buxom) mermaid sunned herself on a rock, waving at passersby and occasionally appearing to drink deeply from a beer mug. A neon sign by day proclaimed the dive to be known as “The Drunken Mermaid”, but now at night Jaimie noted several letters were burned out, and the lurid red glow advertising “The  runken Me  aid” made the still-drinking mermaid look very creepy.

As she pushed open the door she wrinkled her nose in disapproval. A simple dive bar was something Jaimie could enjoy but the interior of the Drunken Mermaid reeked of stale beer and vomit. Crushed peanut shells littered the floor underneath her feet, but didn’t disguise the stickiness of long-standing beer puddles. At least Jaimie told herself it was likely beer, or that she hoped it was beer. It was absurdly dim, only small lights on each table and a dim glow from the bar area. Jaimie judged this might be for the best, from what she could see it was clear that looking at any more of the bar would hardly improve the experience. She sighed theatrically and turned to Tammy. “I suppose you’ll pout all night if we don’t have at least a beer or two here?”

Tammy smirked at Jaimie and entered, not bothering to respond more than that. Jaimie shrugged her shoulders and followed Tammy inside. The small hover cams whirred behind her as one followed Tammy and the other covered the pair in a wide angle shot. Tammy went up to the bar to order beers as Jaimie made her way to the back and found an empty table where she could watch the door carefully.

Jaimie waited impatiently for Tammy’s return, scanning people in the bar. Tammy had, of course, found the youngest bartender to order from. Jaimie was surprised this lad was even old enough to serve alcohol. He certainly wasn’t going to be old enough to handle Tammy’s innuendo. Tammy leaned forward and touched the boy on the arm and laughed. In the dim light Jaimie couldn’t be certain, but she’d be willing to wager the boy was blushing by now. He placed two mugs in front of Tammy who picked them up and strutted back to their table, putting enough sway in her hips to blow past “subtle”, and “exaggerated” and hit just short of “cartoon caricature”.

Tammy giggled as she slid onto the ratty bench that curved around their table. “I suspect we’ll get some free drinks this evening. The lad’s name is William - he’s going to go on a break soon and I invited him to stop by. I promised I’d introduce my famous friend.”

Jaime groaned theatrically. “I thought we were trying to keep a low profile today.”

Tammy giggled again before pulling deeply on her beer. “Not possible. I told you before, we’re just too hot for these rubes to handle!”

It was ten minutes before William approached the table, and he brought a pair of beers with him. Tammy winked at Jaimie as she saw the lad approach.

“H . . H … Here you are.” William stuttered, flushing as his tongue betrayed his nervousness. “On … On M-me!”

“I wouldn’t dream of having the beer on you, William! We’ve only just met. I’ll drink my mine from the mug if you’d please.” Tammy laughed throatily as she patted the bench beside her and took a beer with her other hand. “Come. Sit down and rest a bit. We don’t bite. Usually.”

William blushed even redder as Jaimie kicked Tammy under the table. Jaimie smiled gently at the boy and took her own mug. “Thank you for the beer, young William. I’m Captain Jaimie Arcolier. Perhaps you’ve head of my ship, the Beauteous Revenge?

William sat gingerly on the very edge of the bench, as far from Tammy as he could manage. He folded his hands on the tabletop, visibly trembling as he did so. “Cor! Of course, I’ve heard of the Revenge. All my friends watch your vids whenever we can find them! That one where One-Eye dueled the miner while you snuck in and offloaded all his ore? That’s a classic!”

Jaimie grinned crookedly and leaned back against the bench, spreading her left arm along the back. “Yes we
ll. He did owe us that ore after losing it to me in the races. That was a fun expedition though I’ll warrant. Can you give us any tips on the races tomorrow?”

William’s jaw dropped. “Will you be going to the races tomorrow? Will the rest of the crew be there? One-Eye? Stinky Pete?”

Tammy made a moue and lightly touched William on his shoulder. Jaimie had to repress a chuckle when William flinched under the contact before straightening himself upright again. “What? Are you saying that Jaimie and I aren’t impressive enough for you? Fickle aren’t you?” Tammy said.

“W-what? N-n-no! I only m-meant that ….” William floundered only to be cut short when a large woman grabbed his arm.

“William! You’re supposed to be on break, not pestering the …“, the woman broke off to look distastefully at Jaimie and Tammy, “so-called customers. I’m sure these … women have something better to do than listen to your tales.”

Jaimie looked at the women closely, noticing her stained apron and graying hair restrained in a hair net. Clearly this woman had recently been in the kitchen and had emerged only to pull William aware from the table.

“But Ma! She asked me to stop by on my break. I was only telling them about the race and that ….”

William’s mother shook him by his arm until he fell silent. “Quiet you. Go to the back and help Arthur tap the new kegs!” She shoved him towards the back unceremoniously.

William looked back at Jaimie and Tammy, his face crimson now and even his ears colored red. His mother shook him again and frogmarched him back through the rear service door.

Jaimie laughed and saluted Tammy with her mug before taking a long drink. “I think you may have scared the lad’s mother there Tammy.”

“Me?” Tammy fluttered her eyelashes in a hopeless attempt to look innocent. “I nearly widdled myself when that old battleaxe approached us. You’d have thought I was outside the kindergarten with a van and a huge sack of candy!”

Jaimie choked on a mouthful of beer at that description and took a moment to compose herself before replying. “No more aggravating the mamma bears. Low profile remember?”

Tammy grinned at her captain. “What did I tell you? Too hot for these rubes. Even the mothers are scared!”

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