“Does Nual have any particularly strong feelings about us?” you ask. He’s surely aware of you in some way, what with everything that’s been going on.
“I don’t know. I feel Brume, not Nual – and Brume is a more primal force,” the captain replies. “He mainly points me towards contamination in the ocean. Tends to go pretty quiet when I’m on shore.”
You weren’t expecting that.
“I’ll be honest, I wasn’t aware there was a difference in that respect,” you tell her.
“Not surprising. It’s rare for Brume to contact humans at all. Usually he’s just subordinate to Nual’s will. Now, would you please leave us to our business?”
“Thing about that is, your business is kind of our business,” Long interjects. “But maybe there’s an agreement we can come to. Surely you must be having trouble without any dockworkers around. And, well, we’ve got our people here.” He smiles widely. “Now, I know, we’re not priests so we probably can’t do everything you need help with, but there ought to be some things it’s safe to let strangers do, right? And if we happen to notice anything funny going on, well, we can let you know about it.”
She eyes you both skeptically.
“It’s true that we’re shorthanded,” she concedes. “I’ll have a quick talk with the officers. But I’m going to be clear on one thing – you are not to set foot on the ship. And by that I mean both of you, and all of your associates.”
“Perfectly fair,” Long agrees. You don’t expect you’ll get a better offer than that.
“Good. I’ll be back shortly – we’ve got enough going on right now, I can’t afford a long meeting on top of that. Which means if it looks to be turning into an argument, I’ll call the whole thing off. So don’t get your hopes up too much.”
Long simply nods. You suppose it’s out of your hands now.
As the captain walks away, Long turns to you.
“Why don’t we check in on Brother Vernon while we wait, hmm?” He points off to the side, where Vernon seems to be talking to someone who’s pretty upset.
“She might get mad if we do,” you feel the need to point out.
“Indeed she might!” Long agrees. “But it’s pretty clear we need to know more, isn’t it? Come on.”
It doesn’t feel like it actually matters what you think about it, because he’s already grabbed you and brought you close enough that you can hear a line of the conversation. A line that sounds more than a little unusual to you.