127 The Negotiator
A hurricane blur of motion rushed past Tycon, nearly knocking him off of his feet.
There it was-- the loophole.
Private First Class Rico executed a running, jumping, triple-spin high kick. Her boot smashed into High-Captain Lang Hai's face. The boy's head collided against the wooden wall behind him. The shop gained a few new cracks-- though they didn't look out of place with the rest of the shop's ruined decor.
The Marine Captain did not fall.
The sandy-blonde, short-haired Rico stood on one leg with her opposite pinning Hai's head against the cracked shop wall.
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Her face was still bloody, swollen, and bruised; covered in tears and snot. Her clothes were roughed, torn, and filthy with dirt and wood dust. The areola of the girl's left breast was clearly in view, but Tycon surmised that the uncouth drunkard probably didn't care.
The seawater Eilean had poured on her enhanced the creature's regenerative abilities to a frightening level.
Hai looked ridiculous. And his position was incredibly demeaning. But Tycon had lost the wager.
"Cap'n Lang!" Rico yelled, "PFC Rico requests... THREE moons of double rations!!"
The girl was a clever opportunist. Tycon could respect that. He watched as Hai struggled to stand on his leg, but the bullet shrapnel embedded in his kneecap looked to be more than he could handle.
"Two… weeks." Hai's voice was muffled beneath the girl's boot, "Best I can give you... is two weeks."
"Cap'n Lang!!" Rico yelled again, with no less enthusiasm.
"...What is it?"
"PFC Rico requests TWO moons of double rat's!!"
Hai sighed, "I'll give you ten business suns."
"DEAL!" Rico yelled, "Negotiation no jutsu!"
As the crowd began to disperse, Lieutenant Eilean approached the elderly shopkeeper. She ran her fingers over the wax seal of a rolled-up parchment before handing it to him. The old man accepted it gingerly, not entirely trusting of the blind Sea Witch.
Eilean flashed a charming smile, "Mister Cartographer, here's tha insurance policy we took upon anchorin' in port. Wish we could get by withoot somethin' laek this."
Tycon's mouth twitched, "Have you had that this whole time?"
Eilean smiled back with chagrin, "Tha policy only covers soo much, yer laerdship."
The snot-nosed female Marine unceremoniously heaved her High-Captain over her shoulders, "Miss Eilean! I'mma carry Little Boss back to the ship!"
"Rico, this is in no way necessary," the miserable wet noodle of a boy complained.
Tycon chuckled, "That's right. If you hit the ground as a result of my bullet, you lose the bet."
"Little Boss! I need to save you!" Rico insisted, "My 10 business suns of double rat's are on the line!"
Hai grit his teeth, glaring at Tycon with his blood-red eyes, "Whatever. Do what you want."
Tycon accompanied the High-Captain, Lieutenant, and PFC a distance away from the pub and cartography shop, well away from onlookers.
"I 'ad a right loovely sun, yer laerdship! Mayhaps yae'd like tae 'ccompany us back to the Elizabeth Dare?"
Lieutenant Eilean had been walking closer and closer to Tycon, ever since she found out he was a baron. Tycon mulled over the dilemma in his mind. The prospect of grilled Swordaxe-Fish steak sorely tempted him.
High-Captain Lang Hai, still draped like a wet blanket over Rico, let out a low growl, "Stay away from my Lieutenant, kid. She has a dick. And it's bigger than yours."
The boy literally growled. Tycon found the concept novel.
"Och! Mind yer manners, Captain!" Eilean admonished, "If not fer his laerdship, we'd 'vad a hunner yappy dugs clypin tae wan o' Grand-Capitaine Chantal's galoots!"
Tycon had no idea what Eilean was saying.
"Yeah, BITCH!! Ehehe." Rico smirked at Tycon. One of her cuspid teeth stuck out, outside her lips.
Tycon had no idea who Rico was talking to.
"Rico... Please shut up," Hai muttered.
Tycon decided to artfully segue into a new topic, "What's that smell?"
Hai seemed to deflate, looking the most defeated Tycon had seen thus far, "Rico pees herself when she's hurt, excited, or sad."
"Or hungry!" Rico added, cheerfully. "I'm trying my best to be human!"
Which one was it? Tycon shrugged, "Human, huh? We're all trying our best, young lady."
Rico gasped, smiling radiantly. It seemed Tycon's words had struck a chord.
"I'm 4!" Rico volunteered.
"PFC Rico~" Lieutenant Eilean sang, "It'ull be easier fer ye tae carry the Cap'n back if'n ye turn back tae naermal."
"Oh, right! I was so good at being human that I forgot!" Rico purred.
Tycon grimaced. Was she, though?
The girl abruptly halted her movement, staring at the cloudless sky. Her flesh began to warp, bones and cartilage crunching together. Her skin began to shimmer in the sun, transforming into a smooth bluish sea scale. Her jaws extended, but her stupid grin and single misaligned tooth remained.
Rico stood on four bowed legs, her size easily bigger than a horse, and likely weighing at least as much as Dragan.
"I'm a SEA WOLF!!" Rico barked.
"I can see that," Tycon patted her on the neck. It seemed appropriate.
Hai somehow managed to look smug, still lying listlessly on Rico's back, "The strongest Beaurte Marines can transform into Sea Wolves."
Eilean interjected, "Rico's a bit strange innat she's a Sea Wolf 'at turns intae a girl."
Hai crossed his arms, "Are ya scared now, ya noble prick?"
Tycon shook his head. There was no winning against the boy's obstinance, "Sure. I'm terrified."
"Raaawr!!" Rico's tongue hung over her needle-like jaws like a dog's.
Rico was not a smart girl, but she was a terrifying existence.
[Rico, Gold-Rank Calamity Beast]
Tycon forced a smile, "As much as I'd love to accompany you, Lieutenant Eilean, I really must get back to my guild."
Tycon offered a hand, which Eilean shook. Disappointment was painted on her face, "'At's a shame, innit?"
"Stay away from my ship," Hai insisted.
Eilean held her red skirt and gave a polite curtsy, "Bloud an' Thunder, yer laerdship."
"I love you, Mister!!" Rico yelped.
Tycon smirked, "Death to the enemies of the Beaurte Marines."
He turned to walk away. Nothing good would come of dealing with Lang Hai and his idiot crew.
The High-Captain's voice rang out at Tycon's back, "Fair winds and following seas! Idiot!"