by Elegant Butler

Chapter 6:

"Does anyone know how to drive this thing?" Edison asked as they boarded the ship.

"I'm familiar with the basics," one of the Blanks replied.

"Okay," Edison said, realizing he didn't know the woman's name. "Let's introduce ourselves before we take the next step. It's going to be confusing if we have to call out 'hey you' every time we need someone."

"Agreed," said the girl who'd been on the vu-phone. "I'm Alice. You already know Mink. This is Toby," she introduced the girl with the basic knowledge of sailing ships.

"A girl named Toby. And I thought Poncho was an unusual name for a woman."

"Hey, that's my mom you're talking about," Toby scolded, playfully sticking out her tongue. "Don't worry, her condition wasn't genetic. I've got the eyes of a hawk."

"This is Johnny," Alice continued the introductions. "He does odd jobs in construction, so he's our muscle if we need it. The ginger is Adrian and the girl with the bright blue hair is Wendy."

"What's there strengths on this mission?" Edison asked.

"I grew up on Sunset Hill as the Blanks started to cause it after that little incident. I had a telescope as a kid and as I grew up I learned all the stars' names and where they are."

"She'll be our navigator," Toby said.

"We'll use the stars as a steering guide, the way the sailors did long ago." Wendy explained.

"But right now, it's time for you all to get a crash course in the workings of this Galleon," Toby told them. "Follow me."

Toby led the group throughout the ship, explaining the various sails, their function, and how to work them.

"Storms can wreak havoc on a sailing ship," she explained. "You've got to know how to read the wind in order to make your choice. When the time comes there are only two options. Ride the wind, or drop sail. Both options have risks. The sea isn't like a road where you simply veer too far to the left. Riding the wind can throw you miles off course. Dropping sail means you are at the sea's mercy until the storm calms."

When the crash course was over, Toby guided the crew in raising the anchor and unfurling the sails. Once they were under way, Edison stored Max in the cargo hold, which Max wasn't fond of.

"Edison," Bryce said, over the camera link, "there's a button on the keypad of the box marked powersave. Press it. That's the minimum power Max can live with. Kind of like what campers called 'roughing it'. It'll keep the box running for the duration of your trip. And don't worry too much about being chased, the ship you're on is fully armed."

"With what?" Theora asked, back on the farm in Tasmania.

Bryce looked up at her. "Cannons."

Back aboard the ship, Edison rolled his eyes at this. "I'm supposed to take on a modern weaponry with cannons?"

"A battle was once won with potatoes, Edison," Bryce reminded him. "But hopefully you won't have to deal with anything military. I don't think Network 23 would go that far."

"Let's hope not," Edison agreed. "I didn't come here to fight a hopeless battle against incredible odds."

"You used to do that every week," Bryce recalled. "I'm going to unlink. Go ahead and shut down your camera. Use it only in emergencies. you have no way to recharge it and you're going to be on the sea for a few days."

"I'll check in at noon each day," Edison said.

"Send a signal check," Theora said. "It'll let us know you're there and will use up less camera power than a full broadcast."

"Okay," Edison promised. "Tell Vanna I love her."

He shut off the camera and placed it in the cargo hold with Max.

By the time he got back to the main deck, the Golden Hinde was exiting the Thames and on her way out to sea.

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