“You’re the seventh man to threaten me today,” she said to the addled, violent man sitting across a filthy wooden table from her. The cleanest thing on him was the ornate cross around his neck.
“You must be out of favor with your god,” said The Dead Man. Vingree thought it was a foolish name to choose for one’s self, but men of his nature were often very, very foolish.
“You don’t see any of them standing,” said Vingree. She laced her fingers atop the table and leaned forward, making him more afraid than he was. “I do not give others what is not theirs to own,” she said. “My alchemist is mine.” And, she thought, his potion is late. She had counted the moments as he had instructed her. The little flash bag affixed with the special rubber was supposed to have gone off sixty breaths after she’d quickly placed it upon seeing the gaunt, bleached pirate enter the meal tent. He had spotted her and made straight for her table. He was not alone. Nor was she.
She distracted The Dead Man by speaking, looking directly into his eyes. She worked a needle-thin throwing lance up her wrist and into her palms, another sleight the alchemist had taught her.
The Dead Man’s men were distracted by the uncovered legs and bosoms of Astarte and Tanit standing off beside their captain. Both women had curved swords slung at their hips and straight swords strapped to their backs. Both were so dark of skin that it was said that to see the flash of their blades was the last good light one saw in the current world.
Three against three. It was not an even fight.
Vingree leaned back. She had caught the slight jasmine whiff the flash bag gave off as warning. Dead Man caught it too, but, as the scent was designed to do, he was more confused as to its source than wary.
The three women steeled themselves. The flash went off in a loud sizzling flare directly under the table where The Dead Man sat. Vingree threw her body to the side without leaving her chair. The small arrow whizzed the space by her ear like an angry insect. A lance lodged in the pirate’s cheek immediately before two long blades flashed in the candle light. There was much cursing, then screaming, then silence.
When it was over Vingree retrieved The Dead Man’s bow. There was a large spring in it; made of a metal the Alchemist said was particularly useful to him. The Dead Man had had the metal plated in gold. His calling piece. Even his teeth had been plated in gold. Always gold for fools.
“Vital I have it, Vingree,” the alchemist had said. Everything was vital to him. She did not like using her treasures as bait for his trinkets, but she did like very much the way his trinkets worked with her own.
Who are you?
I am Vingree Ramsee. Daazeet of a great, nameless ship. I speak seven languages; I’ve sailed more of the world than most know exists; and I create weapons and tools.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Intelligence. He can be ugly as sin, but if he is intelligent, he is beautiful to me.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Efficiency and a strong work ethic.
Like you and your crew?
Exactly. Especially, Tanit and Astarte.
The Alchemist’s sisters.
You read the story in the Rococoa anthology, I see.
Of course; how else could I conduct this interview?
A few of the others who have their stories told in Rococoa have complained that their interviewer was…less than prepared.
So, you keep in touch with the other heroes?
A few. I told you…I have sailed all the world.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
The Orisa…and Bilo, the Alchemist.
What is your most treasured possession?
The weapons and tools that I make. There are many. I treasure the creation of the thing; the work it takes to make the thing; more than the possession of the thing itself, though.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Misery is when your ancestors turn their backs on you; misery is death at the end of my sword; misery, like Hell, is a state of mind. It is something I hope to never experience.
Who are your favorite writers?
I have traveled the world over, reading the literature of many lands and, while I have read some of the greatest authors in the world, they pale in comparison to the one called Zig Zag.
Zig Zag? I read his book, See You at the Top, several years ago.
*rolls her eyes*
That’s Zig Ziglar. I’m talking about Zig Zag Claybourne.
Oh…that Brothers Jetstream guy.
Okay. I um…I read that, too.
No, you didn’t.
Okay, I didn’t. But I intend to.
Oh…okay. So, what is your greatest regret?
That I didn’t heed Colonel Tye’s warning that you interviewers are seriously lacking.
Do you speak to Colonel Tye often?
Since I read about his exploits in the Rococoa anthology, I got in contact with him. We have been friends ever since.
But doesn’t he live in a time different from your own?
With the right tools, time and space are meaningless.
Wow, so…um…what is your motto?
I do not give others what is not theirs to own.