Chapter 87:

Helping by Coersion - Part 1


“Hey, cap, we just dealt with a horned demon there…” Annabeth spoke right after she threw the bridge’s door open and invaded the officer’s area. “Care ‘bout explaining what the hells was that?”

All officers holding the bridge turned in surprise at the sudden invader, but she wasn't willing to give them time to think. Having time to think would let them notice how little she could do right now... Still, being sure of what the navy knew was a necessity if they were to negotiate with the admiral later.

Even more when there was something clearly wrong with how the events were going on the Tortuga.

“My guess’ as good as yours…” The big turtle answered with a huge pause right after. “It was a very surprising assault… Even more with a marid involved… Maybe admiral Moem would know more…” “Is that so…?” It was either a way to say that he couldn’t talk more before they reached the dragon admiral or a genuine lack of knowledge. Anna was guessing the first one was more likely, but she couldn’t be sure right now.

It was as expected, but letting it go wasn't in the cards. At the very least, it would mean that the navy would have total control over the narrative here, and that could be very bad. There was still a rat roaming around and it could very well be here.

This could, of course, be only Anna’s overthinking, but there was no need to risk it.

How this ship was well prepared for a boarding action but had all other guns unmanned was suspicious enough. And she also needed an explanation as to why their exit from the port was delayed and why there wasn't a single scout.

“If I may…” Minako jumped into the stalled-out conversation before her target could organize her thoughts. “Are you sure this was caused by lack of preparation alone?"

"What you're trying to say...?"

"Only that we would like some explaining, you understand? The kind that would help me not report this out to the main temple, if possible..."

The shrewd remark seemed to catch everyone by surprise for a moment. Seeing the kitsune flaunt her authority wasn’t anything new, but she had acted more like a spoiled rich girl than a corrupt politician until now.

In fact, Anna could swear that her nominal partner had more chances of using something of this kind than the five-tailed shrine maiden.

Still, it was a bargaining chip, and one Anna wouldn't waste.

“Well, we’d understand if it was fer a bigger cause, but riskin’ our lives only ‘cause you wanted a faster travel or somethin’ would be very bad.” She smirked under the glare of the smaller officers and the unchanged gaze of the old captain. “I know the temple lads ain’t that well after that li’l debacle with the dolls, but I’m sure they’re still able to cause a real mess, ain’t they?”

“You two know we’re allies, right?” Karim interfered in the negotiation as she was close to her limits after all this. “Haven’t you learned anything during our partnership with the tooris a few days ago?”

Anna could ask what was there to learn, but she knew how her partner would answer. Trying to pick a fight with the guards, stealing artifacts, almost going to Minako’s neck, and then using less-than-savory logic against the mole.

It wasn’t as if the inquisitor had ever considered any of the four groups as her allies though, so she wasn’t very affected by the remark. For her, the most effective path was better than losing time gathering favor or gaining trust.

“I see now… Your group is as troublesome as reported…” The cruiser’s captain finally broke the silence after Karim’s scolding. “I knew the risks… Do what you want with this information…”

The tired and old expression of the turtle captain was now closer to being what you would expect from some burly battle-hardened veteran. And from the sound of it, he was willing to take any blowback that this situation could have. Something this small didn't even seem to be a threat to him.

If a small threat wasn’t enough, though, then all Anna needed was a bigger one.

“I guess it didn’t work, eh? You’re a hard nut to crack, Mr. Captain… Or does a hard shell sound better?” The fox gave shoulders to her failed attempt and then whispered to Annabeth. “Sorry, it didn’t work… I guess I even made it worse actually.”

“You should be apologizing to everyone else and not to our resident problem child...” Karim also joined the whispering conversation as the three were very close to each other. “We’re going to end up arrested here…”

“Don’t worry, both of ya. It seems to be a small blunder, so let’s take it as such…” The main target of both whispers answered in her usual tone, but with a sharp glint in her eyes. “But since we’re in danger ‘ere, I’ll keep watch on the waters fer now on, ay?”

“As long as you don’t disturb our scouts… You can do as you wish…”

“Good. You don’t mind if I fire at anythin’ disturbin’, ‘aight?” The problem child continued while holding the handle of her musket with her left hand. “I’d like to ask fer some scouts too, but I’m quite sure yer radios got damaged in the fight, didn’t they?”

Morgan eyed her in confusion for a moment after this weird remark, but he soon noticed what was the problem there. He was likely the only one on their side that could, though.

A very thin and very unsettling layer of cursed energy was spreading away from the old gun as Anna’s left hand started to shine. It wouldn’t take much to understand that she was showing it for a reason and very few could comprehend what was happening, but the idea was clear to them.

And if what she was saying wasn’t an empty threat, then it could be a problem for the navy in general instead of only for the cruiser’s captain.

Anna was making it clear that whatever she was doing would mess communications up and, while they were unable to call off the scouts, she would sink them. It was possible since the Federation could do it, so the idea was to bank on the Archipelago knowing it too. Or, in the least, on the captain being unsure if it was or wasn't possible.

“I guess we’re leavin’ then…” The redhead spoke in a ‘done with it’ tone and started to turn to leave. She was putting a massive threat there and, this time, the turtle was almost flinching just by thinking of it. Even her allies were reacting to it, although one was ready to jump at her neck and the other was almost laughing.

In reality, all this was only a maniacally dangerous bluff from a girl that was very good at lying though. In fact, she didn’t even know very well what the hells this cursed gun could do.

But it didn’t matter in the end.

“Wait, girl… I may have a theory or two… If you want to hear…”

And so, with a huge smile on her face, the red-haired liar turned back and stole the closest seat she could.

“Go on, captain. I love stories, y’see?”