Russians. They seem to play nice until they want something. And then they’ll want something more. Given the shit they’ve been through over the last thousand years, can you fault their behavior? If they were not advancing their nation was being eaten by its neighbors. I don’t think the crew of Golitsyn is up to no good but I certainly expect yawning cultural gaps to be pit traps to Gil over the next few hours.
I’m beginning to wonder if there will be any “sci-fi” elements in this short; I’ve certainly not seen any. Typical for my style is how Gil speaks to his sons about his wife and their sisters: besides God, family first.
“At least they’re polite,” he muttered before calling out. “Mike! Signal minor engine trouble. That should be ambiguous.”
The ship seemed to slow and draw off seaward just a little. From somewhere aft, they saw a small black inflatable boat with an outboard motor carrying three appear. A few minutes later had it drawn up next to Nichole.
“Permission for one to come aboard!” the man at the fore shouted up. Gil had no idea about their ranks but guessed him likely an NCO. He nodded and waved. Immediately, the man in the middle scrambled out and up the fishing nets on the port side. Feet on the deck, he drew himself up and saluted.
“Machinist Vasily!” he said with a smile. Seemed nice enough. Gil returned his salute, gave a look to his boys, and led the Russian down to the engine.
“Ugun!” the man, Vasily, exclaimed. He looked back at Gil. “Coal?”
Gil nodded again. The Russian first busied himself crawling about and looking at the gauges. Back to the small entryway, he helped himself to the tools lying there.
He watched the other make similar adjustments he had tried just before the arrival of their unexpected guest. Vasily smacked his left palm onto his forehead with a grunt and crawled further aft with three crescent wrenches. Following a hiss of steam and what sounded like a small blast out of the smokestack, there was a pause.
“Try engine now,” the Russian called.
Gil went up to the deck and yelled for Joe to go to one-quarter speed. They immediately felt the boat’s response under their feet.
“Now one-half,” Gil yelled again. A similar jolt. From the corner of his eye, he noted the rubber boat goose its engine to catch up. “That’s good, Joe. Back to station keeping.”
Down to the engine room, their guest assistant had not moved but did peek around.
“A-okay!” Gil called. Vasily smiled and set about extricating himself from the cramped space. He replaced the tools where he had found them, stood, and put out his hand.
“A-okay!” he replied with a broad grin. Gil led him back up onto the deck. After a few shouted words to the man on the boat’s prow, Vasily climbed down.
“Keptin!” the one in the prow called up. “I petty officer Sokolov. You boat good?”
“Yes, thank you!” Gil called back.
“As thanks, can please join us on Golitsyn? That is, our ship?” Sokolov asked.
Oh, crap, Gil thought. If I say yes, will I ever see home again? If I say no, will they sink us? One round from that fifty-something millimeter gun on their foredeck would be more than enough.
“An honor! One moment, please!” He turned about before the other replied.
“Joe, Mike, on me,” he said, moving close to the cabin where TK and Dalt could hear. “I’ve been invited over to their ship. Since they just repaired Nichole, it’d be pretty damned rude to say no. Joe? Back to port at Garibaldi. We’ve no fish to process so once she’s moored and secured for the night, everyone to home. Don’t start, Mike. You two bum a ride or wait to catch the cart at eighteen-hundred. Tell your mother…”
He looked at them both.
“Tell your mother I’ll be home late. And then,” another look, “you two find the mayor. By then he’ll be at home but he needs to know what’s offshore.”
“How late?” Michael, the younger and more hotheaded asked.
“Everyone understand their orders?” Gil asked, ignoring him. They nodded. He returned to the port side.
“Permission to come aboard, petty officer Sokolov?”