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“I won’t mind getting away from those sailor superstitions. I’ll be glad when we can retire and I can finally get my own place on dry land. Free of otters,” Rico said.

“He’s just a baby, he can’t help it,” Shiro retorted, cradling Kappa.

“I can’t sleep at night from that thing screeching.”

“You’re never on time for your shift, anyway.”

“The only cries I should be hearing at night are from whoever I’m-”

“Not in front of the baby!” Shiro yelped, covering Kappa’s ears.

Rico forced his hands away, leant closer to the snuffling otter, and loudly said, “I was just saying to your master that I want to hear-”

“If you traumatise my baby again, I won’t bother patching the cracks above your bed the next time there’s a leak,” Shiro said, pulling Kappa away.

“Just another reason why I need my own place,” Rico said, retreating to the corner to polish his pistol. “I’ve never had a house of my own before,” he added with a dreamy glint in his eye.

“Me neither. It will make a nice change,” Shiro said, staring wistfully at nothing in particular as Kappa chewed on his sleeve.

“You two won’t miss our adventures?” Marina asked, finally putting her book down. It was impossible to concentrate on reading with those two quarrelling, anyway.

“Maybe a little,” Rico said, pausing his polishing for a second to stare at the wall. “We have had some good times on this old clunker.” He knocked the metallic wall, listening to it echo and ripple throughout the entire room.

“Like the time we ran into that dragonturtle,” Thandi said with a grin.

“Or when we found that floating island full of hidden rum barrels,” Warwick added.

“Or the time I fought a narwhal with my bare hands!” Vernon said.

“That never happened!” Julius laughed.

“It did too. I’m putting it in my book,” Vernon said, tapping his quill against the pages of his manuscript.

“But…but retirement will be good too,” Rico said, polishing his gun harder.

“Yes, it will be nice to focus on writing,” Vernon added as he fiddled with his quill.

“Good for you,” Marina grumbled. “I’m only sixteen and my mum is already making me retire.”

“What’s so bad about that? I wish I could have retired when I was sixteen,” Warwick guffawed. “Could’ve saved myself a lot of bother.”

“She’s only doing it because she loves you, Marina. You know that. She wants you to have a better life than all of us have had,” Kei said.

“I’m happy with my life already. What are you going to do with your share, anyway?” Marina asked, looking straight at Kei.

“Well, I won’t have to put up with you lot anymore, for one thing,” Kei said, returning her a tight-lipped smile.

“As if you could go without us for more than two seconds.”

A metallic ringing brought their talk to an abrupt halt and made each of them freeze. The alarm. An approaching enemy. Their card games and books were quickly abandoned as each of them hurried out the door, scattering to their stations.


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