I was going through an old draft and found this deleted scene I thought readers would like. I initially introduced Shiro and his pet otter Kappa earlier and explained in more detail where he came from.
“Mum, look what I got with my share!” Marina’s voice appeared behind them. Alethea turned to see her daughter. She shared her mother’s thin face and dark hair, although hers was cut short and worn loosely rather than the bun which Alethea preferred. But she had her father’s thoughtful forest green eyes. Now that she was getting closer to adulthood, the resemblance was even stronger, Alethea always thought wistfully. But she was snapped out of her thoughts when she remembered that she was angry with her.
“Where have you been? It’s madness out there.”
“I was only buying a book,” Marina said with a scowl, showing her the title of her new purchase.
“Leif Erikson and the Golden Sea,” Alethea read the title.
“It’s a first edition. It was the last one in the shop,” Marina said.
“This was your father’s favourite book, too,” Alethea said, taking the book and running her hand over the cover.
“Really?” Marina said, her eyebrows raised.
“Yes. We didn’t think much of the opera version, though. The Vikings of Vyborg is much better.”
“Oh look at me, I’m going to the opera!” the teasing voice of Rico Hernández, the Barracuda’s gun master, came as the Hispanic man slid down the flank of the boat to land next to them. “I grew up drinking expensive wine from golden cups and hunting pheasants while riding side saddle,” he said in a mocking British accent.
“Do you think I grew up in the Middle Ages?” Alethea asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Who grew up in the Middle Ages? Are you talking about my village?” Asked Shirokani, the boatswain, as he joined the others.
“It’s nothing. Rico’s being an arse again,” Kei said.
“Right, same as usual,” said Shirokani.
“Shiro, why is your tunic moving?” Rico asked, eyeing Shiro’s chest.
“What? No it’s not…” Shiro said, gripping his tunic, which now that Alethea looked closer, did appear to have something moving underneath it.
“Yes, it is. Is there something inside of you about to burst out?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Shiro said, turning red, before a tiny furry head poked out from the top of his tunic.
“Oh, it’s so cute!” Marina almost screamed as she leant an arm out to stroke the fuzzy creature.
“Be careful, he’s only a baby. He still bites,” Shiro said, drawing out the baby sea otter, no bigger than his palm, out from his tunic to allow Marina to find a safe spot to pet him. Alethea noticed that there were already several bright red bite marks on Shiro’s fingers.
“Seriously? Another one?” Rico groaned. This wasn’t the first time that Shiro had adopted a baby animal. In the two years he’d been on the Barracuda, he’d already adopted a cat, a turtle, and a squirrel. Rico slept in the bunk next to Shiro, and wasn’t always happy about it.
“I had to! He was about to be sold to fur traders. I couldn’t let that happen to little Kappa,” Shiro said, gently stroking the otter’s head.
“It’s a legend from my home. I had a dream that I met a kappa when I was little. Wait…was that a dream?”
“You can adopt as many pets as you want, so long as you don’t bring a parrot onboard,” Alethea said.
“What is with you and parrots?” Kei laughed. Alethea had never told anybody about Redscalp’s parrot and how much she’d hated it.
“Anyway, I suppose you’ve all heard by now,” Alethea said.
“I think everyone from here to Pacifica will have heard by now,” Kei replied, looking out to the dozens of ships which were already exploding out the pods, almost crashing into each other as they headed out in every direction like children on an Easter egg hunt.
“Meeting in the galley,” Alethea ordered.
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