'Stay Calm' the naer told herself, she was dressed as a dockworker, not a sailor, so even though she was obliged to be respectful to the ship's officer, and therefore cooperative, she was not directly subordinate to him. And as always, a half-truth would serve better than a lie. But first, a quick stall to gain a few ticks to think. "I'm sorry, sir. I do not speak that language. Are you speaking the sevir language? That's what it sounded like. I guess I'd assumed that you were a foreign ship, like I'm a foreign girl."
She put a bright tone in her voice, as if excited to relay her personal experiences to another listener. Inwardly, she was glad to see the uniformed man's face gain an impatient look as she went on. "I was only planning on a short visit with some friends. But I came to just looove this city, the colors, the smells, the peaceful attitudes of these sevir. Oh, are you a sevir yourself?" she injected a somewhat goofy giggle, "I had just assumed you were, since you addressed me that way, in that language, I mean. Not that I don't love the sound of it, but I haven't quite been able to grasp it."
Linika giggled again, noting the timely roll of his eyes, as if he doubted this flighty girl would ever be able to truly grasp anything of even basic complexity. She continued to babble, as she considered her predicament. But she had a decent amount of experience in docks, and the interplay and rivalries between different ships' crews. An idea had already formed by the time the officer interrupted her and reiterated, in common this time, that he wanted to know who she was and what she was doing on the stern of his ship.
"Oh, of course!" she responded, in a tone suggesting she was embarrassed to have not realized what his initial question must have been. She put a hand over her face to emphasize this embarrassment, and shook her head. "My name is Dolia, I'm a human, and the Dock Watch told me to investigate some debris on your rudder. So, here I am. I was afraid you might be sleeping and didn't want to wake you."
The man was no longer impatient and disinterested now. His eyes narrowed and grew intense at the mention of rudder debris. With a brief interchange, she told him she'd seen three crewmen by the rudder, as she was bringing "that abandoned fishing boat" in, describing it as a hazard. She went on to explain that by the time she'd gotten to where she'd normally turn to take the boat to the other dock, she'd seen they were gone, but the debris was still there. She was going to use the fishing boat briefly as a utility raft in order to check out the debris, but had been hailed by the dock to get it away from that lane.
The captain countered gruffly that his crew had just finished going over the entire vessel and he could not believe they would have missed something so fundamental as the rudder. He also absently noted that the fishing boat was only now being taken to where it would be properly berthed. It would be passing directly behind them in just a trill or two.
She agreed that she had assumed they were removing it, but when the dock called her over, she had noticed it was still there. She added that it was the primary reason she had mentioned it. Then with a hesitant tone she slipped in that she had been worried that she'd get the crew in trouble if it came out; that she knew there was always competition between rival crews, She added that she didn't want to start any stories, but knew that it would be worse if it was left there.
She was rewarded by a sharp look from the captain at the mention of "rival crews". He asked her pointedly to describe the uniform colors and cut of the crewmen she had seen by the rudder. This is exactly what she'd been trying to lead him to, and had already brought to mind the uniform of one of the other ships' crewmen. of course, she acted as if she had to take a moment to recall, but gave a reasonably detailed account of colors and stripes that did not match the patterns of the crew of the 'Wind Spirit'.
"Those scurvy sand maggots!" the man burst in anger, "I see it now, those brats from the 'Spray Rider'. That ruddy dog captain of theirs, sending a team to come after a clean up and try to make us look bad! They've tried this kind of stunt before. They should all Kiss the Gunner's Daughter!" he added, in reference to a particular position inflicted on troublesome crewmen about to receive a good flogging. "Well carry on then...Dolia? Did you say?...Good work. get that crap off of my ship." the window closed firmly as Linika smiled.
She was now glad of the encounter. There had been a sudden growth in the number of guards nearby, and her exchange with the officer lent her more than enough credibility. As she dropped down to free the gadget, one of these guards asked her who had authorized her presence. After a brief sorting out of languages, she told him that the ship's captain had called her over about the debris on the rudder. This worked at first, but she soon noticed a pair of them talking to another dock worker, and gesturing in her direction. Her concern was compounded further by their collective shaking of heads and puzzled looks.
They called to her, once again beginning in the local language. Now Linika simply ignored them as she propped the crowbar to pull on the chain. She was annoyed at her own efficiency in planting the device. It was secured too firmly to the wood to be easily pulled free, even with the crowbar. But with exhaustive effort, she ended up spreading open one of the links of the chain. She shrugged, knowing that it would be good enough for one side. But without the firm attachment on both sides, she could not bring the same leverage to bear on the chain connected to the other side.
Instead she caught the device itself in the clawed curve of the tool and managed to rip it free from the chain. By this time, the dockworkers and guards were no longer calling to her. Two had retrieved bows and were poised on the dock to shoot her, while a third was ordering her to surrender. She had also been aware of a trio of additional guards making their way slowly along the outboard sill to reach her; the nearest now poised directly above her, seconding the surrender order.
She had originally been prepared to simply throw the device in the bay and fight to the death, knowing it would be her own. But Jaovier's boat was now being piloted across the bay almost directly behind her. There was actually a chance, a slim chance, she could escape. She turned a grin to the guards; a grin that soured into a narrow-eyed sneer as she tucked the device into a pocket of her dock worker's attire.
She suddenly swung the crowbar up, catching the hook on the near crewman's ankle and jerking it to dislodge him. the man came crashing down beside her, his head and hands striking numerous outcroppings and leaving him somewhat dazed. Linika wasted no time in slamming the sailor in the head with the crowbar and grabbing his uniform to keep his slumped body poised as shield between herself and the archers along the dock. Shouting erupted both there and above her as her enemies threatened and cursed her. Her grin did not waver as she shoved the unconscious form ahead of her and tried to fall behind it into the water.
She heard the thunk of arrows into the wood before she hit, and curved her legs to arc her entry into the water as the gurgling hiss of additional misses left lines of bubbles within inches of her body below the surface. She knew there would be at least a slight diversion in her pursuit as some would have to rescue the dizzy sailor from drowning. She frog-kicked her way toward the boat, hearing bells now every time she raised her head for a breath. The alarm had been raised.