Exit Strategy

by London Lampy

Chapter 33

I wake up tangled around Topher, after Quint returned to the party we fell asleep where he left us, climbing under the covers and curling up together first, and apart from brief trips to the bathroom we've been like that ever since. I can see stripes of sunlight on the floor cast by the shutters, some of them hitting the clothes I threw off last night, which lie abandoned around my side of the bed. I shift slightly, pulling my arm out from underneath Topher and wriggling my fingers to try to get the feeling back in them, he rolls over and opens his eyes, blinking up at the ceiling then turning his head to look at me.

"Has the maid filled the bath? I feel sticky." He complains.

"I don't know, I just woke up too, I think it's quite late though." I point to the light coming through the shutters.

"Did the Captain come back?" He asks.

"Again, just woke up, don't know. I didn't hear him come back in the night though."

He stretches and yawns, then rolls out of bed. "I'm going to see if she's filled the bath, coming?"


He's sitting between my legs in the tub with his back against my chest, playing with the tip of my tail. We've let some of the water out just in case, neither of us wants to end up mopping the landing again.

"Is the whole thing really sensitive, or just that bit at the base?" He asks, running the tip through his fingers.

"Just the bit at the base, it kind of feels like being touched here." I say, sliding my hand between his legs and stroking his cock, which starts to swell at my touch.

"I guess that almost makes up for being a monkey."

I nip the junction of his shoulder and neck with my teeth in retaliation, and he laughs. "I like that, do it again." So I do, harder.

I then continue to bite and kiss the same spot and massage his erection with my hand until his body tenses and he comes into the water with a sigh. He leans back against my chest and tilts his head to kiss me on the lips, sucking my tongue into his mouth, then squirms around in my lap without breaking the kiss and and brings his own hand down to touch my cock, wrapping his fingers around it and jerking it with hard, firm strokes. I don't even try and make it last, I'm warm and aroused and relaxed all at the same time and the movements of his hand feel so good that I just let go, coming hard and fast.


Once we've dried off and dressed we go downstairs to find the Captain asleep on the couch, still in his evening suit.

"Do you think he's all right?" Topher asks me quietly.

"Well he's breathing so he's definitely not dead."

"It's not like him to sleep in his clothes." He says worriedly.

Quint's eyes open and he blinks at us. "What time is it?" He looks around.

"Just after ten." I say.

"Shit, I can't believe I fell asleep here." He sits up and runs a hand through his hair, which is loose.

"Are you hungover?" Topher questions.

"No, I think I had the total of four glasses of champagne last night. After I left the two of you I broke up three fights, one of which was between two of the "waitresses", during which I got punched in the ribs by a five foot nothing girl, stopped a pair of very drunk visks from trying to steal a boat because they wanted to go to the mainland to get more beer, one of them bit me." He pulls up his sleeve to show us a series of small puncher marks on his forearm. "And to top it all my fathers old friend Chauncey had a heart attack and dropped dead while doing the business with one of the working girls, and it took us nearly half an hour to get him off her, he wasn't a small man. She screamed hysterically the whole time, I think I may have gone a little deaf."

Topher and I look at one another, I try to suppress a giggle, while he laughs out loud.

"It wasn't funny, the poor girl was nearly squashed."

This just makes things worse.

"At least he went out doing something he enjoyed." Topher giggles, and Quint starts to laugh too, shaking his head.

"You wouldn't like it if that happened to you." He aims at Topher.

"No, I wouldn't, but your not an overweight old man." He points out.

"I ought to go back and check the damage in daylight, has my bath been filled?"

"Our was." I say.

"We shared." Topher grins at me.

"I hope you didn't cause a flood this time."

"No I thought of that and let some of the water out." Topher says.

"That was my idea!" I protest.

"I don't care whose idea it was, as long as the landing stays dry. I'm going to wash and change, and then you can both come with me to survey the carnage." He stands up. "By the way, last night, the three of us, we'll be doing that again."


The mess could be worse, the town hall is still standing, although minus a few windows, and a small army of people are working around us to clean up and mend the damage. Inside the table that held the food got turned over at some point, and the remains of its contents lie scattered across the floor, along with a fair amount of broken glass.

The Captain looks at my feet. "You'd better not come any further in here or you'll be picking splinters of glass out of your toes for weeks."

"One hell of a party wasn't it?" A booming voice comes from behind us. I turn to see the Admiral still dressed in his suit, but minus the jacket, collar and bow tie, coming toward us. He's smoking a large cigar and smells like a brewery.

"Shame about poor old Chauncy, but at least he snuffed it doing what he liked best, although it would have been easier all round if he'd let the girl go on top. I hope when my time's up I get to go the same way."

"I hope you don't for Teena's sake." Quint says.

"Hmm, yes, good point, she's a game girl though, maybe she wouldn't mind."

I can't imagine anyone not minding their partner dropping dead on them in the middle of having sex.

"What about you son? You spent most of the night clearing up other peoples messes, did you get to have any fun?"

"Yes." he glances at Topher and me, which of course the Admiral doesn't miss.

"Ah, good lad." He slaps his son on the back. "Two's company, three's a sandwich eh?"

"How are you even still standing?" The Captain asks his father with a sigh.

"Don't go to bed and don't stop drinking, best way to avoid a hangover. Made myself an eye opener for breakfast, two raw eggs, dash of anchovy essence, dash of hot sauce and a good slosh of rum, down in one."

Yuck.

We step out of the way as four men attempt to manhandle the piano out of the door. One of the waitress's frilly caps has been left on the top and the admiral plucks it off the instrument as it trundles past.

"The girls were a massive hit, but I could have done with at least half a dozen more. The lads were queuing up for a turn with them, next time I'll order extra. In fact I was thinking maybe we should have a few girls over here full time, we could set up a little cat house down at the harbour, with me overseeing it."

"I don't think the women who work down there now would be overly impressed with that idea." The Captain says.

"Ah, but this would be different, not a quick knee trembler under a tree with some rough trade, but a smart place with classy girls. I can see it now, a good supper, maybe a game of cards then off to a private room with a beautiful young girl of your choice, what do you think?"

"I think your wife would kill you and most of our crew members would rather go for the knee trembler and save their money for the pub."

"I suppose you're right, shame though." He sucks on his cigar thoughtfully watching the work going on around him, a group of men are carefully lowering one of the chandeliers to the floor with a rope and pulley in order to remove the candle stubs from it.

"You need to talk to your brother about the next coal freighter raid, he's happy to captain the gunship but doesn't want any of your crew on board this time, says it makes him look like you don't trust him, and I'd rather not repeat what he said about that visk first mate of yours, but that if you were going to get your knickers in a twist about it he would just about put up with Jasper."

"He's right, I don't trust him, and I wouldn't ask Zizi to crew with him, that would be a fate worse than keel hauling for her."

"When do you set sail again?" The Admiral asks.

"Two days."

"Good lad..."

He's interrupted by a lot of shouting and a sudden explosive noise as the chandelier breaks lose from it's rope and comes crashing down.

"FOR FUCKS SAKE, THAT BELONGED TO MY GRANDFATHER!" He roars as pieces of broken crystal litter the floor around us.


It's strange to be followed by the gunship, it's much smaller than The Firebrat and painted a dull grey colour. Along both sides are rows of square hatches that lift to reveal cannons that can be fired in all directions. It's too far away to be able to see the men on board, but much to Topher's and my relief Jasper's on board to keep an eye on Tobias, and better still once we find the freighter he'll be off to Kipp with it so we won't see him again for a while.

"I don't understand how we find the steamer, it's just miles of empty sea." I say to Tallis.

"We know what date it left on, they always take the shortest route possible to use the least amount of fuel, and unlike sailing ships steamers move at a constant speed so it's easy to calculate from all that where they are going to be at any given time. The hard part for us is navigating to exactly the right spot at the right time, but I'll admit Quint is an excellent navigator and we've found them every time so far. That's why he always leads when we do this and Tobias follows in the gun ship, he couldn't find his own ass with both hands, although a bottle of rum a day can't help with that either."

"I didn't think he could possibly be as bad as everyone made out, but he's actually worse, even Jasper's not as bad as him, and how he keeps his pets is horrible." I say. I'm sat cross legged on the deck splicing a line under Tallis' watchful gaze, he told me that the last few I've done haven't been neat enough and he's making me do them again.

"That it is, but it's a captain's privilege to do what he wants with his pets, unfortunately he chooses to mistreat his." He scrutinizes my handiwork. "Hmm, I've seen worse, though I've seen better too, but I suppose it's good enough, now the next one."

"How did the admiral treat his pets?" I ask, starting to pick apart the second splice.

"Like little princesses, he used to have us rig a sheet up across the deck for them so they could sit out without getting burned by the sun, and they had their own meals specially cooked for them, never ate what the rest of us did. In some ways he's an old fashioned gentleman. Took great care of them and when it came time for them to move on he gave them all a purse full of dollars to help with whatever they chose to do next."

"I think I'd rather work, I'd feel very stupid being treated like that."

"Of course you would, you're a proper sailor." I feel ridiculously proud at him saying this. "I reckon Topher would though, a spoilt brat like that would love nothing more then being treated like a princess."

"He's not that bad." I say defensively, Tallis doesn't reply just gives me a long look and tells me I'm doing the splice all wrong. After another attempt that looked fine to me, but Tallis deemed "sloppy" Topher comes ambling up to us eating a slice of bread and jam.

"What are you doing?" He asks, sitting down on the deck next to me.

"Splicing." I reply, trying to concentrate on getting this one right.

"What's that?" He peers over my shoulder.

"Joining two pieces of rope together."

"Why don't you just tie them?" He questions, finishing his bread and licking jam off his fingers.

"Good gods boy!" Tallis exclaims. "How can you have been on the ship as long as you have and not know about splicing?"

"Because I don't find it that interesting, I was just wondering what Exit was doing." He replies, clearly irritating Tallis.

"Well stop distracting him and go away, he needs all the practise he can get at this."

"But he's not on watch at the moment, and I have every right to sit where ever I want, as long as I'm not in the way of the actual sailing."

He shuffles closer to me and rests his chin on my shoulder, looking down at what I'm doing. "I don't mind you watching, but that's really annoying." I say trying to shrug him off. He laughs and kisses my ear then moves a few inches away, earning himself a dirty look from Tallis in the process. I finish my splice and hold it out for inspection.

"Passable." Tallis says. "You're getting better drumeri."

"What does that mean? I've heard you call him it before." Topher asks Tallis.

"None of your business." He replies curtly.

"It's sort of something like "lad"." I put in before they start arguing.

"Do you speak echoback?" He asks me.

"No." I start on the third splice.

"Why not?"

"Because I'm an orphan who grew up about as far from the Rhea basin forest as you can get, you know that."

"But couldn't you have learned? Isn't it strange not speaking your own language?"

"Not really." It's hard to think of it as being "my" language.

"Shut up boy, he needs to concentrate." Tallis aims at him.

"No. Why do echobacks have their own language? Visks don't."

"Because visks come from all over like humans, and echobacks only come from the Rhea basin forest, didn't you learn anything at school?"

"I didn't go to school, I had a private tutor, and he taught me everything I needed to know." He says haughtily.

"Clearly not everything, and certainly not manners."

I stifle a laugh and try to focus on what I'm doing.

"You're nearly there with that one, just tuck the last bit in and I'll call it a success." Tallis says after a moments silence.

Three down, one to go. I gather the last rope up and start working on it.

"Are you born with tails, or do they grow when you get older?" Topher suddenly addresses us.

"Stupid boy, of course we're born with them, that's like asking if you were born with arms." Tallis huffs.

"No, visk aren't born, or hatched, whatever, with tails, they grow later." He shakes his head.

"Visk don't have tails." I protest, looking up from my work.

"Actually they do, for once he's right. Although they're not much to write home about, they're only about so long." He holds his hands up about six inches apart. "And they can't do anything with them."

Topher grins at being proved right. "Well I've never seen one without clothes on." I say defensively. I'm not sure I want to either.

"You still can't tell if they're boys or girls when they're naked." Topher adds. "It's weird."

"Why have you seen naked visk?" I ask.

"Because when I was a child my father was friends with all the people in our area that held positions of power, and quite a lot of them were visk. We used to have a pool at our house for swimming in, and sometimes they would stay with us and use the pool, that's why."

"They didn't wear bathing suits?" I ask, it seems a bit strange to swim in someone else's pool nude.

"What's a bathing suit?" Topher questions, frowning.

"You know, clothes you wear when you go swimming."

"Why the fuck would you wear clothes to swim in, they'd get wet?"

"Well... so you're not naked." You certainly wouldn't be allowed in the Parnell pool without a bathing suit.

He looks at me blankly. "What's wrong with being naked? You swim naked."

"But I wouldn't do that in front of a bunch of people I didn't know, that would be...embarrassing."

"Why?"

"Because...you know."I gesture in the direction of my crotch. He's just looking puzzled now and I turn to Tallis for help.

"Would you think it was acceptable for a woman to walk around her town with nothing on her top half?" He asks Topher.

"No, of course not. That wouldn't be right, but it's different when you're swimming."

"In the forest echoback women only wear a small piece of cloth to cover the area between their legs, as do the men, do you think that's wrong?"

"But that's not like being in a town." He replies, I've finished my splice but want to know where he's going with this so don't interrupt him.

"My point being different rules about clothing applies in different places. Where he comes from." He points at me. "Public nudity would not be tolerated under any circumstances."

"There are places in Parnell where women take their clothes off in front of audiences for money." I point out.

"All right, expecting strip tease clubs, public nudity is not allowed, am I right?" He sounds a bit annoyed now.

"Yes, I suppose so." I remember the fuss it caused when someone tried to set up a strip club a few streets away from my flat. Effie and her mother came round with a petition that all the locals were signing to try and get it stopped. I signed to get rid of them, but I couldn't really see the problem, no one was forcing them to go and watch.

"Where as people swim and lie around naked on the beaches where you come from." He points at Topher.

"Yes."

"So do you understand what I'm trying to say?"

"That people from the Twin Islands are not only murdering warmongers but prudes as well?"

"Oh for...." He shakes his head. "Exit, that splice looks fine, I'm going to go and get some rest before our next watch." He walks off toward the crew's quarters muttering to himself.

Topher watches him go then closes the gap between us again, putting an arm round me and running his fingers over my tail.

"When are you on watch again?" He asks.

"About an hour." I reply, putting my own arm around his back and sliding my hand inside his shirt to stroke his smooth warm skin.

"Cabin?" He questions as his fingertips find their way round to the underside of my tail, and I'm about to reply when a shout comes from aloft that the coal freighter has been sighted.

"Sorry, I think I might be needed." I sigh.

This is the moment I've both been longing for and dreading. Will there be anyone I know on board, if so are they here to take me home, and, do I really want to go?

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