The drifter that Nielsen had prepared for them had been located on the same dock but on the adjacent side from the Phoenix. It was a small sailboat that could comfortably fit four to five people within the twenty- to twenty-five-foot surface space. The sail in the middle was big and allowed for movement to walk freely or lean on the ship’s bulwark to enjoy the nice ocean breeze.
Both men walked toward the ship that would be their new ship for the next three to four days. Aden had packed light, carrying only a backpack slung over his left shoulder. He was dressed like he normally was, except he chose black uniform slacks and a white collared shirt that opened slightly at the collarbone. He also had a black vest with two pockets on the front, a pocket on each side of the vest, and two holsters to hold small weaponry like knives or a dagger.
Damien had dressed similarly like Aden but chose to wear a utility belt that held a majority of his tools instead of a vest. He also had a guest baby eagle sitting on top of his shoulder with a pure white coat and perky wings.
The blond had opened a small pouch of fruit pellets for the eagle to nibble upon while Xavier was preparing the last of the drifter for them.
“What are you doing, Shade?” Narrowing his emerald eyes, Aden remained suspicious of the older man of their group. There were times when they got along, but for the most part, they had an icy relationship due to Xavier’s constant teasing.
Xavier seemed the most excited out of the four of them. After all, he loved that little ship they were going to be on. Even though Andy never specifically ordered him to go with the three, the older guy with the tattoo wanted to get away from the stuffy atmosphere of Refrazzya and all the work being down to the ship. Also, if he stayed, Elliot and Simone would put him to work, and that was just boring in his book.
“Oh, come on, Addie, we have the fresh ocean, beautiful weather, and an amazing ship without a robot. I was sold at fresh ocean.” He gave the two a wink before tying down the last portions of the rope for the mast. “Where’s our astute lady of honor?”
Damien looked over his shoulder, wondering the same thing.
“She was stopped by the older Cheric,” Aden said aloud before walking down the ramp onto the drifter. He was checking all the work that had been done before they got there.
“For what?” Xavier asked while he was shoving some luggage underneath the portside bench of the ship in the back area.
“I don’t know.” Aden threw his bag into an empty space underneath the built-in bench on the starboard side before taking a seat. Damien had jumped aboard so he could help Xavier with the end preparations.
Damien had finished lifting the anchor from out of the water when they saw a familiar figure running toward the ship with a backpack slung onto her shoulder and a Great Dane trotting alongside her other side. Her auburn hair was free and blowing with the wind that she had created from her short jog on the dock.
“Sorry I’m late!” She noticed that the ramp was shaking from the inertia of the movements and the rocking of the waves. She hesitated, not trusting her next step to make it to the drifter without falling in. Xavier noticed her fear and reached a hand out to help her aboard.
“Hey, bestie. Glad to see ya.” She put her hand into his and walked slowly onto the ship. When she and the dog were on, Aden had got up to remove the ramp to their ship by unhooking the metal clamps on the starboard side.
“I didn’t know you were coming along, Xavier! This will be a fun expenditure then.” She gave the men on the drifter a bright smile. The Great Dane made its way to the front of the ship and howled sadly. It sat staring at the ship its master was on and trying its hardest not to slump and cry. Damien saw this and furrowed his brow.
“Cesium’s depressed that it was told to come with us?”
Charlotte looked to her blond companion and nodded.
“It’s been trying hard not to cry out for Olivia. Cesium’s trying to appease her, but that could be easier said than done at the current time with all the renovations she’s in charge of.”
Aden just glared at the slumped back of the Great Dane robot before shaking his head. “Whatever. Prepare to shove off.” He walked over to his seat and pulled two oars out. He stood both up on the deck, measuring them against himself before tossing the smaller one to the girl. She caught the oar awkwardly with her backpack still slung over her shoulder and saw the sarcastic smirk on his face.
“Did you think you were going to sit this whole time? Hurry up and row.”
The auburn was standing in the middle of the ship, unsure of where to put her stuff or even where to begin. He pointed to the port side of the ship that was empty and then pointed back to the ship where Xavier and Damien were using long oars to push off the dock.
“I never learned how to row though,” she replied with some confusion, and she could hear Xavier laugh in the background.
“Then you better learn fast,” the raven-haired male replied before slipping the oar in and using it to steer the ship south. “Try not to lose the oar.”
Damien chuckled at the comment while Charlotte went a shade of red. He was underestimating her.
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Elliot looked at Simone who was oddly looking at the sun in the distance. “Something wrong, Simone?”
The male with sandy blond hair grimly peered on, looking at the group shove off to Spiro. “Sometimes I wish we could take all her problems instead.”
Elliot nodded. “She will have to become strong to endure the future trials. Those three will help her grow.”
Nielsen sadly looked ahead. “Indeed. I just hope she lives to see the end of this.”
۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞