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Sep 22, 2021

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On Fame and Fortune Part 2

The lower decks have cleared out except the necessary personnel. It’s amazing the effect a fire has out in the middle of the sea. A lone engineer can be seen running up from the lower decks, sooty goggles covering his eyes, and a look of panic on his face. He does his best to maneuver quickly around anyone in the halls, but still manages to smash head first into one of the guards, knocking them both to the floor.

Raziel strides briskly toward the entry to the lower decks, hands in his pockets in an attempt to ignore the persistent stinging of his pads. As he walks, he mutters to himself, “Can’t walk into town or take a simple job without being shot at, or having something burst into flames…” The tiger sighs, before continuing to converse with himself. “Though I did want adventure, and this certainly qualifies…though, being wounded less often would be nice.” As he starts to descend the stairs to the engine room, he catches sight of the engineer and guard colliding. “What now…”

Eric peeks out the doorway of the room he had been hiding in, the speedily walks out and down the hallway. He’s on his way to the engine room, to see what this floating gambling den had powering it. He rounds two more corners, then runs into a problem. Literally. He had walked directly into the confused ship’s engineer and guard.

Shtora unfolds himself in a fairly leisurely fashion from the small employee lounge in back of the casino floor, where it seems he’s been ‘protecting’ some bunnygirls. Indeed, one is still rather clinging to one side, which he barely seems to notice. He approaches the pit boss, and taptaptaps him rather boldly on the shoulder.

There’s a thump from a supply closet in this staff-only section of the giant cruise ship. “James…” a female voice says from inside. It’s a bit muffled, but one in the hall could certainly detect a worried tone if not the words. “Mmh?” is the male reply. A bit more time passes before she says in a more warning tone, “There is an awful lot of racket out there.” He replies breezily, “It’s just some fool with more money’n sense got some bad clams.” “James. That is /not/ the sound of bad clams.” Another thump and a clatter ensue, followed by a squeaky yelp. “Ohh! I am /so/ sorry!” is the apologetic exclamation, which is then trailed by more clattering.

Raziel watches as another passenger stumbles directly into the pileup, adding to the confusion in the hall. However…this particular fox seems familiar. “Eric? What are you doing here?” He crosses the remaining distance between himself and the jumbled group, before offering to help the three of them up. But as he goes about the task, his ears swivel toward the unexpected voices and clanging. “Did you hear that?”

The engineer, as ashen colored stoat, stands and pulls his goggles back from his eyes, mumbling an apology to the guard he collided with. He turns to see Raziel and Eric nearing, and recognizes Raziel as an engineer. “Quick,” he blurts out, “There a problem down below. One of the valve handles got sheared off when a crate of coal fell onto it. Now it’s stuck in the closed position and the pressure has built up to almost a bursting point! We need more hands down there!”

The Pit Boss turns to look at that Cat tapping him on the shoulder. He growls under his breath at him, then barks out, “What do you want? It had better be important. And where have you been all this time, for that matter?” His eyes narrow and glare at Shtora.

Shtora smiles broadly, seemingly obliviously. “Looking after the bunny ladies. They were all frightened and such.” He gestures expansively at a sample of same. “So, Ari seems to be a goner. You’ll be needing a new bouncer, then!”

Eric backs off from the stoat and greets his freind equally puzzled. “Raz? You’re down here, too?” Before he could continue, though, the stoat shared the news of the problem. Eric pauses, then says”That’s more my area than Raz’s. He prefers explosions, while I try to avoid them. SHow me down.”

Muttered cursing issues from the closet, interspersed with occasional comforting words. “You should go lie down. I’ll be along in a moment.” “Hmph. I should go check, anyway, and see if that dishwasher hasn’t managed to burn down the kitchen yet.” A cat in a rumpled steward’s suit, with equally rumpled fur, pokes his head out of the closet to look both ways down the hall.

The Pit Boss looks incredulously at the Cat. “You think this is a good time to ask for a job?” He snarls, but then he chuckles. “Well, I’ll give you a mark for having the sand to even ask about it in this fasion. Tell you what, round up all these half conscious sots that got clubbed down in the fray, and get them off the ship, and we’ll talk about a job.”

Raziel nods at Eric’s suggestion, and addresses the stoat directly. “I know this fox. Take this him down to the engine room immediately; he’s a steam engineer, and no doubt more qualified for this specific task than I am. I’ll be along in a moment.” As voices once again drift from the closet, Raziel sighs, and indicates the guard. “You. Come with me.” Time to put those frayed nerves to use. Raziel walks toward the closet in question, and points directly at the cat as he pokes his head out, with every intention of making him jump. “YOU! What are you doing down here?!”

The Stoat nods and waves Eric towards a hatch to the bottom deck. “Great, come with me then, there’s not time to waste, we might blow the boiler if we don’t hurry!” He scurries through the hatch himself and drops do the deck below, scampering off towards the main boiler, not waiting to make sure Eric is behind him.

Eric follows the stoat down towards the engine room, and immediately surveys the scene when he arrives. The coal bin had indeed destroyed a steam valve, closing off the pipe between the boiler and the main engine. The valve was the first in the series, so there were no safety release valve before it. He quickly makes up his mind. He turns to the stoat and says “bring me about twenty feet of pipe rated for this pressure, a quick-attach pipe elbow for the same, and a hacksaw. Quickly, now!”

The steward does indeed jump at Raziel’s shout, hitting his nose on the doorframe in the process. “Oh! Right!” He babbles. “I was… um… just looking for something to help with the… problem. But I ran into a mop handle, so…” There’s the sound of something else falling off a shelf but no voice from inside. “I think I’m going to go lie down now. I’m off duty.”

Kultasilma is already at work triaging the panicked patrons in the casino. Anyone still ambulatory she’s asking to return to their staterooms, or to the dinner lounge if they didn’t rent a room. She is moving those injured in the brawl or the panic to seats or to lie on a table if they’re badly hurt. Anyone asking when the games will be resuming gets a growled ‘When we haff dealt with the injured. Now either assist or get out of here.’

Shtora beams more broadly still, seemingly having heard the Boss’s statement… selectively, to suit himself. “It’d be a bad time to not have a bouncer!” He turns, with a swish of his tail, and picks up one of the least conscious of the stunned-looking passengers bodily, slinging a limp mink over his shoulder. He then variously directs, cajoles, or lackadaisically swats various others where he deems that they need to go, lastly grabbing a dazed-looking fox by the collar and pulling him behind him.

The stoat nods excitedly and runs off, hollering out as he goes. “Dizzle, get back here and help me! We need to get some pipes and stuff so we don’t blow the boiler! Go and get a hacksaw, and those two ten foot lengths of pipe we stowed up at the bow! Meet me back at the boiler, and for the love of all that is holy, hurry your arse!” A few minutes pass before he reappears, but when he does he has the elbow that Eric spoke of, and his companion, another Stoat, drags the other pipes over and drops them with the hacksaw.

Raziel stops directly outside the closet door, intentionally giving the impression of losing his temper. “I have a better idea. Why don’t you get back to the kitchen, and start cleaning the /scorch marks/ off the trays we used to put out the /fires/, WHILE YOU WERE TAKING YOUR BREAK IN A CLOSET!”

While the stoat goes off to find the requested materials, Eric eyeballs the path tor his intended steam detour. He figures out Where the perilous pipe lines up with a currently-unused supplementary inlet, and makes a small scratch with his clam on the spot. When the stoat, now with a companion, reappears, he directs them with his plan. “Join those two pipes together, then get that elbow on this end, and fit it into that inlet. I can’t start cutting until that’s fitted.” While the stoats start the fitting, he pulls off his jacket and shirt, revealing several ridges in his fur from steam burn scars. He waits until the relief pipe is ready, then bends it gently until the open end of the elbow lies on top of the pipe, just past the mark. Eric quickly begins cutting the pipe, gritting his teeth when he breaks through and high-pressure steam begins to scald his paws. He continues until the pipe is completely severed but still partially sealed by the saw, then pauses. He psyches himself up, then moves the saw and expertly clamps the joint over the fresh cut. The pressure is released into the engine, starting it back up, but enough steam escaped beforehand to cause Eric pain. He double over his injured paw in pain, breathing deeply to calm down.

The steward cringes at Raziel’s raised voice. The mention of a fire gets a surprised blink, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to wipe the pained look off his face. “Uhh… yessir! I’ll go take care of that right away sir.” He manages to get his tail out through the cracked-open door without hitting it too. He closes the closet door behind him and starts to limp off toward the kitchens.

Raziel hesitates at the closet door for a few moments after the cat departs. He trusts Eric’s engineering ability…but he really /should/ be down in the engine room himself, trying to prevent the boilers from failing catastrophically. At the thought of passing this problem off to someone else, he looks around for the guard; however, it seems that he not only failed to follow the tiger, but has also vanished from the hallway completely. Of course. Alone, and with all his anger expended, Raziel decides, against his better judgement, to knock on the closet, and speak to the remaining occupant through the door. “Do I even want to know what you’re doing in there?”

Shtora, after rounding up some more stragglers from the casino floor and the top deck, wanders around down below, doing much the same. “We’ve had a little incident, ladies and germs, but nothing to worry about!” he caterwauls. “Back to your cabins, please, or else if you’re just day-visitors, please follow meow!”

Kultasilma finally gets things sorted enough to send one of the croupiers for the ship’s doctor. “Get him up here, and I don’t care what he’s doing now. If he’s not in surgery, he needs to be here. A couple of these people got rather badly trampled. And if you see the idiot rabbit who started all this, I want to talk to him.”

The remaining occupant remains quiet for a few moments after Raziel finishes, then seems to surmise that he isn’t going away. There’s a bit more thumping about before a feline dame in an equally-rumpled stewardess dress emerges, looking flustered. “There we go,” she replies in a fair attempt at a businesslike tone. “I’ve just finished tidying up a bit of mess left when James… got hit by that mop handle. If that will be all, I have some other business to take care of.”

Raziel blinks. It seems he was mistaken; he’s not out of rage just yet. Stunned by the sheer incompetence of the cleaning staff, he bellows, “Business to take care of? LIKE CLEANING UP THE NEARLY DESTROYED CASINO?!? I SHOULD THINK SO!!! WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME FOR? GO, GO NOW!”

The newly joined pipes (though more a temporary fix than anything else) appear to be holding, and as the steam vents, the various gauges arrayed around the boiler indicate that the pressure is being reduced to safe levels.

Eric continues to press on his injured paw, then says through gritted teeth “Gather up my stuff and bring it over here, I’m heading up to whatever you have for an infirmary. One of you stay down here and work out a more permanent fix for… this.” He stands as the first stoat brings him his jacket and shirt, then quickly wraps his paw and reapplies pressure. He makes his way upstairs, climbing carefully up a deck, and sees Raziel further down the corridor. He calls to his friend, rather weakly compared to his normal voice. “Raz, help a fox out here, will ya?”

The stewardess maintains a carefully blank expression while exiting the storage room (in a more normal fashion than her coworker). “Yes, sir. Of course that’s exactly where I’m going. Right away.” She hurries off toward the upper levels of the ship.

Raziel simply stands there shaking his head as the other cat departs. When he hears Eric approaching, however, he immediately goes to check on the fox. He notes the obviously painful burn the other engineer sustained, and can’t help but feel guilty about not helping, as he said he would. “I’m sorry Eric. I got…sidetracked by a few of the utterly useless crew on this boat. Come on, let’s get you to the infirmary.”

Eric gratefully takes the tiger’s assistance, and makes it up to the infirmary without much more pain. His paw is quickly bathed in ice water, then wrapped gently with gauze and ointment. During this, Eric says to Raziel, “‘T’ain’t the worst that’s -ow- happened. I got burn- ooh- burned up the right side of my back when an engine actually exploded. Got some pretty bad -ouch! can ya go any easier on it?- some pretty bad cuts from shrapnel, too. This is the most painful, though.”

Raziel nods. “I know what you mean. I wasn’t even burned that badly earlier, but it stings terribly anyway. Still, I’d have to say it’s wasn’t as bad as being shot.” At that statement, the nurses in the infirmary all look at him. “Oh dear…I should probably leave before they commit me. I’ll come see you later, Eric!” The tiger smiles, then nearly bounds out the door in his attempt to avoid medical treatment.

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