After a long delay, Wings has been updated. Irma did come, but luckily we didn't get too much damage. However, I have been busy with school being an a$$ and such. This Chapter contains implied TopHerc and some HercSally.
Hercules was soon anchored at one of the piers and waited patiently for Ten Cents to return. The day was not too eventful, but he needed a rest. He closed his eyes and was getting ready to sleep when he heard a whistle.
He stirred awake and sighed a breath of relief upon seeing who it was. Ten Cents smiled as he got close, towing an oil barge behind him. Some of Hercules' crew got to work, making sure the lines were secure and that no fuel would leak out. "I'm going to grab an extra barge, so it'll be a while!" Ten Cents said. "Go ahead darling, I don't mind." Hercules replied, closing his eyes once more.
Hercules was sleeping for a short while when he heard a whistle. However, this whistle was unfamiliar. He opened his eyes to see who made that noise, but his eyes widened at what he saw. There, standing before him, was Top Hat.
"That is MY fuel you tw- Hercules!" Top Hat was astonished at what he saw. Realizing what he was about to say, he started to slowly back away in case he offended the larger tug. "Forgive me, I didn't realize that you were oil-powered."
Hercules nodded, smiling to assure the other that it was all good. "It's nothing to worry about dear. Ten Cents just left to go grab an extra barge."
Top Hat raised an eyebrow, now back to his usual self. "Dear? What's it with you using that word?" He demanded. Hercules couldn't help but chuckle, "I love using terms of endearment with everyone I meet." With a wink, he added, "Besides, it makes them feel special."
Poor Top Hat was fuming! This new tug was doing a really good job at getting him flustered, and it did not help that he was quite handsome. He tried to come up with an answer, but he couldn't! With a groan, Top Hat conceded defeat.
Hercules felt quite content with himself and slipped a sly grin. Ten Cents soon arrived with another oil barge, unaware of the events that had happened a few minutes before. Some of Top Hat's crew got to work hooking up the fuel barge to Top Hat and making sure the lines were secure. He noticed how red Top Hat's face was and he couldn't help but chuckle and ask, "Did something happen here Toppy?"
"Oh be quiet." The railway tug snapped, having been quite flustered. However, Hercules' smug face was not helping when it came to trying to alleviate the situation. With a grumble and a few curses under his breath, Top Hat finally went quiet.
Eventually Hercules had finished getting refueled and had his oil barge unattatched. "No one told me Top Hat was oil-powered." He whispered. "He sometimes sees coal as the fuel of the common boat." Ten Cents sighed, watching men unhook the empty barge from Hercules. "He was also the first oil-powered vessel in Bigg City, so he has a sense of honor."
"And entitlement. I don't really like those types you know." The large tug whispered. "Should we go back to Captain Starr in case he has work for us?" He asked, wanting to change the subject.
Ten Cents nodded, and they soon went to headquarters. Captain Starr was eating his lunch when he heard a loud whistle, spitting the food out of his mouth. "Ten Cents, I told- you two returned?" He asked, quite shocked. "We have, and Hercules wants to know if you have any contracts for us to fulfill." Ten Cents replied.
Captain Starr was confused, and turned to face Hercules. "Well?" He asked, wanting to know why the large tug wanted to work. "Sometimes I get antsy if I just sit here at the harbor Captain." He politely explained, knowing all too well what would happen if left alone to his own devices. "Some of my old fleetmates said I never sat still, and for good reason. It does get boring sitting at port all day."
"So you're quite the active one, huh?" Captain Starr asked, now frantically searching for any contract work that needed to be fulfilled. Most of the day's contracts were already being fulfilled, which would not help allieviate the situation. He soon spotted a contract that had not been fulfilled. It was not lucrative like some of the other contracts he had under his belt, but this particular would do.
"You're in luck Hercules! We have a fuel contract with Sally's company and they need fuel delivered straight away." Captain Starr said, reading the contract aloud. Hercules's eyes widened, and nodded to show he would do it gladly. Blowing their whistles again, Ten Cents and Hercules set out to the fueling depot.
As they sailed on to the fuel depot, Ten Cents couldn't help but look up at the decoration on Hercules' hat. "What's with the bird on your hat?" He asked. "The bird?" Hercules grinned and said, "It's not an ordinary bird, it's an eagle. They're a symbol of bravery in many cultures."
Ten Cents gasped. "Are eagles worn by the Valkyries as a status symbol?" He asked curiously. "The Valkryies? I've not heard anyone use that word in a long time." Hercules replied, raising an eyebrow. His cheery demeanor was gone, and his face became serious.
The small tug was bewildered and asked, "You know who the Valkyries are, right?" The Valkyries were so admired and respected that all ships knew who they were and what they did. Surely a vessel as knowledgeable as Hercules would know of their existence!
No word came from the tug, and Ten Cents frowned. Perhaps something happened to Hercules that caused him to have problems with the Valkyries. Or that Hercules was good at keeping secrets. Pestering would get him to reply to his questions, but at a cost.
Finally, Hercules broke the silence and calmly said, "Ten Cents, I used to work for a company called the Red Stacks. In this company, the eagle was not a status symbol, it was something that was earned. Usually, we would get the eagle if we exhibited extraordinary bravery while out at sea."
Ten Cents was surprised, gladly taking in this information. Hercules soon spotted some buildings that belonged to the fueling depot and whispered, "I'll explain it later." They explained their situation to a manager, and soon both tugs were attached to a fuel barge containing aeroplane fuel.
The barge was a tad heavier than other fuel barges, and Ten Cents tried his best to make sure he wouldn't break free from the lines. However, Hercules was not bothered by this. "Allow me." He smiled, knowing how strong he was. This prompted a few comments from the workers at the fuel depot.
The two tugs, barge in tow, set off for Sally's port. Ten Cents was quite surprised by how strong Hercules was, noticing how the large tug did not look tired. Hercules did not mind all of this, as his highest priority was delivering the fuel in a timely manner. And seeing Sally again.
Wanting to break the silence, Ten Cents asked, "What exactly are the Red Stacks?" "I used to work for them until I was sold. Mainly we were sent out to tow ships that were arriving from different parts of the country and sometimes the world." Hercules explained, feeling nostalgic. "The Red Stacks were all female, with the exception of me of course. But we all became very close."
The switcher gasped, and wanted to know even more. However, he frowned when they spotted the dock where Sally was patiently waiting. This meant that he was going to get stuck while Hercules chatted with Sally. Again.
"Hello Sally!" Ten Cents said, trying to be cheerful. "Ah hello!" Sally said, smiling brightly. "Oh Hercules, I wasn't expecting you to be here as well." "Well he wanted to pay a visit and prove himself useful." Ten Cents replied, looking up at Hercules.
Hercules feigned annoyance, but he secretly loved the praise he was receiving. "Now now Ten Cents, I just arrived at Bigg City this morning." He said. "There are more opportunities for me to be useful later."
Sally chuckled and before she knew it, she was talking to Hercules again. Ten Cents could not care less, but he noticed a change in Sally. She was way more bubbly than normal, giggly even. And that was starting to bother him.
Hercules, on the other hand, was content. He had a bad habit of talking with random vessels while doing work, especially when the vessel involved was female. On one hand, it would allow him to get vital information and make it easier for him to break the ice when talking to a vessel he was supposed to tow. On the other hand, it could get really distracting and annoying, especially when another tug was sent out to help Hercules.
During all this, Ten Cents couldn't help but observe crew securing lines and making sure that Sally was fuelled. Perhaps Hercules talking to Sally was not such a bad idea, as it could make time go a lot faster. However, conversations of photographers and ordinary folks was starting to bore him.
Eventually, Sally was refuelled and was uncoupled from the fuel barge. "Oh! I do apologize, but I need to do my final air tour for the day. I'm extremely busy, but hopefully we'll talk again!" Sally said, her pilot getting in and starting up her engines. "Have a safe flight!" Hercules said, watching as the seaplane taxied and took off.
Ten Cents finally lost patience and asked, "Why do you always do that?" "Talk? It helps make time fly, and I get to learn about a place." Hercules replied, being extremely calm. "I know it drives you mad, but refuelling can get boring."
It was difficult to reason with Hercules at this point, so Ten Cents pouted and went silent. "Perhaps I shouldn't be as flirtatious when I'm working with you." The large tug whispered, hoping to calm the switcher down. "Besides, it'll give you a chance to voice your concerns and such."
Ten Cents sighed and looked up, calming down to a reasonable level. "I think we should head back." He quietly said, feeling exhausted with the day's events. Hercules nodded in agreement, and the two set back for the Star Dock.
During the trip, Ten Cents got curious about the Red Stacks again. "Hey Hercules," He asked, "What was it like, being in the Red Stacks and all that?" Hercules sighed and said, "It placed a lot of responsibility on me, especially since some of my fleetmates would get switched out and sent to different harbors. I would have to be the example and role model to each new tug that joined the company's ranks, especially after we were bought."
"After you were bought?" Ten Cents asked, raising an eyebrow. "Another company purchased the Red Stack Company, and our workload increased. Maybe once we settle down, we can talk some more." Hercules explained, spitting the familiar insignia of Star and Marine.
After some talking with Captain Starr, both tugs were given the rest of the day off. Hercules was relieved, especially since he had spent many days travelling. Once both tugs were uncoupled from the fuel barge, Hercules went to a pier and promptly fell asleep. Ten Cents was annoyed, but he was too tired to care. Soon, he too went to sleep.
The story of Herc's life will be featured in the next chapter, so stay tuned!
[NOTES AND HEADCANONS]
• As shown here, Top Hat is an oil-powered tug like Hercules is. I felt oil was something that would suit the snobby railway tug, as he sees it being cleaner than coal.
• The S.S. Hercules worked for the Red Stack Company in San Francisco, which specialized in going out to sea to escort ships into port. The vessel worked for this company from 1907 to 1924, when she was sold to the Western Pacific Railroad.
° Herc here was sold to Star and Marine as opposed to the Western Pacific Railroad. The reason why won't be given until much later.