"Finish what you've started."

And she gestures slightly toward the main-deck ladder.

Only that, and no more.

It does nothing to ameliorate the guilt, or the dread. But it's enough to get you moving, at least; among the very first things you learned aboard the Bitch was to recognize the snap of command in Captain Hua's tone, and how properly to respond when it is present, and this knowledge does not desert you now. Even were your garments in evidence, you would not stop to dress. The captain's given you an order, and you will fulfill it, clothed or otherwise—you've occasionally thought you might actually rise from the dead to discharge the captain's orders, should she give them while you lay in your shroud. That you are merely mother naked, merely soaked to the skin with saltwater and strange alien slime and ichor and, in the fur of your thighs, your own heavily musked secretions, does not even rise to the level of notice.

Well, not mostly. There is that of you, as you double-time down the ladder and up the deck, which dearly wishes you'd been given a moment in which to recover some measure of your modesty. But—heat your cheeks though it does, to be exposed in your altogether to your captain, and your watchmates, and whoever else of the crew might chance to see—at this point, you have to ask yourself, what does it even matter? You've already seen to it, through your carelessness, that Captain Hua's had about as intimate a look at you as anyone possibly could. Even before that, your mates—any awake among the whole crew!—had every chance to see you all but collapse in the throes of orgasm, right there in front of God and everybody, atop the deep thing's back. If the ports were open—probable enough, on a fine night such as this—they likely smelled you coming, too. What possible difference could merely reclothing yourself make, at this point?

But there is that of you, all the same, which quietly but fervently wishes you could have done.

And here you are at the capstan—unrigged, but the bars are lashed ready to hand, and it's the work of a moment to free one and hoist it into a socket. One, and one only, for you do this work alone; though the small party has followed you from the quarterdeck, and now approach with Captain Hua leading and Lu pushing Quen ahead of her, none seems inclined to assist—and you would not have them do so, in any case; your guilt demands no less than that you finish alone what you began alone, in the conception of an idea and a plan which now seem to you the very zenith of madness.

The Bitch's capstan is as finely maintained as all her gear; you've spent enough dirty watches half-sunk in the bilge, seeing to that! And it is easy, at first, to walk it around behind the bar—but only until you've drawn the line taut. At that point, it just stops. You were expecting resistance, but this—in an instant it's like trying to push through granite, and had you not set the pawls before you began, the bar would likely have sprung back and bent you double over it—another measure of indignity in what's already been a most undignified night.

But the captain despises sloppy work, and your foresight did not desert you. So now it's just a matter of brute force—and little regarded though your kind be for brains or beauty, dholes are universally respected for their strength. Yes, it's been a hard night, and not done yet. No, you're not wearing the boots you normally would, especially for a task such as this where friction against the deck is so crucial. And so?—your captain's gaze is heavy upon you; wherever you might be in your solitary procession around the capstan, you've felt it. Now it's a hot weight pressing against your shoulders and back, and your guilt will not have you falter now. Your guilt, and one thing more; though you know you've gone beyond forgiveness, you might at least hope to avoid dishonoring yourself any further than you have already.