The Herb Plot 9

by Zack

Email Feedback | Forum Feedback

© Copyright 2004 - Zack - Used by permission

Storycodes: MM/f; bondage; kidnap; slave; nc; XX

(story continues from )

The Star Fleet Series
The Herb Plot - Chapter 9
by Zack
The Herb Plot by Zack Chapter 9
The sun was just setting as Tola came down the stairs from the second floor of Smade's Tavern and walked over to the bar.  She had been spending a lot of time there since Jani disappeared.  "Hello, Tradlo.  Can I have an ale, please?"

Tradlo filled a mug and gave it to Tola.  "Here you are.  How you doing?  You don't look too good."

"I can't believe how much I miss Jani.  You heard anything new?"

"That guard captain was drinking in here this afternoon.  He found somebody who saw Carin and Jani walking through the old part of town the night they disappeared.  Now he thinks they were waylaid by robbers on their way to the palace."

"He just figured that out?  I guessed that much days ago."

"Well, Captain Warno may be good on the battlefield, or in the queen's court, but he doesn't seem to know much about criminals."

"But if they were robbed, and even if they were killed, why did they disappear?  That's what I can't stand, Tradlo.  The not-knowing."

It was still early for the evening crowd, so Smade's just had the usual small group of afternoon regulars in attendance, not drinking all that much, mostly just talking.  The outside door opened and a sudden silence fell.  Tradlo looked over and saw a tall, black-haired man enter.  His immediate thought was, 'This looks like trouble,' and he moved along the bar to where he kept his club.

Reg didn't miss Tradlo's move and its significance, but he ignored it and walked over to him.  He said softly, "Is Carin here?  I'm her brother, Reg."

"No, she's not here."  Tradlo was surprised.  Carin had never mentioned a brother.  He took a closer look at the man and decided the stranger did have some resemblance to Carin.

"You know when she'll be back?"

Tradlo was silent.  Then he decided that nothing was to be gained by a delay in breaking the bad news.  "I have to tell you.  Carin disappeared about a week ago.  It seems likely she was attacked by robbers, but nobody knows for sure.  No body was found."

"What?  She just disappeared?  Is anybody looking for her?"

"The queen had a guard captain look into it, but I don't think he learned much.  Carin is a member of the queen's Merchant Council, and she disappeared on her way to a Council meeting."  Tradlo had a sudden surge of caution.  He had been running the tavern while Carin was gone, but if this man really was her brother he might want to take charge, or at least collect the profits.  "No offense, but do you have any proof you're Carin's brother?"

Reg produced the letter he had prepared before he left the ship.  "Here's a letter she sent me."

Tradlo asked, "Can I read it?" and Reg gave him the letter.  Tola moved close to read it too.

Brother Reg, 
I hope this letter reaches you, because I want to see you so badly.  We are all that is left of our family now, and I don't want to lose you too.  I am now living in Varnin. I bought a place called Smade's Tavern, and am making a new life for myself.  I don't plan to ever return to Piconia.  It just has too many bad memories for me.  I do miss you though, and hope you can visit me here in Varnin.
Your sister, Carin

Tola said, "That looks like Carin's handwriting.  She left notes for Jani all the time, so I've seen it a lot."

Tradlo nodded and returned the letter.  "Yes, that's her writing.  Oh, this is Tola.  She's Jani's maid.  Jani was with Carin that night and she disappeared too.  My name's Tradlo.  I've been managing the tavern while Carin's been gone."

"Hello, Tola, Tradlo.  This is my companion Pami."

Tradlo and Tola suddenly noticed Erig, who had been standing behind Reg.  Erig gave a shy nod.  Tola felt immediate sympathy for this bedraggled and bewildered woman.  She wondered if Reg had been beating her, she looked so frightened.

Reg said, "We walked here from Piconia and need a place to stay.  Does Carin live here?"

"No, she rents a room from Athel the wool broker."

Tola said, "It faces the next street over.  I'll take you there, if you wish."

"Thank you.  I'd like to talk to you later, Tradlo.  I'm going to find out what happened to my sister."

"I'll be glad to help.  I'm going to be really busy soon, so come back tomorrow morning, not too early,  and I'll tell you all I know.  Everyone wants to find Carin and Jani."

Tola guided Reg and Erig to the front door of Athel's warehouse.  "This is the main entrance, but Carin always used the alley door.  Smade's is just behind here."

Reg said, "Thank you, Tola.  I'd like to talk to you some more.  Where do you live?"

"I'm staying in Jani's room upstairs at Smade's for now.  Second room on the left.  I'll do everything I can to help you."

"Fine, see you later."  Reg and Erig entered the warehouse and Tola returned to Smade's.

Athel and Hovat were both in the office.  Athel asked, "Can I help you?"

"I'm Carin's brother.  Can we talk in private?"

"Yes, come this way."  Athel locked the front door and led the group into the conference room.  Once inside with the door locked he turned to Reg.  "We can talk freely here.  You must be Warrant Officer Reg.  I'm Athel, and this is Hovat, the acting team leader."

"Yes, I'm Reg.  This is Pami."  Both men glanced at Erig and dismissed her.  Reg continued, "We want to stay here.  We also need a secure place to store our equipment."

"You can stay in Carin's room, and use these lockers.  We never keep off-world items anywhere except in this room."  Athel opened two cupboards, and Reg and Erig deposited their packs.

Reg said, "Tell me what you know about the disappearances."

Hovat and Athel related the events that occurred just before Carin and Jani vanished.  Athel produced a copy of Carin's journal entry and Reg and Erig read it.

Reg asked, "Do you think this supposed plot that Mavolo launched against the queen had anything to do with the disappearance?"

Hovat replied, "I don't think so.  The whole plot idea is far-fetched.  This is a non-technical society.  The priests of Sigur make and sell herbal remedies, but developing such a sophisticated drug is impossible.  I think this customer of Jani's, the supposed priest, was joking.  He couldn't have been a real priest.  As a matter of doctrine a priest of Sigur won't have sex with a woman."

"We stopped at the tavern and I briefly spoke to the bartender.  He said a guard captain was investigating.  Do you know what he learned?"

"No, I haven't heard anything. Have you, Athel?"

"No, I haven't.  I was just glad when Captain Warno stopped poking around here."

Erig spoke up.  "Could I ask a question?"  When Reg nodded she turned to Athel.  "Do you remember what Carin and Jani were wearing when they left that night?"

Athel thought for a moment.  "Carin was wearing a brown dress and Jani a blue one.  Is that important?"

"Oh, not really.  I was just curious."

Reg said, "We need to clean up and get some rest.  Tomorrow I'll go back to the tavern and talk to Tradlo, then find this Captain Warno."

Athel said, "I'll take you to Carin's room.  Do you need food?"

"Thank you, but we still have some field rations, and they'll do for now.  Let's go, Pami."

Athel showed Reg and Erig to Carin's room and returned to the conference room.  "Well, Hovat, what do you think of them."

"Reg seems competent enough, but that Pami!  The Survey Service must be sucking up the dregs if she's the best they can do."

"She didn't look too bright, did she?  And she seemed so scared."

"She must feel that she's in over her head.  And Reg doesn't seem to be the sort of man who would tolerate failure."

"Well, I hope they can find out what happened to Carin and Jani.  But I'm afraid you might be right, Hovat.  We may never see them again."

* * *

Late the next morning Reg and Erig returned to the tavern, entering by the back door.  Erig said, "While you talk to Tradlo and the guard captain I'm going to question Tola and maybe look over the town.  Meet you back here."

"Right.  See you later."  Reg went to the bar and Erig climbed the stairs and knocked on Jani's door.

Tola opened the door. "Oh, hello. Your name is Pami, isn't it?  Come in."

"Yes, I'm Pami.  I have some questions you can maybe answer.  I've been told that Jani heard of a plot against the queen.  Do you know anything about it?"

"No, not really.  Tradlo said there was one, but I don't know anything about it."

"Supposedly, Jani heard this plot story from a client who was a priest of Sigur.  It's been suggested that he wasn't a real priest, just someone playing a joke on her."

"He was a real priest, all right.  He wore merchant's clothing when he came here, but I saw him once in a religious procession.  He was wearing a robe then, and walking just behind Mavolo with the other members of Sigur's Inner Council.  He was disgusting.  Jani really enjoyed bondage and rough sex, but she only tolerated him because he couldn't stop talking about what was going on in the council.  Jani was very curious."  Tola started to cry.  "Here I am, talking like she's dead. I miss her so much.  She was my friend, not just my mistress."

"Reg is determined to find his sister, and if we find Carin we'll find Jani.  You can help me."

"I'll do what I can.  What do you want me to do?"

"First, show me Jani's clothes."

Tola was puzzled, but opened the wardrobe in the corner of the room.  It contained three blue dresses and a white cloak.  "Jani's favorite color was blue.  It matched her eyes."  She cried some more.

Erig examined the dresses.  All were made of a synthetic fabric, though it looked like linen.  The stitching was done by a sewing machine.  "These are nice dresses.  Was Jani wearing one like this when she disappeared?"

"Yes, she must have been.  Her favorite dress is missing.  She liked it because it had long sleeves that covered the rope marks."  Tola tried to stop her tears.  She had to help find Jani, not feel sorry for herself.  "Why are you asking about her clothes?"

"Nice clothes like these are valuable.  If Carin and Jani were attacked by robbers it would be part of the loot.  I'm a stranger here, but you must know the city.  You know anybody who sells used clothing?"

"Yes, there's a whole section of the marketplace where it's sold."

"Take me there."

Erig and Tola walked to a section of the city that had been burned and was not yet rebuilt.  A large area was covered with shacks and tents.  This had been an impromptu response of the city's merchants after they had been burned out, but it had proved to be so popular that it endured even after shops were rebuilt.

One section consisted of perhaps two dozen stalls that sold used clothing.  Some of it was not much better than rags, but there was better quality clothing too.  Tola and Erig looked into these stalls.  They quickly found Jani's dress; the blue color made it stand out.

The sign read 'Malik's Apparel".  The proprietor of the stall was leaning on the counter.  He was a greasy-looking man in his forties, with a bald head and a scraggly gray beard.  He gave Erig a cursory glance, then stared at Tola until she blushed and turned away.

Erig indicated the blue dress.  "Can I see that, please?"

The man took a closer look at Erig's shabby clothes.  "This is expensive merchandise.  Why don't you look on the next lane over?  The stalls there sell cheaper items.  That's more you."

Erig took several gold coins out of her pouch and let the man see them.  "Money's not a problem if you've got what I want.  Let me see that brown dress, too."

The man straightened up and laid the two dresses on the counter.  His previous disdain changed to smarm.  "Malik, at your service.  Those are top quality, and I'll make you a special deal.  Ask anyone, nobody beats my prices."  He quoted an exorbitant amount for the two dresses.

Erig examined the dresses.  Both were machine-sewn.  "These are very nice, but that's more than I can afford."  She licked her lips and gave him a slow glance.  "You have someplace private where we can... talk?"

Malik took another look at Erig.  Her face was kind of funny-looking but her body was nice, and he was intrigued by an offer from a woman that involved a payment to him.  He opened a hatch in the counter. "Step into the back room.  I'm sure we can come to an agreement."

Erig smiled and accompanied him into the back room of the shack.  Malik drew a curtain across the doorway.  "Those are valuable items.  You'll still need to pay me some gold."

"Actually, I just want information.  Those dresses were stolen from a friend of mine.  Where did you get them?"

"Stolen? I didn't steal nothing!"

"I didn't say you did.  Just tell me where you got them."  She held up a gold coin.

Malik grabbed for it, but Erig snatched it away.  "Not so fast.  Tell me first."

Malik was annoyed.  He didn't like pushy women.  He launched a wild punch toward Erig's jaw.  She blocked it easily and delivered a combination of blows to his midsection that dropped him to his hands and knees.  Erig put her dagger across his throat and dropped the coin on the ground below his face.  "Gold or steel.  Your choice."

Malik thought for only a few seconds.  "I'll tell you.  Don't cut me.  It was Captain Zalek that sold them to me."

"You're not lying, are you?  I wouldn't like that."  She touched the blade to his throat.

"No, no! It was Zalek.  Look at my ledger, on that shelf."

Erig opened the ledger and skimmed the last pages until she found the name 'Zalek' and a description of the dresses and the price paid.

"I'm glad I can believe you. Where do I find this Zalek?"

"I don't know.  At the harbor, I suppose.  He is a sea captain."

Erig sheathed her dagger.  "Nice doing business with you."  Malik grabbed at her ankle, but she dodged and kicked his head, just hard enough to knock him out.

Tola was anxiously waiting in front of the stall.  "Are you all right?  What were you doing in there?"

"Malik was assisting us in our enquiries."  Erig took Tola's arm and pulled her away from the stall.  "I need to find a Captain Zalek.  Any suggestions?"

Tola shook her head.  "I don't know him, but Tradlo may be able to help you.  He hears a lot of talk in the tavern."

"Then let's go back to the tavern."

Reg was there when they arrived.  He was drinking a mug of ale and talking to Tradlo.  Erig asked, "Did you find the guard captain?"

"Yes, but he didn't tell me anything I didn't know.  As far as he's concerned Carin was killed by robbers, and there's no longer any use looking for her.  What have you been doing?"

"Tola and I went to the marketplace.  We found the dresses Carin and Jani were wearing that night.  The merchant said he bought them from a sea captain named Zalek.  Have you ever heard of him, Tradlo?"

Tradlo thought for a few moments.  "The name sounds familiar, but I can't remember anything about the man.  But I know who can tell you."

Reg asked, "Who's that?"

"His name is Rajek.  He must be over sixty, but he's still spry.  He was a fisherman until last year, when he retired and turned the business over to his sons and grandsons.  Rumor says he was once a smuggler, maybe even a pirate."

"Will he talk to us?"

Tradlo laughed, "You may have trouble getting him to stop.  He loves to gossip, and he's never been afraid to tell everyone what he thinks.  If something happens around the harbor he knows about it."

"He sounds like the man we want.  Where can we find him?"

"He lives on his boat, it's anchored near the fishing pier."

"I hope he can help us.  Let's go, Pami."

Erig and Reg hurried to the harbor.  They found the fishing pier, and the first person they asked pointed out Rajek's boat.  It was a trim craft, about ten meters long and with a single mast.  It was painted white, and obviously well-kept.  It was anchored about fifty meters from the end of the pier.

They were wondering how to reach the boat when an old man walked down the pier and got into a dinghy moored to a piling.  Reg called to him.  "Are you Rajek?"

"Aye, that's me. What do you want?"

"I've been told that you know more about what happens around the harbor than anyone else.  Could we talk?"

"I suppose.  Nothin' else goin' on right now.  Get in the dinghy.  We can talk on my boat."

Erig and Reg clambered into the dinghy and Rajek started rowing with smooth, forceful strokes.  He had a ruddy, weathered face and bright blue eyes.  His white hair was long and flowing, but his beard was clipped short.  The hands that gripped the oars were gnarled and scarred from years of hauling nets.

In a few minutes they reached the boat and Rajek effortlessly swung aboard.  He steadied the dinghy while Reg and Erig got out and then moored it to a cleat.  "Sit down.  We'll talk out here." He sat next to the tiller and Reg and Erig took places next to him.  "You know my name, but who are you?"

"I'm Reg and this is Pami.  We just arrived here from Piconia, and I got some bad news.  I hope you can help."

"Maybe.  What do you want to know?"

"Do you know a Captain Zalek?"

"Yeah, I know him.  You a friend of his?"

"No, we've never met."

Rajek laughed.  "Don't matter.  I'd tell you the same thing either way.  But I trade information for information.  What's your interest in Zalek?"

Reg saw no reason not to tell the 'truthful' story.  "I came to Varnin to visit my sister, Carin.  When I got here I found that she and her friend Jani disappeared about a week ago.  Today I learned the dresses they were wearing the night they vanished were sold to a clothing merchant by Captain Zalek.  I want to ask him where he got them."

"I heard of Carin, though I don't drink in her place.  I can see you'd want to talk to Zalek.  But you can't, not for a while anyway.  He took his ship, Crnath's Bounty, on a trading voyage along the coast.  He left three days ago and he'll be gone at least a month."

"I've got to find out what happened to my sister.  Any chance of catching up with him?"

"Maybe, if he was actually going where he said he was.  Zalek is a slippery one.  His main business is supplying Sigurla.  And when I say supply, I mean it two ways.  He carries legal cargo and passengers, but he also provides slave girls, who do all the work on the island."  Rajek spit over the side.  "For a follower of Crnath he's mighty close to Sigur's foul priests."

Erig exclaimed, "But slavery is illegal now.  Can you prove that Zalek is doing this?"

"No, but I know it's true.  One of Zalek's crewmen got drunk one night and talked too much in a tavern.  One of my boys was there at the time and he told me.  I know for sure that Zalek kidnaps peasant girls and sells them to the priests.  If he snatched Carin he was taking a big chance, because she'd be missed.  But Zalek is greedy.  Him selling the dresses shows that.  If he was smart he woulda  thrown them over the side."

"I've heard of Sigurla, but I don't know much about it.  Do you?" Reg asked.

"I know all about it.  I visited it before the priests took it over, and I did some work there afterwards.  I rigged the capstan and hoist they use to haul cargo up from the beach.  I'm probably the only man who's been there who's not a priest of Sigur."

"Tell me more about the island.  Who did the priests take it from?"

"Nobody.  It was empty, because there wasn't no water.  No springs, no wells, no permanent streams.  The priests had it for the taking."

"What's the geography like?"

"The island is almost round, about a pasang across.  There are cliffs all around, and the only break in 'em is on the west side, where a ravine comes down to a beach in a little bay.  You got to give the priests credit, they made Sigurla what it is today.  They walled up the end of this ravine.  That caught the rain runoff and made a reservoir.  It also blocked the only way up to the top."

"You mean there's no other way to get up the cliffs?"

"I should say they blocked the only easy way up.  There are still places where an agile man who don't fear heights can climb up, as long as there aren't any priests on top dropping rocks on him.  But now there's no way you could get an army up top.  There's just the one beach, and it's under water at high tide.  The priests have piled stones on the cliffs there, ready to pound anybody below."

"Why do the they use women slaves to work the island? It must be expensive, if the priests have to pay men like Zalek to kidnap them.  And how can they get away with it?"

"Using women as slaves is part of their religion, they think it's the natural order of things.  And who's to stop them?  It's against the law, but there's no proof, because only priests can visit the island.  And like I said, an army couldn't take Sigurla by storm.  I suppose you could blockade it if you had a fleet, but the royal navy was destroyed in the war and the queen's got no money to replace it."

Erig carefully hid her emotions when she heard all this, but she made a mental note to investigate the Sigur sect and its priests.  She spoke in Galactic, "This looks promising, Reg.  Tola said Jani probably did hear about a plot from a real priest.  They may have been kidnapped to shut them up.  We need to take a look on the island."

Reg nodded and said to her in the local language, "Yes, I know you're hungry.  But I have business here to settle first."  He turned to Rajek, "I'd like to take a look at Sigurla.  Could I hire you to take me there?"

"Yep, I could do that.  I'm getting tired of doing nothin'.  But I need a crewman, and all my boys are out with the fishing fleet for another few days."

"I could be your crew. I've been a seaman."

"Oh? Piconia is a long way from the ocean."

"I haven't always lived in Piconia.  Tell you what, if you aren't satisfied with my ability before we're a couple of pasangs out we can turn back, no hard feelings."

"That's fair.  When do you want to sail?"

"As soon as possible.  I'd like to be there by sundown tomorrow."

Rajek nodded.  "There's a storm brewing up.  It may be rough for a while, but we should be there long before sundown.  I know a place on the lee side of the island where you could reach the top.  Today the tide ebbs just after sunset.  We can sail then."

"Fine with me.  I have to collect some equipment, but I can be back here before then.  What's your fee?"

Rajek named a price and Reg counter-offered.  This was just for show, because gold was synthesized in the Amalgamation and it was cheap.  It wasn't long before a generous fee was negotiated and Rajek rowed Erig and Reg back to the pier.

As they were walking back to Athel's warehouse Erig said, "I didn't mean to take over like that, Reg.  I did say you'd be in charge of this exercise."

"No problem.  You can't keep quiet just to stoke my pride; we have an objective to accomplish.  I'm not upset because you came up with a plan before I did."

"I'm glad you feel that way.  Our relationship can't be allowed to interfere with our duty."

They entered the warehouse.  Athel and Hovat were in the office.  Reg said, "Come to the conference room.  We need to talk."

Once they were inside with the door closed Reg said, "We have information that indicates Carin and Jani might be on Sigurla.  We have to check it out."

Hovat was shocked. "What makes you think that?"

"We found their dresses at a used clothing stall.  The man who sold their clothes also sells slave girls to the priests.  It's far from certain Carin and Jani are there, but we have to check."

Athel asked, "What do you plan to do?"

"I've hired a boat to take me there.  I'll climb up the cliff and scout around on the island.  If I see them we'll call in a rescue team from Star Fleet."

Now Athel was shocked.  "But that might violate the First Directive!"

"We'll worry about that when the time comes.  First, we have to locate the women.  I need climbing rope.  Do you know where I can get some?"

"There's a ship's chandler two streets east.  What else do you need?"

"I can take care of everything else.  We brought a lot of equipment."

Hovat said, "If you scout around the island during the day you might be detected.  I have a suggestion.  We have some miniature cameras.  You could plant them in likely locations during the night and monitor the images from your boat."

"That's a good idea.  We didn't bring anything like that."

"I'll get them for you.  They're stored in the attic.  When are you sailing?"

"After sunset, but I want to be on the boat as soon as possible."

They collected the equipment they planned to take and put it in a canvas sea bag that Reg had purchased on their way back from the harbor.  Hovat entered the conference room carrying a plastic case.  He opened it and displayed ten cameras nested in foam, each smaller than his thumb.  The case also contained the base station that displayed and recorded the images.  A small plastic bag held disguises that could be put around a camera to make it look like any of a variety of objects, such as a stone or a tree branch.

Hovat said, "These cameras were part of our expedition equipment, but we've never used them.  I tested them and they all seem to be working."

He closed the case and gave it to Reg, who put it in the sea bag. "Thank you, Hovat.  These cameras will be very useful.  Pami and I will be gone for a few days at least.  Bad weather is likely, and it may delay our return."

"I hope you can find Carin and Jani, but I really don't think they're on Sigurla.  The simplest explanation is the most likely, that they were killed by robbers."

"You may be right, but we have to eliminate this possibility.  We'll know as soon as the cameras are in place."

Erig and Reg returned to the harbor, stopping at some shops along the way to collect supplies.  Rajek was on the pier, next to a handcart containing provisions.  His boat was moored alongside, and Erig and Reg helped him load everything on board.  When all had been stowed to Rajek's satisfaction the sun had set and it was time to go.  Reg provided the muscle to raise the sails.  Rajek cast off the mooring lines and took the tiller.  Erig carefully watched everything happening around her.  This was the first time she had traveled on a sailboat.

As soon as they were clear of the land Rajek turned the tiller over to Reg, and watched closely as he kept the boat on course and trimmed the sails to extract the maximum speed.  The wind had noticeably increased since they left the harbor and the sea was rough.  After sailing for another hour Reg said, "We'll need to reef the main soon.  I'll do it, if you like."

"Aye, give me the tiller."  The exchange was made and Reg quickly reefed the mainsail.  Rajek nodded his approval.  "I'm satisfied.  You know your way around a boat."

Erig had been feeling peculiar for some time.  An unusually large wave caused the boat to lurch, and her stomach gave up the struggle.  She put her head over the gunwale and vomited violently.  The retching continued for some time, even after her stomach was empty.  She was very frightened.  Sickness was rare in the Amalgamation, and she had never experienced anything like this.  She was used to the pain caused by wounds, but this wretchedness was new to her.

During a pause in the vomiting Erig noticed Reg crouched next to her.  He gave her a cup of water.  "Drink this.  You'll feel better."

She drank the water, and promptly vomited it up again.  "I think I'm dying, Reg.  What's happening to me?"

"You're seasick.  The motion of the boat has disrupted your balance.  It's worse when it's a dark night like this, because you don't have the horizon to watch.  I know you feel bad now, but it will pass and you'll be all right."

"How long will it take?"

"It depends.  With most people the vomiting stops after a couple of days."

Erig groaned.  "You mean I'll suffer like this for days?  I'd rather be dead."

Reg picked up her limp body.  "I'll take you into the cabin.  You'll feel better if you can sleep."

Erig doubted that, but she didn't resist.  She did sleep eventually, but not before she resolved to put a drug to prevent this sickness on her equipment list.  At the very top.

Some time later Erig dragged herself out of the bunk and over to the ladder below the forward hatch.  In the dark she had misplaced the bucket she had been using and was anxious to get on deck.  She undogged the hatch cover and pushed it open, and was doused by a stream of seawater as a wave broke over the foredeck.  Reg's sea bag was at the foot of the ladder.  She stuffed it between the top steps to keep it out of the water sloshing around the deck.

She scrambled out onto the foredeck and knelt on the hatch cover as she struggled to get it closed.  There was a bright flash, a loud bang, and Erig and the hatch cover were blown over the side.  A wave broke over the bow and water poured down the gaping hatch.  The boat started to founder.

End of Chapter 9

Copyright © 2004 by Zack. All rights reserved.
I welcome your comments. E-mail me at [email protected] or [email protected]

This story continues in Chapter Ten


story continues in