Monday, June 18, 2012

Scout's Honor - Chapter 10

< Chapter 9                                                                                                         Chapter 11 >

Author's note: There was a lot to cover in this chapter, so you're getting a special, double-sized chapter today.  Enjoy!

Having escaped from the raiders, our heroes wander into the desert in search of a trading post. 

We spoke little throughout the afternoon, moving too quickly to waste breath talking.  At dusk, Rob slowed the pace.
"While we're hardly safe, Highness," he said, "following our trail will not be easy.  Especially from an airship."
"Thank you, Rob," the princess replied.  Turning to me, she said, "You promised us some unbelievable explanations, Scout First Class David Rice."
"First, please just call me David, Highness."
"Very well, David.  This is Captain Robbill Vonsteader, commander of my personal guard.  I am Her Royal Highness, Princess Callan Debah Lois Antrulta Ziliah Villas, daughter of His Royal Majesty, King Edwar of Morandor.  You may continue to call me Highness, though Princess Callan is also correct."
“Thank you, Highness," my lips twitched up in a smile.  “I told you I was a member of the Terran Exploratory Corps.  Terra is the original home of the human race.  Thousands of years ago, humans began leaving Terra, settling on other worlds.  We have no records of many of the early colony ships.  Part of my job is to look for lost colonies."  I paused briefly, "Colonies such as your planet.
“Do you have such myths of a great journey, Highness?  Ships crossing the Sea of Night or something similar?”
“We do,” replied the princess.  “Scholars hotly debate whether the stories are true or merely attempts to explain our presence here.  You say those tales are true?"
“What proof do you offer, David?  How do we know you are not simply insane?”
I held out the survival pack, "Highness, you've used my weapon, heard me learn your language in less than a day, hidden beneath the chameleon cloth, and watched me fight while Boosted.  I can offer no more proof than that."
“Highness, all of this is fascinating,” said Rob in a tone that belied his words, “but we must find a defensible place to spend the night.  The tammar you killed was drawn by the scent of blood from our fight, but they usually hunt at night."
"Of course, Rob," Princess Callan said.  "But if danger strikes, at least we have David and his astounding Boost."
"Highness," I said, "do not depend on that.  Boosting again so soon could kill me."
The princess was shocked at my words.  Rob, on the other hand, looked surprisingly satisfied.  Perhaps he was happy to learn just how mortal I was.
A site was soon selected and camp established.  We ate a meal of tasteless survival bars from the pack then settled in for the night, Rob taking first watch.  It seemed as if I had only just closed my eyes when Rob's hand clamped over my mouth.
"Wake up but make no sound or sudden moves," he hissed.
I opened my eyes and instantly knew what was wrong.  A long, black snake was coiled on the princess's chest, its head raised and ready to strike.  The princess lay still, fear filling her eyes.  All I could think was, what idiot thought it would be a good idea to include cobras on a colony ship?

Can Rob and David save the princess from the lightning fast cobra?  Find out in Chapter 11, coming