Friday, August 31, 2012

Scout's Honor - Chapter 42

< Chapter 41                                                                                               Chapter 43 >
Stealing onto the airship which carried the prince and princess away from the city, our hero discovers the prince drinking wine with the captain!

            I ducked out of the light spilling from the cabin and into a doorway.  The crewman placed most of the food on the captain's table, speaking to the captain.  I understood "princess" and "food."  My implant had enough to begin translating!  The remaining food was for Callan!
            When he left, I followed.  Soon, he unlocked a door then stepped inside.  I followed, seeing him place the tray on a cot which the princess lay upon.  Callan's eyes went wide when I entered, then she kicked the crewman in the stomach.  As he gasped for breath, I clouted him with my sword pommel, laying him out.
            Callan rose and flowed into my arms.  This was not the passionate embrace of a few days ago.  It was simply one person seeking comfort from another.
            I held her briefly, then said, "Highness, we-"
            "Callan," she said.  "In private, my guard captain calls me Callan."
            "As you wish, Callan," I said.  "But time is short.  We've got to get you out of here!"
            "What about Raoul?" she asked.
            What, indeed, I thought, but said, "I'll come back once you're safe."
            I retrace my path to the stern of the airship.  Leaving Callan hidden, I took a lantern hanging nearby and flashed a signal to the Pauline, almost invisible below us.  Nist flashed the reply and I motioned Callan to join me.  She blanched when she saw me unwinding my rope.
            "I can't, David!" she whispered.  "My hands still hurt from before!"
            I was already tying the rope into a sling, "Don't worry-"
            Lanterns snapped open around us.
            Drawing his sword, the captain said,  "Looks like we've caught ourselves a pirate, boys!"

Trapped, with nowhere to run, what will our hero do?  Find out in Chapter 43, coming Monday!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Scout's Honor - Chapter 41

< Chapter 40                                                                                               Chapter 42 >
Last seen hanging onto an airship's line, the prince and princess are nowhere to be seen when our heroes catch up with airship!

            I had Nist maneuver the Pauline up close to other airship and hailed the airship.  I didn't understand the reply, but Tristan did.  After several minutes of shouting, Tristan signaled Nist to fly away.
            "Neither the captain nor his crew saw anyone hanging on the rope," Tristan said.  "He said the ship had a gas leak about an hour ago.  They got close to the ground before patching it.  He thinks the prince and princess jumped off then."
            "Do you believe him?" I asked.
            Tristan said, "No...  He had all his answers ready and didn't ask his crew anything.  He's hiding something."
            "Probably the prince and princess," I said.  "Turn like we're searching.  We'll come back after dark."
            An hour later, Nist held the Pauline steady above the other ship's gasbag.  The larger ship's engines drowned out our own engine.  I looped one rope over my shoulder and tied another to the rail.
            "When my line goes slack, drop below the other airship.  I'll signal when I find the prince and princess then lower them to you," I said, then slid to the gasbag.  Climbing to the deck below, I hugged the shadows, avoiding the night crew, and found my way below deck.  A crewman bumped into me, balancing a heavily laden food tray.
            Eyes on the tray, he muttered something at me.  I just grunted, stepping away from him.  Concentrating on the tray, he went aft.  I padded after him, assuming the food was for the captain.  Knocking, the crewman opened the door farthest aft.  Within, the captain was laughing and pouring wine for another man.
            The other man was Prince Raoul!

Why is Prince Raoul drinking wine with a man who denied he was aboard?  Is the Princess Callan also aboard?  Find out in Chapter 42, coming Friday!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Scout's Honor - Chapter 40

< Chapter 39                                                                                               Chapter 41 >
Instead of being carried to safety on a line dangling from a passing airship, Prince Raoul and Princess Callan are being carried away!

            The airship climbed as it passed the edge of the city.  Any cries from the prince and princess were drowned out by the roar of the engines.
            I said, "If anything happens to Rob's body-"
            "I told you, I'm done," Bane replied.  "Go rescue your princess.  Again.  I'll take care of Rob's body."
            Seeing indecision, Bane added ruefully, "Scout's honor."
            Grabbing a drain pipe, I climbed down and ran toward the docks.  There, I met Tristan with a band of armed men.  His face creased in concern when he saw me.
            "Am I too late?" he asked.
            "We've got to take off now!" I said.  "I'll explain in the air."
            Tristan fell in behind me, his age and bulk taking its toll.  He was gasping as we dashed onto the airship.
            "Nist!" I cried, casting off docking lines.  "We've got an airship to catch!"
            Nist looked at Tristan, who could only nod, struggling to catch his breath.
            The little ship rose into the late afternoon sky.  Only a few hours since we docked but it seemed a lifetime.  It was for Rob.
            When the course was set and Tristan had regained his breath, I told him what had happened.  He listened quietly, asking no questions.  At the end, he was briefly silent.
            "I'm sorry, my boy," he said, the words heavy with emotion.  "We'll mourn the dead after we've saved the living."
            No more was said as we sped in the wake of other airship.  The sun was low on the horizon when we drew close enough to see the airship clearly.  The line still dangled but there was no sign of the prince and princess!

Did the prince and princess plunge to their deaths?  Find out in Chapter 41, coming Wednesday!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Scout's Honor - Chapter 39

< Chapter 38                                                                                               Chapter 40 >
Our hero, David Rice, is all that stands between the escaping prince and princess and Martin Bane's men!

            I charged across the roof as Bane's men piled up onto the roof.  Rather than advancing to meet me, they hung back, casting nervous looks between themselves.  Perhaps they were remembering my single-handed defense of the trap door against the trogs.  Good.  A few seconds was all I needed.  By then, the prince and princess would have been carried clear of the roof.
            Just as one man plucked the courage to advance, Bane's voice rang out, "Stand down and stand aside!"
            Relieved, the crewman stepped back as Bane stepped onto the roof.  To my surprise, he cradled Rob's body in his arms, ignoring the blood staining his rich clothes.
            "You dropped this," he said, gently laying Rob's body down.  "I had real respect for him, you know."
            "As did I," I said, wondering what game Bane was playing now.
            Seeing my wariness, Bane said, "You've nothing more to fear from me and my men.  I've done what I was contracted to do.  In truth, far more."
            "Contracted?" I asked.
            "Raider airships don't work together without guaranteed payment," he said.  "Of course, if I'd known you were going to show up, I'd have charged double!  Be glad I took the Spare Prince's airship, otherwise I would have sold you to pay for a new one!"
            "Not a chance, boy," Bane chuckled.  "Figure it out for yourself."
            Glancing past me, Bane continued, "Weren't the prince and princess supposed to drop onto a nearby roof?"
            Spinning about, I saw the airship's line now hung twenty meters above the rooftops.  The unknown airship was climbing and the prince and princess were being carried away with it!

Can David rescue the prince and princess before they tire and fall?  Is Martin Bane truly finished with our hero?  Find out in Chapter 40, coming Monday!