Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Scout's Duty - Chapter 20

< Chapter 19                                                                                                   Chapter 21 >
Asked to sing a song, Megan launches into Rupor’s Lament!

Megan's voice quavered then gained strength as she sang.

There once was a prince
Handsome and gay,
Who loved a princess,
Lovely but fey.

I had to find a way to stop the song before Megan got to the part about me, but had no idea how to do that.

"By all that's holy," Martin cried, "kill me now so I don't have to listen to that insipid song one more time!"

Startled, red-faced, Megan stopped singing.

Caudill cocked an eyebrow.  "You have a problem with the song, Bane?"

"Oh no, it's lovely," Martin sneered. "It's all about a handsome prince who falls for a beautiful princess.  Then the princess jilts the prince and falls for a member of her royal guard.  If you've got any lovestruck teenage girls in your crew, summon them forthwith!  They'll probably love it."

"Fine," Megan snapped.  "I'll sing something else."

Megan began singing a traditional ballad and Morrison motioned for Tristan and me to follow him.  He led us through the ship to a cargo bay which had been adapted to hold the wounded.  Close to forty men lay within, some as still as death, others fidgeting and impatient to leave.

"Start triage, David," Tristan said, kneeling next to a badly injured crewman.  "Have the most urgent cases brought over here."

For the next hour, I worked my way through the room, rearranging the wounded as instructed, while Tristan did what he could for the worst cases.  I was nearly done when I spotted lights flickering against the back wall.  Curious, I took a closer look.

A Space Forces decryption machine -- stolen, no doubt --  churned a decryption routine.  Connected to it was a metal tube I recognized immediately.  It was the emergency messenger drone I'd launched when my scout ship exited the wormhole!

Is this how the pirates found the wormhole?  What happens if they decrypt the data in the drone?  Find out in Chapter 21, coming Friday!