Friday, April 4, 2014

Scout's Duty - Chapter 78

< Chapter 77                                                                                                   Chapter 79 >
The turncoat, Chapman, has gotten away from our hero and could be trying to warn the pirates of our hero’s plan!

I crashed up to the hatch out of the docking bay.  Since the docking bay wasn't in vacuum nor was there any immanent threat of decompression, I should have just been able to yank the hatch open and move on.  Instead, the hatch held firm.  Two blinking lights caught my eye -- a green light showing the airlock was cycling and a red one showing the airlock had been manually switched to assume vacuum conditions.  Chapman would have plenty of time to get lost in the base while I waited for the airlock to recycle!

I looked back toward Megan.  Rupor and the marines had safely removed her from the clutching pirates.  Rupor's face was contorted in righteous rage while Megan's displayed offended anger.  The pirates were muttering to themselves and eying the marines arrayed between them and Megan.  The situation looked volatile, to say the least, but it would become explosive if Chapman found anyone to listen to him.

That's why, when the airlock finished recycling, I switched off the vacuum conditions override and left Rupor and Megan to handle the situation on their own.  With a last glance back to the docking bay, I saw Callan descending from our ship.  Perhaps she could ensure cooler heads prevailed.

Beyond the airlock, I found corridors leading left, right, and straight ahead.  I couldn't see Chapman anywhere.  A couple of pirates lounged against the wall, grinning at me.

"I bet you wish you could speak civilized, elsie," one said.

I looked at him and shrugged then peered down the corridor straight ahead as if looking for something.

"Chapman didn't go that way, moron," the other pirate said.

I whipped my head back to the pirate.  Maybe I could get them to tell where he went.  Speaking slowly, I said, "Chapman?"

"Send him the wrong way!" the first pirate said.

The other pirate pointed down the corridor to my right.  Was there any chance he was telling the truth?  Not likely.

Swinging my head to the left, I pretended to spot something and yelled, "Chapman!"  Then I dashed down the corridor to my left.

I dodged around pirates who mostly ignored me.  A few tried to trip me up or get in my way.  After I 'accidentally' knocked a couple of pirates down, the rest stayed out of my way.  Seconds later, I rounded a bend in the passage and saw Chapman.  He was fifty or sixty feet ahead of me, sauntering as if he hadn't a care.  I slid in behind a pirate just as Chapman looked over his shoulder.  Somehow, he didn't notice me.  I trailed behind him for close to a minute, managing to avoid being spotted.  The pirates went about their business, ignoring both of us.

Chapman turned a corner and I took the chance to sprint closer.  I looked around the corner and spied Chapman just twenty feet ahead.  I felt a chill as I spotted his destination.

Chapman was headed to the base's communications array!

Will Chapman send a warning to Quint and the other pirate captains?  Find out in Chapter 79, coming Monday!