Monday, April 14, 2014

Scout's Duty - Chapter 82

< Chapter 81                                                                                                   Chapter 83 >
The duel is on and the pirate captains will all be there, watching!

Quint gave us five minutes to gather Chapman and report to the dueling arena.  That didn't give us much time to modify our plans to fit the ever-changing situation.

"Our top priority is still disabling those sentry lasers in the docking bay," I told our hastily gathered command staff.  "Laura, has your husband briefed all the other men?  Are they ready to go?"

She nodded.  "They know what to do and one of the men had a suggestion for speeding up the process.  Instead of spending ten minutes disabling each laser, they're going to disable the four control clusters for the docking bay.  Each one will take about fifteen minutes, but they'll be able to work on all four simultaneously."

"Good.  Wait until the docking bay clears for the fight before sending them out.  The fewer pirates they run into, the better."  I turned to Rupor.  "Have you got squads of marines assigned to guard each of the sabotage teams?"

"Yes, Rice," Rupor replied.  "But I strongly disagree with your plan to simply 'run for the docking bay' after this duel!  That might have been acceptable when none of the pirate captains were here, but it will not work now."

"Rupor's right," Callan said.  "The captains will expect Martin and Megan to sit with them.  As Martin's royal benefactors, Rupor and I will be expected to be there, too."

I hadn't considered that.  "None of you will be able to just slip away from the captains.  Okay, Rupor, what did you have in mind?"

Rupor outlined a plan for a fighting withdrawal, with the marines bearing the brunt of the fighting.  "The plan is short on details and will require considerable initiative from the officers, but they're well-trained men.  They can handle it!"

"How will we get away from the captains?" Megan asked.

Martin answered, "For the most part, we'll make it up as we go.  We don't know enough about the arena setup to do any real planning."  He looked at Rupor.  "I suggest we wait for the first serious wound and then make our move while the pirates are distracted by the blood."

Rupor nodded agreement and I added, "That just leaves one question.  What do we do about Chapman?  He's proven we can't trust him.  If he has the chance, he's sure to try to alert the pirates from inside the arena."

Rupor said what was on everyone's mind.  "Get him killed early in the fight or, if you have to, find a way to kill him yourself."

"I'm afraid you're probably right.  We can't risk the lives of hundreds of people over the life of a man who is trying to get us killed."  I looked around the room.  "Do we all agree?”

One by one, everyone nodded.

"Then let's get this over."

Tristan gave me smelling salts to revive Chapman.  "Remember, he'll be groggy for a minute or two after he wakes up."

"I'll keep that in mind," I said.

Throwing Chapman over my shoulder, I joined Martin, Megan, Rupor, and Callan at the airlock.  A pirate waited at the foot of the ramp.

"Cap'n Quint sent me to lead the way."

Together, we set off for the arena.

How will our hero fare in the duel?  Find out in Chapter 83, coming Wednesday!