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   Chapter 27 Walking the plank

Bactine By Paul Kater Characters: 11048

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:03

A massive thud made everyone look, as far as they were able to turn their heads.

"Ah, look who's here. It's my Bagel." Birkle, the pirate captain, grinned as a large monkey-like animal came walking over. It had just jumped onto the deck. The most remarkable trait of the animal that showed it was not a monkey were its six arms. Or legs. Limbs.

Daniel knew that Bagel in the local speech of the planet stood for Feather. This Feather did not look like it should be messed with. It looked like sixty pounds of bad luck if you did.

"Come here, Bagel, " the pirate captain said. "You may get to play with these people."

The monkey walked on its hind legs and sat down not far from Birkle. It looked around, and Daniel was convinced it was intelligent. This, however, did not have to be a good thing.

Birkle turned back to Ulaman. "You know, former captain, you are in luck. You and your people look strong and healthy. Fortunately, I am looking for people that can do the odd chore for me. In return for their work, they get to live. Of course, it is obvious what happens if they don't work."

He pulled something from his pocket and threw it to the monkey. It caught it and devoured the thing, an apple-like fruit, in seconds. "I am a strong believer in setting examples, former captain. To make a point, so to speak. Things like that speak to the imagination."

Some of the pirates yelled very descriptive ideas of how to set an example, roaring with brutal laughter, but a fierce look of their leader made the lot be quiet. He reached into a pocket of his coat and took something. It was a piece of red plastic, Daniel first thought, but as it glistened he decided it had to be a ruby. Birkle placed the ruby on Ulaman's head. "Flat side up, dear former captain, means the example will be dealt with by my little pet here, the Bonto. In a fair fight, of course. Sparkling side up means that the example will be left to the plank."

Daniel wished he had to wonder what the example would be, but it was plain and obvious. Someone was going to die. He blamed himself for not seeing the faulty course of the ship sooner. It was his job to know, to see and to warn Ulaman in time, and he had failed. Frantically he started to squirm, to get out of the ropes that kept him down.

The pirate looked. "Oh. Look at that. We have a really lively one here." He smiled at Daniel's futile attempts for a while, but Daniel got tired and found it was no use. Birkle snarled something in a dialect Daniel didn't understand. The kick in the kidneys came as a extremely painful surprise. The pirate captain seemed to become impatient. "Come on, former captain..." He slapped Ulaman in the face, making the ruby fall. "Oh. Now that is really too bad..."

Birkle picked up the ruby. "Sparkly side up. Looks like Bagel here is out of luck today." He leaned over the railing and yelled something about the plank being prepared. This was worrying. The really unnerving part was the cheer from the pirates' ship. The man in the long coat turned and pointed. "We'll take him."

'Him' was Daniel.

All the crew members of the Pricosine were lined up along the side of their ship, each one kept under control by the ropes and a few pirates. All, except Daniel. Daniel's ropes were untied, except for his hands th

wareness fought like a champion to regain its seat. Daniel opened his eyes.

"Hello! If you are alive, can you show me so?"

Slowly Daniel sat up and stared around.

"Hello... Here, behind you..."

While his body protested, Daniel turned. He saw a row boat. There were two men in it.

"Hello there. You will have to jump into the water. We can't get near the Fringy to pick you up!"

Daniel waved. At least he did his best to wave. Then he just let himself roll off the animal that had saved his life. The men in the row boat paddled quickly over to him and dragged him into the boat.

"Are you okay, sir?"

"Never better, " Daniel said, and laughed. The insanity and the hardship of the past days needed a way out.

The men in the row boat took him to the fishing boat from where Daniel had been spotted. They fed him and checked him as well as they could, and then they put him in a bunk. Miraculously, his hydger was still in his possession, somehow it had gotten stuck inside his shirt.

When Daniel woke up, the fishing boat was on its way to port. After more food and a shot of something like brandy, he felt better. The sailors had handed him fresh clothes that sort of fit and he told the captain of the ship about what had happened.

"Good grief, man, it is impossible that you survived that! How did you get on that Fringy?"

"I don't really remember. It was just there."

"You, sir, are the love of the power of the waves."

Daniel had heard that expression before. It meant someone who was very lucky at sea. It made him wonder, after all the things that had happened to him already. At sea.

He tried using the hydger several times, but there was no signal. The captain, upon noticing his attempts, told him he'd have to wait until they were ashore. "Our town is not a large rich one like Zoroon, sir, the hydger signals are very weak here."

So Daniel had to wait, and spent his hours worrying about the fate of the men and women aboard the Pricosine.

Properly fed, and warm again, he jumped off the fishing boat, after thanking the crew. They had offered to assist him, but all Daniel wanted to do was get in range of a signal so he could contact his boss.

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