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   Chapter 4 The first trip

The Story of the Mimosa By Paul Kater Characters: 9159

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:04


A streak of pride went through Blokman Rufer as the Black Flower moved out of the dock and onto the river. The sails had full wind (which was odd as there hardly was any, but that was a trick of the fabric), the engines did not sound unnerving and the crew was running around with confidence, which filled the owner of the black ship with confidence. He turned to the bridge from where he knew the captain could see him and raised his thumb. From behind the window the helmswoman waved and said something to the Landarian captain. A barking sound from her later the Black Flower started rising up in the air. All went well so far, there was hardly a danger around as this area was basically uninhabited; most ships were far away from here, running their errands in the business district of one of the larger towns. And that was just fine since Blokman's business could do without much attention.

Calmly he sauntered over the deck, enjoying the gentle sway of the wooden floor beneath the soles of his expensive shoes. Blokman knew he did not have to think about anything from here. The captain knew the plans and the route. First they'd take the ship up as was happening currently and when that was good they'd go even higher where the full potential of this type of ship could be unleashed. Nine hundred gorabs per semi-harp, the shipbuilder had said. That would convert roughly to half a Landarian league per hour or in more comprehensible words very fast.

One of the Amandian crew came walking in with a mug of coffee. She had already discovered the galley and done the right thing. Unfortunately the ship's kitchen carried the wrong kind of coffee. Although it would do for now, it was a matter that needed even more attention than the red sails. As did, he frowned, the matter of missing sugar.

Still, Blokman had the soul of a pirate underneath the appearance of a gentleman so he braved the black, hot liquid and the small blister that it manifested on his tongue. He climbed the stairs and had a chat with the captain. "How does the ship handle, captain?" He had given up trying to pronounce the name of the Landarian woman after learning that he constantly mispronounced it into a very offensive word in her language.

"Good."

"Wonderful. Is that good good or very good?"

"Very."

Blokman nodded as his gaze wandered over the mess that had already spread out over the table, the consoles and the ground in these first minutes. Typical Landarian, he knew. He'd never get used to it. "Do you already know if we are going to take this ship into space?"

"Yes."

Bloody Landarians, logical enough to drive a computer crazy, and that was a trait they didn't even know. "Are we going into space today, on this flight?"

"Yes."

"Thank you. Always a pleasure conversing with you." Blokman heard a huff behind him as he left the bridge. He never would learn if the captain was curious about the performance of the ship or if she was taking revenge on his words. Halfway down the stairs the Black Flower lurched upwards, pushing its owner down onto the stairs. The manoeuvre also made his coffee fly off, together with his consciousness.

***

When he came to awareness again he found himself on a crude bunk. A grey ceiling and a worried face hovered over him.

"Are you okay now?" the face asked. At least that was good. Had the ceiling asked such a question, he would certainly not have been okay. Slowly Blokman's range of vision widened. The face was connected to a sailor, and an ugly one for that matter. Just his luck.

"That depends on your definition of okay. What happened?" A first attempt to sit up was quickly cancelled by a jolt of headache that crashed the throbbing-party in his head.

The pirate sailor nodded. He knew his boss and judged him okay again. "Cap'n said there was a violent reaction to something she put into the button-box which slapped us up faster than was planned. Most of us were only bruised. You got slapped hard so we put you in a bed."

"How many hours have I been here?" Blokman asked.

The sailor's face crumpled in his attempt to convert the time passed into hours, which made Blokman rephrase his question asking simply how long.

"Only a few days."

"A few days?!" Regret was the victim's share of course; he should not try to speak loudly. "And where are we?" Please, let us not still be in space. The captain should have more sense than that.

"We're currently trying to outrun a law enforcement vessel, " was the laconic answer.

"What? What did we do to warrant that? Oh, never mind

. Help me get up."

With help of the sailor Blokman made it to the deck. For that they had to go through the near endless corridor first, which was again an uncanny experience. Once outside, the view was spectacular as long as one ignored the warning shots from the police shuttle and the summons to stop and surrender. The red sails seemed to catch a strong wind. Below them the planet was rushing by at an astounding speed. Despite the speed everything on deck was calm, as if they were sailing on some exotic atoll and heading towards a nice little island with palm trees.

"What did we do to make them chase us?" Blokman wondered.

"The usual." This reply from the sailor who supported him was not really a surprise but he apparently had missed out on some of the excitement.

"To the bridge, " the sore-headed man commanded and soon he was hoisted up the stairs and sitting in a chair, staring at a Landarian back.

The captain muttered words like 'stupid' and some stronger expressions as she worked on the console and the steering wheel of the ship. The helmswoman lay in a corner, knocked out. Blokman was not certain how that had happened. Perhaps the captain had done that (it would not be the first time) or the woman had lost her footing in a sharp movement and hit the wall. An unfriendly shudder went through the Black Flower.

"Hit, " was all the captain said, which was bad enough. The steering system had clearly been affected, nothing she did made the ship maintain its course. She turned to the gentleman with the headache. "So, what now?"

"Can we still go into space and back here?" was the best he could think of as he had no idea what the situation would turn into if they were to land the ship in the water, which probably had to be very soon.

"Yes."

"Into space then!" he commanded, after which the captain yanked levers, pushed buttons, and the Black Flower pushed upwards again. This time without the ill effects on Blokman, as he was sitting in a chair that supported him.

The shots fired at them lessened rapidly, as did the light around them. It took only a few minutes for the ship to reach space. The internal systems of the Black Flower deployed the air-bubble as soon as proper air became thin, thus making sure all the crew were safe.

Blokman rose from the chair and walked to the window. He had been in space before, numerous times, but always in a shuttle that was designed for that from the beginning. Seeing the stars and the planet below from the bridge of a wooden ship with three masts and red sails set was quite a different thing to behold. "I have to see this from deck, " he declared. He stepped over the still still body of the helmswoman and walked down the steps. All members of the crew were groggy as they hadn't had a warning the ship was going to enter space, but they would be fine. Blokman moved to to the railing, put his hands on the strangely warm, polished wood, and took a deep breath. It made him cough because the mechanically produced air was a lot drier than proper planet air with all its moisture from rivers, seas, oceans and little streams of blood from people killed every once in a while.

He heard the heavy steps of the captain on the stairs. It had to be her, she was the only one with the right weight for that. "Don't you just love the view?" he asked without turning around. "I had never thought that this would be so amazing."

"No, " the Landarian said.

It startled Blokman. She appeared to be standing directly behind him. Curious he turned around, wonder on his face. The big club that she had in her hand was the last thing he saw as it came closer and closer to his face at a high speed. As his mostly dead body flew over the side, the Landarian lowered the club. "Don't like the view."

The crew had witnessed the whole thing, even though it only took a short moment. They whispered among themselves, the way Amandians tended to do, but held their silence as the captain approached them, club still in hand.

"We go. Move."

"Where do we go?" one of the Amandian sailors asked. He gathered that he had time enough to duck if the club took a swing at him.

The captain was silent for a while, pondering a good answer. She turned and looked out into the darkness of space. Then she saw a distant sparkle and pointed. "There."

"Sorry, ma'am, but that looks sort of far away. Shouldn't we arrange some more food first?"

The captain raised the club to the sparkle in the distance. "WE. GO. THERE."

The Amandian crew ran off to prepare to go there.

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