The Shaman of Karres – Snippet 21
The steward’s jacket had a pen in the pocket, so Goth wrote on one of the napkins from the drawer of the trolley. Stop banging. I’m coming to get you out, she wrote. She almost signed it Goth but remembered in time to write Leinna. She ported it into the cabin… and was rewarded a few moments later by silence.
Goth tapped on the door, and was answered by Yelissa. “Who is it?”
“The purser sent me down with the drinks from the captain.”
Yelissa opened the door slightly, saw the drinks trolley and Goth’s light-shifted face, and let her in.
“Patham knows, I could use a drink after that noise!” said Jaccy, helping himself to a glass and a bottle. “But is this the best the captain could think of?”
“It seems to have worked,” said Mogon, doing the same, as the next of them took a drink too. Excellent, thought Goth, who had doped all of the bottles on the top rack. That just left Yelissa — and she would do well to undo the force-cuffs.
Jaccy blinked owlishly, and stared at her… “Who’re ‘ou?” he slurred, screwing up his eyes and trying to focus them.
Yelissa turned to him, her face instantly anxious. “Are you all right, dearest master?”
Dearest master. Goth could barely contain her snort, as she produced the Clipe pistol. She wasn’t going to need it for Mogon. He’d slumped down. The other man was clumsily feeling for something — possibly a gun, but he was plainly having trouble controlling his hand. Jaccy slid to the floor, and Yelissa rushed to cradle his head, before it hit the deck.
“Finish your drink,” said Goth, to the still standing man who was fumbling for a weapon. “And don’t try any funny stuff.”
He didn’t — either finish his drink or try any funny stuff — but Jaccy, his head lolling, managed to say: “Get ‘er.” Yelissa flew up from the floor like an enraged miffel to attack Goth, not in the least worried by the gun.
It was not quite what she’d expected from the fragile blonde. She’d had her attention on the still standing man — to find herself attacked by a frantically clawing Yelissa.
Only two things saved her — the first being that Yelissa seemed to have no interest — or fear — of the gun, and made no attempt to get at the weapon. And the second was that there simply wasn’t much to Yelissa. Goth had hunted bollems on foot with a bow. She had muscles, even if she had force-cuffs on. Yelissa just had frantic flailing, kicking scratching and biting.
The swaying man tried to take a hand too, managing to get his weapon out. The shriek of a Clipe needle shattering his Mark III glassite and his trigger-finger stopped him. He grabbed his maimed hand and cried out in pain.
His life had been saved by Goth’s struggle, but she ended that struggle by thrusting Yelissa away, and then kicking her in the stomach, so that she went down with an explosive whuff of breath.
That quieted her down — which was more than she could say about the screaming man with the bleeding hand. Goth grabbed a handful of the napkins. “Push that onto it. And shut up or I’ll have to kill you.”
Yelissa tried to get up again. Because she was still in force-cuffs, Goth swung the Clipe over to point at her, traversing Jaccy’s body. Goth noticed how Yelissa froze as she did that. “Stay down or I’ll shoot him,” she said.
Yelissa looked terrified, and stayed down and silent. Someone knocked at the door. “Do you need help in there? Shall I call one of the crew?” asked a querulous female voice.
Goth motioned at the two who were still conscious to shut up by the simple method of waving the Clipe at them, before setting it down on the trolley and opening the door slightly and looking around it. “Thank you, but I’m actually one of the stewards, just treating an injury here. We’re fixing that banging noise — sorry, I need to keep this closed while the engineers open the sewer line. It’s a bit smelly.”
She closed the door firmly, picked up the Clipe pistol again, and waited. When she was sure the quizzy passenger had gone, Goth said to Yelissa: “Give him the rest of that drink, and dress his hand. And don’t try anything or I’ll put Clipe needles in your precious man.
Yelissa did as she was told.
“Now. I need these force cuffs off. Come here. I am going to put my arms around your neck. If you do it wrong your head will get blown off.”
Something about the eagerness in the way the woman stood up and the expression on her face made Goth pull her hands back. “Back off. I’ve changed my mind. I’ll put my arms around his neck.” She pointed the Clipe pistol at the unconscious Jaccy. That produced a look of horror and chagrin, and very reluctant but careful cooperation.
Her hands free at last, Goth stood up, enjoying the movement.
“I would have died for him,” said Yelissa sullenly.
“I figured. But why?” asked Goth.
“Because it would have killed you and he would be safe,” answered Yelissa reverently. “I would have been happy to do that.”
“You’re a dope, and he’s not worth it. But if you want to keep him safe you’ll behave yourself,” warned Goth.
“You won’t take him away from me?” Yelissa pleaded.
“Great Patham, no. You can keep him.” Goth saw the expression on Yelissa’s face and actually felt a little sorry for her. “As long as you behave yourself. Now I need to tie you up before I can get Mindi free.”
Searching around, Goth had no luck finding rope or cord — but she did find the kidnappers’ supply of force-cuffs. They were the programmable kind that she could enter her own code into, so Goth cuffed the doped men and Yelissa. Then she went down the short corridor to the room into which they’d locked her and Mindi. She knocked. Then knocked louder. “It’s me. Leinna. You’re free. Unlock the door.”
There was silence. Then a muffled voice said. “I’m going to open the door. I’ll shoot if it’s not Leinna on her own.”
Goth decided on a little light-shift, just in case.
The door opened a crack, with the spiky nozzle of slightly wavering Clipe pistol emerging first. Then the door pushed slightly wider and the red-head looked out of the darkness around it. “Oh! Leinna! Oh I was so afraid for you. Where are they?”
“Unconscious and force-cuffed, except for Yelissa. She’s just force-cuffed.”
Mindi said something that would even have impressed the Leewit about what she wanted to do to Yelissa.
“Yeah, well. Just hold off a bit so she can undo your force-cuffs,” said Goth.
“That — she kept telling me I’d be happy!”
“She’s crazy,” said Goth. “Come on. Let’s get you free. Then you can help me drag them in here and lock them in. I wish the bad guys came in lighter models.”
Goth had learned from her previous experience, and did some searching for weapons. That produced quite a collection, and rather a lot of cash. They even had Yelissa help carry them back to the room — and put them in there with several of the drinks bottles — all but for her precious Jaccy. “But you can’t separate us,” she said, her voice edging on hysteria.
“You keep them doped, and we’ll look after him, and I’ll see you get to go with him,” promised Goth.
“Otherwise, no.” The woman went, tears welling in her eyes.
Goth just had to wonder what she saw in a dope like Jaccy. It wasn’t like he treated her well, or even showed he cared about her, but in the meanwhile she had to stop Mindi from having one of the drugged drinks. “They’re full of their knock-out drops. I’ll get something else.”
“And some food please. I haven’t had anything since you got out.
Goth felt a little guilty and hungry too. “But I sent you the captain’s dessert.”
“Oh. I thought… I thought somehow they’d gotten that in there. I thought it must be drugged and I used the plate to bang on the pipes.”
Goth grinned. That was one mystery solved. “I’ll get us some food and drink.”
“Please don’t leave me here with him.” There was real fear, edging on panic, in Mindi’s voice.
“I guess we could lock him up. Tie him down, in case he wakes up,” offered Goth.
Mindi shook her head violently. “No. I’m still not staying in here.”
“Well, fine. We’ll gag him, and use another pair of force-cuffs to attach him to the bar and leave him in here.”
Goth took Mindi back to her own cabin. She wasn’t surprised to find that it had been rifled through, but as she had very little for them to search, it wasn’t in too much of a mess. She left Mindi there and went to the galley, where she found a robobutler and ordered three meals. She figured Mindi could eat two and she wasn’t wrong.
After they’d eaten they got into a serious discussion about what steps to take next.
“What now?” asked Mindi. She was a good few years older than Goth, but turned to Goth for answers. “Do we turn them over to the captain?”
“Nope. The captain is one of them. He’s in on it,” said Goth.
“But what can we do, then?” asked Mindi, wringing her hands. She plainly regarded captains as one step down from Patham. And out here, in deep space, that wasn’t far wrong.
“I figured we’d send them off in our place. Seems about fair,” said Goth. “And honestly, if we leave them, they’ll either starve, or get out and start doing it again. And if they get out, they might come after us.”
The last part seemed to act as a powerful argument to Mindi. So then it was just up to Goth to organize the practical details. Fortunately it wasn’t that hard, merely a case of ferrying the drugged prisoners into the drop capsule, along with bales of sheen marked Tardelote, transshipment. Yelissa was willing enough to be drugged too, as long as they force-cuffed her to Jaccy.
Then it was a quiet trip to Morteen, with no more excitement than someone trying to cheat in a game of cards, and the fact the Mindi would not let her out of sight, and the crew were covering up the sudden disappearance of their captain, purser, a steward, and some of the longer-term passengers. The crew did break into the stateroom Jaccy and his associates had used, but as Goth and Mindi had removed themselves and all traces of themselves from there, that didn’t help them much.