103. NaNoWriMo Day 8

II: Zheng He’s Ship

1

‘Hey. Hey, Damien, you there? I can’t see a thing, man… My head hurts! Why’s it all dark in here and shit? Hey, Damien – you there? Damien?? Come on, talk to me! This place is creeping me out, I’m gonna – ow! – christ, what the hell is this- oh. Oh shit. Damien… Damien!! DAMIEN!!’

‘Shut your damned mouth. God. My head hurts like hell.’

‘Damien – you’re here! You’re alive!’

‘The hell you talking about? I can’t see a damn th- ow! What’s this?’

‘I don’t know, man. I don’t like the feeling of this. Someone’s done messed us up real bad. How did we get here, man? What happened? I can’t, like, remember a single thing!’

‘Where are we?’

‘Hell if I know; it’s all dark in here, feels like a storage room or something. My throat hurts too, but not the sore throat kind of hurt, it’s on the outside – I think I can feel some bruises. What happened to us, dude? I’m freaking out here!’

‘If you can just SHUT UP for ONE MINUTE, Sonny – I’m trying to THINK!’

‘Okay. Okay. Sorry.’

‘…’

‘…’

‘Shit. Ah, shit. Shit, shit, shit.’

‘You got something, man?’

‘God dammit – shit! We got our asses handed to us, that’s what happened!’

‘We did? What – how? I don’t remember anything-‘

‘That’s because you went down after a little tap on the head, you damn limey! You left me – me! – facing the madman and that crazy little girl all on my own!’

‘Hey, that isn’t my fault, man-‘

‘Like hell it isn’t!’

‘You were the one who wanted to pick them up!’

‘This is your ship! My cargo is my responsibility – and I took care of their weapons. YOUR ship, however, does not even have a proper holding system – His Majesty’s Ship, my arse! And YOU apparently did not see the need to put them into handcuffs because it seemed “inhumane”!’

‘They broke out of their cages! You think handcuffs could’ve stopped them?’

‘If you had half a brain to just follow simple, rudimentary instructions-‘

‘Don’t you dare pin this on me; if we’d just let them rot out in the desert, none of this would’ve happened!’

‘What, and throw free money away? You saw that guy’s face. I swear to God that every other name-caller wants this man strictly alive and at their mercy.’

‘Yeah? Well look where your free money have gotten us.’

‘You shut your mouth!’

‘You shut yours! I swear that I will bloody kill you when I get out of this damned cage!’

‘Now, now, boys. Play nice.’

The blue light faded in over the HMS Clarent’s cargo hold, revealing Rayna standing just by the door. How long has she been there? Long enough to get impatient, it seems. She absently chewed on the tip of her dagger as she regarded the two men, poetically trapped in the same cages that she and the Swordsman had escaped from only earlier in the day.

‘I thought I’d sit in and listen to see what transpires,’ she sighed, ‘But the conversation was getting nowhere, it seemed. I think it wouldn’t be uncalled for if I made some efforts to… speed things up a little.’

She grinned a dangerous grin, and their hearts faltered at the sight.

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