Arsha woke up, feeling rather groggy. She moved her hand to her face only to realize that her other hand followed a few inches after. She then realized that her hands were linked in chains. More chains around her waist tied her to something. She saw Bashoon get up and realize she was in the same predicament. “What happened last night?” asked the Goblin Ensign.
“I think the brew was drugged,” muttered Arsha.
“There’s thanks for you!” hissed Bashoon. “We help them get a super soldier under their control and they drug us!”
“I take it you haven’t heard of our host, Reb Rojam,” muttered a male voice. The two ladies turned their heads to see who spoke. The source had chains around his waist and was connected to them by separate links. Bashoon recognized him instantly.
“YOTEK!” she roared.
“You know this Goblin?” asked Arsha.
“He’s my ex-boyfriend,” replied Bashoon, “and the one who reduced my family to destitution before you took us in!”
“You did that?!” snapped Arsha to Yotek.
“It was her family’s fault,” explained Yotek. “They shouldn’t have announced their lack of support for a hero like Garsheek!”
“She funded for the re-enslavement of Trolls!” snarled Arsha.
“Like I said, a hero!” countered Yotek.
“My friends, please!” protested Reb’s voice. “My crew has NOT woken up yet. DO show some decorum and let them take their MUCH deserved rest.” Reb was outside the cell they were in.
“Captain, explain yourself!” snapped Arsha. “Why the chains?!”
“I DO apologize for the chains,” replied Reb, “but I simply can NOT let you escape. Not after you walked right into the trap my beloved husband set for you.”
“Well,” hissed Bashoon, “Mr. Rojam’s going to be incredibly disappointed to hear that you kidnapped a Realmfleet Captain.”
“If it WAS just Arsha,” called a voice, “perhaps some slight disappointment. But, as luck would have it, we have the Endeavor and her crew.” The speaker then stepped into the light.
“Melgem?!” squawked Arsha. “How did you escape?! Reb, you told us he wouldn’t escape that cell!”
“Under normal circumstances, he wouldn’t,” agreed Reb.
“However, these aren’t normal circumstances for you now, are they?” asked Melgem. He then gave a loving gaze to Reb. “Perhaps we should explain, Sweet Scarlet Lady.”
“If you INSIST, my Pointy-eared Prince!” giggled Reb. She then turned back to her prisoners. “I wasn’t lying when I said he was an escaped super soldier. He escaped from the AWFUL dreariness that came with the duties of being a Realmfleet Officer. He felt that things were taking too long for him to EVER get the respect he deserved. Poor Melgem was treated like a FREAK!”
“But, my luck changed,” supported Melgem. “I stumbled across this island, one of many for the vast hidden Empire that dealt with business that Realmfleet deemed…undesirable.”
“He proved his EXCELLENT value to me,” continued Reb. “In exchange, I let him live. Over time, a feeling started growing inside the pair of us. A VERY pleasurable feeling!”
“We then married,” finished Melgem, “and I became Rojam Melgem, First Mate and husband to then-Captain Reb Rojam of the Scarlet Stream Pirates!”
“With his help,” supplied Reb, “I went from Captain to Admiral of the Scarlet Stream Pirates as MORE ships joined my crew. He’s still my hubby, but now holds the RESPECTED rank of Commodore!”
“And then Melgem,” guessed Arsha, “disguises himself as a surly Ensign and lures my ship to this island.”
“Not my most brilliant plan, I will EASILY admit,” confirmed Reb, “but, it worked, so I won’t be so VILE as complain about it. Now, usually, that tactic gets us more recruits, but I WON’T do that with you. You, your ship, and your crew WILL return on your merry way AFTER we get the ransom from Realmfleet. I can promise you, whatever damage my hubby had to cause, it IS repaired. Good day, my friends.” They left the cell.
“Well, I hope you’re proud of yourselves,” muttered Yotek.
“Don’t even start with me!” snarled Bashoon.
“Ensign, Sir,” interrupted Arsha, “I know you want to tear each other’s throats out, and you will get that opportunity AFTER we get out of here and raise Realmfleet. But, right now, we need to work together. What abilities can we bring to the table?”
“I’m telekinetic,” replied Bashoon.
“I can cut the chains with my magic when we’re safe,” reported Arsha.
“And I know the layout of the fortress and can bypass the locks,” said Yotek.
“Perfect,” commented Arsha. “Then we can get out of here. Bashoon, can you press the buttons on the lock for our cell?”
“I need to see them,” replied Bashoon.
“There’s a mirror facing the keypad,” reported Yotek. “Can you read the numbers backwards?”
“Easy,” boasted Bashoon.
“Excellent,” praised Yotek. “The keypad uses a binary code. Once one number is used, it cannot be used again. Since the buttons are labelled 1 to 9 and order matters, that makes for 72 possible permutations for the code. Thankfully, we have unlimited attempts on each digit, so we just need to make sure no one’s around.”
“So, in other words,” simplified Bashoon, “I have unlimited attempts for each number in the code and it won’t let me go forward until I get the first number right?”
“And, even then,” continued Yotek, “you would have to start all over when you get the second digit wrong. So, do try and remember the first digit.”
“Got it,” muttered Bashoon. She then used her power to press the buttons from 1 to 9. She got lucky when she hit 8. “Okay, 8’s the first digit,” she whispered.
“Good work, Ensign,” praised Arsha. Bashoon then tried 1 for the second digit but had to start over until she typed 89. The cell then lowered its barrier. They left the cell and sneaked down a hall until they approached another door.
“Okay, this one had nine digits,” reported Bashoon.
“Still the same principle as our cell’s lock,” assured Yotek, “it just has more permutations on it. 362,880, I believe. Allow me.” The current lock took a long time.
“Come on, you’re supposed to be the lock-expert!” hissed Bashoon.
“Captain,” whispered Yotek, “do tell your Ensign to control her insolence so that I can concentrate.”
“Ensign Bashoon,” whispered Arsha.
“What?!” hissed Bashoon.
“Control your insolence,” joked Arsha, “your ex-boyfriend is concentrating.” Yotek rolled his eyes as he continued his work. So far, the correct numbers were 2-5-9-7.
“Captain Relkor was right,” giggled Reb as she and Melgem snuggled in her slime while a Lightning Dragon in his humanoid form stood by, “kidnapping a Realmfleet ship and its crew is a BEAUTIFUL stroke of good fortune!”
“And brilliance,” supplied Melgem. “We need to make that man Commodore of the 13th fleet.”
“An EXCELLENT suggestion!” cheered Reb.
“I can almost smell that zap-spice now!” rumbled the Lightning Dragon. “It’ll be worth twice as much to us now on the black market! But, I say we could have gotten a bigger ransom from the Splitters.”
“ABSOLUTELY not, Rochak!” snapped Reb.
“Sometimes, I wonder why we keep you,” muttered Melgem.
“Precisely!” agreed Reb. “If we tried to ransom the Endeavor off to the Splitters, they will simply sneak in here like cowards and WIPE us out from the INSIDE! Besides, it’s as my DEAR mother always said; ‘Reb, DARLING, if one hostage is good, two are better. Three or more? WELL, that’s just GOOD business!’”
“How much do you think they’ll fetch?” asked the Lightning Dragon, Rochak.
“Don’t you concern yourself with how much,” replied Melgem. “You’ll get your cut. Just see to it that Realmfleet’s ransom gets here.”
“Once we get the ransom for the SHIP,” continued Reb, “then we get the ransom for the CREW.” She then looked to the sky and kissed her fingers. “Thank you, my SWEETEST mother!” Just then, a succubus entered the room. “AH! Beloved Commodore Weltam, SWEETHEART! What can I do for YOU?”
“Members of my crew just stopped Arsha’s escape attempt,” purred Weltam.
“Arsha? Escape? Oh, how DREADFULLY rude!” pouted Reb.
“I’ll take care of this, my Crimson Encased Queen,” assured Melgem as he got out of the slime.
“Such a GENTLEMAN, you are, my Tidal Wave of Love!” purred Reb.
“You’ll find that I’ve ordered them to be chained to the wall, preventing any further attempts,” reported Weltam.
“Excellent,” praised Melgem. “Take me to them.” He was led out of the room.