[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 21 & 22
“So what do you think?”
Argmon shrugged his shoulders.
“Lot of help you are. Keep an eye on things up here. I’m going to go back and see what’s up with the kid. If there’s anything interesting other than all that black to look at, let me know.”
“Well if you’re hungry, go get something to eat.” Vic got up and walked back to the kitchen. He’d heard June talking with Joey and he’d even heard the metal feet of SPX-39 clatter down the hall. Hopefully the little machine was finally talking with Tootsie and getting her straightened out.
“Why I ever spent so much on that neurotic bucket of bolts is beyond me.”
June and Joey were still sitting at the table in the kitchen talking. June was eating, but not Joey. The kid had tried to jump him. It was an impressive jump. It was doubtful he could do it again on a whim though.
None of that mattered though. Joey was here and he was here to stay. There was no going back. If he was here to stay, he needed to be prepared. There was only one thing that was going to prepare him. Vic had to tell him everything that had happened. That wasn’t going to be easy to hear.
They both looked up. June smiled. Joey looked up. His eyes were full of fear. Maybe if I smile like Argmon did. Vic made himself laugh at that. That eased Joey’s expression. He didn’t want the kid scared anymore than he needed to be.
“So June, you want to hang around and hear this? I know you didn’t do so good the first time I told you.”
He wanted her to stay. He knew she didn’t like him the way he wanted her to like him, but she didn’t dislike him. He was hard on her from time to time, but he had to be. If he let up even a little bit, she’d be sure to slide back into her depression. The only reason she didn’t was because of his intervention. He’d seen how bad it could get and she had to know things here aboard the SS Acid Rat were great compared to where she could have wound up.
“I would, Vic, but, I’ve got to go and take care of some things.”
Figures. “Then can you get me a beer? I want to relax when I tell this one.”
June returned with a beer and promptly left. Vic put his feet up on the table and cracked the beer.
“Kid, I got here much the same way you did. Only thing was that I thought I’d find my old man. I mean, where else would that machine put me except somewhere near my dad, right? Seems my mom thought the same thing. Plus she was getting really tired of me going out all the time and getting myself into trouble. I guess she thought my dad would shape me up. So she puts me into that machine and…”
Vic was certain that his eyes had been turned inside out. Not only his eyes, but the rest of his body as well. He wanted to vomit, but his stomach wasn’t in the right place. Or was it? His arms wanted to search for his body, but couldn’t. Instead they flopped about helplessly.
The room was cold and dark, but not nearly as cold as he’d been just a few minutes ago. Vic shivered and suddenly longed to be back home. After several convulsions he was able to get control of himself.
“Where am I?” Vic asked rhetorically, but he got an answer.
“Don’t talk,” a hushed voice said. “They’ll come if you talk.”
The rough and weary voice was oddly familiar. It sounded like the voice of an ancient man who’d been sent to this hole to die. Despite the warning not to talk, Vic felt the urge to do so.
“Who are you?” he tried to keep his voice at a whisper.
The man shushed. The room’s acoustics dulled all sound. Even so, Vic was able to tell the person was close by because he could hear him breathing.
Vic’s mind refused to accept what had just happened. He’d traveled somehow and his mother said his father had built a machine to send people into space. Being in a dark room with a strange person was not what he’d expected. He had visions of Star Trek-type ships flying around the galaxy or at the very least Flash Gordon ships. Anything but a dark, quiet room with an old man in it.
A warm hand touched his arm and helped him to his feet. Vic opened his mouth to say “Thank you” but he refrained.
The old man put his lips to Vic’s ear. Whiskers brushed his ear and he could smell the man’s foul breath as he whispered so softly Vic wasn’t sure he had intended to speak.
“You are in a Drogian prison. They abhor sound. Here sound is a crime.”
“Why?” Vic asked in a whisper and the man nudged him.
“You must speak as quietly as you can or they will come.”
Vic turned to the man. His head wobbled slightly as if he’d been drinking far too much the night before. His body felt weak. Talking, even in whispers was a struggle.
They took turns whispering to each other.
“Where am I?”
“On a planet on the outskirts of the galaxy. You’re as far from GCP as you can be.”
“Galactic Central Point.”
That still meant nothing to him, but he didn’t want to belabor the topic. “What’s going to happen to us?”
“If we’re lucky, nothing.”
Vic felt the urge to retch and gagged. He had a coughing fit. The old man covered Vic’s head with a rough blanket to muffle the sound further. Vic wasn’t sure if it did any good or not.
White spots danced in his eyes for several seconds afterwards and he heard a ringing in his ears. He’d never coughed so hard. It was as if his body was rebelling against him. His breath rattled in his chest afterwards.
The old man removed the blanket.
“They’re coming,” the man whispered.
A tiny, white light on the wall in front of the cell flashed on and off.
The door swished open with a gentle gust of fresh smelling air. Vic felt something that wasn’t a hand grab his arms and lift him up. Thankfully they were strong enough to carry him for his body wasn’t about to function. Something pushed into his neck and he lost time.
When Vic came around he felt much better and could see though there was little to look at. Everything had a pale glow about it and for the most part was either black or a dark gray. The walls had a strange textured pattern that must be for muffling the sound. Who would find sound so offensive that it would be a crime just to speak?
Vic tried to move his arms. He was strapped in by large manacles that were constructed of a soft material. When he tried to pull away from the wall he was drawn back to it with a soft thud. He tried this twice more with no luck.
The old man was strapped to the wall next to Vic. Why the old guy was shushing him now didn’t make any sense. They were obviously already in more trouble. Vic wanted to scream and his body felt good enough to do just that.
The man’s face had a familiar look to it. In a strange way, it reminded him of his grandfather, but that was impossible. Wasn’t it?
Before he had a chance to dwell on it further two beings with large heads, beady eyes, dark-gray skin, and tentacles came to pull Vic and his unknown partner off the wall. The beings had swords of some type with jagged edges that looked like over-sized saws. Vic wondered how quietly those worked.
Nothing was said as Vic and the old man were dragged down a dimly lit hallway. Despite his struggling efforts Vic couldn’t free himself. The beings didn’t even flinch when he pulled. He tried to plant his feet, but they were picking up speed and he had to fight just to maintain his balance.
The two were unceremoniously pushed through a set of double doors and onto a field of sand. At least it looked like a field. That was before Vic noticed, thanks to the slightly brighter lighting, it was surrounded by a stadium. He got up and brushed himself off then helped the old man.
One of the beings jabbed Vic in the back. He jumped forward and turned around. It prompted him again and he started walking into the middle of the sand-covered arena.
Every seat in the arena was filled. Tentacles waved excitedly or threw objects down to the sand. They were taunting. That’s what they were doing. By tossing things to the sand they wanted to degrade the prisoners. Vic was repulsed. He’d done nothing wrong. This was stupid. He spun around and faced the beings.
“What did I do?”
The two beings exchanged glances and actually fell back a few feet. Vic pressed forward, but was halted by their weapons. He could have been mistaken, but they actually looked afraid and confused with their beady little eyes shifting from side to side and pushing their swords forward.
Vic turned and continued plodding deeper into the sandy arena. When they finally stopped they were just shy of being halfway across the arena. He squinted and could see two other people standing about a hundred feet away. In the low light it was difficult to make out what they looked like, but they seemed to be naked. At least he still had his clothes on. Vic turned around to yell at the guards, but they were gone.
The other two people were still standing and waiting. His heart beat faster. He was going to have to fight. He was in an arena and he was about to have to fight and possibly for his life. He might end up dead when this was over. He and this old guy that looked like his grandfather.
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