The Song of the Stars
“Well?” The shovel-nosed alien said to Sarah Hawkins as he turned his cards over. “Can your full boat beat my royal suit? I don’t think so.” He reached out and raked the coins in. The others, including the Big Lizard, nodded and the sounds of conversation filled the room once more.
Sarah Hawkins got to her feet as she pushed back her chair. “Thank you, gentlemen for an entertaining evening. But I’ve reached my limit for the night.”
“We’d be glad to lend you coins against your wages.” A rat-faced being said.
“My father told me never to borrow for pleasure and my mother told me to know always when to quit. So, sadly, no. I bid you good evening, mates.” She headed for the door. Something seemed to touch her for a second and then it was gone. She frowned. That was the second time that it had seemed as if someone was near her. She shrugged. The Rhino must’ve made her more jumpy then she’d realized.
The Big Lizard got to his feet. “Go. Engine. Room. Night.” The players already had turned back to the game and the sounds of cards being shuffled were his only answer.
She turned as he came up to her. “Did you see anyone here a moment ago?”
He shrugged. “No.” As they walked near the railing he said. “Play. Well. Two. Tells.”
She stopped by the railing. “You could read me?”
He stopped too and leaned on the railing. “Yes. Good. Brush. Hair. Bad. Sigh.”
“And you.” She replied. “Twitch your tail slightly when bluffing.”
He smiled. “Not.”
“Yes, you do.” She leaned on the railing with him and looked up at the star-filled sky. The ship was in warp and she could see each star moving slowly across the sky as if she was on a train passing house lights at night. She couldn’t explain the physics behind it, but that didn’t matter. “I never get tired of watching the stars move. They’re so beautiful.”
“Light. Beauty.” He said. “Their. Song. Beautiful.”
She turned her head to look at him and saw he was serious. “You can hear them?”
He nodded. “Chorus. Symphony.” He tapped his skull. “Mentally. Beautiful.”
She sighed. “I’d give a lot to hear like you do.”
“Recorded. Share?” He looked at her as if afraid she would refuse.
“Thank you.” She said. “I would like that.” His eyes lit up.
He led her back to the engineering sector and after motioning her to a chair, he dug a small box with headphones out of a trunk. He placed the headphones on her head, and then held a finger up to his lips for silence as he twisted a small button on the box.
“Oh.” She said as the sounds of the celestial spheres flooded her mind. It was as if the greatest symphony ever written was playing just for her. She was swept away on a rising chorus of angelic voices while instrumentals rose and fell, climbing higher each time, until they ended in a giant drum roll and clash of cymbals and then it started again in a new and different tune that reminded her of Bolero. And so it went for what seemed forever.
She shook her head as if coming out of a daze as he removed the headphones. “That was the almost incredible thing I’ve ever heard. Thank you for sharing it.”
He grinned. “Only. You. Share.” He paused. “No. Other. Silver.”
“Long John Silver?” She asked.
“Yes.” He said as he busied himself putting the box and headphones away.
“Did he enjoy it?”
He shrugged. “Yes. No. Dazed.”
“I sympathize.” She said. “It’s quite overwhelming.” She drew in a breath and let it out. “Can I ask you some questions about Long John Silver?”
“Yes. No.” He said guardedly.
“You mean some you’ll answer, but others you won’t or can’t.” At his return nod, she continued. “Well, I’ll take my chances. How did he get his cyborg parts?”
“He. Tell. Not. Me.” He replied.
“Was he always a pirate?”
“No. Cook. Loss. Son. Wife. Pirate.”
“So you’re saying he was a cook and that he lost his wife and son and became a pirate?”
“Yes.” He looked sad as he remembered.
And you won’t tell me anymore than that, will you?” She asked.
“He. Tell.” He replied and drew a finger along his lips and shook his head.
She thought a moment as she drummed her fingers on his bunk and nodded. Then she asked. “Did he sail with Flint?”
“All. Me. Silver. Orfeo. Flint. Boss.” He clenched his fist. “Flint. Evil. Murderer. Torturer. Betrayer.” He slapped his chest. “Flee. Silver. Me. Orfeo. Others. Vengeance. Gold.”
She said softly. “I think I understand. You joined Flint for the gold, but he revealed himself to be such an evil person that you broke with him, but you still feel he owes you your share of the treasure.”
“Yes. Owes. Treasure! Death!” He shook his fist and then becoming aware of her he looked abashed and hung his head. “Sorry.”
“It’s all right.” She said. “I asked for it.” She laid her hand on top of his. “If my opinion means anything, I think you and Silver have done things you regret but you are trying to be better than you were and that’s all we can ask of a person.”
He smiled at her. “Good. Shipmate.” He frowned as he remembered. “Rhino. Bad. Shipmate. Promised. Overboard.”
“I wonder what happened to him?” She said.
Back on the Crescent in the office of the Admiralty the officer with the monocle shook the Rhino’s hand. “By Jove, with this information we’ll soon have Silver and his gang behind bars. So, they’re returning to Treasure Planet to load up with weapons and gold are they? Well we have the exact coordinates for that place and we’ll be waiting for them in the star’s asteroid belt with several ships and over a hundred guns. And when they’re destroyed this will be your reward.” He held up a small sack of gold for the lusting Rhino to look at.
“Just trying to be a good citizen.” The Rhino grinned evilly. He just loved message drops. Flint was covering all bases.