Jim Begins to Flash Again
“All right, let’s evaluate.” Jim Hawkins said as he looked from Mister Scroop and then back to Diane as they stood by the open-air saucer. “First, who can fly this thing?”
Diane shook her head. “I’ve never flown, Jim.”
He looked at her puzzled. “Aren’t you the big caretaker who knows everything here?”
“I’m sorry.” She said. “When I was becoming human, I realized there was not enough file space in the human brain and so I left a lot of files out. I have some general knowledge of this place and how it works, but performing some tasks is not possible for me, Jim.” She hung her head. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right.” He said. “We’ll live with it and I’d much rather be holding this pistol than facing one.” He smiled at her. “You made that possible. So, thank you.” He got a grin in return which lit up her face.
“Okay.” Jim said to Mister Scroop. “I don’t suppose you know how to fly?”
Mister Scroop snarled. “Just enough to take off and crash. That’s why I had a chauffeur. Worthless sot that he was.” He spat at the ground.
“And even if you knew how to fly, I’m not sure I’d trust you to keep from crashing us on purpose.” Jim told him. “I have another question for you. Does Flint have any tracking devices on this craft?”
Mister Scroop hesitated and Jim gestured with the pistol. “Why don’t you get in and we’ll tie you up, put it on automatic and put you at the front so you can see any missiles just before they blow you up.”
“Curse you, boy.” Mister Scroop snarled. “There are two of them. One under the dash and one under the rear fender.”
“Diane, check it out.” Jim said. He pointed the pistol at his foe who had suddenly started to grin. “And if she gets hurt from a booby trap, I’ll blow your brains out, if you have any.”
“Wait!” Cried Mister Scroop to Diane who paused in reaching under the dashboard. “There’s a yellow button on the front dash. Push it in and it will disable the charges.” When she had successfully disabled and removed both devices, Mister Scroop wiped the sweat off his forehead and began to curse. “By the seven hells of my home world, you’ve given me a death sentence, boy. Neither Flint nor the Dark Man will believe that I did not betray them willingly. I’ll get the black spot for sure and the short walk right after. Curse the day I ever laid eyes on you.”
Jim smiled. “Well, it seems you have a real problem. If we let you go, then you’re dead. If we shoot you, then you’re dead. And if we take you with us, you’ll probably try to make us dead and I’ll have to shoot you. Looks like your dead, Scrooty, no matter what happens.”
“Don’t call me Scrooty. That’s why I hate you boy. You dishonor me at every turn. When I first met you, you spied on your own senior pack members instead of giving us our privacy. Then you escalated a simple warning into an honor ritual.”
“Hey, you were going to cut my head off until Silver stopped you.” Jim snapped.
“It’s the custom of my people.” Scroop snarled. “When a cub does not take verbal discipline, we mark him so he may learn from his shame and all may know his trespass. You were in no mortal danger and maybe the cut on your forehead would’ve made you wiser, but then the pack leader, Long John Silver, disciplined me like a cub. And that cursed First Mate told me he was going to imprison me for causing a disturbance on the ship. He didn’t even want to know what had happened. He didn’t like me and he wanted me, a warrior of Thark, to kiss his feet and grovel or be locked in a cell. It was an insult that could only be washed away by blood. That’s why I paid him back and when I found you alone on the ship I tried again to mark you.”
Jim shook his head. “You’re a real work, aren’t you? But you really messed up, didn’t you? You were the one who ended up floating off towards the surface. How did you survive by the way?”
“I don’t know. I saw the ground rushing at me and then I knew only darkness. I awoke in the same room as you did and found myself in the company of all the others of Silver’s men who had died here. Flint then recruited us as members of his crew with a promise of a share of the treasure at the center of the mechanism.” He snorted. “Center of the mechanism, indeed. If the treasure was truly there, it would’ve been engulfed by molten iron as soon as he put it there. We all figure he has it hidden in another part of the planet.”
“Boy, I’ve some bad news for you, Mister Scroop.” Jim said maliciously. “The treasure is gone. It fell right into the molten heart of the planet.”
“You’re lying, boy.” Mister Scroop growled.
“No, he’s not.” Diane said. “That was the end of the last adventure here. You can see it on any public viewer here.”
“What are you talking about?” Mister Scroop snapped at her.
“What she’s trying to tell you is that Treasure Planet is a giant Adventure Park and that we are all players in a computer drama. The park doesn’t let its customers die. It would be bad for business, I guess.” Jim frowned. “Didn’t you talk to the two pirates who died when the treasure fell into the magma? They were probably revived just like you. They’d tell you what happened.”
“Who died seeing the treasure destroyed?” Mister Scroop demanded.
“I’m not sure I know their names, but one was our helmsman and the other was a squat guy with two eyeball stalks.” Jim shrugged. “Did you ever talk to them?”
Mister Scroop got a puzzled look. “I saw them briefly after we all talked to Flint and I never saw them again.”
Jim smiled. “That’s because he has their bodies locked in stasis chests in the healing room. Isn’t that right, Diane?”
She nodded. “You must’ve seen them during one of the times you were in there.”
“The first time.” He replied. “I also think it’s time to get out of here before they come looking to see why Mister Scroop is taking so long. Which still leaves us the problem of what to do with him.”
“Mister Scroop.” She said. “You talk of honor and it looks like Flint has been deceiving you. I think I can find a kiosk which will show you what happened to the treasure. If we convince you, will you join us? Will you give us your parole on your word of honor?”
“Wait a minute, Diane.” Jim snapped. “I’m not sure I’d trust his word of honor.”
“Trust has to begin somewhere, Jim.” She replied. “And I’m sure you don’t want to just kill him even if he’s resurrected.” She turned back to Mister Scroop. “Will you give your word?”
Mister Scroop shook his head. “The boy is right. Our understandings of honor are very different.” He looked over at her. “I will give my word to not betray you for twenty-five hours. You’ve that long to convince me what you’re saying is true. After that all bets are off.” He climbed over the side of the saucer and sat down. “Well.” He said. “Let’s get out of here, boy, before Flint shows up.” He clicked his claws. “The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can cut you.”
Three hours later as darkness was falling they landed for the night. Mister Scroop went and sat in a tree where he declared he’d be safer from any predators. Jim nodded and he and Diane kept the guns. They settled down for the night just below the saucer craft and Diane set up a force field using a manual in the glove compartment.
They fell asleep but sometime during the night he was awoken by her saying. “Jim? I’m freezing.”
He realized he was cold too. He held out his arms. “Come here. We’ll keep each other warm.” A few minutes later he realized that might have been a mistake. A few minutes more and he didn’t care.
Up in his tree Mister Scroop shook his head. Humans were such weird aliens.