Serial Saturday #2.8: The Medallion
Sarah was trying very hard not to cry. They were safe. Someone had rescued them. Alan extended a hand to her as she reached the edge of the lifeboat.
"Thank you," she smiled.
"You're welcome, miss," Alan grinned. "Told you we'd get some help."
Two people were waiting for them in the cargo baby. One was a tall, lithe woman who was whispering something to a man standing slightly in front of her. He looked like the Captain: stocky, shaved head and an expression of world-weary irritation seemed to be etched on his face. Aboah was shaking his hand in gratitude. The woman behind him stepped forward.
"Is anyone hungry?" She jerked a thumb over her shoulder. "Injinia is cooking today and her yam soup is almost as good as the real thing."
That was enough for the troubadours and the old man. They made a beeline for the galley and after a moment, Aboah joined them leaving Sarah alone.
"You don't want food?" The Captain asked, turning to go.
"Actually, I need a favor, Captain-"
"Harcourt, Acho Harcourt." He walked out of the cargo bay. "This is my first officer, Ema." He paused at the entrance, looking back at Sarah. "Well?" Quickly, she caught up with them.
"So, you need a favor," Harcourt chuckled as they began to walk.
"Yes," Sarah swallowed nervously as they emerged onto the bridge. "I need to get to Samundra City."
Ema stepped around her to get to the Captain's chair and began to laugh. "Oh, sweet child, we're going nowhere near Samundra City anytime soon."
"But nothing," Harcourt finished. "We've got cargo bound for Lo Shen City and I'm already pushing on our deadline." He raised a hand to forestall her objection. "I can't take you back to New Toliara either."
"He's already a terrible pirate," Ema sniggered. "He's not about to add 'terrible smuggler' to the list by going anywhere near New Toliara again."
Sarah was looking at them in horror. "You're... pirates?"
"He prefers to be called a privateer," Ema grinned.
"A great many people on this planet need to get to a great many places," Harcourt rubbed his temples. "And right now, I need to get to Lo Shen City."
Sarah looked disconsolate for a moment and then remembered the medallion. She reached into her shirt and pulled it out, actually looking at it for the very first time. On the docks, they had been in a hurry. Mendrika had wanted to go and look for Piet and Barai. She had been anxious to get on the ship. She turned it around and looked at it for the first time. It featured a large palm leaf and around the circumference of the medallion were the words, Palmam qui meruit ferat.
She held it up to Harcourt. "I need to get to Samundra City."
"Nne chukwu," Ema whispered, staring in awe at the medallion.
"Where did you get that?" Harcourt asked in a quiet voice.
The girl looked as if she was ready to faint, but clutched the medallion tightly. "It was given to me. I was told... to show it to anyone if I needed help."
"What's your name?" Ema asked.
"Sarah. Sarah Hoavy."
Harcourt exchanged a long glance with Ema. "My quarters. Now." He strode off the bridge and made his way down to his berth, slid the door open, and waited for Ema to step in before entering and sliding the door shut again.
"You can't be serious, Harcourt," Ema said. "You know how much those spices are worth?"
"You know the code."
"Hang the code!" Ema shouted.
"Ema," Harcourt said, quietly. "I haven't seen on of those medallions in years. If she doesn't know what it means, that means the person who gave it to her does."
"Do you think Abernathy has returned?"
"I'd be more surprised if the man was still alive," Harcourt grimaced. "I'm going to have to ask around. See what's in the wind these days."
"And the spices? Maurice Qian is not someone we want to piss off."
"He knows the code as well," Harcourt sat down on his bed and rubbed at his temples again. "Have Osoko lay in a course for Samundra City. I'll see if I can call in a favor and we can offload the cargo." He sighed heavily as he saw Ema's scowl. "Leave it be, Ema. Go talk to her. Try and get every scrap of her story out of her. We need to know exactly what we're getting into."