An Unlikely Mission (Spiral Adventurers I) by Sandy Keira Ire
“You-want-us-to-go-WHERE?” Kevin says for the thirty-seventh and six thousandths time.
And, for the thirty-seventh and six thousandth time, an exasperated Captain Avery responds, “To Grizzleheim. I want you to help map it.”
“You mean we do all the work and you get the credit,” I retort. “What I want to know is why we can’t use one of our ships and why our crews can’t come along.”
Avery rolls his eyes. “Do you honestly think you can just sail up in your boats to one of the most ferocious worlds in the Spiral when you three are some of the most feared pirates in the Spiral? Come to think of it, how exactly can you sail up in ANY boat of average size without attracting attention? And how would you transport three crews, along with adequate food and water, in a boat that needs to be relatively inconspicuous?” He has me there. I have no clue as to how to do that.
I’m not going to give up so easily. “Why are you sending teens to that greatly dangerous world when you yourself are both the richest and the most feared pirate alive? Why don’t you just swagger in with your crew alongside and fight your way through?” At ‘swagger’ I give a pointed glance at his belly, which is considerably bigger than it was in his hay day. He won’t be swaggering anywhere.
Avery notices my glare and I have the pleasure of seeing him turn red. After a minute of embarrassed silence, he responds with a little bit less sharpness. “I didn’t grow up in Grizzleheim. However, I think one of you did.” We three Ires all glance at Ken’s right palm, on which there was a small brand bearing the mark of his former tribe, a bear’s claw. We still don’t quite know how Kevin and I ended up climbing the backbone of the skeleton in Scrimshaw, while Ken somehow ended up fighting in the forests of Grizzleheim.
Avery pretends he thinks our silence is silent agreement. “Whelp, that’s settled then,” he says, thumping his hands on the table. “Let’s go see your boat.”
Later, after saying goodbye to my crew (and seeing Ratbeard attempt to hide a sniffle), I hop into what is more akin to a box than a boat and grab an oar. “Ready?” Ken says. I can tell that he’s still having second thoughts about this. It’s not surprising when you know that, last time he went to see his clan, they tried to kill him.
Kevin and I nod and Kenneth pushes the boat off the dock, jumping in before it floats away. We three start to row. I hear another far-off sniffle.
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