SMUGGLER’S BALOO

 

A TaleSpin Fan-Fic

By

Herodotus

 

TChapter 6

 

 

            As Kit circled the strip of packed earth that passed for the Macadamian International Airport, he spotted the Sea Duck --- not that it was that difficult to notice.  The only other two aircraft there were both painted in the dull green and field-gray pattern of the Verman Luftwaffe.  The Sea Duck’s cheerful yellow paint job stood out in the early morning light like a beacon.

            Performing a textbook perfect landing, he quickly taxied down the short dirt runway.  Pulling up beside the Sea Duck, he killed A Young Bear’s Fancy’s throttle and the engines sputtered to a stop.

            “Stay here, Molly,” he said as he popped the dogging lock on the hatch and swung the door open.

            A wave of heat hit him like a physical force.  He took a step back.  Shielding his eyes with a hand, he squinted through waves of heat-distorted air.  It was going to be a long walk.

            “Why do I have to stay here?”  Molly pouted.

            Kit fought an urge to say, Because I told you to.  He always hated it when an adult used that reasoning with him.

            “I’m going to see if I can find out where Baloo... and your mom are,” he said as he climbed out of the hatch and made the short drop to the ground.

            “But I want to go look for Mommy and Baloo too!”

            Kit thought fast.  “I need you to guard the plane for me.  When I find out where they are I’ll come back and get you.”

            Molly brightened at the prospect of being considered responsible enough to guard A Young Bear’s Fancy.  She stood up straight and with Lucy tucked firmly under her left arm, she gave an almost comical salute.

            “Don’t worry, Kit, me and Lucy will keep the plane safe!”

            He had to chuckle at her seriousness.  “I won’t worry then.  Now remember, Molly, you’re not to open the hatch for anyone you don’t know.”

            She gave him an annoyed look.  “I know that.”

            Still smiling, Kit took off towards the spired city in the distance.  Even though it was still early in the day, the sand beneath his feet was already uncomfortable warm.  He tended to forget how cool the ocean breeze kept Cape Suzette.  By the time he had reached even the outskirts of the city, he was drenched in sweat.  At least the awnings on the storefronts provided some protection from the blistering Macadamian sun.

            Removing a photograph from his wallet he began showing it around.  Wildcat had taken it last summer and it showed Baloo, Rebecca, Molly and himself, all standing together in front of the Sea Duck.

            Kit had anticipated spending most of the day trying to locate anyone who would remember seeing Baloo and Rebecca.  Much to his surprise, everyone he asked seemed to recognize Baloo, and it took only three tries to find someone who knew where to find them.  Even more surprising was where they were staying --- the royal palace.

            Who does Rebecca know in Macadamia that could fix her up with a room in the palace?  Kit wondered.

            Thanking a helpful merchant, Kit returned the photograph to his wallet and began the long hot trip back to the airfield.  As he approached the planes, he realized someone was standing next to A Young Bear’s Fancy.  Breaking into a fast jog, he closed the distance between himself and his plane as rapidly as he could in the oppressive heat.

            As he got closer, he recognized the figure.  To his irritation, he realized that it was Molly!  She was sitting on her battered suitcase in the shade of A Young Bear’s Fancy’s starboard wing.  She had changed into a pink and blue swimsuit and a white beach hat.  A pair of sunglasses that were much too big for her completed her ensemble. At her feet were a sand pail and a partially completed sand castle.

            “Hi, Kit!”  She smiled and waved a little shovel.

            “Molly!” he puffed, sweat dripping from the end of his nose.  “What are you doing?  I told you not to open the door!”

            She gave him a sly, superior smile.  “You said not to open the door for anyone I didn’t know.  You didn’t say anything about guarding the plane from the outside.  It got too hot in there so I changed into my swimsuit and brought Lucy out to play in the sand.”

            Kit leaned against the fuselage of his aircraft while he tried to catch his breath.  He did not know whether to be upset with her for exploiting a loophole in his instructions, or admire her foresight in having packed a swimsuit when heading to a desert country.  He wished he had packed a set of trunks.  His favorite green sweater was turning out to be unsuitable for the Macadamian climate.

            Shaking his head, he removed his hat, handed it to Molly, and began pulling his sweater off over his head.  Opening the hatch to A Young Bear’s Fancy, he tossed it in and slammed the door shut.  He then accepted his hat back from Molly.  Rebecca would not be pleased if she found out he was running around in his undershirt, but the sweater was just too heavy.

            “Did you find Mommy and Baloo?”

            “Well, I found out where they are.”  Kit said.  Putting his hat back on, he turned the bill forward to shade his eyes.

            “Where?”

            “There.” He pointed at the tallest structure in the city.  “In the palace.”

            “In a castle?”  Molly’s eyes lit up. “Oh, boy!  Is that where we’re going, Kit?  Is it?”

            He nodded.  “Yep.  Now give me your hand.”

            “Aw, Kit, I’m not a baby anymore, I’m seven,” she complained.  “You don’t have to hold my hand.”

            Did not have to hold her hand?  He would have been happier if he could have handcuffed the hyper-kinetic ball of energy to him.  He did not want to have to explain to her mother that he had lost her daughter somewhere in Macadamia.  He had been to Macadamia once, years before.  It was no place for a little girl to be wandering around on her own.

            With Molly’s hand firmly grasped in one hand, and her luggage in his other, he started back towards Macadamia.  There were a lot of things he wanted to ask Papa Bear, and a couple of things he wanted to tell him.

 

 

            Rebecca admired her new clothes in the mirror.  Esther had not done herself justice when she had said she was handy with a needle and thread.  Rebecca was a little taller than Esther, so the outfit showed a little more calf, and a bit more cleavage then she liked, but the dress itself was lovely.  Dark red with a pleated skirt and elegant long sleeves, it had a burgundy bodice, with three gold buttons down the front.  The collar and cuffs were trimmed with delicate lace.  The ensemble was completed by a wide glossy black leather belt with an intricate gold buckle, decorated with small red stones that she suspected were real rubies.

            Tilting her head ever so slightly, she glanced at Baloo from the corner of her eye.  He was sitting in an overstuffed chair, fiddling with a gold and marble ashtray that was fashioned in the shape of a flying crane.

            “Well, Baloo, what do you think?”

            “Huh, wha...” He looked up.  “What do I think about what?”

            “My new dress,” she said happily.  “Isn’t it marvelous?”

            “Is that a new dress?” he asked in an absentminded way.  “It’s okay... I guess.”

            A small frown creased Rebecca’s forehead.  For days now Baloo had been commenting on her attire.  Now, when she finally had something nice to wear, he seemed completely indifferent to her wardrobe!

            Putting down the bird-shaped ashtray Baloo stood up.  “I’m gonna go stretch my legs, Becky.  I’m gettin’ tired of just sittin’ here coolin’ my engines.”

            “Isn’t Miss Dodd supposed to be coming around pretty soon?  I thought you were supposed to help her catalog the artifacts?”

            “Yeah, but she’s waitin’ for some kinda assistant ta show up.  No tellin’ when that’ll be.”

            “Well, try to stay out of trouble,” she said sternly.  “And remember, you’re married, no matter what!  You do know how to at least look like a married bear, don’t you?”

            “Kinda like a condemned man that’s just been told he’s gettin’ spinach for his last meal?”

            Rebecca fought an urge to kick him in the shins.  “Just mind your Ps and Qs, mister!”

            Baloo turned around and headed for the door before he broke out into a smile.  He knew that comment was going to get him into trouble even before he said it.  Sometimes he just could not help himself.

            Stepping into the corridor, he felt better.  Just sitting in that room was starting to get to him.  Not that inactivity usually bothered him that much, and he was more than a few winks short of a good snooze for the last couple of days.  But, for some reason, even after Becky had finally run out of steam and they had retired to their respective “beds”, he had been unable to fall asleep for several hours.  He had just lain there in the dark, listening to her gentle breathing a few feet away.  He could not figure out why he had been unable to sleep.  It was not as if ol’ Beckers snored or anything like that.  It was not as if he was not used having a roommate either.  She was better than some roommates he had in the past.  The only complaint he had with her was that she not only insisted on being the first to use the bathroom in the morning, but she also took an incredibly long time about whatever it was she was doing in there.  It was just ... just ... well, something Baloo could not quite figure out.
            Lost in thought as he was, he almost walked straight into someone before he realized there was anyone else in the hallway.  As it was he only managed to stop two steps short of bowling her over. The figure spun around with a surprised look on her face.  It was Lotta.  She was carrying an ornate vase that looked as if it was made of blue polished stone shot through with streaks of white.  Baloo had delivered a load of vases just like it for Rebecca once; they were very fragile and very expensive.  He wondered if that one had come from that shipment.  He also wondered where she was taking it.

            The look of surprise lasted only a moment, and was quickly replaced by a very cold and aloof one.  “Oh.  Baloo.”

            Baloo frowned.  Considering how cordial her original welcome had been, her present attitude puzzled him.  I wonder what’s got her pantaloons in a bunch?

            “I don’t suppose you’re gonna tell me what I did ta make you upset.”

            “What you did?  What you did?  Ooooh!”  She jabbed him in the stomach with the vase she was carrying.  In a reflex action his hands closed protectively around the delicate object and took it from her.

            “I’ll tell you what you did!  The way you carried on, ‘Princess, we make a swell team,’ and ‘Don’t worry, ol’ Babaloo will save you’,” she said, mimicking his voice.  “The way you practically threw yourself at me.  And all the time you were married!  You even let me kiss you in front of your wife!”

            “I don’t’ see how I coulda stopped ya.  Ya kinda caught me off guard.”

            “That still doesn’t change the fact that all the time you were making passes at me that you were cheating on your wife!”  She stamped her foot and angrily crossed her arms.

            “Hey, I wasn’t cheatin’ on... uh, Becky.  Becky and I ain’t ... I mean, weren’t married last year.”

            She shot him a guarded look.  “You weren’t?”

            “Trust me, Rebecca an me were not married when I met ya.”  Baloo had to struggle not to roll his eyes when he said that.

            “Really?”  Her voice was almost friendly.

            Baloo placed his right hand over his heart and raised his left hand.  “Honest engines.”

           

 

            Kit wandered through the gilded and enameled marbled halls of the palace, frantically looking around.  He was not really sure just when he had lost Molly.  Getting into the palace had been difficult, but not impossible.  He knew the palace guards would not be likely to let a couple of kids just wander into the palace.  He had actually been in the palace once before, equally uninvited, and knew a way in that did not require anyone’s permission.  He had simply climbed up the same blind spot in the palace wall that he had used the time before.  It had been only a little more difficult with Molly in tow. The last time he had been looking for gold or jewels.  This time he was looking for something that meant much more to him. 

            His first mistake had been in letting go of Molly’s hand once they were “safely” inside the palace.  He had told her to stay close and not wander off.  He should have known better.  Backtracking all the way to the place they had entered the palace he still could not find her.  Now all he could do was wander about the palace looking.  It was not the best of plans.  In fact, he had almost been spotted twice!

            His heart started beating hard in his chest as he heard a familiar voice.  Quickly rounding a corner, he found Baloo.  All the things he planned to say to him when he finally found him rushed through his mind in a tangle.  How he wanted to tell him how he felt about the way he had just run off with Rebecca without letting him know.  That if he felt that Kit would be a hindrance to his new life with Rebecca and Molly, he would understand… that he just felt Baloo at least owed him the courtesy of telling him up front.  He had practiced what he wanted to say to Baloo a hundred times in his mind on the flight here.

            Papa Bear!” was all he could say as he hurled himself into Baloo’s startled arms and buried his face in the big bear’s massive chest.

            “Li’l Britches! What are ya doin’ here!” he gasped as he hugged Kit with one arm, still cradling the fragile, expensive vase in the other.

            Papa Bear?”  A voice Kit did not recognize dripped with sarcasm.

            Kit looked up and saw a pretty vixen he had not noticed before.  He had been so excited at finding Baloo that he had not realized that they were not alone.  She seemed very angry about something.

            “Correct me if I’m wrong, Papa Bear, but that child of yours looks a little more than a year old.”

            “Yeah, I’m thirteen,” he said, confused, as Baloo set him down. “Why, is that important?”

            “Uh, it’s not what ya think, Lotta.”  Baloo said taking a nervous step back.  “Kit’s not my kid.  I mean, he’s my kid... that is...  well, he’s mine, but he’s not mine.  I mean, I don’t know as that you could call him mine.  He’s more like...”

            “Baloo!  How can you say that in front of your own child!”

            “I mean, ta say, that is he’s mine, but he’s not mine and Becky’s.”

            “Baloo, what is going on?”  Rebecca demanded as she entered the hallway.  “I could hear the shouting all the way from our room.”

            Kit stared.  Our room?

            Rebecca’s eyes widened in surprise as her gaze fell on the smaller bear standing next to him.  “Kit!  What are you doing here?”

            Kit struggled to say something.  His voice was caught in his throat.  He could not even think of what he should call her. She was no longer Miz Cunningham, and calling her by her first name did not seem right either.  And how was he going to tell her he had lost Molly?

            The last problem solved itself first as the mischievous little cub chose that moment to put in an appearance.  With a joyful shout, the errant seven-year-old ran up to her mother for a hug and nearly bowled her over.

            “Mommy!”

            “Molly!”

            The vixen gave Baloo a withering look.  “Care to explain that one, buster?”

            “ Aw, never mind, I give up,” he said, handing the vase to the vixen.  “Just get it over with.”

            Removing his hat, Baloo miserably bowed his head.  The vase made a loud popping sound as it shattered.  With a groan, he slumped to the floor.  Lotta turned on her heel and stomped off.

            Holding Molly in her arms, Rebecca blinked.  “Would someone please tell me what is going on?”

            Whether she was referring to Lotta’s strange behavior, or what the children were doing in Macadamia, was unclear.  Since all Baloo seemed capable of doing was to lie on the floor and groan, Kit decided he had better say something.

            “We had to come, Miz Cunn... Rebecca.  After the way you and Baloo left without telling us what you were up to, and then finding out that you’d eloped...”

            Eloped!”  Rebecca gasped. “Kit, where did you hear that?”

            “On the radio, Broadcast Sally was telling how all those people were saved by Mr. and Mrs. Baloo.  I thought...”

            “Broadcast Sally!  It was on the radio?”

            “Yeah, that’s how a I found out.”

            On the radio!  Rebecca thought in horror.  That means everyone in Cape Suzette has heard it!

            Maybe she could move Higher for Hire to another city.  One where they had never heard of her, or Broadcast Sally!  She tried to think if there was anything back in her apartment that she could not live without.

            Slipping free of her stunned mother, Molly walked over to where Baloo had just managed to raise his head off a bed of pottery shards.  She crouched down so she could look him in the eye.

            “Are you my daddy?”

            “Pumpkin, what’re ya doin’ here?  And when’d ya get a twin sister?”
            Molly giggled.  “I think I’ll like having you for a daddy.  You’re funny.”

            Rebecca managed to pull herself together.  “Molly, Kit, we need to talk.”

            Kit took off his hat and rolled it up in his hands nervously.  “About what, Miz Cunn... about what?”

            “Not here,” she said, look around nervously, as if she suspected someone might be spying on them.  “We had better talk in our room.”

            She glanced at Baloo where he lay sprawled on the floor and frowned.  “Will you quit lying around?  You’re the one that got me into this.  The least you can do is help me explain it to the kids.”

 

 

            “Then you and Baloo aren’t really married?”

            Kit sat next to Molly on a sofa that Baloo had dragged next to the bed that he and Rebecca were sitting on.  He tried to digest everything they had told him.  A secret mission, ancient artifacts, being captured by pirates, being rescued by pirates, Macadamian princesses, Ratzis, their being on a honeymoon as part of a subterfuge?  Knowing Baloo, as well as he did, it actually sort of made sense.

            “That’s right, Kit.”  Rebecca said, looking uncomfortable.  “But we need you two to act as if we are.”

            “Baloo isn’t really my daddy then?”  Molly sounded disappointed.

            “Uh ... no, honey, he isn’t.”

            “But wouldn’t that be lying?”

            “Molly, do you remember the Danger Woman episode where she had to pretend to be someone else? I think it was a princess or something?”  Rebecca asked.

            “ A queen!”  Molly said happily.  “It was in ‘Danger Woman and the Volcano of Death’.  She had to fight the evil Baron Von Skull, and... “

            “Yes, well... this is very much like that.”

            The young cub thought about it for a few moments and then broke out in a playful grin.  “So I get to pretend that Baloo is my daddy?”

            “Yes, Molly, that’s the idea.”

            With a laugh, Molly launched herself at Baloo.  He caught her in mid-air, tossed her high into the air and caught her again. She squealed with joy and tried to snatch Baloo’s hat, as if it was the brass ring on a merry-go-round.  A mock struggle broke out as they played a sort of two-person version of keep-away.

            Rebecca let out a sigh of relief.  She had not been worried about Kit’s ability to keep up the charade, but she had not been so confident about Molly.  Thinking of Kit, she looked at where the older cub was sitting.  Shortly after Molly had started playing with Baloo, Kit had gotten up from the sofa and wandered over to the fountain that dominated one side of the room.  He was sitting next to it, staring into its rippling surface.  His shoulders were slumped and he looked distraught.

            She walked over and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.  “Kit... do you want to talk?”

            “I guess I’m feeling kinda guilty.” Kit stood up and began to pace.

            “Guilty?”

            “Yeah,” he said, kicking at an imaginary pebble with one toe.  “When you told us that you and Papa Bear weren’t married, you can’t imagine how relieved I felt.”

            “Relieved?”  Of all responses she had expected the, that had not been one of them.  “Why relieved?”

            “Aw, I dunno.  You see, when I thought that you and Baloo had eloped, and hadn’t told me what you were going to do, I thought that you hadn’t told me for a reason.  I guess I kinda figured that... well, that you two felt that you and Molly and he were a family now, and that... that I...” 

            Kit trailed off, unsure how to express what he was feeling.  The words, would be in the way, were suspended between them.

            That would certainly explain why he had felt compelled to come to Macadamia so swiftly, Rebecca decided.  Sometimes he could act so mature that she sometimes forgot that there was a little boy buried deep inside him.

            Wrapping her arms around the distressed cub, she held him tight.  She was very pleased when he hugged her back.

            “Listen, Kit…” Placing her hands on his shoulders, she looked him straight in the eyes.  “Even if I could play the evil stepmother, you should know that Baloo would never, ever, do anything that would hurt you.”

            “You’re right, Miz Cunningham, I should have known that.  It was just that hearing that you and Baloo were married came as such a shock!”

            Tell me about it!  she thought.

            “Wait a minute, it just occurred to me if we’re supposed to keep pretending that you and Papa Bear are married, then what am I supposed to call you?  I can’t call you Miz Cunningham.”

            Rebecca thought about it for a moment and then gave him a warm smile.  “Um, well... how about ‘Mom'... just for the time being, of course.”

            Kit laughed and gave her another hug.  “Okay… Mom.”

            “No fair tickling!”  Molly’s voice drifted across the room. 

            Rebecca winked.  “Why don’t you give your ‘sister’ a hand?”

            Grinning, Kit ran across the room and snatched Baloo’s hat from behind before the big bear knew he was there.

            “Hey, now who’s not playin’ fair... two against one!”  Baloo yelled.

            Rebecca had to smile.  Despite the fact that she was thousands of miles from home, and in constant peril, she could not remember the last time she had felt this contented. Somehow, for the first time in days, she felt like everything was going to be all right.  The sight of Baloo and the kids playing like a happy...

            A soft knock at the door interrupted her musings.  Rebecca walked over and opened the door.

            In the doorway stood a petite vixen, she was dressed in khaki shorts and short-sleeved shirt, a costume well suited to Macadamia’s torrid climate.  A pith helmet rested on her dark hair and she wore square wire-rimmed glasses that flattered her delicate features.  She was about Rebecca’s build, but a few years younger.

            “Can I help you?”

            The newcomer smiled brightly.  “Yes, I’m looking for Baloo.”

            Now why doesn’t that surprise me?  Rebecca wondered.  “He’s playing with his children.”

            The vixen blinked in surprise.  “Baloo has children?”

            “And a wife.”

            “He’s married?  He never mentioned that!”

            “There seems to be a lot of that going around lately.”

            “Myra!  Is that you?”  At the sound of a familiar voice Baloo disentangled himself from Kit and Molly.  “What are ya doin’ here?”

            “When Katie told me that you were going to be our pilot, I just had to run down and say hello.”

            “Ya mean you’re Katie’s assistant?”

            “Yes.  When I heard that she needed some help cataloging artifacts that the archeological community hadn’t previously had access to, well, there was no way I could turn her down!”

            “Hey, Becky, meet Myra Foxworthy.  I met her on that trip to Aridia.  You know, the time I had ta deliver that stone tablet.”

            “Let me guess. You saved her life?”

            Baloo gave Rebecca a curious look.  What’s wrong with her now?  She was happy just a moment ago and now she’s all bent out of shape again.

            “Well, I don’t know if I would say my life,” Myra said.  “But he definitely saved my career!”

            “Really?”  Rebecca said, trying to maintain a polite smile, the one she reserved for clients, even former ones.

            “Really!  And when I heard that such a good friend of mine was here, well, I just had to rush down and greet him!”

            “You don’t say.  And just how good of friends were you?”

            What was it with that overstuffed bear and vixens?  At least this one did not have a figure that was quite so... intimidating.

            “Huh?”  Baloo looked at Rebecca, perplexed.

            “Did you get any dancing girls this time, Baloo?”  Myra joked.

            Dancing girls?  Rebecca shot Baloo a quick look.  Just what were you up to in Aridia?

            “Heh, heh, no, not this time either,” he laughed.

            Now why should that comment make Rebecca feel better?  It was none of her business what that bear got up to on his trips, as long as he made his deliveries on time.

            “Say, Baloo,” Myra said brightly, obviously trying to sound as if she had just thought of something.  “As long as I’m here, I don’t suppose I could take a little peek at the Macadamian artifacts?”

            Baloo had to laugh.  This was just like the Myra he remembered.  “I don’t see why not.”

            With that he walked up to the bed and pulled on the lever concealed in the post.  There was the familiar sound of stone grinding on stone and the secret panel in the wall slide back revealing the hidden treasure vault.

            “Wow!” said Kit and Myra, impressed.

            “Neat!”  Molly laughed. “A secret room!”

 

 

            Captain Von Los was sitting in his cabin adding the latest entry to his logbook when he was interrupted by a knock.  He looked up from his work, annoyed.  A grim-faced Herr Sturm stood there dressed in his ubiquitous leather coat and hat.  Behind him stood that odious little cat they had picked up in the middle of the ocean, Douglas.  If he heard that feline complain one more time about how long it had taken them to find him, he was going to stuff the little toad into a torpedo tube and launch him.

            The fool did not seem to realize just how big an ocean was and just how small he was.  He had just been lucky that there had even been a vessel with in a day’s travel of him.  It had just been Von Los’s bad luck that it had the U-2.

            Von Los removed an unlit pipe from his mouth and set it down on his small desk.  “Yes, how may I assist you?”

            “We will be docking in a matter of hours.”  Herr Sturm’s voice had a raspy, nasal quality that Von Los always found annoying.  “You will provide an armed escort of twenty men for myself and Herr Benson.”

            “Macadamia is more than a hundred miles from the sea.  How do you propose to get there?”

            The Gestapo officer favored him with a condescending sneer.  “It is what we in the Gestapo like to call planning and foresight.  There will be a small transportation unit waiting for us when we dock in Cashew.  They will transport us to the Macadamia.

            “If you have trucks waiting for you in Cashew, why not have a company of soldiers waiting as well?  Then you would not need half my crew.”

            “The transportation unit in Cashew is posing as a merchant convoy.  Armed troops would be a little more difficult to explain.  Trust me, Herr Captain, I would much rather have a company of SS than a handful of your... sailors.”  He made the word “sailors” sound like a foul smell.

              Von Los gritted his teeth, but said nothing.  The crew of the U-2 was some of the finest he had ever served with.  It was bad enough to see them misused as baby sitters for a Gestapo officer and his sycophant, but to have to suffer them being openly insulted was almost more than he could bear.

            “Besides, why I need your crew for is of no concern of yours.  You have your orders.  Carry them out.”

            “I am an officer in the Verman Navy, you need not remind me of my duty.  I will lead the detachment myself.”

            “Very good, Herr Captain.  See that you do.”

            Snapping his heels together, Herr Sturm shot a rigid stiff armed salute.  Von Los returned the salute with an almost absentminded flip of the wrist.

            “You’d just better remember who’s really in charge here, Captain.”  Douglas said smugly.

            Von Los’s eyes narrowed as he stared at Douglas.  The pompous feline would fit very nicely into the number one tube, he decided.

            Douglas could not tell what the Captain was thinking, but the look he was giving him made him feel more than a little uncomfortable.  Moving as quickly as he could, without breaking into a trot, he scurried after Herr Sturm.

            Leaning back in his chair, Von Los contemplated the Imperial Verman flag he had mounted on the wall of his cabin.  Technically, under the Ratzi regime, it was illegal to display the old imperial flag.  The flag of a defeated nation, they called it.  The flag had been the ensign of his first command, the Verwunerung, lost at the battle of Scrappy Flow.  She had been a proud ship and crew, and they had gone down fighting.  No one was willing to challenge his right to display her ensign.  The captain shook his head.  What is becoming of my country?

 

 

End of Chapter 6

 

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