The Pirate Apprentice, Chapter 16: Duplicity

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Dr. Pac sat in his office, dark except for a circle of light on the desk before him. He stared distractedly at two sets of documents, lost in thought and having long stopped looking at the details of each.

One set was recently created on paper, with notes in his own hand, and one was projected in the space above his desk from an information shard that lived as a pendant securely attached to his neck, normally hidden safely under his clothes. It was not a wyrd information shard, but something far older, and capable of holding far more information. It processed and analyzed what it held within, on its own, looking for patterns and connections and sharing what it found. Within its refracted shape lay the complete medical history of every pirate, wyrd, human, and other since the creation of the shard, or at least as complete a record as could be recorded. After all, there were only six of them, they could only do so much.

Six shards, each linked to the other, each owned by one of the six greatest medical minds in the world—not the ones who claimed to be great, but the ones that intentionally chose to go unnoticed. There was no room for ego in those who wore this badge of honor. When one of them left the ranks, the shard was passed in a secret and sacred right to another of that shard’s choosing. Whenever any of them added something to the shard, it was immediately available to all. And slowly, carefully, they let the what they learned from this mass of information filter back out into the world.

The information before Dr. Pac worried him, like a hunting dog worries its prey. He knew that his oath to the shard required he enter this information, share it with his colleagues, but there was no certainty as to what they would make of it. When the information his duty obligated him to report could start another world war, or another what little was left of the world war, one that could complete what the previous wars had failed to do, was he still obligated to report it?

He was regretting his inquisitiveness. He was regretting his ability to make connections and to see truths that others couldn’t see. But if he could ask the question, if he could connect the dots, then so could others. Each cabal had its secrets, but what if his particular set of colleagues couldn’t keep this one?

He turned off the display, removed the shard on its chain from around his neck and toyed with it absently. He pulled the convoluted device for putting information into it out of a drawer in the desk, a set of keys that created harmonics and energies in an odd shorthand only he and his colleagues could read. He set it on his desk. He didn’t remove it from its carrying case. He didn’t settle the shard into its mounting.

It wasn’t a question of what to do, it was a question of whom to betray. No matter which way move he made he lost a piece of his honor.

Without even noticing he had done so, he put the device, still its case, back into the drawer, all the while staring at the shard, letting the resolve sink in slowly.

“A good choice,” said a voice behind him. He startled and spun around, ready for battle. There was no one there.

He shifted a little. The world slowed, and the color drained from it, making the world look fidgety and leaden, like time out of focus. He faced the pirate Shadow, leaning idly against the wall in a corner of the office, flickering in the shadows that seemed to always dance around him, at least for those who could see them. Dr. Pac was one of the few who could. He could also see the pirate Shadow when he didn’t want to be seen, but he had to concentrate.

“How long have you been there?” Dr. Pac tried to sound unconcerned, matter of fact, like a man not in a position to be annoyed that his privacy had been violated.

“Does it matter? Maybe I’m not even here at all. Who can say?” The pirate Shadow sighed and shook his head, folding out of some place between, and became solid. The world shifted back to its normal pace. “I suppose I should have realized you would see it immediately. Six pairs of brilliant eyes, forever seeing only truth.”

He walked forward like a concerned parent of a child who had done something wrong and picked up the information shard from where Dr. Pac had left it on the desk. Dr. Pac did nothing, focusing his energies on the possible need for defending himself. Not to win, he could never hope to win against the pirate Shadow, but to create window of escape. That he could manage.

The pirate Shadow looked at the shard for a moment, weighing it, and then, with a gesture between ceremony and affection, slipped the chain it was attached to back over Dr. Pac’s head, adroitly dropping it back under his shirt and patting it gently where it fell.

The pirate Shadow picked up the small collection of paper documents and riffled through them for a moment. “Well, it looks like everything is in order. If you had started recording that information, you would be quite dead by now. And you’re not.” He smiled like he was expecting a laugh for some poorly timed joke. “Which is just fine by me, because I would absolutely dread having to explain what happened.”


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Creative Commons License The Pirate Apprentice by Mootly Obviate is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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