The Dragon Flower: Part Five
Amina paced restlessly around the deck as the helmsman, a camouflage Scorchio, became more and more agitated with each successive lap.
“WILL YOU QUIT THAT INFERNAL PACING?!!???” the helmsman finally exploded, at the end of his rather short temper.
“I can’t help it!” Amina said worriedly. “They should be done by now! What could they possibly be doing that’s taking so long? What are they going to do to her? And why are they moving all those crates into the Captain’s cabin?”
The helmsman sighed. “She’s going to be fine. The worst that they could possibly do to her is throw her overboard, and she already tried that once! What crates?”
Amina threw her hands up and began pacing again. Rox appeared from below deck, flew over to Amina and said, “Come with me. Captain Mendanbar wants to see you.”
As the two walked down the hallway, Amina thanked Rox for saving Lopina.
“You’re welcome,” replied Rox as the two walked down a long corridor. “However, I wish I wasn’t the one to bring you to the Captain. I hate being the bearer of bad news.”
“Why? What did they do to my sister?” Amina asked.
“You will know soon enough,” replied Rox with a look of grief on his face.
He stopped in front of the weapons room that Amina knew was always locked. Today, the door was unlocked.
“Captain Mendanbar is waiting for you inside,” Rox said and slowly walked away.
Well, here goes nothing, Amina thought as she knocked on the door.
“Come in, Amina.”
Amina opened the door to find Captain Mendanbar, Mr. Coco and Lopina standing in the now empty weapons room. There were two candles burning, and a very small peek hole to see the sky. The room was very small; there was barely enough space for the four of them to stand in. Lopina, who obviously had been crying, ran towards her sister and flung her arms around Amina’s neck.
“Lopina, what’s wrong?” Amina asked as she tried to push her sister back. Lopina refused to let go.
“Lopina! Let go of your sister,” Mr. Coco ordered.
She reluctantly let go and stepped back to where she was standing before.
“Captain, Mr. Coco, what have you done to her?” Amina asked.
“Amina, her punishment for climbing the mast, which NO ONE climbs, is solitary confinement for the rest of the voyage,” Captain Mendanbar replied.
“No! No, no, you can’t do that!” Amina protested. “Lopina won’t survive in here by herself! Let me take her punishment instead!”
“NO! This is Lopina’s consequence for breaking the rules!” the Captain argued back.
“But, Captain, this will break her!”
“Amina! That IS enough!” Captain Mendanbar ordered. “Do NOT make me punish you for arguing with your Captain, am I clear?”
“...Yes,” Amina replied with discouragement in her voice.
“I do hope, Amina, that you do not break any rules,” Mr. Coco said.
“You will not need to worry about me, Mr. Coco,” Amina said with some irritation.
“Good. Captain, I am going to retire for the day. Please see to it that Amina stays out of trouble and Lopina stays in here,” Mr. Coco said and walked out of the room.
“Very well, Mr. Coco,” Captain Mendanbar replied back.
When Mr. Coco was gone and the door was shut, Amina asked, “Captain, isn’t there any other way?”
“No. Mr. Coco ordered this punishment, not I,” Captain Mendanbar answered with a depressed tone. “I thought of a less severe punishment, but... uh. He is your uncle and the guardian of the two of you. I had no say so in the matter. I will leave you two alone for a few minutes.”
The Captain walked out the door and shut it behind him. Amina turned to look at her sister, who looked devastated.
“I’m so sorry, Amina. I’m so, so sorry,” Lopina whispered through her tears.
Amina walked over to her sister, wiped her tears and said with a smile, “I forgive you. I just wish you didn’t have to be in here by yourself. I know that you don’t like being bored and alone.”
“I wish I had listened to you. But I just got bored of doing the same thing over and over again. I just wanted something to change.”
“Well, um, you definitely got change, all right,” Amina said with a smile. “Are you going to be okay?”
“I... I... don’t know!” Lopina said and burst into tears.
“Lopina...” Amina said and hugged her sister.
The Captain opened the door and said, “Amina, it is time to go.”
Amina nodded at Captain Mendanbar, then looked back at her sister, who was huddled miserably in a corner. “Don’t worry, you’ll get through this. I hope that I can come see you at least once a day.” Amina walked out the door. “I have to go.”
“I know...” Lopina said. “I’m going to miss you.”
The Captain shut the door and locked it.
“Amina, I don’t know if you can see your sister every day. That decision has to be Mr. Coco’s. Go talk to him, he might agree,” said Captain Mendanbar. “And after you talk with him, please come and see me.”
“Yes, Captain,” Amina said and turned towards the direction of Mr. Coco’s room.
She walked around the corner and saw Mr. Coco heading toward his quarters.
“Mr. Coco!” Amina called. “I want to talk to you.”
“Amina? What do you want to talk about?” Mr. Coco asked.
“It’s about Lopina.”
When Mr. Coco heard that, he became very defensive and said, “I do not wish to discuss her punishment with you. That decision was mine, not yours.”
“I understand that, but I do not want to talk about that.”
“May I have your permission to at least see Lopina once a day?” Amina asked.
“No! Absolutely not!”
“But Mr. Coco, please? It would help Lopina get through this, she won’t make it by herself!”
“Solitary confinement means alone.”
“Please, Mr. Coco? Please?”
“NO! I will not speak of this anymore! And you will attend to your duties and leave Lopina alone! If I hear you going anywhere near her, I will punish you as well. Do you understand?”
“Uh... yes,” Amina said with a sigh.
“Good. Now if you will excuse me.”
Amina watched Mr. Coco walk down the hall and into his room. As soon as his door shut, she ran as fast as she could to see the Captain.
Captain Mendanbar tried to console the bewildered Xweetok, who seemed to have lost her best friend.
“Amina, Lopina will be okay,” Captain Mendanbar said. “She will only be in there for five more days. That is all.”
“But Captain, Lopina and I have only ever been apart for three days and that was because she was really sick and I couldn’t see her,” Amina said through the tears. “I don’t understand why Mr. Coco has to be so mean! I wish he wasn’t my uncle! It’s not fair!”
“Amina, calm down. You do not mean those words,” Captain Mendanbar stated calmly. He thought for a moment and said, “Perhaps there is a way for you to see Lopina during your duties.”
“What do you mean?”
“Lopina gets two meals a day, why don’t you deliver them to her? What do you think of that?”
“I would gladly do it!”
“Very well then, let’s go talk with the cook and have everything arranged.”
The cook, who was a female fire Bori, heartily agreed. The guard, who was a male baby Tuskaninny, took a little longer to convince than the cook but he finally agreed. So the arrangement was made and the Captain allowed the girls fifteen minutes together.
“Lopina, your dinner is here,” the guard said that evening.
“Great, cause I’m starving!” Lopina hollered and rushed to the door.
She was quite shocked to see Amina bringing in her dinner.
“AMINA!” Lopina cried.
“What are you doing here?”
“The Captain has allowed me to come and see you for fifteen minutes twice a day, during my duties.”
“Only fifteen minutes,” said Lopina with a discouraged tone.
“Well, Mr. Coco said that I could not see you at all, but I’m the one delivering you your meals so I get to see you. You should be grateful for all the trouble that Captain Mendanbar and I have gone through, just so we can see each other for fifteen minutes, twice a day.”
“You’re right; I’m sorry.”
“And would you please stop apologizing, or I am going to fine you!”
“Right. So what does the Captain have you doing?”
The girls talked about the duties that Amina had been doing and that she was really busy. Lopina tried not to whine too much about her absolute utter boredom. All too soon, a knock came to the door. Po, the guard, poked his head in and said “Amina, it’s time to go.” The girls hugged and said good-bye, and both looked forward to their next meeting.
To be continued...