Swamped Chapter 17 Page 16

You’ve got to think quickly.

Jackson’s charge is more than likely a diversion. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for him to drop the rope and go for brute force.

But what would he do with it… of course. He’d tie you to your shield. But you’ve got just the counter for that. You lodge it in a small crack between the floorboards and back away, staying low in hopes that he doesn’t spot you.

And indeed, he doesn’t. His rope slips around the shield, in the spot where your feet would be. That gives you a chance to grab it and pull.

There’s a bit of a thud as his head hits the shield; you caught him off guard. Now’s your chance. You slip back around and grab him by the wrists.

“I’ll have to make a note to recommend actual shackles,” you say. “But you know, there’s something I’m curious about. I don’t think you’ll know the answer, but you might just be curious about it too.”

“Don’t care,” Jackson says.

“All right, well, I guess I won’t tell you that Marshall went to all the trouble of faking a leg injury just to get a little time alone with me when I was at your base.” You smirk a little. “Oh, whoops, I guess I let that slip out.”

Jackson doesn’t say anything.

“Seemed pretty interested in Rider, in particular. I can’t say for sure why, but you know. It seems a little odd to bring someone with so little combat experience along on a mission like this. I wonder if Marshall had some other reason for coming here?”

There’s still no response.

“Something for you to think about, isn’t it?”

Then Jackson bursts into laughter.

“You think I’m worried about where Marshall’s loyalties lie? Sure, some might find that suspicious, but not me. I’ve got three cousins in the Marshguards.”

Well. You weren’t expecting that answer. Where do you go from here?

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kick him in the back and ask him about books


Wait…3 cousins…it could be a bluff but…

Starling is young for a marshguard, the youngest in your crew actually. Most marshguards are crooks, but some are orphans with nowhere to go – they rarely survive the trip to the swamp but Starling had gotten letters from her brothers in the marshguards (The brothers were actual crooks, but even they have family)

The bothers had urged Starling to seek help from their wealthier uncle after the accident. They weren’t on good terms but surely they’d help an innocent orphan girl, their own flesh and blood. He turned her away, quite unceremoniously- Starling still has a scar from where the whip fell.

She was able to message that she was coming. When the brothers, Scratch and Lighter got the message, they begged Rider to help them find her, but he refused. The rain was due to arrive that week.

You were in a darker place back then. You were barred from the brew and dealing with the worst part of sobriety – being left alone with your own worthless self.

You volunteered for the mission. Hells, you practically mutinied for it. Not that you really expected to come back. You certainly didn’t expect to actually find her, or to be stuck in an outpost with her and Scratch after the rain claimed Lighter.

Turns out your skill as a courier came in handy. You carried her back to the base the night the rain let up. You reported to Rider and were locked in your quarters as punishment. Though, the real punishment came when Rider inexplicably assigned the young Starling (you always wondered if she chose that name to mimic yours) to your new squad.

Scratch was out with poison last you checked, and Starling was on post with Rivers when you were tied up, so the thought hadn’t occurred to you, but there is some resemblance…if Jackson is related to that asshole of a family that sent a young girl to wander the swamp then

kick him in the back and ask him about books

Yeah, you’re done with this punk. Get to the point and make sure Locks makes the shackles nice and tight.