Chapter 8 - Poison Flower

They had taken her by surprise. Alena had had time to speed dial Tyler and tip over some furniture — and sacrifice their favorite cookies — so that her brother would know something had gone wrong if she didn’t reach him by phone. Her biggest fear at the time was that they’d leave someone behind for Tyler. But the pirates were in a hurry. Without a word, they forced her into the go-fast boat’s forward hold, bolted the door, and left the harbor.

The dark hold reeked of fish. When her eyes adjusted to the light seeping in from blacked-out portholes, she looked around. The forward section of the boat had been gutted. There was a cargo lift and a winch wound with steel cable. Large storage bins lined the bulkheads. Curious, Alena opened one. She staggered back and lost her footing, falling heavily onto the deck, which was slick with scales and slime.

The bin was packed solid with shark fins!

Missing in Action

So this is how they catch the sharks, she thought. She did the dreadful math: four go-fast boats, just like this one. Killing sharks. Day after day.

The boat picked up speed and was soon slamming against the swells in the open ocean. Heading to the mother ship with its cruel cargo. The girl hardly noticed. Tears were streaming down her face, blurring her vision.

Sometime later, the boat stopped. Alena could hear laughter and shouts outside. Then the motor and gears began grinding, and the deck over her head opened up like a big box. They were in the cavernous hold of the mother ship. She remembered Tyler’s explanation that the hover¬craft was built to lower its huge loading door after the ship had pulled onto land. This one had obviously been modified so the door could open in water, letting the go-fast boats come and go, and then pump the water out.

The crew began unloading the shark fins. Alena was taken to a large room in the command center. A few minutes later the pirate crew came in. Some of the men stared at the young girl with curiosity. One winked and gave her a creepy leer. A few talked quietly. They all seemed to be waiting for something.

They were a mixed bunch: short, tall, thin, fat, ponytails, shaved heads, beards, mustaches, light-skinned and dark. The only thing they seemed to have in common was a tattoo. On the side of each neck— except where covered by an unruly beard—were the symbols:

Poison Flower

They looked Chinese to Alena. They were the same symbols she had seen on the man’s uniform during the sea chase. Deciding to take matters into her own hands, and trying hard not to appear afraid, she pointed to the symbols on one of the pirates. “What is that?” she asked.

The man grunted something in a language she didn’t understand and turned away.

“What you say?” another crewmember said in English.

Alena recognized him as the man who had fired the rocket that had brought Arky down. If possible, she found she disliked him even more than the others. But she knew she would gain nothing by showing it, so she kept her voice calm. “What does that mean?”

“Doo hwa. It means — ” He searched for the right words. “It means Poison Flower. It means we belong Poison Flower.”

“You mean you’re all crewmembers on this ship? The Poison Flower!”

He looked confused. “No. No ship. We belong Doo hwa. Poison Flower.”

“I think what you mean is—”

“What he said is exactly what he means,” came a voice behind her.

Alena whirled and found herself staring at a beautiful woman dressed in a long, flowing dress.

“They all belong to me. I am Poison Flower.”

Click to go to the Save Our Seas web site