The hull was in pieces. My head was a ball of pain. Someone was shouting.

What adrenaline I had called for support had left just as quickly as they came, leaving me with a headache for a souvenir. My mind seemed to be made of molasses as I worked to gather the puzzle pieces back together and figure out what happened. Somehow I had been surprised by a swell, but not just any swell, something like the mother of swells. It had ripped through my hurried patchwork like a steak knife through vacuum. Only pieces and fragments of the hull remained, connected by mere splinters that could fail at any minute. I couldn’t even look at the display, because I knew all of my hard work up till that point had been for naught… Then my ears caught up.


“We got it!” someone had shouted first.


“Man Overboard!” the newbie Rat had shouted, a tinge of amusement there in his voice.


“We thought we had lost ye,” said a soft voice beside me as my eyes finally found something to focus on, which just so happened to be the smiling face of the Captain. “The sea can be a harsh mistress.”

“Aye,” I coughed, nearly choking. It felt as if I hadn’t spoken in years. “I can’t believe I failed you, Captain.”

The Captain’s eyes became stern, and I suppose I must have braced for a verbal beating, as the Captain chuckled and his eyes softened, “Ye’ve had a major battle, me heartie, and have survived to tell the tale. Ye didn’t fail me, you saved us the precious few seconds we needed to grab the booty...”

“We met the objective?” I asked puzzled. How could we have survived such a torrential in pour of water? How could we have handled things correctly with a broken hull?

“Aye”, and there was a twinkle in the Captain’s eye, “and we couldn’t have done it without ye.”

“I missed the swell, I let it hit us, I let it tear our hull to shreds, I…” and it was then that my subconscious finally deemed to let me in on the joke. “But the…”

The Captain finished my sentence for me, “…swell wasn’t real, because it was a fraud created by the security system.”

That was what my subconscious had been warning me. Trust it to my subconscious to work my fingers before telling my conscious mind what it was doing. After all, the nature of bilge pumping is as much in letting you intuition guide your hands. I had pumped the booty safe, and let the security system destroy our hold in search of contents that weren’t there. Somehow I had just thought slightly faster than the automated system and been able to pull the booty out of our hold, and away from direct allegations by the security system of us ever having the booty. We could tell the Infosec cops we had accidentally been sailing in the wrong shipping lanes and may even be able to sue for an improper search. Wouldn’t the public just love to know that Infosec had resorted to using Spammer techniques!

The Captain patted me on the shoulder, “I need you to go rest, let the adrenals clean themselves up, and clear your mind, ye’ve done an excellent job today, and I’ll need ye in the morning.”