A few years ago, there was a news story about a woman who was rescued from a ship run by Scientology's Sea Service. On a discussion board, someone asked if anyone knew anything about the circumstances behind the dramatic rescue.
Unencumbered by the requested information yet having a few minutes of free time, I decided to read the Yahoo! News article once or twice, crack my knuckles, then fill in the blanks with the obvious back-story. It's possible my retelling may be as much as 1% true, but that 1% might be mostly punctuation. So for the sake of the Scientology Lawyer reviewing this blog posting, I'm broke so this piece of fiction isn't worth the standard Legal Hug Of Death.
Now, onto the story:The Freewinds slid through the water, its powerful motors thrumming. On the bridge, the captain stood at attention, occasionally checking the course heading and nodding towards his subordinates. The Attendant, the Church's assigned highest religious figure and true master of the vessel, stalked in through the sliding doors, his robes narrowly avoiding their bite as they slid shut with a hiss behind him. "Captain Monson, what is the meaning of reports I've just received that we just took a ship aboard?" His face hidden behind the Thetan-shielding black mask did little to quiet his booming voice. "Lord Amalphous, it appears to be a simple fishing boat matching description of one that escaped from one of our docks nearby two days ago. It appears to have run out of gas and happened to be near our course. When we recognized the transponder code, I ordered us to rendez-" The Attendant cut him off with a wave of his hand. "You say it was unmanned? Where are the crew?" The captain, unfazed, responded. "One of the emergency rafts is missing, it appears they abandoned ship shortly after leaving the cove." The Attendant paused, thinking. Finally, "Send a team down to properly search the boat for clues. Nobody steals from the Church."
In the rear tackle, stowed indoors alongside the ship's two dinghies, the freshly recovered fishing boat swayed slightly. The floor panel to the bilge lifted up then was shoved aside from within as a man pulled his way out. "We don't have much time before they switch shifts or decide to convert this into the Church's next special project, if we're going to gas up, we'll have to hurry. It was awful nice of them to store us near the ships boats. John, you find a fuel line, I hope they have gasoline. I'll see if I can figure out this winch-crane of theirs." He clambered out to the deck, the other two close behind him. "I think I see some fuel stuff, I'll be right back." The young man tip-toed over towards the far end of the miniature boat hangar while the older man stayed behind. "You realize that we have a unique opportunity here, don't you? This is the Sea Service's mothership in this region, the most visible element of their presence here." He spoke quietly but stridently, his white beard moving rhythmically with every syllable like a snake eating a horse from the inside. "I don't care, I'm not here for the cause old man, I'm here to earn my money, and getting you to the mainland's my ticket to paying off some old debts. Here, help me with this chain..." he hooked up a hauser to a winch and began stringing it through a pulley. The old man grabbed the other end and attached it while continuing to talk. "This is the same organization that took my sister's daughter, you know. Stole her right out from under us. If there's justice to be done, I feel we must try." "Damnit!" The chain dropped, the other man nursed his bruised hand. "There's no way we'll get this out, the thing's jammed. We need some tools and it doesn't look like they've got any here." He looked around helplessly. The younger boy dragged a hose over, a big smile plastered on his head. "Found it! Looks like super unleaded too, these guys don't cheap around." He pulled it over to the boat and began filling the tank as the other two talked. The old man nodded. "We're going to have to look for some", he announced, gesturing towards the hatch leading into the ship. "Are you crazy? What if someone sees us?" Harmon shook his head. "They'd be able to string us up for piracy, and I'm happy with my neck the length it is." The old man shook his head sadly. "If we don't get that boat out of this hangar, it's going to be a real short trip as is. I'll see if I can find you something, wait here if you want." He walked towards the hatch. Harmon followed him. "No, hang on, I'd better come with. You're right, we're pretty much screwed already, might as well go down fighting. Keep your eyes out for a toolkit or something." John secured the fueling line and hopped down to chase them out into the corridor. "Hey guys, wait for me!" They dogged the hatch behind them, leaving the fueled up boat swinging in front of the rectangular exit to outside.
Valeska wiped the back of her hands on her forehead, but that didn't so much dry the sweat off as transfer more grime to her face. The goddamn condensers on deck three were stuck on again, and guess who got assigned swap-out duty? As she tried again to muscle the bolt loose from it's paint-welded position, she heard feet clanging down the corridor towards her. Affecting her most bored look possible, she looked up, ready to lay into one of her captors. "Hey pal, mind if we borrow this?" The scruffy goatherder in front of her didn't look familiar at all, and novelty was the most precious possession on this dull prison. "Do I look like a 'pal' to you, ass face? And no, you can't have my damn tools, they'll take it out of my hide. Go ask your precious space bishop to buy you your own damn tools." She spat on the deck in front of him, microscopically missing his boot. "Holy shit, you're a chick!" The man stood back, looking shocked. The old man behind him walked up, looked down, and his eyes almost popped out in surprise. "V.... Valeska? Paris?" He stuttered, his composure gone. She frowned. "Yeah, did they warn you about me or something?" "Vally, don't you recognize me?" He leaned in close. She recoiled. "Hey, whatever you're selling, go somewhere else gramps. Unless you can get me off this fucking water jail, I don't owe you shit." She turned her back on the three strangers and went back to studiously trying to loosen the balky bolt. Behind her, the three looked at each other, stunned. Harmon pointed at the girl, eyebrow raised. Lafayette, the older man, nodded, dazed. John looked back and forth between the two, puzzled but quiet. Valeska felt someone tap her shoulder lightly. She spun around, wrench in hand, but the three had stepped back and had their hands out non-threateningly in front of them. "Ma'am, we may be able to help each other out after all. But first... could you grab your toolbox and follow us? I think it'll be worth your while."
The winch fixed, she put away her tools. In the boat, the young man was stowing some supplies they had grabbed while Harmon yanked some plug wires from the tenders and dinghys sharing the bay. "Won't stop 'em long, but should be enough to get clear", he muttered. The old man stood by the hatch, still teary eyed. Valaska didn't quite understand everything he had told her, but she understood that they were agreeing to take her out of this hellhole. In the boat, John glanced over at the hatch on the other side of the bay and saw the wheel turning. Eyes suddenly wide, he shouted "We've got company! Let's get out of here!" Closest to the hatch, Lafayette grabbed the wheel and tried muscling it back shut. They thought they had dogged it, but apparently the other guys had noticed it was locked and must have taken it apart on the other side. Straining against the wheel, he yelled at the others. "Get in the boat! I can hold them off another minute, but you guys get the hell out of here!" Harmon Hit the switch on the winch, powering it up, and the fishing boat started to move towards the big open door open to the ocean. He grabbed Valeska and pushed her towards it. "Jump in!" he shouted, then turned back to the old man. Lafayette shook his head. "Go, maybe I can talk my way out of this, but if she's who I think she is, there's no way they'll let her off alive. Go now!" Slowly, he began to lose ground to the wheel. Harmon nodded and jumped over the gunwale of the little boat just as it began to pass out of the bay into the sun. With a crash, the door was shoved open, throwing Lafayette aside. He lurched to his feet unsteadily, then turned to face the imposing figure in the doorway, a figure from his nightmares. Someone he had never thought to see again. "Attendant Amalphous, we meet again." The robed figure stalked into the bay, gesturing at the men behind him to secure the winch and retract the boat back, then turned back to Lafayette. "Indeed we do... Former Attendant Hubbard." The old man 'Lafayette' shook his head sadly. "Nobody has called me that in quite a while, and I rather prefer it that way."
(star wipe) The end.