I have a Category 3 problem in my world
Setting: Several kids get shanghaied and impressed into service with pirates, then the story gets them rescued only because one kid has a special ability: She can read lips and uses sign language— she is deaf. A rescue needs coordination with the captives, who must follow instructions from a secret message. Their captivity is well hidden but needs to have a hole in it somewhere for this message.
Premise: Unique language skills among captives creates an opportunity to get a secret message past captors.
Tech level is 19th century. Ships are actually airships but that shouldn't objectively affect the solution more than making it in-theme.
Research: The captors are stereotypical storybook pirates of common-knowledge. Specifically:
World settings so far:
- Captives are held under the typical threat of death or hurting one of the friends.
- The crew is in an enclave in an uncharted region. Unaided escape is near certain death in the wilds.
- Captives are forced to maintain ships or serve aboard vessels during raids, doing grunt work.
- There are no trained “guards,” the crew has a loyalty to their captain and they all basically keep things in check.
- Most of the crew are somewhat fickle and uneducated, and superstitious.
- Captives have no direct communication to the outside world, but certain privileged “clients” come to the enclave for illicit gambling. Communication and contact is a privilege earned when you are “made”
- Captives don't get weapons.
- Trusted crew run covert supply runs into civilian cities occasionally because the enclave is hidden from the world.
Additional tech and setting info (because someone asked):
Good answers provide the HOW for this problem:
- START: KIDS ARE CAPTIVE
- RESULT: A SECRET MESSAGE IS RECEIVED
- QUESTION: HOW did this prison allow a secret deaf-language message through the pirates?