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   Chapter 3 No.3

Prodigal Sun By Christina Engela Characters: 4850

Updated: 2018-06-30 19:01


Occasionally one of the good ol' boys would still sneak in one of the old stock, for old time's sake, and to keep things interesting. In the back of the canoe, Jeremy Jordan finally wondered what the hell could scare a fish that needed to be stunned with a grenade before it could be caught and eaten.

Three other canoes were on the river, paddling to their prearranged positions. The light from Deanna's crazy little moons above, Ding and Dong, helped guide their way. The river was gently whispering away around them, and there was the sound of paddles being dipped in the fresh water, nearly silently. Nobody was making a sound otherwise.

Cocka-snoek were tough critters. It would normally take a direct hit with a stun grenade to get just a handful of the critters to float to the surface. They were smart too. If startled, they could play hide-and-seek for hours – and a bunch of geriatrics in canoes didn't have hours to play games. Canoes didn't have bathrooms – and the last time someone tried to go over the side, they all did. The Whatoosie River was not that narrow in places… or that shallow.

About twenty meters away in another canoe, it suddenly dawned on Commander Michael John Atkins, (67, ex of Space Fleet) – why it was that young people called them old farts. And the bit about sound traveling further over water, well – that was true too.

"Sis, Andy! That was disgusting!" He chided his paddling partner behind in the awkward silence.

Warrant Officer class 1 (retired) Andy Wilkins, (80 – former Starmarine RSM) stopped paddling and looked at him with a blank expression.

"Eh?" he shouted, cupping a hand by his ear. Deaf as a doorpost, poor old codger!

From the lead canoe, Smythe watched as the others formed a large circle and prepared to start tossing a few stun grenades in the center. The cases of surplus military ordnance were opened, grenades were picked, pins were pulled and –

"Ready everyone?" He said, preparing to give the order. "On my signal – "

There was a sudden deafening boom and a large waterspout shot up into the night sky, right in the center of the circle! The churned water rained down again, splashing over them. When the deluge had passed, sitting in the now bobbing canoe, spluttering and coughing, wiping water out of his bushy white eyebrows, Smythe carefully replaced the pin in his grenade, before placing it gently in the puddle by his feet. Th

en, swearing genteelly under his breath, he wrung out his hat.

"Bloody hell!" Someone else said across the water. He could see the other canoes bobbing on the small waves rippling across the water.

"Who the blazes did that!" The General roared. "I said wait for my signal!"

"Wasn't me!" Atkins replied hoarsely.

"Wasn't us!" Replied Col Riley, (69, Starmarines Armored Division) from behind glasses as thick as bullet-proof glass. He was trying hard and unsuccessfully to smear them dry with his soaked jersey sleeves.

"Jordan?" Smythe asked suspiciously, turning round. But Jordan was still lazing in the back of the canoe, sopping, but just as relaxed as before, hadn't realized he was drenched yet – and would probably only catch up in another eight minutes or so.

The plastic case of grenades between them was still closed anyway. He just shrugged at him. Then Atkins shouted to draw everybody's attention.

"Look! Over there!"

Where it had suddenly surfaced in the center of the circle, an object was floating, bobbing in the water. It was quite large, looked metallic and almost spherical in shape. There were no lights on it and judging by the steam rising from it, it seemed to be quite hot. They brought out some flashlights and suddenly the thing was lit up from all sides.

"What is it?" Someone asked.

Just then, cocka-snoek started popping up around it, floating upside down on the surface, quite still, steaming. Keen and experienced fishermen all, this did not go unnoticed.

"Well, bugger me!" Cried Riley.

"This is no time for your quaint sexual fantasies, George!" Smythe cried, nearing exasperation. "A man your age! Hrrm! Now, what is it? Is it dangerous?"

The cocka-snoek were out cold, which was reason enough to wonder, wasn't it? Something about the shape… A memory prompted Atkins.

"That's an escape pod, that is!" He said. "I recognize the shape!"

"Where'd it come from?" Shouted Andy Wilkins, cupping a hand over one ear.

"Where d'you think? From a ship in orbit!" Atkins surmised.

"Eh?"

"From up there!" Atkins shouted back, pointing upwards while adding under his breath in frustration, "Idiot!"

"Oh! You think we should call someone?" Shouted Wilkins, now cupping his hands over both ears as his paddle slid overboard unnoticed and drifted away.

"Who – the Navy?" Suggested Nathan Forrest (Formerly a WO in the stores) from his canoe.

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