Chapter Twenty-six

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Behind a military vehicle, Kita and Adrestia stripped off their battle uniforms down to their swimsuits. Kita wore her black and pink bikini, and Adrestia had a black one piece. They helped each other into the wetsuits and put their uniforms in the waterproof bags.

Kita said little on the ride from the attack site on the highway to Kiholo Bay, the location of the lava tube. Her anger had become melancholy. She was doing her best not to bring everyone down.

"Ready?" said Adrestia.

Kita nodded.

They walked from behind the vehicle to the beach. The team waited ready to go. They still wore their uniforms under their scuba gear.

"Ok," said Carr, "we have a hundred yards of coral to cross before we reach the edge of the bay. The coral is flat, but be careful, there are six-foot crevasses you don't want to get stuck in. Because of the delay, we missed the tide so the water won't be deep enough to swim. We'll have to walk.

"Once we reach the edge of the coral, we'll dive. The tube entrance is to the northwest and twenty-five feet down, then it's a thousand yards before the tube goes dry. Once in the tube, we stash the tanks, scooters, and fins, and prepare for combat operations. Petty Officer Reynolds will escort Colonel Adrestia. Petty Officer Jacobs will escort Captain Callaghan. Master Sergeant Boxer will escort Her Highness. Any questions?"

The team shook their heads.

A big black man with arms the size of logs appeared in front of Kita. "Your Highness, I'm Master Sergeant Boxer. I have your mask and fins." He also carried two large air tanks, a small emergency tank on his hip, a rifle, the underwater scooter, and rucksack on his front.

"You need a hand?" said Kita.

"No problem, Your Highness. Follow me."

"Hey, yo bro!" said Bumblebee. "Me and Ratchet will carry our peeps out. They won't slow the show that way."

Kita shrugged. That sounded preferable to navigating the reef. "Let's do that. I'll see you out there Master Sergeant."

"No problem, Your Highness."

He looks relieved. I'm sure he'd never hear the end of it if I fell into a hole.

Bumblebee picked up Kita and Adrestia and waded into the water. He made a game of hopping from one set of coral to the next. The corals were six feet high, flat on top, and square. Some had grown into each other creating bigger blocks. Behind them, Ratchet and Arcee picked their way forward, followed by the team.

"It's pretty out here," said Adrestia.

The water was a turquoise color, and a warm breeze blew. Palm trees and bushes grew around the bay, and lava fields lay beyond.

"It is nice," said Kita sadly.

"I'm sorry," said Adrestia.

"I just don't understand. I thought she loved me and wanted to stay."

"You gave her an option. We'll see what she decides. Give her some time. Maybe she'll come to her senses."

"Bumblebee," said Kita, "what do you think of Arcee returning home with the Matrix?"

"Yo, our mission is to sniff it out and bringing it back."

"And if Arcee leaves you here?"

"She's the boss. I do what she tells me."

"Even if she takes all the recognition?"

"Why would she do that?"

"The most important thing is the Matrix returns home," said Ratchet. "Recognition is secondary."

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