Part 17 Chapter 10-Panicking

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After the second day of tours, I returned to the ship exhausted and went directly to my stateroom. Gagnon had continued buttonholing every Fenrian we met with her infernal survey. We'd inspected clinics and water treatment facilities while I recorded or interpreted every bit of it.

Much of the expedition had wisely declined the tours. They'd remained aboard the ship or had taken walks near the harbor. If only I could have avoided the ordeal, but I was the one interpreter, so help me Danna. I wasn't good enough. I just wasn't.

Lying against my pillow, I escaped by merging into Shewolf and her experience of the sea and sky. Boats glided between piers. Clouds drifted in fluffy white and gray. Wavelets slapped against my hull as I gently sculled with steering fins.

Relaxing, I expanded my consciousness, picking up transmissions from security cameras mounted on dock pylons. I savored boat names emblazoned on sterns: Hunter, Lysa Jane, Lucky Seven.

Three men wearing grey-green life vests ambled along the dock—Captain Alop accompanied by the Colonel and Takachika. Captain Alop must have loaned them the vests.

I followed them from camera to camera until they stopped at a boat, Barbarossa according to the name on her transom. A mariner came out, and Alop stepped forward. After a bit of discussion they touched hands to complete a deal. What deal?

Alop and the two expedition men clambered aboard.

I checked harbor cameras but couldn't get a closer view. Barbarossa departed her slip. I tried to home in on communication with the harbormistress, but couldn't locate the channel in the din of wireless communication. No use worrying. I'd try to get some work done transcribing and translating my recorded notes.

At suppertime, the dining arrangement remained the same as the previous nights. Tyee served food at his table. Gagnon, sitting alone at the head table, read a Fenrian news screen. The three men hadn't returned. I checked the slip—still empty.

I smiled at Tyee, and he smiled back, a brief flash of friendliness. Maybe he liked me. I wanted to sit with him, but I was beside Gagnon and needed information. "Where did the colonel go?" I asked, figuring I might as well be direct.

She glanced up from the news screen. "He and Takachika are checking on sustainable fishing practices."

"Without an interpreter?" My voice squeaked, not professional sounding at all.

Gagnon patted my arm. "Now don't get such a high opinion of yourself. Much can be done by merely observing."

"Observing the tide? Now that sounds Fenrian."

"Traditional superstitions do have some wisdom," responded Gagnon.

Hawthorn approached our table and checked his chrono. "Ms. Gagnon. The colonel is overdue. His party was due back at oh two hundred hours, Beijing."

I sighed. Hawthorn never would shift to Fenrian timekeeping or put together enough Fenrian to find out for himself where the men had gone. That was my job. I hailed the bridge. Navigator, Ms. Politkofsky here. I need the location of Colonel Davis.

The navigator read off coordinates, but they didn't make sense to me.

What does that mean? I asked.

They're fishing, I believe, said the navigator. Due back tomorrow.

Thank you. I tried not to laugh. This was so apex! The colonel and Takachika might actually learn something from the activity. I relayed the information to Hawthorn.

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