Distant Thunders: Destroyermen | Chapter 28 of 37 - Part: 1 of 6

Author: Taylor Anderson | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 3002 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER 17

It was long after dark when Silva’s hunting party neared the environs of Baalkpan. The bearers had dragged the masses of meat on travois down to the original riverside fueling pier and transferred it to square, flat barges. From there, they slowly towed the barges to the city behind Scott’s launch. As usual, Moe didn’t accompany them past the pier, but disappeared into the jungle as soon as the hunt was done. Even Silva didn’t know where he lived, and he was probably the closest thing to a friend the old Lemurian had. The sun went down quickly, as was its custom, and for a time the large, voracious insects pestered them as they traversed the estuary. The breeze of the bay protected them a little as they drew nearer the city.

“What the devil?” Silva asked as they caught sight of the old fitting-out pier. The city was lit up like it hadn’t been in a long time, and a major party appeared to be under way.

“Most interesting,” observed Bradford. “One would like to speculate that they’ve heard the news of our return after such an auspicious and successful venture as ours today, but I honestly doubt that’s the case.”

“Nobody invited you to a party neither?” Silva grumped.

“Indeed not. I can’t imagine what might have transpired in our absence to cause such revelry. Perhaps the war is over?”

Silva grunted. “We musta missed something, but I doubt that’s it. Besides, they wouldn’t dare win the war without lettin’ me in on it. I’m gonna personally poke that Sequestural Lizard Mother through the head with one o’ Lanier’s U.S.-marked butter knives. I told the skipper so. If she fell off the pot an’ broke her neck, I’m gonna be mighty sore.”

Abel stirred from where he’d been sleeping curled up next to Lawrence in the stern sheets. “Look!” he said a little blearily. “Walker is lit up! Her aft searchlight tower has been reinstalled and they are shining the light about!”

“Ahhh!” roared Silva when the beam rested momentarily on the approaching launch and its train of barges. He shielded his eyes from the painful glare. “Goddamn EMs are horsin’ around! They musta managed to twist a couple o’ wires together an’ thought that was worth a hootenanny!” He chuckled. “Maybe Rodriguez’ll point the light at Laney! He can’t stand that stupid prick. ‘Hey, Ronson, what’s that smolderin’ pile o’ bones?’ ‘Oh, that’s just Laney. Thought I saw a roach on deck!’ ” Silva laughed.

Abel looked at him in the reflected light—the searchlight beam had passed on—and wondered just how serious the big man was. There were persistent rumors that Silva had actually tried to kill Laney before. Abel usually doubted it. He’d discovered that Silva was particularly skilled at killing things that he really wanted dead. But he’d also learned Silva was only slightly more predictable than the weather.

“Hey,” Dennis said, addressing the coxswain, “after we drop our load, take us over there, willya?” He was pointing at Walker. The coxswain was a Lemurian, one of Keje’s officers learning powered-ship-handling skills so he’d at least have some sort of a clue when it came time for Big Sal to join the fleet. “Whatever’s goin’ on, it looks like it has to do with our ship, so I figure anybody that’s anybody’ll be there. We can report in and find out what’s up at the same time.”

“You betcha,” came the high-pitched response.

The launch’s nose bumped against the pier and Silva winced to think what Tony Scott would have said, but he sent Bradford and Abel up the rungs to the dock. Lawrence scampered up without assistance and Silva followed him. There was clearly a party atmosphere, and it seemed as if most of the city had turned out to see the show. It took Dennis only a few minutes to figure out what all the ruckus was about. Through the noise of the revelers, mostly Lemurian but a few human as well, a long-unheard but intimately familiar sound reached his ears. He turned and stared at the ship.

Smoke was rising from the aft funnel, the number four boiler, and the blower behind the still-stripped pilothouse roared with a steady, healthy, reassuring rumble. He’d expected it any day now, just not today. He knew the reconstruction of the numbers three and four boilers was almost complete and the starboard engine, that gloriously complicated Parsons turbine, had been carefully overhauled, but the blower motor and both the twenty-five-kilowatt generators had still been in the “powerhouse” when his hunting party set out that morning before dawn. For the longest time, all he could do was stand and stare.

Walker was alive again. She inhaled, exhaled, and her proud heart stirred once more. Her lifeblood flowed to the boiler, where hellish fires flared and water flashed to steam and sang joyously through the pipes to her turbines. At least one refurbished generator fed electricity to her blower and the spotlight. Silva’s eye patch felt soggy and his good eye quit working right. Someone was calling his name, but it just didn’t register at first. He noticed a slight weight land upon him, pulling his neck forward with small, strong arms. The passionate kiss suddenly inflicted on him finally brought him to his senses and he realized Pam Cross had jumped on him like a kid on a set of monkey bars. The small nurse clung to him and the curves pressed against him brought a smile to his tear-streaked face.

“Why, there you are, my little honeydew!” He still held the massive rifle in his right hand, but his left arm was more than sufficient to support the dark-haired, Brooklyn-born firecracker. “Where’s Risa? I kinda missed you gals t’day. Killed me a super lizard! But I wish I’d’a been here, now!”

“Risa’s on Big Sal, but she’ll be heah.” Pam giggled. “Probably give you the same kind of welcome . . . except I ain’t going to lick you!”

“Always glad to oblige my adorin’ ladies!”

Pam hugged him tight. “Gotcha a super lizard with your”—she giggled again—“big gun, huh? That’s swell. I’m just glad you’re back safe.”

Silva pretended innocent confusion. “Say, where’d Bradford run off to? That reminds me. I need to talk to somebody. Mr. Letts or Spanky, I guess. I gotta make a ree-port. We saw somethin’ kinda screwy today.”

Pam kissed him again and climbed down. “He went over theah, with the kid and the lizard. They’re talking to Mr. Letts and Adar already. Hurry back, you big lug.”

Silva bowed theatrically. “A hero’s toil never ends, m’dear. I’ll be back to perform whatever chore you require di-rectly!”

Someone pushed a mug of seep in his hand as he made his way to where Bradford, Letts, Adar, and now Spanky, Sister Audry, and Keje stood. Adar studied him intently.

“Why didn’t you kill them?” Adar asked. “Mr. Braad-furd says they looked quite like Grik.”

“Yeah, well, they wasn’t, was they? Last time I shot somethin’ only looked like a Grik, he wound up bein’ one of my best buddies.” Lawrence and Abel had joined them and Silva tousled Lawrence’s young crest. The Tagranesi irritably shook his head. “Call me soft if you like, but I’ve decided shootin’ fellas may not always be the best way to say how-dee-do. ’Specially with guns that won’t leave much to get acquainted with.” He hefted his rifle proudly. “A super lizard with one shot! This thing woulda spattered them little Injun jungle lizards all over the clearin’. Might coulda brung one of ’em back in a snuff can to meetcha.”

“Injun lizards?” Spanky demanded.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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