.............~~Playing Catch Up~~............
The darkness of the cave returned, along with the quiet.
"What happened to the lights?" Adam rasped in as low a voice he could to no one in particular. The echo indicated he was crouching as close to the
ground behind the ledge as he could be.
"Shh!" snarked Dag. (As per usual, he couldn't see her roll her eyes. So much for being my hero, she thought. "Sslar? Kitty?" she called the big cat.
Sslar purred and began to move closer to her. "Can you get us outta here, girl?"
The enormous feline rubbed her soft head up against Dag's hair. "Okay, good girl," she said. Then she spoke to Adam. "Take my hand, here, Adam, we'll
follow her. Ben?" Her voice rose a bit.
"Here," he answered. "I've got the crone, too." Gert could be heard gasping as he seized her upper arm none too gently. "Cat! C'mon, then...."
The sound of the party's movement through the water was minimal -- more like something being pulled through water than like steps or
splashes.....Sslar kept up the purring as an audio-guide and (presumably) to minimize any understandable terror the U-mans might be feeling. The group
of five, Super-Cat in the lead, were a few steps away from the bend where Chumley and Silo, Carpet and Muckles waited, listening, when the lights came
"Heh heh," cackled Muckles. "Fixed yer wagon, 'eh, then, Witchy? Betcher not used ta dealin' with yer peers. Nice try, though. But we're a team not to
be reckoned with. I'm hunchin' that yer somehow a .... what did they used ta call it?"
"Double agent," Tibbs replied, as the rescued party joined Team Yydryl. "And now we've got her captive. Let's get outta this hell gate. I've no doubt
neno and BIAD can handle the wrap-up, and they'll be wanting to skee daddle as soon as possible."
Ben, Adam, and Dag stood with their mouths open, however. Adam rubbed his eyes repeatedly. "What the Hades...? What in Jenovah's name is going on
here? Are you three seeing this? Am I the only one with doubl---" he broke off for a moment. "No .... quadruple vision going on here?"
"Nah, I see 'em, too," said Ben.
"Yeah," Dag answered. "But Sslar isn't worried about it, and she's the closest to nenothtu's aniimal side. If she's cool with it, so am I."
"Well, then, who are these guys?" Adam said louder and pointed at the neno-suits. "They all look like neno, of course she's going to trust them!"
Then one of them laughed, and it was with a feminine lilt. In a soothing voice she said, "Adam, it's us. Silo. Chumley, and Carpet. We're in disguise.
The valid neno has gone deeper into the network. So has BIAD, now c'mon, let's get outta here."
"Yes, ma'am," said Adam. There was no disputing it was her voice, and her manner. And she was still the Yydryl's CO, and not to be questioned. His
expression, however, remained dubious.
"Chums," she said, "you bring up the rear. Carpet, with Chumley. Sslar, c'mon girl." And Silo moved abreast to Dag on the other side of the giant cat.
Dag had her own version of mistrust on her face, but did not protest.
"It's really me, Dag," said Silo. "And you know we females are more intuitive. I'll explain later."
"'Kay," said Dag.
"Ben," Silo added, "you take the...crone....she got a name?"
"Gert," said Dag.
Silo continued "...Gert, there... up front, and I don't care if it's as a guide or a hostage, but she sure is not going to escape back into that cave.
Whatever is top-side is gonna see her emerging first.Maybe she's on our side, maybe not, but--"
"Not, if'n ya ask me," grumbled Ben.
"Okay, then, she's not...she's also a stranger, and the newest participant here, unknown to any of us, so she goes first. Desperate times require not
coddling the new guy."
"Glad you agree," said Ben, "And after all, she's the hostess with the mostess....it's her shindig, ya know."
Ben dragged the crone up toward the front of the group.
Tibbs uttered, "Oh bother. Oh dear," and he kept repeating to himself.
"I know, I know, me love," said Muckles. "We'll just have to deal with it-- them-- when we get there. But at least we got two of us 'witches' here. As
long as Gert stays on our side."
She looked over at Gert, whose "acceleration" and "direction" were being controlled by Ben's tight grasp on her arm and just then passing the Gray
Canyon Witch and her small man. The ancient Vandalian sneered at her, and Muckles stuck her tongue out in response, and added a flourish of her arms
in a pouncing gesture and thrust her head forward suddenly. Though she had no chest to speak of to puff out, her threat was clear. She'd like to be
pulling Gert's hair and clawing at her face, and doing it "now."
Hence, the party of ten, all but one being the nearly-reunited crew of the Yydryl, minus nenothtu and BIAD, slogged their way out of the water and
into the passage that led back to Gert's hut. The tension was as would be expected by a group in such a circumstance, in the process of escaping a
confined firefight with deities of vast power.
They continued in some silence, each reflecting on the recent events in his or her own particular idiom.
Chumley spoke up next. "What means 'mostess-hostess'?"
Ben chuckled. "It means the lady throwin' the party is purdy darn good at it. But we'll see."
Indeed, they were not "out of the woods" on Vandalia yet. Nor was the party anywhere near "over.
edit on 30-3-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)