Kita'thalla Ch. 07

byBowoodstock©

Eric was silent for a moment, glancing at the weapon before looking back at Kita. "Actually..." he said, getting to his feet. "I was just thinking...after this morning, and particularly after yesterday, it seems a little silly to be caring about that any more. Especially with us having only one weapon left."

Kita barely heard the second half of what he said. She'd been wondering if he'd remembered what had happened during the storm, and her mind had stopped dead upon his mention of it. Now that it was clear that he had remembered, the situation was a little more uncertain. While this morning had clearly been an accident, yesterday...she clearly remembered telling him not to stop, and she had no idea what he'd have to say about it. Or what she'd say in return if they did talk about it. And would it---

She was interrupted by a spray of water cascading over her. Absorbed in her thoughts, she hadn't seen the wicked grin that crossed Eric's face as he saw that the water level in the small inlet was considerably higher than the previous days, making the center several feet deep. Nor had she noticed him drop his covering and leap, tucking his arms and legs into a perfect cannonball. While the waterproof survival blanket did keep most of her dry, her face and hair were not so protected. Wiping water out of her eyes, she glared at him as he surfaced, the stupid grin still on his face.

"Rragh'cha...What was that for?!" she yelled, water still dripping from her hair into her eyes.

"You looked to serious. I had to do something to lighten up the mood." he replied, lazily drifting away from her, the water coming up to just under his armpits.

She gave him an incredulous look. "Am I missing something? How is getting me wet going to lighten the mood?"

"What, you never got into a water fight before when you were young?" Eric asked.

"When I...how does acting like a cub have anything to do with this?"

Eric shrugged. "If we're stuck down here, we're not part of the fighting going on up there" he indicated the sky. "Might as well take advantage of it. It's been ages since I had the chance to just relax, and maybe that means being a little silly. The opportunity for a surprise cannonball was just too good to pass up."

"Cannon...wait, what?" she asked, clearly confused.

"Ancient sailing warships on Terra had cannons that fired ball shaped shot. This was before exploding shells were invented." he explained. "And of course, you can imagine the results if a shot missed and hit water instead of the target. Now, if you jump into the water with your arms and legs tucked in, the results are similar. So we call it a cannonball."

Kita stared at him wordlessly for a moment before shaking her head. "I swear...only humans would come up with a name for something so pointless."

"Hey..." he interjected. "It's not pointless. Water fights remember?"

"I fail to see your point."

Eric rolled his eyes and shook his head. "I give up. Sorry for trying to lighten the mood"

Kita shook her head again, grabbing the pistol from its holster before standing up. "Humans..."

"Hey, where you going?"

"I have a personal matter to attend to, and with you in the water there's no risk of you speaking to me and causing 'stage fright' as you put it last time."

"Is it really necessary for you to take the gun?" he called after her.

"Oh be quiet, it's your fault we only have one left. Besides, I have better hearing than you, I'll stay close enough to hear anything that tries to come after you."

"Fine, just...be careful!" Eric yelled as she disappeared, suddenly feeling somewhat vulnerable as the only answer was the sounds of the forest and the running river. The crash of a tree branch falling made him jump. Maybe he was the one that needed to be careful...

++++++++++++++++

Kita only had to walk a short distance before finding a suitable place out of sight from the river. She could still hear him splashing around as she dug a hole deep enough for her needs. Crouching down, she was still amazed at how noisy he was, even when he wasn't talking. When their food ran out, she'd have to teach him how to move silently. She'd actually heard and seen evidence of prey several times, but with him tramping around she'd never actually caught sight of it. She heard him slip and make an even larger splash before coming up, spitting out water. Maybe she'd have to teach him sooner...

Finishing up and filling in the hole with the earth she'd excavated earlier, Kita stood and wrapped herself in the blanket which she'd hung on a nearby branch. The gauss pistol was also right where she'd left it on the ground within easy reach. Picking it up, she took a moment to examine the weapon. It was very different to the sidearms carried by her military, although that wasn't surprising, as her kind used a form of projected plasma energy system, while his species used a solid projectile. She recalled using it a few days earlier against the tree monster, and thinking back to it she was actually fairly impressed.

While it did have a kickback that took some getting used to, for such a small weapon it did pack a punch. The high speed projectile, faster than the shot from one of her weapons, still left a trail as it ignited the atmosphere, but it wasn't as traceable as a bolt from a plasma weapon, giving more of an advantage in surprise attacks. The only issue was that it required a supply of ammo, although the small bore of the weapon suggested that a good number of shots could probably fit in the magazine before reloading. For now, she just hoped they'd never run into enough problems to run out of ammunition before they found another means of defense.

Turning back towards the river, a scent caught her attention. Not at all unpleasant, in fact it was quite the opposite. She stopped in her tracks, turning her head as she tried to determine its source. Off to her right, she followed it to a tree with low hanging branches. It was rich in dark green spear shaped leaves, apparently the source of the aroma. There was something familiar about it, she couldn't quite put her finger on it as she approached closer, but she was drawn to it, though she couldn't figure out why. Coming within an arms reach of the lowest branches, she reached out, feeling the leaves between her fingers. Nothing particularly unusual, aside from the very pleasant scent that issued from them. Breaking off a handful, she brought them to her face, chills racing down her spine as the aroma flooded her nostrils.

+++++++++

Sitting on a convenient submerged rock near the edge of the inlet, Eric once again scanned the forest for any sign of Kita. She'd been gone for several minutes now, and hadn't responded to her name. This was starting to get a little worrying. He was considering leaving the water to search for her when a quick movement at the edge of the forest caught his eye.

"Kita?" He asked tentatively. The only response was something thrown out of the underbrush. It looked like the survival blanket, balled up. Eric stared at it, confused. Either she was in a very strange mood, or something had gotten her and was taunting him. Looking back to the place in the forest where it had come from, he squinted, trying to make out anything that might give a hint on what was going on. Nothing. Glancing back at the blanket, he noticed it was wrapped around something. Just as he was about to pull himself up on to the bank, a sound behind him made him turn to see something in a blur leaping off the bank from the other side of the inlet towards him.

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