Saphira and Captain Decker came up from one side. The Captain no doubt thought he was protecting the woman, but Saphira wanted to keep an eye on the man to make sure he did not shoot anyone, needlessly. Roland came up from the other side, and she knew whoever it was would not hear the elf as long as Roland did not have some noisy human by his side.
Captain Decker stopped her with a hand on Saphira’s shoulder. She had already seen the men, or three of them, but she thought to grab Decker’s hand and turn her head to look into his eyes. She paused before she dropped the man’s hand and showed great restraint. “Not a good idea,” she whispered, but now she had her pent-up energy to release.
Saphira stood, her spear ready, and she reverted to her native tongue. “Alright you men. Get up and show yourselves.” Saphira spoke loud enough for her voice to carry. Some nearby stick people woke up and looked. “You’re surrounded, so there is no point in trying anything. No one needs to get hurt.”
The men stood, though they held tight to their own spears. Those stick people who noticed got up and scurried away with a sound of alarm and a clapping of hands. The men had been camouflaged, having branches and such attached to their clothing. There was no telling how long it took them to inch up close to the camp. Decker was ready, just in case, and in the rising light, Roland showed himself. Roland was just as ready, but he relaxed a little when the elder of the three men spoke.
“Saphira. What are you doing here?”
“Right now? Hunting fools, Coramel. And who are these two idiots with you?”
“These are my sons,” Coramel said, proudly.
“Are you lacking any brains like your father?” Saphira asked.
“Yes, er, no.”
“We wanted to see the strange creatures.”
Captain Decker tapped Sapira on the shoulder this time. “I take it you know these particular idiots.”
Boston and Katie used their flashlights to get back into the ship and found that indeed the stick people had begun to “fix” things back to the way they had been. It was going to take some work. They returned and reported to Lockhart even as the light began to glimmer across the horizon. They took a bit of bread for breakfast and then figured they had better get started rather than wait for Saphira.
Boston was pretty sure she could redo what the stick people had messed up before the night made the sticks stop working. She was not worried, though, since Martok calculated at their present rate of speed the Balok would not arrive until mid-afternoon.
“Plasma cannon looks untouched,” Katie said.
“Looks can be deceiving,” Boston countered as she began to examine the jury-rigged work.
“Well, at least the screen enhancements are still in place,” Katie said, and Boston nodded with a grunt as she followed a circuit line.
“I don’t imagine the stick people are stupid,” Katie continued. “Anything that might help them ward off the stray asteroid or radiation in space would be appreciated.
“I’m sure,” Boston mumbled, but she was not really listening.
Katie nodded. “I guess I’ll have a look at the radar array. Hopefully they left it alone.” She wandered off slowly, but it was not long before Boston heard the words. “What the Hell were they thinking?”
Saphira brought Coramel and his sons to the others and made them sit and keep still. Alexis got out the bread so they were content. “And if you so much as touch one of these stick people, I’ll have to kill you,” Saphira said.
“Yes, mam.” Coramel grinned.
“Father?” One of his sons questioned what their father meant.
“Son. You must always do what the golden lady says if you expect to be rewarded.”
“Her?” The other son was not shy to point.
“Golden lady?” Lockhart asked.
“I’m expensive,” Saphira said. “Only the best.” Then she thought she had better to go check on the work inside the ship.
“Damn!” The word echoed out of everyone’s wrist communicators. “The Balok must have overdrive. They just entered the atmosphere.”
Saphira said something, too, and it was a bit stronger than “damn.” She grabbed Lincoln and marched to the stick ship.
Once inside, Saphira set Lincoln by the screen array. “If they come in firing as I expect, you just keep your finger on this button. She checked the damage to the plasma cannon she had built.
“I can fix it,” Boston insisted. “I just need some time. You need to check the microwave chamber.”
Saphira went to do that very thing and did not swear too much. She had it rigged to send out a microwave pulse, but the stick people had started to dismantle it. Besides, by then she was swearing at herself for not anticipating this.
“Bring everyone inside.” The call went out over the wrist communicators. When the Balok ship appeared as a dot in the sky, the stick people did not have to be encouraged. Apparently they had very good eyes. They scurried toward the ship, clapping and howling. They hardly knew what else to do. Coramel and his sons were reluctant to enter that strange place, but they were given no choice. They stood with the travelers by the open door and watched.
“Strafing run.” Lieutenant Harper recognized the move on her radar.
“Lincoln finger!” That was all Saphira had time to say. She was too busy.
Lincoln pressed his finger as hard as he could against the button, and when the Balok ship came low and let out a blast of its main gun, that energy pulse was repelled. The Balok ship rose up to what they had to believe was out of range and paused. The Balok Captain was no doubt considering his options.
“It’s overloading,” Lincoln shouted.
“Finger off the button.” Everyone yelled at him, but Lieutenant Harper had to step up and help put out the small electrical fires.
“What are they waiting for?” Lockhart’s words came into the ship over his wrist communicator.
“We are working as fast as we can,” Boston yelled back, having misunderstood the question. “Almost there.” But their homemade weapons were still off line. The Balok had them, only they did not know it, yet.