...All Things Human
At 8:00 am the next morning, Nathanael and Harry awoke and started fixing breakfast for everyone. The smell of frying bacon and eggs drifted through the camp. Selina woke to the pleasant smell. She yawned and rubbed her face with her hand as she looked over at Hannibal, who lay sleeping like a baby. She sat up and stretched, enjoying the aroma drifting through the camp while rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Just then, Nathanael unzipped the door on the tent and looked in on them, seeing her awake. “Oh, you’re awake,” he said in a pleased tone. “Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes.”
“All right, dad,” Selina answered, waving him away. “We’ll be out in a few minutes.”
“Are you all right? That download came all of a sudden,” Nathanael asked intently.
Selina waved him away again, answering, “Yes, dad…we’re all right. Now go away.”
Nathanael grinned as he zipped up the tent. He returned to Harry, who sat cooking on the fire. “They’re all right now,” Nathanael said. “Selina’s awake. I’m sure Hannibal will wake up any time now.”
“Good,” Harry replied, turning the bacon in the pan. “Now that he’s all right, I’m going to kick his ass for putting us through that shit again.”
“Yeah…maybe we can beat it out of them this time,” Nathanael jested.
Selina smiled, overhearing the comment and secretly wishing it were true. She once again looked down at Hannibal, who had just turned on his back. A low snore came out of his nose. She watched him for a few moments before leaning over and kissing him gently on the lips. Her hair hung down around her face, falling around his head. He stirred at the kiss and opened his eyes to see Selina leaning over him with a very sweet smile on her face sitting just inches away. He fell into her large eyes and got lost. “Time to get up, my prince,” she purred. “Breakfast is almost ready.”
Hannibal yawned as he put his arms around her, pulling her down and giving her a gentle squeeze. “Good morning, princess. How’re you feeling?” he asked.
“Good,” Selina answered. “The terrible pain is but a vague memory. And you?”
“Feeling pretty good actually,” Hannibal replied, “but still a bit tired. That was one monster of a headache. I hope we don’t have another one like that again.”
“Me too,” she agreed. “Having my brain feel like it was on fire wasn’t exactly pleasant.”
“I’ll have to agree to that,” Hannibal stated. “That one really blindsided us. I wish it wouldn’t do that. What would happen if it hit us while we’re in a life and death situation? It could be catastrophic.”
“I don’t think we need to worry too much about that,” Selina declared. “The Lord won’t let it happen in those circumstances. I’m sure of it.”
Hannibal stretched again and sat up with Selina’s assistance. “The Lord is certainly good to us,” he said as he sat up. Selina knelt behind him with her arm around him and her chin on his shoulder. “I just wonder what new thing will come out of this latest episode. At the moment, I have no idea what it might be,” he murmured.
“The Lord will reveal it when He’s good and ready,” Selina purred in his ear. “So don’t give it a second thought.”
“If you guys in there are hungry, breakfast is ready!” Harry called out. “I’m not delivering it to you. You’re going to have to come get it like the rest of us.” Nathanael chuckled at the comment as he got his share of the breakfast.
“Are you ready to face the ultimate test of courage?” Hannibal asked Selina.
“What might that be?” Selina queried.
“Eating Harry’s cooking,” Hannibal answered with a mischievous snicker.
Selina looked at him and laughed softly. “Why yes. I’m ready to cross the final frontier,” she stated, laughing.
“Then let us go and face our destiny together,” Hannibal stated as he rose to his feet, going out of the tent. Selina followed close behind him. They sat in the chairs and Nathanael handed them each some scrambled eggs, bacon, and a glass of orange juice. Nathanael then settled in his chair next to Harry and began to eat his breakfast as well.
Hannibal looked suspiciously at the food. “You know,” he stated. “I’m so hungry that even rat poison would look good.”
Harry glared at Hannibal for a moment, knowing the implication. “Bad mouthing my cooking again, huh,” he retorted. “Well, maybe next time I’ll liven it up a little with some of those spiders or something.” Selina and Nathanael watched with mounting interest as Hannibal and Harry seemed to glare at each other.
“Yeah,” Hannibal answered back. “Some of those big spiders and a snake or two would be great. Maybe even some stink bugs and chilled monkey brains for dissert would make it even better.” They gazed at each other severely for almost a minute, and then Hannibal’s serious expression melted away as a smile crept across his face. Harry cracked a smile and they both laughed from their toes. “Looks good, bud,” Hannibal finally said as he began to dig in to his eggs. “You were always a better cook than I.”
“You’re damned right about that,” Harry laughed as he finished his breakfast.
“Do you two do that much?” Nathanael asked as he ate.
“Oh, yeah,” Harry replied. “We do that a lot, but only when we need to lighten up a bit.”
Nathanael looked at Hannibal, who added, “Half the fun is trying to determine whether it’s for real or a gag. It’s done only in fun as a way to let off steam. We never engage in that kind of interaction when there’s something serious afoot.”
“You sure are a strange pair. I’ve been here almost two years and I still don’t completely understand humans,” Nathanael said after taking a sip of his juice.
“Don’t feel bad about that,” Hannibal replied. “I was born a human and I still don’t know everything there is to know about how people interact and get along with each another. It’s just a learning experience: trial and error.”
“Really,” Nathanael replied. “How do they strike you, princess?”
Selina finished off her bacon and took a sip of juice. “Humans are very strange, Dad,” she declared, “and I should know, being linked telepathically to Hannibal. They have a strange sense of humor, like what we just saw, and tend to be devious, looking out for number one at all times and willing to do anything to be on the top of the heap. They’ll go to great lengths to get what they want. Most of the time, they don’t count the cost of what they’re doing, many times to the hurt and injury of others.” Nathanael sipped his cup of juice again and rubbed his chin as he pondered Selina’s observations.
“Looks like you understand humans pretty well,” Hannibal crowed. “You learned that from my memories, didn’t you?”
“It was hard to miss,” Selina replied, smiling. “You’ve had a lifetime of dealing with people on both sides of the fence. Only a small fraction of the people you’ve had to deal with during your life have been what I shall call good. Everyone else was out to move up the ladder and didn’t care whom they had to step on in order to do it. It’s eerily similar to my experiences with other Kaitians.”
“Man…she’s got us down pat as a people,” Harry said, impressed with her understanding of people. “You learned that from sharing memories with him?”
“Yes,” Selina replied smoothly. “Having a continual and unbreakable link to him has been an education in more ways than one.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Hannibal blurted out, raising his cup of juice in a toast. They followed his lead and toasted the idea.
Nathanael considered what he heard for a few moments after the toast. “Well,” he began. “Upon hearing what you just said, it makes me feel a little better that I don’t understand the complexities of the human experience. I’ll guess I’ll just have to fake it like everyone else does.” They laughed at the comment, knowing it was true.
After the laughter died down, Hannibal added seriously, “You must, however, be careful in dealing with people. Not everyone is what he or she seems to be. Moreover, you and Selina are alien beings on this planet so you must to be on guard constantly while out here in the world. You never know how someone will react to you because of that. Furthermore, you’re living proof that humans aren’t alone in the universe, which is something the governments of the world have been trying to suppress for ages.”
“I’m well aware of that,” Nathanael agreed. “The thing I’ve noticed in observing your species is that most of the behavior manifested by people on the outside almost exactly mirrors the behavior of most Kaitians I’ve had to deal with, just as Selina pointed out. I find it rather strange that such behaviors are duplicated in two different species on two completely different planets separated by such a vast distance. It tends to boggle the mind when you really begin to consider it.”
“I’m sure of that,” Harry agreed. “It rivals finding out without a doubt that humanity really isn’t alone in the universe.”
“Yes, Harry,” Hannibal stated. “That is so true. It does boggle the mind when you consider the possibilities.”
They sat silently for a couple of minutes as they finished their breakfast, and then cleaned the dishes. “Just out of curiosity, did you two scout for the road while we were out?” Hannibal asked of Harry and Nathanael.
“Yes, we did,” Harry answered. “But we didn’t have much success in locating it. Maybe we didn’t search a wide enough area.”
“How wide an area did you search?” Hannibal asked as Selina went into the tent to change into her fatigues.
“We searched a quarter of a mile radius around the hangar here,” Nathanael informed as he and Harry packed up the dishes. “We didn’t see anything even vaguely resembling a road beyond the obvious road leading away from the airfield. Maybe we didn’t look close enough.”
“A possibility,” Hannibal replied. “When you search for the road, keep in mind that it may be overgrown or covered up. It may be as large as a four-lane highway or as small as a deer trail. Keep that in mind when you look. Look for anything that seems to be out of the ordinary or seems not to belong. The map shows the road in this general vicinity. It doesn’t show exactly where it is. It’s much like a map of a state or region with roads marked on it, so just remember that when we search.”
“I’ll have to keep that in mind when we look,” Nathanael said. “It helps to have some idea of what to look for. Do you have any suggestions on which direction to concentrate our search?”
“West mainly; like I said, its exact whereabouts isn’t known,” Hannibal said, rising from his chair. “But never fear. We’ll find it.” At that, he went into his tent to change, passing Selina as she came out. Within a couple of minutes, everyone once again sat around the dying fire, dressed and ready to go to work.
“So, what’s the plan, Hannibal?” Harry asked as they stood around, arming themselves with knives and pistols.
“Reconnaissance, Harry,” Hannibal answered. “There’s a town about five miles away. We need to go and scope out the place to see if there is any danger to our operation. I suspect whoever stashed those weapons in the bunker may have a headquarters there. We must find out if they pose an active threat to us.” He then turned to Selina and Nathanael, saying, “I want you two to search for the road and be careful that you’re not seen. We know nothing about the people of this area, so we don’t want any incidents.”
“We’ll be ghosts in the woods. No one will see us,” Nathanael reassured. “How shall we know about your whereabouts?”
“We’ll keep in contact with our communicators,” Hannibal said. “Besides, Selina and I are permanently linked now. It’ll be interesting to see how the link works when we’re separated by some distance. When we find out anything, we’ll call. Under no circumstances are you or Selina to come looking for us without either one of us calling or coming to get you. We must be careful in dealing with the locals. We don’t know what the political environment is like around here.”
“All right,” Nathanael replied. “We’ll await your return and keep the base camp secure.”
“Very good,” Hannibal answered. “Oh, one more thing; check to see if Dan has removed the treasure yet. If he hasn’t, get him on it. If he has, get him to bring me a small bag of the doubloons and gems to barter with. But the rest of that treasure needs to be out of play. It definitely has a diabolical purpose. Let’s see if we can’t throw another monkey wrench in their plans.”
Hannibal disarmed the security perimeter and then mounted one of the ATVs, which had a small pack tied to it. Harry did likewise as Nathanael said, “We’ll do that. And we’ll wire the whole place to keep those weapons from being used. I’ll be sure to plant some extra explosives around the spider’s nest too. Those things need to be vaporized.”
“Good idea,” Harry said. “Just be careful how you handle the explosives. Certain types can be extremely sensitive.”
“We’ll be careful,” Nathanael reassured Harry.
“We’ll be in touch,” Hannibal said as he started the ATV. “And remember, keep your head down and try not to be seen.”
“Will do,” Nathanael said as Selina walked over to Hannibal, kissing him.
“Now don’t get yourself into any trouble, all right?” Selina warned.
“You know me,” Hannibal returned with a smile. “I’ll be careful.”
“Yes, I know you,” Selina said. “That’s why I said it. Come back to me in one piece.”
“Sure thing,” Hannibal said as he put the ATV in gear. “I don’t plan on getting into any trouble.”
“Get going,” Selina ordered. “I’ll see you tonight.”
Hannibal smiled and drove out the main hangar door with Harry following close behind him. Not if I see you first, Hannibal thought.
Ha, ha...there’s that weird sense of humor again, Selina responded telepathically as they drove away.