Spoiler: Part Twenty Frank laughed. “You know, all the Smith girls are like that. And wait until you meet their Dad.” Miller gave his friend an annoyed look. “I met Mister Smith. In fact, he took me to lunch.” William Jones climbed the stairs and regarded Miller. “Daniel, right? I can’t place it, but have we met before this trip?” “Yes, sir. In your office. You interviewed me for a job opening.” To say he was ‘interviewed’ was a bit of a stretch. Miller recalled sitting outside Jones’s office for nearly an hour past the appointment time. Once he was shown in, Jones kept him waiting for another five minutes while he was on his video call with a client. Finally, Jones spun around in his chair and said, “Right. Okay, I’ve read your résumé, and I’m sorry to tell you this, but we’re looking for someone with more training and a lot more experience for the position. Good luck. I’ll keep your application on file in case another job comes up.” Yeah, right. On file, as in File Thirteen. Right in the dumpster. “Ah, yes. I remember now,” Jones smiled, and then became more serious. “So, Chrissy, huh?” Miller closed his eyes and shook his head in exasperation. He looked at William, “The heart wants what it wants, sir.” He looked towards the camp. “I know she’s out of my league,” he sighed dejectedly. “Besides, she’ll never notice me as long as Lieutenant Kyle Price is here to save the day.” “You know he’s married, right?” Frank injected. “He has a wife and daughter, and a baby on the way.” Miller blinked twice. “He does? And she knows this?” Frank laughed. “Of course. Susan gave him a sendoff at port. Chris was there.” Miller took a deep breath and let it out. “Price isn’t the type to cheat on his wife. And Miss Smith doesn’t seem like someone who’d go after a married man.” “She’s not,” William declared. He placed a friendly hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “You won’t get anywhere if you stay silent. Tell her how you feel. If she’s not interested, she’ll let you know.” He turned to walk away, stopped, and looked back. “And if she is interested, you’re in more trouble than you can imagine.” Luke perked up, sitting straighter on the rail. Over on the other side of the creek, two of the younger males returned to their camp with what appeared to be two dead squirrels and a large rat-like animal. Luke hopped down and grabbed Miller’s tool bag, looked inside, and removed the remaining tools. He sat those down and stuck his head inside the bag as if to make sure it was empty. He looked at Miller and made some chittering noises. “Hey, don’t do that!” Miller exclaimed, but before he could retrieve the bag, Luke leaped down to the ground and took off around the back of the ship and up over the hill. “What the flip?” Frank exclaimed as the two men looked at each other dumbfounded. They reported the incident to Miss Smith. Just a few short minutes later, Luke returned to the camp, bag in tow. He stopped at the fireside and removed several pieces of fruit to give to his family. He then went to the fallen-tree bridge and crossed over. When he got to the end, he held up a large pear to show the group. Bruce allowed him to approach. Luke dumped the contents of the bag on the ground. It was an assortment of fruit, mainly apples and pears. One of the males tried to take the bag, and a short tug-of-war ensued until Angel grabbed her grandson’s tail and pinched. When he didn’t respond, she gave it a good yank. He yelped in pain and dropped the bag. Luke and Bruce exchanged chitterings and hand gestures for a long minute. Luke looked back at his campsite and then bowed low to the ground. He made more hand gestures and noises at the other males, as if giving them instructions. He grabbed the bag and galloped back across the bridge. He detoured long enough to toss the bag up to Miller and then went to the fire. He picked up a stick and wrapped some of Jack’s vines around the end until he had a good-sized ball. He dipped this into the fire until it caught flame. Holding the flaming stick like a torch, Luke crossed back over the bridge. Bruce’s sons had already built a teepee of wood and kindling. Bruce took the torch and lit his campfire. Satisfied with the result, he picked up the two squirrels, one in each hand as if to weigh them, and gave one to Luke. Sophie attempted to approach Luke, but two of her brothers intervened once again. Another sibling squabble erupted, and Luke sadly retreated to his family, food in hand. Felicia came out and asked if it was okay for the twins to come out and sit at the table to read. They both had book reports due soon. Price and Christina both said it seemed safe enough, but they should stay close to the ship. The kids came out and sat down. Carmella had a towel wrapped around her head; she said she was just getting ready to take a shower when the ship was attacked, so she was glad the water was turned back on. They watched as Luke took his little brother to the creek and showed him how to gut and clean the squirrel. He threw the entrails and the head into the water. “Ew, gross,” Carmella said as she turned away. “Cool,” her brother exclaimed as he watched Luke pull the hide off the body. The pelt just peeled right off and turned inside out, like taking a sock off a foot. “Homework, you two,” their mother ordered. She turned to Christina, “I knew this was a bad idea. Ma’am, if you make contact with anyone, is there any chance I can download their school assignments? It should take less than five minutes.” “Yes, of course,” she replied as she watched Luke skewer the carcass on a sharpened stick. “That shouldn’t be a problem.” Luke wedged another stick so that it stood vertically in the rocks surrounding the fire pit. He used the Y of the branches to support one end of his skewer so he could hold the meat over the fire. It didn’t take long for the aroma to rise up. “That actually smells good,” she commented, “it’s making me hungry.” “There’s still some breakfast hash left,” Mrs. Vasquez told her. “Would you like me to re-heat some for you?” “No, thanks, I’ll get it. I might not be able to cook, but I can nuke leftovers.” She stood up, and Price started to get up, too. “No, sit. Keep an eye on things here, please.” He complied, and she entered the ship.