Mr Chan seemed both unfazed and unchanged by this turn of events, and proceeded to provide a running commentary, informing them of Olympia flora, fauna, and culture whilst pointing out interesting things to look at.
One such item was a herd of Daghadasi not too far away and Mr Chan said they would alter course to get a better view. Not too close of course, as the Chimearocs could be a danger to the air-raft, but close enough to get a view of these amazing creatures that few off-worlders ever saw.
As they approached, they noticed some Chimearoc activity far in front of the Daghadasi herd. Dirk swung his binoculars round to see if he could identify what was going on. He saw a small boat of some kind, possibly capsized, as the figure on top of it didn’t seem to be sunbathing or fishing, just holding on. A couple of Chimearocs circled the boat, making occasional diving passes, whether in attack or as a warning, Dirk couldn’t tell.
“Hey, Mr Chan, what’s going on over there” said Dirk, pointing at the boat “is that guy OK ?”.
Mr Chan swung his own binoculars in the direction indicated, and soon had an urgent, whispered conversation with the pilot, before responding to Dirk.
“That would appear to be a capsized Ocean Nomad boat, and the owner is in some danger. He has about 30 minutes before the Daghadasi herd reaches him, and they will roll right over his boat, sinking it and drowning him. I’ve ordered the pilot to go to his aid, I hope you do not mind this action.”
Within five minutes the air-raft was circling the capsized boat, whilst Mr Chan and the pilot discussed their rescue strategy.
Just then, a loud bang echoed through the cabin as something struck the air-raft. Then another,….and another.
“The Chimearocs are attacking us” began the pilot, when he suddenly lurched to one side and the plexiglass windscreen shattered as a Chimearoc beak pierced it. A cry of pain from the pilot, a couple spark flashes from the console and an acrid stench permeated the cabin, while the air-raft started describing a lazy spiral towards the oceans’ surface.
Very quickly, the air-raft had reached the water and began to slowly sink, as it was not water tight. Dirk looked up at the looming mass on the horizon, and so the rescuer becomes the victim he mused, trying to calculate how long the air-raft would remain afloat and how long before the Daghadasi herd would reach their position. He looked over to the water craft and caught the eye of the pilot ? captain ? and held his hands out in a gesture that said ‘sorry, we tried’. In return he thought he could see a shrug of the shoulders, the hands of the Nomad still maintaining a hold on the capsized vessel, as if to say ‘I know, appreciated’. Then again, he could have simply imagined it with the spray and the pitch and roll of the ocean swell.
Dirk then helped the others catalogue and bring out the air-rafts emergency supplies. There was an inflatable life raft, water, some rations, a very pistol and flares, and a compass. Whilst others manhandled the life-raft outside and began the inflation sequence, Dirk tried to fix in his mind the directions – where had they come from and where were they going in relation to the Daghadasi herd ? A double check of the control console confirmed that it could not be used for a location fix, or to determine the direction of travel.
“Mmmmm” thought Dirk “this is a pretty pickle, with the factory ship 350 Km away in one direction, and the starport thousands of klicks in the other, and a Daghadasi herd hundreds of metres and closing, well, if not fast certainly quick enough. We’ll be lucky to get out of this one.”
As the life-raft did not come equipped with paddles or any kind of propulsion, Dirk attacked the bench seating inside the air raft. Once he had loosened two planks of synth-wood and removed any unnecessary accoutrements from them, he passed them down to the life-raft as make shift paddles.
Once they were all on board, they paddled over to the capsized boat.
“ Do you speak Anglic ?” Dirk shouted up at the quizzical face of the ocean nomad.
“A little” came back the reply in a surprisingly high voice.
“Would you care for a lift ?” Continued Dirk “I make no promises, but we shall at least try to get out of the way of these Daghadasi.”
“Yes please.” Came the reply, and with that the ocean nomad scrambled down the side of the upturned boat and, using Dirk’s proffered hand, clambered into the life-raft. As soon as the ocean nomad was settled, two of the team started paddling frantically, trying to get out of the path of the oncoming Daghadasi. Meanwhile, Dirk introduced himself to the woman.
“Hi, I’m Dirk, and these gentlemen and I were supposed to be on a fact finding trip to a factory ship before the Chimearocs invtervened. Are you hurt at all, we have a small med-kit.”
“Pleased to meet you, under the circumstances.” Replied the Ocean Nomad “My name is Selale, and I was scouting for Dagdhasi when my hunterfoil was damaged by a Dagshark. Myself I am fine, just a little damp. Thank you,”
Having made sure the woman needed no further medical attention and following introductions, Dirk returned his attention to the task in hand – trying to avoid the approaching Dagdhasi herd.
After five minutes of frantic paddling, it was clear that they would not escape in time, and to cap it all, the Chimearocs were becoming interested in the bright orange life raft. Settling for the more immediate need, Dirk started to use the small supply of very lights to scare away the diving Chimearocs. “I may live to regret this, I suppose, but if one of those Chimearocs punctures the life raft, then I certainly won’t.” mused Dirk.
Shortly after the third flare went up, a strange vessel hove into view around the flank of the
Daghadasi herd, and making a bee-line towards them. A great cheer went up from the life raft as rescue now seemed assured.