Before daylight the bus left the compound. The Finding and the Team sped along. Samantha had spent a restless night, and drowsy as she was the flash of light flickering through the pines was beautiful at sunrise and made her forget her lack of sleep. They arrived at the Bayou Cane area and the Recon was off and running. No time was wasted and an organized Recon moved out.
The rest of the Finding wait anxiously and finally almost an hour, that seemed like five, they run back in. Bob and Jesse run over to a few of the Recon. Time is of the essence. They are given a few pictures and a crudely drawn map. The map indicates a large pond close to the residence about thirty or forty yards left of the rear corner. To the left in front of the residence is a barn located close to Cane Bayou. As deer, two of the Recon were able to move to the far side of the pond and drink water while surveying the surroundings. As they turned and went into the heavy brush, one changed back then low crawled, staying in the tall grass. At the edge of the pond, he took surveillance pictures of the pond, residence, barn, and several large tracks leading down to the pond. After sending the reconnaissance photos, one recon continued to watch the pond for any activity, but there was none. He dared not go any further lest he be detected so he turned and went back.
Studying the pictures, Bob believes he sees a Bibibia track, a giant bird from his former world. He asks, “How long did you observe the pond?”
“No longer than five minutes.”
“And you saw nothing… no movement, alligators, nothing?” inquires Bob.
“Well, minnows and a couple of swirls… A few gars probably.”
A worried look spreads over Bob’s face, and Jesse notices, “What is it?”
“Draakar can stay under water about five minutes… If they want to remain concealed, they can come to the surface, and unless you are looking right at them, you won’t see anything, but...”
Jesse asks, “Except the slight swirl when they go down?”
Bob nods, “You got it.” Bob looks worried and questions the intel. “Could be gars.”
“Could be… but you got a hunch?” adds Jesse
Jesse takes out his phone and hands it to Bob. “Tell them.”
“Good idea.” Bob dials quickly, “Officer Jones, it’s Bob. Listen, this pond may have Draakar in it… I know nothing was seen, but if they know we’re here, they’d keep hidden. Swirls on the surface were seen by Recon.”
Jesse interrupts, “Tell him to hold some men back.” Bob stares at the phone: pauses for a moment. Recon looks at them. Jesse repeats, “Tell him to hold some men back. Give the Draakar a chance to surface then catch them in between.”
Bob back on the phone, “Did you hear? Better safe than sorry… Okay… Bayou is just up ahead…”
Recon urge them on and Jesse and Bob take off with the three Recon behind carrying nets.
Arriving at the Bayou, they use the underbrush as cover to get in position. Bob and Jesse go through the change and enter the water as Draakar carrying the nets. They traveled the heavily wooded portion fifty yards from the residence, and hopefully will set up the nets unseen, travel in front of the residence, and go not far past the barn. Some of the Finding are stationed across the bayou waiting. Bob and Jesse finish their assignment then crawl slightly up out of the bayou to change back. Jesse calls Officer Jones. “It’s a go.”
The only part of the plan Samantha and Pamela were happy about was when after the nets were set, Jesse and Bob were to swim off down Canes Bayou out of harm’s way. Both Samantha and Pamela sigh and breathe a breath of relief upon the ‘It’s a go’ news.
Jesse asks, “Bob, you ready?” Bob is fixated on the barn and doesn’t budge. Jesse remembers Samantha saying ‘Don’t do anything stupid.’ Jesse has a bad feeling in his gut and asks again, “Bob, you ready?”
Bob looks at Jesse, “No, not just yet.” His eyes are still trained on the barn. “I think there are Bibibia in there.”
“What do you want to do?” asks Jesse.
Bob says, “What do you say, we go see?”
“Let’s go, but let’s not tell Samantha and Pamela,” Jesse laugh.
Bob nods, and they are up and running toward the barn.
The Finding approach the residence and notice nothing as they pass the pond, but unknown to them, scattered within the pond are the Draakar lying in wait. Intermittenly a Draakar’s head will appear, go down, and then another comes up, but as Jesse suggested, some Finding have silently come up behind them and quickly surround the back of the pond while some in front turn back, run and surround the front of the pond. A few Draakar exit the pond and try to run. Those that won’t stop are killed as others rush back to the safety of the pond. The rest of the Finding attack and surround the residence. Gunfire rings out simultaneously from the woods and the pond.
Amid the gunfire, Bob and Jesse race to reach the barn. The windows are clouded over, and visibility inside is impossible. Suddenly gunshots are heard inside, and Bob and Jesse throw caution to the wind. They run to the two gigantic double doors and attempt to open them, but they won’t budge. More gunshots are heard, and Bob and Jesse begin banging on the two doors screaming. Suddenly the two gigantic doors fly open. Bob is hit with one of the doors, and Jesse is barely missed. Jesse starts to go to Bob who was knocked to the ground. A loud almost deafening screech is heard as a giant Bibibia hops out through the door brushing up against Jesse sending him flying flat on his back. He looks at the Bibibia as it spreads its wings and with one more leap up becomes airborne.
Bob is up on his feet, checks on Jesse, who looks up at him and says, “Bibibia?”
Bob nods, with a foreign glaze in his eyes and says, “Bibibia.” He is shocked but comes back to reality. Victor Daulton, if that was him and Bob is sure it was, is escaping. Bob pulls Jesse to his feet and asks, “You, okay?”
Jesse nods, “I’m fine.”
Overhead a pitiful cry is heard, a mixture of pain and agony. It’s undoubtedly a Bibibia.
Bob runs in, “I’ve got to catch him.”
Jesse follows Bob inside the barn. One Bibibia is hurt, and another one is dying. The remaining Bibibia group together in a corral roped off in the back of the barn. Bob gets one and hops on. Jesse has the feeling he has done this before.
“The son of a bitch was going to kill them.” Bob and the Bibibia are out the door and airborne in an instance.
Jesse notices one Bibibia wearing a strange sort of bridle. He runs cautiously toward it asking himself, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ He sees a dead Draakar lying on the floor, no doubt shot by Victor Daulton. ‘Victor is a cold son of a bitch.’ The Bibibia must have tried to run when Victor fired his gun, but he missed this one. Jesse jumps on the Bibibia hoping not to be bucked off; he isn’t. Jesse looks at the open door and says, “What the Hell.” In an instant he’s holding on for dear life as he also is airborne. Off in the distance, Jesse sees a speck in the sky and hopes it’s Bob. Jesse senses his Bibibia sees them too and is trying to catch them. ‘Could be wishful thinking!’ he thinks. They climb up and level off. He clutches the reins so tightly it would be impossible to pry his hands from them. Right now, his main concern is holding on. He doesn’t even like to fly and has no illusion about who is actually in control. The Bibibia has chosen the speed and altitude. It’s staying just under the clouds, keeping the others in sight, but at a rate of speed so fast, he must be trying to catch the others.
Up ahead Bob thinks quickly, ‘What to do next?’ He remembers flying over the Crystal Sea while playing the game of Gadage on his former planet. But he was so young then, and he played even less as an adult. Still, it felt good to fly again. ‘How can I stop Victor?’ Suddenly he remembers a special maneuver from Gadage. ‘If I fly up and hide in the clouds then dive quickly down, I could knock Victor off his Bibibia. Of course, I could knock myself off too. If, I do it over water, and we fall, then there’s a chance we could survive. If it happens over land then we’ve no chance at all, but water gives Victor more of an opportunity to escape. As he makes his final plan, Bob wonders what’s happened to Jesse. ‘I hope he’s alright.”
Officer Jones and the Finding have captured the Draakar who made it to Cane Bayou. It seems Jesse and Bob’s nets worked, and there were no casualties. As a matter of fact, Officer Jones is perplexed about how easily they surrendered. The Draakar were more than willing, and Officer Jones and Monroe get the feeling the Draakars’ loyalty to Victor Daulton is all but non-existent. When the realization hit them that they were not in danger, their fear subsided. In fact, they became almost as happy as if they had escaped. However, the remaining Draakar in the pond couldn’t be more different. These are the elite Draakar with a ‘fight until death’ code. They already injured three Finding, and five Draakar were killed as they attacked from the pond’s edge.
The pond is now surrounded by the Finding, and there is no way out for the Draakar. Officer Jones is hopeful they will see the light, and attempts again to get them to surrender. He calls out to them, “You will not be harmed. Please come out of the water. Step out, turn your back, and change to human form. You have nothing to fear.”
The ensuing silence is broken as a flock of ducks fly over. Dusk will be upon them soon, and Officer Jones wants all the Draakar in custody before nightfall. Minutes pass while the Finding look on, ever watchful. Suddenly heads of Draakar rise up out of the water and peer out around them, surveying the situation. Are they making their first move in a group surrender, or are they sizing up the opposition for a group attack?
Monroe is with a few Finding and the captured Draakar. He calls Officer Jones on the phone for an update, “Any luck? We need them out of that pond before nightfall.”
Officer Jones answers, “We’re trying. I’ve asked them again to surrender.”
“Staring at Who?”
“All of them?”
“God, I hope so.” Officer Jones is preoccupied, watching for any sudden movements and says, “Remember that movie, Creature of the Black Lagoon?”
Monroe answers, “Yea, I liked that movie.”
“I did too, but I don’t think I’ll ever see it in the same way again,” says Officer Jones as he looks at Draakar moving up and down. He thinks, ‘Are they moving to different places coming up? How many of them are there? They’ve been impossible to count. Do they have access to an underwater cave, maybe with access to the outside? Are they waiting for nightfall to escape?’ Jones knows things can get rough, but right now he feels he is in a horror movie. He asks Monroe, “How fast until more Finding arrive? We can’t get an accurate count. There may be twenty-five of them, or there could be seventy-five. If they rush us, we could be overwhelmed.”
“Fifty Finding should be here in Ten, and drones are in the area.”
Officer Jones is reluctant to use such a measure, “We gonna do that?”
Monroe responds, “We’ve got no choice… It’s their choice.”
“Do Samantha and Pamela know yet about Bob and Jesse?” asks Officer Jones.
“No… Not yet.”
“I am… but I’ll tell them.”
“Jesse has never even seen that giant bird.”
“I know, I know,” says Monroe dreading the task.
Further off in the sky heading mostly south, Bob has decided to climb higher and higher into the clouds. Jesse has gained on Bob, and now Bob and the Bibibia are more than just a speck. Jesse looks up ahead below the clouds and sees another Bibibia with a rider who happens to be a Draakar. That must be Victor. Bob may also have changed into a Draakar, but he’s still too far away and up too high. Jesse can’t tell. When Jesse looks at both of his hands gripping the bridle, the term ‘Hanging on for dear life,’ comes to mind. ‘I’d better not attempt a change now,’ he thinks. Up ahead, Bob streaks down out of a cloud, and Jesse’s Bibibia rises up. ‘Is he following Bob, or most likely the Bibibia Bob is riding, and gaining altitude for a dive also? After all the Bibibia are a team, but Bob and Jesse are a team as well. Jesse clutches the bridle even tighter, if that’s possible. The red gleam of the sunset is blinking in and out of the clouds. Briefly Jesse turns his head to the west, admiring the beauty of the sunset. He smiles when he thinks of John Wayne saving the day and riding off into the sunset. Jesse is hoping for his own happy ending.