Chapter 6

Submerged and heading south the Acme's crew was looking forward to Fred's plan of a tropical vacation. Dreams of warm sunny breezy days on a tropical island in the middle of the nowhere filled the minds of the tired crew. No one wanted to stay submerged for the next five days. Everyone wanted off the ship to stretch their legs and breathe in fresh air.

Don sat at the navigator's station listening to the sonar as they glided gently through the water. He ears perked up as he heard the strangest sound. It was most odd, like a harsh blast from the back of a nightmare. A blood curdling sound not known of any species.

"Fred, listen to this," stated Don.

The commander's face contorted in confusion, "What is that?"

"I have no idea," admitted Don. "Not whale or any marine animals."

"Can you get a lock?" asked Fred.

Don asked, "You wanna follow it?"

"Got find out what it is, Don."

Don muttered, "I really don't think that's a good idea. Some things we were never meant to know."

"Got a better idea?" asked Fred.

"Yes," the second in command replied. "We got to a tropical island and forget we ever heard this thing."

"Don," stated Fred. "Come on? Where is your sense of adventure?"

Don admitted, "Left that in World War One."

"What a stick in the mud," complained Fred. "Frank, plot a course to follow that noise."

"Yes sir," Frank replied. Then he spook candidly to his co-pilot Bobby, "I kind of liked the tropical island idea better."

"Me too," Bobby agreed.

Meanwhile

The three flyers returned to base. Young Fred Jackson emerged from his plane with fist ready to pound Graham Roberts into the earth for the fiasco of a fight against the German nemesis.

As Jackie got out of her plane she turned around to spot a fist coming right towards her head, making contact with her cheek and throwing her off balance. Never in her life did she ever expect her father to hit her. He never raised his hand to her and would pound any man who tried.

But right now she wasn't his daughter; she was a stranger named "Graham Roberts." Her decisions as the group commander sparked Fred into as fury and the fight soon engulfed them. She had to fight back. She was now forced to fight her father.

She swung back and hit him square in the jaw. Fred took a few steps back, shaking his head in surprise. She hit him hard, much harder than he anticipated. She took a defensive stance before Fred.

"Okay, hot-shot," she hollered. "You wanna fight me? I'll show you how to fight. You swing like a girl," she teased him. She was angry yet at the same time she was determined to teach him how to fight.

He scurried to his feet as the men all started to gather around. Fred swung again for her head. She ducked, grabbed his arm, twisted it behind his back and then forced his face into the fuselage of the plane. He stumbled back and held bleeding nose. Fred looked at the blood dripping onto his hand. He glared at her and came at her again with another swing to the head.

She raised her foot and kicked him the gut. He wrenched over in pain and fell backwards, reeling on the ground from the lame attempt to take on "Graham Roberts." Jackie stood before him and lost her will to fight him anymore. She wanted to cry deep down inside but she could never do that before the men of the legion.

She kept her voice calm, "Fred, if you ever hit me again...You will regret it."

Daniel and Percy had just witnessed the event and both stood shocked as they looked upon a young version of their commander. Daniel knew she was right, that Fred would indeed regret it but not physically but rather emotionally.

As Jackie turned to walk away Daniel called, "Jackie."

She stopped dead in her tracks and turned around slowly. Her eyes settled on Daniel standing next to Percy and Sam. She couldn't believe her eyes. It was a miracle.

"Daniel?" she asked.

He nodded.

"How?" she wondered as she stood shaking before him.

Sam explained, "Griff followed our path. We leave in five days."

"You followed us back?" she gasped.

Daniel assured her, "We did. Your father took the gang down south and sent me and Percy to find you two."

She didn't care how they arrived but was relieved to find them. Jackie wasn't sure if she could ever get back home or if Sam would even be able to fix the duck. She wrapped her arms around him and just stood in his embrace.

"It's okay," he assured her.

Andre looked on and his eyes settled on Daniel. He became rather distraught for now Jackie's lover was in the camp and he had no chance of ever winning the heart of the pilot. Yet, at the same time he could see why Jackie was attracted to him for Daniel was very handsome.

Sam caught the look and then realized her grandmother was in the most awkward situation. Her grandmother's husband had come to rescue her but Jackie's disguise as a man had gained her the affection of a gay man. Sam's heart went out to Andre for he no idea that "Graham Roberts" was deceiving him. She took a deep breath and debated what course of action she should take.

Meanwhile

The Acme was diving deeper in pursuit of a strange craft deep under the ocean's surface. The unidentified vessel was like nothing they had even come across before. Gaining a visual view of the craft revealed it to be long, like a cigar and round. Down the sides of the vessel a glowing neon-green light gave off the most eerie presence.

Looking at the vessel Fred couldn't help but ask, "What the hell is that?"

The crew was at a lost. No one could make any sense out of the strange sight.

Bobby observed, "It's not an animal."

Frank guessed, "Some sort of ship?"

Fred asked Don, "What are the sensors picking up?"

Don replied in surprise, "It's got organic compounds as well at artificial. Don't know what to make of it. It's heading for a trench. I think it's trying to lose us."

"Can we open a communications channel?" asked Fred.

"I've been hailing it," stated Don. "It won't reply."

"What the hell?" asked Fred. "Why is it running from us?"

No one had an answer. No one even knew what they were perusing or why they were perusing it. Perhaps it was best to break off the chase?

"Should we follow it into the trench?" asked Don.

"How deep are we?" asked Fred.

"Two miles down," stated Don. "The trench is even deeper."

"How far can this bucket of bolts dive?" the commander wondered.

"Don't know," stated Don, "Never tested that. But two miles is pretty deep. The pressures on the haul are enormous."

Fred debated if he should push the Acme further. If the haul failed then everyone would be lost. It was one thing to risk his own life but to risk the entire crew in pursuit of a strange object that was not threatening seemed irrational.

"No," Fred halted the chase. "Break off and let's start heading south again."

"Yes sir," agreed Don.

Later

Later that evening Sam knocked on Andre's door. She stood nervously as she wondered if she was doing the right thing. The door opened and Andre stood before her shirtless. Even Sam had a difficult time keeping her eyes of the well-defined chest of the man.

"Yes?" asked he.

Sam took a breath, "Can we talk?"

"Certainly," he assured her.

"Privately?" asked Sam.

He stepped aside and motion for her to enter his private quarters. Being an instructor gave the man extra privileges such as a private room. That same privilege was extended to Jackie and Sam who opted to share their room in war torn France.

She stepped inside. The room was sparsely furnished, a cot, a footlocker and small table. A small dresser against the far wall with a mirror and wash bowl.

He closed the door, wondering why Sam was asking to speak to him. To Andre, Sam was very young and seemed rather naive. He hoped that Sam wasn't confused about sexuality and mistakenly attracted to him. Sam's brother, Graham, though seemed rather young, was obviously the elder and in charge of the pair. He wondered if Graham's sexuality was influencing Sam negatively. He certainly hoped not for in his opinion homosexuality was curse that he was born with. He viewed the attraction as more of birth defect rather than a lifestyle. Andre understood it wasn't a choice and hoped Graham had not influenced his younger brother in a harmful way.

"You wanted to talk?" he asked.

"I need to tell you something," replied Sam.

He gulped fearing it was a confession of love from a confused young man, "I'm listening."

"It's about Gram," she stated. "I need to talk to you about Gram."

Somewhat relived he exhaled, "What about him?"

She held her hands together and looked down in thought and then with a tear in her eye she gazed upon the man in confession, "Gram is not what you think. And neither am I. We're not brothers."

"Graham has two lovers?" he asked dumfounded. "How does that work with Daniel?"

Her mouth dropped and her eyes grew wide, "No! Gram and I are related. We're not brothers." She tried to figure out how explain that her grandmother was ninety-three years old without sounding strange. "We're," she reached for an excuse, "Um...Sisters, not brothers. We're both women and we are both pilots and I thought you should know because I hate seeing you attracted to someone that you could never have."

He stood looking upon her. Sisters? Not brothers? Sisters? He debated the information silently in his mind. His expression turned from shock to curiosity.

"Why would you two do this?" asked he.

"We needed the money," she explained. "They wouldn't have hired us as pilots if they knew the truth." She searched for his compassion, "I know that many men like you would not be welcome in the military in America and they have to hide that fact or risk a dishonorable discharge or worse. It's safer for us this way."

"Safer?" asked Andre. "You two are by far the most trouble I have ever met."

Sam winced, "It's Gram who is the troublemaker."

"I see that," agreed Andre. "So your names are?"

"I'm Samantha Roberts and my...Sister...Is Jacqueline Roberts."

Andre puckered in thought, and then held out his hand, "Nice to meet you Samantha Roberts. Two women in my squad? Both excellent fighter pilots. You know that your...Sister...Took on the Red Devil today and lived to tell about it. Not many pilots can say that."

"I know," was Sam would say. She couldn't reveal more information.

Andre slowly gave a nod, "I suppose you two will do. I assume you wish to keep this a secret?"

"Would you?" asked Sam.

"I will," he agreed. "Daniel? He doesn't mind Graham...Jackie...Flying?"

Sam winced, "I'm sure he hates it but knows how stubborn and pigheaded she is."

"Stubborn and pigheaded?" laughed Andre, "That makes a poor solider but a great Ace."

"It's hereditary," she added.

Later

Jackie approached her mother and asked if she could go with her to meet Kara's mother in town. Kara made a weekly trip to town to bring food and supplies to her elderly mother. Jackie saw an opportunity to spend some time with Kara and perhaps get some answers to questions about her grandfather.

She accompanied her birthmother on the latest trip.

"This where you grew up?" asked Jackie looking over the quaint village.

Kara grinned, "Yes it is. It's not fancy but it's welcoming."

Jackie agreed, "It's very nice. What about your father? What do you know about him?"

Kara shrugged, "I don't know him. I never knew him."

Jackie cautiously asked, "Did you ever have a dream where you were floating above your bed?"

She nodded, "Once in a while. It's normal…Is it not?"

Jackie shook her head, "Not really. What do you remember about the dreams?"

"I'm floating about my bed as a child," she recalled. "I remember a bright light in the dream…Like the moon. Have you had dreams like that?"

Jackie admitted, "Yes I have."

"I wonder if you are part of my dream?" she asked Jackie. "You seem so familiar to me at times."

"I think you and I share a special bond," assured Jackie.

"I believe we do," agreed Kara. "I do have a request."

"What is it?" she asked.

"Please, be careful not to hurt Andre. He's attracted to you. Andre is a good man. I have known him a long time."

She assured, "I will do everything in my power to keep him safe and not hurt him. I know he likes me. He has a crush on me. It's just a crush and nothing more."

"Andre adores you," she informed.

"I adore him too," she confided. "But I'm not in love with him."

"You love Daniel," she suggested. "It's in your eyes when you look at him. How does your brother, Sam feel about all this? You are in an awkward situation."

"More awkward than you know," muttered Jackie.

They walked into the small cottage with bags in hand. Kara's elderly mother sat in a rocking chair, knitting in the corner of the living room. Kara placed the bags down on the table.

"Mama, I brought you supplies," she called.

Her old mother looked up from her work, "That's not Andre."

"No, this is Graham," stated Kara. He wanted to meet you. He's a top pilot in the legion."

"Nah," the woman spouted, "big deal."

Jackie knelt next to the old woman and looked upon her wrinkled face and gently spoke, "I'm very pleased to meet you. Kara is a good friend of mine."

"Nah," the old woman shook her head unenthused.

Jackie took a deep breath and perused the question, "Kara and I both have dreams about floating above our beds. Do you ever have that dream?"

The old woman stopped rocking and stared at Jackie, her eyes piercing through, "You have the dreams too?"

Jackie went one step further, "I met him, Gideon. What's your name?"

"Iris," she told her. "You met him?"

Jackie nodded, "Apparently he's my grandfather…Or so he claims. I'm not sure yet."

"Then he is your grandfather," replied Iris.

Kara asked, "What are you two talking about?"

Her mother retorted, "Mind your business."

Meanwhile

Young Fred Jackson approached Daniel Garrett as the man worked in the hangar cleaning. Since Daniel didn't sign up to fly he was reduced to doing chores about the camp.

Fred looked about, "You've seen where Graham went?"

Daniel gazed up from his work, "With Kara into town…Wanted to help deliver food to Kara's mother."

"Say when he will be back?" asked Fred.

Daniel shrugged, "Don't know. Why?"

"I was gonna have him show me some more moves," the teenager admitted. "You know…How to fight like he can."

"Ah," Daniel offered, "I can show you some of it."

"You know how to fight like Graham does?" he asked.

Daniel gestured, "I know a few moves. Graham's father taught him how to fight and I picked up some of it."

"Show me," stated Fred.

Daniel stood before Fred and gazed upon the young face. He still couldn't believe this was the man who threatened to kill him and bury his body in the backyard a number of times. He seemed so young and thin. Daniel held is hands up before the man, palm open.

"Hit my hand," he told him.

Fred slapped the hand unsure just what to do.

"No, make a fist and hit my hand," instructed Daniel.

Fred threw a haphazard punch and Daniel caught his fist in the palm of his hand, and then wrenched the arm around, spinning Fred and placing him in a hold.

"Okay, you made your point," whined Fred.

Daniel released him and spun him back around, "Now put your hands up like I did."

Fred complied. Daniel moved slowly, his fist gently touched the palm of Fred's hand and he kept in place.

"Now close your hand around my fist and then use your other hand to grab my forearm. Then take your foot and place it behind mine, step sideways and then push against my shoulder to pivot me."

Step by step Fred did as Daniel instructed and found himself standing behind Daniel with Daniel's arms wrenched behind his back. Fred stood astonished by the ease of the move.

"That's easy," he told him.

"They key is speed," instructed Daniel. "Keep practicing that move until you can do it in a split second."

Fred released the grip and grinned, "Okay. Hey…Thanks, Mr. Garrett. You're really pretty neat."

"You mean you think I'm 'cool,'" laughed Daniel.

Fred didn't understand what was so funny, "Sure ya are, Mr. Garrett."

Daniel could help but ask, "Who is cooler? Me or Graham?"

Fred debated in a thought, "I think you both are. Though Andre is the coolest."

Daniel peeved asked, "Just between me and Graham who is cooler in your most honest opinion?"

"I don't know," shrugged Fred.

Daniel tried one more attempt to get Fred true opinion, "My real job is a history teacher. You think that's a boring job? That I'm a boring history teacher?"

Fred shook his head, "You're not boring. History kind of is though."

Daniel gleamed, "So, I'm pretty cool and not a boring history teacher."

"Yeah, why?" asked Fred.

Daniel shook his finger at the boy, "I'm holding you to that, Fred."

"What?" he asked confused.

"Nothing," replied Daniel.