A story of the past
He was toward the back of the camp when there was a flash of light accompanied with an explosion. Something came at him. He only saw it from the lamp light reflecting off it and raised a column of earth to intercept it.
It thudded against it with enough strength to embedded itself in.
He walked around to see what kind of projectile it had been. It was a large cooking pot. It was dented and scuffed in place. He looked at the tent, he could see lights in it, hear people talking, he sensed five of them, one of whom was heading for the tent’s flap.
She was human, shoulder length blond hair, although it was wild around her head at the moment. She wore a lab coat over a bright red shirt and yellow pants. The coat had holes in it in places and burned spots.
Like he did with every human he met, he classified her. She fell squarely in the ‘not having sex with her’ category. He couldn’t tell if it was her crazy color sense, or the slightly mad look in her eyes, but he was going to stay as far from her bed as he could.
“Good, good,” she said, sounding like she was a gun instructor approving of a good shot placement. She stopped in front of him, but her eyes were fixed on the pot. “Nice thing you did there. I don’t have to chase this thing to the other end of this place this time around.” She grabbed the handles and with a grunt pulled it out, stumbling back a few steps. “No new damage, that’s progress at least.”
Without taking her eyes off the pot she offered her hand to the lynx. “I’m Jenn, you can call me that, or Jenny, or Jennifer. Just don’t call me late for breakfast.” She turned and headed back to the tent before El could shake her hand.
He watched until she was inside the tent, then followed her in.
“Stevenson,” she called, as El entered. “What was that? You almost killed one of the soldiers. You’re lucky there was a hill there to catch the projectile, or you have another black mark on your record.”
The inside was brightly lit, a dozen powerful lamps hung from the ceiling, and each of the six tables had two more on them, among the…. El wasn’t sure what to call what was on the tables. Garbage was the only word that came to him.
Another human, a man this time, Glanced at her. He had short black hair and soot on his face, as well as the lab coat he was wearing over a black shirt with some sort of design on it El couldn’t make out.
“It worked, didn’t it?” He was working on…something. El couldn’t tell what it was, other than it seemed to be composed of the same kind of garbage that was strewed on the table. He could see a dented oxygen bottle, but with the regularization cap removed. There was also a computer screen, a portable radio; not a communication unit, but one to listen to music, and a blender mixed in with far more items he couldn’t identify.
The human, Stevenson, made an adjustment to the blender.
“That’s obvious, but the plans called for it to be a multi directional explosion, not directed. If it had worked the was the plans said, you would have taken out the entire tent.”
The man looked at her. “What plan?”
She pointed to a paper on the table. “That plan.”
Stevenson looked at the paper. “who did this stupid thing?”
“You did. That’s the plan you submitted for the weapon you’re building.”
“No it isn’t. That thing’s all wrong. And I have the plan for this in my head. Why would I bother drawing it? It’s a wasted of paper.”
“You know it’s protocol. Every design has to be submitted to me and approved before being built.”
“Really?” the man seemed surprised by that. He looked at the table, and El noticed that some of the garbage were actually connected to each other, possibly other items the man had built. “Are you sure? Because I don’t think I submitted any plans for these either.”
She sighed. “Stevenson, I keep telling you, you need to submit plans before you build anything. This is the army, not your basement. There are procedures to follow.”
“Because I need to understand what you are building so I can explain it to the brass.”
The man scoffed. “You couldn’t understand what I’m making even with the plans.”
“Are you saying I’m too dumb to understand your work?”
The man took the paper and handed it to her. “There you go, have fun trying to understand it.”
She took it. “See, that wasn’t so hard.” She turned and headed to another table with yet more garbage on it. El looked from on to the other. Hadn’t he just handed her the paper that wasn’t the plan for what he wasn’t making? The man didn’t act like he had pull one over her. He was back to work, using a welder on—was that a sink?
He looked away and around the tent. Two other women and a man, all human, were working on their own things, and showed no signs they had been aware of the discussion between Jennifer and Stevenson.
The women looked to be anywhere between twenty-five and thirty-five, just like Jennifer, one was dark skinned, the other’s skin tone made El think she was from the Mediterranean area, at least when he’d fought in Greece, he’d seen a lot of people with that same tone. Both had a similarly odd color sense, on was dressed in green and copper, the other in black and bronze.
The man was older, and his lab coat pockets had wrenches and screwdrivers in them. He was bent over some sort of…? El had no idea what that could be.