Inside the science bay I found Dr. Landry puttering around the lab. “Good morning, Piper. How are you today?”
“I’m well, thanks. And you?”
Dr. Landry gave me a warm laugh and said, “I’m doing well this morning too. I was thinking you could take the day to do some field work. I’m hoping to do some testing on local plants; especially fruits to identify viable food sources.”
“Is there a drone I can take out while the bridge isn’t here?” I asked.
Landry, seeming to be having a very upbeat morning, said, “I think it will be good for you to go out and actually do some real hands-on field work. Bring me back some samples of what you find.”
“Is it safe?” I asked.
“Take one of the guards with you. I think I’ve seen Corporal Mills pacing around here somewhere.”
“Okay, I’ll see what I can do.” I smiled.
I decided to go to our cube and see if Kels knew where Ryan was. However, as I headed back I spotted Ryan eating in the courtyard.
“Ryan… I mean, Corporal Mills,” I called.
“Morning, Piper. How can I help you?”
I explained my assignment and recruited his services in helping me. I needed to grab my shoulder bag from my cube and Ryan needed to tell his reports that he would be out and about for a few hours.
As I made it back to my cube I found Kels still asleep and decided to wake her up by being a bit louder than necessary. She groggily opened an eye.
“Good morning, Kels.”
“Hey, Pipey, what’s up?”
“Want to come on an adventure outside of the camp with me? Landry has me on the hunt for some local food sources.”
Kels always liked an adventure and before she even said a word I could tell by the look in her eyes that she was coming. She hopped out of bed and got dressed in about two seconds.
“Grab your water bottle,” she said. This was a good idea.
We zipped down to the ground and made our way over to the courtyard for some coffee and to fill our water bottles. I asked one of the kitchen staff in the makeshift eatery for some dried fish to take off-site. He made the allowance without any real questioning.
“Which way are we going?” Kels asked after we had enough supplies.
“I was thinking about heading over that way,” I said. I pointed in a direction that was different from the trail to the beach or the trail back to the old camp. The direction in which I pointed was fairly open with old trees and looked to be safe enough. Kels started to walk in that direction.
“Hold up,” I said.
“We’ve got to wait for Ryan.”
“You didn’t tell me he was coming,” Kels said with attitude.
“You didn’t ask,” I replied. We chatted like this for another few minutes before Ryan showed up.
We walked out of the camp and basked in the morning sunlight. The sounds of nature were around us; I heard some chirping of what must have been some type of bird. We climbed up a small ridge and noticed that it had a steep gradient going down the other side, leading to a creek.
“Check this out,” Kels yelled as she worked her way down the embankment.
Ryan was fast to catch up and I followed both of them.
Kels had taken her shoes off and had her toes in the water before I even made it all the way down the embankment.
“Piper, the water is so nice,” Kels announced. She looked at Ryan and asked, “Can we go swimming?” Ryan took a minute to survey the perimeter, and then looked intensely through the clear water.
“I could go for a swim,” he agreed. He started to take off some of his gear and stage it strategically on the bank next to the creek. Before long he was in his skivvies jumping in a large pool of water. “The water’s nice,” he said as he flopped on his back and started squirting water into the air through his teeth.
Kels was in the water before I could protest. I looked off near the far side of the creek and noticed a small bushy plant with red berries on it. Success. I started to work on getting some samples off the plant and into containers. I wore gloves and snipped some leaves, bark, roots, and finally some of the berries. As I was securing them in my bag I turned back to notice Ryan pushing a lock of Kels’ wet hair behind her ear as she splashed him; they giggled as she dove underwater.
I walked over to the pool’s edge and announced my success. I was then given a great deal of pressure to jump in the water and cool off, but I resisted and said we could come back on another day. I really did want to get these samples back to Dr. Landry for analysis. I mean, if we found some local food sources it would really help our chances of expanding our limited diet.
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