Emi woke up to the unfortunate sound of retching. She thought it was Barb but it turned out to be a couple of crew who had been out all night and who had been brought back by the Harbor Patrol. She also realized the sun was full up and they were already on their way up the river.
When she tried to move she realized that she was so sore that she wanted to take her turn retching. She sat up all the way and found Barb looking nauseatingly cheerful. With a complete lack of sympathy Barb laughed. Patting her middle she said, “Cast iron stomach.”
Holding back what she really wanted to say she instead asked, “How long have we been under way?”
“About an hour. They had to wait for an unexpected fog to dissipate. Nate ordered us all to let you sleep. And speaking of … you don’t look so good. I don’t remember you drinking much.”
Suddenly concerned she asked, “Is it the arm? Is it warm to the touch?”
“No. Just sore. It tried to get infected but it’s healing now. No redness.”
“You sure? I can …”
“It’s just sore. I think I slept on it a bit last night.”
“Mmm hmmmm. You are one stubborn chica. Don’t let that go and make sure and keep it clean. Rest the arm when you can. But change the bandage if you get sweaty.”
“Si, abuela,” Emi smarted off.
Barb snorted a laugh then added, “These river boat men are just as bad as the others. They don’t like having females on board. Except for visiting the … the head … which is nothing but a bucket behind that screen over there … we are to remain here and quiet so we don’t upset the big babies.”
“Idiotas supersitious,” Emi muttered beneath her breath. “How long until we …”
“Dock?” Nate asked finishing her question for her. He’d been watching her the entire time and as soon as she woke he came to check on her. “Another hour or so depending on the traffic. It has been pretty heavy with people bringing things to market but they are traveling down river rather than up. Here, eat this.” He handed her a piece of banana. “It isn’t much but you aren’t going to want to eat the fish stew the crew had for breakfast.”
Emi shook her head, barely holding back a shudder. She did accept the banana and ate it in small bites while Nate explained how the next couple of hours would run. “We’ll dock and things will get busy. They should be expecting us and after the way the elders reacted we’ll probably be helped with the unloading so they can get reimbursed.” Nate’s voice dripped cynicism. “They’ll expect to dicker but Miguel and I spent the night dividing up the cargo so it should run more smoothly and get us out of there faster than they’ll try to hold us. The other issue will be people are going to have heard about us bringing salvage from a cruise ship. People will be curious if nothing else.”
Emi rolled her eyes and made to stand up but then dropped quickly when a bullet bit the wooden railing beside her. She let out a low, long, mean series of curses in Spanish, English, with some German and Portuguese thrown in for good measure. “I am getting tired of this,” she growled.
After the first bullet a veritable volley of bullets were sent their way and some were returned in kind as well. Nate and Miguel were leading the return volleys but Emi’s blood was up. She had the rifle out and held her fire until she spotted a sniper hanging out ahead of them waiting to catch them in a cross fire. Emi didn’t allow that to happen. One shot and he fell out of the tree into the river. She caught several more just as flatfooted and made them just as dead.
She was taking aim at another one when something large banged into the boat throwing her aim off. “Cabron!” Emi snarled and looked over the side. What she saw made her grin a little wickedly and call over to Nate, “Do you need some new boots?”
“What the?! Emi! Dammit! What are you getting up to?”
“Caimanes demonio. There’s a nest of them over here and I plan on having some fun with those cabrons that disturbed my breakfast.”
Those of the crew that spoke Spanish grew wide-eyed as Emi stirred up the nest of DV infected alligators. Then she proceeded to selectively shoot – injure but not kill – some of the river pirates. It gave her great pleasure to see them realizing just how big a problem they suddenly had on their hands. They kept shooting but it was no longer at the river boats but at the gators that were beginning to swarm them.
The captain of the river boat they were on came out of the bridge to stand beside them. Cheerfully he asked, “Do you mind if we take a few? The hides of the big ones are worth quite a bit.”
Nate looked at Emi who was still grinning and nodded and added, “Will you go ashore? The bandits might have a stash of supplies.”
“Not these. I recognized their insignias. The rumor is they have their headquarters in Denaud.”
Nate looked at him sharply and filed that bit of information away. He sensed that Emi had also heard it but he was thankful she didn’t remark on it. But then he saw her arm. “Dammit woman, you’re bleeding again.”
Emi looked over in surprise and said, “I guess I am.” Right before her knees buckled and she passed out.