Protection and Preservation, Book 10
Chapter 6

The night passed quietly and the sun woke us to another day. David helped prepare breakfast while I checked our guards and verified that the night had, in fact, been quiet.

Everyone checked in having gone undisturbed all evening. We gathered for breakfast. Shortly after we finished cleaning up, Shan and a number of his people showed up. Three men and a woman with him wanted to talk about radios. Shan wanted to talk to David and I shoehorned my way into the conversation. Shan wasn't totally happy about that. I had noticed that the current oriental culture wasn't very far into women's lib.

We talked for a while and then Shan suddenly said, "David, I would like to talk to you seriously. Surely your wife has other duties."

David responded because he knew that my anger meter had hit the red zone with the needle about to break. "Shan, Bobbi is at least as much a leader of this group as I am. She started this idea with SJ and Jacob, her sister and brother in-law. I was a late addition and Bobbi was gracious enough to give me partial leadership. This morning, I was helping prepare breakfast while she made the rounds of our sentries to check for any issues. She is no figurehead. If anything, I was added to be a figurehead. I think I will leave now for some other duties like making up our bedding." He gave me a kiss, nodded at a shocked Shan, and left.

I put a serene look on my face and said, "Shan, what serious matters do you have to discuss with one of this expedition's leaders?"

He responded with, "I, uh, I thought David was your real leader."

"He is one of them. I asked him to join me since he had been involved in much of the planning. He is almost as good a pilot as I am though not as good with weapons. My family has been involved in leadership, the men and the women, since the Day. It's time to talk. What's on your mind?"

He gulped and then said, "We don't have women in leadership positions. Some are mated but many are available for sex. The ones dressed the most sexy are the most willing. You, uh, are dressed in an arousing manner. Are you made available to others?"

I said, "I have been disappointed in your society's attitude regarding women. I dress to arouse my husband and to make strangers' attention stray. Some men are foolish enough to try to make advances. My husband is more than adequate and has nothing to prove to anyone. I respect him and so does our community. His thoughts have always been highly valued. He hasn't an ego so has nothing to prove. He does have a keen sense of humor. That's part of the reason he left you with me."

Shan looked a little shocked. I continued. "I am not 'available' to anyone but him."

He was quiet. I decided to dig in the spur. "Alliances with our communities must be based upon equality of the communities and of the sexes. It appears that there can be no long term alliance with your people. We will leave you to work out your future but I think it is doubtful that we will be part of it."

Shan didn't like that. "We can take what we want."

He might have said more but I wasn't going to listen. "All peoples, set up for defense, right now! Duck emergency crew, man your positions. Mallard, go to lock down. Report." I don't think he knew of our VHF radios. Most of us carried them as a matter of habit until and unless there was a true stand down. There hadn't been one.

David's voice came in my earphones. "Snipers view your perimeters. Everyone in the terminal is ready to go, Bobbi."

"Duck is ready in all respects. Rear gate is open."

"Mallard is ready. Rear gate is open and guarded."

Duck's commander, SJ, came on a bit embarrassed. "Duck's gate is guarded, too."

I looked at Shan. "You can try taking. You won't be successful. Even if you are, you will find nothing usable left."

His face reddened. He drew his pistol. "You can die."

"That is true. You might outlive me by seconds." I keyed the mike. "Shan, I will not be taken. If you shoot or even move that pistol, you will die."

He pulled the trigger and shot me in the side. I fell holding my wound. He was hit by three bullets and was dead before his body hit the ground. That was the signal for weapons to let loose. People in the terminal were running to Duck and Mallard. If our people weren't in the line of fire, Duck was firing. I could see that much from my position on the ground.

Suddenly, David was at my side with Myra and Tom. Both planes had cranked their engines and the last people were boarding. Over my earphone, I heard, "Mallard is taxiing." I saw it moving along a taxi way. Rockets hit both wings and it blew up. Duck's gunners wiped out that position and fired up everything in reach looking for any possible positions. David had me over his shoulder and was running for Duck. Myra and Tom were shooting to provide cover. We made it inside and the gate closed. Duck was now firing up everywhere to suppress any possibility of another rocket attack. We had lost many friends in Mallard. With full tanks, none escaped the explosion and fire.

SJ directed Duck around the airport with our gunners shooting at everything. She finally ordered us into the air. By then, I was out of it being stitched and bandaged. I later learned that SJ set course for Hong Kong, our next stop. David told me that he had worked with her and with Jacob. Our armament was reloaded and we prepared for a landing ready to defend from attack. He admitted that it was probably good that the airport was deserted because everyone was more than ready and willing to shoot.

We landed and David moved into the cockpit and commander's position while SJ and Jacob rode out in the Humvee to survey the area. No one was found and all indications were that the airport had been deserted for many, many years.

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