It was evident that they had been there for a very long time, undisturbed. The bones were yellowed and crumbling, and each one wore a mossy green cap, but the path that led to them was in regular use. Although narrow, the earth was bare. Even in an English field, if untouched, the grass will start to cover a footpath in less than a week. That the bones had been placed by the path served to warn travellers to beware if they chose to proceed. I wondered, what travellers?
Nevertheless, we pushed on, trekking further into the island making exceptional progress. As the afternoon sun dipped into the trees, we found an area where we could camp for the night. I won't call it a clearing, but the forest had thinned enough to allow us to put up our tents and make a camp fire. Rutter reckoned we'd breach the top of the mountain tomorrow and then we'd be able to see the valley below. As we prepared an evening meal, he explained the geographical characteristics of the island, a long extinct volcano. It was a bit dull but I nodded politely and made all the right noises.
As night fell and we sat around the campfire in the darkness, we decided we should set up a sentry. I didn't fancy sleeping alone while Al stood guard and the tents weren't big enough for three, so we agreed to stand watch in twos. Besides, it would ensure that no one fell asleep while on duty.
"Can I ask a question?" asked Traeth. "If Jenny is an Acting Ensign and Rutter is a full Ensign, why is Jen in charge?"
"'Cause Jenny's T'Roc's pet," replied Rutter before I could respond.
"That's not true!" I retorted indignantly. "If anything, we're all her pet project!"
"No, Jen. I just got caught up in events. I'm here by fate and circumstance."
"How'd you make that out?" argued Al.
"You were the one that picked the fight with me."
"You were being an arse!"
I burst out laughing at which everybody stopped and stared.
"Oh dear! Aren't we a bunch! But—" I said before they could argue further, "—the only reason I'm leading this mission is because I'm the one that got us into this mess because I wasn't paying attention. T'Roc gave me the assignment to teach me a lesson. I picked Al and Rutter for my team for their experience and expertise, otherwise Rutter would undoubtedly be leading it."
"Glad you recognise the fact," snipped Rutter to which I simply rolled my eyes.
Boy! Have the three of us come a long way since that day in the cargo bay. T'Roc must have known something. Why else would she have thrown us together, locking our destinies into a single outcome?