Rascals II - Chapter 13

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One - very boring - week later. Jacob had indeed grounded the children, just as Ren'al had expected, and they had spent the week playing with the few toys they had brought. Malek, Aldwin, and Garshaw had snuck by now and then, bringing them more paper and crayons, as well as data pads with books on. They all had the children promise not to tell Jacob anything, which they had of course happily agreed to.

Finally, they were allowed to leave their room again, without anyone accompanying them.

"Free at last!" Sam said smiling. "Let's go exploring!"

"I don't think Jacob would approve. He said Ren'al had been pretty angry." Lantash reminded her. "Better stay here." He sat down on the floor and grabbed a pad of paper and some crayons. He looked at the paper, frowning.

"We could go top-side." Daniel suggested.

"We're not allowed to go outside alone." Lantash said, deciding on the dark-blue crayon.

"Yes...Dad said it was dangerous." Sam pointed out.

"How can it be dangerous? It's just sand, sand, sand - everywhere. I ran and played in a desert like that when I was a kid...the first time, I mean. My parents didn't say I couldn't!" Daniel insisted.

"The guards are out there of course, so it can't be that dangerous. They would protect us." Lantash agreed with Daniel.

"We can bring a camouflage blanket! Then we can hide under it if anyone attacks!" Freya suggested.

"Okay." Sam shrugged. "Let's go outside, then. Anyone knows how to activate the rings?"

They walked along the ridge of one of the dunes, feeling hot and bored.

"There's nothing here. Nothing. Just sand and dry bushes." Daniel complained.

"Wait...did Malek not say there was an oasis nearby? He was going to show it to us!" Anise suddenly remembered.

"Yes!" Sam looked thoughtful. "That way, I think..." She pointed.

"I agree." Martouf said. "It can't be far away. He said it was just behind the dune, when we were near the ring transporter."

They ran in the direction of the ring transporter again, then continued up the dune behind it, and immediately spotted the oasis. It was some distance away, maybe half a mile, but easily visible.

"There!" Anise pointed excitedly. "Come!" She started running towards it, stumbling and sliding down the dune as she went.

"Careful, Anise! Wait for us!" Daniel, Sam, and Martouf all yelled as they hurried after her.

Fortunately, as soon as they got down from the dune, the sand was firm and easy to walk on, and they covered the distance to the oasis pretty quickly. Since they had gone outside shortly after breakfast, it was still early morning, and while it was hot, it was not nearly as hot as it would become later in the day. Still, they were feeling warm and thirsty when they reached the oasis, and eagerly ran for the water.

"Wait." Martouf said. "Don't drink from it yet. We don't know if it is okay."

"But I'm thirsty!" Daniel whined.

"Me too!" Sam said, and Anise added her voice to the choir.

Martouf rolled his eyes at them, then gave control to Lantash.

He took a drink from the water. "It is all right. You can all drink it."

"You sure?" Sam asked.

"Yes, don't you remember? A symbiote can tell such things by just tasting the water. With food, too!" Lantash bragged.

"He is correct." Anise said. "And the water is indeed good." She shoveled up a mouthful.

They all drank their fills from the water, then started looking around at the place. It was a relatively large oasis, with a small clump of trees and bushes, and lush vegetation around the waterhole. They had barely finished drinking, when they spotted a small, furry light brown-red animal.

"Oh, how cute!" Sam squealed. "It looks like a mini-fox!"

The animal stared nervously at her and the other children, then carefully crept closer to the water.

"It's adorable, I agree." Lantash said.

"Don't you think it would be a great pet?" Daniel said eagerly. "You know, Jack promised us we could have a pet!"

"It is cute, yes, but how would we catch it?" Freya said, having taken over control from Anise.

The fox had finished drinking water, and suddenly turned and sprinted away, almost as if it sensed the children wanting to catch it.

"Damn!" Sam swore. "It got away!"

"You're not allowed to swear. If Jack or Jacob heard about it, they would be angry." Daniel pointed out.

"And how are they going to hear about it? Hm, Daniel? Unless you're thinking of telling them?" Sam dared him.

"I would never tell them!" Daniel assured her.

"Me neither." Lantash said.

"Or me." Freya nodded. "It will be our secret...just, better not do it again."

"We should try to find the fox...or maybe some other animal that would be a good pet." Lantash suggested.

"I agree. What animals are there in this desert?" Sam was immediately ready to look for animals.

"Not sure, but I think they would mostly be near the water?" Lantash said.

"Yeah, so this should be a good place!" Sam agreed.

"There are lots and lots of animals in a desert!" Daniel told them. "My friends and I caught them sometimes when we lived in Egypt...that is, when my parents and me lived there." He looked sad for a moment.

"Hey, what about that lizard?" Freya pointed at a small, red, green, and golden lizard that sat on a rock near the water.

"That would be awesome!" Daniel smiled happily. "How do we catch it?"

"Hmm...why don't two of us hold up the blanket we brought...then the others can chase the lizard towards it?" Sam suggested.

"Good idea!" Daniel unwrapped the blanket. "Someone help me?"

"Okay." Lantash said, taking hold of the other side. "Try getting the lizard to run over here, and we'll catch it!"

Sam and Freya snuck around to the other side of the rock the lizard was sitting on, keeping a good distance. When they had circled it, they walked closer, making as little noise as possible. The lizard ignored them, and kept basking in the sun until they were quite close.

"Yeeeeeaaaaaaah" Freya yelled, running towards it, Sam hot on her heels.

The lizard panicked, and sped directly towards Daniel and Lantash, who managed to scoop it up in the blanket.

"Yes!" Lantash cried. "We got it!"

"Now, don't let it get away!" Daniel took off his belt and used it to close the blanket as a big sack.

"Let's look at it now!" Sam insisted.

"No! It'll just get away. We can look at it later." Daniel said, holding the sack with the lizard away from Sam.

Her attention was caught by movement behind a rock beside them. "Look...a pretty snake. Let's take that too!" She pointed at a red and golden snake that seemed to have been on its way up on the rock to bask in the sun, but had immediately frozen in place when it was discovered. 

"Sam...what if it's venomous?" Daniel warned.

"Let me capture it, then." Lantash offered. He eyed the snake and slowly, carefully inched closer, until he suddenly darted forward quickly and grabbed the snake, which was still sluggish from the morning cold. "Hah, got you!"

"Nice!" Sam said, impressed.

Lantash was holding the snake at some distance from his body. "Get the bag - quickly!" Suddenly, the snake twisted in his grip, and moments later it sank its fangs into his hand. He yelped and let go of it immediately.

"What happened?" Daniel asked.

"Lantash?" Sam sounded worried.

"Are you hurt?" Freya added.

"The damn thing bit me!" Lantash sniffled, then sat down on a sand dune, shaking slightly. "That's some serious venomous shit!"

"Will you be all right?" Sam asked, nervously.

"Yes..." Lantash nodded, wiping tears away from his eyes. He then looked at the puncture wounds on his hand. They were already starting to heal, but the area was still tender. "I will be fine, but Martouf wouldn't have survived on his own. The venom was very potent."

"You're not supposed to say 'shit'." Daniel reminded him, smiling a little now he knew his friend would be all right.

Lantash rolled his eyes. "I have lived on your world for more than half a year. It is little wonder your culture is starting to corrupt me - I watch television, right?" He smiled a little, feeling better now he had neutralized the rest of the venom.

Relieved, Sam gave him a hug, and the others quickly did the same.

"Maybe we should go back. If there are more snakes like that one, we could be in danger. Or you two could, at any rate." Freya said, indicating Sam and Daniel. "We better talk to the healers and make sure they get some anti-venom made!"

"Or maybe not..." Sam frowned.

"You fear Jacob's reaction if he hears about our expedition?" Lantash asked.

"Oh, yeah...he'll go ballistic. Especially if we tell him about you being bitten by a dangerous snake. We won't be allowed to leave our room for the rest of our visit!" Daniel realised with horror.

Lantash nodded. "Jacob can't know. We will tell him nothing." He got up. "Let's get back to the tunnels."

"You're sure you're okay to walk?" Sam wondered.

"I am well, Samantha. Do not worry." He smiled at her.

"Good." She suddenly spotted something else moving, this time beside a small, nearby bush. "Another snake! And this one looks harmless!" She pointed at the small grey and brown animal.

"No! Let's just leave it alone!" Lantash said, taking a step back.

"But it's adorable!" Sam cooed, crouching down beside it and leaning closer. The animal was maybe two foot long, and looked somewhat thick for its size. The snake froze in place, then began sliding away when Sam did not move. "It's fleeing!" She reached out a hand and was about to grab it.

Lantash swore and pushed her aside, then quickly snatched the creature. He held it carefully - and firmly - with both hands and eyed it suspiciously. "It does not seem to want to attack..."

"Something that cute can't be dangerous!" Sam insisted.

"It's not cute. It's potentially vicious!" Lantash snorted. "The fox was cute. Fluffy animals are cute! I want a furry pet I can hug and that will be happy to see me - like a dog! You have a really odd taste in pets if you think this one is cute!"

"My neighbors son had a snake when I was a kid. It was awesome. I wanted one, but Dad wouldn't let me - and Mom got a funny expression when I mentioned it." Sam told them, looking unhappy.

"Do you think it's dangerous?" Freya asked.

"I'm guessing no, since it hasn't tried to sink its fangs into me, but I'm reserving judg-ment until later." Lantash decided.

"I think it's harmless." Daniel said. "It looks a lot like a sand boa, just with a little different colouring than the ones they had in Egypt."

"So I can keep it?" Sam asked, hopefully.

The others looked at each other and shrugged. "Why not?"

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