Spontoon Island
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7 January 2007

The adventures of Ensign Halli Amura, RINS

Chapter Eight

© 2006 by Walter D. Reimer

June 6, 1937:

        The Bosanquet transport slowly banked to the east, startling Halli from her light doze.  She looked off to the right in time to see a landscape that made her eyes well with tears, the broad farmlands, mountains and forests of Main Island.  In the early morning a low mist hovered over the land and to the southwest the tall peak of Mount Kiribatori disappeared into the clouds. 
        Out of deference to the Althing (who, it must be admitted, didn’t like people flying over certain areas) the plane would follow the coast and turn southwest, entering the lagoon before turning south to land in one of the seaplane lanes.  From there it would be towed to Hanamahina Bay and Moon Island.
        The rabbit sat back in her seat again, one paw reaching out to rest itself on the paw of the tabby feline who still slept beside her.  Halli wondered what Trina would say when she told her that she loved her.
        She was sure that the sentiments would be returned, though.
        She had no idea what Trina’s religion might be, but knew that the Rain Islander’s parents might disapprove.  Well, with the help of the Gods things would work out, and she closed her eyes and murmured a prayer that the Gods would help.
        The slight jar as the B-2 touched its wide boat hull down in the seaplane lane woke Trina up.  She stretched and looked out at the brilliant tropical sun streaming in through the window before turning to smile at Halli.  “Are we here?” she asked.
        The rabbit nodded.  “Welcome to Spontoon,” she said as she tried to keep her voice from quavering.  It had been almost six months, and she felt her home calling to her as an almost physical summons.
        The two of them disembarked and, shouldering their duffel bags, headed for the Administration building to find a bed in one of the longhouses.  Halfway there, Halli stopped.  “What’s the matter, Halli?” Trina asked.
        “Do you want to stay here, or elsewhere?”
        Trina’s ears dipped.  “What do you mean?”
        “We can stay here, or at this one place I know,” Halli said with a lopeared grin.  “We don’t have to be back on the plane until Saturday.”
        Her lover thought it over.  “Sure, okay.”
        Halli’s grin widened and she picked up her duffel bag.  “Fine,” she said.  “Let’s get to the water taxis.”

        They had to show their leave papers at the main gate, and the guard waved them through after a cursory glance.  The pair walked up to the nearest water taxi and the thin fox who was driving asked in heavily accented English, “You two missys go Casino?”
        Trina blinked.  Halli smiled at her and said to the driver in Spontoonie, “Greetings to you and yours, brother.  Can you take us to Casino Island and not charge us tourist rates?
        Her use of the native language caused the fox’s ears to go straight up and his brush fluffed slightly.  “You speak Spontoonie?” he asked, a wary tone edging his voice.
        “All my life, since I was born on South Island,” Halli replied.  She explained, and the fox’s suspicious glare softened considerably.  He helped them both into his boat and cast off, heading around the southern tip of Moon Island to the main Euro settlement.

        Trina kept looking around as they walked after stepping off the water taxi.  It was the height of the tourist season, and the streets were crowded with people from almost literally everywhere, many of them carrying cameras and sporting shirts that could be charitably described as ‘loud.’ 
        Compared to them, the nondescript dark blue jumpsuits that Halli and Trina wore may as well have made them invisible.
        A few Spontoonie men and women were walking around in native dress, and Halli smothered a laugh more than once as Trina would stare and then have to avoid walking into something.
        Finally Halli paused at a building just down the street from the main cluster of hotels.  There was a high fence surrounding it and the sounds of jazz music could be heard coming from inside.  A large and well-built tigress stood sentinel beside the door, which carried the signs Double Lotus and No Boyz Allowed.
        Halli walked up to the tigress and the guard asked, “Whatcha lookin’ for, ah, Ensign?”
        “Do you have a room for two ladies?” Halli asked with a wink.  Trina smiled shyly and swished her tail.
        The tigress’s eyebrows climbed up into her headfur and she grinned.  “Go on in,” she said, and opened the door for them.
        As the two women walked in and paused to let their eyes adjust to the change in light they heard a brassy voice declaim, “Why, the nerve of that guy, Brenda!  He called me a little Dutch girl.”
        “He did, Covina?” came an answering voice, this one a bit gruff.
        “Yeah, and just because I had my finger in a – “  Covina’s voice trailed off as several people laughed at the joke.  She was about to say more, but paused as she spotted the two newcomers.
        The main room was large and although it looked a bit primitive the décor showed that some thought and effort had gone into it.  It was fitted out with booths, tables and chairs, and a full bar that ran most of the length of one wall.  A small collection of chairs in one corner by a piano held a trio of musicians, who were more involved in playing a sultry, slow jazz number than in turning to look at the new arrivals.  The room had several women in it, including a few couples (some of whom were rather deeply involved in each other, to the extent that Halli’s ears dipped).
        There was a silence, broken by the cry, “Hello, Sailor!” from the blond Labrador at the bar.  “Welcome to the Double Lotus, dears.  Come on in,” she urged, her voice recognizable as one of the people speaking earlier.
        Halli walked up to the bar, Trina following behind her and they took seats after putting their duffel bags down.  “I’m Brenda,” the Labrador said, “and that’s Covina,” and the Malinois gave a cheerful nod.  “What can we do for ya?”
        “Something cold,” Trina blurted, her ears dipping a bit.  “Orca-Cola?”
        Brenda made a face, her tongue hanging out.  “Bleah.  Tell you what – we’ve got beer, wine and liquor, honey.  Name your pleasure,” and she winked slowly.
        Trina glanced at Halli, who said, “Two beers, please.”
        “The top has spoken,” someone said from across the room, and a few others chuckled knowingly.  Both girls blushed as Brenda put two chilled glasses of beer before them.
        “Never mind them,” Brenda said, making a face at whoever spoke.  “You two’re new here – at leastways I ain’t seen ya before.  You’re among friends here, and just how friendly ya wanna be depends on you.”  She smiled and leaned over the bar, resting her ample bosom on her folded arms.  “So, I see that you two are in the Syndicate.  We don’t see many women here from the base.”
        “No?” Trina asked as she sipped at her beer and relaxed, her tail swinging freely.
        “Most of the time it’s guys sniffing after each other, an’ they usually stay at th’ Purple Oyster,” Covina said, giving a slightly contemptuous toss of her dark headfur.  She placed a few full glasses on a tray and went off to serve two women seated in a dark corner booth.
        Halli found herself relaxing.  There was no sign of a man’s scent in the Lotus, and her tail flicked at some of the musks.  “Tell me,” she asked as she lowered her glass, “do you rent rooms here?”
        Brenda smiled.  “You’ve got a Spontoonie accent, dear, and you have to ask me that?  Of course we do.  Reasonable rates, too, by the hour or by the day,” she added with a leer.
        The rabbit did some quick thinking.  “Can we get a room till Friday?”
        “Sure, I think we’ve got one available.  Covina?”
        “The one by the bathroom,” the Malinois said, returning with an empty tray.  “You know, I didn’t catch names on you two.”
        “I’m Halli, and this is – “
        Covina nodded and raised her voice.  “Ladies!  This here’s Trina and Halli – let’s make ‘em welcome!”  With a few cheers and some applause, the other denizens of the bar got up and gathered around the feline and the rabbit, hugging them.  Several whispered offers, and Halli blushed even as she laughed to see Trina blushing.

        Some hours later, after a quick lunch, they found themselves in a second-floor room.  The room was simply but tastefully furnished with a double bed and other furniture, and a window looked out onto the main street.  The room shared a bathroom with the other rooms on the floor, a tidy affair that featured a deep Japanese-style bathtub.
        They were changing into civilian clothes, skirts and light blouses that they had bought at the base exchange when Trina asked, “Halli, why are we staying here?  Why can’t we just go to your folks’ house?”
        Halli smiled and sat on the bed.  “Two reasons.  You want to see as much of Spontoon as you can before we have to leave on Saturday, and the best place to do that is to have a place here on Casino Island.  With the tourists here, the amusement park will be open along with the casinos.
        “The second reason is that we have a private place to stay now, and while my parents would love to have us stay there – well, the noise might keep people up at night,” and she flicked her tail at Trina, who smiled and swished her own tail.  “And we can spend a day or two at South Island – some of the beaches there are really secluded.”
        “Oh?”  Trina looked at her lover with a sly smile.  “And what do you think we could do on a ‘really secluded’ beach?”
        Halli told her.
        More importantly, she showed her.

        Over an hour later the two were in a water taxi headed south, sitting close to each other and holding each other’s paws.  Halli studiously ignored the occasional stare or disapproving look from the tourists in the boat, and Trina followed the rabbit’s lead.  Nevertheless, both sighed in relief when the boat tied up at the main dock on South Island.

        The Amura family home was located on a farm nearly a mile from the resort hotels.  The longhouses stood amid rows of taro plants and as they came up the lane, paw in paw, small children who recognized Halli greeted her in Spontoonie and raced for the longhouses to spread the news.
        Halli let go of Trina’s paw and ran the remaining few yards to her mother and father, leaping into their embrace while her mother kissed her.  Her father set her back on her feet as she spoke in rapid Spontoonie, gesturing toward Trina with a smile.  The feline stood there, her paws clasped behind her back shyly.
        Mrs. Amura, a slightly stouter and older version of Halli, walked up to Trina and said in accented English, “Be welcome, Trina,” and swept her up into a strong hug, followed by kisses on both cheeks.  Mr. Amura, his fur a darker brown than Halli’s then hugged the feline, cupped her face in his paws and intoned something in Spontoonie.
        When he released her Trina turned to Halli.  “What did he say?”
        Halli grinned shyly and said, “I told them that I love you, and – “
        She never got to finish the sentence, since the tabby feline leaped at her, hugging her tightly as she said, “I love you, Halli.”
        Halli repeated what her lover said, and the whole family cheered.  The father sent the oldest children running to the nearby farms to let others know the happy news, while Mrs. Amura set her daughters to work setting up a feast to welcome their daughter and her lover.