Spontoon Island
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  11 January 2007

The adventures of Ensign Halli Amura, RINS

Chapter Nine

© 2006 by Walter D. Reimer

        Halli awoke slowly, her nose twitching at a very pleasing mixture of musks.  She blinked a few times and became aware of her surroundings along with the feel of the feline in her arms.  Memory started to return and she recalled that she and Trina had returned to their room at the Double Lotus after a long and festive afternoon and night at her family’s longhouse.
        The rabbit’s unannounced return to Spontoon was the spark for a celebration that included all of the neighboring farms.  Halli’s friend Trina was embraced as a member of the family, and some of the neighbors (being canine) were more than happy to share what they brought with her.
        The roast pork was delicious, and she made sure to thank them properly.
        Although Mrs. Amura had offered them a place to stay, Halli had been quick to explain to her that the two of them were staying on Casino Island.  When she added her reasons for renting the room, the older woman just gave a “Yeah, right” type of smirk and nodded.
        Most of the night Trina just sat beside Halli, blushing as her lover’s family and friends offered their congratulations, along with questions about children.  The tabby feline, taking courage from Halli’s replies on the same subject, said that they were still young and just starting out in the military.  Children would have to wait, and that was that.

        Halli snuggled a bit closer to Trina, who squirmed back as she too started to wake up.  “Morning,” she whispered, turning slightly to kiss her lover.
        “Morning,” Halli said after returning the kiss.  “Sleep well?”
        “Mm-hmm,” the feline nodded.  She rolled gently away from the lepine and stretched, then sat up.  While Halli stretched Trina asked, “What time is it?”  She looked at the clock on the bedside table and whistled.  “Wow, it’s almost ten.  Too late for breakfast, and too early for lunch.”
        “But just right to wander around for a bit and look around before we eat,” Halli said.  “I vote we get cleaned up and go for a walk.”
        Trina grinned.  “Passed by acclamation.”
        They used the bathroom separately, Trina suggesting that they try out the Japanese tub later that night and Halli agreeing.  After changing into the civilian clothes that they had worn the previous day they left the room.

        The sun was climbing high in the morning sky and the weather promised to stay fair, with fleecy clouds moving by in the gentle breeze.  As they walked past the big luxury hotels, Trina remarked, “I can see why you love Spontoon, Halli.  Aside from it being your home, this is a paradise.”
        “Come on,” the rabbit said.  “I’ll bet your home’s just as nice.”
        Trina shrugged.  “I live in Norwood, that’s a town outside of Seathl.  It gets really hot every once in a while there, and – well, you’ve seen the weather up in Seathl.”  She turned her face to the sun, closed her eyes and smiled as the warmth soaked into her fur.  “This is much nicer.”
        “Well, it gets a little cold here in the winter,” Halli said, “which is great for us because it means that there aren’t any tourists underfoot.”  She glanced up as the bells of the church chimed for noon, and she said, “I don’t know about you, but I want some lunch and then a swim.”
        “On one of those secluded beaches you were telling me about?” Trina asked with a sly gleam in her eyes.
        Halli nodded.
        Disdaining the places that were frequented by the tourists, Halli led the way to the water taxis, telling the driver that they wanted to go to Meeting Island.  “What’s there?” Trina asked.
        “It’s where the government mostly stays,” Halli said, “and tourists don’t usually go there unless they have to.  But there’s a good restaurant there.”
        The place was called Luchow’s, and sported an open-air patio that was perfect for enjoying the fresh air and sunshine while eating.
        The food was good, too, with a menu tailored for both carnivores and herbivores, and the beer was a cold and very tasty lager.  After settling their bill with the cheetah who ran the place they headed back down the street to the taxi stand.  “Will we see Main Island?” Trina asked as she saw one boat motoring off in a northerly direction.
        Halli looked a bit embarrassed.  “No, I’m afraid it’s off-limits to non-Spontoonies,” she said, careful not to apply the term Euro to Trina, “unless you get special permission.”
        “Well, most of the people live there,” the rabbit explained.  “We don’t want a bunch of tourists stomping around and getting in the way or trampling crops.”
        Trina nodded.  “That makes sense,” she said, and Halli inwardly breathed a sigh of relief.  “After all, your folks have jobs to do and their own lives.  The tourists are only here part of the year.”
        “Right.”  The pair took seats in a water taxi headed for South Island.


        “It’s right – here,” Halli said some time later as she led Trina through a dense thicket of tropical plants and into a small clearing that ended in a wide sandy beach.  The beach was part of a small cove, shaded on three sides by low-hanging palms.
        “It’s beautiful,” Trina said in an awe-struck tone.  “It’s just like a movie set.  Pity we can’t do more than wade in the water,” she remarked as she took off her canvas-sided shoes, “since we didn’t – Halli!”
        “Yes, Trina?” the rabbit asked as she pulled her light sundress up and over her head in a casual gesture, leaving her in her shoes and underwear.
        “Y-you can’t do that here,” the feline said, her eyes growing wide.
        “Of course you can,” Halli said as she laid the dress on a tree trunk, then followed it with her underwear and shoes.  The sun shining through the trees cast dappled patterns of light and shade on her light brown fur.  “There’s no one to see us.”
        “Are you sure it’s okay?”  Although she had been told that the beach was secluded, the reality of actually swimming clad only in her fur caused her to balk.
        “Perfectly.  You saw people in native dress, after all; not everyone dresses up to go swimming,” and she walked into the water, wading up to her knees and turning back to grin at her lover.  “Come on in!  The water feels marvelous.”
        Trina stood and considered, then shrugged and shed her own clothes before walking hesitantly out to the beach.  She dipped a foot experimentally into the water, then waded in as Halli waded out farther.
        “You’re right, the water feels great.”
        “Told you it did,” Halli said as she eased down, feeling the water penetrating her fur.  She sighed, then went under, coming up a moment later and shaking water from her ears. 
        Trina suddenly leaped and dove into the water, coming up a few feet beyond Halli and grinning as she moved closer and hugged the rabbit.  They kissed and Trina said, “Thank you.”
        “Thank me?  For what?”
        “For suggesting Spontoon when we got leave . . . for showing me around . . . and for saying that you love me,” Trina said, gazing into Halli’s hazel eyes.
        Halli smiled as Trina’s brown eyes welled up.  “There’s no need to cry, Trina.  I do love you.”
        “I love you too,” the feline said, sniffling just a little.  “I just have trouble believing it still.”
        “Well, believe it,” the rabbit said.  She grinned.  “Let’s go swimming, then lie out in the sun for a bit.”

        After swimming and playing in the water for nearly an hour, they found a patch of grass between the beach and the trees big enough to accommodate them both while they napped.  The sun started to shine directly on them, and they lay there and enjoyed the heat.
        They soon had to return to the water to cool off.
        “This is nothing, really,” Halli said.  “Come back here late in the summer – it’s hot enough to make you wish you could stay in the water all the time.”
        “Do you think we’ll get the chance?” Trina asked, coming up behind Halli.  The rabbit jumped and turned to face her lover, grinning as her small tail shook back and forth.
        “Sure,” Halli said.  “But I want to go to Norwood to meet your family.”
        Trina smiled and started to wade up to the beach.  As Halli walked beside her she said, “That might cause some problems.  I mean, you and I . . . Mom and Dad might not understand.”
        “Then we persuade them,” the rabbit said brightly as she started squeezing water from her fur.

        They had dinner that night in a small restaurant well off the usual tourist paths before returning to the Double Lotus.  When they entered Brenda waved as she walked past with a tray full of glasses.  Covina was behind the bar and said, “Hello, you two!  You look like you’ve been out swimming.  Something cold to drink?”
        “Ice water, if you’ve got it,” Trina said as she and Halli took seats at a corner table.
        The Malinois nodded and got out two glasses and a pitcher as the door opened and a tall vixen they hadn’t seen before came in.  “Hiya, Covina,” she said.  “Gin and tonic please.”
        “Sure thing, Lisa,” and the vixen leaned close as Covina beckoned to her.  A whispered conversation ensued and the vixen looked at Halli and Trina.
        The vixen got her drink and walked over to their table.  “Hello, you two,” she said.  “I saw you two yesterday, but never got the chance to say hello.”  She smiled and ran her free paw through her dark red headfur.  “I’m Lisa Fallingwater, and I’m very glad to see you in particular,” she remarked, looking at Halli.
        “Me?  What for?”
        Fallingwater smiled.  “I’m Rain Island’s ambassador to Spontoon,” she explained.  “It was partly my efforts that allowed you to join the Syndicate.  I’m glad that you made it through.  Did any of the first six fail the program?” she asked as she stepped back to make way for Brenda, who brought the ice water for the two younger women.
        “No, none of us failed, ma’am,” Halli said. 
        The vixen laughed.  “None of that ‘ma’am’ stuff here, - Halli, was it?  Call me Lisa, please,” and she sipped at her gin and tonic.  “Here on leave, or transferred down here?”
        “On leave,” Trina said.  “I’d love to be transferred down here,” and she leaned over and kissed Halli on the cheek.
        Fallingwater raised an eyebrow, but nodded.  “That’ll be up to you and your officers, I’m afraid, but let’s not dwell on that.  I’m in the mood for music!”  Cheers from the other customers greeted her declaration and the vixen walked back to the bar.  “Covina, my clarinet, please.”
        “Let me see – where did you see it last?  I remember what happened to it last month,” the canine giggled, the sound echoed by a few others in the room.
        “You know perfectly well.  It’s about this long and black, and – “
        “C’mon, Lisa, you know size don’t matter,” Brenda sniggered.
        Before Fallingwater could frame an appropriate comment Covina pulled a clarinet case out from under the bar and gave it to the vixen with a flourish.  Lisa gave a slightly mocking bow to her and opened the case, fitting together the instrument and walking over to a seat by the bar.
        She took a long drink of her cocktail and started to play I’ll Sing You a Thousand Love Songs, the plaintive sound of the clarinet causing some of the couples in the room to sit closer together.  A few started to sing along to the tune:

“I'll sing you a thousand love songs
And still they'll seem so few.
I need a thousand voices
To tell you how I love you.
I've only one heart to give you,
One voice to listen to.
I'll bring you a thousand love songs,
And I'll sing every one, dear, for you."

        Halli glanced at Trina, who smiled and held her close as the song ended.