Ice pointed at the target as he pulled out his comm. "That hay's not dead yet. Kill it while I attend to business."
Dog killed it from various distances and stances, and wished for moving targets and a lack of onlookers.
Ice is too damned observant and that . . . horribly funny time . . . has it been four years? When we were set to investigate each other. He had me pegged. He probably still wonders if I'm a spy from Comet Fall. If I forget and let my skill with a bow, my experience locating game, hunting, and dressing my kills show . . . I'm toast.
Not that he would want to turn me in, but the man's been to Makkah and spoken to the Prophet. Hell, he was in a compass there. He's a Oner, and totally loyal. Friendship would not stop him.
Dog let his elbow over-flex and get popped by the bow string on his next release. "Yow." He rubbed the reddened skin. "You know they make arm guards . . ."
"And when you're practicing back home, you can use one." Ice grinned. "Good luck hunting for that arrow."
"Heh. Me mighty hunter of arrows." Dog set the bow down and trotted off to hunt arrows.
"Take your bow. Scout around wider and see if you can find a pheasant or wild turkey." Ice grinned. "Rumakova's secretary says they're all on the way."
Yay! "And maybe I can start feeding them tonight."
Of course with all the construction traffic, even swinging wide toward the edge of the forest on the eastern horizon, he was lucky to bag the two pheasants and the wild turkey.
:: Hey Ice! Would a heat spell work as well as boiling water for making plucking easier? :: As if I don't know! And know how.
:: I've done it, you have to be very careful to barely heat the skin, else you wind up with a half-cooked carcass. And clean them first! ::
Dog grinned and reviewed his old spells . . . had the birds cleaned and plucked before he got back to the worksite where Ice had started a fire of wood chips from construction and let it burn down to hot coals.
By the time the Official Governor's Ute pulled up, the birds were roasting and smelling heavenly.
Zizi bounced out of the ute almost before it stopped. Rumakova debarked with not much more decorum, as Hunter Ridhe climbed out from behind the wheel.
"Goodness, that two days apart must have felt like forever!" They swapped grins.
Ice nodded. "Dog needed it though; he seems to have trouble concentrating when Zizi's around." He waved at the fire. "But he's showing promise."
The Hunter nodded. "So he shot those tubers you've got roasting?"
Dog choked indignantly and Ridhe and Ice laughed.
"Is this anything like the reception I'm going to get in . . . Zany Gangway?"
Ice tsked. "Mozany Gungwa. No this is nothing like your reception there will be." He grinned. Widely.
"I was afraid of that."
Ridhe shrugged. "But I have to admit that Zany Gang Way is a very tempting mispronunciation."
Dog eyed him, then Ice. "Does it actually mean anything?"
"Oh, it's pretty close to 'southeast green river' and may have been derived from it." Ice shrugged. "Since it's near what even the Oners named the Green River."
Dog eyed him. "You know, it used to feel weird when you talked about Oners like you weren't one. Now . . ."
Ice just grinned. "It's the accent, isn't it?"
Dog nodded. And body language. Relaxed alertness. Ease with being outdoors. I was so wrong to ever think you were an Earth agent.
One knows you're a chameleon and have way too much fun with disguises.
Dog tromped on that line of thought and nodded at the fence. "And the way you think fences ought to be built. I have a suspicion you could tell tales about why the fences are so . . . robust."
Ice gave a casual wave at the long wall. "Let's see . . . Fourteen oh two? Or maybe the year before. I was in college in Center City, and worked most of the summer out here 'guiding' hunting safaris. Which is diplomatic speak for keeping the idiots from getting killed."
Dog gave him his best skeptical expressions. "Oh surely those Oners brought their big guns."
"Indeed they did." Ice shrugged, looking innocent.
Right. Here comes the tall tale.
"Unfortunately, very few of them seemed to realize that while the deer and antelope and such generally run away from whatever loud noise startled them . . . some didn't." Ice shrugged.
"The mombedze bulls have a nasty tendency to charge en mass. Not quite enough of them . . . usually . . . to call it a stampede, but enough to raise a thick cloud of dust so once the leaders are past you can't see the one coming right at you until it's quite close. And I swear they close their eyes to keep the dust out.
"I mean," he nodded at his ute, "they run straight into the vehicles. I always wondered if that wasn't how my ute got all those dents, but really, they aren't deep enough, and there're no holes where horns punctured the sheet mental."
Dog glowered. Nope. Not going to fall for that one.
"Most of the . . . clients . . . caught on quickly, but this one fellow, rich as the One Hell, with more guns, oh the boss drooled over this Brisbane Armory . . . Well, three friggin' stampedes . . . and then the rhino." Ice paused to turn the birds.
"Biggest one I'd ever seen. A bull with a bad attitude, and we looked like a target." Ice shook his head. "I hadn't realized a ute could go that fast over rough ground. Fortunately the mombedze had left a trampled path. If we'd had to drive through thick high grass, that rhino would have had us."
Dog crossed his arms but played along. "And the hunter?"
"Oh, the idiot who was screaming that we should stop so he could reload?" Ice looked innocent. "When we wouldn't, he grabbed the wheel . . . we hit this huge bump and he went flying right out the door that had been jarred open. Horrible tragedy." Ice shook his head. "Just horrible. He took that beautiful gun with him and it was destroyed."