�It looks like a boat, of sorts, slung under a wing.� Gim reported of the dot far off to the west.
�I�ll light the signal fire.� Sheel announced. Every scrap of wood too rotten to use had been piled up ready for just this moment.
�What do we tell them? About how we got here.� Bobb asked.
�If they spot us. That we crashed, of course. Test flying a winged boat just like theirs.� Gim shifted his attention to the horizon, �I can�t be certain, but I think there�s the vaguest of smoke trails over there. They must be accompanying a ship.�
The fire was now hot enough for Sheel to drop algae crusted wet wood on it. With hisses and crackles a white smoke tower rose above the island.
�It�s coming about.�
�They�ve seen us?�
�No, I think that was a planned course change, but we�re right in front of them now.�
The flying boat stopped its previous zig-zag course and headed straight for the island. It passed overhead, low and fast, clipping the smoke tower, which curled around the memory of the wing. It made another pass, testing wind direction, before landing to the south. Gim, Bobb and Sheel jogged down to the shore to greet it.
There was a clear blister just behind the wing. It contained guns, one of which was pointed in the general direction of the islanders. A hatch opened in front of the wing and crewmen leapt out. They hitched ropes around hooks on the front and rear of the boat section and pulled it up against the shore.
Now a woman appeared in the hatch. Her uniform was finer, more formal, than the two holding the boat too. She spoke in a language the three castaways only just understood. �How you here?� was the heart of the message.
�Break plane, wash up.� Gim used hand signals to augment his stilted reply.
The officer studied the island, spotting the camp. She came to a decision. �Board now. Come.�
They were helped aboard the flying boat and pointed to seats in the rear of the hull. A crewman with a handgun watched over them. The officer went forward and the plane began taxiing across the waves. She returned with three pairs of goggles. �Wear.�
The lenses of the goggles were completely blacked out. Gim, Bobb and Sheel shared a look, but pulled the blindfolds on without further questions.