The Nutrition Adviser gave the rabbit a disgusted look. "Yes," he said after a moment. "It's food."
The hungry actors nodded their heads with approval and scurried off to report back to Jan. Everything had to go through Jan. Not a single ounce of food was to be eaten without first consulting Jan. Jan was in control of everything. Or, at least, he appeared to be gripping the situation rather tightly.
After the Writer had stolen the Venture Craft, Jan was keeping track of everyone, his eyes wide and glaring, and a deathly clipboard in his hand. He was just waiting for the next disaster so that he could throw the blame on the culprit before anyone could object. In truth, he was expecting another disaster. In truth, he was excited for the next one so that he could pounce on it like a dog on a bone...a bone still attached to a finely prepared turkey dinner that is. He loved making a mess of things. And he had certainly shocked everyone with his crying accusation of the Writer who had happened to disappear with the Venture Craft.
Who would be next? Jan rather liked this game.
The Nutrition Adviser gave the mouse a disgusted look. "...No," he said slowly. "I wouldn't eat that."
The Guide frowned. "Why?" he asked. "I like it."
"No..." repeated the Nutrition Adviser in a slow voice, but his stomach betrayed him by giving a clearly audible growl.
The Guide froze, a look of suspicion swiping across his face. "You like too?" he asked.
"No," burped the Nutrition Adviser. "I'm just starving," he said. "I've had to stand here for an hour confirming that everyone else has got food!"
The Guide looked thoughtful. "I split it with you," he said, walking away with the dead mouse.
The Nutrition Adviser rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh. But then, his eyes went wide as a distant smell lingered at the edge of his senses. He knew his food, and this food didn't belong in the wilderness. He sniffed the air and let his jaw droop open as saliva pooled in his mouth. Roasting lamb?
He left his post and began to wander after the beautiful smell. Only one man watched him go, and he was grinning. Jan dug in his pocket for his cell phone. He made the call.
"I see him," he said.
"Yes," came the reply. "But what has he done?"
"Hmm...the Nutrition Adviser? Let me guess...he's ran off with all the food, right?"
"You've got it. Full marks."
Lying together beneath the large oak tree, Landon and Liz gazed up into the boughs and talked to each other of their plans. They had agreed on the first part at least. But after Liz got back into the heart of the team, what she did from that position was still to be decided upon.
And then the Venture Craft arrived. One moment, the meadow was swaying with wild flowers, and in the next moment, a slick silver ship was sitting next to the oak tree. Landon shot to his feet, protective as always.
The door opened and a helper hopped out. The two hardly even noticed him. He was discreet, inconspicuous...nearly invisible. But then suddenly he spoke. The helpers didn't often speak.
"Hey," he said. "You two want a lift?"
Liz took a step forward. "I'm Liz," she said. "You know, the Companion?"
"Yep," the man replied. "I heard you were trying to escape the team. Want a lift?"
Liz was taken aback. "Who're you?"
"Meh, nobody really. I'm just supposed to ask you if you want a lift. I don't know what's happening."
But Landon was suspicious. "You're one of the organizers," he said.
"Me?" the man laughed. "Nah, I just carry things around."
Landon frowned. "Oh no...you're an actor, aren't you? You can't fool me."
The man stopped and gave a bemused expression. "Dude, take it or leave it. You want a lift?"
Landon swallowed. "Okay...But if you even touch Liz I will personally make sure you--"
"--Cool it," the man said. "There's someone on board who would love to talk with you. That's all: talk. No drugs anymore. That was the front. Now he's playing for real."
"What do you mean?" asked Liz. "Who is it?"
"Liz, Liz, Liz," the little man said. "You know who it is. And we know you know. So come on board. I think it's time you two deserved a break. And I know a hell of a lot of information you'd love to hear."
Landon gulped. "I thought you just carried things..." he said.
The man smiled. "That was a front. Now we're playing for real."