Image Prompt 069 – Our Most Reliable Navigator

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I chose the image of the bridge and the remains of an older bridge on the Tay as viewed from Dundee, Scotland.  This is actually a continuation of last month’s scene.  I was having so much fun with the idea I wanted to keep going.

Our Most Reliable Navigator:

Valerie and Dr. Harrison arrived at the University’s camp site on the Tay just as dusk was fading into night.

“Who goes there?” The guard posted at the gate called.

“Harrison…and…Tavish,” Dr. Harrison called back between huffing breaths.  “Bravo…Six Niner…and Hotel…Niner Niner,” he added.

“Get in, quickly,” the guard said.  “We’re in the process of locking down for the night.”

“Why do you think we’re out of breath?” Dr. Harrison asked as they dismounted their bikes and wheeled them through the gate.  “It was a hell of a trip.”

“Go get cleaned up and settle your gear,” the guard said.  “I’ll send someone to let Dr. Avery know you’ve arrived safe and will report to her before turning in.

“Thank you kindly,” Dr. Harrison replied, motioning for Valerie to lead the way.

She nodded to him, still too winded by the headlong rush to get to the camp to respond properly to anyone.

By the time they’d secured their bikes along the wall and found the tent reserved for the research team, she was breathing easier and the stitch in her side had subsided to a dull ache.  Everything had gone smoothly for the first day of the trip north, but on the second day, they’d stopped for supplies near Edinburgh, and gotten on the road with seven hours to make the six-hour trip.  Then found the Edinburgh bridge had been destroyed in the three months since they’d last been through.  It took an extra hour and a half to go around, so they’d pushed themselves as hard as they could to make it all the way to the Dundee camp before dark.

In retrospect, she should have recommended they diverge north toward Dunning and take the extra day to get to Dundee, but they’d made it, so at least she didn’t have too guilty about it since Dr. Harrison seemed less winded than she was.

She followed Dr. Harrison back out into the night and across the camp to the planning tent that was set up in the center of every University run camp.  It made it easier for everyone to find and report into their superiors.

“I was beginning to think something had happened to you two,” Dr. Avery said as soon as they walked in.  “Tavish is one of our most reliable navigators.”

“We hadn’t gotten word the bridge was out,” Dr. Harrison replied.

“What?” Dr. Avery snapped, standing up from her folding chair.  “Which bridge?”

The bridge,” Dr. Harrison replied.  “Edinburgh bridge.”

“Damnation,” Dr. Avery spat, followed by a colorful stream of cursing that was inventive enough for any historical sailor.

“Is this your first word of it as well?” Dr. Harrison asked softly.

“Yes,” she said, slumping back into her chair.  “We had another crew arrive back only a week ago, and they didn’t mention anything about the bridge.  Almost everyone resupplies at Edinburgh, so it’s the most used route to us.  Someone must have figured that out finally.”

“Just make sure the word gets out,” Dr. Harrison said.  “It was almost everything we had to make it before the gates closed.  We had an hour to spare, but closer to two would have been more comfortable.”

“You did well,” Dr. Avery said, including Valerie with eye contact and a nod.  “I’ll get word out on the network about the bridge so others can plan for the detour.  We may need to move the supplies to a better location as well.”

“Other than our travel mishaps today, everything went to plan,” Dr. Harrison said.  “Valerie has been indispensable as always, and we’ve got only one device left to install.”

“That was faster than anticipated,” Dr. Avery said, actually looking surprised.  “Dr. Davis had estimated two weeks for installation for the southern sites.  He’s only just now finished his three.”

“As I said, she’s been invaluable,” Dr. Harrison replied.  “I’d never have gotten it done in twice the time without her.”

Valerie could feel herself blushing.

“We’re all very aware of how important Tavish is to this project,” Dr. Avery said softly.  “Why do you think she’s the only student who always gets her first pick of research partners?”

Valerie glanced between them.  What was that supposed to mean?

“Don’t go scaring the poor woman,” Dr. Harrison said to Dr. Avery before turning to Valerie.  “We’ve noticed that you request to work with me and I’m very aware that it’s because the two of us make a very efficient team and you value efficiency.  It’s why I’ve always requested you in return to ensure you get your first choice.”

“I do value efficiency,” Valerie said softly.  It was too embarrassing to say that she also preferred working with Dr. Harrison because he cared enough to explain things as they worked.  She learned more with him, that’s why she really wanted to work with him so much.

“Why don’t you head to bed,” Dr. Harrison suggested.  “I’ll give our report and then we can head out to the Tay first thing in the morning and see if the boats survived.”

“Yes, get some rest,” Dr. Avery urged.

“Thank you,” Valerie said before leaving the tent.

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