“It’s true, it’s true!” Zigman said, arms flailing. “We’re just here to take pictures. This is a camera!”

“Put the weapon on the ground, now!” the uniform barked. “Hands on your head!”

“Let’s just…calm down,” I said. I slowly and deliberately unslung my camera and laid it on the deck, and then placed my hands on my head. “We came here to photograph the mothballed ships. We’ve been camping out in the battleship.”

“Don’t encourage them,” Zigman spat. “And you, G.I. Joe! Stop pointing that gun at me.”

“I don’t care why you’re here or who you’re selling those illegal photographs to,” the uniform said. “Tell your friend to place whatever the hell it is in his hands on the ground or the rifle that I’m pointing at him will be the least of his worries.”

“Zig, do what he says,” I hissed through gritted teeth. I could already see Wozinski and DeBeers following my example, putting their equipment down.

“Don’t call me that, and don’t tell me what to do! We’re here to document these relics of American aggression before they’re covered up. You’ve no right to stop us!”

“Susan’s Cape is a restricted area. You’re already going to be up on trespassing charges. Do you want to be up on being shot charges too, huh? They’ll make your next of kin pay the full cost of the bullet, and it ain’t cheap.”

I heard that scuttling noise again, this time behind the trio of uniforms in the mess door. This time, though, something was definitely moving in the shadows.

One of the uniforms, the one closest to the port side, yelped as something brushed across his shoulder. A minute later, the darkness swallowed him whole, with just echoes from spastic rifle burst to show he’d ever been there.

“I think we got more than we bargained for.”

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