Tessa Dumont stared at her fellow castaways, shocked at what she was hearing.
“So, to be clear—not only did you not bring Miller back, but they got your gun, too?”
Segarra’s blush could be seen even in the dying light of the fire. “Going into an unknown situation without it wouldn’t have been advisable, either. I’ve already been fired at once on this damn island. I’m not walking around unarmed.”
“Well, you are now,” Dumont said, somewhat smugly, earning her a warning nudge from Hammond. But she wasn’t about to be quiet.
“So we’re just going to leave Miller with a sub full of Russian men? I hope I don’t have to list the reasons why that’s not a good idea.”
McBride spoke up, stirring the fire with the end of a stick. “I don’t think she’s in any danger from them. They seem like decent fellows.”
Dumont snorted. “I don’t think you understand men very well.”
“I understand more about men than you think,” McBride said. “I am one, don’t forget.”
“And Miller passed along a code word to St. Claire,” Segarra said, “intended for me—‘lamprey.’ She’s letting us know she’s not in immediate danger.”
St. Claire snapped a branch over her knee, tossing both ends into the fire. “Can we focus, here?”
“On what, exactly?” McBride asked. “The submarine full of Russians? The armed octogenarian taking potshots at us? The underwater city? The little girl who survived a plane crash? Or the fact that this island shouldn’t even exist?”
“You’re in heaven right now, aren’t you?” Hammond asked.
“Died and went there as soon as our compass went berserk,” McBride answered.
“So, right around when Johnson’s jugular was ripped open?” Dumont shot back.
“FOCUS!” St. Claire yelled, her earlier attempt at guiding the conversation gone completely astray. “Not on Russians or little girls or old men. Food. Water. Shelter.”
She ticked the last three things off on her fingers. “Or am I the only person around here getting hungry?”
The rest of the group went quiet at the mention of food, and St. Claire took the opportunity to make her point.
“We can’t be worried about solving mysteries if we’re starving in the process. We’re in a survival situation, people. We need to start acting like it.”
“So—food, water, shelter,” Dumont repeated. “What about rescue? If I can find a way to transmit—”
“Food. Water. Shelter,” St. Claire said again. “Unless you want to be using your own spinal cord as an antenna.”
“That wouldn’t actually work,” Dumont muttered.
“She’s right,” Hammond said, agreeing with St. Claire and shooting Dumont an apologetic look. “Without an antenna, we can’t transmit a signal. Best to focus what energy we have on staying alive.”
“If I sang the Bee Gees right now, would it be annoying to anyone?” McBride asked. Four hands shot up in unison.
“Fair enough. So: food, water, shelter,” he repeated back to St. Claire. “We’ve got the last one covered with the cave, right? Tide doesn’t go high enough to flood it.”
“Seems to be the case,” St. Claire agreed. “Food and water are a different story, though. I got all the bottled water off the boat when we grounded, and it’s pretty much gone.”
“Stolen,” McBride clarified. “Some of it was stolen.”
“Still gone.” St. Claire shrugged. “Same difference.”
“For food—” Hammond began but St. Claire cut him off with a shake of her head.
“Water first. We can live for seven days—or longer—without food. We can only make it three without water.”
“There must be a freshwater source somewhere on the island,” Segarra said. “Dmitri and his men are surviving.”
“Maybe we should just ask them?” Dumont interjected. “Politely.”
“Olivia is making it too,” Hammond said before Dumont could start another argument. “So yes, there’s got to be a water source. We just need to find it.”
“Easier said than done,” St. Claire said.
“If we do find some, we can use your eternal rays of sunshine to boil it,” said McBride.
“I’ll go searching with you in the morning,” Hammond offered, finding himself in the eternal role of peacemaker. “We’ll make water the first priority. As for food . . .”
“I have a source,” St. Claire said, her tone shifting from confident and in charge to something less sure.
“A source?” McBride asked....