He only paused a moment to grab another handful of those wonderful berries, figuring that if they were poisonous, he would have gotten sick by now.
He reached the shore just a little past the place where it rose up into cliffs. As he stood watching the waves, he remembered Dad telling his young students about journeying into the woods alone. Live in the reality of the moment… that’s what he’d said. He was beginning to understand that that would be the key to his survival here.
Max stood up straight, as he always did in training. Dad, I know you’re out there… You have to be… And long as I live, I won’t give up on you…
“I’ll find a way…” A lone tear ran down his cheek as he spoke. He brushed it aside, saying one of Uncle Angus’ favorite sayings, “Even if it kills me…”
There was much to be done.
“Hey Bandit! I’ll race ya!” he called out, kicking up sprays of sand as he raced back to the wreck.
Not sure what kind of game this was, but still up for it anyway, Bandit took off right behind him. And Max laughed, wondering if the little creature really understood what he said. Still he thought it was a good sign. It meant the cub approved of his new name.
Side by side, their long late-afternoon shadows rotating slowly like clock hands as they rounded the bends, the two of them ran all the way back to the shipwreck. By the time they reached the ruined hull of the boat, Max had been laughing so hard he was as winded as the cub. It hadn’t been too far, but as far as Max was concerned, it was a start.
“I bet you’ll run really fast when you get bigger!” he told Bandit as he mussed up the cub’s fur. And found himself wondering just how big his little friend might get to be. As big as the Tyger statue? Bigger? “Whoa, if you get too big, I won’t be able to keep up with you!” he laughed.
Bandit slipped away for a moment, crawling under part of the wreckage. A moment later, Max saw what the cat was after as a pair of crabs came scuttling out from under the wreck. Bandit leapt out a moment later, glancing back and forth, trying to figure out which one to pounce. He settled for jumping in front of the closest one, causing it to come to an instant halt.
As the other one scuttled away, Max whipped out his laser sword and cleaved it in half with a single stroke that buried over half the energy blade in the sand.
“Dinner!” came his triumphant cry.
He glanced over to see Bandit matching the other crab’s every move as it jinked from side to side, trying to scramble away. Bandit inching in closer, peering at this alien visitor, sniffing at this fishy curiosity. Max saw it coming even before his feline friend did as the crab reached out with one claw and pinched the cat’s nose.
Bandit jumped back with a snarl of surprise and pain, eying the small crustacean with venomous distrust. The crab, meanwhile, wasted no time in resuming its retreat back to the Ocean—
At least until Max’s laser blade sliced through it, too.
Even as Bandit was warily approaching one of the twitching crab halves, Max picked them up and shut them in one of the wreck’s empty compartments. Then he set out to find some wood while it was still light out.