The Voyager's Aide: The Disappearance
Chapter 1: A little diversion
Kayla Sheppard tilted her head back with a sigh of pleasure, absorbing the warmth and fresh, unpolluted air. The sky was cloudless and the pristine, blue waters lapped powerfully against the shore. She smiled at the sound of hearty male laughter coming from the ocean. She shielded her eyes and caught sight of Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey Jones throwing each other into the oncoming waves. The trio was enjoying a long needed vacation on a beach in Quintana Roo, a Mexican state that was uninhabited in the seventeenth century.
It was three months since Kayla had last seen the Voyagers, having been immersed in her studies at Voyager Training School. Her course schedule proved to be intense and more academic than a field worker. She was assigned to learn the history of the Guidebook, omni function and repair, psychology, genealogy, and other necessary ethics and social science classes. Kayla enjoyed the experience, but missed all of her dear friends. Her assistant Jeremy Saunders and his new bride, Kirstie, were doing very well in the Manhattan Brownstone on Sixth Avenue. Kayla often shared what she learned with Jeremy and he handled her caseload of Voyagers with relative ease while Voyagers Headquarters gave him assistance as needed.
The day after her final exam for the omni course, she received a surprise visit from Phineas and Jeffrey. They had come to whisk her away to an island retreat. Kayla was ecstatic to go, and to her amazement, the boys had prepared a large hut in advance. They decorated it with a few modern furnishings and had gone hunting for food and delicious fruits. Today was their third day living like natives off the isle.
Kayla made her way to the ocean, only going in up to her ankles. Phineas waved with a broad, attractive smile.
"C'mon, hon! I think your toes know how to swim great by now!"
Phineas! That's not funny!" She shouted back, but couldn't stop herself from laughing.
She waded further until the water passed her knees. The waves were bigger in this late hour of the day. Jeffrey wrestled himself away from Phineas and came to her side.
"The water is perfect, Kayla! Don't be scared, you're doing great since we got here. I'm gonna go eat, I'm starved!"
"Jeff, remember don't swim again too soon." She reminded him.
"I know. The one hour rule. I'm just gonna relax anyway." He plopped on the blanket and began munching on the shish kabobs Kayla roasted earlier. After he stuffed himself, he would be ready for a long nap.
Kayla bravely moved closer and Phineas swam to her. The cool water lapped up to her chest. She held out her arms and wrapped them around his neck, and then did the same with her legs around his waist, feeling safe in his strong grip.
"Hey pretty lady, it's about time you joined me." He kissed her.
"I'll only do this if you're here to help me, I'm still scared of the water, Phineas."
Phineas hugged her. "Hey, its okay, I am here. Haven't my lessons paid off at all?"
"Yep, I was able to get this far without panicking, that's pretty good."
"Great, now lets see that dog paddle."
"Oh no, not now, I just got so comfortable."
She shifted up closer and rested her head on his shoulder. She ran her fingers down his back, hoping he would change his mind. Phineas always enjoyed the sensation, but he was on to her tricks.
"Kayla, this is for your own good. My father trained my sister and I to swim when we were still babies; he said I should have been a mermaid's son. Trust me, it will come in handy."
Kayla groaned and pulled away. She tread the water while Phineas cheered her on.
"That's great, look at you, you're floating! That's one of the most important things to know about swimming, how to stay afloat."
"It would help if I actually moved somewhere."
"It's far better than sinking."
Kayla loved Phineas' confidence. He was a source of great encouragement to everyone he met. They spent the next half hour practicing different swimming techniques and she proved to be a decent student. When she tired out, they cuddled on a rock mass as the sun dipped into the horizon. She curled up between his legs and Phineas sat behind her and played with her shoulder length hair.
"I can't decide what I like Kayla, the long hair or the short."
"Everyone at VTS loved the bob, but I got a little tired of maintaining it; it just grows so fast. Right now it's in that awkward, in-between stage."
"Nah, it looks fine to me. Hair is hair."
"Spoken like a true male. You know, I am proud of myself today, I never thought I'd be able to swim like this in the ocean."
"What do you mean? Are you swimming in other bodies of water behind my back?" He prodded her.
Kayla laughed. "Well, I wanted to surprise you a little, but I've been taking lessons with Brian at the pool in the Academy. Believe it or not, he's a fantastic teacher too, but not as gentle as you." She tickled his hands and gazed at him.
Phineas was silent. She stared at him, amused to see jealousy creeping upon his face as his jaw tensed and his mouth set in a firm line. She decided to play oblivious and looked toward the horizon.
"Um…word around the Voyager water cooler is that he has a thing for Marty. I've never seen a more healthier man take so many trips to the infirmary. But it's a shame, because we all know Marty has the hots for Tom and he sorta likes her, but really, he's just too bashful to admit anything. That's not good, because if Tom does love her, he'll lose her quick and…"
Phineas stared dumbfounded as she prattled on all the romantic dirt about their Pioneer friends. He silenced her with a hand over her mouth.
"Jeesh Kayla! You're turning this team into a soap opera!"
"It's not! It's just…life. You wouldn't believe all the stuff I've heard about you!"
Phineas shrugged and chuckled. "Sticks and stones, what does anyone really know?"
"Not much I hope!"
He laughed again and then brushed her hair aside and kissed the nape of her neck. She leaned back against his chest and they continued to kiss playfully. When their lips parted they gazed tenderly at one another.
"Phineas, this was one of the sweetest things you've ever done for me."
"Didn't I tell you I would do anything for you?"
"Yes, although, I did say that getting me the pink and red Kimonos and tatami sandals was the sweetest, I loved them so much, I almost wore them out." She giggled.
"Oh, I didn't tell you that Tomoe Gozen the warrior gave it to me as a thank you. Jeff and I helped her plan out and win, the battle of Kurikawa. She called us, Phinesan and Jeffresan."
Kayla slid off the rock and faced him with a wry smile. She pushed his wet hair back and kept her arms around his waist.
"I've read about Tomoe, she had flawless porcelain skin, long and silky black hair, and was beautiful."
"Yeah, she sure was. And what a warrior! The things she could do with that bow and arrow…" Phineas trailed off, holding back laughter.
"Oh really? And I've heard that her husband, Kiso Yoshinaka, was an expert with his samurai sword, he was rumored to split men in two with one stroke." Kayla informed him with a playful shove.
"Those Japanese wars are outright bloody and violent, Jeffrey was a little stunned for a while. I tried to keep him out of the battle and it was rough. Tomoe eventually took the head of the man who killed her husband." Phineas shuddered from the memory.
"Wow! I'm sorry he had to witness all that. So what really happened to her? Did she become a nun or die with him in the battle?"
"Honestly, I don't know for sure. After we defeated General Yoritomo, I got Jeff out of there as fast as possible; she was riding toward the East when I hit the omni."
"Another person lost in the throngs of history, that's too bad." Kayla shivered from the sudden breezes and noticed Phineas did the same. "Hey, those gorgeous muscles of yours must be getting chilly; we should head back to the hut."
The young couple strolled along the shoreline holding hands. When they came to the hut, Jeffrey had already passed out in his small cot. They washed themselves with freshwater and soap and put on warmer clothing. Kayla set up the blanket and Phineas brought out a platter of an intricately carved fruit salad he worked on earlier in the day.
"Phineas! You did this? It's so beautiful I almost don't want to eat it. You've created a work of art."
"I picked this little art form up from the natives of Polynesia, they find beauty in everything."
"Hmm, I'm sure the native women found beauty in you, my dahling."
Kayla held her tongue after that remark. She knew she had to stop her jealous behavior. She didn't want to make Phineas feel uncomfortable, but he was so good-natured that sometimes her comments went over his head. She watched him as he chewed on a papaya and looked wistfully at the full moon coming into view. In school, the other female voyagers talked non-stop about the gorgeous Phineas Bogg, and whether real or imagined, they all seemed to have a story to tell.
As Kayla grew more adapted to the school setting, she became a passive observer to these conversations. When they learned of her relationship with Phineas, some started giving her the cold shoulder. Kayla brushed it off with understanding; she had been in their shoes at one time, feeling no more than a mere notch in his belt.
"So, Boggy, what to do now?"
Phineas swallowed his fruit and rolled his eyes at her. "Boggy, huh? Where did that come from?"
"Well that's what all the gals call you at school, specifically Voyager Beth Davies. Don't you remember her? Average height, pretty brown eyes, and a 'widdle' cupid bow mouth?"
"Oh…That Beth…hehheh…yeah, she kinda loves to give everyone pet names."
"Really Phinny? Ohhhh! Where is my Boggy woggy baby bear?" She mocked the female Voyager's squeaky voice.
Kayla laughed at him as his eyes widened. He grinned and shrugged like a little boy caught in the cookie jar. She kissed his cheek and snatched a strawberry.
"I'm only teasing you, Phineas, but you really are popular at VTS. I think you're in at least one picture in every display case around the campus. You really went all out."
"I was a late bloomer, I didn't know my buckle from my sash when I first arrived."
"Hey buster, according to these girls you knew that buckle from that sash very well. I saw more of your early pictures and you were adorable! That perfect Viking mustache, your hair all scruffy in a ponytail, little chipped tooth in front, your broken nos…"
Phineas lunged on her and covered her mouth. "Shhh! Are you trying to give me away?"
Their laughter rang out across the beach as he grappled her, she begged for mercy when he kept her arms behind her back and started to tickle her all over.
"Ahhhh! Stop! Stop! Jeffrey is going to wake up! Please!"
"Jeffrey? Wake up? That kid slept through the Tri-State Tornado!"
Kayla lifted her head up. "Oooh, you mean the one from nineteen twenty five that ripped across three states in America?"
"That's the one! Hey you're pretty good, maybe I should take you along as a partner?"
"Don't you dare Phineas Bogg, Jeffrey is your one and only." She scolded him, managing to squirm out of his grasp and turn over.
"I know that, he's irreplaceable. I still want you…"
Kayla kissed him. "I love those four words, say it again."
Phineas cleared his throat and put his mouth to her ear, "I still want you…" He repeated.
Within the next few moments it was absolutely clear how much he did. Meanwhile, Jeffrey stumbled from his cot; he needed to relieve himself. He noticed the two on the blanket and clicked his teeth annoyed as he walked over, covering his eyes halfway.
"Sorry! Kid crossing! Excuse me." He announced.
Phineas leaped off Kayla and she quickly rolled on her stomach and adjusted her sweater sleeves. They both laughed uncomfortable. Jeffrey smiled and continued to saunter in the direction of the trees.
"Hey, can you move it a little faster, Jeff?" Phineas urged. "Next time, I make two huts." He whispered to Kayla.
She choked back a laugh and elbowed him.
"What, Bogg? I'm enjoying the scenery out here, smelling the flowers. Gazing at the starlight." Jeffrey teased.
"You'll be seeing stars alright! Watch out for wild boars…and a real nasty species of tropical bug." Phineas sneered. "You haven't seen it yet have you?"
"No…what bug? A scorpion?"
"No! This isn't a desert. I'm talking about a skeevy little thing that burrows under your skin and picks at your muscle flesh with its pincers! I've heard stories, Jeff, that would curl your…uhh, straighten your hair! They've attacked whole armies of natives and ate men alive from the inside out! The natives often used them as a torture tactic." Phineas stared gravely at him.
Jeffrey curled his toes in the sand, wishing he wore sneakers. He glanced around, trying to cover over his nervousness. "No such bug, Bogg! I've never heard of that one. What do they look like, huh?"
"A cross between a beetle and probably a scorpion, but I've never gotten within ten feet of those things. They leap you know…like this!"
Kayla yelped as Phineas quickly tossed a handful of sand at Jeffrey's legs and the boy nearly jumped a mile and toppled over. He scrambled to his feet, red faced.
"Bogg! That's not funny! I knew you were lying to me!"
Phineas laughed heartily. "I got you good, didn't I? I'm sorry Jeff, but you left yourself wide open for that one!"
"Oh yeah, well, you'll definitely be sorry for that!" Jeffrey sputtered and ran to the dark underbrush.
Kayla laughed at the antics between them. It could never be any other way between the boys. Phineas claimed to never lie, but he was certainly good at it. She snuggled closer to him.
"Phineas, you could always have Jeffrey camp outside further down the beach, it's a clear night. Or maybe in one of the caves we found the other day…then again, we could…" She suggested with a mischievous glint in her turquoise eyes.
Phineas had considered it earlier, but he shook his head. "I can't send him out there. Who knows what's behind those trees? There could be wild creatures, restless natives trying to defend their land…"
Kayla giggled. "Flesh eating bugs…that's why I love you. You're such a protective father figure to him."
"I doubt Jeffrey will be calling me dad any time soon."
"Aww, you never know. Hey, I hope you didn't really scare him. It is kind of creepy out there."
"I'm right here and I'm quick, but sometimes, that kid asks for it, Kayla…hey…where are you going?"
Kayla rose from the blanket and yawned. "You know, we promised to take Jeffrey to look at some Mayan ruins tomorrow and we want to get an early start."
Phineas kicked the sand, his frustration evident. He looked up at her with his lower lip jutted out. "But Kayla, this is our vacation too, it's a perfect night for…"
Kayla shushed him as Jeffrey passed by again, he had gotten over his bug scare. "Hey! Who made the fruit salad? Looks great!"
Jeffrey helped himself to a few coconut squares and sat cross-legged on the blanket. He didn't pay attention to Bogg's annoyed mumblings; rather, he counted down the seconds until he heard his inevitable complaint.
"Smart kids give me a pain!" Phineas said huffy and he popped some grapes in his mouth.
Kayla laughed aloud with Jeffrey and sat between them. It was too beautiful a night to waste sleeping. They all relaxed and talked under the gorgeous velvet sky of the tropics.