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The Secret Adventurer's Club Second Adventure (part 15)

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The lengthening shadows of early evening helped Tukiko lead the four adventurers away from the noisy crowd half way up the hill and down into bottom of the valley where the shadows were closer together and darker.

Those few Devil’s Own who saw them and realised what was happening either looked the other way or actually nodded encouragement at what Tukiko was doing. By now there were very few inhabitants of the camp who didn’t owe the diminutive doctor for the care they had received at her hands. Some of those people who acknowledge her were only alive now because of it.

Tukiko led the way along the muddy valley to where her new car was parked. Jeass had done a good job. Her old car had suffered badly at Tuki’s hands so Jeass had beefed up the suspension on the custom-built ambulance and strengthened the frame to give it a chance against its owneer’s madcap cross-country driving. Arriving at the car, Tukiko looked carefully back the way they had come while the kids clambered across the already untidy mess that was the interior. Satisfied that they were not being pursued, yet anyway, Tukiko spun the car through a hundred and eighty degrees and tore off due north along the dirt track towards the road.

Originally, she had planned on heading for Hope and home but, as the road got closer, Tukiko realised that doing so was just inviting trouble onto the small town.

“Hang on kids!”

Tuki swung the wheel and the car lurched westwards across the uneven ground and directly towards the Devil’s Own lookout post close to the road. Making sure the lookouts had definitely seen the rapidly approaching and unmistakable ambulance, Tuki only then turned onto the road and headed not towards Hope, but to New Flagstaff.

Dusk was settling in nicely when Tukiko pulled up outside the donut shop on Santa Fe Avenue. She let the kids, obviously ravenous by the way they attacked their food, eat for a while before she asked the inevitable question.

“So how in hell did you guys end up in a Devil’s Own encampment anyway?”

The chewing slowed. Donut was swallowed and uneaten pieces were put reluctantly back onto plates. The first bird had come home to roost. The Mrs. Doctor Lady, as Tukiko was known to most of the orphans at the factory, was not only overseer Taiyoko’s partner, she was also somehow or other related to Joe. Not only that, she was also on very good terms with the staff at the orphanage. Being in trouble with any one of those was one thing but being caught by Dr. Troy meant they were in for a triple whammy of trouble once she told on them. In the lengthening silence that followed, guilty glances were thrown at Finny.

Finny took a breath and let it out in a dejected sigh.

“We went on an adventure.”

Somewhere in the ensuing questions more and more of the answers came from the three increasingly excited and animated boys, complete with sound effects whenever they could squeeze them in. Finny’s contributions trailed off until she sat silently looking down into her lap. This did not go unnoticed. Once she had gained the gist of what had happened Tukiko held up her hands for silence.

“Okay boys, I’ve got it. Now, why don’t you take your donuts and go and sit in the car while I have a word with Finny?”

Finny sniffed noisily and it was only then that Casper, Onetooth and Worms realised that Finny was actually crying. In embarrassed silence, and with just a little more haste than was seemly, the three of them left the shop. Tukiko watched them through the window as they got safely into the car. Now with foreheads pressed against glass, the boys tried to get their heads around the unfamiliar concept of their leader crying without any sign of an injury to justify it. But when they noticed the Mrs. Doctor Lady scowling at them they suddenly found somewhere else to look.

Tukiko turned her attention to the little girl sitting across from her.

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