The ferry rolled frantically, with the bow taking the brunt of it. Its yaw could have been twenty degrees or more up, and the same again down. The freezing spray over the bow was vicious, so McGee had relocated to stern, where the roller-coaster ride was equally rough but the spray not so much.

The Chilean happened to be on deck too, and wondered at the insane gringito choosing to stay above decks in the eternal storm that was the Southern Ocean, holding fast to the rails but without any semblance of fear.

“Hey, señor,” he called out, and McGee turned. “You got good sea legs. You a sailor?”

“Marine,” McGee said with a smile. He was genuinely loving this.

“U.S. Marine? You guys are pretty badass, no?”

McGee’s smile remained, but with an unmistakable touch of that melancholy. “Most of the time.” Then he spotted just the barest sliver of rocky shore at the horizon, and pointed. “Is that it? Up ahead?”

Sí, señor. We should make land in about an hour and a half. Valhalla… puras huevadas,” the Chilean sneered. “They’re all named after mythical places, the colonies. You got  Olympus, Avalon, El Dorado… corta el hueveo. I think there’s gonna be a Shangri-La eventually.”

McGee grinned. “You’d rather call it Santiago, maybe?”

“Nah, Chilenos are confused enough,” he laughed.

“Are there really that many people there?” McGee asked, a bit astonished.

Ay, sí. They’re like cities, almost. They never stop growing. People from all over. Fed up with the huevadas and think they’re finally gonna be free here.” McGee noted the irony in his voice at the word ‘free’. “So now they’ve got so big; they need a jefe.”

He looked at McGee with a tilted head. “That’s you, yeah? You’re the guy? Just guessing.”

“Eh, the chief would be running the whole show; I’d just have security. Militia. Whatever they wanna call it. Still, good guess,” McGee smiled. “We’ll have to see what they think, after I tell them what’s what. If they don’t like me, I’ve got no place else to go.”

“They’ll like you just fine. I’ve got work to do; talk later.”

The Chilean chucked him on the shoulder and headed below. McGee’s apprehension returned. These people had no idea what they were getting into.

Breathe, he thought. He tried to let it all go and focus on the approaching shore.


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