Avenger: Chapter 13

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Marakil reined in her necuar and slid off, delighted to see the grotto hadn't changed since she had last seen it. Then, as the others dismounted and tied their mounts, she stopped short and listened with her whole body.

"Natan, do you hear something?" she asked. Her brother listened and shrugged.

"Vessers. They should be asleep at this time of the day. No problem."

"But they shouldn't be this close to the grotto."

"When we're home, I'll inform the watchers and the herd will be moved."

"Any trouble?" McCoy asked, coming up behind her.

"Only if they're frightened into stampeding." She shrugged and unstrapped her spear from the saddle.

"Where are you going with that thing?"

"Just to look around."

"My wife, are you sure?" Sojar stopped her with a touch on the arm.

"I'm sure. The fewer who go, the less noise to frighten them." She smiled and hefted her weapon. "I'm a very swift runner. You stay here,"

"As you wish." He released her and stepped back, watching Marakil vanish into the trees like the proverbial shadow.

"You're just going to let her go?" McCoy asked.

"What would you have me do, Doctor? Keep her in a padded box so she will not be hurt?" Sojar gave him an inscrutable look and walked over to join Spock, who examined plants on the other side of the clearing.

McCoy shrugged. Sojar was probably right. He stood idle a moment, watching the others settle down and talk. Funny, but he felt wrong about some­thing. To reassure himself, he opened a saddle bag and pulled out his medic kit. Even if the others felt safe leaving communicators and phasers behind, he could never be without the tools of his trade in an alien place. McCoy checked his kit, making sure all was in order, then put it away. Uhura called him over to see a strange flower. That held his attention for a good ten minutes.

"Funny." He straightened and looked around. Sojar was doing the same on the other side of the clearing. "Marakil should have been back by now."

*****

Marakil took a deep breath, willing away the ache in her head. The Klingon had clipped her at the base of her skull, enough to stun her but not render her unconscious. The haziness in front of her eyes seemed to soak into her brain. She couldn't think straight or stand up. Two Klingons held her by the upper arms as she slumped between them. Kast watched her, hands on hips, gloating until she felt nauseous from looking at him. She was aware enough to feel that much, at least.

How long had they waited in the bushes until she walked into their ambush? She had seen and heard nothing until something crashed into the back of her head. Then it was too late. She couldn't breathe enough to call for help, but her mind was clearing. Finally.

*****

Sojar straightened with a gasp. McCoy nudged Kirk and gestured for him to watch Sojar.

"Danger ... from Klingons," he said, his gaze going unfocused.

"Klingons?" The others snapped to attention at McCoy's sharp tone.

"She is hurt. The Klingons plan to stampede vessers ... at us."

"Where?" Kirk hurried to the line of necuar, to get his spear.

"They have phasers." Despite that, Sojar headed out along Marakil's path, pausing only long enough to yank the spear from McCoy's saddle.

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