In the full light of morning, Chekov reminded himself that the Pentosians were not primitives, but he had to keep correcting the evidence of his senses. Their dwellings were simple, and uncomplicated, but they were not simple huts of branches and limbs, no matter how much they looked that way in the darkness. He'd been brought to the edge of a village and shown to one of those small huts, and then left alone with only a single command. "Rest now."
With the adrenaline of the chase fading, the lateness of the day, and the physical exhaustion, it had been an easy command to follow, and he had slept well past the morning's first light, coming to himself again only when a knock came on the frame of the doorway.
He sat up quickly, alert, if not precisely awake. The variants on blue skin and white hair that were the dominant traits of the native Pentosians reminded him very much of Andorian tones, but the physical similarities ended quickly after that. With large eyes suited to the dim forest life on a dim world, the natives he had seen also seemed uniformly broad and muscular, if shorter than what would be considered human norm. The woman standing in the doorway, though some centimetres shorter than Chekov, who had never counted himself tall, likely had something near double his strength. He thought part of that might just be lifestyle, the primitive existence the Pentosians held to, and then he corrected the word primitive in his mind again. Almost uniformly as a people across the entire world, the Pentosians had chosen to follow biological sciences as primaries, and over centuries had engineered themselves, and their society, to mesh with the natural world. In effect, they grew almost everything they needed, and that included the hut he'd spent the night in as well as the spear his visitor held in her left hand.
He smiled, an expression their species shared. "Good morning. Though it was very dark last night, I suspect you are one of those who saved my life?" Although, perhaps this particular Pentosian didn't share it. She didn't speak but nodded once. Pushing up from the small sleeping mat he had found by feel in the darkness, Chekov came to attention for an instant, and then bowed to her. "Thank you very much." He smiled again, hoping she might warm at least a little.
Her expression didn't change at all. "I saved you only because the ugly ones chased you. You should not be here."
His smile died, and Chekov resisted the urge to sigh, but diplomacy was important. "I do understand that, and it makes my thanks all the more sincere. I did not mean to trespass on your world and hope only that someone can point me back to the enclave so I may be on my way without disturbing you anymore."
She stepped back from the doorway, motioning for him to follow. "That is not for me to decide. You will see the Council."
He struggled to keep up, partly because she moved quickly, and partly because the path she led him on moved steadily upwards into larger trees than he'd ever seen before. Plus he had a hard time not looking around constantly. There were staircases and railings of living wood, platforms leading to small houses and dwellings every dozen or so meters they climbed, clusters of living places, and he ached to see inside of them, to see such things that weren't in the enclave, things that no human had ever seen before. He did suppose just being here was doing that for him, but he wished she would slow down so he could have a better look. Just when he began to fear that she was leading into the very top branches, they broke through a small canopy, and into what seemed almost like a giant clearing at least a hundred metres above the forest floor.
A flat wooden surface stretched away from him, spread between six or seven of the giant trees, a huge area where whatever passed for normal daily activity occured. He began to revise his idea of a village into a town, or possibly even a small city. In the strange flat area before him, he could see several hundred residents at least, and very few of them carrying what he'd come to think of as the signature spear.
YOU ARE READING
Between a Rock and a KlingonScience Fiction
Stuck on a primitive planet with a troop of Klingons between him and the Federation enclave, Chekov has to enlist the help of the native sentient species to stay in one piece and find his way back to the Enterprise. "Between a Rock and a Klingon" is...