After nearly half an hour by his own estimate, Chekov began to worry.
He felt it a wonderful thing that they had managed to leave the Klingons behind, at least for the time being. That none of Elorra's companions had managed to catch up with them was certainly concerning, but a more immediate issue was that Elorra's eyesight had not returned, not even to the point beginning to clear. If the others fell into the same recovery time, he had little hope that they had evaded the Klingons.
As time passed, and they moved farther back into the forest, in what Chekov hoped was a random direction, she clutched at his shoulder with more and more ferocity. He worried for her, both physically and mentally.
Eventually, they had to stop. He was getting them lost enough, and worried about leading them on a curved path through the dark back towards the Klingons. "We should stop and rest."
Her fingers dug into his flesh. "I can't see. I don't know where we are."
"Da. That makes two of us, at least for the not knowing. Are you thirsty? Do you still have water?"
"Yes, yes I should. Here, hold the spear."
Not letting go of his shoulder, she reached across her body to hold the spear out in front of him. He wished he could see more than a long darker shadow among the marginally lighter shadows, but it was truly night now and he didn't think his eyes would adapt much further than they had.
When he took the weapon, Chekov was surprised at how heavy it wasn't. He had a feeling, like so much else the Pentosians created, that the spear had been grown, and probably from something very special, some tree that the Federation science team had not cataloged here. Was the blade made from something different? If so, how had the two parts been grown together? He did not want to take the chance of running his fingers across it in the dark. Painful wounds across one hand were among the last things he might need.
Elorra took a long drink from the flexible water pack she carried. While it softened her voice, it did little to calm the tension in it. "So what do we do?"
That, Chekov thought, was an excellent question, one for which he honestly had no easy answer. It was far too much to hope for that the Federation science team had allowed search parties to go beyond the edge of the enclave. By now, with him missing for more than a day, the Enterprise would certainly be conducting detailed sensor sweeps of the surrounding forest. But a sudden rescue by transporter beam seemed very unlikely. The local Pentosian forest, he knew, was dense with life. Picking out a single life form, even a clearly alien one, was not going to be easy even for Mr. Spock. Scanning for a shuttlecraft alone in an asteroid belt, a bit of refined metal and ceramic among the billions of tons of raw ore and rock, was a much easier task by comparison. One particular life sign among tens or hundreds of thousands was a much bigger challenge.
And he did not think he wanted to be rescued just at the moment. Mr. Spock would not know that Chekov was not alone. And he did not wish to leave Elorra in this condition. He also very much wished to find out what happened to the remainder of his escort. Though some of the sounds after the flash grenades had gone off told him clearly that not everyone had escaped.
"Now, we wait." The irony of that statement was not lost on. "For morning, if necessary, but more importantly for your eyes to recover. I will simply get us lost, more likely, if I have not already done so. And we can do nothing for the well-being of your friends if we are lost in the dark, yes?"
She remained silent for a long time, fingers tight on his shoulder. He tried to imagine what thoughts might be going through her mind, and if he had managed to alter her preconceptions of humans at all, not that that has been his intent exactly. Finally, Elorra let out a long breath. "Yes, we wait. We try to sleep. But we will not be so stupid as to do so lying on the ground. Let the ugly ones contend with the sneaking predators. It seems unlikely that any will attempt to disturb us, but it is better to be safe. If there are surprises in the night, I would prefer them not being to us."
"So, if we cannot sleep on the ground, where?"
Though he could not see it on her face in the darkness, Chekov swore he could hear a smile in her voice. "I would have thought you far more observant than that. Look around us, and tell me what you see."
Chekov sighed. "Only trees, my friend, and that is precisely what I feared you meant." The morning would tell whether he managed to sleep without falling out of one or not.
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...