Judging by the aches in his shoulders and lower back, Chekov had survived the night.
It had taken them what felt like an hour to get high enough up in a tree that their dangling feet wouldn't smack a passing Klingon in the face. Of course, Chekov expected the Klingons would be carrying their equivalent of tricorders and would be able to pick them out from a few meters away at least, without having to wait for convenient toes.
He was surprised at the position he found himself in, once he was awake enough to understand it. In retrospect, it seemed like an excellent idea, and one perhaps he should have followed if he had the native balance to achieve it. During the night, Elorra had stretched out across several limbs at the same rough height. However, one of them was the one he had straddled to dig his back into a slight depression in the trunk. While having him handy had given her something extra to brace against, at some point, she'd also rolled over to more or less rest her neck and shoulders across his legs. It had the effect of putting her basically in his lap, but also, helped to weigh him down against falling out of side of his tree. He very much doubted she'd done it on purpose, or even was aware she'd shifted position, and did his best not move to before she woke.
After a few minutes, he heard her breathe in short and sharply, and felt her not breathe for several seconds. When she did, it was the measured, shallow breathing of someone not exactly thrilled by the situation she found herself in. A gentle rustling suggested careful movement and the weight lifted from his leg. Chekov slowly counted to sixty, and then gave an exaggerated yawn while he arched his back, rewarded with several loud pops. She took the opportunity of his apparent distraction to push up off the limb completely and regain a seated position on the next branch over.
"It's about time you woke up, off-worlder." But the barely held hostility in her voice seemed almost perfunctory.
He yawned again, ignoring the jibe. "It is morning? Good."
"It has been morning for some time."
"Even better. How are your eyes?"
She hesitated, holding up a hand and wiggling her fingers. "A little blurrier than I would like, but I can certainly find my way around." Her eyes closed for a long moment and she swallowed twice before opening them again. "Thank you. I could not have gotten away on my own."
He smiled at her. "Of course, there was no question." And there hadn't been, but given her general feelings, how could she know that?
"As you say, but thank you anyway."
"You are welcome." He arched his back again and got two more cracks as things fell into place in his spine. Some stiffness remained, but in these difficult days, he could but move on. "Now, I think we need to know where we are."
"What?" Her body tensed, and her eyes narrowed, emerald gaze almost sparkling fire. It was, by far, the strongest visible expression of emotion he'd witnessed from her so far. "I know you must be eager to get back to the enclave, but–"
"No." Chekov shook his head and stared at her with what he hoped was a hard expression. "The enclave will be there whenever I get back to it. We have something far more important to do this morning."
"Oh?" The scowl slipped into a frown, a subtle difference, but perhaps he was learning to read her facial expressions, if only a little. "And what is so much more important than getting you off my planet?"
"There were six of us scattered through the forest when the flash grenade detonated, but I see only two of us here. Which means we are short four." He raised both eyebrows. "I would very much like to know if any of the others still live. If they do, I intend to take them away from the Klingons."
He had no trouble reading the wicked grin spread across Elorra's face. "Perhaps, off-worlder, I am starting to like the way you think after all."
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...