"I have counted 16." Which was more than they'd seen the previous night. He struggled to keep his whisper low enough that it would not carry beyond the Elorra's ear.
She nodded. "I will agree to that number." Her acknowledgment made him feel better about his powers of observation. Occasionally, he did wonder if he was truly cut out for Starfleet. He felt easily distracted sometimes, no matter the high standards he held himself to. She turned to stare at him. "It does not make for a good ratio."
Chekov shrugged. "I am Russian. The odds have never been in our favor. It is something you get used to." And in less stressful moments, he might have said something similar as a joke. Now, he found he meant it quite seriously. The odds did not matter, only what was right.
She inhaled, probably to say she thought he was human, but seemed to change her mind in the moment.
Without speaking, they agreed to withdraw several hundred yards, taking a few minutes to sneak back beyond sight of what must have been the river he'd caught a glimpse of from a distance the day before. What they had ahead of them required some planning, though more importantly it required them to be somewhere the Klingons did not suspect they could be.
Crouching behind a fallen tree larger than any he'd ever seen before, they kept their voices to whispers.
The look on the Elorra's face brightened as they began to sketch out a rough plan. He suspected that she did not expect to survive. Further, she likely expected him to die as well. While that was certainly possible, even likely, any end he would suffer at the hands Klingons would likely be unpleasant as they tried to learn what he might know about their movements on Pentos and whatever Starfleet secrets he might be willing to spill. It would be long and drawn out, he was sure.
"They are loud and messy."
"Da, but they are not stupid. They will be alert and aware, and we will have little time to get into their camp, find what we want, and get out again." He drew a large circle in the dirt and then a small X. "If this is here, the shelters I was able to see are here, here, and here." He poked spots inside the circle.
Elorra nodded. She pointed at the center one. "This one is the largest. There."
"It is. And that seems to make it obvious to me. Too obvious. This one, though smaller, would certainly hold two prisoners."
"It is also the one closest to us, though they might see things differently."
"It is closer, but you are correct. And if you thought someone might try to rescue your prisoners, would you expect a frontal assault?"
"No, but I would still be prepared."
"As would I. But remember that we are not Klingons. We will think differently than they do. They may be prepared for a frontal assault, but perhaps not so much for a frontal sneak."
Her expression drifted back to neutral. "What do you propose?"
He waved a hand through the circle, destroying everything they'd drawn. "Actually give them both what they expect and what they don't." He grinned. "And don't plan too much detail. Let us be fluid, reacting to the situation we find. With our limited equipment, we need to keep to simplicity."
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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...