**************************************************************** Brock Sloane was stranded. He'd crashed his shuttle in a dust storm on the planet Seta, knocking out his shuttle's communications system, leaving him injured and with barely 2 days' rations.
His portable communicator worked, but he couldn't get through to his ship, the Blackpool. He hoped the homing beacon in his ship still worked so they could find him, but he doubted it.
The temperature there was fairly comfortable, so he changed from his flight suit into a pair of uniform pants and a casual shirt. He then bandaged his wounds, mainly cuts and some bruises. Once the dust storm was over, he decided to venture outside to see if he could possibly get a message to the Blackpool.
Once outside, he realized he had crashed near a river. ”Great!“, he said. ”At least I should be able to catch some fish if I run out of rations.“ He had a strange feeling he was being watched, so he kept his hand on his phaser.
He walked around the area abit, then came back to sit on some logs not too far from his shuttle.
”Blackpool, this is Colonel Brock Sloane. Do you read me? Come in please.“
He received no response. Brock could not shake the feeling he was being watched. His senses were on high alert, not knowing what or whom was watching him.
Towards evening, he got a fire started so he could cook something to eat and make some coffee. He kept trying to contact the Blackpool, but received no response. ”I wonder if this damn thing's even working!“, he said, frustrated.
As he was cooking himself some stew rations, he heard a branch break behind him. Turning around, he saw nothing, but heard tense breathing.
He turned around to continue heating his dinner. A minute later, he heard another branch break. He turned around but, once again, saw nothing.
After finishing dinner, he decided to go inside since it had started raining. He continued trying to contact the Blackpool, but had no success.
The next morning it was still raining. It had rained quite hard all night. Brock went to send another message to the Blackpool and noticed water dripping from the window. “That's not good.”, he said.
He put some of his supplies up in the cabinets. “Right now I'm probably ok, but better safe than sorry. If this window doesn't hold and rain starts pouring in, I'll either have to evacuate or get electrocuted.
”I think I saw a hut about a half mile away yesterday. If I have to evacuate, I'll see if I can take shelter there. I've got to send another message and let the Blackpool know what's happening.”, he said to himself.
He decided to stay, for the time being anyway, and see if the leaks got worse over the course of the day. Brock tried plugging the leaks. It held for a little while, then the leaks started again.
Towards noon the rain was picking up. He made the decision to evacuate since the rain was starting to pour in. He sent one more message.
“Mayday! Mayday! Blackpool come in! This is Colonel Brock Sloane. I'm evacuating. Rain's pouring into the shuttle. I'll be in a hut near some caves about half a mile northeast of my crash site. I need extraction immediately!”
After sending the message, he sent another one to any and all Federation Directorate vessels.
“Mayday! Mayday! This is Colonel Brock Sloane of the starship Blackpool. I've been stranded here on Seta after crashing in a dust storm yesterday.
”I've been trying to contact the Blackpool with absolutely no response. My shuttle window is leaking and rain's pouring in. I'm evacuating to a hut near some caves about one half mile northeast of my crash site. I'm injured and need an extraction team immediately!”
After getting a rain cloak out of a cabinet and putting it on, Brock started collecting all the rations, blankets, his clothes, and other essentials, putting them in a large zippered tote bag. After locking up the shuttle, he started walking to the hut.
When he got close to it, he saw 4 bodies scattered on the ground. They'd all been gutted, and their throats were slashed.
Remembering the tense breathing and breaking branches he'd heard the night before, Brock's senses were heightened and he unholstered his phaser.
He heard limbs breaking, along with the same tense breathing, and very cautiously entered the hut.
There was a fire in the fireplace, and a pot of soup was simmering on a woodstove.
“This place is actually quite cozy.”, he said. “I can see myself being comfortable living here permanently. That just might happen if I don't get rescued soon. I'd have to make arrangements with the owner first though.”
He heard the tense breathing again, this time coming from almost directly behind him. In the fireplace flames, he could see a figure slowly approaching him from behind.
Seconds before it got too close to him, he grabbed his phaser and swiftly turned around, coming face-to-face with a woman yielding a large knife and suddenly screaming a battle roar.
She stopped advancing at the sight of his phaser, but pointed the knife at him, making jabbing motions and continuing her battle roar.
”Listen,“, Brock said, ”I don't want to hurt you, so put the knife down and stop that roaring! Put the knife down and you won't get hurt!“
The woman circled around him, making jabbing motions with her knife, and roaring between jabbing motions.
”I crashed my shuttle yesterday during the sandstorm. The window's cracked and it started leaking overnight. The rain's been pouring in all day.
“I had to evacuate my shuttle. I remembered seeing this hut and thought I'd take shelter here. I didn't know anyone lived here. I hope you don't mind if I take shelter here until the rain stops.“
As she circled around him, he noticed she was limping and had cuts above her right eye and on her left cheekbone.
”You're injured.“, he said. ”Put your knife down and I'll help you. I've got a first aid kit I brought with me. Put the knife down and let me help you.“
Still circling slowly, another roar, more jabbing motions, she finally spoke. ”Put your weapon away human, or I will slit your throat! Shoot me if you wish. I will kill you with my last breath!“
Brock said, ”Well it seems we're in abit of a standoff here, Ma'am. We're both injured, both pointing weapons at each other, I'm hungry, and I'm pretty sure you are too.
“Why don't we put our weapons down at the same time? We can have some lunch together, I'll tend to your injuries, and we can sort this all out.“
Another roar, several more jabbing motions and circling but, this time, she was showing more pain. Knowing she needed help, especially with her leg, and most likely wouldn't let him help her as long as his weapon was pointed at her, Brock holstered his phaser.
“There. A show of good faith. My phaser's holstered. Now it's your turn. Put your knife down, sit down on the chair there, and I'll tend to your injuries. Let me help you, one warrior to another.”
She looked at him, made more jabbing motions and another loud roar, then lowered her knife. She limped to the table and sat down, obviously in alot of pain.
He could see blood trickling down her leg. She laid her knife down in front of her on the table.
Remembering the pot of soup on the stove, Brock handed her a bowl of soup, a spoon, and a bottle of water he'd brought from the shuttle.
He then opened the bottle for her, poured some in a cup, and handed it to her. When she reached for the cup of water, he held onto it for a few more seconds.
“When you want more, whether it's soup or water, just let me know and I'll get it for you, ok?”, he said in a kind tone.
She nodded, and he let go of the cup so she could drink. He filled a bowl for himself as well, then sat down to eat with her.
“So those 4 bodies I saw scattered on the ground out there. I'm guessing that's your handiwork?“, he asked.
”Yes.“, she said proudly.
”Remind me to never piss you off!“, he replied, smiling broadly.
”I'm Brock Sloane. I'm a Colonel with Federation Directorate stationed aboard the starship Blackpool. What's your name? Wait! Don't tell me, let me guess.
“Hmm...Let's see. Cleopatra? Eleanor of Aquitaine? Joan of Arc? Marie Antoinette? No? None of those? They were all lady warriors.
“Well, except for Marie Antoinette. She was a Queen of France and got her head chopped off during the French Revolution.
”You're not dead from an asp bite, nor are you dead from being burned at the stake, and you're not a medieval English queen, so you're not one of those ladies. So...what's your name?”
“I am called Botilda.”, she said.
“Well it's nice to meet you, Botilda!” He stood up and extended his hand to her. She looked at him blankly, her hand on her knife.
”Where I'm from, warriors shake hands when they greet each other.“, he said politely. She then extended her hand and shook his hand.
”We clasp our hands together, put them up to our chest and bow.“, she said, ”like this.“ She showed him her people's greeting and he greeted her the same way. They both sat down and went back to eating their meal.
”So what race are you?“, Brock asked.
She replied, ”I am Thahlen. I am a Thahlen warrioress. I am the last. Humans and Setans killed the rest of my people.“
”When did that happen? Is that where your injuries are from?“, Brock asked.
”Four months ago. The injuries from that attack have healed. These are from yesterday and today. I fell down a ravine trying to get to shelter, among other things.“, she replied.
”After we finish lunch, I'll tend to your injuries. Would you like more soup or water? Brock asked.
“Yes.“, Botilda replied, not used to using human manners or pleasantries. He refilled both their bowls and cups.
”How's the fishing around here?“, he asked.
”It is not bad.“, she replied.
After they finished lunch, he went over to tend to her injuries. She tensed up, grabbing her knife and roaring again.
”I promise you, I'm just trying to help, one warrior to another.“, he said. After he said that, she lowered her knife and allowed him to help her.
He bandaged the cuts on her face, then looked at her leg. She had a large twig sticking out of her thigh, and a badly sprained ankle as well. He got bandages for her leg from the first aid kit.
He told her to bite down hard on the dull side of her knife blade while he took the twig out and bandaged her wound. He gently pulled the twig out in the direction it had entered her leg. She screamed in agony as she bit down on the knife blade.
”Looks like you probably need some stitches. I've got some ointment and butterfly strip bandages that should keep you from needing stitches, at least until the med evac shuttle gets here anyway.
“I'll also put a large bandage with antibiotic ointment over the strips. That should help you when it comes to keeping it from getting infected.“
He bandaged up her wound and told her she'd need to take it easy for at least two or three weeks with her ankle. She'd also need to have the leg bandage changed every other day to prevent infection.
”What were you doing when you got injured?“, he asked.
”I saw your ship yesterday as you were crashing.“, she replied. ”I wanted to see who was attacking my territory, and to see if you were with them.
“I saw you by your fire last night. I wanted to kill you, thinking you were with them. I heard the messages you were sending and realized you were not, so I let you live.
”I went today to see if you were still there. The rain got so bad that I tried to get back to my hut, but I slipped and fell down the ravine before I could get back here.“, she said.
”It was just little old me crashing in, but not attacking, your territory. Who did you mean by 'them'?“, he asked.
”The ones who attacked me shortly before the sand storm. They are now dead. Those are the ones you saw outside.“, she said.
”I thought the cuts above your eye and on your cheekbone looked to be from a blade, rather than falling down a ravine.“, Brock replied. ”How many attacked you?“
She replied, very matter-of-factly, ”4. They found me here and wanted to mate with me. I did not want to. They tried to kill me, but I killed them instead.“
He replied, smiling admiringly at her, ”Wow! You really are one tough lady!“ She smiled with pride when he said that.
”I'm hoping after the rain stops I'll be able to get back to my shuttle and see if I can fix the comm system.
“I've got a portable communicator with me and I'm going to try to send them a message using that in the meantime.“, he said.
They sat and talked for the rest of the afternoon and evening, finishing up the soup for dinner.
Eventually they decided to get some sleep. There was only one bed and no couch so, after much debate, they decided to share the bed platonically.
After they were settled in under the covers, he said, ”Goodnight, Botilda. Sleep well.“
She replied, ”Goodnight. Sleep well. Thank you for tending to my injuries.“
Brock replied, ”You're very welcome.“
Merci pour la lecture!