Mason Zerant, a human pilot from the planet Jorash who was stationed on the Federation Directorate ship Brigadier, was experiencing mechanical failure in the shuttle he was piloting.
Looking for a safe area to land, not wanting to hurt or kill anyone on the ground, he finally saw a small clearing near a river and aimed in that direction. There were several tall trees but, he thought to himself, “better to crash into trees than to crash into a mountain.”
Bracing himself for impact, he reduced his speed. Within 20 seconds, he crashed. “That hurt MUCH worse than I expected it to!”, he said to himself, groaning before slipping into unconsciousness.
A short while later Dahrta, a member of the Mercarren race on the planet Tratu, and her children came upon the crashed shuttle. The front had been badly crushed in the collision, and tree branches had shattered the craft's window.
After pounding on the area next to the door, the shuttle door opened and they went inside. Dahrta saw Mason in the pilot's seat, bleeding and unconscious.
“Atreyu and Bartoqh, run back to the village and ask Uncle Idris to come help us carry this human to our cabin. And tell him we need a blanket for the pilot. Hurry, boys!”, she said to her sons as she adjusted her infant in the baby sling she was carrying her in.
Dahrta then held Mason's hand and applied pressure to his abdominal wound to try to stop his bleeding. Slowly he opened his eyes and said weakly, “Please help me. Please.”
“My sons are on their way to my brother's. They'll bring him back with them to help me get you to our village. You've been impaled by a sharp tree branch and have other injuries. You're going to be alright. You're safe now. Just try to relax and breathe slowly. I'm here to help you.”, Dahrta replied comfortingly.
The pilot squeezed her hand, smiled ever-so-slightly, then said, “Thank you.”, as he slipped back into unconsciousness.
Five minutes after they'd left, the boys arrived at their uncle's cabin. “Uncle Idris! Uncle Idris!, Mom needs your help! A human crashed and is injured. She needs your help, and a blanket, to bring him to our cabin! Please Uncle, hurry!”, they called to their mother's brother.
Nine minutes later, they were back at the shuttle. They found Dahrta inside, holding the pilot's hand, applying pressure to the abdominal wound where he had been impaled. He was still unconscious, and breathing shallowly.
“Idris,”, she said to her brother, “if we can get him to my cabin I can tend to his injuries. Can you help me please? He's bleeding badly. He was conscious for a few moments, then lost consciousness again.”
“I'm going to pull him out of the seat, Dahrta, and you grab his legs. We'll get him out of here, then tend to that branch before bringing him to the village. I'm sure this craft has a first aid kit.
”Humans always carry one in their ships. We can use it to control his bleeding and bandage the wound up. He'll have a better chance of surviving the trip after we remove that thing.”, Idris said.
They carried him out about 20 feet from the shuttle, laying him on the blanket the boys had put down on the ground. Idris went back into the shuttle and found the first aid kit.
Dahrta carefully removed the branch and Idris immediately applied pressure to the wound. Mason groaned loudly before passing out again from the severe pain.
They bandaged the wound until they could get him to Dahrta's cabin, where she could apply her poultice to his wound.
“He'll start feeling better soon, now that the branch is out of him. Boys, I've collected some things from his shuttle. I need you and your mom to carry them while I carry this man to your cabin.”, Idris said, as he lifted Mason into a fireman's carry.
Ten minutes later they arrived at Dahrta's home. Idris laid the pilot on her bed.
She removed his clothes down to his underwear, then covered him up. “Thank you, Idris!”, she said. ”I'll tend to his injuries now. Hopefully he'll recover quickly.”
Idris left and some other men from the village were going to a nearby town to barter and buy some supplies. Dahrta gave him the different artisan items she'd made. He'd sell them for her while in town, and would return later.
After nursing her daughter, Aedra, while tending to Mason's injuries, she put the infant in her cradle for a nap. She made lunch for the boys and herself, a lunch of bananas and cherries in a fruit sauce served with thin Mercarren sweet bread. On a hot day like today, this particular lunch was quite refreshing.
She checked in on her patient often. His breathing was much less labored now that the branch had been removed. She took a good look at him.
He was a nice-looking, mid-30's, muscular, tanned, tall (Idris had estimated his height to be 6'5") human. He had dark brown hair that was shoulder-length, blue eyes, and a beard that was neatly trimmed.
He had a chestful of hair, a fact that surprised Dahrta since Mercarren men had no hair on their chests. He also had hair on his abdomen, arms and legs, something Mercarren men also didn't have.
After an hour or so, he finally started to regain consciousness. She got a cup of her special pain-relieving herbal tea, and went in to check on him.
“Hello.”, she said to him, as Mason slowly sat up and looked around the room. “You are awake at last. That is good!
”We were worried about you. Here, have a cup of tea. It will help with the pain. Careful, it is hot.”, she said as she helped him hold the cup.
The tea was bitter, but with a hint of sweetness. “I know humans do not like bitter tea, so I added sweetener for you.”, she said, smiling.
“Thank you.”, he replied. Looking around the room again, he smiled and said,
“You're the angel I saw in my shuttle after I crashed! Where am I, Ma'am?”
“I do not know what an angel is, but you are in my home here in our village. You crashed about 1/4 mile from here. My name is Dahrta. I am Mercarren. You are on Tratu. What is your name?”, she said.
“My name is Major Mason Zerant, Ma'am. I'm a pilot aboard the Brigadier. How did you get me here?”, he answered.
“My brother Idris, my sons Atreyu and Bartoqh, and I brought you here. You were seriously injured.
”You'd been impaled by a sharp tree branch. Idris and I took care of that injury before bringing you here. Have some more tea.”, she said, helping him drink.
“Would you like something to eat? I have some leftover lunch you're welcome to have. It's fruit in a sauce with our sweet bread. I saved some for you.”
“Thank you, Dahrta. That sounds delicious. I vaguely remember you telling me that before. How badly wrecked was the shuttle?”, Mason asked.
“Worse than that abdominal injury of yours that nearly killed you.”, she said.
“That bad, huh?”, he asked.
“It was not pretty.”, she said, smiling ever-so-slightly.
Dahrta left the room, but returned 2 minutes later with his lunch. “Thank you.”, he said as he started to eat. Discreetly, he took a good look at her.
She was barefoot, slim, petite, in her mid-20's, and had purple eyes, reddish brown hair that was braided and hanging down her back. Dahrta had warrior-style markings on her face that also went down the outsides of her neck, arms and legs, plus ridges on the bridge of her nose that lay flat. The ridges looked as if she'd been cut evenly several times.
She wore an ear cuff with a chain attached to a small hoop earring in her right ear lobe, and a sleeveless peach-colored tunic. The tunic was short on one side and down to her knee on the other side.
“This is delicious.”, Mason said.
“I'm glad you like it. I wasn't exactly sure what humans like to eat.”, she replied.
“We eat just about anything. I'm not much of a picky eater, although I do tend to draw the line at bugs and worms... oh, and oysters. Good for romance or not, oysters are slimy and disgusting!”, he said, smiling.
Dahrta smiled as well. She wasn't sure what oysters were but, based on his description of them, she agreed they were disgusting.
“I do not like bugs or worms either, although my boys sometimes like to join the other boys in the village and frighten us mothers with them. They're typical 12 year old boys.”, she replied.
“If they're anything like typical 12 year old human boys, I bet they come up with alot of gross things to eat. I know I sure did at that age.”, Mason said, laughing.
“They definitely do. They're both so much like their father.”, she replied, smiling.
“Will your husband be coming home soon?”, he asked.
“No, Atchek died 7 months ago in an accident.”, she replied.
“I'm sorry to hear that. You look abit young to have 12 year olds, if you don't mind my saying so”, Mason said.
“I do not mind at all. I was his second wife. His first wife died when Atreyu and Bartoq were 7. They're twins.
”We married 3 years later. Our daughter was born five months ago. I miss him. He was my best friend.”, she replied, looking away from Mason so he wouldn't see her tears.
“It's a shame he didn't get to see her and hold her before he died. I'm sure you do miss him. And I'm sure he's very proud of you for doing such a good job raising his kids.”, he said, squeezing her hand.
“Thank you. Idris collected some of your supplies. I'll bring them to you.”, she said, wiping her tears as she went to get the supplies.
Five minutes later, she returned with the supplies. “I need to start dinner. I hope what he collected will be of help to you.”
“Thanks so much.”, he said. He looked through the supplies and was happy to find some of his clothes. He also found his portable communicator and charger.
Over the next hour he sent several messages to the Brigadier, telling them what happened and where he was. Unfortunately, he received no response.
After awhile, he put some pants on and slowly walked into the cabin's large Gathering Room. He thought about putting a shirt on, but decided against it due to the soreness from his abdominal wound.
“Is there a way I could get to my shuttle to see how bad it is?”, Mason asked.
“I think so. You should probably wait a few days until Idris is available so he can come with us to help. We can talk to him about it when he comes here this evening.”, Dahrta said.
Two hours later, Idris stopped by before going home to his cabin for dinner. He brought her the money she'd made from the items she'd sold, as well as the few supplies she'd requested he pick up for her.
“You look alot better than when I last saw you.”, Idris said to Mason, smiling.
“I appreciate the help all of you have given me.”, Mason replied. After some more conversation, Idris left and Dahrta served dinner. She'd made spicy meat soup, making it with bite-sized beef. She served iced tea as their beverage.
Later that evening, he'd still not received any response to his messages to the Brigadier. He was getting frustrated. He was grateful for the help Dahrta and her brother had given him, but he wanted to get back to the ship.
He eventually went to bed, very sore from his abdominal wound. Dahrta gave him a cup of her special tea. It seemed to help him quite abit, and he was able to sleep comfortably.
Since it was much cooler at night, Dahrta stayed up late baking bread and the next day's meals.
The next morning, she woke up next to him, having come to bed very early that morning after nursing her daughter.
She didn't have a couch, and slept close to the edge of her bed. Atchek had passed before being able to build the couch the couple had talked about having.
Everyone slept until 9, when Aedra woke needing a diaper change and to be nursed. After tending to her, Dahrta changed Mason's bandage, adding more poultice to ease his discomfort.
Atreyu poured orange juice for everyone while Dahrta made breakfast.
Mason continued sending messages to the Brigadier, but received no response.
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