Curiosity Kills Part 5
Mission: To The Rescue
Banks softly shook Millie's left shoulder. The sky was beginning to turn to dusk. "We got company out there."
Millie pulled herself out from under the consoles, a stretch of wiring in her hand. "What is it?" she whispered.
"I don't know but it sounds a lot bigger than last night's dinner."
In the silence, Millie also heard the rustling outside of the shuttle. She carefully stepped over Banks, retrieving the long spear they had crafted the day before. She'd taken a few practice-stabs after making the creation, but if she was honest with herself, the act of using weapons was relatively foreign to her. Picking up the knife with her other hand, she crept quietly towards the open end of the shuttle.
"Scout, don't overexpose yourself," Banks whispered.
Millie crouched at the entrance at the shuttle, keeping herself close to the left side of the bulkhead as she carefully looked outside.
A heavy thudding step followed by another. The rustling continued as a long trunk-like appendage swept into view peeling a string of leaves off a low branch.
Millie took a couple of steps forward, placing one foot outside of the shuttle.
Before her stood what could best be described as an dark blue elephant on two legs. Its large eyes watched her, frozen in it's stance as its trunk was reaching high into a tree for a fruit.
Millie lowered the spear--ever so slightly--almost afraid to move. She wasn't sure what to think. She was almost sure she wouldn't be able to take on the creature by herself--not if it was anything like the similar beasts from Earth history. Either way, she didn't want to seem like a threat. She slowly tucked the knife into her belt, and squatted low to the ground.
The creature watched her and slowly lowered its trunk out of the tree. It dropped a cantelope sized fruit to the ground but otherwise did not move, continuing to watch her.
Millie had to hold back a chuckle. She'd been foraging for food over the two days, and they'd mostly eaten snakes--which were rather large and in abundance--but knowing that fruit had been right above their heads the whole time just proved how inept she was at survival skills.
Slowly the creature, which apparently was bipedal, nudged the fruit towards her with its trunk. It seemed to be waiting on her reaction.
Millie paused, giving a brief glance back into the shuttle, before looking to the creature and it's apparent fruit offering. Hesitantly, she took a step forward.
The waiting game continued but the creature kept its eyes on her weapons.
Millie noticed the gaze of the creature, and slowly laid the spear on the ground. "I'm not going to hurt you," she said softly. "I just wouldn't mind eating something other than a reptile."
"What's going on out there?!" Banks yelled from inside which seemed to spook the animal and it bolted into the forest.
"великодушие, Patricia!" Millie let out the breath she'd been holding. She stood, picking up the spear. "You scared it off!" She picked up the fruit, carrying it back to the shuttle.
"Scared what off? And what's that?"
"Best Earth equivalent? An elephant... walking on two legs." Millie knelt with the fruit and pulled out the knife. "It actually gave me the fruit."
"A two legged elephant gave you dinner. Maybe you ought to lay down again."
"You just ruined a potential first contact!" Millie chuckled, handing over the knife and the fruit. "It appeared to be sentient, because it saw me, and nudged the fruit towards me." She sat cross-legged on the floor. "The fruit has been over our head the entire time, behind the leaves."
Banks cut into the fruit who's middle was like a pomegranate with some gel. She sniffed it, and tried a small taste. "This better be zero calories or I'm going to be a blimp." She handed the piece to Millie to try.
"Good. You could use a little padding on those hips." Millie giggled, fruit juice dripping down her chin.
"If we're surrounded by this fruit then we're definitely in business. And bringing down that elephant sounds good too."
"Not until I determine if it's actually a sentient being. We're already keeping an eye out for those metal-masked creatures and the ships that dropped them down." Millie took another bite of the fruit. "It rolled one of these tree melons to me. Least I can do is make sure we don't have a whole herd of them coming to seek vengeance on us."
"Alright, play it like you see fit. Either way we'll be in a better position."
Millie wiped the sticky juice from her chin with the back of her hand. "I should probably see if I can get more of those fruit down." She took a deep breath. "I want to make sure that you are set with enough food and firewood...and I want to see how far back I can track the ship's damage, and see what I can find."
"Don't push it too far."
Millie sighed. "I need to see if I can find our emergency beacon. We're going to need a more stable source of water, in case it stops raining. And if I can find our medical supplies, weapons--anything."
"I can come with you. Just need a sturdy crutch."
Millie raised an eyebrow. Shifting, she leaned over, and poked Patricia in the middle of the giant bruise on her thigh.
"You aren't going anywhere. There is no way that you are going to be able to use that leg to slide through the mud and climb over downed trees, and deal with any encounters we're going to run into." Millie sighed, placing a hand on Banks' left foot. "I can find you a crutch, so you can move around in the shuttle, but you're going to make that leg worse if you try to wander around the jungle on it."
There wasn't much Banks could use to argue the point. "We may need to start thinking...long term."
Millie nodded. "We don't know what the weather is going to do, either--if this planet has a winter..or worse."
"I've been trying to think of some way we can get a little less primitive. Each flashlight battery cell might be able to be converted into an explosive, one time use of course."
"All the more reason I need to start looking for parts of our shuttle, or anything that might have survived the crash." Millie finished her piece of fruit, laying the rind on the deck. "Day after tomorrow, I'll go out. I'll follow our crash path as far as I can for a day, and then a day to walk back. If I can find medical supplies or anything resembling weapons, I'll come back sooner." She wiped her sticky hands on her pants. "That will give me a day to make sure you have a few days worth of food, water, and firewood, just in case."
Millie stood. "Now, while we still have daylight, I'm going to see if I can knock down a few more of those melons." With a smile, she grabbed a couple of the spears and walked out of the shuttle.
Banks let her grin fade when Millie left. The longer they were stranded the more the odds grew against rescue and she was not able to do what she was trained for. Laying back against the wall she sighed.
Millie stood under the tree she thought the elephant-creature had stood near. She really wished it hadn't run away so soon, though it was highly likely that she was the one and only human it had ever seen. She wasn't sure if there was a way to communicate with it. Maybe it knew where water sources were, or what other plants were safe to eat. Without any kind of a tricorder, and without access to a medical kit, she was hesitant to start eating the local flora without a way of knowing what was toxic.
She stared up at the leaves. While she tried to stay positive, she knew the odds weren't in their favor. Patricia was badly injured, though the woman would never admit it. Without a medical kit, a broken femur would take several month to heal, if it even healed properly. After her initial tumble out in the forest their first night, Millie was painfully aware of her own vulnerability. She wasn't trained for this, and if anything happened to Patricia--
Millie sighed. If she knew her friend at all, she wouldn't have told her husband where she was going. If her sessions with the two of them were any indication, Patricia's missions were sometimes lengthy, and Chance had once voiced his frustration at the fact that she would stop communicating for lengths of time while away.
Taking a heave, Millie threw one of the spears up into the overhead leaves. She dodged out of the way as it bounced off of a branch and tumbled to the ground. She gave another sigh, realizing that she, herself, had no one at home that would become concerned that she hadn't communicated. In their three days of travel, she'd had two brief conversations with Evelyn only. She gave the spear another heave, this time puncturing a leaf before the spear fell to the ground.
So, how long will it take before anyone even realizes that we're missing?
Banks stuffed her pity party in her back pocket and steeled herself. She pulled herself to her feet and grabbed a branch to steady herself. A few early steps, light on her bad leg, went well and not being on the ground was a nice change of pace. As she neared the opening to check on Millie the branch suddenly snapped and she went down in a heap and a crash. Her leg was on fire but she did not scream in any tones a human could hear. Her eyes welled with tears but quickly wiped them away. Her heart thudded in her chest as panic set in. She was no better than an invalid.
Millie heard the snap and subsequent thud, and her head spun around. "Trish!" she yelled, dropping the spears and dashing to her friend's side.
"I'm fine, I'm fine, I just tripped kinda." Banks tried to get back onto her feet but her leg stopped her mid way.
Millie quickly grabbed her friend, helping her to her feet. The string of scolding she let out under her breath in Russian was, thankfully, unable to be translated without a universal translator. "If you wanted to be outside, you should have just asked."
"I'm fine, really. Just need to pick a thicker branch next time." She made her way outside, carefully, and gave a whistle. "Damn, you do good work," Banks said motioning to a pile of the melons, neatly stacked under one of the trees.
Millie gave a smile. While she was painfully aware of their predicament, it was Patricia's strength and resilience that she had always admired. She helped Banks carefully maneuver to one of the fallen trees to use as a seat. "Not all of them are quite ripened. When you're throwing spears wildly into the air, sometimes you knock more than one of them down." Her smile widened, a little more genuine this time. "Hopefully you won't get tired of melons within a couple of days."
"It beats lizards any day."
Millie laughed. "If I just had access to some decent spices, you know I could make those lizard things taste so much better. I might be able to stomach snake without feeling like vomiting if I could add a little seasoning."
"Well, let's get these inside and gameplan your next adventure."
Lieutenant JG Aemilia "Millie" Stepanova
Chief Counselor, USS Mercutio
Chief Intelligence Officer, USS Mercutio