Curiosity Kills Part 12
To The Rescue
Timeline: 2 weeks after Curiosity Kills 11
Millie wiped the sweat from her brow and grimaced. She rotated her shoulder, her healing skin still adjusting to movement. Leaning on the spear she was holding, she looked up at Banks. "Keep laughing, Trish. I'll knock those crutches out from under you."
"You haven't yet. But you have to adjust to using the local's weapons of war. Our hosts don't seem particularly hostile and either does our other friend. That gives us an opportunity."
Millie rubbed the bruise on her hip. "An opportunity for you and your little green army to beat me senseless with a basket full of coconuts?" She brushed the dozens of small braids from her face and stared down her opponents. "What did you bribe them with?"
"Nothing, I merely encouaged them. And no, an opportunity to dominate. Once I get this leg fixed I can be what I really am."
"Prime directive, Trish..." Millie brought her spear up to the ready. "No conquering the locals. Besides, I'll just ask Knn to break your leg again." She gave a head nod to Knn, who returned the gesture with a smirk. He was obviously enjoying watching Millie get pummeled.
Millie looked back, just as an eager sapling flung his ammunition. She tried to bring her spear up to block it, but was just fast enough to deflect it, right into her nose. The world went momentarily white, and she dropped to one knee.
Banks approached, pulling her up by the arm. "There is no Prime Directive anymore. There is no Starfleet. There is you and me and survival." She walked off down a path into the forest.
"Trish--" Millie gave a soft sigh. She turned to Knn, signing for the saplings to go back up to the village. He nodded, relaying the message, before he and Millie started down the path after Banks.
"Trish, wait!" With two healthy legs, Millie quickly caught up. "Hey--what's wrong?"
Banks had to let out a laugh. "What's wrong? Look around you Millie. This is all wrong." She chewed on her lip for a moment. "A few weeks ago, when you were gone for those couple days, I actually prayed, and no I didn't get hit by lightening. But I said that if you and I could get home I'd change. I'd make sure I was never putting me or you in this spot again. I'd fix things with Chance and be a good mom." She looked around at the trees again. "And here we stand so that tells me something. I'm not meant to change, I'm meant to be what I was trained to be. An apex predator. If we're stuck here you can be damn sure you and I will be top of the food chain."
Millie placed herself in front of Banks. "Apex predator?" She returned the laugh. " Woman, when I came back to find you at the shuttle, you were roommates with an elephant. And have you SEEN yourself in the last two weeks? You have been SURROUNDED by children!" She waved down the path at the village. "And all of this? THIS looks remarkably like most of the colony postings I've had in my career."
Millie took Banks' face in her hands. "We are Starfleet, Trish. We learn, we adapt, we make ALLIES!" She smiled. "An apex predator would have killed and eaten the elephant when it looked like I wasn't going to return."
Banks held her eyes. "I"m not Starfleet. I'm not even a Federation Citizen. I won't fault you for sticking with their ideals but I don't have to."
"You already do!" Millie exclaimed. "That's why we're here!" She pulled Banks into an embrace. "You were SO upset that we came flying across the quadrant to find out what was killing innocent people, because you wouldn't accept a whitewashed excuse." She pulled away, laughing. "You might not have the pips, but you're a Starfleet softie like the rest of us!"
Banks glanced to Knn. "Please Millie...not in front of the redwoods."
The moment was broken when the fearful scream of one of the saplings echoed out. The group hurriedly returned to where they'd been to find one of the young strewn on the forest floor. The face had been partially obliterated with a deep crevice gouge from some sort of blade and its right arm bore several bites.
Millie knelt by the body as three more of the natives dropped to the forest floor. "Trish--get back up into the trees. Get the children inside."
The role reversal stung but she clapped loudly several times, gaining the eyes of the other young. She pointed up into the trees with three more claps. They understood and she motioned to a nearby adult and held out her arms. He too understood and quickly carried her up to secure the village.
Three more locals, now armed with spears and knives, dropped to the forest floor. Knn gave a rumble, and they fanned out into the forest.
Millie gently cradled the mangled body of the sapling in her lap. It was no longer breathing, and lay limp and lifeless.
Knn knelt next to Millie watching the woman. He rustled as he looked over the wounds. Bite, he motioned with a hand. He extended a middle finger, and then tapped a shoulder.
A part of Millie wanted to tell Henry that an extended middle finger now meant "Banks" in the local gestures. She nodded. "Just like Banks' shoulder," she said as she returned the signs. She put three fingers next to her mouth like fangs, "The creature that attacked us." She reached back to tap the healing scar on her shoulder.
A screeching wail descending from the trees made Millie look up, and a distraught female was descending from the treetop village. Millie quickly moved out of the way, realizing it was likely a grieving mother. Before she could reach out a hand to comfort her, Knn's spear blocked her path. He gave a shake of his head, gesturing for her to step back. You, he signed, and then pointed up to the village.
Banks had watched who she presumed to be the mother of the fallen run out of the village as she huddled with the others. They were terrified. She couldn't really blame them but her mind began thinking of basic securty protocols if she could get them to understand her.
Millie, now topside, spotted Banks, and gave her a "come here" gesture with her head. She stepped over to the balcony of the village's pavilion, not wanting to approach while she had blood on her clothes.
As soon as Banks was close she leaned in. "We're gonna have trouble tonight. I don't care what species they are, we showed up and now one of their kids is dead. I know I'd blame us."
Millie nodded. "It's definitely the same metal-mouth creature that attacked us in the shuttle and at the colony." She tried to wipe her sticky hands on a dry spot of clothing--unsuccessfully. "Why go after a child...just to kill it and run away?"
"It needs to know where they're soft...vulnerable. Its why it bit the arm to not much damage. Then it used a weapon. I don't think it will come up here. It waited until the kid was unprotected."
"Speaking of unprotected," Millie said, looking around at the natives starting to mill around, and hearing the wailing of a grieving mother echoing from the forest floor, "let's get you back to our place. You're vulnerable out here."
Banks nodded but didn't get past a few paces before she was cut off by an angry male. Banks forced herself to not go to a defensive posture.
The male pounded the platform with his feet, and pounded his chest. He dropped onto all fours, pounding with his fists before bristling all of the branches on the crest of his head and letting out an angry roar.
Banks looked beyond him to the others. They were watching to see how this would resolve itself then she looked to the angry male. "There's nothing I can tell him to end his pain. If that was Keiran...."
Millie slowly stepped from behind Banks, her hands lowered, setting down her spear and opening her bloody, weaponless palms. "Then you're going to have to tell him anyway. Tell him that you have a child that--" Her voice caught, and she paused. "You have a son that you'll never see again." She swallowed hard.
Banks looked at her and felt like she'd been slapped. A long moment later she looked back to the male. "I'm a parent too, and I have lost my son as well. I will never see him again. I will never get to watch him grow and turn into a man and have his own family." She rambled, unaware of the tears. "We are sorry for your loss, more than we can express. You have all taken us in, saved our lives, when you could have left us for dead. You have made us family. I mourn with my family tonight. BUT...I am also a warrior, even wounded. I will teach you what I know, as I teach her..." she motioned to Miliie, "so that you can be safe from our common enemy. And when my leg heals I will find the one who did this and I will kill it." She offered an open hand to male. "I swear it."
Millie only made it a few sentences into broken translation before tears began to run down her own cheeks. Her heart ached--more for Banks than for herself. Millie slowly knelt on the platform of the pavilion, openly weeping. And as she wept, the branches of the forest around them began to rustle. A soft, warm rain trickled down through the canopy, as if the forest, too, was weeping.
Bearing her broken sapling in her arms, the female sank to the ground next to her mate. A deep, agonizing rumble escaped as his branchy fingers cupped the face of his lifeless child. He turned to Banks, determination on his face. He pointed to Banks, slashed a fist across his chest, then gestured wildly to the village approaching behind him.
"You--" The word caught in Millie's throat, and she swallowed back tears. "He's asking you to teach them all how to kill it."
Banks was staring at the child and her expression steeled. She looked up into the father's eyes. "Let's hunt this son of a bitch."
Lieutenant JG Aemilia "Millie" Stepanova
Chief Counselor, USS Mercutio
Chief Intelligence Officer, USS Mercutio