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Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mekro’vak Region | Qo’Nos] attn: @Eden

Glancing down at the various buckles and straps that held together the necessary gear over her jumpsuit for their little adventure, Enyd pondered her mortality. She did not have a death wish, and neither was she a thrill-seeker, yet Enyd could not help but notice the number of times her life was put on the line, and not just for a mission, was ever-growing.

Partially because of that, in her time onboard the Theurgy, she’d come face to face with old demons after similarly living through life or death situations. And her way of dealing with said demons had shifted. Whereas before Theurgy, Enyd had assumed only living through similarly dire circumstances, like the Forge on Vulcan, was what it took to get her head on straight, now, after meeting Zark, reuniting with Victor, and spending time with Drauc, Enyd realized there were other ways of dealing with stress and anxiety than risking her life and limb. Which made it all the more ironic that she now stood minutes away from willingly tossing herself out of a moving flight vehicle to plummet through the clouds over Qo’Nos. All the while calling it “fun.”

“Did you ever jump off Stratos City?” Enyd asked of her companion, the handsome dark-haired Ardanan, Callax Valin. It was not lost on Enyd that the last time she’d spent significant time with the blue-eyed pilot, she’d been kidnapped by Romulans after nearly getting blown up outside the opera house. “This sort of thing isn’t my typical preference for destressing, but I have to admit there is a certain allure to leaping from a precipice at great heights. I’ve never been to Stratos, mind you, but I’ve seen vids and pictures a plenty, and suspect I’d be similarly enticed to leap if I ever visited.”

As she waited for his reply, Enyd pushed a few stray strands of hair from her face, checking that the thick plait still held integrity against the future rush.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #1
[ Lt. JG Callax Valin | Mekro'vak Region | Qo'noS ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz
“I have actually lost count how many times I jumped off Stratos,” the Ardanan said from the passenger seat across from Enyd, a wry grin flashing in her direction as the shuttlecraft descended through the turbulent atmosphere of Qo’noS. Except for the fact that he was not the one flying, the young Starfleet officer looked completely at ease. Leaning back against the seat, his hands rested comfortably on the straps securing his skydiving equipment to his body and shoulders.

“Before we were allowed to fly powered spacecraft,” he continued to say, “we first had to learn to fly with gliders using the anti-gravity wells that surround the city. Part of that was learning to get comfortable with falling—especially falling against our own free will and in turbulent air.” As if to embellish that particular point, the shuttle began to shake as it cut through some atmospheric turbulence. For his part, he seemed to enjoy the rough flight.

“Luckily for you, we will not have to deal with anti-gravity wells here. Just strong winds and updrafts,” he noted having checked the current conditions on a PADD which now rested on the chair next to him. “Have you jumped much? If you enjoy it, you will have to come with me to Ardana sometime. Come see the jewel that is Stratos City… and then jump from it. They exclude that bit from the tourist brochures,” he added with well-meaning laugh.

Piercing blue eyes considered the woman then, attempting to read her current mental state from her posture and demeanor. He had been surprised when she agreed to go skydiving with him although it was such a spontaneous request he could not recall if she had been the one to make the initial offer. Who asked who did not seem all that important now. He was just thrilled to be doing something he enjoyed and he could not hide that excitement.

“So if throwing yourself out of perfectly operational spacecraft to plummet potentially to a painful death is not your idea of a de-stressing activity, what is?” He asked with a teasing tone and that ever present pearly-white smile. "What does the diplomatic corps get up to in their downtime?"

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #2
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mekro’vak Region | Qo’Nos] attn: @Eden

Enyd gripped at the harness when the shuttle hit a pocket of turbulence. She didn’t mind it overall, but a surprise was a surprise, and her response was instinctive.

“I’ve always wanted to do a glider experience! The closest I’ve gotten to skydiving was parapont…or…what is it called…oh yes, paragliding. It was tandem, of course. Intentionally running down the slope of a mountain and hurling ourselves into the clouds off the precipice was quite a thrill! Rather felt that would be the closest feeling to being a bird one could get without actually growing feathers.” She released her grip on the harness when the shuttle evened out again. “But that will be as nothing in comparison to intentionally tossing myself out of a moving shuttlecraft.”

One of their Klingon guides drew Enyd’s attention. He used hand gestures to signal they were a few minutes out from the drop zone. A fresh rush of heat flooded her veins, the pump of adrenaline filling her with energy. Callax’s question brought Enyd’s focus away from the coming plummet, and she smiled. She didn’t know if he’d done it on purpose, to ease any potential nerves, or if his friendliness was just a natural response.

“Well, I am attracted to very non-diplomatic activities. Aside from the likely expected gymnastics and cultural dancing, I love bladed martial arts. I’ve found that dance and martial arts are two avenues through which to connect across cultural differences. When you make an effort to learn how they express themselves in movement, be it on the dance floor in an arena, they tend to give you more of their time and attention.” Enyd gave a half shrug, her smile denoting a bit of a novice jumper's typical nervousness as the inevitable drew nearer. “I grew up on a ranch in Montana, so anything outdoorsy, camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, and horseback riding.” She laughed. “I only sit still if my brain is running ahead of me trying to solve problems and I’m left paralyzed in thought. Near literally.”

An overhead alarm sounded. Enyd’s eyes widened. This was it. Looking over at the Klingon guide, she couldn’t help but note the gleeful gleam in his eyes. She wouldn’t fault the man for taking sick pleasure out of tossing people out of a shuttlecraft for a living, or for the added pleasure of being able to toss Starfleet personnel out on this run.

“Are you ready to tumble?” Enyd looked across to Callax, her smile again shaky but the set of her jaw determined.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #3
[ Lt. JG Callax Valin | Mekro'vak Region | Qo'noS ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz
“You still get to be a bird with skydiving, you know. Just a bird that forgot its wings. Or one who ate one too many bowls of bird seed,” he replied with a chuckle. “It’s brave of you to go skydiving solo, especially for your first time. Normally I would insist we go tandem for your first time but you seem determined.”

“I know, I know,” he continued to say, waving one hand somewhat dramatically. “Such a shame you won’t have a fighter pilot strapped to your back but it is a lot more fun when you’re falling solo. Just don’t pass out, yeah? Or you will have to deal with me rather harshly grabbing you middair to deploy your chute.”

Realizing his words might not have a particularly calming effect, he attempted to lighten the mood again. “You know you just explained how you were attracted to very non-diplomatic interests while explaining how those allegedly non-diplomatic interests are actually diplomatic interests, right?” Callax teased while yet again flashing that pearly white smile. “They do sound rather engaging though. Have you ever tried Ardanan dancing? I am told other cultures find it one of the more difficult to learn. We try to imitate in one dance the elements that influence our planet the most: air and rock. An Ardanan dancer must be as light as the wind and as immovable as a mountain. As swift as the coursing river with all the force of a great typhoon. It is rather difficult to explain without getting almost poetic but I would be glad to demonstrate it for you sometime when we return to the ship.”

The man sounded sincere in his words, a touch of pride even when he began to explain one cultural feature of his homeworld. Despite being a Federation member for some time, his planet still seemed to be one of the less prominent member worlds. If all went according to plan, he would change that.

“I cannot say I had much opportunity to be ‘outdoors’ on Stratos,” he said over the hum of the engines and rush of wind. “At least, not in the true sense of being ‘outdoors’ like your Montana. We had some gardens and arboretums but nothing like what you described. It was not until I attended the Academy that I saw a temperate forest in-person. One of our survival classes took place amongst the redwoods north of San Francisco. They were beautiful. The scenery almost made up for the fact we were starving and left to fend for ourselves. Maybe the scenery of Qo’noS will have a similar awe-inspiring effect.”

He glanced out the viewport to see only sparse clouds and a hazy almost green atmosphere. Hopefully visibility would improve the lower they got.

At the sound of the overhead alarm he rose almost instinctively. Another pearly white smile flashed in Enyd’s direction as he held out a reassuring hand to hold before the jump. “Do not worry. You will do great. Remember to keep an eye on your altitude and to use your comms. I will be with you,” he added as a second alarm went off, the light in the cabin turning from red to green as a door opened at the rear of the shuttle revealing fast moving clouds and a thick atmosphere.

Stepping to the edge, he glanced back at Enyd. “Together? Now!”

He jumped.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #4
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mekro’vak Region | Qo’Nos] attn: @Eden

“I’ve a feeling this bird is going to be the flapping, potentially screaming kind.” His encouragement was not lost and Enyd smiled her thanks, “I don’t know if ‘brave’ is the right description. Perhaps we should go with ‘determined’ as you already said. I have never lacked determination. No one in the Madsen family has, as I’ve been told.”

Callax’s flirtatious jest worked to calm her, though the image of a potential reality was less than calming. Choosing to focus on the mirth, Enyd smiled and outlandishly waggled her eyebrows at him, “Whose to say I don’t want you grabbing me midair?”

His question on Ardanan dancing had Enyd shaking her head even as she mentally filed it away for further exploration should they survive this outing intact, and she could look it up back on board the ship. His offer to teach her interrupted Enyd’s mental thought of finding time to teach herself, and she eagerly nodded with a smile.

“I’ll hold you to that offer, Callax. And in return, I’ll teach you something unique from Montana.” She was curious how he’d feel about square dancing but pulled her lips into a firm line as they readied themselves for the jump.

His last encouragement brought another smile to her face, though her stomach was once more in knots. Enyd was beginning to wonder if she was addicted to chaos or if she somehow just managed to find it. Or if it was sentient and sought her out instead. She’d faced the reality of her mortality over a dozen times in the past week, and for fun, she’d chosen to face it again as she plummeted through the clouds above Qo’Nos.

Callax jumped through the open door, his body swallowed by the thick clouds just outside the shuttle. Knowing that it would be harder to jump if she waited any longer, Enyd gritted her teeth before taking a running leap out the back. For the first few seconds of the fall, Enyd found it hard to breathe. Her stomach felt lodged in her throat, with her heart drifting somewhere above her head. Likely still in the shuttle. But as her body adjusted to the free fall, Enyd released the breath that had backed up in her lungs and opened her fists as if to catch the clouds.

“Whoo!” Enyd yelled, only remembering the comms after her shout. “Sorry, Callax. Can you hear me?”

Turning her head, Enyd looked around, hoping to spy her skydiving partner through the thick atmosphere. After catching sight of a dark form drifting just below her in the clouds, Enyd angled her body as Callax had taught her, to draw closer. She was just about on it when she realized two things:

  • It was not Callax.
  • This feathered creature of Qo’Nos did not look happy to see her.

“Oh, bother.” Enyd immediately began to adjust her body in an attempt to veer away from the creature but only succeeded in moving into the path of a few of its friends, with Enyd realizing she’d just managed to find the one area of the sky with a traveling flock of Klingon birds.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #5
[ Lt. JG Callax Valin | Mekro'vak Region | Qo'noS ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz
In silence there is peace.

As Callax leapt, the cacophony of the shuttle was replaced by nothing but the sound of air whooshing past as the pilot fell. In that brief moment he considered the bizarre circumstances that brought him to this moment. An Ardanan Starfleet officer skydiving through the atmosphere of Qo’noS. A fugitive Starfleet officer. That part could not be forgotten and only seemed to add to the absurdity of it all.

His peace was broken by the excited shout of his companion. Wincing momentarily from the sudden disruption of his thoughts, he shifted his arms to redirect the airflow and rotate him onto his back.

“I can hear you loud and clear.” The smallest amount of emphasis was placed on the word ‘loud’. Whatever additional retort, no doubt something very clever in his mind, he had intended to make was cut short by the sight of Enyd barreling towards what appeared to be a fast-moving black cloud.

“Look out for the–!” He winced for the second time this jump as Enyd redirected her fall to avoid one winged creature only to head towards another.

From his vantage point it was difficult to make out exactly what the animals were. Kraw’za perhaps? Whether they were or not one thing was fact: weak animals did not survive on Qo’noS.

As the woman fell straight through their formation, the birds dived to give pursuit. The elongated beaks were no doubt powerful enough to pierce through the protective material of their jumpsuits. They attempted to do just that, nipping at the legs of Enyd as the woman and black wings descended at speed.

Witnessing this, Callax extended a part of his jumpsuit to reduce his velocity. With the two fast approaching, he keyed in his comms. “Keep going. I will attempt to distract them. Do not pull your chute until you have no choice. They will try to tear us to pieces as we descend if they do not leave.”

To say he had a plan at that moment would be generous. He had a thought which could be just as good a plan if given time to think on it. Unfortunately, that was not the case and so instinct kicked in. Devoid of a better idea, he flailed his arms and legs as the black cloud approached, hoping to provide distraction enough to pull the birds off Enyd and onto him.

He was not attempting to be a martyr, per say. While he was acting on a thought it was a partially calculated thought that considered which of them would have the better chance to survive while falling with a flock of hostile avians. In this situation, experience named him as the obvious sacrifice.

“What did you do to piss them off?” He managed to weakly tease through comms as the birds redirected their ire to the Ardanan. He winced for the third time on this jump as the birds began to peck at his jumpsuit, stripping away small pieces of material and tiny bits of flesh with each bite. At least they could not peck through the firm material housing his primary and backup chutes.

A small consolation.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #6
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mekro’vak Region | Qo’Nos] attn: @Eden

Enyd was too busy swatting at the kraw’za nearest her helmet to process Callax’s words. Two of the feathery fiends had already cut through the seal of her jumpsuit, one slice on her arm and the other near her ankle. Only the slice on her arm bore evidence of blood. So far. Another of the black birds seemed hellbent on ridding Enyd of her left eyeball but had so far been thwarted by Enyd’s hands and her helmet. It wasn’t until Enyd twisted in the air, tucking into a ball to further her efforts against the attacked avian, that she caught sight of Callax’s flailing form. After another moment of watching his aerial dance, she realized what he was doing. For as ridiculous as he looked, his efforts were proving useful. At least in saving her hide.

“I exist.” Enyd called back to him through their com link.

Being freed up from the feathery fight, for the time being, Enyd moved her hands over her jumpsuit and looked at the various controls on her arms. She recalled one of the Klingon’s mentioning a flare attachment to the suit, used for night jumps. Perhaps…

“CALLAX!” Enyd’s voice erupted through the coms, her eyes wide as the flare erupted from her suit at barely the press of a button, already zooming straight towards her jump partner. “LOOK OUT!”

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #7
[ Lt. JG Callax Valin | Mekro'vak Region | Qo'noS ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz
This would be the moment in a television series where the scene would freeze and the camera zoom in on the face of the protagonist who says, ‘You might be wondering how I got here.’

Unfortunately for Callax, this was not a fictional situation and he was not surrounded by underpaid actors. Instead, he was surrounded by incensed kraw’za that seemed hellbent on tearing him to shreds as a powerful flare rocketed towards him. A less than ideal situation.

The situation did not get any more ideal as it quickly became apparent he had no time to dodge out of the path of the incoming flare. With only a moment to react, the Ardanan turned his body as to allow the flare only a glancing blow across his suit as it impacted upon his left shoulder.

The force of the impact was enough to put him into a dangerous spiral but luckily not a coma. Using a technique he learned in his advanced piloting courses, he was able to after a few rotations return to some semblance of a controlled fall. To his relief, the kraw’za seemed to have had less luck with the flare and whether by collision with one of their own or pure fear, they had dispersed leaving only the pair of battered Starfleet officers in their wake.

“Now would be a good time to pull our chutes,” the calm voice of Callax transmitted over their comms. “Less we startle any other local wildlife. With our luck, we will land amongst a pack of targs or something worse attracted by blood. I don’t know about you but I’m fairly cut up.”

Despite the velocity of their fall, Callax could see the streaks of red on his suit as he caught up to Enyd by accelerating his dive. “Looks like a clearing over in that valley. Seems as good a place as any.”

He pointed to the area in question and pulled his chute, his momentum immediately slowing to a safer rate as his chute expanded. It was only then that he could take full measure of his injuries. While his suit was liable to come apart and expose bare skin in places, he was largely intact. Whether he could say the same for his companion was up in the air. Pun intended.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #8
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mekro’vak Region | Qo’Nos] attn: @Eden

“I’m starting to think I should come with a warning label, in all honesty.” Enyd sighed over the comms. “Chaos has a habit of finding me no matter what precautions I take. I’m so sorry, Callax. Once we’re on the ground, I can help with the cuts. I remember they tucked a med kit into one of these pockets.” She sighed again. “I’d say count on targs or sabre bears waiting for us at this point.”

Enyd followed Callax’s lead and pulled her chute. Only, unlike Callax, her chute did not deploy. Immediately reaching for the backup, Enyd sent a prayer to whatever gods were listening before pulling. A head-wrenching jerk later, and Enyd was drifting alongside Callax, her secondary chute working.

“Small favors,” Enyd murmured as they drew closer to the valley. It no longer looked like an average valley. No, it was starting to appear more akin to a bog than a valley, and Enyd knew the minute they landed, they’d likely bury themselves at least up to their knees if not their hips, perhaps even over her head knowing her luck. “At least it’ll be a soft landing,” Enyd called out to Callax as they made their final descent.

It was at that point that it seemed enough was not enough for at least one of the kraw’za, and with a screeching cry, the malicious bird flew overhead and slashed through her chute. Thankfully it was not such a grievous tear that she’d fall the remaining feet to her death, but it did make maneuvering more tedious and her landing, once it happened, was far less graceful than it otherwise could have been. In fact, jerking her face out of the muck she’d landed in, Enyd realized she’d basically just executed a chute-assisted faceplant into Klingon goo. Blinking through the congealed brownish mess now coating her entire front, Enyd reached up to unhook her head from the chute, all the while looking for Callax.

“Callax? How are you doing?” Her fingers continued to tug and pull at the various cords keeping her strapped in to the now worthless chute as her body bobbed and partially sank here and there into the quivering mass of mud and plants that made up this valley’s floor. Only as she internally celebrated the last lever flipped that signaled her complete freedom did Enyd become aware of the sound that had grown in intensity ever since they’d landed. “Is that…chanting?”

I'm so sorry for how long this took!

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #9
[ Lt. JG Callax Valin | Mekro'vak Region | Qo'noS ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz
“Chaos would make a damn fine callsign,” Callax managed to say over comms as he braced himself for impact, bending his knees slightly and preparing to roll with the momentum upon landing should he find the odd rough spot amongst the bog. Luckily, that was not the case and the impact with the ground was far softer than he was used to.

The mud came up to his waist making it difficult to ascertain the extent of his leg injuries. Attempting to stand upright, he found that his legs were able to support him. A promising sign that nothing was broken more severely. Once on his feet he began to untangle the chute but did not even try to retract it. Under ideal circumstances that would be one of his first steps but the mud made it impossible. Instead, he cut the cords with a small blade and began to walk through the knee-deep mud towards Enyd.

“I will be fine. I will have some explaining to do to the medical department though. You still have that first aid kit?” He asked, pausing to put his weight on the opposite leg. In the brief silence though he could hear a low chant growing louder. “It would indeed appear to be chanting. With our luck we ended up in a sacred bog.”

After a brief moment of silence he flashed a mischievous grin towards Enyd and began to wade through the muck towards the source of the sounds. Thick undergrowth and foliage provided  ample coverage for the Starfleet officer to make a stealthy enough approach, although he reckoned anybody with half a brain could have seen them during their descent. Still, this added a measure of excitement to it.

A slight incline provided the perfect spot for Callax to go prone and ease up to peer over the edge. In a shallow valley, he saw a number of Klingon men and women seated around a lit brazier. On top of the brazier a large pot boiled with an unseen liquid from which the Klingons poured cups for themselves.

“If my eyes do not deceive me, it would appear they are drinking tea,” Cal said softly to his companion. “Not particularly good tea,” he added as he witnessed one of the Klingons seemingly grimace in pain after taking their turn with the liquid. “I am not much one for crashing tea parties, perhaps we should return to the sh—.”

As Callax reached to tap his combadge, a coarse leather boot pressed his arm into the mud.

“Well, well. What are two humans doing crawling around my house’s bog?” A gruff but youthful Klingon voice said, sneering at the pair. In his hand, a disruptor pistol was leveled at both of them.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #10
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mekro’vak Region | Qo’Nos] attn: @Eden

Enyd patted the various pockets on her suit until she found the kit Callax referenced. “Yes,” she patted the pocket over her left breast, “right here.”

They were both far too distracted with investigating the chanting to bother with taking care of the various cuts and bruises—mostly—Callax had. Enyd sighed at his jest, knowing that that was exactly what had happened with her luck. It had a bit harder for her to pick her way through the brush, though she was no less stealthy. She’d had to learn how to approach prey back in Montana quietly. But that stealthy approach was ruined—at least by Enyd—when, after getting caught up in a bush, she tugged herself free, pivoted, and landed nearly on top of Callax soon after he’d lain prone on the slight incline.

“Oomph!” Enyd rolled onto her stomach after a few seconds of swallowing pained winces, pushing her hair from her face to see what Callax was whispering about. She managed to register both the meaning of his words and the scene before them when the Klingon adolescent appeared near Enyd’s side. Something vaguely familiar about the youth’s face had Enyd tilting her head as if to tip the memory into place.

“In truth, if you venture just yonder into the bog, you will find the remnants of our parachutes.” Enyd kept her hands visible as she slowly pointed back the way they’d come. “We were on a skydiving tour when we encountered some fiendish avians who tore through our chutes and landed us here, in your family bog.” She glanced back at the gathering before offering the youth a genuine smile. “We mean no offense and pose no threat.”

“What is is, Anik?” An older male voice, again pinging on the familiar for Enyd, carried up from the little gathering below.

Anik, as the youth was now known, called back, “I found two off-world intruders. They claim to have come here by accident.”

“Are they armed?” It was an older female voice this time.

Enyd shook her head, “I certainly am not. And I believe if my friend has any weaponry, it is purely for survival or defense.”

“Why don’t you bring them here, Anik,” the older male voice directed, “we can all take turns interrogating them in person instead of calling through the bushes.”

In response, Anik gestured for the Theurgy officers to stand. Enyd glanced at Callax a moment before she did so, her joints stiff from the earlier tumble through air and muck. Still keeping her hands up and in view, Enyd turned to look back at the gathering. The earlier sense of foreboding melted away, however, when her eyes fell on the older Klingon male that he mind had assured her of knowing.

“Rik’evet!” Enyd’s lips pulled back into a smile. “I certainly didn’t expect to land in your life again so soon!” Turning to Callax, Enyd nodded towards the Klingon, “He was on the Kajunpak’t with me. Doctor Rik’evet helped piece me back together after a few sparring sessions I had with Pa’Qis, one of the engineers who’d taken a shine to me.” With Anik pushing at them from behind, Enyd dropped her voice to whisper, “I THINK we should be okay with this group, but definitely keep on your guard.”

Once they were closer, it was Rik’evet’s turn to speak. “I was hoping to see you again, Madsen, but assuredly not here, and not now.” As if to punctuate his comment, a shrill animalistic cry came from further in the undergrowth, eliciting a sigh from Rik’evet. “It is too late now, though. You’re in it now. If you try to leave now that you’ve interrupted the ceremony, if anything goes amiss tonight, you and your households, perhaps even your ship, will be held liable.”

The rest of the family gathered undressed around the makeshift camp as the chanting resumed. Her eyebrows shooting near into her hairline, Enyd remained mute as Rik’evet also began to undress, though he thankfully began to explain as he did so.

“During this moon cycle, our clan hunts the trigok, in the traditional fashion. You just missed the tea ceremony, but the first of the trigok have been sighted and now we must commence the hunt. I’m afraid,” he gestured to their state of dress as he received two ceremonial spears from Anik as the youth passed by, now equally nude, “you’ll need to divest yourselves of clothing before joining.”

Enyd opened and closed her mouth, equally curious and confused. Part of her desperately wanted to join this ceremonial hunt, just for the experience, but another part was very aware that this was her first-time off-ship with Callax and that poor man had already nearly lost his life because of her. And while she felt keenly the responsibility to protect the reputation of the ship to avoid a potential diplomatic incident, Enyd did not know whether Callax had the same drive. Glancing at her companion, Enyd offered a half smile of question, curious how the man would respond to their new predicament.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #11
[ Lt. JG Callax Valin | Mekro'vak Region | Qo'noS ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz
Pose no threat?

That comment out of all the things the woman said caused Callax to perk a brow, likely unseen under the veneer of dirt and mud that now caked much of his exposed skin. Granted, in their current situation they would not be much of a threat but the comment chafed nevertheless.

Assessing the situation and in consideration of his now immobilized arm, Callax opted not to put up a struggle and simply listened. At the gesture to stand, the Ardanan did so but not without some struggle and an effort not to groan in pain. The mud was heavier than he remembered moments earlier and his injuries certainly did not help the situation.

Now out of the mud, Callax raised his arms slightly and showed his palms to the youth to indicate he was not armed as he followed Enyd towards the gathering of Klingons.

“I think we should be okay with this group, but definitely keep on your guard,” Enyd whispered to him and with a cheeky grin he whispered back. “Considering your luck? My guard has not been down since we left the shuttle.”

“I was hoping to see you again, Madsen, but assuredly not here, and not now,” the Klingon named Rik’evet began to say having recognized Enyd. “It is too late now, though. You’re in it now. If you try to leave now that you’ve interrupted the ceremony, if anything goes amiss tonight, you and your households, perhaps even your ship, will be held liable.”

As if that statement was not alarming enough, the scene that unfolded next with each of the Klingons fully undressing certainly was. Callax lowered his gaze out of courtesy to the others. While Starfleet prepared its officers for dealing with different cultures, some traditions and customs were still, for lack of a better word, alien to him. This certainly was not Ardana.

“During this moon cycle, our clan hunts the trigok, in the traditional fashion. You just missed the tea ceremony, but the first of the trigok have been sighted and now we must commence the hunt. I’m afraid you’ll need to divest yourselves of clothing before joining,” Rik’evet continued to say, two ceremonial spears now in his hands.

Callax’ eyes widened slightly at the Klingon’s words, mouth half open. He turned to Enyd to gauge her reaction and only found an expression that tossed the baton back into his hands.

“Well,” he began to say having taken a moment to consider the options. “It is not like my jumpsuit qualifies much as usable attire anymore.” Indeed, the man’s jumpsuit at this point could more aptly be described as tattered strands of Starfleet issue fabric than a standard article of clothing. The full extent of the damage was made clear by how easily the suit fell off of him as he began to disrobe, peeling off mud caked fabric until he was left bare.

Having done as instructed, Callax extended a hand for one of the spears which Rik’evet handed over without comment or discernable reaction. The Ardanan had a lean body with defined muscles and more than generous endowment. Dirt and dried blood covered most of his body with barely healed lacerations and newly formed bruises beginning to show on an otherwise well-cared for body. On his left thigh, a deep scar was mostly concealed by a dried patch of blood and dirt.

“See? I can be a diplomat when I want to be,” he teased in a whisper to Enyd before following after Rik’evet towards the rest of the hunting party. “Coming? We have a trigok to hunt. Whatever that is.” He added, flashing a cheeky grin in her direction.

Any embarrassment Callax felt was quickly hidden behind a facade of confidence as he joined the rest of House Konjah who were already making preparations for the hunt. Each carried a ceremonial spear similar to his own and looked concentrated on the task at hand. Some flashed inquisitive looks in their direction but Rik’evet just grunted and pointed his spear towards the forest in the direction of the shrill sound heard earlier.

As if on cue, the group dispersed into the forest, moving slowly yet confidently as each family member went their own direction though not out of earshot. Callax, too, followed suit and began to follow what he assumed to be a game trail with his limited tracking skills. Truth be told, he chose it as it offered the least amount of foliage to maneuver through as much of the brush and plants painfully bit into his exposed wounds.

“Do you have any idea what a trigok actually is?” He asked in a low tone to Enyd who he had remained closer to than others in the hunting party. “Is there any guarantee that we are not trigok?” He added, only half-serious. “Normally I would not mind being hunted by nude warrior women; but, under the circumstances and considering our luck, I doubt the ending to that thought would be the preferred one in this situation.”

Minutes that felt like hours passed as the group continued to stalk its prey. Insects attracted by the scent of blood added another layer of discomfort to the already wounded Ardanan who managed to keep pace with the others. It was only when the snap of a branch was heard that he, and the others, stopped to listen.

“Did you hear that?” He whispered to Enyd as another branch snapped closer to them. Using the techniques he learned hunting on Ardana, Callax lowered his body to an almost crouch and couched his spear securely against a small boulder, spearpoint aimed upwards in the direction of the approaching sound.

Another branch snapped. And then another. Closer and closer. Then nothing with only the sound of his heart beating heavy to break the silence. Was it gone?

A moment later the bushes erupted with noise as a creature leapt forth directly towards Enyd, snarling and rabid.


Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #12
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mekro’vak Region | Qo’Nos] attn: @Eden

Enyd beamed at Cal, thankful he was far more of a diplomat than others in his department. She was polite enough to turn away as he disrobed, if one could call it that, considering the tattered shape his jumpsuit was in. Enyd was quick about her own clothing, or at least as quick as she could be. After watching her half-clothed shimmy dance, Rik’evet ended up using the tip of his spear to cut through a few cords that had gotten tangled, nearly trapping Enyd in her clothes instead of letting her out of them.

Her body svelte from years of gymnastics and dance, Enyd retained soft feminine curves that could often mislead someone into thinking she was as demure as she appeared. But she was no stranger to the violence of hunting and was resilient to a fault. If it were not for the marvels of modern medicine, her body would have been riddled with the myriad scars from her numerous near-death experiences from her daring ventures outdoors. As it was, however, the only scars she bore were the ones leftover from the shackles The Directorate had lent her ankles and wrists, and these she’d intentionally kept.

Looking at what she could see of a deep scar and naught else in the general vicinity, Enyd glanced back at her companion in chaos, “Is that the type of scar you share the story of?”

Rik’evet led the way to join the rest of the hunting party, Cal’s teasing comment about diplomats bringing a smirk to Enyd’s face. She shrugged at the mentioning of a trigok. She assumed that it was mammalian and probably something that could kill them. The group soon took to the thick foliage, many disappearing completely from view. Enyd kept close to Cal, appreciating the old trail he’d found nearly as much as he since she had no interest in getting more cuts from the thick fern leaves.

At his question, Enyd again shrugged. She truly had no clue what the creature looked like. Cal’s additional comments about nude warrior woman had her biting back laughter before she whispered playfully, “I’ll be sure to gift you a special holoprogram for your birthday now that I know your preferences.”

All around them, they heard the call and response of the clan of warriors, their voices mimicking the sounds of the forest creatures but altered enough to track. The spear, longer than Enyd was tall, grew heavy in her arms. But onward, they continued. Through the pressing heat of the forest, the buzzing attacks of the bugs, and the growing sense that this was an elaborate joke on them. Enyd halted in her steps, ears already attentive to the movement of something, or someone, close by when Cal mentioned it. She shifted to crouch just parallel and partially behind Cal, her spear at the ready.

Enyd exchanged a curious glance with Cal, wondering if the creature had retreated when suddenly a furry form was flying at her face. Falling onto her rear, Enyd pulled up the spear point just in time for whatever the creature was to impale itself on the end. Her arms, already tired from hauling the weapon, shook from her effort to keep the still wriggling mass from falling to the ground and potentially dragging her weapon away.

“It uh-“ Enyd’s voice warbled as she fought to remain steady, the creature’s mass, not much larger than a mid-sized dog, just enough to interrupt her words as she continuously readjusted her grip on the spear, “looks like a hairless monkey.”

Only this monkey was foaming at the mouth and had what looked like a stinger on the end of its tail that it kept trying to stab into Enyd.

“That is a qa'put.” Anik caught her attention as he emerged through the ferns. “A young one from the looks of it.” With nay a warning, he thrust his spreadhead out and back, decapitating the qa’put. Glancing down at Enyd with a sneer, the young Klingon sighed, “You have shed first blood on this hunt, but it was only a qa’put. Come. Stop playing. The trigok are waiting.”

Enyd huffed out a sigh at Anik’s retreating back. Turning her gaze to Cal, Enyd used the bloodied spear to pull herself to her feet.

“We should stop playing, Cal.” She mimicked Anik’s broad-shouldered walk as she intentionally pushed against his shoulder on her way past him. “The trigok are waiting.”

Enyd managed four more strutting steps before the ground gave out from under her. With a squeal, Enyd latched both hands on her spear as her body began its uncontrolled plummet. Only her teeth jarred in her mouth as it clapped shut, her drop halting, for her spear rested on the firm ground on either side of the unseen pit, the hole just wide enough for something of her size to fall in. Dirt still falling about her head, Enyd blinked to get the muck from her eyes only to find that her spear had saved her from falling atop similar spears at the bottom of an old trap.

“Cal?” She called up to her companion, her grip on the spread growing uncertain. “Would you mind rescuing me?”

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #13
[ Lt. JG Callax Valin | Mekro'vak Region | Qo'noS ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz
“Is that the type of scar you share the story of?”

“With proper enticement.” He beamed a pearly white smile in her direction but turned away soon after leaving her to fill in the meaning of his comment.

For his part, Callax actually seemed more comfortable now that he was liberated from his tattered and mud caked clothes. Nudity did not phase him although with each crunching step through the thick foliage his desire for proper footwear grew exponentially. If he was in pain though he did not show it. The Ardanan remained focused on the task at hand and his expression, one of intense awareness, did not waver.

Minutes felt like hours in the hostile swamp where a wrong step meant brushing bare skin against a poisonous plant or worse. Idle chatter was kept to a minimum although the pair of Starfleet officers did indulge in some whispered banter drawing the occasional disapproving gaze of a nearby klingon.

“I’ll be sure to gift you a special holoprogram for your birthday now that I know your preferences.”

“I would rather Thea not knowing what I may or may not fantasize about.”

The monotony of the hunt was finally broken by what the klingons called a qa’put, a sort of hairless monkey that had the misfortune of thinking it could take Enyd unawares. It was only once Anik had finished off the creature and resumed the hunt that Cal broke his stony visage to stifle a laugh.

“We should stop playing, Cal,” Enyd mimicked. “The trigok are waiting.”

It took a good measure of resolve and self-control to not break out laughing right then and there. A smirk was the best he could muster in place of an outright outburst. “At least the qa’put is kaput.”

They continued albeit for only a few seconds before Enyd found herself dangling by her spear above an old spike trap. It was only by sheer luck that it had not been more shallow and her not taller or the rust tipped spears at the bottom would have no doubt pierced her feet.

“Cal?” Enyd called up, her grip on the spread seemingly growing uncertain. “Would you mind rescuing me?”

“Do I mind? Probably, although Starfleet protocol and common decency dictates I should,” he teased softly as he couched his spear into the ground for support with his left hand and reached down towards the woman with his right. A firm grip found the woman’s forearm and with relative ease he lifted her up and out of the pit, the pair falling to the ground beside the old trap.

“Although, it could be argued that in our current situation decency has been all but discarded,” he added with a cheeky grin.

As if on cue, Anik appeared from a nearby bush and cast a disappointing gaze on the two naked humanoids laying together on the ground.

“Your mating ritual can wait. The trigok is near. We have it cornered.”

Cal rolled his eyes and stifled laughter as he lifted himself up and offered a hand to aid Enyd in doing so as well. “He is about as fun as a glider with training locks,” the Ardanan muttered, brushing off some excess dirt and grass that clung to his body.

A hundred paces or so further into the swamp would reveal a muddy clearing. Before they could step out of the dense foliage cover, Anik wordlessly raised a hand for them to stop and gestured towards the middle of the clearing.

Drinking from a sickly green puddle of what appeared to be acid was a four-legged creature the size of a fully grown bull elephant on Earth. Covered in dense patches of fur and countless scars, it was clearly a veteran–and victor–of many battles. Bright red blood coated its spiked tusks indicating it had not soon prior added another kill to its list of victories.

“Huh. So that is, uh. That is definitely a trigok. Yep,” Cal whispered with a hint of trepidation. The full reality of their situation had just now begun to set in. “I wonder why they call it a trigok.”

As if in response, the giant beast let out a series of bellowing noises that sounded phonetically like tri-gok.

“Ah, the Klingons. Ever creative with their naming.”

Unsure how to proceed from here, he awaited instructions from the native members of their hunting party.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #14
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mekro’vak Region | Qo’Nos] attn: @Eden

It was strange to feel so comfortable in a man’s presence whilst nude, and yet Enyd felt nothing except appreciation when Cal hoisted her from her predicament, and they sprawled together on the ground beside the pit. In any other circumstance, Enyd would have blushed crimson at feeling his flaccid penis press against her thigh or note the sticky press of her breast against the skin of his arm. Instead, Enyd laughed along with Cal, her laughter falling into girlish giggles when they were admonished by Anik for having an untimely mating ritual.

Accepting his offer, Enyd grinned as her friend helped her back to her feet, “Or a diplomat without coffee.” She spoke from experience on that one.

Both retrieving their spears, Enyd fell into step alongside Cal as they followed the others to the edge of the boggish clearing. Her eyes widened when she noted the size and state of the beast. She’d wrongfully assumed that given their own nude state and choice of weapons, they’d be going up against something more the size of a juvenile sabre bear—something she’d amusingly already faced. Instead, they were taking on what looked to be one of the Big Four of Qo’Nos. While Enyd heard Cal’s comment she was kept from making a reply when one of Anik’s companions began a series of silent hand motions from further down the clearing. Enyd leaned forward to look past Cal to Anik, hoping the surely Klingon would give them some pointers on how to proceed.

“Opak suggests that the ‘guests’ be the ones to lead the trigok to the killing zone.” Anik’s lips pulled down. “This is a high honor, humans, and one that only the greatest of warriors accepts and survives.”

Enyd let go of her spear to needlessly raise a hand, “Where is the killing zone?” A saner female would have asked what he’d mean by ‘lead the trigok,’ but Enyd already knew what he meant. She just wanted to know if she had it in her to accept the honor or not.

Anik used his chin to point across the clearing to where it tapered into a rockier area before falling away into a murky stream. The jungle pressed in as a type of funnel closer to the rocky area, offering some semblance of protection for the hunters. But there was very little if anything that could be protection for the “leader of the trigok,” except superior speed. For even if they managed to make it to the stream, it was not wide enough or deep enough to slow down the wrath of the creature and the climbing hill on the other side of the stream was further against the leader and the trigok for getting away.

“How does one lead the trigok?”

Anik smirked, “Get its attention and run. Or is that too much for you, humans?”

Rolling her eyes at the Klingon, Enyd turned her attention to Cal, “What do you think? One of us sneaks along the jungle edge and pops out in front of it while the other goes on further and pops out closer to the stream, armed with the spear to act as ‘backup’ for the leader?”

She was probably confirmed to the pilot just how many shades of crazy she was for not suggesting they drop the spears and run for it. But Enyd didn’t want her friend to lose face with his family for having vouched for them and neither did she want these Klingons to tell their friends or colleagues about the cowardly Starfleet officers who’d run at the first sign of danger. That could create a diplomatic incident all on its own.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #15
[ Lt. JG Callax Valin | Mekro'vak Region | Qo'noS ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz
“What do you think? One of us sneaks along the jungle edge and pops out in front of it while the other goes on further and pops out closer to the stream, armed with the spear to act as ‘backup’ for the leader?”

It was a sensible enough suggestion considering none of this was sensible. In fact, it was pure madness. All of it. And yet there was a morbid pleasure from the adrenaline rush that Callax basked in. The same rush that he felt behind the control of his Valkyrie. Or in the bed of a woman.

“What do I think?” He said with a hushed tone, casting another glance at the trigok. “I think it is insane, it is dangerous, and we will almost certainly die.” Cal paused for a brief moment before cracking a pearly white smirk. “Let’s do it. I’ll take the jungle edge–you wait near the stream. When you see me running towards you… you turn and run like the fate of the world depended upon it.” He turned towards the klingons then, expression changing to one of stony resolve. “And you–you better be ready to slay that thing when it comes.”

Before leaving the Ardanan took a moment to feel the weight of the spear in his hand. It would undoubtedly slow him down in the jungle and more so when running through the swamp. Reluctantly, he dropped the spear and placed a surprisingly warm hand on Enyd’s bare shoulder.

“You be safe, yeah?” There was genuine concern in the man’s bright blue eyes as he said farewell to his friend. His tone was soft yet resolute, his Starfleet training allowing him to remain focused and determined despite his fear. “See you on the other side.”

And then with only a wink he was off.

Like a predator stalking its prey the man moved quietly through the jungle foliage, ignoring the barbs that bit into his exposed skin and flaccid member. Those were problems for after–if there was an after.

It did not take long before the fight pilot was in position. From his vantage point, he could easily get the beast’s attention and even a headstart in Enyd’s direction. Provided he did not lose his footing it was possible–just possible–he could make it.

Beginning his run from cover, the Starfleet officer launched forwards at a full sprint into the clearing. Shouting Ardanan obscenities, he covered almost half the distance of the clearing before the beast finally turned. A deep bellow sounded from the trigok before it began its pursuit.

Cal was fast but the beast was faster. Despite running at a full sprint the trigok was quickly gaining ground. Out of the corner of one eye he could see Enyd and hoped she too would be fleeing at speed. As much as he wanted to, he could not afford to turn his head in her direction less he sacrifice even the smallest bit of speed. Every little bit was essential if he hoped to survive this.

Seconds later the stream came into view. He accelerated towards it despite what felt like every muscle in his body screaming in protest. As his feet hit the swampy water he could only hope that the hunters would now do their duty before a barbed tusk got the chance to pierce and break his body.

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #16
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mekro’vak Region | Qo’Nos] attn: @Eden

Enyd would’ve clapped her hands if they weren’t filled with both her spear and Cal’s discarded one. It was delightful to find someone else as keen on following through with a cultural experience as she was. Though Enyd knew, given his status as a pilot, he was probably looking at this whole scenario from a different angle. Where Enyd wanted to prevent a loss of reputation and encourage a build-up of camaraderie through this ordeal, Cal could very much be interested through the thrill of the adventure alone. And Enyd wouldn’t blame him for that. It was certainly thrilling and a welcome change in the reason for her life being at risk. Whereas all their old and upcoming missions had a certain life-or-death factor, much of that was out of her control. This intentional exposure to danger had a seductive element to it, and Enyd could very much understand why some people became addicted to this type of adrenaline spike.

Enyd hadn’t waited for Cal to start his way into the clearing before moving into their agreed-upon maneuver. Anik and the others kept their mouths shut, offering no encouragement or criticism for the plan. They also stealthily moved into position but kept quiet aside from their native animal-sounding calls for confirmation on position. Enyd had to be careful in her movement, already boasting a few cuts along her ankles and at least one puncture wound in her heel. No doubt, they would both need a thorough inspection from Elro once they were back on board to prevent parasites or infection. The length and weight of the two spears, while balanced to a point, were still cumbersome enough that Enyd began to worry she wouldn’t be in position in time to help Cal.

She was just moving out of the jungle, parallel to the stream, when she heard Cal first, shouting at the trigok, and then the behemoth’s angry cry in response. The ground beneath her shook as both Cal and trigok drew ever closer. Time was merciless, and Enyd couldn’t risk wasting it. Dropping one spear to her feet, Enyd hoisted the other and took two lunging steps forward before throwing it at the beast with all her might. Although the angle of the throw allowed it a fairly acceptable arc, Enyd doubted her strength was enough to have the spear do any significant damage even if her aim proved true. And so Enyd didn’t wait to see if it scored a hit or not before she pivoted on her heel, seized the other spear, and pivoted back around to throw the second one.

Unfortunately, she misjudged Cal’s speed and as she turned back to face the beast, Cal’s body swung into her peripheral view. Screeching out a warning, Enyd threw herself back to avoid slicing open his side. The charging trigok was near atop them. Scratching her bum along the swampy ground, Enyd held the spear up as best she could as she continued her scrambling, almost rolling, retreat toward the stream. The hot breath of the trigok fanned over her body as the battle cries of the Klingon warriors erupted from the jungle’s edges. Noting its new enemies, the trigok reared back on its hind legs, letting out a thundering bellow. Enyd was so stunned by the sound and the sight that she didn’t even think to roll out from under the inevitable crush of the creature’s legs…

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #17
[ Lt. JG Callax Valin | Mekro'vak Region | Qo'noS ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz
It should have happened. The Starfleet pilot should be writhing in agonizing pain and drawing his last; and yet, there was nothing. Had the klingons done it? A spear had passed near his body so it was possible. Had there been others like it to fell the beast? Could their pseudo-nightmare be over?

The Ardanan would have kept running if not for the rapidly narrowing walls around the so-called killing zone. Preparing to dodge at a moment's notice he turned to face the charging trigok only to realize it was not there. The beast had ceased its charge to pursue a new target--an all too familiar brunette. Klingons were on the approach. Cal could see them rapidly descending from the defensive rock walls but with Enyd beneath the beast he doubted they would make it in time. It would have to be him. Having barely caught his breath, Cal began to sprint towards the beast shouting more Ardanan obscenities as he did so. If he could not kill the beast he could hopefully at least distract it long enough to avoid killing Enyd and give the klingons a chance to finish it off. That is if the beast did not kill him first. A less than favorable outcome.

A glint from the mud caught the Ardanan's attention as he approached the beast. It was the spear that just barely avoided killing him moments before. Cal grabbed it, slowing only a moment to secure the mud covered shaft in his hands as the beast came within range. It reared up onto its hind legs, no doubt in response to the klingon hunters surrounding it, a thundering bellow shaking the ground around it. A moment later its front hooves would return to solid ground--and Enyd.

"You will not!" Cal shouted as he jabbed the spear upwards, the sharpened tip finding unarmored flesh on the beast's underside.

The trigok let out another thundering bellow as it reared further on its hind legs. A moment later it fell to one side, a flurry of spears piercing its thick hide as native hunters took advantage of its injury. A death rattle sounded from its blood stained mouth, heavy breathing quickly becoming shallow and then no more. Against all odds they had survived.

Remembering Enyd, Cal looked down to find he was standing over her body. Standing over her head, to be exact, with both feet planted firmly on either side of it allowing for a less than flattering view of his flaccid member dangling an arm's length above her. His cheeks flushed, unseen beneath a thin layer of dirt that coated most of his body. Allowing for some decency he shifted to her side. Piercing blue eyes scanned quickly over the woman's naked body for injuries, allowing just a brief moment to appreciate the view and the woman's physique.

Offering a hand, Cal beamed a pearly white smile down at her. "Remind me to pack a phaser if you ever invite me skydiving again, Lieutenant."

Re: Day 10 [1326] Chaos in the Clouds of Qo'Nos

Reply #18
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mekro’vak Region | Qo’Nos] attn: @Eden

Enyd’s body bounced from the immense weight of the trigok falling prey to the Klingon hunters, finally defeated. The immediate danger averted, Enyd took a moment to gather her wits and her calm her heart. She heard Cal’s voice from above her head and in glancing up, nearly for the first time, Enyd became distinctly aware of their nude state. His form was trim, his “equipment” well balanced between testes and penis, and the beaming smile added to his overall allurement as he spoke of bringing a phase for the “next time.” That he was even willing to speak of a next time spoke volumes of his own adrenaline-loving character. His emphasis on her title made Enyd smirked before moving to sit up. She felt debris crinkle and fall from her back and then her rear, and she rolled onto her knees then came to her feet.

“I’ve been informed by more than one colleague that my unacknowledged true love is chaos herself.” Her effort to brush off the various bits of rock and leaf was useless, but Enyd’s hands moved through the movements nonetheless as she spoke. “I would suggest both a phaser and an escape plan if things continue along these lines, Lieutenant.” Though he was a junior grade lieutenant, he was still not far from her current position, and if he felt the need to remind her of her position, she could fight fire with fire. “Now, how about we see what our cut of this trigok is? We were the ones to bring it to the killing zone after all.”

Enyd led the way to the Klingons and was the first to express disappointment when Rik’evet informed them that as non-clan members, they could not take any of the hide or meat with them back to the ship, but they were invited to stay for the feast if they wanted. As Rik’evet explained the process leading to the feast itself, Anik drew close to Cal and offered the pilot a bloodied piece of raw meat.

“That is a slice of the heart.” Rik’evet stared at Cal intently. “By taking in the heart of the trigok, in its raw form, you may imbue its power and tenacity.” Holding a hand out towards the younger Klingon, Enyd watched as Anik sighed and begrudgingly gave her friend a second, slightly small slice. Rik’evet turned to Enyd and smiled as he held the meat towards her. “Your efforts have earned this honor.”

Enyd wasn’t certain how Cal felt about eating raw meat, but she wasn’t about letting lingering concerns about food safety cause a diplomatic incident. Without further hesitation, Enyd received the meat with a head bow and slurped the bloody mess into her mouth. It was probably one of the toughest bits of meat she’d ever encountered, with thick tapioca-like blood gushing out with every bite. Fighting a gag reflex, Enyd’s eyes watered as she forced a smile and hummed her appreciation, her mouth working double time to reduce the slice to a swallow-friendly size. She had to pound her chest a few times to get her body to swallow properly without rejecting the meat back into Rik’evet’s face.

“Thank you for the honor and the invitation. What do you think, Cal?” She wasn’t aware of the smear of blood framing her mouth or the slight trail of bloody dribble that had worked its way out of the corner of her mouth before she turned to ask her friend for insight on their next step.

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