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02.11.2013 , 02:17 AM |
@irishfino Haha, Ald's reactions are much funnier than the ones my brain comes up with when Quinn repeats the obvious.
Now, skipping well into Vierce's future, still within the class line, for
. No spoilers. 1100 words.
Belsavis was not a friendly place for speeders. Inside the prison compounds, the roving gangs of recently escaped prisoners tended to swarm anything valuable. Outside the compounds the jungle beasts went nuts for any sign of sentient activity. Or any activity, probably; a loud fellow animal was probably just as badly off.
So we were all walking – all of us but Tanno Vik, who had nobly offered to help Warden Graal with security back at the air-conditioned base – down an old beaten path between banks of colorful and possibly fatal plants. After my first twenty-four hours on Belsavis I really didn't trust the place.
Something loud tapped in the trees. I looked up, but didn't see anything moving, so we pressed on.
Another tap. Then a third, then a bunch at once. And then hard little particles started breaking through to the ground.
"Is that what I think it is?" said Elara.
I knelt to check the nearest fallen pebble. It was ice, rapidly melting. "Hail," I said. "This is hail."
"Hail? We're in a jungle, sir," grumbled Jorgan. "That's just not right."
"It's a jungle pocket on an ice planet," I said. The fact had been bothering me ever since we got here. "I'm not sure how many memos on how weather works really make it all the way around here."
Something clattered off Jorgan's helmet. "Not enough, obviously."
Yuun chittered, his voice and its translation sounding clear over comms. "There is a ledge off the road two hundred meters back."
I turned right around to start walking. "Let's go, then. I don't know how much worse this is going to get." As if the sky were listening, an ice-cold beaded curtain came slamming down all at once.
We reached the ledge, a very small overhang of grey rock; it only counted as shelter because of the prevailing wind. Forex folded in impressively neatly. Yuun stood at the edge of the hail fall and looked around as calmly as if the slightest change in wind wouldn't take out his exposed Gand eyes.
I took a look around, hoping for something a little less open. Nothing in immediate sight. I worked my way around a bend and found something that might suit.
"There's a crevice back here," I reported to the squad. "Don't know if it leads anywhere good, but I'll see if it gets us anything better sheltered. The rest of you, stay out here. I don't want to miss any comms from Warden Graal and I certainly don't want to be surprised if anything else comes by." It occurred to me that I didn't have much in the way of safety features here. "Dorne, you're with me. If you've got anything that warns about gas levels out of whack, now's the time to break it out."
"Yes, sir." I pulled out a flashlight and started into the passageway, and she followed.
The passage was big enough for me to get through without much trouble, which at least meant that everyone else apart from maybe Forex could make it in. It was a couple of dozen meters before it opened into a space that felt pretty wide. I waved my flashlight beam around a bit, but got only scattered glimpses of rocks.
"Dorne, you got anything better for light?" The sound of my voice confirmed that the cave was pretty big.
"I do, sir." In spite of the moments we had started stealing here and there, we did stay formal where anyone might hear. "One moment." I heard her opening her pack and fiddling with something, and then a hand lamp blew to bright white light. We both took a look around.
"Wow," I said.
The cave was uneven on all sides, including the floor. Some patches were the same grey stone was we had seen outside; the rest were…crystals. All shapes, all colors, shining like they weren't sure why nobody had put them in jewelry or some kind of art yet. A couple of them had patterns of dark symmetrical splotches on them. A few black puddles dotted what I could see of the floor.
Elara had already hurried to the nearest crystal formation, where she bent to not quite poke at the dark circles on it. She popped her helmet off and looked even closer. "I can't begin to guess what sort of lichen this is," she called. "If it even is lichen. I'll have to come back later. I want to take samples of everything!"
"You can do that right now," I said, slightly confused.
"Hm." She straightened and gave me a sly look. "There's a higher-priority task at the moment, Major."
"Very much so." She set the lamp on the nearest rock, then walked up and, at the last second, stepped up a little ledge so she could see me almost eye to eye. I was getting used to the immediate leadup to her bypassing my hesitations, at least, so I knew enough to pull my helmet off before she did it for me.
There was less hesitation every time and yet I was never quite ready for the moment her lips touched mine. Starting out breathless was a bit of a problem, but it was clearly something I was going to have to get used to.
So I wrapped my arms around her, and kissed her, and somewhere in that soft sweet give and take she nipped my lip again, a quick sharp shock. She smiled almost smugly when she felt my involuntary shiver. No woman that reserved and formal had any business doing that to a man in public. Or, maybe not 'public' because it was technically out of the way, but it wasn't…the point was, she had to know what she did to me and I never wanted her to stop.
Still. I pulled away and tried to steady myself despite the fact that my heart was pounding fit to knock me over. I still knew this wasn't a great idea. I didn't want to get her in trouble. I wanted her, so much I could hardly think straight, but there were about a hundred ways we could go wrong before it could even go anywhere and just declining to think about it every time we got a moment alone wasn't the way to handle it. "Elara, what are we doing?"
She regarded me solemnly from about three inches away. "Well, Vierce, at the moment we are exploring unfamiliar territory–" she looked around the cavern – "because there may be something here that would benefit both of us. In spite of–" she tilted her head toward the entrance and smiled a little bit – "a tumultuous start."
So much for any desire I might have had to argue. "You're brilliant," I told her.
"I do my best."
I kissed her again, as much as I thought we could get away with before the others came looking. I figured that as per my trusted lieutenant's recommendation we'd better thoroughly verify this territory was safe before we went back out.
Take that, sad AU! Also, happy Valentine's Day!
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