Stretching, Thel slowly got to his feet, his back a little stiff from sitting in a meeting for so long. Turning to Rtas, he followed his friend out into the corridor.
"I'm glad that is over; I'm not sure how much more of that man's voice I could have taken." Thel murmured in his native language, rubbing his temples with one hand. Rtas chuckled beside him, both of them making their way down the hall and towards the mess hall. According to their human liaison, whom they were told was in charge of keeping track of the potential, Stella would be waiting there to join them for lunch.
"It will be nice to talk to someone who isn't a part of the military, for a change." Thel hummed his agreement to Rtas' statement, already feeling lighter knowing he would have another chance to interact with Stella. Glancing at his companion out of the corner of his eye, Rtas noticed Thel seemed to brighten at the mention of the potential.
"Remember Thel, she doesn't know that you are the one she's being surveyed for." Thel frowned, glancing at his friend.
"I know that."
"I just want to remind you so that you aren't too put out if she doesn't respond to your advances." Thel stopped dead, staring at his friend. Rtas continued on a few feet before stopping and turning to face Thel.
"What do you mean, 'my advances'?"
"Calling her 'your' female? Being overprotective? That moonlight walk? Those aren't advances?" Rtas asked calmly, hiding his smile as Thel looked away.
"…alright, I see what you're saying." They continued on in silence, Thel musing over what Rtas had pointed out.
"What's that?" Rtas asked, stopping and holding his arm out to have Thel stop as well. Silently, they listened closer as the voices drew closer.
"Damn that girl, where the hell did she go?" One of the speakers demanded.
"Don't know, but wherever she is, she's not gonna go far. Not without her pass." A chuckle passed through the group as they came around the corner, ignoring the Sangheili that were leaning 'casually' against the wall.
"Besides, she'll have to come back out some time. And we'll be ready, right boys?" There was quick confirmation in the form of leers from the five humans before they halted their trek. What had stopped them was the sight of the two Sangheili they had been ignoring blocking their path, arms folded over their chests and glaring at the humans.
"I suggest you tell us whom you are referring to and hand over that pass… now." Rtas growled as Thel continued to glare, his hands bunched into fists.
"Oh yeah, and just whatcha gonna do 'bout it?" One of the humans asked, arms crossed. He was obviously favoring his right foot while the one standing next to him had what appeared to be a recently broken nose.
"It depends on whom you were talking about. So start talking." At the growl, the slightly smaller man on the far left of the group, the one who had stayed silent the entire time, spoke up.
"The Spartan called her 'Ms. Nox'. It wasn't my idea; they pulled me along and threatened me!" He cried, cowering as his 'friends' turned to glare at him and the two Sangheili seemed to grow even more enraged.
"What is going on here?" Someone demanded and all eyes shot to the hallway where the humans had entered. Commander Blanchet, flanked by two Special Ops, was staring at the group, arms crossed. Rtas was quick to answer, his booming voice drowning out the remarks from the humans.
"These men have been harassing Ms. Nox." He stated and Blanchet's face became even stiffer.
"You have proof?" Rtas nodded, quickly reaching out and taking the pass from one of the humans' hands.
"This is Ms. Nox's pass; it was stolen." Blanchet quickly came over and checked for himself. Indeed, it was, and now that Ms. Nox did not have it in her possession…
"We have no way of checking her location now." One of the Spec. Ops stated, glaring at the closest soldier.
"What's the big deal? I mean, she's just a civilian." The 'leader' of the group drawled, causing everyone to stare at him. He quickly grew uncomfortable, clearing his throat, "isn't she?"
"Sergeant McDaniels, take your men and place these soldiers in the brig. They are to be held on trial, pending our recovery of Ms. Nox." Commander Blanchet ordered and within moments, they were removed from the hallway, arguing and protesting the entire way.
"I assure you both," Blanchet continued, glancing to the Sangheili, "we shall find her."
"Thank you Commander. I just hope she has not fallen into even more danger."
A base-wide alert was put out minutes later, alerting all personnel to be on the lookout for Ms. Nox and to contact Commander Blanchet the minute she was found. All off-duty personnel were also assigned to search teams, along with several non-essential on-duty personnel.
In the Unggoy quarters however, the loud sound of squeals and barks covered the announcement. In the chair, Stella slowly nodded off, the exhaustion from the week and the stress of the day taking its toll as she relaxed into the comfortable chair. Deciding not to disturb her, the Unggoy continued training, all of them unaware of the stresses and anxiety that were growing in the rest of the base.
That stupid human female is causing more trouble than she's worth. Kai 'Noku grumbled to himself as he stalked down the hallway. His entire day, and mood, had been ruined when he had received the call to find her. No explanations offered, no questions allowed. Grumbling to himself, he paused in his moody march.
She wouldn't have… would she? Shrugging and figuring no one else would check there, he slid his hand over the palm pad beside the air-lock to the Unggoy quarters. Quickly marching in and grabbing an oxygen mask, he entered the sub-base. The halls were eerily empty, though the sounds of yapping and barking echoed down to him. Growling, he stalked forward, following the sounds.
The door slid open in front of him and for a moment, he just stood there, staring. The Unggoy were chattering away, making a ruckus and just… being Unggoy. What was surprising was the fact that a small group of them were sitting quietly in a half-circle, facing outwards and, apparently, keeping the others from falling inside. And there, in the center of the protective barrier, was an unconscious female human, sitting in a chair with a pen and pad of paper on her lap.
"What is going on here!" Kai demanded, stepping into the room. Instantly, the Unggoy froze, falling silent as they stared up at him. Before he could do anything, one of the ones in the half-circle hissed at him to be quiet as all eyes turned to the sleeping female. Slowly, her eyes opened and she looked around, dazed. Blinking rapidly, she quickly sat up and gasped.
"Sorry, I must have fallen asleep." She murmured, rubbing at her eyes. She looked up and froze as she caught sight of Kai, who was silently seething.
I stared at the black-armored Sangheili whom, from his posture and glare, was furious. Quickly clearing my throat, I stood up, my heart hammering.
"Is everything alright Kai 'Noku?" I asked timidly and he seemed to snap. Jerking forward, he towered over me, his face inches from mine as he yelled.
"NO EVERYTHING IS NOT ALRIGHT! THE ENTIRE BASE IS LOOKING FOR YOU AND NO ONE HERE DECIDED TO REPORT YOU BEING HERE THE ENTIRE TIME!" I flinched, looking down and away from him. I didn't realize that I had worried so many people, I had just been trying to get away from people who looked at me as little better than a prostitute.
"Sorry." I said lamely, glancing back up at him before looking away again. He was panting, rage in his eyes, and his hands were clenching in and out of fists. Suddenly reaching forward, he grabbed my arm.
"Come on you stupid female." He growled, yanking me forward and towards the exit. I followed without saying a word, gripping the paper pad as if it was the only thing in the world that would save me. Niplip looked as though he was going to step forward and stop him but I quickly shook my head at him, my eyes conveying that it would be fine… even if I didn't really believe it.
Dragging me through the air-lock and into the hallway, he ignored me except to rip the oxygen mask from my head and throw it into a corner. His hand was tight on my arm, the grip almost painful as he jerked me down the hallways. Finally, he pulled me in front of him and shoved me forward. Stumbling, I cried out before being caught by a pair of large, strong hands.
"Here's the female. She ignored the base-alert to sleep in the Unggoy training room." Kai growled, "I will be in my room." He turned, marching down the hall and leaving me in the hands of a very surprised Arbiter and Rtas 'Vadum. Quickly pulling myself up right, I took a step back and sighed.
"I didn't ignore the alert; there was so much noise that no one heard it." I muttered, gripping the pad to my chest. Sighing, Thel suddenly pulled me forward into a hug, growling in his natural language.
"I thought I'd lost you." Blushing I let him embrace me until he pulled back, addressing me in English. "I am glad you are alright." Nodding, I looked down at my feet.
"We have been alerted as to what might have happened before you entered the Unggoy quarters. Care to shed some more light on the subject?" Rtas asked and I blushed.
"I… nothing." I looked away and heard someone sigh.
"Ms. Nox, we do not take sexual harassment lightly here on base." Someone spoke and I glanced up at an older gentleman who was dressed in a high-ranking uniform.
"I-I…" Thel and Rtas stared at me, frowning in confusion and I quickly looked down again, clutching the pad of paper in front of me as though I could hide behind it.
"Ms. Nox, why are you not just telling us the truth? The Arbiter and I know what happened. You just need to confirm it." Rtas spoke and I bit my lip, glancing at the other man.
"You are not a fault Ms. Nox. I assure you, what you say will be held in confidence and you will be protected from any negative retaliation." Thel frowned in confusion, turning to him.
"Commander, shouldn't she be allowed to face her tormenters, to declare their crimes to the public?" The Commander looked up at him.
"Arbiter, in our culture, unfortunately, women are often attacked if they do so. Ms. Nox?" He turned to me and I looked down, feeling their stares once again on me.
"T-they cornered me… I was forced to use self-defense." I flinched as I heard Thel growl softly. The Commander sighed.
"Ms. Nox, I am Commander Blanchet. I assure you, your attackers will be tried and convicted of their attempts to harm you. We are currently also retrieving video surveillance to validate your claims. If you decide not to press charges, we will pick them up and convict them anyway." I nodded after he was done speaking.
"Thank you Commander… M-may I go to my room now?" I looked up at him and returned his soft smile with a weak one of my own.
"Of course Ms. Nox. I will be taking over the duty of making sure you are comfortable and safe from now on so if you ever need anything, this will patch you through straight to me." I blinked in surprise and bit my lip, hesitantly accepting the communicator he held out to me.
"T-thank you Commander…" He nodded and I turned, inclining my head to Rtas and Thel. "I apologize for not being able to meet with you on better terms today…"
"Don't apologize. There is tomorrow." Thel reached out, taking my hand and bringing it up, nuzzling it softly and making me blush slightly. He hesitantly pulled back releasing my hand as Rtas merely nodded back to me.
"Corporal, please escort Ms. Nox back to her rooms." Commander Blanchet ordered and the corporal beside him saluted smartly.
"This way ma'am." I followed him as he turned, starting down the hall. I didn't even try to pay attention to where we were as I silently followed him, sighing in relief and thanking him as we arrived at my rooms. Palming open my door, I made sure it locked behind me before letting out a shaky breath and rubbing my face, tossing the pad of paper to the desk carelessly. Crawling onto the bed, I curled up in the blanket, hiding my face against the pillow and letting the tears silently fall.
Hey everyone! Hope you guys have been doing good! Sorry I haven't posted in awhile but I hope you like this chapter! XD I'm hoping to post more consistently now but no promises since I have developed carpal tunnel in my primary hand (not fun). Anyway, hope you enjoyed the chapter!
Please leave a comment (it makes me have inspiration!) :D