As soon as she entered the weird little bath chamber, Jennifer began crying in earnest. Within seconds, a solid stream of tears was running down her face at the thought of everything that was now lost to her. Her home, her family, her career, her team mates, her friends… everything that had ever mattered to her was now somewhere across an impassible distance of interstellar proportions.
As tears continued to flow down her face, Jennifer decided to get a hot soak since that had always seemed to help her mood back home when she needed to sooth her mind. She stripped down and got into the water, and was surprised that it was still fairly hot. She did her best to relax, and try to figure out what she was going to do now, but the overwhelming intensity of her situation got the better of her, and within a few short moments, her tears escalated into outright sobs.
When R'ka entered the bathing chamber, she was immediately assailed by a strong scent of grief coming from the ooman. She saw that the tiny female was sitting in the bathing pool, and that the sound she'd heard was one of sadness. That was something she was very familiar with, and she couldn't help but react to the small size of the female and the grief as she stripped down, got into the pool, and pulled the ooman into her lap.
The ooman Jen seemed to be no larger than a pup as she held the small female to her. R'ka wasn't sure whether it was her size, or simply her presence and attempt to comfort the ooman, but whichever it was; Jen leaned into her and began crying even harder. She held the rather small female for some time, until noticeable shudders began racking the small body she was holding. She had no idea how long she held the ooman female, but eventually the shuddering, and sobbing slowed to a stop. When she looked down to check on the tiny female, she saw that the ooman was actually asleep in her arms.
When she'd been giving the meager amount of medical treatment that she could, R'ka had seen for herself just how frail and fragile the body of the ooman female was. Well aware of the slow but steady drop in the temperature of the water, she silently rose out of it, and carefully sat down by the fire with the female ooman cradled in her left arm. She waited there until both she and the ooman were dry. Then moving cautiously, she replaced the ooman's clothing that she'd made, and donned her own before leaving the bath chamber.
Kwei-kv'var-de was still seated near the fire pit when R'ka emerged from the bathing chamber with the sleeping ooman in her arms. She could see that the smaller male was finishing another piece of the meat she'd cooked, and was obviously as ravenous as she felt. She stepped over to her sleeping nest and gently laid the ooman in her furs before pulling one of the furs to the female's chest.
"She will rest, and sleep here this night. I don't know why, but the sound we heard was one of grief. That combined with her injuries mean that she's in need of rest. After what she's done for me, I will gladly give up my furs to her." R'ka said softly as she resumed her own place by the fire, and selected another cut of meat.
"You don't need to be concerned that I might disturb her. She was nearly killed because of her efforts to restore our honor, and freedom. Replacing damaged cells to heal her injuries are very draining on the body's resources, and she lost a lot of blood while injured, so she needs that rest. Speaking of which… where do you wish me to sleep?" Kwei replied in a whisper before licking the delectable meat juices from his fingers.
"I haven't considered that. The female is now in the only sleeping nest I have…" R'ka answered at a loss because she was unable to offer this male so much as the proper hospitality of an acceptable place to sleep.
"Would you have any objections to my sleeping near the fur hanging over the entrance? The floor there is covered in several layers of fur, so it's far better than the bare rock of this cavern, and you've made it clear as to why you would never have thought to have so much as a single guest join you here, let alone two of them. So don't think that I've found your hospitality lacking in any way R'ka-thwei. You have welcomed me into your home… on a world where you have no allies… you've provided me with the safest place known to you, which is also the only safe place that you have as well! Not only that, but you have provided me a meal that is delicious, and very well prepared, and that doesn't even mention the hot bath!" Kwei said in firm appreciation.
"You have given the ooman female the only sleeping nest available… which is your own. Only one who truly has no honor at all would be able to find any fault with what you've provided for myself and the ooman female." Kwei told her softly. "As I think about this delicious meat, I can only wonder if I would have been strong enough to secure anything for myself this night. I am certain that all of the food stores on my ship have either been destroyed or contaminated in some way that would make them dangerous to consume, which means that what you've provided for me is greatly appreciated, and I am in your debt."
"I didn't do any of this to place you in my debt! I am merely trying to repay what this strange little ooman female has done for me." R'ka grunted sourly.
Kwei chuckled softly as he tried to keep his voice down to allow the ooman to sleep. "I am aware of that, but I think we may all be deeply indebted to each other before this is over. You owe her, I owe her, and I also owe you as well, and because we have worked together to save her life, she may feel that she owes us! Trying to sort out and decide who actually owes what to who… should be a discussion for another time. For now, you should know that I am honored to have met you R'ka-thwei. I only wish that it had occurred under better circumstances."
"I could wish the same. After more than four and a half years of being alone, I am suddenly faced with the company of two individuals who are neither trying to kill me or attempting to hunt me down for some other use. I will say that it is a very welcome, but very strange feeling to be able to have someone to talk with." R'ka said honestly.
"I can understand the feeling of strangeness." Kwei said softly. "Many times, I've been told how those of your kind would hunt or kill mine at every opportunity, and yet you aren't trying to kill me for a trophy; so it seems that we have another thing in common besides being stranded on this world."
"Yes… we have much in common." R'ka said bitterly. "We are both stuck on this world, and we were both captured by the same group of hunters."
"After which we were both freed by the same ooman. So now, the three of us are in the same cave after having shared an excellent meal that you prepared, and both of us are hoping to find a translation program in my ship's computer. We are both exhausted from being held prisoner, and we are both in need of rest." Kwei told her casually.
"I will say it again. You have the advantage in size and strength. You also know this world well, so that experience and knowledge can be of use. Though I am not one of the greatest Warriors in my Clan, I am still well experienced in combat. Two blades working together are greater than one. Where either of us might be difficult to defeat, the two of us working together would be more difficult still." Kwei reasoned.
"Then, there is the ooman female. Whoever brought her here must have done so because she is a warrior of some skill. Dismissing her as a threat simply because of her small size would be a grievous mistake. The four males who had captured us are dead because of her actions. If we can learn to communicate with her, and if we can convince her to agree, then we might be able to add a third warrior to our small number." Kwei said softly. "I will admit that we'll be casting our spear a great distance, but if it flies true…"
"We might become a force that won't be bothered!" R'ka said as she grasped the implications.
"Exactly. I am no god to know what our future holds, but we have a much better chance at victory if we are together rather than alone." Kwei stated approvingly.
"Since we don't know what tomorrow will hold for us, I suggest that we get some rest and sleep so we can face the day with our strength replenished. For some reason, I suspect that we'll need it." Kwei pointed out.
R'ka simply nodded her head while grabbing another chunk of roasted Slime Beast before laying down by the fire. She did her best to relax while munching slowly on the piece of meat, but found that it wasn't as easy as it had previously been during her exile to this world. Doubts, misgivings, and even several hopes flowed through her mind as she lay there. She finished eating long before she finally drifted off.
Jennifer slowly roused from slumber to a feeling of being nestled in what just had to be the most comfortable and luxurious bed she'd ever slept in. Thick, soft, and silky fur was sensuously engulfing her entire body, and it felt incredible. She opened her eyes and saw that she was in a cave and snuggled securely in nice warm fur covered hides. Turning her head slightly, she saw the huge alien named R'ka stretched out in front of the fire sound asleep.
Jen closed her eyes and tried to still the torrent of emotions that welled in her mind. No matter how much she might wish otherwise… it had not been a dream! She was really stuck on an alien planet with a pair of aliens that she couldn't really communicate with. She took a deep breath and let it out in a long silent sigh as her extensive training suddenly kicked in.
'Okay Marine… this mission just got F.U.B.A.R., so you're going to have to make the best of things. First things first… establish a base of operations. Check. This cave should work fine for now. Second… I.D. allies and hostiles… Check. R'ka and her friend are allies, so watch them for the clues… anything, and everything else will be terminated with extreme prejudice! Third… weapons… that's going to be a problem because my ammunition isn't going to last forever, and if that big ass bow is any indication, then I've got the only long range weapons available. That means I'll have to be conservative with my ammo until I can come up with something else. That bow was definitely hand made, and not a factory version, so it might be possible to get my hands on one. Just wish I had gotten some more lessons from Gramps at using one.' Jennifer thought as her mind began to process the grim reality of her situation.
Knowing that R'ka was still asleep, she figured that the alien woman needed a good rest. 'There's no telling how many times she was already raped before I put a stop to it. I just wish I'd gotten there before they could do it the first time! Whatever the case, she's safe from them. Now, I guess I'll have to make sure she stays that way, and somehow… I don't think that's going to be as easy as it sounds.'
Jennifer moved as quietly as she could while she sat up. She drug the top fur with her and placed part of it behind her as she leaned against a wall of the cave. A quick look at the two aliens told her that both of them appeared to still be asleep. She knew that one had been severely beaten while the other raped, and neither one of them needed to be awakened by her actions, so she sat quietly and let her thoughts drift while looking around the cave.
The instant she awoke, R'ka knew that something had changed in her immediate surroundings. Opening her eyes just a crack showed her that the ooman female was awake. She watched in silence as the female stayed where she was for a while, before moving to sit against a wall of her cave. It was easy to see that the female was at least attempting to avoid disturbing either her or the Yautja still sleeping near the entrance, but R'ka had learned to be an extremely light sleeper. Four years of being pursued and hunted both day and night, had taught her the hard way that anything could happen while she was asleep, and to instantly awaken at the slightest change. She nearly snorted disgustedly when she realized that she'd been woken up by the change in the female's breathing patterns. Realizing that she'd never be able to get back to sleep as long as the ooman was awake, she sat up and stretched.
"Morning, R'ka." Jen said as she nodded her head in greeting as the alien started stretching.
"Gkaun-yte, Jen." R'ka replied, not certain what the female had said, but convinced from the way it was used that a greeting of some kind had been made.
"God, what I wouldn't give for a hot mug of coffee right now. Straight up and strong enough to peel the rust off the Titanic; black and powerful; just like my .44… now that's the way to start a morning!" Jennifer lamented ruefully.
R'ka didn't have a single clue as to what the female had just said, but she was almost sure of some longing in the tone. 'She must be wishing she had something from her world… perhaps even an ooman mate that she might have. Without being able to understand her, there's no guessing what she might be wishing for.'
Moving over to the fireplace, R'ka stirred up the coals and added some wood to build it back up. Once the fire was going strongly, R'ka retrieved a container of meat that had been dried and pulverized into a powder. She added some of that powder to a larger container of water and mixed the two thoroughly. Then she placed the mixture in a pouch of skin and put it over the fire to begin heating. She reached into the smoke channel of her cave, and retrieved a chunk of meat to be cooked for the morning meal.
Jennifer remained silent as she leaned against the side of the cave and watched R'ka cook what was obviously meant to be breakfast. She couldn't help but wonder how the near future was going to turn out. She was now on an alien planet, with a pair of aliens, and knew that it was going to be tough to learn their language so she could communicate with them.
'At least the other one speaks some English; so that will be a help.' Jennifer thought wryly as she watched R'ka start breakfast.
Kwei sat up almost as soon as he'd awakened. His recent experience had taught him the hard way that this wasn't a world where one could relax for even an instant. A quick glance around, showed him that he was still in the cave that the Black Yautja named R'ka-thwei called home. He saw R'ka cooking the morning meal, while the female ooman was sitting against the wall on the other side of the cave. He moved to sit near the fire, and looked over at the ooman who was now watching him.
"Kwei-kv'var-de." He said to the ooman female while pointing to himself.
"Okay there is no way in hell that I'll be able to say that mouthful, but I'll give it a shot." Jennifer answered with a shake of her head.
"You might want to try giving her a short version of your name, and she will likely do the same with hers. Believe me… her true name is almost impossible to pronounce, and it will make your head hurt to even think about saying it." R'ka suggested as she kept a close watch on the food.
Taking the Black Yautja up on her suggestion, Kwei-Kv'var-de gave the ooman female the first part of his name. Even then, it took several long moments, and many attempts for her to manage saying his name without mangling it almost beyond recognition.
When the ooman female told him her name in exchange, Kwei's eyes nearly bulged from his head, while his mandibles and jaw dropped in amazement. He stayed that way for several heart beats until he realized that he was hearing laughter. Looking over at the source, he saw R'ka laughing heartily while shaking her head at him.
"I told you her name was difficult." R'ka said still chuckling.
"You said 'almost impossible'… you didn't say that it was impossible!" Kwei complained sourly.
That was when he heard the ooman speak again, and this time it was two very short words that he could say with no problems. He looked over at her while repeating the words, and saw her bare her teeth at him while nodding her head.
"Those are the names she taught me last night. The first is a shortened version of the first part of her name, while the second is a strange mix of the first sounds in all of the words in her name." R'ka explained quickly.
"I understand… and I think that she's baring her teeth in an expression of friendship. Although I'm not entirely certain of it. You are right about one thing though, there's no scent of hostility from her. Certainly not like yesterday; then I caught a whiff of very strong hostility from her, but that was when she was engaging the bad-bloods who were holding us captive." Kwei said as he considered the ooman female's actions.
"It was only that strange lack of anger or hostility in her scent that prevented me from attacking her; so I will trust in what you say, but I still find her show of teeth disturbing to say the least." R'ka answered as she continued preparing a thick broth, along with several smaller pieces of meat.
After eating a rather strange breakfast, Jennifer watched the two aliens begin to don some type of body armor, along with an assortment of bladed weapons. She figured out real fast that they were going to make some kind of trip to go somewhere, and she wasn't about to let them go alone!
She began going over the few weapons that she had in her possession. Satisfied that both of her weapons were in functioning order, she quickly put on her weapon harness, and attached the grenades. She knew that she only had five left after using an H.E. on that one joker, but the two flash bangs, two fragmentation, and one high explosive grenade that she had left would help even some odds. She only had four clips left for the MP-5, along with whatever was still in it, but she had six full clips of armor piercing rounds plus a full load already in her .44!
Jennifer felt like a 'no fashion sense' idiot putting on socks and combat boots to go along with the leather bikini and loin cloth she was wearing, but she didn't have anything else, so she went with it. The belt only made the feeling worse as she checked the canteen, and added water from the skin that had been furnished by R'ka. The pouches of the combat belt were laden with a few necessities. A small bottle of extra strength Tylenol packed with extra cotton to prevent the pills from rattling, a compass, a compact flashlight, and something she'd completely forgotten about… the small radio for communications with her base of operations for the mission. She looked at it, and quickly dismissed it, because while it hadn't been turned on, she had no idea how to use it for communications with either of the aliens. She put the radio off to the side, and donned her head wrap to keep her hair out of her eyes. She finished stowing away her spare ammo clips, and satisfied that she was as ready as she could get, turned to face the two aliens.
R'ka watched with interest as the ooman female made her preparations. She knew exactly what Jen was doing. She knew that checking over one's weapons before entering any type of potentially hostile situation was a sign of either quality training, or plenty of experience in combat. She was rather certain that Jen had received both, because of the way she'd killed the four bad blood males the day prior. Not once had Jen ever hesitated in the slightest because of fear, inexperience, or indecisiveness; instead each of her actions had been made as quickly as if they'd been planned in advance. Then, for the ooman to fight against unconsciousness and even her own death the way she'd done, demonstrated a form of self discipline that could only come from excellent training. The idea of the ooman having experience was born out by the fact that the ooman hadn't been told to equip herself, but the small female was rapidly doing just that after having checked her equipment simply because she and the Yautja male were also doing so.
"Do you want to carry the awu'asa of the dead males, or should I?" Kwei asked casually.
"I will carry that, but I would ask that you carry the ooman's awu'asa that I damaged while tending to our friend. I'm hopeful that it can be repaired enough to be functional." R'ka answered after a bit of thought.
"If it can't, then we can begin resizing the mesh and armor of the dead males to replace what was damaged. That will need to be resized for her anyway, since she can't use it as it is." Kwei replied while clearly thinking about something.
"I need to provide you with the location and frequency of my ship, since you'll be burdened with the ooman female and therefore unable to cloak. You will likely be the faster of the two of us, so if we happen upon an enemy lurking out there, you and the ooman would be at a severe disadvantage. Being able to cloak, I can remain somewhat behind you and provide a second front for any enemy foolish enough to try something." Kwei said while tapping some controls on his wrist computer.
"Just how will you know who is an enemy, and who is not?" R'ka asked suspiciously.
"It has been clearly demonstrated that the only allies I have, are with me in this cavern. All others will be killed as quickly as possible." Kwei answered with a grin.