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The Lion Never Had to Flip a Coin

Posted on Fri Apr 29th, 2022 @ 1:03am by Chief Petty Officer Remal Kajun & Captain Rhenora Kaylen

Mission: *CD*
Location: Bajor
Timeline: Current-ish

By the time Remal returned, Patin had found a suitable pulley, climbed the tree with the rope and returned to the quad. She was tieing the last rope when Remal jumped down. "You work fast." He commented.

She stood up and brushed off her hands. Then she winked, "You know it big man. Now," she said, taking the rope in both hands. "You ready to pull?"

He grinned and took the rope in both hands. "Ready and able." Together they pulled the rope, her choice of pulley point making the load lighter but not weightless. Hand over hand they pulled together, the rope coarse and rough against their smooth old hands. The quad bike rose a few centimeters at a time over and over again until it was just above the top of the fallen tree trunk. Someone would have to reach out and grab the rope, and pull it over, quad and all, while the other held the rope steady.

As if she were summoned, Rhenora appeared just when she was needed, reached out and grabbed the rope. It was slow going, methodical but back breaking work for the three of them, working as a team to get the quad on the correct side of the chasm.

The sun was starting to draw low on the horizon, the heat and humidity of the day tempering with the coming of the afternoon breeze and evening cool. Rhenora almost sighed with relief as the cooler breeze pushed the oppressive tropical heat away. Even Patin seemed happier with the drop in temperature. With the arrival of the afternoon came the arrival of the insects, thousands of tiny bugs filled the air, buzzing in their ears and across their faces trying to find some flesh on which to feed.

By the time they reached the midpoint, they were absolutely miserable. The last hints of light splashed through the tree line like a strobe light as Remal pulled his quad over at what appeared to be a rustic rest area. There was one large structure and several smaller cabins lining the road, possibly housing for the locals. He wouldn't even classify this area as a village, but it would be their respite for the night. At least there were fewer bugs. He thought as he slapped the back of his neck for the umpteenth time. "I'll go check on our accommodations." He hefted his bag of belongings onto his burdened shoulders and made for the central building.

“I’ll see if I can find some fresh water” Rhenora echoed as Remal trudged towards the building. Patin simply shrugged her shoulders and began exploring the huts, sticking her head into each one as she went.

Of simple construction, they were timber huts. Logged trees shucked off their limbs and bark and laid in a strong but rudimentary rectangle design, each log locked in with a hand carved notch to its counterpart. The roof was equally as rudimentary and looked like it had been there forever. A plethora of spider webs crisscrossed through the old beams, filled with bugs and housing the spider. Some were long destroyed, now wispy strands of sticky gossamer thread that blew with the breeze.

As Rhenora explored the surroundings she found a running stream, its water cool and clear as it carved its way through the landscape. Only a meter or so across it wasn’t big, but would be enough to supply their needs for fresh water, cleaning and the rest.

She turned and headed back to the hut, navigating by the bright moonlight as it rose from behind the nearby hills, casting long shadows through the tropical jungle. It was a beautiful place, the scars of the occupation concealed by lush growth in the years since. Still if you looked hard enough the signs were there. The odd phaser mark on the outside of the structures, a small crater now filled with vegetation where explosives had gone off, and the odd mine shaft. It brought back memories of labour camps, of brutal working conditions, starvation and the determination to do anything to escape.

While Rhenora reflected upon the location, Patin had found herself looking up. This was a vastly different sky than the one she could see from the Southern provinces. The stars were clearer, closer almost. Then she saw it, clear as the back of her hand. It was enough to cause the hairs on her neck to stand up. The Celestial temple opened for a minute and then closed once more. It was like space had just let out a breath of air.

She was awestruck as a flood of thoughts and memories raced through her mind. She had left the Prophets long behind so long ago when they had abandoned her in her time of need. So many Cardassians had tried to use her, abuse her. So many of them met their end by her very hands. And now those Prophets dared shine down upon her, the gaul. Near tears, this was how Rhenora found her as she walked slowly up from behind.

“ No matter how many times I see it, it’s still magical every single time” Rhenora murmured quietly, not disturbing the sanctity of the moment any more than necessary. “Whether you hold love for Them or not, it’s still magical” The words were carefully chosen, as though gauging where Patin was in her own journey.

Rarely startled, Patin gave a small jump, a sign she had been truly lost in thought. “Remember when we used to talk about the Prophets, pray to them in the caves when the snakes were trying to drive us out. We were so young then. Back then you’d never see the temple opening and closing like it does now. Hell, then it was a fable mostly.” She continued to stare at it, and somewhat beyond it into the vastness of space. “You’ve been there, haven’t you? Your hunk of man meat tells me you often have visions. What are they like, these things you see?”

Rhenora watched the heavens and waited. With that much traffic going in between quadrants the wormhole was opening regularly to allow ships through. Her mind wandered for a bit before returning to Patin's question.

"They're confusing, often paradoxical and sometimes just plain weird. They happen when you least expect them, nor do you have any control over them." She explained. "Sometimes I see futures, sometimes the past, and sometimes it's all mixed up together."

Patin turned to face her friend, "Sounds like a load of bollocks to me. How the hell do you keep it all straight? I can't imagine just trying to understand what they are trying to tell you, let alone what they want you to do… I mean why bother?" She directed her next statement directly at Rhenora. " And why you? Why is my Nozzie so special she has been granted this, this, curse?" She ended in an exasperated tone.

Inside Patin she was struggling with the idea that her life had been difficult. Filled with anger at the feeling the Prophets had forsaken her most of her life. They had taken her ability to bear children and taken away her purpose for living. Yet, her friend stood before her with the power to communicate with these same Prophets and had been granted so many blessings. She turned back to looking up at the stars. "If I ever have the chance to speak with them, I think I'd tell 'em to fuck off." She added solemnly.

“Maybe we should take the time to do just that, I’m sure there’s a temple or a shrine up here somewhere” Rhenora mused as she considered where Patin’s unresolved trauma was coming from. There was the ‘why me?’ in the millions of other Bajorans on the planet, among other gripes. Why did the Prophets allow the Cardassians to plunder and kill Bajor and it’s people. Why if they were so powerful did they do nothing to protect their ‘children’?

"Yeah maybe." She replied quietly before returning to looking up. While she held animosity, what she really wanted was reasoning. 'why' burned in her brain brighter than the stars in the night sky.

Minutes later, Remal came out of the main Cabin, spotted the pair and made the walk straight towards them. "Sorry for taking so long, the residents were not very forthcoming with information." He spotted the canteen in Rhenoras hand and had to smirk, "You know they have fresh water inside right? Coffee even, and a full breakfast bar offering in the morning." He offered in a snarky tone.

“ You’re kidding right?” There was a look of incredulousness on Rhenora’s face. She had expected utmost rudimentary lodgings, walls and a roof maybe, anything more was a bonus and she was more than happy to take it.

He was. “There was a functioning replicator at best.” He pointed to a cabin across the road. "That's us. One bed. One couch. Fresh bug netting." He smiled as another bastard bit his neck causing him to slap himself before scratching at the fresh wound. "He also gave up some info about Zio, with a lot of coercion mind you."

There was a smile and they all headed towards the cabin, the light emitting from within bright and welcoming. It would be a relief to get away from the bugs and the promise of a bed was delicious in itself.

There was a few moments of silence as they entered, taking in the cabin and its facilities with a quick cursory tour. It was rustic, but like someone had recently put a fresh coat of something on the walls to give it that look, like they were putting a sticker over a mistake.

“Did someone mention food?” She prompted with a wry smile, looking around their luggage to find the stash of preserved foodstuffs Patin had packed. Flavorful it was not but it would provide sustenance.

The group ate the provisions in silence for the most part. Their day was long, the work difficult, and they were only halfway to Zios village. There was so much left to discover. After the last bite was consumed Remal stretched, stood and looked at the one bed. It was a double bed, big enough for two. He was about to claim it for him and Rhen when Patin shouted, "I call the bed!"

Stunned Remal looked at the lonely lackluster couch which was not appealing for a decent night's rest. "Like hell you do." He grumbled.

"You can share it with me if you like." She asked, her voice a bit of a sexy tease to it. "I'm not opposed to sharing, but I must warn you, I have roaming finger syndrome." She winked.

Remal looked to Rhen with a 'good lord's above, save me' kind of look.

Rhenora rolled her eyes, as though seeking sanctity from the heavens above them as she gave Patin a mock glare. Teasing or not she trusted her resistance friend with her life, but there was always that glimmer, however brief, of trusting her with her husband.

“How about we flip for the bed? The floor is better than the ground outside” Rhenora shrugged. She rummaged in the bag for something that could be used as a coin or token before returning with a slip of latinum. It was gold-pressed with an indentation on one side and could be easily spun to produce an unbiased decision.

“Alright then, Dents, you get the bed and Remal and I sleep on the floor, or Flats, we get the bed and you sleep on the floor”

They each nodded and she released the coin into the air. It spun end over end. As it fell to the floor it bounced, then rolled around until it fell. There was an audible gasp as the anticipation swelled. An hour later, Remal pulled the sheet up over his shoulder. The cold air was only matched by the warm moist wind. He looked down into the blonde-haired bundle next to him and whispered, "I love you, but I have to be honest, these splitters are gonna be a pain in the ass." As he shifted weight the boards beneath him creaked. Their noise was almost as loud as Patin, snoring soundly from the comfort of the bed.

TBC

 

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