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Fools For Love
Brielle and Karvar
Brielle and Karvar are in a difficult situation. She's trying to recover from years of black mail and drug addiction, he's trying to figure out how to get out of this mistaken arranged marriage when Brielle's health is recovered. They are stranded in a wilderness, an alien jungle, with no communication capability, a killer is looking for them and it is raining. So of course, they have a water fight!
A glint of metal. “Oh,” she cried. “A drone. Above us.”
Karvar put them into a steep dive so that the restraints tightened, constricting her breathing. They landed with a jerk into thick vines. He inched the ship into a stand of bushes and vines. Brielle looked with dismay at the dark goo that reached the window. They were in a pool of mud. “Karvar.”
“Quiet now,” he breathed.
There was a strange sucking sound. The rear of the ship rocked, then upended so they were only kept from crashing down into the flight console by their mesh restraints. Brielle twisted around in her seat to see what was moving the flitter and stifled a scream. A huge worm-like beast, brown like the mud they were hiding in, rose up out of the ooze. It’s mouth opened showing a large hole surrounded by triangular teeth and a fuzzy tongue. A deep rumbling roar sounded.
“Salp,” Brielle said in a high pitched voice. “Didn’t know they roared.”
It loomed over them, hitting the flitter with its huge, knobby head, shoving them deeper into the curtain of vines they were hiding under.
The flitter swerved sideways and they landed with a thump, resting against a tree trunk. “Well, that wasn’t so bad,” Karvar whispered. “Better than I would have dared hide it.” They were deep under thick growth, barely able to see out of the flitter’s windows due to the thick ferns and leaves surrounding them.
The drone, lights glinting in the gloom of the forest, whipped by. The mud beast lunged at it, opening its maw from which a long feathery tongue emerged. The tongue snapped out at the drone, surrounding it, and pulled it rapidly into the wide mouth. The mud beast swallowed it.
Inside the body of the beast, the lights of the drone continued to blink, showing through the mud-colored, translucent skin. The beast writhed, plunged into the muck, then rose back up, the force of its movements causing the flitter to scrape against the bark of the trees. Karvar started the ship, elevating out of the danger and farther into the forest from the mud pool. The beast circled around toward them, mouth open.
“Our ship is too big to swallow,” Brielle cried, her eye glued to the holo. “I hope.”
The way forward was blocked by tree trunks.
Karvar grabbed her arm. “Brace yourself. I think it can still reach us.”
It struck, slamming the ship with such force they were flung into a tree nearly as wide as the ship. There was a scrape of metal, the crunching roar of breaking view glass and metal. Brielle screamed as pieces of debris hurtled through the small ship.
They stopped with a thud.
Brielle gasped for breath. Her restraints were so tight she could barely breathe. Her ribs hurt, her neck…she felt a warm trickle slide down her neck.
“I have a cut, need the kit.” She undid her harness and got up to crawl to the back.
The flitter rocked as the mud salp flung itself toward them.
“Watch out!” Karvar grabbed Brielle and she flopped against him, held tight. He was still harnessed. After a little while the salp stopped punching the ship. “Let me get a little farther away before you try to get back there.” He dumped her back into her seat and she harnessed.
He inched them backwards and then backed into an opening, pointing the front toward the salp. “I think we’re out of reach here.”
He nimbly unharnessed and grabbed the med kit. He cleaned the scratch with a disposable pad and spread some new skin over the wound on her temple. Then they looked to see what was happening with the salp. It was no longer trying to bash the ship, now it was flinging itself into the pool and then up into the air.
“We’re lucky we didn’t crash. That thing must be twice the weight of our ship.” Karvar’s hand absently caressed her back. “I can see why the journals caution against flying low.”
They watched the animal. The salp returned with more vigor, thrashing around and flinging mud everywhere. Karvar started the flitter but getting out of the thick growth broke their window more. They hastily pulled on their breathers as humid air wafted through the broken window.
“The drone’s lights are off now,” Brielle told Karvar, as he concentrated on making a path through the thick trees and avoiding the mud pool. “And I think it is further up the throat. Well, the salp is all throat. But now I think it is just a meter down.”
Karvar paused his wrestling with the controls and looked at her holo. “You’re right. I wonder if the salp will eject it.”
They watched the salp plunge into the muddy water, then fling itself into the air, occasionally rushing toward their ship. The drone was definitely moving up the throat.
Karvar got the flitter into a small clearing and landed. “I want it. When it spits it out. I’d like to examine it. Might be able to get some data to Kyler when we can communicate.”
“You mean, go out there? With that monster crashing around?”
“Yes. You hold the laser on it while I get its attention. I don’t want the drone to land in the mud. With any luck it will spit it out here on solid ground.”
It didn’t sound like a great idea. “You really think it might help figure out who’s trying to kill us?”
“Yes, it will have all types of data. Clues.” He opened the door and glanced around. “I doubt there are any predators around with all the noise that thing is making.” The salp struck toward the ship, which was several yards out of its reach.
“But look how fast it can move, Karvar. It just wouldn’t be safe.”
“Look! The drone is almost to the mouth opening. I can stay right by the flitter. I’ll jump and yell so I have its attention. You’ll hold the laser.”
Brielle stared at him as he made pleading eyes at her. “All right.”
She shook her head. “But I officially state I think this is crazy.”
They climbed out and Karvar gave her a quick refresher on the laser and made sure it was set to stun. She stood to one side so she wouldn’t accidentally stun him if she fired and he shouted and jumped up and down.
The salp whipped around toward Karvar so fast Brielle screamed and jumped, nearly dropping the laser.
“Careful with that laser!”
“Right.” She pulled it back up and took a wide legged stance, aiming the weapon toward the salp. The drone was still moving up its gullet.
“It stinks.” Even through the breather the scent of mold, and a sulpher-like stench reached her. Something else too, the smell she recognized as fertilizer.
“Here we go!” Karvar shouted.
He was having fun, she realized. His color was high, eyes bright.
The drone shot out a gush of foul smelling liquid and partially digested matter, ejecting the drone with enough force it flew the few yards toward them. The drone clanked on the ground as a stream of foul liquid splattered over them. Brielle screamed in disgust.
Karvar laughed and cried, “Shoot it, shoot!”
She shot, though her hands were slimy with salp vomit. The salp reared back and flopped into the mud pool, dousing them once again. Karvar leaped to the drone, grabbed it and pulled it back while she shot at the salp in the mud. It disappeared. Laughing, Karvar took the laser from her, turning it off. “We’re good.”
She stared at him, aghast. “Good? Good?” She lifted up a lock of salp-vomit filled hair. “You call this good?”
Karvar leaped up past her and grabbed the tool kit. “I’m just going to make sure its disabled. I’ll take it apart once we set up camp.”
Brielle noticed he barely had any salp vomit, while she was soaked with it, and with no shower, either. Her hair was also stiff with dried blood from the cut. She sat on the footstep of the flitter, not wanting to get salp vomit all over the interior. Karvar took some pieces off the drone and messed around with whatever was inside. It seemed to take forever until she heard the thud of the drone pieces being stowed away and Karvar came around to the door, smiling and handsome.
“Why don’t you cover my seat with a blanket so I don’t get it too messy,” she said. He did so, cheerfully. She climbed in and flopped into her seat. The salp vomit was drying. Brielle managed to clean her hands but her suit was a disgusting mess, and her hair needed a water rinse to be clean. At least the breather had kept the vomit off her face. Out of her mouth.
“Hey look. The window has a self-repair function. Wasn’t expecting that.” Karvar looked happy and relaxed.
Even the trillers would have nothing to do with her, they were lined up against the window.
Karvar hopped in to his seat and started the engine. “Well, Glim Falls is out, they were expecting us there. Where to now?”
She gave him a narrowed eyed glance. “Head for rain clouds.”
It rained most late afternoons in the forest so it didn’t take long to find a bank of clouds. Karvar launched the base and landed the flitter. They got out into warm, fat raindrops that soaked through their coveralls in moments.
“I'm going around to the side to scrub the vomit out,” Brielle said, and disappeared.
Karvar did the same, stripping in the warm rain and tossing his coverall to the floor.
The rain increased and he relished the pounding sensation on his shoulders. It felt good to be free, in the open air.
He was very conscious that right on the other side of the small flitter, Brielle was washing off, nude in the rain. The rain increased again, becoming a real gusher. He laughed, ducking his head to keep water out of his nose. The mesh floor of the base was too tight a weave to keep up with the intensity of the rain, soon water was up to his ankles. He supposed there was nothing to be concerned about; the base was built for this environment, after all.
A squeal and a splash came from the other side. “Brielle?” He rushed around the flitter to make sure she was all right. The base, covered with water, was horribly slippery, and he skidded toward where Brielle was on the floor and landed on his ass, bouncing a little, crashing into her.
Brielle struggled to sit up, pushing her soaked hair away from her face. She gained a bit of weight, just enough to make every inch of her perfectly smooth, even more exquisite than the glimpse he’d had of her wearing the lacy gown on their wedding night.
He couldn’t stop looking.
She squeaked and grabbed her coveralls and covered up. “Karvar!”
“I thought you might be hurt.”
“I fell but I am not hurt.”
“Right. It’s slippery.” Those words reminded him even more of hot sex. Good thing for all the rain obscuring their vision or she’d see him blush.
“Well, I’ll go back over to my side and scrub my clothes.” He slipped as he tried to stand, took two steps and landed on his ass again.
He half turned, noticing she was not holding her coverall so that it covered all of her nude flesh. He could see one breast completely, and it was exquisite.
He deliberately bounced on the mesh floor and she lost her balance, landing with a splash. She also lost her cover up.
“Why, you!” She threw her still disgusting coverall at him.
He ducked it and one armed a big handful of water at her, splashing her on the shoulder. She retaliated with a swoosh of her own and then the battle was on. Splashing turned to kicking. Karvar tried to stand to kick water more effectively, but the floor was still so slippery he crashed, landing with his chest on her silky legs.
“Oh, yes!” Karvar yelled. Brielle splashed him as fast and hard as she could. He got closer, intending to dunk her face in the now six inch puddle. She kicked and splashed, grabbed his shoulders as if to try and duck him.