Part Five – Out of the frying pan and into the fire. On the planet Urwald, Solis Delacey’s shore leave party has been attacked by unknown assailants. DeLacey has escaped capture with the help of her crewmates, the arboreal Guiranam, but now they have been captured again by a group of the planet’s native
It took the three of them to carry her and these Urwaldians (if such they were) were not as considerate or as skillfull as the Guiranam had been. Twice they dropped her to the ground and the first time she tried to scramble away. That was when they bound her hands and feet with some kind of jungle creeper which was inflexible and impossible to break.
At one point one of the three wandered off somewhere else which just left two of them to carry her. They ended up dragging her behind them and her clothes that had already been torn were now in complete tatters. She could feel several deep scratches on her back and sides.
Soon the dense jungle gave way to a grassy clearing. The darkness was receding. Dawn was braking somewhere in the East and Solis could smell the unmistakable odors of a settlement — cooking fires, animals, ordure. She caught glimpses of a crude settlement — little more than grass huts arranged in a rough semi-circle.
The two Urwaldians dragged her to the rough centre of a space of bare earth around which the grass huts sat. They dropped her unceremoniously and then wandered away, talking to each other in gutteral grunts.
Solis was still bound. She tried to turn over so sit up. She saw other Urwaldians dragging some of the Guiranam the same way she had been dragged. She saw only three Guiranam and Ovrafa was not one of them. She must have gotten away with the others. At least Solis hoped so.
Her hands were bound in front of her. She managed to roll over on her side and pull her knees up. She stretched her bound hands above her head and managed to get to her hands and knees. The sunlight was growing stronger now and she could see clearly.
The village was a rough assembly of grass huts arranged around one permanent building made from rough-hewn logs. The Urwaldians were all milling about, those who were just waking conferring with those that had been part of the capture party. Solis estimated about fifty of them, all males. She wondered where the women and children were.
Holding her position was tiring so she slid back down on her stomach. The sun was warming her back which was screaming in agony from the scratches and being dragged for The Eternal Void knew how far. She closed her eyes and tried to ignore the pain.
The next thing she knew she was being jostled awake. She blinked and rolled over. She’d fallen asleep. How long?
An Urwaldian was standing over her, silhouetted against the noonday sun. The silhouette held a knife and it bent down towards her. Solace reached up her arms to ward him away but he grabbed her roughly, cutting the bonds around her wrists. He then cut the creepers tied at her ankles and then uttered a command in his gutteral speech.
Solis’s hands hand gone numb while she was sleeping and her legs were similarly useless. She tried to stand but found that she couldn’t. The Urwaldian grabbed her to help her up. Solis braced for another round of rough treatment, but this time the Urwaldian was surprisingly gentle. He carefully helped her as she limped along, trying to get the circulation going back in her legs.
The milling crowds of Urwaldians were gone. So were the Guiranam. The Urwaldian guided her to the wooden structure. The Urwaldians were inside, The structure was like some kind of community gathering place. The Urwaldians sat on the ground around a central space. The two Guiranam were already in the centre and Solis was led to them. She stood with her fellow engineers, gazing out at the crowd of purple skinned natives staring back at them.
“Are you two alright?” she asked the Guiranam, but before they could say anything an Urwaldian, an older one by the looks of his dusky pale skin, approached them. He wore a tattered shawl and a headdress and he carried a wooden staff as we moved his bent frame towards the center of the gathering.
The old Urwaldian spoke, his aged voice ringing around the hall as he addressed his fellows. Solis could not make anything out of his language. She had minored in linguistics at the Academy and spoke several galactic languages, but this language was idiosyncratic and difficult to follow.
The old native finished addressing his people, then he turned to Solis. He spoke to her in his language. Solis shook her head. “I don’t understand you,” She said in Galactic 1. The old native continued to speak. Solis tried Galactic 2, 3 and 5, but the Urwaldian did not respond.
On a whim she tried Scrazi, one of the newer languages used by the Diplomatic Corps. The old Urwaldian stopped speaking when he heard it and regarded Solis quizzically. Solis spoke some more: “Do you understand me? Do you recognize what I am saying? Do you speak this…?
“Fwuataazi…” the old native said. That was familiar. It was a word in Koh, a battle language related to Scalzi. Solis wansn’t as conversant in it but she tried it. “You speak? Understand?” she said.
The old Urwaldian nodded his head slowly. “Yes,” he said, hesitantly. “You come from sky?”
…to be continued
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