STF

Vespa V - A Need to get Away

Posted Jan. 16, 2021, 11:47 a.m. by Ensign Kalani Kāne (Science Officer) (Kate O'Neill)

Posted by Lieutenant Commander Jarred Alindor (Chief Engineer) in Vespa V - A Need to get Away

Posted by Ensign Kalani Kāne (Science Officer) in Vespa V - A Need to get Away

Posted by Lieutenant Commander Jarred Alindor (Chief Engineer) in Vespa V - A Need to get Away
Posted by… suppressed (10) by the Post Ghost! 👻
snip

“So they are putting us in the smoke house,” Kalani looked at Jarred not reassured by his comment. “If that is the case that means they are cannibals and we should probably start fighting for our life.” She knew his comment was flippant but it did make one wonder. “Besides the thick fur covering their bodies paired with the subtropical flora indicates they probably don’t need to dress in layers.”

“Well… cannibals would mean they eat each other… they would be just eating us like we eat pork…” Jarred countered as he looked over at Kalani as he saw the horrified look form over her face. “But… of course that isn’t… that isn’t going to be happening here love.”

“Mee kah so wah,” a voice said from behind her pulling at the hand. Kalani looked at the being who again repeated the phrase as he gently tugged her towards one of the huts. He wasn’t acting aggressive but definitely wanted her to follow him “Mee Kah so wah,” he repeated slower and with what could only be a smile on his face.

“Umm Jarred,” she reached back with her other hand searching for his. Kalani had no idea where this being wanted to take her but she knew she did not want to go alone.

“How sure are you about that meat and veggie smoke house idea,” she quipped with a smile on her face.

“I don’t know… 70/30? Decent odds… I think.” Jarred added with a terse smile as he tried to make himself believe it all.

“It’s okay June bug…” he said softly as he held onto her tight as he took her hand. “Look it’s just an adventure, we’ll be fine. My dad would love finding me out here, next thing you know they will wanna take us fishing and tell me how I am using my pole wrong for three hours…” he said with a slightly sarcastic tone to his quip has he nodded as he began to take her with him.

“I’m sorry about all this,” she said in an apologetic tone. “Maybe next time we can go a lot more room service, less fresh air, and no work,” Kalani said. “I promise if you trust me one more time it will be Mai Tai’s on the beach and meals with utensils.” To be fair, Kalani had just asked Jarred to come on a whim. She had hoped he would enjoy coming however not all people grew up outdoors as she had.

“I need to tell you, I don’t regret any of this… not one second. Not as long as you are by my side.” Jarred said as he looked back at her as he leaned close to kiss the top of her forehead.

“Really,” she asked him far more inquisitive than accusatory as his lips left her forehead and they began to walk.

As the pair was led into a hut, it was not at all what Kalani expected to find. A large cloth-like hammock dominated the center of the room. In a way, it was romantic in a vegan treehugger sort of way. The torches scattered about the room created an ambiance where shadows moved against the walls like a thousand candles. “Mee kah so wah ha,” the creature walked over to the hammock demonstrating how the couple could crawl in. The gesture brought a smile to Kalani’s face. For the first time, she realized how dumb she and Jarred might look to thier hosts.

“I think they want us to sleep here,” she murmured out loud to Jarred. Moving across the room, she nodded. Placing a hand over her heart she said thank you and crawled into the hammock.

“I mean, better than on the floor with bugs crawling up our asses… I’m game.” Jarred said as she began to crawl in he looked around, a sense of marvel and wonder at all the construction. These people may not seem like much but they certainly were inventive.

“It’s rather spacious,” she wiggled a bit in it until all the fabric wrapped around her snuggly. “Like a sleeping bag almost but the thread count is amazing.” The fabric was exceedingly soft for a group who didn’t seem to care about clothes.

“Mo passa kah wah hoo,” he looked at Jarred a bit confused. It was clear he did not seem to understand why Jarred was still standing in the middle of the room. “Mee kah so wah ha,” he repeated the phrase and made a gesture towards the hammock with both hands.

“What… do we get in the same?” he asked, as he looked over at Kalani as she swung slightly in the hammock. It seemed more than big enough for the two, in fact, he felt it was meant for two of their species which meant four of theirs.

“Yo condo de soto,” a voice called out behind Jarred from the doorway. As Jarred and Kalani looked at the door they would see what seemed to be a wall of people from the village looking through the door at them.

The man that would be considered the chief or leader of the group gestured at Jarred and Kalani as he spoke to the individual in the room.

“Je make de wah ha,” the guide shrugged as if saying I don’t know why they don’t seem to understand. His face bore an almost hurt expression as if he had failed at his task. Looking between Jarred and the people behind him the man waited shifting his weight from side to side as if anxious or nervous not knowing how to get the man where he needed to be.

Lt. Kalani Kane science

“Okay okay… I will get in…” Jarred said as he climbed up in and cozied up next to Kalani.

Kalani tried to shift as much as possible to let Jared crawl in however this was not a normal bed. Anyone not paying attention to the chain of events from the start might have thought the couple was fighting instead of cuddling as arms, elbows, and the occasional leg was flung over the edge of the hammock as the two worked to situate themselves. Kalani could not help but laugh as Jarred ended up settling in the bottom and she curled up along his body with her head resting on his chest. Surprisingly this hammock was far more comfortable than she anticipated.

Taking a deep breath he felt a ease go over them. This wasn’t the vacation they planned, but it was their vacation. “When we tell our grandkids this story, maybe we tell them less about us looking like fools trying to learn their ways and just brilliant scientist treading uncharted waters as we had little to no hitch with these people.” Jarred said as he looked over at her with a warm gushing feeling rush through him as he leaned in close as he kissed her deeply in their cocoon-like hammock.

Alindor, CE

“Grandkids,” she let out a small laugh. Maybe Jarred was enjoying the weekend far more than she thought. Licking her lips she took a deep breath before starting to talk. “I think we need to start with kids before we jump to the grandkids but since you brought it up I am looking for two. That way we have an even number. Odd numbers make things so hard. I mean someone has to ride alone on roller coasters, you rarely get discounts on odd numbers and someone has to share a bedroom while the other kid gets a room of their own so we go for any combination that is even when we expand the Alindor brood. That’s my deal. Take it or leave it,” she murmured sleepily. Kalani had planned for other activities this evening however from a sensor standpoint the hammock was doing everything to relax them. The deep pressure from the sides of the hammock felt like a comforting hug. The gentle rocking back and forth from the suspension of the hammock worked like a sedative lulling her body into a relaxed state.

Soft breezes and the sound of birds slowly allowed consciousness to return to Kalani’s body. Never had she slept so sound and never had she understood why babies loved to be swaddled until last night. Blinking her eyes, Kalani tilted her chin up to see Jarred still sleep. Thinking back to his comment about not enough tech, maybe if she brought him some breakfast and what passed for coffee, Jarred might want to come camp again. The trick was getting up before him.

Not wanting to wake him, Kalani arched her back so that she could press her palm into the fabric below her body. This gave her the smallest bit of leverage to allow her to roll out of the hammock minimally disturbing Jarred. Lifting her leg, she slung it over the edge tilting the hammock slightly to the right. The separation of the fabric at the top of the hammock allowed more sunlight to spill into their cocoon-like bed. She would have to make this fast so that the sunlight on his face did not rouse him. Rolling her hips to the side, Kalani lifted the one arm that was free over the edge of the material. In a smooth move, she started the typical bed roll out.

As the hammock dipped to the right due to the weight of her body, Kalani’s one free leg probed for the ground. Unfortunately, this was higher off the ground than she realized. Pressing harder into the right side of the hammock increased the tilt. This should have allowed her to find the floor of the hut with her toe yet still there was no hard surface under her foot. Pressing hard into the fabric with her shoulder, the hammock tilted still farther now allowing Kalani to look down to find the floor. Instead of rough-hewed planks, however, all she saw was blue skies and wispy clouds.

“Jarred,” Kalani yelled out, feeling her body overcorrecting in an attempt to right itself. The hammock began to wobble then oscillate as each attempt to roll back into the hammock was forcing it to rock more and more side to side. “Jarred,” she belted out louder, not caring how he woke up. Her hand closest to him clawed at the material of his shirt in an attempt to pull her back in or take him with her as the vigorous swaying edged her hips closer to the lip of the hammock. “Jair…id,” her hand latched onto the neck of his shirt as she caught the first true glimpse of where the hammock was located. It was precisely a thousand feet off the ground.

Kalani Kane, Science

Jarred began to wake as he started to shift from his slumber as his eyes opened to see the outline of Kalani. Reach out he put his hand over her side as he caressed her side. “What…” Jarred paused as a big yawn came over his lips as he began blinking “What are you doing puppy?” he asked softly as he began to feel his mind wake up. “How about you get back here cocoa bean,” he said as he tried to pull her from her perch, the hammock shaking back and forth.

Alindor, CE

“Lemme go. Lemme go. Lemme go,” Kalani babbled more than spoke flailing her hand about both trying to grab onto Jarred and bat him away. “And stop moving before you kill us all.” As her fingers curled around a hunk of his shirt in an iron grip, she used Jarred’s body to lever her back into the center of the hammock. Her heart was pounding as she rolled on her back on Jarred’s chest not caring if she crushed him. Her breath came in panting huffs like she had run ten miles and just sat down. The hand gripping his shirt was bent back at a ninety-degree angle over her shoulder, next to her head. The only part of her body not resting on Jarred was her left leg which was hanging over the side of the hammock were the material was bunched up behind her knee.

“Jesus, can you calm down… it’s not like our situation has gotten any better… rushing out isn’t…” Jarred got muffled as one of her knees got a little to close to his glory land as his eyes got wide as he pushed her a little further down. “It isn’t going to get us home faster, so relax butterbean.”

“Jarred,” she said stiff as if she were a corpse at the morgue and almost as ashen.

“What…” Jarred answered he tried to sit up, the weight of him swaying ever so slightly the hammock as he was trying to find a way to get comfy. “How do those giants sleep in cacoon hammocks… it makes no sense.”

“Jarred,” she reached her other hand to her side gripping a wad of fabric at his waistline.

“Hey hey… good lord what, are they watching us?” Jarred couldn’t understand the panic, what was so important on the other side of the hammock. That was until one moment, like a flashback as Jarred began to really focus and lookup. Up, they had an up… clouds and blue sky all around them. This was just like the time they woke up, they were in a tent and then they had no tent. Last night they had a hut, and no it seemed no hut.

“Way way way wait what are you doing,” Kalani stammered as she felt Jarred slowly pulling her off his chest. Spreading her legs out and flailing her arms to grab him like this was some impromptu wrestling match where Kalani was attempting pin Jarred in place she did not make it easy for him to move. “Jarred I said freeee…zuh,” Kalani grunted as Jarred unceremoniously dropped her next to him in the hammock. The sudden shift in position caused Kalani’s muscles to lock in place giving Jarred more maneuverability in the small space. As he moved and shifted, it allowed the small seam at the top to separate and a beam of light shine through. It was bright and warm like a beam of summer sunshine cascading through the panes of a window.

“Oh lord didn’t they somehow steal the hut? What is the deal with them taking what we are sleeping in.” as he got onto his knees, looking over the hammock he realized it wasn’t the hut they took, but the Earth and ground all around them as he stared breathlessly at the canyon view of tree canopies and wonderous sights all around.

“Jarred we are going to die,” she panted out each word in a staccato rhythm. “I…I....I think I would have preferred for them to have just eaten us last night instead of leaving us in their floating pantry of death.” Little of what Kalani was attempting to verbalize made sense however it was perfectly clear she was having some sort of panic attack that Jarred had never seen before.

“Baby… it’s okay.” Jarred said as he began looking around. It was clear they were on ropes, and there was lots of hammocks skewn all around them like a floating best western. “Look… they all do it it seems…” he said softly, the sight still not as comforting to him as he was trying to make it sound, as he too felt a bit of a lurch in his stomach. Normally Jarred wasn’t very afraid of heights, but this was uncontrolled… no safety harness, just the hopes that a rope didn’t snap.

“All who,” Kalani finally began to move her arms and legs, “and doing what?” The longer the moment lasted where Jarred was not flipping out and tilting the hammock so she could leave, the more Kalani began to hyperfocus on every sensation she felt. The light was bright yet as long as she stayed in her spot it was not blinding her. There was no sound except Jarred’s voice and the occasional caw caw of a bird. There was however a vibration producing a bouncing effect.

“Stop moving,” she growled in a deep baritone. “I am not going to die in a midden covered in saliva as a preservative.” So many facts were tumbling about in her head as Kalani desperately tried to think through her situation. The vibration she continued to feel was bouncing them more and more no matter how much Jarred claimed he was not moving.

Kalani Kane Science

“We are not going to die, not going to let that happen at all… ” Jarred lied as he could easily see that being the outcome as he turned her around to have her focus on him and not what was around them. “Look, do you trust me my love?” he asked her softly, he needed that right now. Her trust could get him the courage but he also knew how scared she was. Honestly, this was like the black easter kettle pot on if it was going to work or not.

Alindor, CE

Jarred pulled her to her knees which Kalani immediately sunk back onto her heels. Her hands went out looking for something to hold onto since Jarred had pried her death grip off of him. “If your trust entails either of us moving from this spot or leaving this position the answer is no,” Kalani said calmly for the first time since she had woken up.

“You can do it, you made it through the caves, you didn’t get eaten by snakes, I am not going to let us fail now.” Jarred said as he tried to desperately calm her and keep her at ease. “You know why? Cause you have me every step… I am not going to let you fall, far… I won’t let you fall far, you did technically fall in the waterfall but it wasn’t far.” Jarred said, not sure if that would make her feel better or worse. If he had to guess, better was not the answer.

“Buh gandae mun sota,” a happy voice called out as they pulled open the top of the hammock tossing in some sort of fruit. Amost as fast as the face appeared, it disappeared along with the small bouncing sensation.

“What the mother mary and joseph,” Kalani screamed out looking up as several yellow and red fruits rained down upon them. “Are they…how…Jarred,” she slowly locked eyes with him, “right now you need to lie to me. You need to tell me that they are not using those vines as a road. You need to tell me that the ground is under us and this banana thing is a paleo-breakfast take out for us to start the day.” Her fingers pointed straight up as a sudden jerk caused Kalani to fall back from her kneeling position.

“Of course it is, I’ll do you one better… this is all a computer simulation gone wrong. I’d call for an Arch but it’s broken, so we have to play out the simulation out… safeties are on though, so no worry okay. You used to Surf in more dangerous situations in Hawaii you told me, so just think of this as a really high surf board.” Jarred said, wondering how much his bluster was truly working.

“Wait are we moving,” she asked him wide eyed. The jerking sensation was very rhythmic. It felt like a stop and start motion as if someone was bringing in laundry or hoisting something up with a rope.

“Okay new lie....tell me this is structurally sound and we are not going to plunge to our death.”

Kalani Kane.

“I mean I do think this is structurally sound, no lie on that…” Jarred said as he stood up and he began to sway the hammock back and forth. “I have been studying the phsyics of how they made this, it’s like a primitive gyroscope almost impossible to fall.” he said as he looked down to see the abject horror of Kalani’s face as he let go of the sidings and sat back down. “I won’t do that again… ” he said softly before she could ever say a word.

Alindor, CE

“Good or I will kill before we hit the ground. Now go be a miracle worker. Spit on few rope fibers and make us a parachute or bungee cord,” Kalani demanded looking around as if the hammock was an engineering supply closet. She was still stiff but wore a grimace as she spoke through her teeth.

“You really do see me as a miracle worker don’t you doll face?” he said as he looked up as he heard a rustle.

“Malutwo be wondo,” a face opened the top of the hammock and peered down.

“Oh for the love of god,” Kalani screamed putting a hand to her chest. “I am so not giving this place a I’ve star rating on OMAP travel guide.” At least there was someone else here to rescue them.

“Be wondo,” the face repeated and gestured for the two of them to come out of the top like he was. If Jarred rose out he would see that the lines of hammocks had individuals all slipping out and grabbing the bottom rope that was unseen before now. Using the rope they were sliding is like a zip line across the ravine to the platform of trees they had inhabited last night.

Ensign Kalani Kane

“See, they got it all under control… what do you say princess?” he asked Kalani with a smirk.

Alindor, CE

“I say you are having a psychotic break if you think I am leaving this spot.” Kalani stares at Jarred as if he had grown two heads. Crossing her arms, for effect, kalani sunk down in the hammock. She had no idea what she was going to do, only what she wasn’t going to do.

“What? No you are getting up from there right now! I can’t leave you here and I can’t find a way back home without you. How do you think this will make me look? First my wife vanishes the day after we are married, my former girlfriend has been killed twice… yet still haunts the ship… and my current girlfriend never came back home from our romantic getaway… it’s going to start getting a reputation!” Jarred said with an exasperated tone as he crossed his arms as he stared down at her.

Kalani looked at Jarred processing what he said. If this was one of those Galaxytime women’s movies, Kalani would have been perched on the edge of the couch screaming, Oh my god! No! Girlfriend no! Do not get on the shuttle with that guy. Girl, you know hot, funny, smooth-talking guys are all serial killer, sociopaths, or stalkers as she shoved another scoop of ice cream in her mouth. The problem was she planned the place and the time. She also was the one that picked him up in a supply depot by shoving a finger in his jelly donut. The maniacal and hauntingly beautiful yet girl next door sweet crazy woman who targeted a man with the seven fury of hell because he resembled her of an ex was also a popular theme on the Galaxytime Women’s Network. Did this make her the crazy one or Jarred the psycho killer? Staring into space, Kalani pondered the circumstances that brought her here and which of the two of them was less psychologically stable in the screenplay showing in her mind.

“So you are going to move yo ass or I am gonna knock you out gave man style and drag you to safety with sheer grit and determination!”

Focusing on Jarred as intently as she was, Kalani missed the native close the top of the hammock shaking his head. “Okay so of you think it’s so safe why don’t you scamper on out like a squirrel and show me how it’s done,” she suggested tightening her arms across her chest.

As if the natives finally understood that there was no way the female of the pair was going to leave the safety of the net without encouragement, they decided to help the male in his endeavor to get her out. Moving the the ends of the hammock they began to slowly untie one section causing the hammock to tilt down.

“Jarred? Jarred, are we…sinking,” Kalani asked as it became harder and harder not to tumble towards his body.

Jarred had a hint of fear as he looked around. “I… maybe they are helping?” he said as he looked down still uncertain what was going on.

As the last knot unfurled it was imposible for Kalani to remain in her spot. Falling forward, she grabbed the only solid thing in the hammock which was Jarred’s body. If she was going to die the last thing she wanted to remember was being in Jarred’s arms. Burying her face I to his neck, Kalani held on, closing her eyes, as her stomach dropped.

The sensation of falling did not last long nor was the impact hard. In fact the distance did not seem to be more than that of falling out of bed. The true shock however was where they ended up. Lifting her head, Kalani looked around and froze still. While they hadn’t plummeted to their death, the couple did seem to be hovering in mid air.

Lt Kalani Alindor. Science

The screaming of the pair stopped as they looked around as he began to blink slowly as he held onto Kalani. “I… don’t know what this is but… we aren’t dead, which is a vast improvement to what I thought was happening a few moments ago.” Jarred said as he looked around as he tried to grasp just what was happening.

Alindor, CE

The area around the two officers was not as expected. While they were seated on something firm, the space around them presented as floating in the sky. The icy blue encompassed them with large fluffy white clouds punctuating the landscape just far enough out of reach except for the one they seemed to be sitting on. The imagery from afar would have resembled angles or other heavenly apparitions moving about the area without fear or trepidation. The strange inhabitants moved in straight lines throughout the space as casually as if they were on the forest floor miles below them.

“What did you think was hap,” trailed off into a screech all women possessed when faced with horrors such as insects, imminent death, or the destruction of some kitsch they loved and adored. Her brain hyper focused on the fact she was poised on a cloud floating in the stratosphere. Not pausing for a second, instinct took over. Scrambling forward, Kalani grabbed Jarred’s shirt hauling herself up his body. The scene witnessed by the natives could best be described using the phrase crawled up him like a cat using a scratching post. Kalani’s brain was in survival mode as she used her arms to pull up and her legs to push off the ground. Using Jarred’s thigh as a step stool, Kalani had enough boost to sling one leg over his shoulder as her hands used his head for support resulting in her sitting half on his shoulders and half hanging down his body.

Taking a second to calm herself, listening to Jarred’s voice, Kalani’s brain switched from panic to analytic. “Why aren’t we falling to our death?” she looked down at him now confused. Slowly she dropped a leg down next to Jarred’s sliding off his body. The panic of falling to her death had abated. Curiosity was now going to kill the cat instead of a plummet. Her mind raced with all the possibilities. Looking at the edge of the ravine, there were tons of trees lining the edge. The inhabitants seemed to be moving up the visible roadway towards the top of the trees. Kalani gave a tiny jump in place. Finding nothing happening, she increased her height until she resembled a kid jumping up and down excitedly.

Moving to her hands and knees, Kalani inspected the ground. Using her fingernail she scratched the invisible surface bring a smile to her face. “Diphylleia grayi,” she smiled at Jarred showing him an index finger that seemed to have nothing on it.

Ensign Kalani Kane Science

“Wait… wait… wasn’t that the stupid flowers you had me plant last week in your tropic dome? You ranted about those for weeks about the right moisture and sun and…” Jarred paused as he looked down, it was clear the more he looked this wasn’t exactly floating as he remembered something else when she had him put the flowers in. “They go translucent… are you telling me we are on a big dumb invisible flower?” Jared said as he began to jump up and down as dew droplets began to shimmer all around them.

“Score one for nature,” Kalani smiled watching Jarred just up and down testing the theory. This was why she asked him to come with her this weekend. Jarred was so much fun to be around. For being the one man responsible on the ship for not letting everyone freeze to death or suffocate, he tended to be really laid back at his job. He had a sense of humor that lit up a room often sending people into a fit of laughter with his one-liners and clever plays with sarcasm. How she was not competing for his attention surprised her.

“Okay… I take it all back, these flowers are fricking awesome… I wonder if we could ride go karts on them like in Mario Kart! I can finally have a course to beat that smug ass Ardashir Creed, ‘Oh I’m Persian and built like an Adonis God and I speak divinely.’” Jarred said in a mocking tone. He knew Kalani would have no idea about the rivalry he had with his Academy roommate/frenemy. The two always competed, cars, women, careers. Ever since the smug bastard made it to XO he had been hoarding the title over him. Jarred though loved his CE spot, and considered Mr. Creed the golden model a sellout for ever giving up the Asimov’s engine room for the Manhattan’s bridge.

“Who?” Kalani had no idea who Jarred was talking about but whoever it was the two of them had to have a closer relationship of some sort. “Is he on the ship?”

“Oh… it doesn’t matter who who is… only that I found the ultimate course and I can learn every turn before he can!” Jarred said with an almost evil glint in his eye as he looked over at Kalani with a half smile. “After we get out… it looks like these are… roads for them though, they connect all over this place if you look, follow the shimmer… we get to the other huts… they really do keep surprising me in their ingenuity.”

Alindor, CE

“I don’t think we can just jump to the conclusion this is made by them,” Kalani said. “Vines can grow at alarming rates when the are not controlled in their natural environment. When I get back to the Saracen I need to remember to call Bay’son Kabalirian. He is a guy I knew back in the academy and an expert on terraforming. The tensil strength of these vines could be a game changer for places that need habitable structures but want all natural materials. We need to find a piece of the root of this thing and cut it out.” Standing up Kalani was already heading towards the cliff. It was disconcerting walking on thin air even if she knew something solid was below her feet. Sheer determination and a fixed focal gaze up allowed her to move forward and not freak out by looking down.

“You mean me… I need to find you a root right?” Jarred said with a slightly snarky sarcastic tone. “You ain’t digging anything up with those nails.” he said as he couldn’t help but tease her some. “Besides I am not going to let this grow in my ship… it’ll wreck my panels and warp my hull.”

“If I am able to grow some of this back on the ship, you wanna help me figure out how to make biodegradable tents with it and present it to the captain?” Kalani needed to keep talking and walking. If she stopped either, she might not get moving again.

“Are you even listening! No… vines… on… ship! This stuff gets out of hand we will become crushed and then who does that look bad on? You? Maybe… but it mostly looks bad on me!” he said knowing he would get the brunt for doing this for her.

“Species only become invasive when they don’t have something to keep it in check. I won’t grow it until I know what can control it silly. What kind of terraformer do you think I am?”

“Ma....yeee....pa,” a voice yelled waving his hand as if Jarred and Kalani needed to hurry their crossing of the translucent bridge. More and more onlookers appeared next to the sentient creature that was motioning them forward. It was easier to see the gathering crowd was waiting for Jarred and Kalani by the way they stared and made random gestures to each other as if having private conversations. The sound of the words ma yee pa could be heard sporadically being called out by various people.

“God I hope they are not going to make a fuss about us again this morning. I had rather a nice time last night just chilling out by the campfire.” Kalani began to prattle on happy to have something to take her mind off walking the ravine.

“Well they haven’t eaten us yet so we have that going for us.” he said as he began following closely behind her.

A slow and initially small rhythmic ripple began to resonate below their feet. At a steady but increasingly more perceptible rate the ripple evolved into a bounce much like one was riding a harmonic wave. From a distance, the shimmer would show the ripple-bounce was growing into peaks and troughs as the amplitude of the wave increased exponentially.

Kalani could feel the more spongy like give of the walkway but rolled her eyes. “Jarred stop bouncing. This isn’t a trampoline and while I know you are an engineering god, this is not deck plating.” She didn’t want to chastise him but the bouncing was making her a little more uncomfortable.

“I’m not bouncing! If you get scared again you will cling to me and drag us both to our deaths and that is the last thing I need,” he said, knowing she would take him down.

“You’ll cling to me and drag us both down,” Kalani mocked Jarred’s tone much like two children would in primary school. She rolled her eyes as if another but flashed him a waning smile in the process.

Behind them, the once glistening and shimmering path was starting to disappear. What could only be described as fog or a mist was moving across the ravine following the exact path of the road Jarred and Kalani were on. The sunlight glinted off sections of fog as if prisming off the delicate petals below Alindor and Kane’s feet. A soft but high-pitched moan or growl seemed to be clinging to the wind. The way sounds bounce off the canyon’s walls it would be hard for someone unfamiliar with the planet to know what direction it was coming from especially when it was competing with more and more vocalization by the sentient creatures in front of Jarred and Kalani. A loud crack of thunder boomed in the distance.

“Ma yee paaa!” More and more of the sentient creatures yelled and began to gesture much more wildly to Kalani and Jarred. Several even ran from their spot on the cliff to a area on the bridge and back. The imagery would remind one of a sprinter trying to get from one spot to the other as fast as possible.

“Ma yee paa,” Kalani said with a total lack of enthusiasm waving a hand forcing a fake smile. “Mayass don’t run before cawfee,” she playfully imitated the prosody of what the beings were using and substituted her own words.

Kalani Kane

“You know we need to leave this place eventually? We can’t explore forever… we have to call for the Saracen.” Jarred said in one of his more serious moments. The wonder was drawing slim to an extent as he began to think more on where they might have taking all their stuff. “If we dont’ find where they kept our transmitter we might become permeant residents here.”

Alindor, CE

“Would that be that bad? Being stranded here with me for all eternity,” Kalani asked in a playful tone but something in her eyes hinted at wanting a more serious answer. This weekender was nothing like she had intended. The planet was supposed to be uninhabited by sentient life. It was the main reason she let Jarred do things to her that frightened the fish but somehow a weekend of lazy mornings and aerobic nights was not what she had gotten.

Before Jarred could answer a clap of thunder reverberated throughout the canyon again causing Kalani to look behind her. The mist had turned into the dark rolling clouds of a storm brewing behind them. Seeing the storm approaching paired with the tribes frantic actions began to concern Kalani. Her mind began to slip into analytical mode. The key that made Diphylleia grayi so fascinating was that when it was wet it went transculent. What if this plant did something different? Nature developed in lock step with need. This version of Diphylleia grayi seemed to use its translucency as camouflage when dry so what happened when it got wet. Bending down Kalani spit on a small section in front of her foot. The drop of saliva instantly turned the invisible bride black where the liquid touched it shriveling up the corners and making the spot brittle and flaky. Looking back at the approaching cloud Kalani felt a lump form in her stomach.

“Jarred, maybe we should run,” she stood up carefully moving over the whole she had created in their path. Now the bouncing of the path made sense. Like a tension bridge that began to vibrate up and down before structural failure, their bridge was beginning to do the same thing.

Her heart began to pound as she moved faster and faster with each stride until she was in an all out run. The wind whipped stronger around them with small droplets of water beginning to just dust their skin. The fact the tribal beings were not venturing out on the bridge to encourage them only made Kalani realize how precarious she and Jarred’s position was. “God please don’t let m career end in another demotion for killing a senior officer,” she prayed as she ran. Her breath came in deep pants as her lungs burned trying to keep up with Jarred’s long stride but also not trying to slow him down.

The bridge was slowly crumbling below their feet. Instead of the rock, hard smooth surface they started their stroll on, the ground was becoming brittle like loose gravel on a hill.

The bridge was slowly unraveling from the platform of the tree trunk before their eyes. It was only ten feet but that ten feet could have been a mile.

“Wait…what. Kane’s are not jumpers. I can’t jump that far,” Kalani voiced her concern at Jarred plan yet there was no other choice. Running as far as they could, Kalani jumped with everything she had in her. Her feet landed on the platform but just barely with her heels hanging off. Strong and furry hands reached out grabbing her patting her on her arms and shoulders in a congratulatory manner.

“Guess Kane’s are jumpers,” she laughed leaning forward with her hands on her knees to catch her breath. “And maybe you are right. Maybe we should look to see about getting off this planet before it kills us.” Her tone was light and joking even through the deep gasps of sucking in air from their run. As she looked down at the platform, she noticed something. Small tendrills were already budding from the broken wisps of where the translucent bridge stood. Kneeling down, Kalani brushed a tendril gently with her finger tip causing the direction of growth to shift slightly for a second before moving back to meet up with the other tendrils starting to twist among themselves reforming the start of the bridge.

“Oh my god Jarred. Its growing back....like exponentially.” The speed at which the vines were intertwining as exceedingly fast. While it would take hours for the bridge to return to the state it had in the bright sunlight, it would repair itself. “Give me your pocket knife,” Kalani reached up motioning for him to put it in her hand. “This may look like Grayii but it acts like the Korean vine Kudzu only Kudzu grows a foot a day maxing out at 60 feet a season. Kudzu is kept in check by temperature. This vine must be by water and thank god. At the rate it grows it would take over anything in its path in a day. I got to get a sample to study for later.”

Kalani Kane


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