It was a warm sunny day on Madeirna, a planet in the Porthos system in the Orion Quadrant of deep space. The flowers were blooming and birds were singing.
Dalka, a warrioress of the Holdaren race, was in her cabin cleaning up the lunch dishes while her sons played outside. “The fresh air will do them good, especially on a beautiful day like today.”, she thought as she watched them run around outside.
It was obvious they missed their father, who always loved rough-housing with them, but they were adapting as best as could be expected for 4- and 6- year-old boys.
She set about starting that night's dinner, venison stew. It would simmer for several hours on her woodstove. Their lunch had been bread with fruit, something her boys loved. In a few months the weather would turn cooler, bringing cooler weather fruits they loved as well.
While cutting up the meat and vegetables for the soup, the boys called out, “Momma! Momma! Look at the ship in the sky! Momma, come look!“
Dalka came outside and looked up in the sky. ”That's one of those Federation Directorate shuttles we heard about on our last trip to town, I think. It seems quite low in the sky.“, she said.
They watched as it came closer and closer to the ground. They jumped when they heard a loud crash and saw smoke rising in the air. ”Come with me, boys. Let's see if the pilot is alright. Get in the canoe.“
The boys climbed in the canoe and, after pushing it into the river, Dalka hopped in and started rowing towards the crash. 10 minutes later, they arrived and saw the craft had indeed crashed, and smoke was coming out of it.
The windshield had shattered, judging by the glass on the ground. She pounded by the door, eventually getting it to open.
”Careful boys. Stay close to me.“, she told them as they slowly entered the craft. They heard and saw sparks by the control console, glass everywhere and a lone human pilot in the seat, unconscious and bleeding heavily.
”The human is bleeding.“, she said. ”Boys, come here and stay with him while I see if there is anything here I can use to stop his bleeding.“
She looked in the cabinets and came across a first aid kit, some blankets, uniforms, rations packets, weapons and portable communicators with charging systems.
Looking in the cooler, she found bottles of water. She wrapped everything in the uniforms and blankets, but kept one blanket and the first aid kit out.
Seeing the sparks getting closer, she said, ”We have to get him, and ourselves, out of here. Help me drag him out of here, boys.“ She reached under his arms and pulled him out of the seat. ”Each of you grab a leg. Let's get him to safety.“
They dragged him out and laid him on the grass about 25 feet from the shuttle. After putting a blanket on him, she said, ”Stay here with him.“, then went back inside to get the supplies she'd packed up. After taking them to their canoe, she pounded on the side of the shuttle door entrance, closing the door.
She then dragged their canoe over to where they'd laid him on the ground. ”Let's get him in the canoe, boys. Each of you grab a leg.“ It took abit of doing, but they got him in it, laying him on his back and covering him up. The boys helped her push the canoe to the river, then jumped in, followed by Dalka.
”Sit on each side of him and hold his hands. Put your hands on his stomach injury to control his bleeding, boys. His head can use my lap as a pillow.“, she told them.
About 10 minutes later, they arrived back by their cabin. She had the boys bring the supplies she'd packed inside, telling them to put them on the table.
She managed to drag the canoe, with the pilot in it, to the cabin, knowing it'd be easier to get him into their home that way. She was concerned, seeing he was still unconscious, but would check all his injuries once she had him safely in their home.
”Help me get him inside and onto my bed, boys.“, she said.
After pulling her blankets down, Dalka got on her bed, grabbing him under his arms, and said, ”Grab a leg, boys.“, as she pulled him up off the floor.
Once he was over halfway on the bed, she and the boys lifted his legs up, and she put them under the covers. She climbed over him, removed his clothes down to his underwear and covered him up, then started tending to his injuries.
The man had cuts above his eyes and both cheekbones, cuts and bruises all over, including a large piece of glass in the left side of his abdomen that was causing heavy bleeding. He also had another large piece of glass in his right thigh.
The boys had been able to slow the abdominal bleeding abit in the canoe while she rowed.
She got out the first aid kit and said to her 5 year old, ”Matis, please get me the wound poultice. I need to stop his bleeding and that will help. You and Makisig wash your hands first though.“
Matis washed his hands, as did his brother. He then went to get the herbal poultice she'd made and brought it to her.
Dalka got everything together, then gently started pulling the glass out of the man's abdomen, causing him to groan loudly and start to move.
”Lay still, human.“, Dalka said to him calmly. ”You have lost alot of blood. I have to get this piece of glass out of you before you bleed to death.“
He continued groaning in pain, but stopped moving. ”Help me! Please help me!“, he said, gasping in pain and grabbing her forearm.
”That is what I am doing, human. You are safe here in our home. Just lay still while I tend to you.“, she said in a soothing voice.
After pulling the glass out of him, she grabbed a handful of her poultice and packed it into his wound. He groaned, but only moved slightly. He was conscious, which greatly relieved Dalka.
”Makisig, please bring me a cup and the bottle of blackberry brandy. Matis, please bring me my butcher knife. Be careful with it, sweetheart.“, she said to her boys.
Once they brought the items she asked for, she poured the man a large cup of blackberry brandy.
”Here, human. Drink this. I need to stitch you up, and it will hurt. This will help. Drink the whole cup.“, Dalka said, lifting his head and helping him to drink the brandy, cradling his head against her shoulder.
When he finished the brandy, she gently laid his head back on her pillow. She threaded her needle and handed him the knife, telling him to bite down on the dull edge, and started sewing up his wound.
He grimaced, groaning loudly, tears of pain streaming out of the corners of his eyes, but didn't move. Finally, she finished sewing him up.
She put more of her poultice on the stitches, then put one of the bandages she'd found in his first aid kit over it.
She poured him another cup of the brandy, and helped him to drink it. After laying his head back on her pillow, Dalka tended to the glass in his thigh, treating it the same way she'd treated his abdominal wound. When she finished, Dalka gave him one more cup of brandy, then covered him up.
”Rest, human. Get your rest. I will have dinner for you later. You sleep now. You are safe here with us.“, Dalka said to him, gently laying his head back down on her pillow.
Later, towards dinnertime, the pilot awoke, groaning in pain. He had no idea where he was, only that he hurt all over.
Dalka came over with a cup of special herbal tea she'd made. “You are awake.”, she said, smiling. “Welcome to our home. I made you a cup of tea. It will help with the pain.”, she said, helping him to sit up, then holding the cup for him. “Here. This will help.”
He held the cup as well, touching her hand and sipping the tea. “It is almost dinnertime. I will help you eat once I've served my boys.”, she said, helping him drink more of the tea.
Looking around, he said, “Where am I? Who are you, Ma'am? What happened? Where's my shuttle?”
“You are on the planet Madierna. You crashed a quarter mile from here. My sons and I rescued you and brought you here. My name is Dalka.
”Your shuttle is where it crashed. The glass was shattered, 2 large pieces of it ending up in your leg and abdomen. There were sparks flying on your control panel, so we dragged you out of there.
“I brought clothes and supplies from your shuttle. They are safe here with us, as are you.
”Once we got you here, we got you in my bed and I tended to your injuries. My boys helped.“, she said, smiling at her boys, who were standing next to her, smiling nervously at him.
His vision was somewhat foggy but he looked at her, then looked to her right and saw her boys. He smiled back at them. Turning back to Dalka, he smiled and said,
”Thank you for helping me. I'm Major John Bristowe. I'm an officer with the Federation Directorate ship Winterbourne. I need to get to my shuttle to contact them.“
”Major Bristowe, you need to rest. You've been seriously injured.
“Your abdominal wound alone almost killed you. You nearly bled to death from it.
“Let your injuries heal first, then tend to your shuttle. You're in no shape to do that at the moment. You heal first.“, she replied.
Once she'd served her boys their stew and bread, Dalka brought a bowl over to him as well. After helping him sit up, she started to feed him. He said, ”Thank you, Dalka. I think I can manage. You need to eat as well.“
”I shall eat shortly.“, she said.
”This is delicious!“, he said.
”Thank you. It is a family favorite.“, she replied, smiling.
”I can see why.“, he said, smiling back at her.
Dalka refilled the boys' bowls, then filled a small bowl for herself. ”Would you like some more, Major Bristowe?“, she asked.
”Yes please.“, he answered.
She handed him his refilled bowl and said, ”Here you are, Major.“
As he took the bowl he replied, ”Please Dalka, call me John. There's no need for formalities.“
She said, smiling, ”Alright...John.“
She went back to her boys and poured them some iced tea. After finishing her meal, she put her bowl in the sink. For dessert she gave the boys each an orange. They went out to play for abit before going to bed.
After they went outside, she went over for John's bowl. ”I have an orange for dessert if you'd like.“, she said.
”That sounds delicious. Thank you.“, he said as she handed it to him.
As he peeled the orange he said, ”I hope you don't mind my asking this, but I couldn't help but notice your husband isn't here. Is he away?“
”You could say that.“, Dalka replied. ”He...we lost him last year.“
John said, ”I'm sorry to hear that. Had he been ill?“
”No. He died in battle.“, she replied. ”He was in the military?“, John asked.
“No. He died defending our village. Our hut, everything was burned. Everyone was killed except the boys and me.
”He...he hid us deep in a nearby cave, then told me to take the boys and myself to safety once the attackers were gone. He gave us each a hug and kiss, then went back to fight. He did not survive.”, she said, tears welling in her eyes.
John reached his hand out to her, and held it to offer her some comfort. “I'm so sorry.”, he said. “I shouldn't have asked.”
“No, it's alright. After the massacre, I took care of our dead, collected what food and supplies I could find, then we started walking.
”After 2 weeks, we came across this cabin. It was empty, so we stayed. There was a canoe here, so we've been using it to go back and forth to a town a few miles away to buy food and supplies.
”We were only going to stay through the cold season but, seeing how much the boys love it here, I decided to stay.
“They deserve it after all they've been through. They deserve not to have to live in fear.“, she said.
”Were attacks like that on your village commonplace?“, he asked.
”Yes, unfortunately. This time they were not content to attack just our males, our warriors. They went after the whole village. Everyone.“, she replied.
”They were nothing but cowards. Soldiers, warriors fight fellow warriors, NOT women and children. We soldiers have a code of honor we're supposed to follow. They obviously didn't follow that code. Why would they attack all of you?“, John asked.
Dalka smiled. ”I thought it was obvious, John. As you can tell, we are not human. That is why they attacked us.
“If we'd been human they probably wouldn't have attacked us, essentially wiping out our race. Unfortunately, that is the way of humans.“, she said.
”Humans did that?“, John asked. Dalka nodded. ”Yet you rescued me, saving my life. After what humans did to your people, to your husband, why didn't you just leave me there to die once you realized I was human?“
”Because...it was the honorable thing to do. I did not want to teach my sons that it was alright to stoop to the level of those savages who massacred our people, who took their father from us.
“We are not human. Yes we are warriors. Fierce warriors. But we are NOT savages. I wanted to teach them that lesson. We are better than those who destroyed our village and lives.
”Their father would expect them to not stoop to the level of those savages. He would have expected us to help you. So that is what we did.“, she replied.
”Is that why your boys looked at me nervously? They're afraid of me because I'm human? Are they afraid I'll kill them, and you once I'm better?“, he asked.
“Yes, I am sure that thought has crossed their minds. It crossed my mind as well, but I had to do the honorable thing nonetheless.”, she replied.
“Well I guarantee you, you're all safe with me. I've no intention of killing any of you. I'm not that kind of human. Most of us aren't, to be honest.
”Most of us are kind, honest, decent people, just like you and your boys. And just like I'm sure your husband was as well, along with the rest of your people.”
“Thank you John. That is a relief. And thank you for what you said about my husband and our people. It means alot, especially coming from a human.”, she replied, smiling.
Just then the boys came in. Dalka went over to them and gave them a hug.
“John says we are safe with him. He had kind words about your father and our people.
”I wanted you boys to know that before going to bed.”, she said. They looked over at him and he waved at them, smiling. They smiled and waved back at him.
After washing up, it was time for them to go to bed. They walked over to him and said, “Goodnight, John.”
He replied, “Goodnight.”, then extended his hand to them. They shook hands and then he said, “Have a good sleep, boys. I'll see you in the morning.”
After getting hugs and kisses from Dalka, they headed to their room and were asleep within 5 minutes.
“They're cute kids. They remind me of my nephews. They're about the same age.”, he said, smiling.
Thank you for reading!
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