Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Episode 1: Face to Face B - Temporal Crew
Location: The South River
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Liselle Lalor asked. She had the lead, her bow ready in hand as they walked the path she and Gary had taken just the day before to the South River. "The creatures here are very dangerous."
"You're Chief Hunter," Qwyyn assured her. "If anyone can keep us safe, it's you. You're sure this is where he would have gone?"
Lalor nodded. "I think so. When we killed the beast yesterday he was so happy. The adrenaline rush was...unbelievable. I haven't stopped thinking about coming back here ever since."
"So he must be thinking the same thing..."
Lalor stopped, turning to Qwyyn. "Why is it so important that we find him? I mean, the chances of us coming across him are --"
"It's important that we try," Qwyyn interrupted her. She thought back on the letter Gary had left for her in his hut. She had played the words over and over again in her mind since the moment she had set the page down. "I've got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Now, please, just trust me and keep going. And let's hurry."
"Yes, Aunt Qwyyn."
A few miles up ahead of the pair, Gary stopped and pulled out a weathered notebook and made some more notes in it. It would serve as a guide to any (Liselle L) and any other hunters that came here to hunt for food.
So far his trek had been uneventful. he had not come across any of the big tiger like creatures he and Liselle had killed the day before nor had he seen any dragons. He took a sip of his canteen and stopped, something was wrong, he sniffed the air, another presence was here and it wasn't an animal, this had the smell of human. He hurried on he wasn't ready to see or talk to anyone, not after the terrible argument he and Qwyyn had. He had said terrible, hateful things to her. Things he was honestly surprised she had slapped the crap out of him for. Things he felt terribly guilty over.
"Is Gary in some kind of trouble?" Lalor asked, pushing aside low hanging branches. She held them astride so that Qwyyn could follow.
Lalor blushed. "He told me to call him Gary."
"I see. Well, be careful, you. He's a little old too fall in love with," she teased.
"And you aren't?"
Qwyyn sighed. "You talk to much. Like your father."
"Wait," Lalor said suddenly. Qwyyn stopped, watching as she lowered herself to her knees. She pointed the way ahead. "The bushes here. Someone's been this way."
Gary moved on, he moved with an easy grace. Being here made him feel young....er, useful. He ducked under branches and climbed over fallen trees. He knew he was leaving an easy trail for anyone to follow. He was tempted to hide but if he was right and it was Liselle, the new chief hunter she would see the signs of his passing. He smiled but wait if he wanted to hide? This could serve as a good test of her hunting skills. He decided to test his theory and went into stealth mode. *Lets see how good you are.* he thought to himself.
"Oh no," Lalor said, breathing the words as a sigh.
Qwyyn stopped once more. "Now what?"
"The trail ends."
"What do you mean the trail ends? The trail can't end. Did he start flying or something?" A thought occurred to Qwyyn and she started turning about on the spot. "Is he here, then? Gary! Gary!!"
Lalor ignored Qwyyn, instead resting the heels of her hands against her forehead as she closed her eyes. Think, Liselle, she told herself. He might be able to mask his trail through the foliage, but what is something that he couldn't possibly hide from? She snapped her fingers as the idea came to her.
Qwyyn approached her cautiously. "Everything okay?"
Lalor held up a quieting hand. She lifted her chin and pursed her lips. With a flick of her tongue against her teeth she let out several quick chirps, piercingly loud, and pitch-perfect as one of the native village birds. As if to prove that assessment, a hidden flock of the winged creatures leapt up from the ground, fluttering loudly into the air and retreating away from Lalor's call. She pointed to an open area where there were no birds, because Gary would have already disturbed them as he passed in that direction. "This way."
"How the hell did you --?"
Lalor drummed her fingers against her throat. "Erisian vocal chords. And a trick mom once taught me."
Qwyyn looked up to the sky. "Thank you, Phoenix."
Gary continued to move stealthily through the underbrush. He stopped when he heard a bird chirp and saw a flock of birds spring from the ground and take to the air. He nodded his head in respect. *Round one to you Liselle. If it was indeed the chief hunter.* as he moved coming to a stream. He stepped in and went across several feet and then carefully back tracked, reentering the stream and going upstream about a hundred feet where he exited and went back into the underbrush, attempting to come up behind his pursuers.
When Qwyyn and Lalor came upon the stream, the old Trill didn't need to ask what the hold up was this time.
Lalor stood silent, looking her way far upstream, and then downstream.
Qwyyn gave her a rather wide berth of time before she had to speak. "No frog dialectic in that Erisian physiology, then?"
Lalor turned on her. Despite her annoyance at the question, the hint of a smile played on her lips. "You need to get a life."
"Yeah, so people keep telling me. So what do we do now?"
She sighed. "I don't know."
Gary moved through the brush without sound, gripping his rifle tightly as he gave a wide berth around his followers before swinging in back behind them and then moving quickly to close on their position and see if his suspicion was right.
Meanwhile at the stream a tiger cat dwarfing than the one Liselle and Gary had killed yesterday came from the foliage to the other side of the stream and approached to get a drink.
Qwyyn's grip on Lalor's wrist was cast iron.
"I see it," Lalor assured her.
"Well. Do you shoot it or something?"
The Erisian shook her head. "It will take more arrows than I have to put it down."
"So what the hell do we do?" Qwyyn felt her advanced years now more than ever before. She knew there would be no chance that she'd be able to manage a run for any length of time, particularly not from a creature build for speed as this one was.
"We back away. Slowly. Very, very slowly."
The Trill did not release her hold on Lalor's wrist as they cautiously moved back from the stream. One of them snapped a twig under their boot and the creature looked up. Seeing them now, its lips split over razor sharp fangs. Having satiated itself on water, the gift of free food was more than welcome --
it was ready to eat.
"Do we run?" Qwyyn asked. Lalor did not answer. "Liselle! Do we run?"
She nodded. "Run!"
Approaching from behind, Gary heard the raised voices. He picked up his pace, gripping the Winchester even tighter. Than he saw both of the Liselles and what had caused them to run. A tiger cat far bigger than the one He and Liselle had killed was coming after them. It wasn't racing after them it was more of a leisurely lope, as if it knew it's food couldn't get away and it wanted to play with it before killing and eating.
He dropped to one knee, the rifle already up against his cheek. "DOWN!" He commanded his voice sounding like thunder and breaking the awful stillness that had been in place.
Survival instinct was wired into Liselle Lalor's core, and she immediately responded to the command without hesitation. Even as she jumped to the ground she reached out to grab Qwyyn's arm and pulled the stunned old woman down with her. The pair hit the dirt in a heavy cloud of a dust.
The tiger cat started it's spring when a rifle shot rang out, sounding like the crack of a whip. The shot caught the beast square in the chest, in mid leap, it was followed instantly by another shot to the head. The great beast spun from the impact and collapsed in a heap and lay still. Rising to his feet Gary approached the pair. He wasn't surprised to see the younger Liselle but he stopped short when he saw Qwyyn. *Oh no not good!* He thought. "What are you doing here?" He asked the chief hunter which was followed up with, "Are you both alright?" He didn't look at Qwyyn not because he still harbored anger at her, no it was because of guilt and the pain he knew he had caused her.
Qwyyn rolled onto her back, moaning. "Oh, Gods. Everything hurts."
Liselle Lalor meanwhile had sprung up to her feet. "Gary! You saved us!" she breathed. She stood on the tips of her toes and looked over his shoulder. "Who's out here with you?"
"Hello Liselle. Glad to help. You didn't answer my question what are you doing here?" There was no anger or accusation in the question just simple curiosity. He looked over her shoulder at Qwyyn lying on her back moaning. He shook his head and returned his attention to Liselle, "There's no one else out here with me. Why?" He looked at Qwyyn again, "Is she okay?"
Lalor ignored both questions, instead furrowing her brow at Gary. "What happened to 'Under no circumstances is anyone to engage in a hunt without at least one partner at a bare minimum?'"
He saw the serious look on her face and knew now was not the time for levity. It would only serve to make Liselle mad and have her think he was making fun of her. So, he replied with equal seriousness, "It falls under 'Do as i say not as I do. Heading." He answered simply without further explanation.
Lalor sucked in a breath. It was clear that she had more to say on the topic, but she wisely chose to swallow her words instead. Her immediate concern satisfied, she knelt down to help Qwyyn who was slowly struggling to find her feet.
"Fantastic," the older Liselle spat, wincing as she tried to place her weight on her left foot. "I think I've twisted my ankle." She looked up at Gary then. At first she thought she would yell at him, then she thought she might apologize to him. She settled on accepting that she had no idea what she wanted to say. Instead she looked over at Lalor who was supporting her with an arm around her shoulders. "I'd ask you to give us a moment --" she said, looking down at her swollen foot, "-- but clearly that's not going to practical for me."
Gary knew Liselle wasn't happy with his answer and that she had more to say on the subject but decided to stay quiet for now. He locked eyes with Qwyyn and just looked at her though inwardly he was extremely grateful she was in one piece and unharmed aside from a twisted ankle.
"it's getting late, we'd never make the village before nightfall and I for one don't want to be out in the open with more of them roaming around." He said pointing at the dead tiger cat. " I saw some caves not far from here. We'll camp there for the night." He looked at the both of them, "You two want some fresh meat for dinner tonight?"
Lalor shrugged as she nodded. "Yeah, that sounds a smart idea."
If it wasn't so dangerous, Qwyyn would have insisted that the Erisian bring her home, but as Gary had pointed out there was little chance of that happening before dark with her injury slowing them all down. She breathed a heavy sigh through her nose. "Fantastic. Just grand."
"You." He said pointing at Liselle, "Don't be so enthusiastic. and you." He said putting at Qwyyn "Don't be so glum. We'll get you home just won't be tonight." He pulled out his knife and strode to the tiger cat. In a short time he had three healthy portions of meat for them. He wrapped them in a cloth and handed them to Liselle. He then turned his attention to Qwyyn, "You can't hop to the caves so........" He turned his back to her. "Get on my back, I'll carry you."
Qwyyn shook her head in spite of the situation. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me."
Liselle Lalor looked at her with confusion writ large across her features. Qwyyn knew that the young woman had no idea what had been going on between her and Gary, and if nothing else her behavior must have seemed extremely odd.
"Never mind," Qwyyn said, waving her questioning look away. "I'm getting on, I'm getting on." And with that she hopped up to Gary and leaned into him, wrapping her arms over his shoulders and across his chest.
Once Qwyyn had settled onto his back and he was satisfied she wasn't going to fall off, the trio headed for the caves to make camp.
Doctor Liselle Qwyyn
Head of Medical