A flash of
orange hair could be seen swooping through one of the cargo bays
as a figure scooted about, searching. It disappeared, bending
down to look inside a large container. On the other side of the
room, a similarly shaped, but distinctly grey, figure was ambling
between two large boxes. Each was unbeknownst to the other.
Jool was practically
inside the box by the time she found what she was looking for.
She was bent over the edge, one foot on the ground, and the other
stuck out behind her in an attempt to balance, with her entire
body from the waist up obstructed from view. She'd managed to
clear a path inside the box to get to what she knew was in there.
It was, annoyingly, just out of reach.
a little further, standing on tiptoe with her remaining foot
and leaning slightly more inside. Just as her fingers brushed
the edge of the item, she completely lost her footing and tumbled
head first into the box.
There was a
muffled "Frell!" and then she sighed. At least now
she could reach it, even though she'd been hoping to get at it
without having to climb anywhere. She removed the hair from her
face and cleared the last of the debris from on top of the object
until she could prise it free.
To her dismay,
it fell apart in her hands, the pressure of the box's contents
having been on top of it for the last cycle finally taking its
the overwhelming urge to scream and instead punched the base
of the box in frustration. Hauling herself out again, she looked
around. There had to be something she could use for a present.
In a flash of inspiration, she saw something, smiled to herself,
and made her way towards it.
On the other
side of the room, Chiana was being incredibly unsuccessful in
her hunt for a gift. Like Jool, she knew exactly who to give
it to, and she had a pretty good idea of what to give, but she
was frelled if she could find anything. Just when she was considering
going to Aeryn's quarters to see what she could snerch, she spotted
It was lying
on top of a pile of containers, glinting in the half-light. It
was perfect! The only drawback was that it was very high up and
potentially hazardous. Luckily, Chiana liked climbing. This was
going to be easy.
She began to
hum something as she made her way over to the pile of metal boxes.
She examined them carefully, making sure they were safe to climb,
and then began her ascent. Within microts, she was stuck, unable
to see how to get down again, and similarly unable to find another
foothold to go any higher. She cursed to herself. She could see
the object from her position if she could just move a fraction
of a metra to her right
tenaciously, and, holding firm with her left hand, reached out
the other to make a grab for the item. Instead of the cool metal
she had been anticipating, she came in contact with someone else's
hand. She screamed. So did the hand's owner, with an unmistakable,
they both yelled, then held tighter onto the now teetering tower
of boxes. Whatever Jool had melted this time, it had obviously
affected the containers.
what you did!" accused Chiana, as they swayed.
Jool's hair flashed red. "You were the one who scared me!"
you?" The tower wobbled again, and they clung on tighter.
"What are you doin' up here, anyway?"
said nothing for a few microts, and then: "I should ask
you the same thing." Chiana huffed. They were both stuck,
and this wasn't helping. All they could do was wait until they
either fell off, died of starvation, or got saved. She was rooting
for the latter. Then, she noticed Jool was eyeing the same object
she'd been trying to get.
I saw it first!"
This was getting them nowhere fast. "Who do you want it
like I'm gonna tell you." A pause. "What about you?"
you what, if you can guess, you can have it."
Chiana liked the sound of that. She didn't particularly enjoy
guessing games, but as there was a wager involved, she was willing
to try. "Okay, you're on. Same to you if I get it wrong."
technically, I get it if you get it wrong, anyway" Jool
didn't finish the thought when she caught Chiana's look.
The two shook
hands, gingerly. Chiana thought very carefully before she answered.
"Hmm okay it's for John?"
Chiana sighed. There went that beautiful plan. "Go on, then,
still get to guess yours?" asked Jool, carefully taking
the item and examining it. Chiana shrugged in a "Go ahead"
fashion. She looked thoughtful. "Let's see who might you
be giving this to?" She looked at it, then Chiana, and cocked
her head to the side. "John?"
"Oh well, I get it anyway."
you, Jool." Chiana chose that moment to smack her companion
around the head which, of course, resulted in tipping the already
precarious balance of the tower of containers. They both headed
ground-wards, screaming in unison as they did, and landing with
two very loud thuds.
Jool could retaliate, they both had to roll out of the way of
the containers that were about to crush them.
When the dust
settled, Chiana was the first to recover. Protruding from underneath
one of the smaller boxes was a much larger, newer, and generally
more aesthetically pleasing version of the prize she had lost
to Jool. She swiftly grabbed it, hid it about her person, then
went to help her up.
are you smiling about?"
Here, I'll give you a hand up."
Jool to her feet, then turned and left her, still smiling.
did you do, Chiana?" No answer. "Chiana?" The
Nebari walked silently through the door. "Get back here!"