His moss itched with intensity, but it couldn’t distract Felrak from the waves. One by one they crashed, softly down below the cliff edge, onto a beach littered with pebbles and translucent crystals that from a distance reminded him of quartz. Gusting winds flurried along in line towards Legera II’s magnetic north pole. They carried a chill breeze with them, which flattened the sparse, fuzzy coverage of hair across the top of the Argosian’s scalp. Gulls, of a species unrecognisable to Felrak, battled against the prevailing direction of the bluster. Some, with heads angled down, charged against it and made only a little headway before being knocked back. Others gave up entirely, gliding down and circling towards the sea where they plunged on the hunt for food. White clouds drifted across the temperate sky. It was late in the afternoon and the light had just begun to dim. The gulls yelled and squawked; unaware, hungry.
Tursk’s black boots slipped a little in the mud. He climbed up the slope, away from Terithys Point which now bustled with Starfleet personnel. It was a small track. The soil had been worn away, exposing clay that had grown damp in precipitation pushed from the sea. His powerful legs carried him forward against the wind that whipped around the rocky outcroppings between him and the sheer drop. As he neared the summit, he caught sight of Felrak. Standing, eyes fixed on the horizon, the Argosian’s overcoat flapped out behind him in each pulsing breath of the wind.
“How long have you been up here?” Tursk drew up alongside, his bushy beard pressed back against his chest.
Felrak smiled, eyes still locked ahead, “Oh, about an hour, perhaps?”
“Heh,” Tursk chuckled, “didn’t think Argosians were much for the cold.”
“We’re not.” Felrak shifted the cloak-like service jacket over his shoulders, closing it up around him. He turned towards Tursk, “You forget that I spent rather a long time on Earth. In Manitoba. The climate here is quite similar.”
“Hmmm, the cold here’s not so different from Tellar.” Tursk scraped the mud from his left boot with the side of his right one, “But this place is too damp for a dried up old hairball like me.”
“Old?” Felrak turned to face Tursk. A few teeth poked through a wry, lopsided grin.
“Sure feels that way. Making it up a hill like that ain’t as easy as it used to be.”
Felrak rolled up his sleeve, displaying the cloudy greens and mottled turquoise that grew up his arm, “You should try some of this. Does wonders for your health.”
Tursk’s nose wrinkled, “Uhh, hard pass on that one. I’ll stick to the gym on the Ahwahnee. Thanks for the offer though. Next time I feel like inviting a fungus to integrate with my cardiovascular system, I’ll let you know.”
For a while, they laughed and forgot. The salt-air, abrasive against the tumbling waves sprayed droplets of foam up from their collisions with the rocks, their fading laughter gradually subsumed in the rolling tide.
“We’re about ready to hand off aid distribution to civilian control.” Tursk informed the captain as the sun dropped towards the ocean.
“Good. I hear the Tranquility will remain for another week to finalise the soil purification initiative.”
“They’ve got their work cut out for them. D’Ghor managed to chemically salt a good portion of agricultural land before they left.” Tursk grumbled.
Felrak sighed, “These colonies will be affected for years. Not just those who’ve lost their families, loved ones… The future will be precarious as long as they’re dependent on aid.”
“We did what we could, sir.” Tursk tried to reassure him.
Felrak thought of Sreyler, “Have the crew been able to rest?”
The tellarite scoffed, “I’ve tried convincing them to take some downtime, but they’re having none of it. Lupulo and Theb are up there now, they’ve done a damn good job of patching up the ship for the run back to starbase. Delfino’s taken some time planetside, but not as much as I’d like. She’s been talking to Ensign Steldon a lot.”
“Ah, the last surviving officer of the Tulwar…” Felrak trailed off, “A heavy burden to carry.”
“I’ve arranged them both with regular counselling. They’ll get a full debrief when we reach starbase 86.” Tursk added.
“Tell me, Tursk, what of G’Vir?”
“Last I heard he was headed towards The Triangle. Said something about finding a crew, some delicious targ, then hunting some D’Ghor. In that order.” Tursk couldn’t help but smile when he thought of the plucky Klingon.
“He’s wasting no time,” Felrak said with mock indignance, “and neither should we. Are we ready to depart?”
“Then we will. Tomorrow. I’m rather enjoying the view.”
The two figures stood braced against the wind. By now the sky was a patchwork of purple and violet hues, splashed orange in a waning sunlight that spilled upward where it met the churning sea. Long grass that grew along the cliff edge rustled gently. It stood amongst the sweeping gusts. The gulls had long since returned to their nests and the ocean’s dull roar was constant. Their evening shadows stretched out long behind them.