CHAPTER 7.
Revi and Pachek had been waiting for an opportunity to discard their communication badges. They had been glancing at their watches from time to time, intending to move away and lose the badges before the automated beaming back, as close to the time as possible, in case Worf noticed what they were doing.
Their attention to the time was noticed by Dovor. He could detect also their unusually high tension, imperceptible to the others. He was with Sela, and he glanced around to reassure himself that Selar was not within hearing range, then whispered in Romulan, "What is the matter with those two?"
Sela did not move her head to look at him as she answered, "They have decided to stay here. They will either die, or develop another line of Romulans. If we have not succeeded in what we have done, they may succeed otherwise."
"What admirable initiative!" he said. "I doubt they will succeed, but we must offer what help we can."
He and Sela began to consult their watches also. It was about five minutes before their planned departure when the animal attacked. Dovor watched as Mary Anne flung herself at the raptor, and the others closed in, fighting off fear.
He looked around at his companions, and snapped, "All of us! Rush in and help. Crowd!"
They glanced questioningly, but obeyed without hesitation. Dovor himself threw himself into the melee, and stole the phasers. Lieutenant Selar was busy really fighting the animal, and the others were all in the throes of terror, so he was unnoticed. After Ensign Arrg's confession, Revi and Pachek took the opportunity to head for the cliffs. They remembered a few deep-looking caves, and walked that way, pretending to look about for the vial. After a few steps they discarded their badges under the pretext of searching in some bushes.
Revi looked at her watch, and counted down. She looked up as the rest of the landing party shimmered out of existence, and the two of them bolted for the nearest cave. A large dinosaur turned and looked at them, but they did not pause, running around it, and it went on with its feeding.
They ran into the cave, hoping that the party on the shuttle would still be recovering from their fear. As they ran into the cave there was a terrified snorting and snuffling, and a large reptile squeezed past them and fled. They may still have carried traces of Arrg's pheromones.
"That was a fortunate occurrence," said Pachek, as they sat while their heart rates returned to normal. "I think we may have had difficulty reaching safety without some such distraction."
"I think we are fairly safe here," said Revi. "We can build up the front of the cave for protection from animals while we construct housing. If they have not found us within an hour we can assume that the minerals in the ground are sufficient to hide us."
They sat deep in the gloom of the cave, both with arms folded over their knees.
"We will have to experiment with the food," said Revi. "We can establish which vegetation is edible. Malcolm has given us a good start there. I will eat one sort of fruit. If I become ill, you can nurse me back to health. Then you can try the next variety."
"We can see what vegetation or wild animal skins can be utilised for clothes," added Pachek.
"I don't think clothes will be too great a priority," said Revi grimly. "There will not be any company for some time, and it is quite warm. You can set about building us a home first."
"Build a home?" asked Pachek with a frown. "What does one build a home from?"
"I think trees," she answered doubtfully. "One saws them and fits them together somehow."
"Do you know how?" he asked. "And how does one cut them?"
"This looks like a comfortable cave," said Revi gloomily after a pause.
"How can we make some furniture?" he asked. "And how does one cook? It would have been a good idea to have brought some sort of implement with us!"
"Worf would have taken it from us," she replied calmly. She looked at her watch. "This is the only technology we have. At least we will always know what time it is, after we set them to earth time."
Pachek looked sharply at her. It was the first time he had heard a whimsical remark from her. The watches would be useful, at that. They were able to be set to any planet's variables, so it would be a matter of discovering what the day and year lengths were in this place.
After the hour had passed, they moved outside. First they gathered branches and debris, and camouflaged the entrance to the cave. This would have no effect against the tricorders of the humans if they returned, but might keep out the local animals. They began to inspect their surroundings.
"The trees are not the same," said Revi with some irritation. "I can see no witchetty grubs, or their like."
"The plants are different as well," said Pachek. "But perhaps the principles will apply."
He pulled up some plants and after a great deal of breaking of the fingernails and scratches, found some roots.
"We can cook these and see if they are edible," he said.
"How are we going to boil the water?" asked Revi.
They thought about that without coming to a solution. Pachek stored the roots inside the cave in case they came up with a way to boil water before they rotted.
"Our watches have batteries that will last longer than we will," said Pachek, "but the repellent fields inside our belts will not last long. We will have to watch out for the dangers of this place, whatever they may be."
Revi went back into the cave, and looked about it with a new interest. It was going to be home for a while, so it would need some amendments, such as flattening of the floor. She realised she was going to miss information padds.
They gathered a supply of what fruits they could find, which were very few, and set about tasting them. Revi looked at the small pile of roots, and said, "We might be able to simply heat them at a fire. Let us build one."
Starting a fire turned out to be not as easy as Malcolm had made it look. Hours later Pachek finally got a small blaze going, and sat back with his first feeling of satisfaction since they had arrived in this time. They both speared a root each, and sat cross-legged toasting them on the fire. They gossiped about their dreams for the future, a new Romulan planet peopled with their descendants.
The fire continued to burn brightly, and they talked on, until suddenly they found themselves unable to breathe. The smoke had gradually filled the top of the cave, until it reached their level. Coughing and gasping, they scrambled out, and watched the smoke pouring up from the entrance.
"Evidently one should not light fires inside a closed room," said Pachek. "Perhaps tomorrow we should look for a cave which has a natural chimney. If not, we will have to have our fires outside. That might attract predatory animals, though."
It had become dusk, and they sat down in the growing gloom. They prepared to wait until the fire had burned itself out. Each held a root on a stick, and they began to cautiously nibble them.
"It's like eating a piece of wood," said Pachek. "I hope it is nutritious."
"I hope it is digestible, and not poisonous," said Revi, more pragmatically. "What knowledge do you have of living in the wilderness? Did you have any special interests in this area?"
"I read a book once," he said gloomily, "about how the Vulcans used to stalk animals and touch them. It was a point of honor not to kill them."
"Well, we may have to kill some if we want to eat," she said. "If we can catch anything. Perhaps we can dig holes into which they will fall. Onto spikes?"
"Some primitive weapons may be easy to make," he mused. "If primitives can make them, then so should we be able to. We can make arrows and bows. We can make knives."
"I daresay knives would need to be first," she said. "They would be necessary to make the others. What studies have you undertaken that could be useful in the context of survival on a primitive planet?"
"My studies were in thermonuclear physics, and Romulan philosophies," said Pachek. "My hobbies were in the deep structure of transcendental numbers, and the poetry of fundamental particles."
"My occupation was the programming of computers. My interests were in the foundation theories of multiperson strategic mental games," she said.
She sighed. "It's going to be a long sixty-five million years."

On to Chapter 8, or the long winding path home.