((Northern Mountain Range, Tibro, Val Teasai))
Ishka was used to the cold, to the point that these temperatures didn’t bother her. She’d dressed warmly, though she had chosen a lighter jacket rather than the bulky, heavy one that she usually wore on her homeworld of Leya-I. Besides, she was going to need all of the range of motion she could get. Climbing was dangerous at the best of times, much less when a person’s movements were restricted.
She was looking forward to the challenge of reaching the summit. Though she wasn’t the avid climber that Toryn was, she was confident that she could hold her own. Her daily fitness regiment kept her both strong and agile. She was determined to, at the very least, try to outclimb him.
Toryn was wearing his usual climbing gear which more often than not of late was kept hanging on the wall of his bedroom collecting dust. Or it would if the ship’s systems didn’t keep the place immaculate. Being a professional competitor his suit was not only top notch, but highly modified for Toryn. A wingsuit that was integrated into the whole thing was the basis and his preferred method for getting down from a mountain peak when he was done, or as a means of safety should a climb prove too hazardous and he needed to abort.
The rest was fairly standard with a thick enough jacket to keep him warm even in the most frigid Leya-I winters, while permitting freedom of movement and with numerous compartments, loops and holsters for him to store climbing gear. Pitons, ropes, carabiners, and the like. For when he didn’t want to free climb or he felt it would be too risky. Or, when he was climbing with someone else like now. As well as much needed gloves to protect his hands and give him the extra grip for climbing in the cold or when doing a traditional climb.He glanced down with a warm smile at the gorgeous redhead on his heels. A sturdy nanofiber rope connected the two of them as they climbed and he gripped the rock above him with his left hand and leaned back, letting go with his right hand and hanging for a moment to look at her.
Raga: You’re doing great, Ishka. We’ve already passed two thousand feet.
Despite Toryn’s attempt at bolstering her spirits, she was already regretting having not thought to pack a pair of gloves more suited for climbing. Her inexperience was clear in her lack of gear and preparation. It wasn’t the best activity for talking, but it certainly made her appreciate the true nature of his strength. She reached for a rock to pull herself up, but her grip wasn’t as sure as she’d thought and as she tried to lift herself, the rock gave and she found herself slipping backward.
Toryn watched her reach for the rock and he was already shaking his head, trying to warn her off from grabbing hold of it. He could see the cracks along the top of it looking down as he was, but he wasn’t quick enough with his warning and he watched it give way. Thankfully, they were tethered together by a strong rope and he, in turn, was presently secured to the mountain via a piton that he was clipped to. So he had no hesitation in letting go of his grip from the rock and grabbing the rope that connected them as she slipped backward. He was careful not to pull on it too hard while she was still slipping, he didn’t want to throw out her back, and when her motion was halted by the taut rope, he pulled on it with both hands. Easily hoisting the beautiful redhead up towards him until she was eye level with him.
Raga: You have to be more careful, amato. (Beloved)
He smiled and pecked at her lips for but a moment and took a moment to admire her eyes as he held her there just hanging from the side of a mountain.
Her heart still pounding from the plunge, a light blush crept into her cheeks, her gaze locked with his as her tongue peeked out to moisten her lips. She could have sworn her heart missed a beat at the sweet Al-Leyan endearment that rolled off his lips just before he leaned forward to kiss her. For a long moment, they stayed still, enjoying the moment.
She returned the kiss, though she allowed her lips to linger longer, not focused on the precarious position she was in hanging from the side of the mountain. He was the focus of her world and there was something so intimate and, dare she say it, romantic about the two of them sharing this moment together like this.
Toryn’s pulse spiked to high warp as her lips lingered on his and from the proximity and warmth of the wonderful woman he was holding. The moment they were sharing was akin to some of the poetry he’d read from the homeworld. He wondered what she’d think if she knew he read it, but the thought was fleeting as there was nothing that could keep his focus long when she was around.
He held her gently, but closely since they were still hanging from a mountain and smiled. Brushing his lips against hers once more it was his turn to let his lips linger on hers. Toryn reached up, brushing a stray strand of crimson from her cheek and back up under her protective headwear.
Raga: This almost reminds me of home. Well, the mountains. I’ve never had a gorgeous woman in my arms while hanging from one though. This is a first. ::He chuckled::
A soft hoot called out from above and a certain feathered outline circled not far from them in the soft snowfall. Those piercing reflective eyes staring at the animals dangling like worms from the rocks.
Journs: ::smirks:: If it wouldn’t kill us both, we’d be doing a lot more of it. I never thought kissing and climbing would be such a rush.
Raga: Compared to kissing you, the rush of climbing isn’t much. ::He smirked::
Journs: ::laughs:: Flatterer. ::leans forward and kisses him, then murmurs:: You really are the ultimate test of my resolve, mia karulo.
He chuckled at her comment and reciprocated the soft kiss again letting his lips linger on hers and brushing their noses together for a moment.
Raga: So, you find me irresistible is what you’re saying then? ::His brow raised and a smirk curled one side of his lips:: I can honestly say you have the same effect on me, karulo.
When she was sure the rocks under her feet were solid, she pressed herself closer to him and tickled gently at the back of his neck. She inhaled his by now familiar scent, closing her eyes as her nostrils flared, taking it in. She lowered her face to his skin, craving more of it, burying her fingers in the strands of hair covering the back of his neck. Pulling back slightly, her gaze locked with his.
Journs: ::murmurs:: A woman has needs, after all, and there’s something about you that’s so different from anyone else I’ve ever met. I feel safe with you.
A soft sigh escaped him at the touch to his neck. Her touch was soothing to him, calming as much as it also excited him. Toryn had no idea what it was about her, or even himself that had caused the two of them to be so drawn to one another. It had to be more than just their shared telepathic abilities.
Raga: I’ve had a chaotic, difficult life. Even having been in Starfleet for these past few years, I haven’t felt as calm and at peace as I do when I’m with you. ::He brought his hand down to her cheek, caressing her skin with his thumb::
She buried her face in his shoulder, careful not to shift her weight too much. If she wasn’t extraordinarily careful, the anchor would pop out from the change in load. It was strange, having such an intimate moment on the side of a mountain, but strange seemed to define her life since meeting Toryn. Nothing had happened how she’d expected it to. And yet, she wouldn’t change a moment. She felt like she was on a figurative precipice, with major changes on the horizon, the extent of which she couldn’t begin to imagine.
This much was for certain...it hadn’t been more than a few months, yet she couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t been a part of her day. All the hints from colleagues...the way they’d danced at the Prefect’s ball…she could fall so hard if she’d let it happen. There were small details about him that she still didn’t know, but she felt a strange certainty in his ability to keep her from harm.
Toryn smiled and held her gently against him. Even with the two of them being as still as they were they shifted and swayed in the strong winds. There really wasn’t any concern from the seasoned climber as his gear was all rated for their species. The ropes, pitons and carabiners they were using could support the weight of two or three Humans. Given Al-Leyan physiology being more massive than their Terran counterparts he had to make sure the equipment he used was safe for them to use.
After what seemed like a pleasant eternity, he gently cupped her cheek in his palm to coax her to lean her head back enough for him to kiss her lightly.
Raga: I could stay here all day, but we have another three hundred feet and only two hours to climb before it gets too dark to do so safely.
Journs: ::glances up toward the top and nods:: Shame it was too dangerous to bring overnight gear. ::turns to him and smirks:: We could have made a night of it. Studied the stars, shared a sleeping bag…
There was a soft grin, almost wolfish, that appeared on his face when she said that.
Raga: I always carry a sleeping bag with me. ::He chuckled and pecked her lips once more before smacking her rump and nodding for her to grab the rocks beside him.::
Journs: ::arches an eyebrow at him:: Well, I never! ::smirks:: It’s any wonder we didn’t end up spending the day in your quarters.
She extricated herself from her very comfortable position cradled against him and continued her climb, lost in thought even as she tried to focus on grabbing the right rocks. The light bit of flirting had caused a stirring in her abdomen and she again found herself blushing.
How did he do that? If any other man had touched her that way, she’d have knocked them off the side of the mountain. Though she and Toryn were trying to minimize their intimacy until they knew more about each other, his flirtatious behavior and his charm made it so tempting to give in. When they finally gave in to all the tension, she had a feeling it might just burn them both up, leaving behind only ashes.
He watched her climb for a few moments, admiring the view and grinning like the Targ that caught the Seiuri. Toryn rotated his position so his back was no longer against the rocks and began to climb as well. With a longer reach than Ishka’s and more experience, he was able to pass her a bit, which was the intent. He needed to find another anchor point to drive the next hydraulic piton into.
They climbed for another several minutes before he paused a moment, surveying the best route ahead for them. There was an overhang above them and to the right, while the left had contours similar to what they had already traversed. But he noted the microfractures in the stone thanks to his keen sight, they would look like any other contour to a novice climber. Someone with lighter mass than either of them wouldn’t have trouble traversing it with anchors. But he needed to find a harder stone to support theirs.
Raga: Well, this might be tricky. ::He called back to her:: We can’t go this way. ::He gestured to his 11 o’clock:: It won’t hold our weight. But that should. ::He pointed next to the overhang. It jutter out about five feet farther than the section they were currently on::
She studied a section of rock three feet closer, her brow furrowing.
Journs: I’m no expert. ::motions to the section she was eyeing:: But wouldn’t it be fairly easy to freeform that section of the rockface?
Toryn glanced over at her when she suggested that and for a moment a hard knot formed in his gut. As a competitive climber, he’d free climbed more than a few rock faces. From deserts to the Sez Toural Range he grew up in. Ishka was a good climber but there was something about the thought of her scaling that section, without an anchor and rope that kicked in his protective impulses.
Raga: Yes, but that’s a ninety-foot section. It’d mean no ropes or anchors. ::The concern he had for her safety was plastered all over his face::
Her brow furrowed in thought. Toryn was more experienced with climbing and it would be wise to listen to him. A good Al-Leyan would have. Their people didn’t take unnecessary risks. But something about that particular section was bringing out competitiveness in her. She wanted to prove she could keep up with him.
Her heart thudded hard against her chest at the thought of having no safety net if she lost her grip or her balance. It would be a long fall...even for a solidly built Al-Leyan woman. After another moment of consideration, she began carefully unhooking herself from the line, readying herself for the freeform ascent.
That she would unhook herself to prepare to free climb despite his concern was the last thing he expected her to do. And the way his face lit up with mixed, shock, apprehension and frustration told volumes.
Raga: Just what do you think you’re doing? ::He said in a tone that would make a Marine drill instructor proud::
Free climbing at a lower altitude was a far cry different than doing so over a thousand feet in the air. He could do it in his sleep, but he’d spent his entire life climbing peaks like this. Ishka hadn’t.
His tone surprised her and she turned, leveling him with a steady glare. She said nothing, holding his gaze for a long moment. It was risky and possibly stupid, but it was her choice to make. She’d made her decision and his gruff tone wasn’t about to change her mind. Tearing her gaze away, she looked for solid rock and tested it once...twice…before beginning a horizontal climb toward the face she’d been studying.
Raga: Damnu ĝin. ::He muttered::
Toryn quickly unhooked himself from the line and popped the last anchor out of its place to stow it securely away while she began to climb anyways. The rope that had been attached could be coiled back onto his gear easily enough thanks to the device it was connected to. It was far easier than having to do it himself and let him focus on following her. Toryn quickly followed her, being able to find suitable handholds and footholds more easily than she could. Still, he made sure to stay just below her, suddenly finding himself terrified that she might fall.
Raga: Just take it easy. There’s no rush, so pace yourself. ::He said in a soft tone::
Journs: ::tests a handhold:: You know, it would be a lot easier if I could focus on my thoughts without yours being added to the mix. ::hefts herself up slightly and exhales::
His brow raised and he bolstered his mental barriers since his worry must have filtered through. He shook his head and dug his fingers into a handhold, then quickly scrambled up the rock with a heave to reach the next one. It would look almost like he ran a little up the side because he used his feet to help keep him in line. He exhaled slowly after finding the grip and tucked the tip of his shoe into a crevice nearby to give him more leverage to brace against the mountain.
Raga: Just trying to guide you. If anything happened to you while climbing with me, I’d never be able to live with myself.
He watched her progress, waiting until she was at least a few feet above him before resuming climbing himself. Before he found this particular view the angle afforded him to be quite pleasant, but for the moment he was all seriousness. The instructor in him had taken over. He could wait to have words with her until after they were back in a safer place.
She didn’t need to have eyes in the back of her head to know he was staring. She could practically feel it. Any other time, she wouldn’t have minded. However, with the weakness it was causing in her knees, it was possibly the worst timing.
Journs: ::pants:: Okuloj al vi mem, sinjorino. (Eyes to yourself, mister.)
After testing another hold with her right foot, she propelled her left foot up to look for a solid spot to dig it into the ledge.
Lieutenant Commander Toryn Raga
Mission Specialist/Second Officer
USS Atlantis NCC-74682
PodCast Team Member
Training Team Member
Atlantis Staff Member
Writer ID: A239410TR0
Lieutenant Ishkabela Journs
Medical Officer, USS Atlantis NCC-74682