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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Posted on 10 Apr 2024 @ 2:26pm by Commander Kristiana Petrova & The Narrator

1,642 words; about a 8 minute read

Mission: Miranda
Location: Planetside, Camping Site 1

"He what??" Kristiana stared dumbfoundedly at the message on her PADD, then just shook her head and sighed, shoulders slumping. Tychon had managed to completely baffle the Russian ex-oh. He'd managed to go to an uninhabited planet, and yet somehow found friends. Friends that he was now bringing over to the camp. Various potential security risks flashed through the woman's mind. She'd need to have a long talk with the man at some time. Or maybe she was just being paranoid.

In any case, she'd organized a quiet, unobtrusive security detail by the time Tychon returned. An armed security detail pretending to be regular officers, just going about their business, but a keen enough eye would be able to notice, in time, that certain officers seemed to be milling about near where Petrova was waiting for the security-officer-in-training to arrive with his entourage. Wearing her uniform, a simple type I handphaser holstered on her hip. She'd also called in the services of a medical officer, acting just as stealthily as her security team, with a tricorder to surreptitiously scan the newcomers and give Kris the all clear with a hand signal, should she find no cause for alarm.

Maria was one of a small group, and they all seemed to be of interest to the people in the campsite they were now meeting. The campers in the uniforms were all uncertain, on edge, but Maria and the others were all perfectly placid as they looked around and talked to others.

She saw one approaching her now, and Maria thought that this one looked like on in charge. She stood where she was and smiled politely, making no move that could be construed as dangerous.

Kris wasn't in a smiling mood, but some times you had to do things you didn't want. So, mustering the best smile she could she nodded to the other woman. Did this count as a first contact situation? They didn't seem alien. A quick glance at the med tech off to the side who gave a simple nod Kris considered what to say. Maybe a simple introduction was the best choice. "Hello. I'm Kristiana Petrova, executive officer on our ship, USS Odin, and leader of this camp. It's nice to meet you."

"It's nice to meet you as well," Maria replied placidly, inclining her head slightly. "My name is Maria Baran." She turned her head, taking in the campsite all around her before turning back to the officer. "You have an interesting setup here."

"It's only temporary until the ship finishes decontaminating, then we'll pack up and be on our way again. We'll be sure to be thorough in packing up and leave nothing behind that doesn't belong here," Kristiana explained. Part of her wondered how much this Maria Baran knew about spaceships and the Federation. She was sure she'd find out during the course of this conversation, though. "My apologies, we thought this planet uninhabited. We did not mean to intrude."

Maria shrugged casually, still with that placid smile on her face that might start to border on the creepy. Anyone here seen the Stepford Wives? "We do not claim to own the planet, and we are careful about how easily people can discover us, so it's no trouble." She gestured to the landscape beyond their camp. "It's not like there is much of value or interest up here."

"I'd say that an unexpected population of humanoid life is of interest," Kris offered, brow quirked, though a hint of a smile playing on features. So the woman didn't seem surprised at the mention of a ship or the concept of planets, instead taking it all in stride. Which suggested that she knew of such things and considered them mundane. Which said a lot about them, to begin with. "How'd you and your people get here? Where are you from, if I may ask?"

"I said of interest up here," Maria pointed out with a knowing flash in her eyes, still smiling. "I am, technically, from this planet. We don't have a name for it. Just call it home. I was born here, but our history is that we came from Earth a long time ago. It's said to have been quite a long, perilous journey, as well making home on this planet."

That only raised more questions. When did they arrive? Did they have technology like replicators? How many generations have they been here? Why did they leave? What did they do for enrichment? Humans were inherently a curious people. "I see," Kris answered, brows furrowed. "How many of your people are there? Is your - settlement the only one?"

Maria tilted her head, almost able to see the range of questions flowing behind the other woman's eyes. She still had that distant, almost...robot-meets-curious-bird-of-prey look to her. "I don't actually know how many of us there are, but we are the only settlement on the planet. Unless there's another group who have managed to hide from us too." She laughed at that.

"Not impossible, I suppose," Kris mused. She considered for a moment before her thoughtful, pensive expression lightened a bit and she spoke again. "Would it be alright if I sent a - scout, of sorts, to do an in-depth scan of your cave and the area around it?"

This was the first hint of disconcertion from Maria, although it was minor. Just a small knitting of her dark brows. "What kind of...scout?"

The response interested Kris. Such a hesitation - even as minor as that - was a clear hint that there were things that Maria didn't want the crew of Odin to find out. Which in turn made Petrova all the more interested in doing exactly that. "A fly-over by one of our fighters, equipped with powerful sensors and a very detail oriented AI that is particularly good at picking up patterns," she explained.

"Hmm," Maria said, the noise curious, noncommittal, and distracted all at once. She tilted her head as her brows eased, her eyes drifting aside for a moment before her placid smile returned and she met the commander's gaze again. "That should be just fine, Commander," she answered. "I am intrigued that you have AI scout ships."

"Hm? Oh - just the one," Kris explained. "And she's not a scout ship per se, rather a fighter, but we're not at war so she's been doing a lot of scouting missions. Turns out she's good at that," She then tapped her comm badge. "Petrova to Walker. Can you do a scouting mission around the cave system our visitors came from? See what you can find. Any trace," before turning her attention back to Maria. "So what do your people eat? And do for fun?"

Maria laughed lightly. "There are many things to be done for fun, depending on the person themselves. Could you so easily say what all of your people do for fun?" she posited, gesturing to the numerous people around them. "Food is a simpler, however. There are many species of fungi that grow naturally in the caves that are edible, but we've also managed to cultivate types of lichen and algae that make very nutritious supplements."

Maria's answer raised even more questions. The clothing she and hers were wearing were industrial in nature, they didn't have the hallmark of handmade clothes. Which suggested technology. Her reaction to the things on display here at the campsite suggested a familiarity with modern Federation technology as well. Yet they were relegated to eating local fungi, instead of replicated food? Maybe Kris was missing something, but she'd be eager to find out what. "I see," she offered with a practiced smile. "Do you have any questions of us?"

"Not yet," the planet's native said. She gestured around them with one hand. "I've only just arrived after all, so I haven't yet learned much to ask questions off of. I did hear something about a sickness, though, is why you're here?" She paused and laughed. "I suppose that's a question."

"That's right," Kris decided to just be honest without going into too much detail. "There was a disease on our ship and several others that claimed the lives of some of our crew. We found a cure and made sure everybody got it, now the ship is in orbit being disinfected, a process that takes a few days. In the mean time the crew's here camping until that's done." she explained. In the background a Valkyrie fighter took flight, heading over into the direction of the area of the cave Maria and her people called home.

Sadness flickered through Maria's eyes briefly as she held Kris's gaze, head tilted. "I'm sorry to hear that there were deaths," she said. "That must have been very difficult for everyone. At least there is plenty of space here for you to...camp, as you put it, until you can return to your ship."

"Thank you for the kind words," Maria's response surprised Kristiana, but she appreciated it all the same, as evident by her tired but honest smile. The disease and all the stress that had surrounded it had took a lot out of her, it was going to take some time for her to truly recover. If the universe deemed fit to give her that chance. "I should get back to my duties. Feel free to look around, talk with our crew. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me," the ex-oh concluded.

"Of course," the stranger--since she was still pretty unknown to the group--said with a small bow of her head. "I don't want to keep you from your duty, but I am happy to speak again if you like. I look forward to getting to know everyone here." She smiled.

 

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