A/N: Happy New Year everyone! I hope to be back to a weekly schedule now but in order to do that I’ll be stopping taking prompts for a few weeks while I build up some buffer.
“I always think that drink looks delicious,” Summer said as Lin poured tea for all the humans present. “Completely incompatible with our biology, of course, but it looks delicious.”
“You’d probably hate the taste even if it wasn’t far too hot for you,” Lin said. “It doesn’t bother you, us drinking it, does it?”
“No, not at all,” he said. “If it did I’d just arrange something for us as well. It might things go more smoothly.”
“Actually that’s not a bad idea,” the Tkin said. “All of our species use social eating and bonding ritual.”
Amanpreet covered her grin with her hand, it was obviously a xenologist.
Introducing yourself helps as well,” Summer said. Somehow he managed to make the emotionless voice from his synthesizer sound dryly amused.
“Wha- Oh!” The Tkin’s green-blue fronds curled tight in surprise. “You’re right I haven’t, have I? Excuse my rudeness, please. I’m–” It made a rustling, rattling noise that must be its name. “The Mez usually call me–” A convoluted sound that was a word in one of the Mez languages sounded from its synthesizer “–and humans usually call me Mori.” It paused. “Now shall we call for food and drink before continuing?”
“No time!” Alice snapped.
“What the boss means is we should call for the food and then carry on with the discussions while we’ll waiting,” Rick said.
“Excellent idea,” Mori said even as Alice opened her mouth to object. Amanpreet could read Tkin body language well enough to know it knew it had cut her off and really didn’t care.
While the Mez and Ishtari were putting in the food orders Amanpreet used the noise to lean over to Sangat and whisper in his ear. “I think we should keep an eye on Alice.”
“I noticed,” he replied, equally quietly. “With an attitude like that I don’t know how she made a contact team let alone the lead role. Her second seems okay. Let’s talk to him after the meeting.” He turned his attention back to Mori as the hubbub quieted down.
“We’ve already spoken to the Coronan computer system,” Mori said. “And it says the various high technology cultures are taking its existence well as they had already surmised something similar to it existed. It has told them about us and they are listening for our message.”
“What about the lower tech cultures,” Rick asked anxiously.
“Due to the odd nature of Coronas atmosphere the lower tech cultures are all lowland cultures and many of them are highly sophisticated and do a lot of trading with the highland cultures so they should be fine as well.”
“There’s still a risk,” Oni said.
“There’s always a risk,” Summer said. “Admittedly a higher one in this case but not unreasonably so.â€ He turned towards Lin. â€œHow is the translation of the initial message coming along.â€
â€œVery well,â€ she said. â€œI’ve asked the Coronan computer to check I got it all right and it seems happy that I haven’t said anything offensive in their three most common languages.â€
â€œExcellent,â€ Mori said. â€œWe’re nearly ready then.â€
â€œHave you asked it for information on the enemy yet?â€ Alice asked.
â€œLet’s deal with the contact first and then ask it for that,â€ Summer said. â€œThe contact is our primary mission after all.â€
â€œThe information is more important,â€ Alice said. â€œWho knows what other traps they left. Make it tell us! Threaten the Coronans if you haave to but get it tell us everything it knows.â€
Summer made an exasperated whistle before using his synthesizer again. â€œOh yes, why donâ€™t you go down that rabbit hole, Alice,â€ He said. Amanpreet blinked at the Mez wondering if he knew human classical literature or his use of that metaphor was a coincidence. She didn’t have chance to enquire because he spoke again. I’m sorry about your brother but it was Vaian idiocy that killed him not this enemy and you know your history as well as I know ours. That would be a really bad idea.â€ He swivelled his eye stalks toward Rick. â€œI think Alice is a bit too volatile to be in charge of your contingent at the moment but that’s your call.â€
Rick took a deep breath and nodded. â€œNo, I agree. I didn’t realise it had effected her this badly. I should have done.â€ He took hold of her elbow. â€œCome on, boss, let’s get you to the medical bay. You’re not well.â€
â€œI’m fine!â€ She shook his hand away. â€œI don’t need a doctor.â€
â€œYou’re far from fine, Alice,â€ Rick said firmly but not unkindly. â€œYou shouldn’t have come while you were grieving. I’m relieving you until you pass a psyche evaluation.â€
She scowled at him and opened her mouth obviously intending to argue but two other members of her team grabbed her and dragged her from the room.
â€œSorry about that,â€ Rick said. â€œShe’s developed this fixation that the Council are covering something up using the Vaians as Scapegoats.â€ He gave a sigh. â€œBut we should get on with this.â€
â€œYes,â€ Mori said. â€œWe’ll do one more check and then begin out outgoing broadcast to the planet.â€