Herroton City. Herroton. Epsilon Delta system.
November 26th 2151.
Governor Trex lifted the guman fruit and examined it carefully. The light glistened off it's emerald green husk. Apart from a couple of small blemishes, insect bites most likely, nothing marred the surface. So far so good, but that was not the important thing. With a small knife he cut through the husk, peeling it back to reveal the fruit within. His nose crinkled slightly in disappointment. The aroma was....not right. Not quite.
He cut himself a segment and popped it into his mouth. Yes, as he'd suspected, not quite right. Pleasant enough, but without the sharp, slightly bitter after taste. It would probably taste very nice cooked in a pie, but wasn't suitable for eating. Not yet
, he told himself. The attempts to introduce the fruit to this world, this entirely new ecosystem, began less than a year ago. Initially the trees refused to grow at all, but the scientists had figured out how to adapt them to the local conditions. It was just a matter of time.
And until then, he did have a supply of the real thing. It wasn't really efficient to grow the trees under controlled conditions in the hydroponic greenhouses, but everyone liked guman fruit, so Trex had allocated the resources to allow it. Good for morale. That had caused some raised eyebrows at the time, with some of the councillors suggesting he'd let his own love of the fruit over-ride his better judgement, and that the greenhouses would be put to better use providing larger amounts of staple foodstuffs. Vrok in particular had been critical of the decision, but everyone knew she wanted his job and liked to stir up dissent wherever she could. And then of course the biochemists had cleared several of the local flora and fauna as safe for consumption, so food shortages were not a problem.
Trex scowled at the thought. Food hadn't
been a problem. He put down the half eaten guman fruit and looked again at the report on his desk. Several farmers in the outlying regions had reported the loss of large numbers of chevan beasts. Chevans were fairly docile animals, didn't need much work to domesticate them, and carried a lot of meat. Unless the disappearances could be halted, and soon, there were going to be a lot of hungry people in the colony. Vrex were probably to blame. Those vicious predators had even attacked colonists on occasion. Fortunately they stayed well clear of the city, although that was probably because it was located near the centre of a flat barren plain, with little cover in which to work their ambush tactics. But, the more fertile areas were the chevan grazed....that was much more to their favour.
A dark shadow fell into the room. He flinched, half convinced for a moment that a vrex had
somehow entered the city undetected, to loom at his window. Turning, he smiled at the sight of Redmane, who smiled back in his simian way. Trex stood and opened the window. "And how can I help you, my hirsute friend?"
If intelligent life was to arise on this world, the governor mused, it would be amongst the descendants of these creatures, the mahwee. From a biological point of view, they of all the species of Herroton possessed the closest resemblance to Denobulans. Although he'd not say it out loud, he rather thought they looked a lot like the humans. Hairier, of course. And also possessing a strong curiosity. Despite being tree dwellers by nature many had relocated to the city, building nests out of whatever they could find in various nooks and crannies.
Redmane---Trex's nickname for this particular mahwee---knuckled into the office as he usually did, looking under the furniture, examining the computer screen, opening draws, not searching for anything, just generally nosy. Quickly he sniffed out the guman fruit, reached for it, hesitated. And turned to look imploringly at Trex.
Trex thought, he clearly understands the concept of ownership
. "Go on then." he said, gesturing first to the fruit, then to Redmane. The mahwee apparently understood, biting first at the husk, then, when that proved unappetising, ripping it off to get at the innards. "Well, you seem to be enjoying that. aren't you? Of course you don't know what proper guman is supposed to taste like. Now there's a thought, is it good for you? Hmm, too late to worry about that now, you seem to have finished that one, but I think I will talk to the scientists before I let you have any more."
A buzz from the intercom caught his attention, and startled Redmane, who darted out of the window and scampered away across the roof tops. Trex watched him for a moment, then shut the window and hit the intercom switch. "Yes?"
"Governor, we've just received a message from an incoming Earth ship. They are requesting permission to enter orbit, and wish to speak with you as soon as they are close enough for real-time communications."
"An Earth ship? That's puzzling. There's no incoming vessels scheduled any time soon, is there?"
A slight pause. Trex imagined the officer on duty down in the Command Centre examining the schedules carefully. "No sir, nothing on the books for over a month. And that's the re-supply run from home. There should be nothing from Earth for six months, at least. Apart from the courier runs, of course."
Trex starred at the carpet as he thought. "Very well. Give them permission to enter orbit, but to attempt no landing without permission. Remind them, politely, that this is a Denobulan colony, and all humans present are at the express invitation of our government. I'll talk to them when they are in orbit. Oh, get in touch with Smith at the archaeological site, see if he knows anything about this. Can't imagine he will, he wouldn't keep quiet about it, but we had better check."
"By the way, do we know what ship this is?"
"Yes sir. It's called the Enterprise."