Day Five: Presumed Innocent
– I –
This time it had not required any convincing at all on her part to get Xylion to agree to set out and visit Tela’s settlement. In fact, it seemed as if the Vulcan science officer was more eager than the others to learn more about this colony made up entirely of his own people and understandably so.
The day/night cycle on the rogue planet lasted an Earth similar 21 hours and they had agreed with the young Vulcan woman that they’d visit her home first thing in the morning.
Tela was already waiting outside the crashed runabout only minutes after dawn, still wearing the same, simple white dress, and was quick to show the away team the way to her settlement.
“There are no records of any Vulcan colonies either inside this nebula or in close proximity,” said Xylion as he walked at her side across the arid terrain. “How exactly did you and your people arrive at this place?”
“I was born here,” she said. “Father should be able to explain better than I how this became our world before my birth.”
“And how did their ship survive in the nebula long enough to get this far inside?” said Deen.
Tela considered her for a moment. “I believe father would be able to explain this better than I.”
Deen nodded and afforded the young woman with a smile.
“Maybe they didn’t,” said the Andorian who more so than anyone else was struggling with the dry heat on this world which was already intense just minutes after first light and had made her strip out of her uniform jacket. “I mean maybe they got off course somehow and crashed on this planet like we did.”
“This world is almost half a light-year inside the nebula, I find it hard to believe they could have survived this long,” said Leva. “They must have had some sort of technology to protect them from the radiation.”
“My father would be—“
“Able to better explain it. Of course,” the Romulan officer said.
“So perhaps we wait to ask the questions until we get to the settlement,” said Deen, “ and take in the scenery until we get there,” she added with a little smirk. The arid, tundra-like surface didn’t exactly offer a great many highlights. This changed somewhat the closer they got to their destination when she found scarce evidence of flora and fauna.
The first settlers they encountered were working on small fields in the outskirts of the settlement, tending to their crops. The Vulcans turned towards the newcomers when they spotted them but after just a few seconds their curiosity appeared to be satisfied and they returned to their work.
“Not exactly the warmest of welcomes,” said Leva.
“They’re Vulcans,” said Deen. “What did you expect? Shouts of joy and hugs?”
The settlement proper was made out of somewhere between twenty to thirty buildings, most of which constructed out of wood and other local materials. The larger buildings towards the center had clearly been converted from hull fragments of a transport ship.
There were about a two dozen Vulcans carrying out daily task all around the settlement. Everyone seemed to have a very specific purpose and nobody seemed to be wasting time with idle chitchat or taking time to rest. It appeared to be a model of efficiency just like one would come to expect from a Vulcan settlement.
And just like in the fields, no one here seemed to afford the stranded away team with more than a moment’s worth of consideration and to Leva’s disappointment, there was no welcoming committee awaiting them.
Tela led them right to the center of the settlement and close to the largest building which seemed to have been converted from the hull of an old-fashioned transport ship and was reinforced in places by wooden constructs and sheet metal which all looked professionally applied and functionally designed if not particularly ecstatically pleasing.
There they actually did find somebody waiting for them. The tall, gray-haired Vulcan man wore long, spotless ember robes and watched the away team patiently, with his hands clasped behind his back, as they were led to him by the young woman.
“May I introduce Elder Volik, my father,” she said when they had reached the man. “Father, these are the people I spoke of. DeMara Deen, Srena, So’Dan Leva and Xylion. Xylion is a Vulcan.”
Volik considered the newcomers carefully but appeared most intrigued by the science officer. “Indeed,” he said. “Welcome to our humble settlement.”
Xylion raised his hand in the traditional Vulcan gesture and found that it took Volik a moment to respond in kind. “We are honored that you have received us as your guests.”
“Kind of wish it was under different circumstances,” said Srena quietly.
But Volik appeared to have overhead her comment. “I understand that your vessel landed on this world unintentionally. That of course is regretful however this happenstance may perhaps be to our mutual benefit.”
“Do I take it your vessel crashed here as well?” Deen said.
Volik turned to look at her. “That is correct. Twenty-one standard years ago.”
“And may I inquire what brought you inside the nebula?” Xylion asked. “You must have known of the radiation’s effects on biological tissue.”
“Our vessel was headed to colonize a new world in the Brydon Expanse when a navigational fault caused us to enter the nebula and we came across this world. Our ship was unable to maintain orbit and we were forced to land here.”
“You didn’t try to leave this place?” asked Deen.
“We attempted initially, however we found our vessel too severely damaged to overcome this planet’s gravity field. When we found that this world offered everything we needed to survive, we decided to make this our new home.”
“Well,” said Leva, looking around. “I like what’ you’ve done with the place. A little remote for my taste but then again I suppose you can’t have it all.”
The attempt of a joke, of course, was for nothing, Tela and Volik simply considered the half-Romulan with blank stares.
Then Volik turned to the Vulcan Starfleet officer. “We are currently making preparations for a meal so that you may meet every member of the settlement. In the meantime perhaps you would appreciate if my daughter showed you what we have been able to achieve here.”
Xylion looked at the young woman. “That would be satisfactory.”
Neither Deen nor Leva seemed to miss the focus in Tela’s eyes when she glanced at Xylion. They exchanged quick glanced before Deen turned to the science officer. “Perhaps you should go ahead with the tour, Commander. The rest of us can go exploring on our own. I for one am really interested to learn more about what kind of crops are being grown here.”
“Yes,” said Leva. “And I think I saw a hunting party earlier. I’d love to see what game you have on this world.”
Both Deen and Leva turned to look at the Andorian who didn’t seem to understand right away. Then it clicked. “Right … uh, are those the remains of an Antares
-class transport?” said the ensign, pointing at the building before them. “Maybe I can have a closer look at that.”
“You are free to explore on your own,” Volik said. “I suggest we return here by dusk at which time the preparations for the meal should be complete.”
With that Volik turned to leave. Tela didn’t waste much time leading Xylion away, leaving behind the three other Starfleet officers.
Srena appeared puzzled. “What was that about?”
“You didn’t notice the goo-goo eyes she was giving our esteemed colleague?” said Deen with a knowing little grin. “She couldn’t wait to get some alone time with him.”
“She looked perfectly normal to me.”
“Trust me, Ensign,” said Leva. “For a Vulcan that was practically a romantic invitation.”
“You think he feels the same way?”
Deen shook her head. “Xylion? No way. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a little bit of admiration now and then. I say we let them have their fun and hope that he lets her down easy.”
“In the meantime there is plenty for us to see here. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to look out for anything that might help us with repairs to the runabout,” said Leva.
The two women nodded and went their separate ways.