Characters: Miina Awenata, Beltrann
As the thick cloud formations of the planet loomed large in the forward viewports, Beltrann spoke. “I understand the sunsets are breathtaking on this world. We will be arriving near the middle of the day, so it will not be long before we see one.”
Miina gave him a courteous nod in answer to his observation, but she wasn’t interested in sunsets–not unless she was watching them with Tass. What was she thinking, to have volunteered for this mission? She remembered asking Tass that same thing, and he had been right there with a perfectly logical and supportive answer.
And she was only one of a study team of two? She wondered what the Huka thought of their mission? Did they expect a close scrutiny? She didn’t want to inundate them with questions if that was not their way. And who was she kidding? She didn’t exactly have the gift of witty repartee that endeared some researchers to their subjects.
Subjects. That was a bad choice of words. She remembered Tass’s comment about warning the Huka of the approaching Science Rangers armed with big stick pins. At least that made her smile. How was she ever going to get through this? “While you’re out on your big adventure, don’t forget me,” he had teased. “I’ll just be here in Engineering, trying to think of some way to make myself useful. You, on the other hand, get to have one big adventure. And at the end, you win the prize.”
She grinned at the memory. She just might have to hold on to that for the next two weeks. She wondered if Beltrann was leaving anyone behind and what was going through his mind.
All too quickly, the Minbari shuttle touched down, with only the slightest of bumps, on a rough landing pad in the middle of a grassy field. As Miina and Beltrann gathered their belongings, the pilot spoke. “We will return for you in fourteen standard days — unless you call us to come sooner, or if you wish to stay later.”
‘How about now?’ Miina wanted to say.
They disembarked, finding their welcoming party waiting for them a few yards away from the shuttle. Three Huka were there — two working females and a male, from the looks of it. One of the females stepped forward, speaking to Miina in Interlac.
“Welcome to the Colony of the Silver Plain,” she said, her grey and black fur rippling in the wind. “I am called Lani, and this is my sister Lamaho. And this — ” she half turned, to gesture toward the tall, thin male whose fur was almost entirely white — “is Kahamahama, the father of fathers of our people. We will be your guides during your time with us.”
Miina could not help staring at the silent female. Her fur was a sleek russet and her eyes were greenish-gold, with an odd sparkling quality.
“You honor us with your welcome,” Beltrann said. “We are very grateful for this chance to learn more of your people.”
“You come at a special time,” Kahamahama said. “For today is a hatch day; and also, we fear that our hukanapenape, our mother of mothers, is nearing her end. Come … we will show you our Houses.” He moved off, leaving the others to follow.
“Birth and death,” Beltrann said to Miina, speaking quietly in Adronato, the Minbari religious caste language. “We are indeed fortunate to be here at such a time.”
“Yes. The opportunity to observe and perhaps to participate in a distinctively different culture’s ritual is a rare thing, indeed.” Miina sighed. Two steps forward, twelve back. She had fallen back into the stilted, formal language pattern that she had tried so hard to break. Where was Tass when she needed his support?
She brought her hand to the back of her neck and rubbed it as if she had a headache, and in doing so, flipped her long, thick braid over her shoulder so that it now hung down over the front of her uniform. She noticed the russet colored Huka glancing back at her, and she sighed and straightened up again. She wished she had slept better the night before.
Copyright (c) Judy Caswell and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.