Canopus Station
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A Light To Welcome All

Posted on Wed Dec 22nd, 2021 @ 1:44pm by The Narrator & Lieutenant T'Niam

Mission: S2:3: Snow Drift
Location: Canopus Station, Habitation Units, the Xilosian Quarter
Timeline: MD 5 10.30

Kisbeck had been practising the gesture commands for the holographic interface and had been very confident that he knew how to summon the reflection of himself and then cast it away. The turbo lift ride from the Xilosian Quarter had seemed the ideal time to make sure he was wearing the Federation style suit right. It was rather plain, a grey affair lacking the usual Xilosian fashions of reflective or light-emitting fabrics.

But he was the bridge between their species, so fitting in and learning their ways was important. Even if he was now being followed by a holographic doppelganger.

"Oh fizk," Kisbeck grunted, his head fronds shifting into the greens of repressed anger as he and his duplicate arrived at their destination. He strode out, trying to project confidence...whilst trailing a holographic double doing the same thing. The walk from the turbolift lobby to the office he was looking for didn't take long, not that it didn't also involve walking past several aliens....


They are not aliens, they are people.

T'Niam was entirely focused on her files, adding notations to each and every one from memory. It was unecessary and distracting for her to utilise a PADD or any other form of recording device with her patients when her own mind was perfectly adequate to the task. The door to her office was open. Unusual for a Vulcan, perhaps, to disregard the stringent notions of privacy embraced by her people but T'Niam's work was still shielded from prying eyes and the background noise was welcome. As was the advent of an unfamiliar individual at said door. Or perhaps individuals? Though the strange synchronicity of their movements was exact to the micron.

"Greetings. May I be of assistance?"

"Give me, just a moment," both of them said at once. One turned to the other, as the one on left turned to face the door. They then both moved their hands in perfect mimicry. "I can do this in the privacy of my own quarters perfectly well, and yet-"

The facing the door froze and vanished in a spray of glittering holographic pixels.

"Oh thank Gods Ashes," Kisbeck said. He then turned fully to face T'Niam and smiles, the fronds of bioluminescent material that took the place of hair atop his onyx black face shifting to warm yellows and oranges. "My apologies, still getting the hang of this marvellous hologramamtic technology you have. We had something similar for large scale use, though we used drones with powerful multispectral lights on them flying in formation."

He pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Apologies again, I sometimes forget I'm no longer the scientist I once was. Allow me to start again, I am Prime Philosopher Kisbeck of the Civilian Mandate, the appointed leader of the Xilosian refugees on the station," he said, and stepped forward with a hand. He then pulled it back slightly. "I know with the human's handshakes are permitted, but I've not interacted much with other species."

T'Niam observed in silent fascination as the secondary being - or so she assumed it to be, though assumptions were often incorrect - disappeared, leaving only one material body facing her. They smiled at her and T'Niam nodded her head in polite greeting, noting the way his fronds shifted colour. A form of communication, perhaps? Hardly unusual among bioluminescent species that T'Niam had heard of. "No apology is necessary," T'Niam began, a warm glint in her eyes though her expression remained neutral.

"I am honoured to make your acquaintance, Prime Philosopher Kisbeck. Forgive my lack of familiarity with your greeting customs. I hope my improvisation will not cause offence." She accepted the hand he offered without hesitation, in itself a strange gesture for a Vulcan. "My people primarily greet each other with a salute, as you see," she explained, forming the gesture easily. "Dif-tor heh smusma. Live long and prosper." She regarded him curiously. "Would you be willing to share the greeting of your people?"

Kisbeck looked at his hand, trying to mimic the gesture with a clear lack of success. He chuckled then, and then took on a more serious facial expression. His fronds shifted in colour from orange to green, moving from left to right in a little wave across the top of his head. As that happened, his right hand came, up almost seeming to comb over the fronds as they shifted to green, before that hand gestured towards her in a single smooth motion. Frond colour, finger comb, and open hand gesture.

"I meet you with no ill thoughts," Kisbeck said as his fronds shifted down to a more neutral dull orange. "We don't actually say that, or we say 'hello'. Xilosian pre-history shows that both written and oral languages came after we began to develop an agricultural soceity. And a greater deal of our languages subtext is determined by frond colouration. Emotional tone, even verb meanings can change drastically with but the slightest shading. I remember teaching my children that, regardless of his shiney blue scales, the glass jaw that lived in the culvet behind our house was not 'super friendly'. Nor were the sun apples always mad at them when they became a ripe and turned purple. Some of the older languages have fewer than forty words of spoken language to them."

T'Niam took in the way his fronds shifted colour, noting every small motion with mathematical precision. The intensity of the light, the exact hue and timing. Though she had no fronds to complete the gesture in its entirely, T'Niam smoothly replicated the finger comb and hand gesture. "Indeed, has a suitable replicant been created to assist in allowing other humanoids to communicate with you effectively or have your people accommodated ours until this juncture?" To T'Niam, it was a matter of respect to embrace a language and utilise it in all its technicality and nuance. The universal translator could assist with auditory language but visual cues were outside of its scope. How difficult would it be to acquire or build an apparatus that could be woven into her hair? She would have to investigate.

"No, not really. But modern Xilosian is a more vocal language, and so we are not handicapped by the less illuminated speech of others. And your universal translator, a marvellous device, by the way, does a good job of translating what we say and how we mean to say it," Kisbeck beamed but figuratively and literally. "After all your people have done so much for us, recusing the few thousand survivors that still remained on our home world. It is not a cheap saying to note that we owe your Federation a great debt."

"Nevertheless," T'Niam answered, "it is a matter of respect to embrace a culture in its entirety. As such I hope you will not be offended if I choose to pursue a manner of achieving fulsome communication with your people. The Federation does not, as the Humans say, keep score. The universal translator is an admirable innovation however there is always room for improvement. It would be a privilege to learn of your culture in your manner."

"Well then, with so open an invitation...I was hoping you might be able to aid me in convincing captain Ingram to allow me and my people the use of the Medina Level for a twin day," he paused as he went over his words. "Huum...' weekend'. Peculiar that, the seven day week, not very efficient all things being equal. Odd that both our cultures use a pair set of days as a communal resting period."

His fronds went orange for a moment.

"I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm hoping, that together we can convince Captian Ingram to allow us the use of the level so that we might hold a Skitter Fall. I've been reading up on the Federation's culture and I think the closet you'd get to it would be a parade, of sorts. Illuminated artworks, puppetry, it marks a total solar eclipse where the sky darkens to the point where we are all the light we might ever see. It has many roots, from the river tribe lands of the Upper Deltas and the snow thawing festivals of the Steppes. Sort of a communal melting pot of celebration. A chance for people to realise the connection we all share to one another. After what happened with Force Commander Kle I'm less than sure Ingram will even think on the idea before casting it aside."

T'Niam was intrigued by the idea of having to persuade Captain Ingram of anything. To a Vulcan, anything reasonable should be considered, the pros and cons weighed appropriately. She noted the colour of his fronds, filing the combinations away for future study. The parade he described sounded aesthetically pleasing in the extreme and the opportunity to immerse one's self in a culture could not be overlooked. For how could T'Niam hope to understand her patients if she did not have an understanding of the paradigms that had shaped them? "I am not familiar with the incident with Force Commander Kle," T'Niam told Kisbeck. "Would you please enlighten me? While I understand the need for security protocols on the station, it is not unreasonable to ask that one's culture and rituals are treated with an equal value to that of any other race. There are Humans I am acquainted with who would be most upset if Rex Manning Day were to be cancelled."

"Well...I need to be absolutely candid I don't have all the information myself, but I was informed of a mission being sent out beyond this system to investigate the Concordance. Being the civilian leader of my people I relayed that information to Force Commander Kle, the head of our standing military. Well, what's left of it by any measure. Either way she convinced me to help her get assigned to the mission as a guide, with practical experience in how the Concordance operates. During the mission...she took matters into her own hands and instigated a fire fight, turning a recon mission into a near disaster. I think the Intel Chief of the station has more information," Kisbeck said, letting it all out in a rush. Taking a steadying breath, he composed himself. "And now she rests in a cell, in the brig."

T'Niam listened attentively, nodding as the rhythm of the conversation rolled onwards. "Without the totality of data available, I can offer the following read on the situation: the decisions of one individual, whatever they may have been, should not preclude an entire race from partaking in cultural observances. Such a measure would be detrimental to the morale and potentially the mental well being of a collective living upon this station. I see no advantage to employing a tactic of this nature." She paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts. "May I enquire as to whether Force Commander Kle has been offered any support during her time in the brig?"

"I've offered her counsel if that's what you mean, but she's Military Cadre and female," Kisbesk huffed. He let that hang for a moment before realising the social basis of his own people might not translate or be so tolerated by this new examplar of the Federation. "I mean to say that she's career military, her families been military all the way down her mother's side since before we had powered flight. I mean don't get me wrong I'm not one of those old stuffed shirts, I'm, not opposed to men being in the military but women just seem a more natural fit. At least on Xilos. I mean at least in Xilosian culture."

T'Niam did not jump to conclusions. Such leaps were subject to bias and she had long been of the opinion that judgements regarding cultures were arbitrary and unreasonable. The reference to being female did not offend her. It was not the first pronouncement of its kind, nor would it be the last. "Thank you for your clarification. Is your society matriarchal in nature or is the preference for women in military roles a niche of sorts? My own culture has a balance between genders and as such no role is considered to be gendered. However this was not the case throughout the entirety of our history and there are some ceremonial traditions that can be considered patriarchal. Do you believe Force Commander Kle would be receptive to a visit from me?"

"I'll be honest, the sexual dimorphism evident in the cultures I've seen on this wonder of technology you called a Starbase, leads me to believe that Xilosian's might be in a minority. Our females tend towards being more robust, stronger, faster, more aggressive. We males are, in more recent biological times, more of the same but gender roles on Xilos tend to make military affairs more a female endeavour. After all, a male with a clutch of eggs on the front line? Scandalous in the extreme, not to mention in poor taste," Kisbeck said, leaning back into a topic of scholarly interest that at least he was familar with. "Go back four hundred years, into the Waring States era, and you'll see the great mathriachy empires and queendoms that ran amok in the world. Only in recent centuries have both genders become equal partners, and even then the Civilian Mandate was always a little lobsided. Now, as for'd have to ask her. She's not taking visitors from myself, or even form the Military Cadre she used to lead. I thought if one of her officers might find a way to talk to her, then it might begin the process of...fixing, or mending."

He made a hand gesture, and his hair glowed from white to violet.

"That. There's no way to translate it better than that," Kisbeck said.

T'Niam was fascinated by all that she was learning from one conversation alone. "I will certainly offer my company and services. Should she refuse, I will of course respect her decision. However, I do feel it prudent to ensure she is presented with all avalable options. My lack of fronds notwithstanding, I believe I can make a case for having a discussion at the very least. And perhaps I can be so bold as to acquaint Force Commander Kle with the human concept of 'comfort food'. Have you encountered this?"

"We have that concept as well," Kisbeck chuckled. "In fact we're doing our best rebuild that level of comfort in the Xilosian Quarter of the station. We saved a number of seeds in our shelters, and a few of them grow quite well in the agridome. Not quite the same as back home, but compared to yeast cakes. You should come visit the Quarter, we have a lot of Federation visitors."

T'Niam's lips ticked up at the corners. "May I be of assistance in the endeavour?" she asked. "Vulcan horticulture is quite advanced and while I do not pretend to a master's skill, perhaps I may learn more of your culture and be productive at the same time by immersing myself in it somewhat. I would be pleased to come to the Quarter whenever it is convenient."

"Well that settles it then," Kisbeck grinned. "Our first guest of honour paying us a visit."

T'Niam nodded respectfully. "Indeed. If you will allow me, I shall speak with Captain Ingram and discuss the Skitter Fall. When that is settled, or at the very least progressed, I shall reach out regarding other matters. Would that suit you?"

"That would suit me to a H," Kisbeck said.

The hint of a smile on T'Niam's lips warmed her eyes as she inclined her head respectfully to Kisbeck. "Dif-tor heh smusma, Prime Philosopher Kisbeck."


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