A Hitchhikers Guide to Confectionery Diplomacy

CHAPTER ONE // StarDate: 96415.2

The Bolian straightened, as the group had stepped aside from the grav-lift a single bead of sweat was swiped away from the blue forehead as the artificial climate grew just that fraction more intense above them. On his right stood the Human Captain, to which beside him stood the Trill Petty Officer that’d been his company for the duration of the short assignment. Short, he thought, was a funny way of putting it considering the several hours he’d spent waiting for colony staff to allow their supplies - requested supplies - through customs. He was content, having overall been an easy supply run, but was growing somewhat nervous with the attention he’d been receiving from the colony residents.

An odd group of people, sparsely speaking, who had settled on the otherwise hostile planet willingly using their original colony vessel as a means to create a surprisingly vast area of land. Their technology allowed them to terraform to a small scale to ensure food and safe liquids, but also had access to replicator systems that were however rarely used. Their weather systems were controlled through use of their vessel’s shielding systems, modified to allow for perfect seasonal increments. An interesting group for sure, but quite isolated by choice bar the odd request sent to supply ships. The October, passing through, happening to be the latest to pick up one of their requests.

The Trill tilted her head just a fraction into her left shoulder, her lips almost betraying a faint smirk as she watched the colonist offer forward the tied band of flowers towards the Bolian.

“I think, Chief, she wants you to put that on.” she began to mime over her own head, “… like this.”

The colonist beamed, nodding her head quite eagerly as she gestured positively at the Trill’s words - offering the band forward once again. The Bolian, Chief Petty Officer Olezra, twitched as he broke from his stern posture; unsure exactly what was happening, and even more so uncomfortable at whatever lay ahead.

The Human had some form of stupid smirk held firmly with his lips, eyeing the colonist and the Chief intently. The Trill, tilting her head back towards her other shoulder, suddenly caught the glance of another of the colonists beyond the group. They were heading this way, clad in a far more decorative set of garments than the regular crowd- armed only with a very similar looking flower band around his head.

“Uh, … Chief, wait jus’ a seco-” the Trill began, but stopped herself as she watched the rest of her intended sentence become mute. The Bolian, still rather uncomfortable, forced a rather unconvincing smile as he reached forward and unceremoniously placed the headband over his head.

The Captain glanced to the Trill, arching a brow as he awaited curiously for her to continue.

“… Ah. Well, you see I was just about to say, maybe we should have asked what those are for because-” to which, again, her sentence was cut short; this time was because of the arrival of the colonist wearing a very similar looking headdress. His smile was beaming as he came to greet the Bolian.

The Chief wasn’t prepared quite so much for the close contact in which he popped up a brief defensive, yet harmless, barrier with his arms to prevent the other colonist from getting closer.

As if by magic, the three crewmembers of the October came to an immediate similar realisation as one another. The Captain could barely withhold a laugh, managing to allow a short snort to escape instead before extending out his arms between the two clad in flowery headbands.

“Forgive my outburst, is this some sort of tradition that we’re not quite aware of? I must say, we’re absolutely honoured with your hospit-”

“This is not ideal, Captain.” Interrupted the Bolian.

The Human cleared his throat, very quickly resuming “-ality, you’ve treated us to some absolutely delightful delicacies and that … forgive me, what was it called again? Al’frat Tea? Absolutely incredible. Petty Officer Kual, what was it you tried, the cocoa smoal?”

The Trill blinked, “… yes, sir. cocoa smoal. Delightful.”

The Captain was about to resume, but just as the Bolian removed his headdress the two colonists shared a glance, immediately chanting in some form of language the universal translator didn’t manage to convert. Judging by their facial expressions, Coby assumed that they weren’t singing some flamboyant happy song about the weather.

“Have we earned, such, dishonour?” started the colonist with the flower band. The translation was slow and somewhat static “… we grateful, for supplies. We treat to all our ability- yet this. Rejection?”

“No no, not at all, please. We’re absolutely grateful for your hospitality… we’re just somewhat confused, I’m afraid Mister Olezra isn’t one for such…” The Captain paused for just the briefest of moments, considering his words behind his own confusion. “- intimate contact, he gets uncomfortable standing next to us on the transporter pad.”

“Yes, my sincere apologies.” Olezra started, surprisingly calmly, as he re-positioned the flower headdress. “I was caught off guard there, and struggle with physical interaction.”

Suddenly, the two colonists smiled once again, beginning to chuckle between themselves before extending a louder laugh towards the group. The three October crew shared a glance, likewise returning a rather awkward laugh in return.

“It all good.” started the same colonist who’d already spoken, “… we understand now. Different policies.” he pauses, “… different … customs?” he corrected. “We understand. It take time to become used to ours- he will be trained.”

Olezra turned a look to his right, the Trill turning to her left as they both stared at the Captain who’s face had flattened into some deeper confusion as he eye’d the pair of colonists. “What do you mean, he’ll be trained?” with a pushed out concerned chuckle.

The Bolian opened his mouth, but was quickly prevented from opening it as the Human put out his left arm across his chest, almost shielding him backwards a step.

“He will be… learned? Does that create sense? Like school. We will school him.” replied the other colonist for the first time.

There was a moment of silence that fell over the group, but was killed with another forced laugh from the Captain “- Oh! I see. Well, please don’t feel you need to go to the trouble. We would all love to learn more of your customs, however, another time perhaps? When we’re on our return route we’ll make sure to hail ahead, perhaps. But otherwise I think we’ll be needing to return to the ship.”

Both colonists shared a bemused look.

“Of course! … you will be able to visit friend any time, however they must stay with us. You understand. We are one.” the flower-clad colonist perks up once again, smiling softly.

The Bolian stiffened, “There’s been a misunderstanding here, clearly.” removing the headdress once again. This had a similar effect as before, however the shock was limited to some choice glances between the pair of colonists. “… I believe it’s best we take our leave now, Captain Morton. Petty Officer Kual, if you could ensure we have all of the equipment ready to transfer ba-”

“You will not be taking leave.” exclaimed both colonists simultaneously, and rather firmly. “This insult is great - What have done to deserve this?!”

The three crewmembers took a half step back each.

“Woah~! Sorry, I know, it seems rude of us to just suddenly up and leave. We were on a tight schedule as it was, regardless.” The colonists expressions didn’t change, “I deeply apologise for any offence I, or any of my crew, could have possibly caused this day. Let me assure you, on my career, that this was purely unintentional and to state, we are incredibly humbled by your hospitality in turn for the supplies. Myself, Chief Olezra and Petty Officer Kual will now take our leave, just to ensure we maintain the relationship built today.” Captain Morton spoke carefully, with his left palmed raised in a de-escalating fashion, or so he hoped.

“You will not be taking leave.” both colonists repeated, a deep frown forming on both of their faces as their volume grew only louder, something that drew the attention of several nearby colonists who’s curiosity had stopped them from their daily goings-about. A few of them simply looked over, but a few had already dropped whatever they’d been attentive too and were already beginning to make their way over.

Another short silence fell, a tension now abruptly wiggling its way into the atmosphere of the otherwise friendly and gorgeous village. The Captain nodded slowly, raising both his palms now into the air.

“Alright… alright…” he began softly, holding a small smile put across his face. “… I deeply, deeply apologise and would hate to leave after we’ve gotten on so well today. To prevent further insult, to which again is purely unintentional and something I will do all in my power to reinstate and correct, we will take our leave now.”

As the Captain finished, the pair offered another repeated you will not leave, his brow furrowed somewhat as he’d started to reach the limit of his confusion patience. The pair repeated their phrase once again, and again… with their body language growing somewhat concerning, Coby tapped his badge as he continued to ignore the slightly more aggressive posture the colonists had taken to.

The badge retorted a standard bleep. An uncomfortable, standard bleep really. The sort of single sounding bleep that isn’t followed by an open channel background static. The kind of uncomfortable single bleep that indicates the channel is being either blocked, or simply isn’t available.

Olezra and Kual dug into their stance, tensing somewhat. The Captain’s frown grew deeper as he once again tapped his badge to the unfortunate sound of silence.

“Right.” the skipper offered, with the two Enlisted simply looking at him expectantly. He grew a sudden awkwardly forced smile, his hands clasping together infront of his chest with a little quiet audible clap. “… what about another one of those al’frat tea’s? I’m rather parched suddenly.”