Zach Philbin and the team were mining crystals needed for their vessel's navigational system. The Utopia had run dangerously low on the crystals, and needed emergency crystals to help them make it to Lambda, the nearest Federation Directorate planet in the Quadrant with the type and amount of crystals they needed.
The mining team had arrived on Matka in 2 shuttles; a command shuttle as well as one other shuttle. They also brought tents, food, cooking supplies and various mining, medical, and scientific equipment.
Towards evening, Zach and the others were enjoying some coffee around the campfire before dinner. He thought he saw a figure in the trees nearby. He got up and looked around, but saw nothing. He heard breathing though, and took his phaser out of the holster.
He walked around another five minutes, but didn't see anything. Zach still heard breathing nearby, though. He was positive he heard soft crying as well.
“Is anyone here? We mean you no harm. I can hear you breathing. I think I hear you crying as well. If you're hurt, we can tend to any injuries you have. If you're hungry or thirsty, we've got enough food for you too. Feel free to join us.”, he said.
“I'm Captain Zach Philbin. We're not here to hurt you. Come on out and I'll make sure you get plenty of food, and treatment for any injuries you might have.”
He headed back towards the camp. He heard breathing again, this time much closer, almost right behind him.
He drew his phaser, then quickly turned around, coming face to face with a young alien woman. She let out a slight shriek, then ran away.
Zach holstered his phaser and ran after her. “It's okay. I'm not going to hurt you.”, he said.
He saw her hiding behind a large boulder.
“Hello there! Well, this is quite an unexpected surprise. It's alright. No-one's going to hurt you. Come on out. I promise you...you're safe. No-one's going to hurt you.”
She didn't move, but he could see her watching him from behind the boulder.
”What's your name? You don't have to be afraid of me, or any of us in the camp. I'm human but, I promise you, I'm not going to hurt you. So...what's your name?“, he asked.
”Sceca.“, she replied softly.
”Ske-what? Can you pronounce that for me again? I want to make sure I'm saying it correctly.“, he said.
”Sketh-cha.“, she replied, sounding it out for him
”How do you spell that in Terran?“, Zach asked.
”S-c-e-c-a.“, she replied softly.
”Well I've no idea where the t-h sound comes in there but, anyway, it's nice to meet you Sceca. How was that? Did I say it correctly?“, he asked.
”Yes.“, she replied softly.
”Well Sceca, I'm Captain Zachary Philbin, but you can call me Zach.“, he said.
”It is nice to meet you, Zach.“, Sceca replied nervously.
“Are you hungry? Would you like something to eat or drink?”, he asked.
Sceca shook her head.
“Well I'm hungry, so how about you join me, as my guest, for dinner out there? There's a nice beef roast that's been cooking for hours. We can get to know each other better. Come on out from behind that boulder. Have dinner with me. Let's go, Sceca.”, Zack said.
“I am not hungry. I do not wish to eat with humans.”, she said.
“Come join me for dinner. You don't have to eat, but at least you can warm yourself up by the campfire.”, Zach replied.
She could see he wasn't going to back down, so she acquiesced and slowly came out from behind the boulder.
“Wow! You really are beautiful!”, Zach said.
He took her hand and they walked to the camp. He noticed she had a limp.
“This is Sceca, everybody. She's a native of the planet. She's joining us for dinner, and warming herself by our fire.”, he said as he had her sit down next to him on a log. The others greeted her warmly.
He told her the roast was quite delicious, and offered her a bite, nodding to her in reassurance. She accepted the bite and, when he asked her if it was good, she nodded. He then put some roast and bread on a plate and gave it to her.
Sceca looked at him while they ate. He was tall and muscular, a bear of a man, with deep blue eyes, brown medium length hair, and a nicely trimmed beard. He seemed to be a kind man; a trait unusual for humans, in her experience.
She looked at him, then started slowly eating. She was quite hungry, but tried not to let on just how hungry she really was.
When she'd finished her plate, he asked her if she'd like some more. Sceca nodded, gratitude in her eyes.
He then refilled her plate, and gave her some iced tea as well.
He chatted with the men about the mining operation. If all went well, in 4 or 5 days they'd have enough crystals to last them, and they could go back to their ship.
After dinner, Zach suggested Sceca go with him to his shuttle so she could have a good sleep out of the elements. She reluctantly agreed. He hoped he could get more information from her about her race, but she didn't seem to want to open up.
He decided not to push her. Once aboard the ship, Zach knew the computers would be able to figure out her race.
He had her lie down on the bench across from the shuttle's third seat. She could stretch out that way, he told her. He gave her a pillow, then covered her up with a blanket. He'd sleep a few feet away from her in his hammock.
”Why did you not kill me out there?“, she asked him.
”I've no intention of killing you. Why do you think I'd want to kill you, Sceca?“, he replied.
”Because you are human, and I am not.“, she said. ”It is what happens when my people encounter your kind. It is what always happens.“
”Not always, Sceca. It didn't this time.“, Zach replied.
”It will. You will kill me. Eventually. It is inevitable.“, she said.
”Nope, not this time, Sceca. You're safe.“, he replied.
”I do not believe you, but I am too tired to argue with you.“, she said, pulling the blanket over her shoulder as she turned away from him, turning over onto her left side.
He smiled, then said, ”Goodnight, Sceca. Sleep well.“
She didn't know it was customary in human culture to tell someone goodnight, so she said nothing. She was asleep within 2 minutes.
The next morning, she slept in an hour later than Zach. After he dressed, he noticed she'd turned over and was laying on her right side, facing him. He then pulled the blanket up over her shoulder and took a good look at her.
Sceca was approximately in her mid 20's, petite, slim yet muscular, with long blonde hair that was braided in one long braid down her back to slightly above her derriere.
She had blue eyes, he remembered. Looking at her now, he noticed her ear clip with a chain, and hoop earrings all the way up both her ears.
She had ridges on her nose from the bridge most of the way down that looked as if she'd been cut, yet they lay flat against her nose.
She had tattoo-like tribal markings on her face, arms and legs. She wore a red sleeveless midriff top with a red skirt that sat just below her navel. The skirt was slit on the sides, and came down to her mid-thigh. She was barefoot, and hadn't been wearing any shoes when she'd met him. He noticed her ankle was quite swollen.
Zach woke her up for breakfast. After they'd eaten, he asked where she lived. She told him her village was 1 mile away. While the others continued mining, he and Sceca walked to the remains of her village.
There had obviously been an attack there, based on what he saw. When he asked her when it had happened, she told him the attack had occurred 4 weeks earlier. There had been a few survivors, but they had all passed within a day or two.
She'd been injured as well, which was why she had a limp. Her ankle had been broken and had not healed correctly, she told him. It hurt, Sceca said, but she managed.
She explained that she had run out of food six days earlier, having raided the village's huts and storehouses for whatever food was left.
”Why don't I help you pack up your belongings, and you come back with me to the camp? You'll be safe there and will have plenty to eat. We can help fix your ankle as well.“, Zach said.
”I am not very comfortable around humans, Zach. I can come by once a day to eat. I would greatly appreciate a meal every evening.“, she replied.
”What happens in a few days when we leave to go back to our ship? What will you do then?“, he asked.
”I'm not sure. I will manage though.“, Sceca said.
”I don't feel right leaving you here by yourself. It'd be best for you to come with me.“, he replied.
”I will be alright. I will come by this evening for a meal, then will walk back here.
“Zach, thank you for your concern. I have never known a human who was kind. I wish...I wish my people could have known you.”, Sceca said, smiling.
After a little more back-and-forth, Zach walked back to the camp with the promise that she would be by that evening for dinner.
True to her word, around dinnertime Sceca arrived for a meal. She ate two bowls of stew, plus 3 chunks of crusty bread and 2 tall glasses of fruit punch.
Zach suggested she go into his shuttle so he could wrap an elastic bandage around her ankle.
“This will give you some support and help reduce your pain abit.”, he told her. She wasn't fully convinced, but accepted the help nonetheless.
He tried to convince her to sleep in his shuttle, but she wanted to go back to her village. Zach walked her home, doing a security sweep of the area before returning to the camp.
This routine went on for 4 days. Every evening without fail, Sceca showed up for a meal. Zach would escort her home, then do a security sweep before returning to the camp.
He'd tried to get her to tell him what race she was, but Sceca never seemed interested in answering any questions.
On the fifth day, their last evening there, Sceca didn't arrive for dinner. Zach was abit concerned, but thought she'd lost track of time and would be by later.
Towards bedtime she still hadn't arrived. By now he was very concerned, as were the others. Something told him they should go find her. Since it was raining, they decided to go look for her in the morning before they left for their ship. Needless to say, Zach didn't sleep well that night.
Zach was up at dawn and left to go find her. Arriving at the village, he found her. She'd been badly beaten and had cuts on her arms, hands, and legs. Her hand was bleeding heavily.
“Sceca! Sceca! Wake up! What happened? Who did this to you?”, he asked.
It took a few minutes, but she finally regained consciousness. When she saw him she smiled.
“Zach.”, she said, caressing his cheek with a bloody hand before passing out again.
Merci pour la lecture!
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