Per Ardua Ad Astra
Chapter 38: The Lost Tribe

Copyright© 2013 by normist

The dinner with the Council and their spouses was a great success. Chubby's original idea of thirteen courses had been slimmed down to a respectable five after the thirteen course sampling meal with Kah and his ladies. I am afraid, however, that Sil lost his heart to our ship's computer in the predinner tour of the Beagle. The face displayed on the computer monitor convinced Sil that the computer must be a real girl. He was lost.

The next morning was spent checking up on Lieutenant Commander Bollinger's task of providing water and housing for the coal miners at Krust. The installation of the treatment plant and the first three miles of the supply pipe were well under way. In addition streets around the living quarters had been laid out, and the road into the mine area had been pegged.

That afternoon we got down to the problem of making contact with the lost colonists on the island to the North-west of the mainland continent. Their island was approximately the size of Madagascar on Earth. Kah asked to be included in the initial contact party, and while I had reservations, I agreed to take him with us.

The party would comprise Kah, and myself, Phyllis, Sergeant Brian Jones, and four of his Marines. We discussed some of the problems we might find. Would they be pleased to see us, or would the meeting initiate the start of fervent nationalism? How would the cultures clash?

Time would tell, so we planned to set out first thing the following morning. With eight in the shuttle, we were comfortably full. Brian was flying the shuttle with Phyllis and his Marines. He picked up Kah and me at daybreak. After I introduced Brian to Kah, and Brian introduced his Marines, we boarded the shuttle and took off.

Ten minutes later we were slowly descending through the clouds above the larger of the settlement's two villages. At first, they didn't see us, but as we circled looking for a suitable landing spot, they noticed us and took up a defensive attitude. After we landed outside the village, a man approached us. He was carrying a short spear but in one hand only. He was dressed partly in skins with an undyed woven jacket. Kah and I got out of the shuttle and faced him, displaying empty hands.

"Good morning," I said in Centauran. "We come, in peace, to talk to you about your brothers who came from your other world."

He stepped forward and said, "You welcome, but you speak the ancient tongue."

"I learned your tongue from writings of your other world and from the others that escaped from that world. They only heard about you from us yesterday. They want to know if you would care to join them?"

"Big choice. Need time. You welcome. Eat here today."

"Kah and I thank you. The others in our party will remain on our ship. We cannot be eating too much of your food."

"Others come?"

"Thank you, but they will stay where they are and eat their own food."

He looked somewhat relieved at that. I guessed that food was not as plentiful locally as he would have us believe.

He led us to the clearing in the middle of the village. A number of logs surrounded the hearth there. Standing there were two men dressed wholly in skins. Faces of men, women and children peeked at us from behind the shelter of the surrounding huts.

"Meet Ker, Mog," our host said. Each man inclined his head as his name was given.

"I am Bill," I said, "and this is Kah."

"I, Sem," said our host.

"Sem," I asked," how many of you are there now?"

"Three two six five ... no! Three two six six. New baby, today!"

Sem indicated that we should take a seat on one of the logs surrounding the central fire hearth. Some of the women emerged carrying wooden plates with some sort of stew on them. Wooden spoons were provided. We ate

Ker asked, "Why you here?"

"When Kah's family came here, they saw your space ship and thought it had crashed. They saw no one alive. Up to now, they had no way of seeing if anyone lived here. Now they want to know if your people would like to join them, or, at least, visit with them."

Sem said, "Think: not ready."

"That may be, but if you don't make a start, you never will be ready. Why don't just some of you visit."

"Why you help? What's for you?"

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