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Pod 7 Part 3: Happy Natives [PLOT]

Posted on Wed Nov 21st, 2018 @ 9:27am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant Cynfor Rees & Lieutenant Commander Jörgen Leed
Edited on on Wed Nov 21st, 2018 @ 9:31am

Mission: Mission 4: Riding A Pale Horse
Location: Techlon Territory
Timeline: 13 July, 2394 1300 Hours

[ON]

They had buried the bodies and both men sat for a while. They sat in silence among the rubble and the four graves. In a short while Cyn rose to his feet. "Well I think we have stayed among this graveyard long enough. In the barn I saw four horses and a carriage. We can hitch the horses and load the carriage with supplies and leave this place. What do you think?"

"I believe you overestimate my harnessing abilities," said Jörgen. He held up his hands, still heavy from dirt, digging, and the weight of the dead, palm-out towards Cynfor. "We should move while my spirit can bear it. With the carriage you have more confidence than I. Lead the way."

Cyn led Leed into the barn and showed him the carriage. It was not an extravagant thing, a simply black four seater with a rack in the rear for luggage or what have you. Not too far away in a small paddock were four horses. "A carriage like this would only need two horses to pull it. So I see no reason to take all of them. Look around there should be a tack room, a room containing saddles, bit and bridle everything you would need to get the horses ready." Cynfor pointed around the barn as he spoke and he was reminded of the mournful work that they had done as he saw the dirt on his hands. Now it was time for survival so he ignored that dirt, and the dirt on his uniform and set to looking around for the tack.

"I recall reading of ancient migrants who used a wagon called the 'prairie schooner,'" said Jörgen. Following where Cynfor pointed he picked up an armful of leather bits that he hoped would help. He set the load on the front seat of the wagon. "If this wagon used sail and rigging I would have much more to offer. Does any of this help?"

"Quite so and this is a lot like those prairie schooners." Cyn replied smiling as he groomed one of the horses. The horse therapy was doing wonders for his mood. When Jorgen handed over the bundle of leather Cyn chuckled. "We will make a horseman out of you yet. Some of this is right others not. Would you mind retrieving those the large rings off the hook just there. Those are called Belgian yokes, used to hitch horses. One you have them you just need to slip them around the horses neck. While you do that I will prepare the bits and harnesses." Cynfor began to splay a sequence of rawhide straps across the horses back, these straps were the harness that would attach to the carriage.

"I suppose if I can rig a sailboat then rigging a wagon should be simple enough," said Jörgen. He carried a yoke to one of the horses while speaking softly to it. "Stay calm. Good girl. Now let me slip this on you." The yoke scraped across the horse's face causing her to shake her head. She backed up a step, and backed up again when Leed pushed the yoke forward. And again. "Of course, sailboats are moored when rigged." He managed, or was allowed, to hook the neck yoke to one horse. Suddenly he worried that he had it on backwards. He didn't even know if a yoke could be put on backwards. From the corner of his eyes Jörgen saw Cynfor watching and the diplomat couldn't help but smile at his own struggles, far from what he ever imagined doing. He fiddled with the traces not knowing how tight, or loose, to hook them. Finally he leaned back and patted the horse's shoulder. "I believe you will find this a perfect example," he said shaking his head.

"Well done, well done indeed." Cynfor laughed heartity. It was a laugh that he desperately needed. He had the spider of rawhide all laid out and ready. He hopped off the carriage and yoked the other horse in about a minute. He then got both of the horses lined up with the carriage and hitched them to the t-bar. "Whelp Ambassador looks like we are ready to go here. We should just get the carriage loaded up with some supplies and then we should be ready to head out. The question is which direction to we head to."

Jörgen looked up belatedly from studying the harness. "Sorry Cynfor. I am struck by how complicated even simple things can be. A few pieces of leather and metal yet I could not harness them again given a week to try. This mare was closer to being strangled than harnessed," said Leed, smiling at Rees. He walked to the open door of the barn. "I noticed a worn set of ruts through the grass that way." He pointed to the northeast where two peaks joined above the distant forest. "There may be other paths as well. Did you notice any settlement before the pod crashed?"

Cyn double checked all of the harnesses and attached the blinders to the two horses. He smiled at the ambassador satisfied that the horses were ready to go. The burly welshman climbed into the driver's seat. "If I remember correctly there was a town due east of here. We should be shoving off if we want to make any headway before sundown."

Thick clouds rolled towards the lowering sun as the wagon bumped along in the opposite direction. Jörgen realized he was famished. He dug out water and nutrition bars from the survival pack, and offered some to Rees. "We have worked hard, physically and emotionally." He chewed thoughtfully for a moment, then nodded at the distant horizon. "There is every reason to hope we will find more of the crew, or encounter people who have heard of them. I regret that our families will worry. Mine are nearby. Deep Space Nine, in fact. At least my wife and daughter. Who will be missing you Cynfor?"

Cyn took a bite of the nutrition bar and made a clicking noise with his mouth as he snapped the reins. The horses stepped up and the carriage began to roll as the brake lever was pulled. "Unfortunately for my lad my family is far from here. They are all back on Earth in Wales. There are my two sons, Ben and Tom. My daughter Maia is at the Academy, following in the old man's footsteps. Finally, my little Layla pie, my granddaughter. I miss her the most of all, and in fact as soon as we get the Firebird back I will be calling her." When he spoke of Layla the glint in Cyn's eye got brighter and his smile got broader. In fact all of the troubles that had befallen the two Starfleet officers faded away for Cyn in that moment. "It must me glorious to have your family so close to where you serve. How often do you get to DS9 to see them?"

"Quite often. I live there when not marooned on alien planets." Jörgen leaned back to feel the wind play more fully against his face. "My younger daughter, Birte, wished to immerse herself in a non-Earth culture. After we finally agreed on Bajor, Starfleet agreed to assign me as Diplomat at Large for Bajoran Relations. By "agreed to Bajor" with Birte I mean that she cheerfully, relentlessly wore her parents into submission. My eldest, Helle, studies quantum biology on Earth and contacts me most days." His voice caught as he thought of the family who would never know that joy again. "What lead you to the Academy?" He continued quickly.

As Jorgen spoke of his family Cyn stared off in front of the horses. His mind wandered the family that they left in the cold ground, and who would miss them. It was the Ambassador's question that snapped him out of it, and he forced a smile. "Oh me... You see my parents were farmers, people of the land, salt of the earth as it were. As a child I always thought there was more to life than tilling the soil to see what pops up. Always thought that we as a species were a small part of something much larger. So as soon as I could I enrolled in Starfleet and off I went to see exactly what we were all a part of." He paused for a moment as his thoughts went back to families. "It is want to be part of something smaller that caused me to leave Starfleet. I wanted to raise my family." His voice trailed off as his ears picked up on something. "You hear that, it sounds like children playing. Might be a village or town off in the distance. Sound like it is coming from our left. What do you think?"

"Steer us toward them. I believe we must address our arrival being forward and forthright." His hand found the small canvas bound in a roll which sat on the bench beside him. "Let us hope that the people here are salt of the earth types, and willing to be reasonable."

"Agreed..." Cyn turned the carriage in the direction of the children playing. "Say Ambassador to you fancy a tune to pass the time along?" Cynfor did not wait for an answer he broke into an old song called Scotland The Brave. "Hark when the night is calling..." He sung boisterously, song always had a way of cheering up the old Welshman.

When Rees launched into the chorus Leed noticed there were no more sounds of children playing. Young, shy faces looked at them from a safe distance behind hedge and barn. A small town spread westwards off to their left. Judging by the large hoop lying on the ground beside a worn stick at least one of the children was already warning adults of these strange visitors. Adults who had taught their children the danger of the unknown, or the different. "I think we should pause here to wait, Cynfor. Considering the contents of the wagon and the uncertainty of local tradition it might be best to meet on somewhat neutral ground. Your thoughts?"

"Quite so, quite so. You know people better than I." Cyn said as he pulled the reins and got the horses to stop. He hopped off the carriage and started checking the the horses harness. Ever the ops officer he wanted to make sure that everything was still in working order. "I will simply follow your lead" Cyn whispered to Jorgen and then he gave the Ambassador a smile and knowing wink.

People began to step out of shops and homes forming banks of a river through which a knot of men flowed toward the two Starfleet officers. Jörgen stepped off the wagon and tugged his uniform into place as much as he could, aware of their dirty, unkempt appearance. They had come down in a crash, dug through the wreckage of a farmhouse, and buried the survivors. Their clothes bore the scars of their entry onto this planet. He hoped that would help them gain a more beneficent countenance from these people.

Four men stopped about five meters from the wagon. Each man wore the same scowl as though it were a genetic trait, and one visibly carried an ancient style of rifle. However, Jörgen noticed that while tight the eyes did not look hostile. He and Cynfor seemed to have landed on a planet frozen in time by tragedy, their own hand or another story altogether. They had knocked on the door. Time to see how the locals answered.

"We saw the signs in the sky. Still unknown is what we should do. Who has God brought to our door?" The booming voice carried for all nearby to hear.

"Travelers, looking for a place among honorable folk to rest their bodies and hearts," said Jörgen.

"Why have you stolen the Yoder's wagon?" said the youngest looking of the four. He ignored a hand held up by the first speaker to lay out his grievances. "They were to pick up an order from my store. God's honor, I will see you up to the Seekers if you've put a hand out to harm them."

"It is not your decision alone how to treat with this, Tomas. Our ordening speaks for us," said the first speaker.

When the men spoke of the Yoder Cynfor was about to burst out with admissions of guilt and requests for penance what they had done. However, the Starfleet officer within him won that arguement and his tounge remained silent. However, and as bidden as they were tears streamed down his face. His fear had come true they had run into the friends of those they had killed.

Jörgen rubbed a forefinger against the canvas roll in his hand. He had hoped to not have the flames kindled so quickly. "We, too, are people of reason. There are things that must be said, however, that bring us no joy", said Jörgen. He was not sure what these people knew of space travel. Surely they must have seen at least some of the escape pods fall through the atmosphere. "Unavoidable tragedy has shadowed our footsteps since we crashed nearby."

Rees could not take it anymore and even though he cried, and knew full well that he should let the diplomat handle this situation he took two steps forward. "I am the one responsible for the tragedy, I was in control of the vehicle as it crashed. If there is to be any ramifications from this then they should befall me, and not my friend." He placed his hands out palms up, it was a body language that spoke of his supplication, and he advanced one more step this time Cyn placed himself between the people and Leed.

Several people in the crowd gasped. Tomas strode forward with his gun lowered toward Cynfor. "By your own words be condemned, with God as witness."

"Tomas, stop!"

"Surely God brought them here to pay for their sin, Samuel." Tomas turned a little, keeping the strangers in his periphery while he addressed the others. "Their technology killed the Yoders as sure as the the butcher's knife. They are evil men."

Samuel looked uncertain. Many of the other townsfolk were quick to voice support for taking Leed and Cynfor. Jörgen saw the man's hands clench and unclench. "What punishment does the ordening levy for a team of wild horses trampling an innocent?"

"You have spoken your guilt. Try not to pin blame on others now," said Tomas.

"Our shuttle fell without control from the skies. No being on this planet could have altered its course. We have paid what penance we could," said Jörgen. He looked back at Cynfor, the sorrow rimming both men's eyes like molten lead. "And we would pay more if you can tell us how." Perhaps it was his emotion that cooled the anger around them. Samuel walked to Tomas and pushed the gun's barrel down.

"Penance? What do you mean by that," Samuel said, looking at the other stranger.

Cyn looked at the group, looked them right in the eyes one by one. "I am a man of family, I have children and grandchildren. When a family loses, or a community loses I feel that pain as if I lost my own family. When my friend and I realized what had happened we raced in an effort to save them, however our efforts were to no avail. We then stayed at the Yoder homestead. Stayed to pay our penance with labor, we placed them in the ground from whence they came. So they may rest together for all eternity and meet God together. I have never been as close to God as I was in that moment. I know that as the graves were dug, I prayed. Prayed to God for forgiveness for what was done. The weight of this event will stay with me for the rest of my days." When he finished speaking he stepped back so that he was shoulder to shoulder with Leed. If anything was to happen it would happen to both of them, as friends.

Silence stretched out until the air nearly hummed, as taut as the lead between the trainer and a wild stallion. Leed scanned the crowd. A crowd that could have been stoked to anger by tapping the right emotions. Or persuaded to a more humane course. The diplomat watched Rees's impassioned confession ripple through the surrounding faces. Watched Samuel and Tumo also taking the temperature of their town. Tumo's forehead creased.

Jörgen angled himself toward a men off to the side whose face was bowed into his hands, shoulders shaking while a woman consoled him. "We've got a small thing that survived. A remembrance for one of the kin." He held out the roll of canvas. As hoped the woman looked over. She seemed to hesitate before walking over.

"What bring you here," she said.

Jörgen waited until she took it slowly from him, and then answered. "A painting. Recent, I'd suppose. From God's own protection to ours, and to now to yours."

Tears rolled across her cheeks as she gazed at the painting. "Eli, Eli look. It's come back to your own hand as sure as God is good." She looked up at the diplomat. "My husband painted this for his sister's birthday. Thank you."

"Our minds hold no desire to harm, and we will abide your laws," said Jörgen. "We only wish to find our own."

Cyn watched the exchange between Leed and the Yoder kin. He was glad in that moment the Jorgen took the painting. He was amazed and transfixed at what had transpired. That ones belief in God could carry them through something so tragic. As for words Rees thought it best that Jorgen take it from here.

The four men who had greeted them were turned to each other in quiet, fierce debate. Eventually they waved Eli to join them. Beyond them people had drifted into clumps, often turning to look at Leed and Rees. Leed kept close to Rees. Giving the lead to Cynfor had been calculated. The emotions were not. A family had been killed by a random event. Not in war. Not in a failed negotiation. Not in an uprising. Simply eating around a table, perhaps sharing a laugh until the strange metallic scream brought death from the stars.

"The ordening, the laws of our town, are clear," said Samuel, speaking loudly for all the listeners. He looked from Leed to Rees. "The laws of God find no guilt in your actions. Neither do we. Do we not say, 'Appearance does not the heart mask?' However, strangers from the stars cannot go unnoticed. Our laws are clear on that, too. You must be reported to the Seekers within three days from the first known encounter." Samuel paused to look at Tumo, who stared back for a long moment, and then nodded. Samuel held up three fingers. "We determine this to be the first known encounter. Our messenger will wait until then." More softly he continued. "Take the wagon. Go which way seems best to you and may God decide your fates."

Cyn was relieved and saddened at the same time. Relieved that Jorgen and himself would be released, that the townsfolk here saw that everything was a sequence of unfortunate events. Saddened that he would not be able to stay to get to know these people a little more. They reminded him of a simpler time when people lived for each other instead of themselves. There was so much that he wanted to say but thought it best to keep it brief. "Thank you and may God ever watch over you and protect you all in their loving embrace."

[OFF]

Lieutenant Cynfor Rees
Chief Operations Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Lieutenant Commander Jorgen Leed
Chief Diplomatic Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

 

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Comments (2)

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Gianna Djokovic on Wed Nov 21st, 2018 @ 11:38am

Nice personal reflections on what the deaths and family meant to each of these characters and a really nice interaction with the townsfolk. I liked this because I feel it gives the Refam a little more depth than we've already seen. -Liam

By Lieutenant JG Murril Na on Sun Dec 2nd, 2018 @ 6:09am

In RL 2018 it's too easy to forget that at other times in history, both past or potential future, the mentality wasn't as cutthroat, deceptive, or self-serving. I appreciate how Leed and Rees don't have the bearing of a couple of I'll-plea-bargain-to-save-my-hide losers in the interrogation room of a gritty cop show or the daily news.

There's a more sincere (and less calculated) civility to what Leed, Rees, and the various Refam folks are doing when trying to untangle what's going on in this episode. It was a welcome portrayal to read.