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Part of Starbase Bravo: 2401: Mission 1

Agricultural Aid, Part 8: Dinner, Dancing, and Rewards

Ignaus Colony, Paulson Nebula
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“The Ignaus Colony Council would like to formally recognize Dr. Joshua Bryant and Ensign Dawa Vlček for their contributions in solving the crises of both our soil and, later, our water. Their deeds will forever live in the hearts and minds of the Ignaus citizens!” Liam Cabrera, the colony administrator said, addressing the crowd.

There was a big turnout for the announcement, roughly 200 or so people. The room couldn’t hold many more citizens, many standing or looking through windows and doorways. The colony council, Joshua, and Dawa sat at a long table on a dais, facing the majority of the citizens. 

“Would you like to say a few words?” He turned away from the audience and to Dawa and Joshua, with a warning look a parent gives a child not to embarrass them in public.

Joshua cleared his throat, “Thank you, Administrator Cabrera. I know our initial arrival wasn’t seen as a positive, but I’m relieved by Dr. Ber’s and the Science Council’s assistance.” Joshua gave a quick nod to Varin and his family in the audience. “They were paramount in providing access to the information required to do our research. The long-term planning we’ve developed together will ensure prosperity for your lands.” He paused at the applause. “And if you’re thinking about making a monument, bronze compliments my features the best.” He chuckled, receiving similar laughter from the room.

“Well,” Dawa scanned the crowd, preparing to say her piece. She caught sight of some of the local engineers near the back and addressed her words to them in particular. “I just hope this makes us even for me tearing our ship apart right after you fixed her up so nicely.” 

She took their hooting and cheering as an affirmative and responded with some finger guns in their direction, before turning back to Josh. “Hey, you know, I hope someone’s been watering your plants while you’ve been gone!”

Joshua gave a short chuckle in disbelief. He leaned in close, “That’s what you’re worried about? We’re about to have our butts kissed for hours by the colony for saving their bacon. But yes,” he smiled, “I’ve made sure they’re taken care of. Most are in artificial transition environments. I’ll make sure to give them your love. Ah, thanks Administrator Cabrera,” Joshua turned and shook the other man’s hand.

Dawa elbowed his side and whispered, “Don’t forget you promised I’d get to see those plants in person! Of course I want them to be alive when we get back!”

Before he could respond, Dawa leapt from her seat and left him at the mercy of Administrator Cabrera. “Hey!” She called as she surged into the crowd. “Where’s the Caring Women’s Association of Ignaus? Your sandwiches were amazing and I need a jar of your escabeche for the road!”

A group of women in nice dresses, crimson cloaks, and wearing pins of two clasped hands looked in Dawa’s direction, “I will relay your compliments to Delouisa,” one of them spoke. “She makes the sandwich with geatrin meat, smokes it for 14 hours, and slices it thin!” Another woman said excitedly. “We’re not sure what the second item is, but if you’re referring to the sandwich sauce, we make that from the jaffra fish. We’d be happy to put some in your thank you care package.”

“Did someone say, ‘Thank you care package?’” Joshua said, appearing from the crowd with a drink in his hand. The excited woman shrank behind the other women in the group. He looked confused, “Did I say something wrong?”

One of the older women spoke, “Kheali has taken a liking to you, Dr. Bryant.”

“Oh,” Joshua said. “Oh!” he exclaimed, fully understanding. Joshua approached Kheali, “That dance looks fascinating,” he thumbed towards the dancing crowd, “would you teach me?”

“Kheali is Daniellea’s mother,” the older woman offered and pushed Kheali toward the front of the group.

“I see the resemblance,” Joshua smiled. “And tell Daniellea that I love the caramels from Maisley’s.”

Kheali smiled, “I will. And yes.”

“Oh, excellent!” Joshua said excitedly, set his drink down, and led Kheali into the dancing crowd.

Dawa chuckled as Josh led the smitten woman into the crowd, then let her gaze fall to the crowd’s feet gliding across the dance floor as she tried to figure out the steps for herself. Her thoughts were interrupted by a tap on her shoulder.

“Dawa!” She turned to see Adélard, one of the engineers who’d worked on repairing the Susquehanna

“Adélard!” She made a show of looking him up and down. “Not a single stain or tear on this set of clothes. You got dressed up!”

“Har har! I guess you won’t be wanting this back.” He held up a whale-shaped charm dangling from a short chain, the same one she’d placed on the runabout’s console when they’d first left the starbase over a week ago.

“Gillian!” She snatched the charm from him and turned it over in her hands, as if to convince herself it was real. “I thought I’d lost her in the crash!”

“Guess not. We found it when we were doing repairs and I guessed it might belong to you. Had a 50% chance of being right.” He shrugged. “Is it some kind of good luck charm?”

“I guess it is. ‘Any landing you can walk away from’ and all that. Thank you!”

Adélard nodded and smiled. “Does this mean I can ask you for a dance?”

Dawa returned the smile and pulled him towards the dancefloor. “Sure thing! Let’s see if my lucky charm can keep me from stepping on your feet!”

“Thank you again, on behalf of the Science Council,” Dr. Ber Varin said, shaking both Joshua and Dawa’s hands in turn.

“The Caring Women’s Association of Ignaus would like to present you with the traditional thank-you packages,” the older woman said, handing a box to Dawa. “And, yes, we put extra jaffra sauce in there for you,” she said with a knowing smile.

Kheali stepped forward and presented a similar box to Joshua. “We wish you safe travels back to your home.” No sooner did he take the box than she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek, “Come back and see me, Josh.”

Joshua smiled, “I will Ali. And if you get tired of waiting, you can come to visit me at Starbase Bravo.”

The older woman cleared her throat. Kheali smoothed her dress and took her place beside the rest of the women. They each clasped their hands together and bowed.

Dawa returned the bow ever so slightly. “Thank you for the parting gifts and the extra jaffra sauce.” She winked. “Hopefully we can pay this colony a proper visit sometime soon!”

She glanced at Josh, then climbed into the runabout, carefully stowed the precious cargo, and made herself comfortable in the pilot’s seat.

Joshua gave a quick nod to the gathered group and ducked inside the runabout. He stowed the gift box and took his seat next to Dawa. “All right, let’s go home.”