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Ensign Avander Promontory - New Year, New Personal Log

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Stardate 240001.01

It’s just past the winter solstice on Earth and the start of the traditional new years there (old calendar--oh, and my birthday in that time system!). We stopped using the old earth calendars in our colony over 100 years ago, but still some traditions remain. In my family at the end of a year we gather together and record stories. We don’t yet have the infrastructure to regularly communicate home from out here in the Gamma Quadrant, so I’m going to tell my annual story in my personal log and send a copy to the fam.


It was my final semester at the academy, and most of my classes were practicals. We had a number of opportunities for “off campus” activities, including a notable jaunt through Freecloud. I had a squad of teammates from class that I didn’t know particularly well, but after our final practicum, I was encouraged to go out with them to “site-see.”


I was less interested, but relented. I didn’t want to be a poor sport, but, to me, unregulated ports have a lot of similarities, no matter where you are in the galaxy: high density, a thriving black market, wealth inequality, folks trying to take advantage of visitors, and food for which the main selling point is that you’ve never heard of it (it’s rarely good and often makes me queesy).


For this foray into “the sites,” there were three others besides myself: Adrianne Potsak, a full human from earth, T’Span, a half-human, half-vulcan who we think had a wicked deadpan humor (we were never 100% sure, as she never ‘broke character,’) and Jejull, a Tamberite. We were all 4th year intelligence cadets, except for Jejull, he was on the diplomatic track, but had gotten into our senior seminar somehow. (I don’t know, maybe his budding diplomatic skills?)


The site-seeing was Adrianne’s idea and she was the most excited for it, so we let her pick the first stop from a list she had found from the tourism bureau.


<Promontory: Computer, add this list of top things to see in Freedcloud to this entry.>

<Avander pulled up a file on his PADD and pressed a button before continuing>

Top things to See/Do in Stardust City:

1)      Try a ‘Panterra Accord’ (Romulan Ale, Earth Whiskey, and Bloodwine)

2)      View the propagation of the Hobus supernova

3)      Echer gravity rooms

4)      Go to the top of Five Freedoms tower

5)      Dance at Megamosh

6)      Jerrica and the Starlights Concert

7)      Barter with a Camgemerian trader

😎      Grow a clone

9)      Eat a berricone

10)   Add a message to the Great Library Wall


Andrianne chose eating a berricone. It was absolutely awful. There’s a reason why even transporting the fruit or uploading its replicator pattern is banned aboard Federation vessels. It started with the smell, unpleasant, like a fermented orange covered with fuzzy mold. The texture itself wasn’t bad, sort of a bristly pinecone covering that you had to pick off and that’s when the smell got really bad! We had to pinch our noses just to get the slimy soft innards to our mouths. The taste was putrid. I couldn’t take more than one bite. Andrianne insisted that we finish a whole one as a group, but if it wasn’t for Jejull’s iron stomach, I don’t know that we could have. As it were, most of us were belching the rest of the evening (which, I guess, is part of the appeal.)


On account of his heroic accomplishments in weird fruit eating, Jujull got to pick next. He chose “bartering with a Camgemerian trader.” If you’ve never met a Camgemerian, they are a peculiar race. While some in the Federation compare them to the Ferengi, that’s not really a fair connection. Although both are heavy mercantile groups, the Comgemerian simply don’t have the profit motive that Ferengi exemplify. Hailing from deep within the Beta Quadrant, their traders have spread out in a massive sector-spanning network. However, while they have established long trade routes, they have no colonies to speak of and are not empire-builders. Rather, a good trade is itself their highest purpose in life. While they aren’t trying o accumulate wealth, they do have a strict code of “only making good trades.” However, what, exactly, that means is a bit opaque for outsiders. Nevertheless, it’s a point of Comgemerian pride that they will only make a trade that they feel is ‘right’ for the other party. More could probably be said about the species, but we were interested in the experience more than an education.


The problem, of course, was we hadn’t set out that evening bringing anything worthwhile to trade. We had three berricones (we ordered one for each of us before realizing that one was more than enough!) but those were not likely to be of interest to a Comgemerian on Freecloud. We were still discussing the issue of what to trade when we arrived at the consortium of traders.


“What about our boots?” Adrianne asked. They were regulation, nice boots, and we could probably get another pair, but given state of the ground, I didn’t love the idea of loosing that protection.


“I will not surrender my footwear and I am unable to carry more than two of you, if you elect to do so.” There was T’Span, with her classic deadpan humor.


“No one is surrendering their shoes,” said Jujull. “What else to we have?”


We fumbled through our bags. A few communicators, a tricorder, a couple of PADDs, none of which seemed prime trade material. Adrianne took of her scarf and proposed we use it—apparently her sister had knitted it by hand, so it was at least one-of-a-kind.


“I can have her make me another,” Adrianne replied when we were worried about her losing a sentimental item.


With that decided, we entered the Consortium. It was divided into a series of private booths with a Comgemerian trader in each. We would only be allowed this one shot, no return customers. A greeter at the entrance scanned us and indicated an open booth. Inside the Comgemerian stood silently, only their eyes moved as they took us in. After a moment of contemplation, their robe barely rustled as their hands moved, gesturing to one of two open tureens in between us.


“Is this for our trade?” We confirmed, as if it wasn’t obvious.


Adrianne moved to place her scarf in the appointed place, but the figure shook its head.


“No? not this? Than what?”


The Comgemerian trader slowly raised their finger and pointed to my hand. There was nothing in it, but I was wearing a ring.




The trader nodded.


I looked at my ring. It was just a plain metal band with some runic figures carved into it. It was a gift from my grandfather and held sentimental value. I didn’t know if it would be worth anything to anyone else, but I was reluctant to part with it. However, I also knew my grandfather always said that sharing stories and memories were more important than physical gifts. And maybe this would result in a story I could share with him. I took the ring off and placed it in the first tureen.


Almost immediately, with a smooth economy of movement that was hard to detect, the trader had placed a basket in the other tureen.


“What is it?” Jujull asked. But the figure remained silent, collected my ring, and indicated the exit to the booth.


With a shrug, Jujull took the basket and headed out. “Oh, this is heavy. Thank you for allowing us to be part of this trading opportunity!”


It may have been my imagination, but I think the trader smiled slightly as they again indicated the exit.


“So what’s in it?” Adrianne asked, as soon as we were back on the street.


We gathered in a circle as Jujull carefully lifted the lid on the basket. Much of it was padding, a blanket swaddling the object in the center.


“Is this an egg?”


“I think it’s a rock.”


T’Span, however, was more certain. “It is a T’t’mel.”


“OK, great. What’s a Tatamelt?”


“T’t’mel. It is a sentient rock.”


I could not tell if she was serious. Nobody could. Jujull had to look it up on his PADD, and sure enough, there was a picture of a T’t’mel, a sentient rock, that looked quite similar to the object in our basket.


“I have so many questions…” Adrianne began.


“Yeah, like what do we do now!” I interjected.


Jujull: “No returns. It would offend the Comgemian’s code of ethics—it would be the equivalent of a Federation member violating the Prime Directive.”


Adrianne Potsak: “Well we can’t take it back to the academy…”


T’Span: Why not? They are said to be quite intelligent.


Jujull nodded as he continued to read the entry.


Promontory: Because we’re not human traffickers… Er.. T’t’mel traffickers. We can’t bring a sentient being back without it’s permission!


Jujull: Well, can we ask it? There’s not much in this article about how they communicate.


T’Span: Touch telepathy. One of you must create a bond with the being and you will be able to ascertain it’s emotional state.


Potsak: Well YOU do it, you’re half-Vulcan.


T’Span: And that is precisely why I cannot. My own telepathic abilities are incompatible with this species. It would be the equivalent of connecting a 220 erg power source to a 55 erg coupling.


None of us were engineers (or biologists), but it sounded like a valid point. After a little more discussion, they group decided I should be the one to try to bond with it, because we got it with my ring.


I felt silly, there in a side street on FreeCloud, clutching a 30-cm long egg-shaped rock, tying to mind-meld with it. Particularly as nothing seemed to be happening.


Potsak: Look, is it changing color?


T’Span: Indeed. It is expressing its mood. It appears to be content with us.


I was getting suspicious of T’Span’s proclamations, but the others seemed convinced.


Still holding the T’t’mel, I asked “What now?”


T’Span: You must ask it questions and we will ascertain it’s responses by its color changes.


Now, peer-pressure is a heck of a drug. Which is how I stood for ten minutes in the street asking a rock questions.


“Do you want to go to Starfleet Academy?”


“It’s getting darker!”


“That would be a negative response.”


“Ask it another question!”


“Do you have a name?”


“Whoa, that’s a lot of colors!”


“Obviously its name is too complicated for the human or Tamberite tongue.”


“Are you sure it’s not just reflecting lights from the buildings around us?”


“Don’t say that, you’ll hurt it’s feelings!”


I rolled my eyes. I was pretty sure the rock couldn’t see that.


“OK buddy, do you want to get off FreeCloud?”


“Oh, bright colors!”


“That’s a ‘yes’.”


“Where do you want to go?”


“Well that’s a weird color.”


“Be more specific.”


“Do you want to go far?”


“That’s a ‘no!’ Oh wait, no. Maybe that’s a ‘maybe!’”


“Do you just want to get off planet?”


“There you’ve got it now!’


<The ships comms interrupted with a page: =^= Ensign Promontory, report to sickbay =^=>

<The ensign skimmed through the current entry. It was already getting pretty lengthy. He would have to skip the bit about the Thorgunian boxer. And the proposition from the Veslcia. Those were better stand-alone stories anyway. He decided to sum-up and get over to sick bay.>


We spent the night pursuing options, and there’s more stories to tell another time, but in the end, we were sprinting through the docks, barely catching a trustworthy independent xenobologist who had agreed to take “Rocky” on tour before she boarded her transport and then rushing back to our Starfleet Academy Instructor.


And that is the story of how I earned my first (and only) demerit for being late.


The rock has not contacted me since.


<Ensign Promontory looked at his conclusion and smiled. It was a good memory. Hopefully his grandfather would appreciate the story as well. Avander promised himself that he’d send another along soon, but for now, duty called.>


Ensign Avander Promontory
Intelligence Officer
USS Oumuamua
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