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​”Each of these surveyor units is equipped with six crawler units, they are solar powered, have a limited battery run time and range. They stream information to the surveyor, which in turn transmits to the orbiter.” Phineas explained the following pictures. 
The crawler, about the size of a standard plate, impacted roughly near the campsite that Eagle had detected. Slowly it navigated on it’s spider inspired, eight legs through the underbrush. There were huts around the campsite, simple accommodations, temporary accommodations. 

Later the scientists aboard Explorer would assume a camp of hunters. 

A group of creatures stood in the clearing around the fire. They had two slim legs, that reached to the front, and a thick muscular one that bent in the other direction. 

They pointed with hands, that sported three fingers, at the treeline, in the direction of the Eagle module. They had clothing, and bows, indicating that they at least were somewhat advanced. 
Immediately upon viewing the creatures Akira Matsuhoshi, the Biologist at the conference table grew exited. “Is there any more known about these creatures?” 

“Data about the natives will be available to you as soon as this meeting is adjourned. This meeting was called in order to start the discourse on how we proceed with the settlement preparations.” Again the planet appeared, this time it was a representation in form of a globe. “So far, orbital observations indicated their presence on the two continents that are separated by the narrow straight, and the largest of them all. The one on the equator seems to be free of them.”

A short moment of silence followed Phineas’ words. “Just to inform you, Explorer opted out from settling on any landmass inhabited by the natives, Horizon is still in debate.” 

Leaning her face on one hand Mirella sighed. “I move that we follow Explorer’s example.” She rose to her feet. “But ultimately, it is our children who will be tasked with deciding this, any resolution we make, they can overthrow.” 

Again a moment of silence followed. “Admiral.” Gamma ring’s Governor, Vladimir Petriev also stood up. “I am all in favor of letting the indigenous people dwell untouched by us, develop uninfluenced, but what if they are on that last continent too? We need room to grow food, to mine minerals, to spread. After three generations holed up in these ships,  our children, and grandchildren, will want to spread.” He gazed down on the virtual globe before him. “If I look at this planet, I want to spread!”

A smile dance over Mirella’s lips. “As I said, any resolution we find today, next month, or a year from now, the group in command when we reach the planet will be able to overthrow our decision.” Mirella followed his gaze to her own display of the globe. “This equatorial continent is much more distanced to the others than they are from one another. I doubt they reached it. Even during an ice age there’s still a large distance over the sea. Judging from what I’ve seen so far they don’t sail that far.”

“Ancient human explorers and settlers sailed with pontoon boats across vast distances. From earth’s polinesia to the easter islands, and presumably on to south America. A sea isn’t a border, it’s a transport way.” Sheldon McCormick winked, he too was in the biology department. And apparently a history buff. 

“The tiny islands on the far side of these continents should provide plenty of room for settlements.” Mirella shook her head with a chuckle. “However, we should wait for more data to transpire to us. Until that time, I would appreciate it if you all worked on the data you have, we should form informed opinions, not rushed ones. I expect reports to trickle in within the next week.” She winked at Phineas and left the governors and scientists to themselves.
Sitting in the garden of the sub alpha ring Mirella enjoyed a cup of tea. It was a rare commodity, she knew a guy from her schooldays who grew tea in his quarters, as did his parents. Most of his family in fact. 

Again and again they had applied to get some spot in the gardens to grow some. But she couldn’t help that. Except when he approached her to plant them in the sub alpha garden. A section of that garden was a training course for the military on board, and there he could grow his tea, harvest it at night. 

But still. A rare commodity, supplies of tea were limited, and the demand for it was huge. With a soft smile she appreciated the fact that they were able to produce coffee flavor and caffeine in the lab, the coffee riots her parents had told her about made sure research went in that direction. Before then there had been one woman on the entire ship that had coffee. Growing the beans in her crammed little quarters, and refining them in an unused storage room her son in engineering had access to.

After she died he retired from engineering and he and his wife continued her work. Mirella glanced in the distance, to the training grounds, where the tea was grown in between tracks and shooting ranges. It would be nice to live on the equatorial continent, she throught. There was plenty of room to, to do what exactly?

“Admiral?” Feeling a little lost she looked to the source of the voice. “Phineas! Come have a seat, and call me Mira, like in the old days.” She winked, patting the spot next to her, on the bench. “I can’t, I’m here to speak to the Admiral, not my friend.” He too smiled and winked, but sat down regardless. 

“Okay? Tell me Dr. Branston, what brings you here?” 

“You must sway the others to follow Explorer’s example. Right now the scientists are on your side, and alpha governor Rooney is as well. But beta and gamma governors are pushing for the opposite.” With an elongated sigh Mirella leaned back. Rubbing her left temple. “I don’t want to be on the ship that invades the natives home turf, rips the treasures out of their land, spoils their culture with ours. It may be our children who will settle on that planet, and I may not live to see it in person, but I can’t live with the knowledge that they will do these things.” He went on, Mirella’s tea got cold, much to her dismay. “I don’t care what lurks on their homeland, diamonds, gold, iron, rare earths, or the once oh so important oil, or soil perfect for cultivation. It is plain wrong!” Finally Mirella raised her hand. 

“Doctor Branston, I very well understand your concern and frustration, but how should I sway them? In any case, our children, or who ever is in charge when this ship arrives at RV-p296, can, and probably will change the resolution we find.” She took a sip of now cold tea. “Phin, if it was my decision alone I’d set everything in motion for us to colonise the small islands on the far side of the planet, where we wouldn’t run into the natives for centuries, or however long it’ll take for them to build large ships and explore their home planet in its entirety.”

Smiling benignly she put the empty cup away. “Great speech, by the way. Perhaps you should’ve given that to the governors. 

He turned to face her in a more casual way. “I did, that is how I swayed Rooney.” He too smiled, gently touching her shoulder. “How come we only meet once a year, and then only talk business? We were friends once.” 

Taking his hand into hers Mirella shook her head. “We drifted apart, I have a busy schedule, and you chose to,” she mused for a moment, “you didn’t know what I felt for you. So you chose to go for Miranda Hollande.”

Both chuckled, knowing what mistake Miranda was for Phineas. After one year of marriage and a baby, she divorced him for some dude from the garden maintenance, beause he was buff, and Phin wasn’t. 

“Killian is doing good, by the way.” Being a single dad of a pubescent boy, wasn’t easy, but he felt that he was doing a decent job. “Anyhow, I must get back to that meeting room.” He rose to his feet again. “So,” he paused, “I have your support?” 

Simply nodding Mirella watched him leave. 

Was her schedule really that busy? Or had she just evaded personal matters with Phineas out of hurt feelings? Longing for answers to her questions her gaze fell on the tracks again, the tea plantation. I should open my schedule, at least enough to have a child. 

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