​The tripedal aliens looked directly at the eagle module. Mirella looked back at them through time and space. Into those three frightened eyes, on each of their faces. A sense of failure overcame her. They already had tainted their culture and development. 

To her surprise she had received a communique from Kismet. The emir and his advisers had decided to follow Explorer’s example and settle for grounds that wouldn’t influence the natives. Coming from a group that, only two generations ago, was profit driven, who had sold tickets on their ship after their needs of scientists and engineers were met, she was genuinely surprised. 

Phineas had called. 

She hadn’t answered. He sent a message, apparently the decision of the Kismet crew had swayed beta’s governor, he too favored the non invasive plans now.


She looked into those frightened eyes. Were the natives on earth equally frightened when more advanced groups of people came in contact with them? 

No, they weren’t. What stepped out of the ship, or plane, was people like them! In this case however, there was just a giant metallic thing that hovered above the trees. In one generation there would be creatures arriving so vastly different to them, that all they could do was meet them with fear. 

With humanity’s advanced technology the natives would view them as what they were, other worldly. Perhaps divine. 

Even if humans managed to keep away from the natives, if they were seen by them, it was enough to influence their culture, or cultures, beyond repair. 

Mirella couldn’t help but doubt their right to colonise that planet, now that they knew it was inhabited. 

Those frightened eyes.

She turned to the next image. From the crawler this time. An alternate image of the same event. Taken from the side, the faces of the natives weren’t visible as good, so she could at least look at it without a feeling of guilt.

The next image, also from the crawler was surprising her. The crawler was up in the air a bit, the natives still staring in the sky. Eagle had retreated out of sight, but they clearly looked where it went. Quickly she switched to the next image, a face with three eyes was up close, it seemed smaller, younger. Mirella gasped.

A child! It had picked up the crawler, investigated it with childlike curiosity. Staring into the curious, friendly eyes of the child she decided to make this the face of the natives in her mind, instead of the worried, frightened faces of the adults.

Over a series of images it became clear that the child had called for an adult to explain the unusual animal it had discovered. 

The crawler later had been thrown into the underbrush around the camp, further images taken by Eagle revealed that the hunters abandoned camp, in a great haste. 
“Governor Petriev, we have to evade the natives at all costs. There is no way to say what impact our arrival will have on these people.” The Admiral ignored the nagging voice in her head telling her again that they already had made an impact. At least on that group of hunters, and the stories they undoubtedly told after the encounter. 

“Admiral, to establish a thriving colony, without the need to continue the infringement of our reproductive rights, it is essential that we have enough room to grow. I am willing to concede on settling on Equatoria,” they nicknamed the continent on the equator, “but if we discover that the aliens have spread there too, I will still motion to settle there.” Lights inside the governor’s office were bright, the interior was spartan. Although he had a wife and two children, there wasn’t a single picture of them to be found.

“Governor, how would you have reacted if the linkers had amassed on your domain, gamma ring? How would you have felt, or reacted, if they had taken not only part of your ring, but all of It, as it happened with Beta on the Horizon? The claim the linkers laid on the parts of our ships was as valid as is yours. They need room to grow, but would you have fought them? Even if that meant your certain demise?” Vladimir Petriev grew pale. Of course he would have. But was the Admiral really comparing him to the linkers? “We are, in this case, the invaders. The ones who want to take away that land from those who live on and off of it. That said, I direct you to our history, not just recent events. We can not, and shall not continue our forefathers mistakes. I hope you’ll consider this. And I can only hope that the crews that will arrive there, will also consider this.” Mirella got up, bid the now pale and silent governor a good day and left. 
After her talk with Vladimir, Mirella wandered through the hallways of the gamma ring, paid a short visit to the gardens full of orchards. All the while pondering how fresh air truly felt. How wind, caused by nature instead of fans, truly felt. 

From her pocket she drew her glasses. 

“Phineas Branston, PhD.” She ordered the software to call. “Meet me, subalpha gardens, 1800. Where I was the last time.” She left a message, hoping he’d get it in time.

On her way to the gardens she dropped by her quarters and changed from her uniform into casual clothing. 

As she arrived the bench was empty, as she assumed it would be. The tracks on the training grounds were empty, save for a few workers maintaining the garden, they were remarkably empty. “Your call sounded urgent.” Phineas’ voice startled her, but in a weird, pleasant way.

Calming her nerves she sat down, she felt like a schoolgirl, and that was what she didn’t want to appear like. “It is, somewhat.” She admitted, gesturing him to take a seat. 

Confused as to what was so urgent he sat down. 

“You know,” she stammered, paused and sighed, causing Phineas to squint at her. “I reckon that this is not a conversation between the Admiral and Doctor Branston, right?” Mirella nodded with a shy smile. 

From her expression Phineas took everything he needed to know. “Mira, would you go out with me?” A warm smile washed over her. “Gladly!” Squealing? I don’t think I should be squealing! Mirella cleared her throat. “I was hoping we could stroll through this garden.” Phineas looked around, and finally up. “Tonight there’ll be rain here.” The dimming light had a blue hue to it, gently informing anyone in the garden of the planned rain in a subtle but noticeable way.

“Exactly!” Again she squealed, immediately clearing her throat again. “I was looking at the images from RV-p296, and I hunger for this. For wind that is not artificial, rain that is not artificial, but I can’t have any of that. I realised that I had stayed away from even the fake rain here, and that I need to go in the rain. I realised that, even after your divorce, I had remained steering clear from you, out of fear of being rejected, hurt and because I was a little angry. But I was angry at the wrong person, I was angry at you, when I should have been angry at myself. Now you are aware of what I felt for you, and still feel for you. I want you to be in the rain with me. Dance in the rain with me.” She sprang to her feet, extending her hand to him. A boyish smile on his lips he grabbed it and sprang to his feet as well. “I’ll gladly dance in the rain with you, every day.” A few drops came to their attention.