************Serrtach, October 2649**********
Colonel Zane Markham, a pilot aboard the Federation Directorate ship Intrepid, was getting ready to go down to the planet Serrtach, a small Earth-like planet in the outer reaches of the Lambda Quadrant, on an exploratory mission. He was 30, and a Terran, a native of Earth, the planet in the Terran Quadrant where the Directorate was headquartered.
As the Intrepid's lead pilot, flight instructor and Group Captain, it was his job to occasionally do reconnaissance missions, which is what he was going to be doing on this trip.
This mission would take a couple days, so he flew a shuttle instead of his fighter ship. He'd have more room to lay down, as well as being able to cook some food.
He truly enjoyed these types of missions. They were a welcome change of pace from the sometimes boring day-to-day operations of the starship.
Zane was a tall, 6'5", handsome, muscular, tanned gentle bear of a man with short reddish honey brown hair, blue eyes, a chestful of hair, six-pack abs, as well as a neatly-trimmed beard. His physique could take your breath away!
He'd graduated top of his class at the Orrion Flight Academy at the age of 16, “a flying prodigy”, his instructors called him.
He was the youngest graduate in the Academy's 200 year history.
He had joined the Federation Directorate right out of the Academy, and had progressed through the ranks to command an entire ship's squadron at the unheard-of age of 22. He loved his job, and hoped to one day command a starship.
His personal life wasn't anywhere nearly as successful, so he focused on his work and career instead.
His first day on the planet was fairly uneventful. Towards dinnertime he stopped at a nice-looking town. After doing abit of sightseeing and some shopping at the town's open-air market, he went inside a restaurant for some zappi.
Although he could easily make himself dinner in the shuttle, he had a huge craving for some zappi and beer, a favorite meal among Terrans.
Zane couldn't help but notice that there were no Serrtachens there in the town, only humans.
He knew they still existed, having read up on them, and the planet, the day before he'd left the Intrepid to go on his mission, but hadn't seen any yet.
He'd read that Serrtachens were very reclusive, rarely being seen around the humans who mostly populated the planet nowadays. He wondered if the amount of humans in the towns, and around most of the planet, had anything to do that.
Zane asked his server about them.
“They mostly stay to themselves. They know their place, and rarely break the rules. They know what the penalties are for breaking the law. Like I said, they know their place.”, the server said.
He thought it odd that the planet's indigenous race were spoken of that way.
After dinner, he went back to his shuttle to relax for the night. He heard a few disturbances outside, but nothing major.
On the morning of his second day, he got caught in heavy fog. He knew, based on a map he'd seen of the planet, that there were mountains in the area he was in. He landed his shuttle for safety, not wanting to risk crashing into a mountain.
He contacted the Intrepid to let them know his status. It was cold and rainy, with very heavy rain and sleet, so he stayed in the shuttle. He'd wanted to go out and explore, but changed his plans. He decided he'd go out, though, once the rain stopped.
Around noon he heard a noise outside that sounded like talking and a woman screaming. Eventually there was a series of loud banging knocks on his shuttle door, with shouts of “Please help us! We need shelter! I'm having a baby!”
He opened the door and saw a woman with two young boys approximately 4 and 3 years of age. They were all wearing cloaks, and were soaking wet and freezing. She was carrying a bag filled with clothes, and was obviously in heavy labor.
“Come on in! Sit over there on the bench.”, he said to the boys.
The boys went to sit on the bench, and the woman started stripping the children of their wet cloaks between contractions.
“Here, Ma'am. Let me have those. I'll hang them up in the shower to dry. You go sit in that chair there. I'll help you with your baby as soon as I get your boys into dry clothes.
“Thank you so very much sir! Our rowboat and supplies are still out there by the river, but I had to get the children to warmth and safety first.”, the woman said breathless from labor.
“No problem Ma'am. I'll go get them and bring them to the shuttle once you've had your baby.”, he replied.
“Sir, can you bring our rowboat and supplies right away, please? I have clothes for my baby in there. Please Sir!”, the woman begged through contractions.
“Alright. I'll make you all some hot stew as soon as I get back. Let me have your cloak as well, please, and I'll go get them.”
She removed her cloak and handed it to him. He hung it up with the boys' cloaks, then handed the boys the bag with clothes, telling them to change into dry clothes.
He also covered them up with two insulated thermal blankets. He covered the woman up with an insulated thermal blanket as well.
He quickly went to the rowboat and brought it to the shuttle. He thought about turning it over outside, but decided to bring it, along with their meager belongings, into the shuttle.
After grabbing supplies, including something to put the afterbirth in, Zane crouched down to help the woman deliver.
“Ma'am, I want you to put your feet on my shoulders.” She did as he said, all the while screaming in agony.
“Alright, now I want you to take a deep breath and push.”, he said. The woman screamed and pushed.
“Take another breath and push.”, he said. The baby's head then popped out. The baby was blue. The cord was wrapped four times around the infant's neck.
“Alright. Rest for a minute.”, he said as he quickly unwrapped the cord. The infant let out a loud cry.
“Alright. Now push once more and your baby will be out.”, he said. The woman screamed in agony once more, and the baby was fully born.
“Congratulations! It's a girl!”, he said.
“Hand her to me please.“, she said. He handed the infant to her mother. She immediately started nursing her daughter.
”We need to cut the cord now.“, Zane said.
“No. Not yet.”, she said as she put an ear cuff on the infant's right upper ear cartilage, then pierced her ear lobe with a small hoop earring after quickly wiping blood off the infant's ear. Both the cuff and hoop were attached with a dainty chain.
“Now. Now we can cut the cord.”, she said.
He did so, explaining how it had been wrapped around her daughter. He then said, “Alright. One more push, Ma'am, and the afterbirth will be out.”
She pushed one more time, then fell back into the chair, exhausted. Zane covered them up with another insulated thermal blanket, and cleaned up around her.
He then made the boys some hot stew.
She thanked him for taking care of her sons, for bringing their supplies in, and for helping deliver her daughter. She'd been concentrating so hard on giving birth that she hadn't really looked at him.
”If you'd like, I'll get the boys started on their stew. Once you feel up to it, you should get changed into something dry.“, he said.
”Thank you, sir. I'll do that now.“, she said. After stopping to introduce the boys to their sister, she went into the bathroom with her baby.
A few minutes later, she and her baby came out. The woman had dry clothes on, and had put clothes and a diaper on her infant.
She wore a headscarf just like the ones the boys had been wearing when they arrived. She was still discreetly nursing the baby.
”I can't thank you enough, sir. The weather turned brutal today! I could barely row anymore, and then I saw the light from your shuttle. You're a true Godsend, sir!“, she said.
He made her a bowl of stew as well, and told her to eat while he fed her boys. ”My oldest can feed himself, but we're all just so very cold.“, she said, finally truly looking at him as he handed her the bowl.
She turned pale, looking positively terrified. Her whole demeanor changed. She hadn't realized he was human.
”Where are my manners? I'm Zane Markham, Ma'am. I'm a Colonel aboard the Intrepid.“, Zane said, extending his hand to her.
She slowly extended her hand to him.
”It's nice to meet you, Colonel. I'm Kirima. These are my son, Binto and Caylo.
“We've been traveling for weeks. We were searching for a cave to spend the night in while I gave birth. The baby was arriving before we could get to one, though.
“When I saw your shuttle, I decided to see if you would let us in. I hadn't realized you were human, or that you're Federation Directorate. I'm sorry to have bothered you!
”I know my kind isn't supposed to bother your kind. I appreciate you letting my children and I stay in here to warm up before continuing on our journey, and for helping me give birth to Talli! Thank you so much!“, she replied slowly, clearly afraid.
”My pleasure. Please, just call me Zane. There's no need for formalities. I'm not going to hurt you. And, you're not bothering me. I'm glad to help with your boys, and was glad to help you deliver.“, he said.
”Alright...Zane. I appreciate your kindness.“, Kirima said, still visibly nervous.
”Why aren't you supposed to bother humans, as you call it?“, he asked.
“It's against the law. We're not to bother or be around humans. We're required to leave humans alone, to stay away from them. I saw your ship, but didn't recognize it as Federation Directorate. I apologize.
”As soon as we're warmed up, I promise, we'll be on our way. Please don't report us! It was an honest mistake.
“I was so concerned about getting my sons to warmth and delivering Talli that I wasn't thinking, and didn't look more closely to make sure your shuttle wasn't Federation Directorate, before asking for shelter.
”Please don't report us, Sir! It was a simple, honest mistake, Colonel! I...I was only thinking about getting my children to warmth and safety, and giving birth! I'm so sorry!
“It was an honest mistake, Sir! Please don't report us! Please! It was just a simple, honest mistake, Sir! Please don't report us to the authorities! Please, please, Colonel! It was an honest mistake! Just a simple, honest mistake!“, she begged, clearly worried.
”You and your children stay here as long as you need to. I won't report you. Go ahead and eat. I've got plenty more food for all of you. Are you traveling to meet up with your husband?“, he asked.
”No. He died two months ago. He was a pilot and died in a crash.“, she replied.
”I'm sorry to hear that.“, he said.
”Thank you, Zane. About 3 weeks ago, the lease on our home was up. I packed up the boys and everything we could fit in the rowboat, and started rowing.
“We slept in the boat outside by a fire, or in a cave. I'm hoping to find a place where we can live, make new memories.”, she said.
“Listen...I'm heading back to the Intrepid this evening or tomorrow morning, depending on the rain and fog. You're all welcome to come with. Maybe we can help you find another planet to live on.“, he said.
”We can't do that. I appreciate the offer, but Serrtachan law doesn't allow it.“, she replied.
”Well, what about family? Don't you or your husband have any family who'd take you in?”, Zane asked.
”We do have family, but both sides disowned us. His family didn't approve of him being a fighter pilot. They disowned him because of his career choice. My family disowned me because I supported him in his decision to become a pilot.
“My husband sent our families messages after the boys were born, but never received a response. I sent them a message telling them of his death, and later asked them if any of them, or even their friends, would take us in until I gave birth, but they told me to get lost, so I never message them again.
”They said...they said they hoped we all died, including Talli. That's the polite version of what they said, and of what they called my sons, and me in particular. I won't repeat the language they used.“, Kirima said.
”That's a shame. They're missing out on so much. Sorry, but you're all better off without them.“, Zane replied.
”Thank you. Are you married, Zane? Do you have any children?“, she asked.
”No. No, my love life's been one disaster after another. Thankfully, no kids were involved. I love kids, and hope to have some one day, but I'm glad I didn't have any during my relationships. No sense in them being miserable too, you know?“, he said. She nodded.
”So it's agreed? You and your kids are coming back with me to the Intrepid? You'll all be nice and warm, with plenty of food.“, Zane said.
”I can't, Zane. I'm sorry. It's against Serrtachen law.“, Kirima replied.
”You're in a Federation Directorate vessel, Kirima. That means you're now on Federation Directorate soil. Serrtachen law doesn't apply here in this vessel. So what do you say? Want to come with?“
Kirima looked at him, then looked at her children. She nodded, then shook her head.
”Yes. I'd like to, but it's against the law. The humans on your ship might feel the way humans here on this planet do about Serrtachens. I'm sorry. I wish we could. But thank you for your offer nonetheless.“, she said softly, tears in her eyes at this human's kindness to her and her children.
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