A month has passed in a blur. When the War of the Queens ended, the surviving Blossoms asked for our aid and asylum. Scorpion Bane, Golden Sand, and Black Sand seem to be in charge of the victors. The mega-hive is damaged. There are wounded Tikket, starvation, and confusion. We’ve got protocols for disaster relief that we can adapt. Volunteers only – relief operations are dangerous enough. Add-in an alien species and there’s no telling what we’ll encounter. Marcus button-holes me before we go to make sure I listen to my security team. That’s a given – I’m not selfish enough to put someone else in danger to protect me.
Mr. Dulin asked for briefing on the Council’s behalf. I sent over the proposals I’ve been fiddling with while we’ve been sitting on our hands watching this war. Marcus sent along the security plan. Adams is surprisingly thorough at logistical planning and support for not having been involved in a disaster relief op. Agritech is supplying food relief (and building markets, no doubt.) We put out a public call to donate resources and Fab-time. Most of the problem is what we expected – starvation and injuries. Surprising lack of opportunistic disease. On the other hand, added psych trauma when they shut down the communal dreamscape.
The Tikket don’t have hospitals and medical staff – their healing is all by the Queens and their Echoes. And that was already stretched in the mega-hives because the life-extended Queens had lost their Echoes. Blossoms don’t heal. The Fire Ants do have some medicine – it’s primitive, but promising, and adapted to a similar biology. Their triage protocols are very different – all about preserving those most useful to the Hive.
I don’t like it, but it looks like most of the medical work will be long distance – field stations with medical waldos, bots with medical chips, and the actual medical team in a safe hive under Scorpion Bane’s protection. I don’t like it – I’m much better when I can touch and see a patient – but they’ve got psi healing, what they need is old-fashioned doctoring. Some Tikket can borrow skills. I can’t lend – security issues with that level of telepathic contact – but others can. The main fungal tree network is down.
A lot of discussion of what will become of Desert Bloom’s hive and the mega-hives. The Tikket aren’t sure what to do with defeated foes. Scorpion Bane is feeding three of the mega-hives, scavenging Desert Bloom’s for what’s useful, and leaving what’s left abandoned as an object-lesson to future generations. Harsh. But they’ll pull out the Tikket to other hives. We do want to make sure Desert Bloom is dead – Vicinius will take a team in to the queen chamber, examine, and get samples of the oldest of Tikket and the oldest of the fungus. Appears the Tikket are not at all sentimental about the dead – they just get recycled into fungus food.
Scorpion Bane’s hive is big. Different from Coral Blooms. Uses actual stone buildings more than membranes. It’s old, from the days when hives fought each other. We set up base camp – it’ll be home for the next couple of months. Then the work begins. Tending the dying and the wounded. Disposing of the dead so they don’t build up and spark disease. Getting food in. Re-starting fungal gardens. It’s a long grind. I miss the sun, the stars, being able to get out of camp and look at something natural and normal. Nightly vid-calls to Cailean and the kids help, but make me miss them more. Sadly, I’m not footloose and 20 anymore.
Finally it is done, or as done as it gets. Scorpion Bane and the others have a lot to sort out. We’re here to be neighbors, but the Tikket need to work this out. Home and a party to help my team decompress. Seems that I’ve gotten promoted and given paperwork to do.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Contact Team has been busy trying to communicate with the planet – dubbed Rocky. I’ve got patients to tend, work to do, a family to actually have time to see. Eventually, I have a routine. A couple of weeks at home, then out to the Fisher King nest for a visit, from there to the outlying Bayside settlements with a field team for check-ups and care, then to Aurora for the same – check-ups and care at their outlying settlements, then home again. Bovine has some horses up – I had missed riding.
Finally, over the course of a year, they learn to send a message. “Hello! This is us! What are you.” We get back “Hello. I am of the Uatsu.” It’s a creation of the Uatsu – a spacefaring race that came here 60k years ago – there’s an Uatsu base on one of the outer planets that Rocky wants to reconnect with. It was intended to terraform TN for the Uatsu who had come here hiding from some bigger foe — Hurku. They had refugees in a ring around the planet, long silent, now gone. The planet has evolved past that expected point – eventually Rocky started working on intelligent life in hopes of evolving a way to reconnect to the base. It’s time consuming. I insist they get out now and then to see their families, get some sun, and stop talking in advanced mathematical jargon at each other. The pattern in the snow was a simple message “I exist. I function.”
The Senate wants to know more before committing resources, but a base with alien tech is a rich temptation. We send a probe – there’s something there, but an atmosphere that will burn thru a ship unless we specially shield it – and even then it will last a couple of days at most. The remains of the base look breached – something broke it.
This will take some time to plan and build equipment, but the Contact Team is going.