Thanks to @blueVulpine for picking the language.
The weather was chilly when the team landed on Anderman Three, the wind blowing and the snow falling all around them. “They’re only three-quarters of the way to their coldest point,” Esteba pointed out, studying her readings. “It’s only going to get colder. How have they survived?”
The Kendar Corporation had, seven generations ago, seeded colonies as far out as their ships could reach and then, as such corps seemed to do, gone bankrupt in a spectacularly messy fashion. Only now were the survivor companies getting back on their feet enough to track down the colonies.
This one looked big – four small cities and several settlements, all gathered across a series of valleys between a large lake and a wide river. There was more land further south that wasn’t, according to their radars, yet getting snow, but the colonists seem to have stuck to their cold valley complex.
“It looks like we arrived just in time for a party.” Nord gestured at the camera views, which showed people congregating in large groups, and the radio feed, which was babbling away cheerfully in a language none of the science team could follow. “Is Mains working on that?”
“Mains, Tanner, and Jordy are going nuts on it. Jordy thinks he has a basis of translation; from the sound of it, they’re celebrating Sol Invictus. He says it’s past-ancient sun-ceremony that turned into the Christmas rite.” Clemantis worked as the liaison between science and cultural teams, mostly as a translator. She’d condensed seven paragraphs of Jordy-speak into that Nord-digestible tidbit, for example.
“Never do understand how these colonies do that.” Nor did he need to; he was the company representative for marketable resources. “All right, is Jordy ready to send a team down?”
“Yes. He says the second city from the East is the best bet, see that spiraled tower near the river?”
“Not the West one? It’s biggest.”
“But least elaborate. The spiral is either a temple, a capital, or a really happy corporation.”
“That’s where we’ll talk to them about planetary resources, as well. This is the only populated area on the planet?”
“The only big enough to show up on our instruments. Doesn’t mean it’s the only.” Clemantis was wasting her breath. She pointed, instead, at the screen. “There, Geo team says land there.”
“There it is.”
The landing team set down just shy of 12 hours later, in a rare clear spot, Nord in his best uniform, the rest looking suitably behind-the-scenes behind the large man. Jordy, especially, stayed blocked from sight from the colony by Nord, Clemantis, and the far-more-appealling-to-the-eye Mains. There was something he was missing, something he hadn’t gotten yet. Something important.
Nord began his speech in clear, careful Nouveau-Français, translated by Mains and Tanner into first the languages of the original colonists (Third-English and Spanish) and then into their best approximation of their current creole. Jordy fiddled with the translation matrix and scribbled in notes from overheard commentary.
It was just as Nord was reaching his great finale, about lost colonies and rescue and mutually-beneficial trade, that it came to Jordy. “Wait, wait.” It was a hurried, panicked whisper in Nouveau-Français. “Wait, Nord. They’re not celebrating their sun god. They’re atheistic as a culture. Sol is their emperor. They think we’re here to invade them!”
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