Next day, he went out with Al, and Jin to gather food for processing. One of the other security, Collin, went with them. All of them went the opposite of the ravine, and away from the forest, in a more plains area. Al was singing as they walked. Collin kept glaring at him, but apparently wasn’t bothered enough by the singing to say anything.
Girgis always enjoyed Al’s singing, and he felt pretty safe on this planet. There was still wildlife, but for the most part animals don’t attack things they don’t find familiar.
Jin cut off Al. “Here, these plants have a lot of essential vitamins. Plus, they should hold up well to dehydration.” He waved at stand of deep red grass like plants swaying back and forth in the light breeze.
Girgis pulled out his knife. “Roots, or just stalks?”
Jin and Al pulled out some data pads and consulted for a minute. Jin answered him, “Stalks.”
Girgis began to carefully cut as close the ground as possible laying them in a neat pile. The other two wandered around looking for more plants to gather. After, he had finished cutting down the patch of rough stalks, he pulled an foldable pack off his back, and set it down. He filled it up about one fourth the way. He turned around looking for more.
“Anything else?” He asked, sweat dripping from his forehead.
“I found some, but I got them. Jin followed the stream, he thinks there is some water plants that might work.” Al responded cutting his own patch of plants.
Collin stalked around the area, doing a pattern of patrolling. “Jin’s at a small pond, just around the boulder over there.”
With a hop, Girgis was on his feet, and followed the steam, and around the boulder to see Jin running a thin, mesh net in the water. He appeared to be gathering an orange floating material.
“What’s all that?” Girgis knelt beside him.
Jin dumped his haul into a basket beside him. “Kind of like an algae. If we dry it, we use it as broth stock, very healthy. There are some more red plants over there.”
“Are all we going to eat is just red plants?” Girgis asked seeing the plants nearby he started to cut them down.
Jin let out a drawn out sigh. “No. But, we might as well gather up what is nearby. Tomorrow, we’ll hit the forest.”
“What about animals?”
“I don’t want to mess with the natural order of things. Right now, I’m just having us gather up things that renew themselves quickly, because I don’t know exactly what the growing or breeding seasons are here. We are probably going to be here for at least three months, we have plenty of time to get lots of food, and meat. We only established base camp three days ago. And, me and Al already gathered thirty kilos of food, Mr. Impatient.”
Girgis chuckled. “I’m the boss, I’m supposed to ride you enough, that you’ll consider leaving me planet side.”
Then, they got to work in silence for an hour or two. Girgis pack was now full, and stood up. “Probably, should head back to base camp and unload. We got to process some of this for storage, and maybe process some for eating.”
Jin got up, and they wrangled Al, and walked back with Collin watching their flank. When, they arrived at base camp, there was a problem.
About forty of so the aliens were standing outside base camp, which had made Faar face pale, and her gun at the ready. Girgis sprinted forward, standing next to his people. “What is going on?”
“Nothing, I’m just nervous about having this many here.” Faar wouldn’t even look at Girgis.
“They aren’t even carrying weapons, Faar. I know you want to be careful, but threatening them might make them more violent. Just lower the weapon, and we’ll see what they want.” Girgis kept an eye his people and the aliens.
Faar chewed on her lip, then dropped the barrel down.
The same alien woman approached. This time, she spoke. “You are, Girgis?”
The whole camp went hushed. Okay, he thought, way more advanced. “Yep, you are, my dear?”
She grinned. “My name would be hard. You may call me Qwel. You are here for ore?”
He stopped himself from frowning. They might be friendly, but who knows how they would interrupt a frown. “We need raw materials for back on the home world.”
“I have no objection. You are not going to colonize, are you?” She fixed him with penetrating stare.
He shook his head. “We don’t have enough population for the home world, much less to colonize another planet.”
“Then, let me offer you rights to all the ores here. We don’t need the ones you have been mining. Please leave, any copper you find.” She made a sweeping gesture with both arms.
“Thanks.” He rubbed his chin. “You are using a translator, right?”
“You aren’t natives, where are you from?” He had never heard of any alien race that matched their description. But, then again, he hardly studied alien races.
She tilted her head. “You are wondering if we are an older established race. We are. But, we do not generally interact with other races. We are from Knilt-on. We are the Woellian. In friendship, we bring you some dried meat that we gathered. Perhaps, we can talk more.” Her brow wrinkled. “What is your race called?”
He thought they may be lying, but he decided to say the truth. “Alaget.”
“On behalf of Knilt-on, and Leader Females, I greet you, Alaget.” Her voice was grave, and serious. After she finished speaking she gave a deep, kneeling bow.
Girgis dancing back and forth on his feet. “I can’t speak for our government. But, the crew of the Merry Courtsean, I greet you in peace, Woellian.” He finished with a bow.
He stepped back and they walked into the camp. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt good. He laughed, his report was going to be a lot more interesting, than a list of what ores they mined.