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    65th Day, Year 135 of Helan Phorro Xamium

  We must have caused a stir amongst their hierarchy. The first half of the day was uneventful. We spent the time inside repairing the ship, conducting experiments and observing outside activity through the viewports. By daylight during the second half, tens of protectors scrambled over to a spot nearby the outer hatch. They split into four groups. One kept watch on our ship, while a second group assembled an upright black structure with a light grey surface filling out its center space, which I came to recognize was the Window of Symbols again. Another drew a red circle resembling a landing zone and the last group crouched in a large circular formation. A protector in their formation ignited something that gave off bright red light and smoke, then tossed it into the center. Soon after, one of their flying machines I have come to call ‘whirlers’ appeared and hovered overhead before landing where the red smoke billowed. Upon landing, three examiners exited the machine. Unlike the two accompanying it, one was in a white enviro-suit and seemed to be of some importance, because many protectors congregated around it, as they all moved where the others were assembling something else.

  This seemed particularly important so I and Zalhang went outside to try and communicate with these creatures. I sat down and introduced ourselves to the one in white. I asked what its name was and, using something to amplify its voice as it gestured towards itself, said its name was Kernil Fon.I It then directed one of the other examiners to operate a sort of machine that projected pictures onto the window. Instead of symbols, it was an image. This image, which Kernil Fon made clear with further gestures, was itself out of its enviro-suit and in what is some ceremonial garb.

  It was strange. Like us, it had one mouth, but there was so much off with the rest. What I assumed were the ears and nose, as they are in the same locations as ours, protruded out of the head. There was one pair of eyes instead of two. The skin was completely opaque, looked rough and had a dull pinkish colour to it. On the skin was hair like some of the beasts back on our world, but they were mostly accumulated on top of the head, over the eyes and on the eyelids. Most off putting was the absence of glow in the eyes, under the skin, or anywhere.

  From what I could interpret from symbols, images, and Kernil Fon’s gesticulations and vocalizations, it was sent by a hierarchy to prevent bloodshed between us and them. It turns out, when we were crashlanding, we killed some of them accidentally and they are upset by this perceived offense. To prevent any hostilities from occurring, we must place an offering in the red circle whenever requested.

  Zalhang found this to be a waste of our time and, all the more so, unworthy of challenging any to a duel. He opted to destroy them and secure the site, but we needed time for repairs, further research and to perchance find out what became of Junget Darruf. Plus there was the possibility that such arrogance could be backed by terrible weaponry. I made the decision to agree to the terms. To show goodwill, I had Zalhang place one of his small stone whittlings in the red circle, which he did notwithstanding his bitter reluctance. Upon doing so, Kernil said something and a symbol I came to notice to mean happiness was shown on the Window of Symbols. With that done, Kernil and the two examiners left the area on their whirler. The protectors disassembled the window, stayed by the circle, and prepared another landing site like before. Soon, a much larger whirler landed and opened a loading ramp in the rear. The protectors loaded the whittling inside the machine, closed the loading ramp, and left the area after the big whirler flew away.

  For the rest of the day, I ordered the crew to make inventory of whatever trinkets and unnecessaries we had in our possession and on the ship. After, looking through everything, I was confident we had enough to barter for more time to do all we needed to do.


I The Minare spell human words in their own language phonetically.

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fsarbolaez

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