((Private Conference Room E, Amity Outpost))
Sahim: Luminary Prarim, Acolyte Taven...
Prarim: Sahim, it is wonderful to see you again. I trust that you are well.
Sahim: I've come as requested.
Prarim: But of course. Please, let us all sit and take stock of what has transpired. I desire greatly to know what you have learned.
Sahim: I've got an expedition with the first secretary the chief medical officer and other two, a scientist and a doctor.
Prarim: ::Intrigued:: I see. Then our expectations were correct, indeed. The Federation means to study the Angels… I take it they did not disturb them?
Sahim: They proceeded with caution, they didn't approach the Angels too much, and as far as I know they only took passive readings of them. Another ship was in the area, or so I thought, and warned us that the Angels liked the plasma their ships vent.
Prarim: It is well that you were there to monitor them. ::To Taven:: Their respectful conduct is noted. ::To both:: Though we must recall that not all those who have appeared friendly in the past have remained so. We must always be vigilant. ::To Sahim:: Tell us, what happened next?
Sahim: The Angels approached our shuttle and began... contact. It seems that they're really attracted by their ships. That might be part of why and/or how the problems with the miners began.
Prarim: Do you believe, then, that the Angels themselves chose to engage with the miners?
Sahim: I don't mean anything against the Angels. I'm just pointing out that there's something attracting in Federation technology at least for the Angels. We don't have that kind of problems with our ships, as far as I know...
Prarim: And what of your personal opinion on the Federation’s interests? So far, they have seemed trustworthy - though they are newcomers to these pastures. What does your intuition tell you, Sahim?
Sahim: I didn't get into details with the Starfleet crew. I thought it'll be better to let you know what I've seen and seek your advice about how to proceed from here on. I'm inclined to trust that they really don't want to hurt the Angels or to mingle with our faith, but we can't be completely sure, at least not yet, right?
Prarim: So far the Federation has demonstrated an earnest restraint in the face of this disagreement - and I believe they are acting in good faith. However, the question remains if they will remain loyal to their purported belief in tolerance if a resolution cannot be made with the mining corporations… As such, I have invoked the Rite of Trust.
Sahim: So, it's come to that? Do you believe their ready to take on the rite?
Prarim: While the Federation selects their representatives, we must also choose from among our people… I believe I know at least one Hawlat on whom the Great Spirit’s light shines in this matter. ::Turning to Taven:: I would like for you to take part in the Ritual, Acolyte Taven.
Sahim: It'll be interesting to see how they take on the ritual. But facing the unknown seemed to be one of their principles as they claim to be explorers. Even if they fail it, it'll be an interesting situation to see them face.
Prarim: Sahim, if the Federation opts to have a second participant, I believe your thoughtful spirit would be welcomed as part of the Ritual as well. If not, then I am sure they will appreciate having you on hand to ensure the event goes smoothly. There is much to do and little time… Tell me, have either of you undergone the Ritual before?
Prarim looked to his Acolyte and to the Pilgrim, hoping to hearten them with his enthusiasm for the divine ritual. Instead, he saw uncertainty flit across their faces. Too few of the elders now remained after the long journey. oO The young begin to question their faith and the old rituals become lost to time… Oo
Sahim: I'll do as you instruct. But I must say that I've not performed it before. I've just learnt about it.
Sahim: I just hope their candidate has the strength of heart to face the ritual to their full extent.
The old Luminary nodded slowly. Only thrice in the history of the Hawlat, according to the Divine Path, had members of another race undertaken the Ritual of Trust and partook of the Angels’ milk. He stroked his wiry beard.
oO Surely the Federation must understand what an exceptional honour it is for the Angels to will that they should partake…? Oo
Prarim: Remember, good Sahim, that the Ritual is no punishment. The Divine Light shines brightly upon those who partake and, as with staring into a star, sometimes that light is blinding - temporarily - but eventually their sight returns. The visions the Angels grant us are glimpses into the true nature of the universe - they see past the ‘matter’ that makes us up and reveal the truth of our inner selves. That is something beautiful, not to be feared.
Sahim: I'm confident that they'll understand, but if they don't, we might need to find a way to protect the Angels and hope they guide us somewhere else that is safe. But I must recognize, I was starting to feel good in this place.
Prarim reached out and rested a hand gently on Sahim’s shoulder. The Hawlat people had experienced much heartache. It came with the calling to roam the stars. Attachment, while understandable, was a hard thing to overcome. Still harder was the thought of, once again, being forcibly removed before the time was right.
Now, however, the Angels had come across something truly special. The young nebula offered something no other pasture had for many generations… the possibility of a stable home. A place to hitch the migrant fleet and grow the Hawlat strong once more as the Angels grazed.
oO Which is why it is imperative that the Federation understand - truly understands - the will of the Great Spirit. They must experience it firsthand. Oo
Prarim: The Angels have travelled many millions of miles in pursuit of the Supreme Pasture, Sahim, and the Hawlat have followed faithfully. The Great Spirit will not abandon us now. The Federation will be illuminated and our friendship will grow, as the long grass once did on Hawlathia. You shall see.
Sahim: I'll be ready for whatever it is.
The Luminary smiled and nodded. The Great Spirit had willed this meeting with the Federation to happen - under circumstances that Prarim struggled to understand, but often was the will of the divine so.
Prarim: Very well. Taven, please contact the Fellowship of Acolytes. We require a sacred text - the Rite of Trust. A virtual copy must be provided to the Federation, so they may study it and learn the ways of the Ritual.
With everything clear amongst the three, Prarim knew the remaining Hawlat must be informed of what was to occur.
Prarim: Sahim, every Hawlat Pilgrim should know of what is to come. Can I entrust this task to you? Inform the people of what has happened and of the upcoming Ritual. Those who wish to attend the ceremony should make preparation to come aboard the Outpost - and soon.
Prarim: Meanwhile, I will contact the Council of Luminaries and begin the proceedings. This is an auspicious occasion, indeed! The Federation will reconvene soon. When they do, we must be ready.
((Later - Conference Room B4, Amity Outpost))
Carter: Sorry, but that’s the way it is. Leaders lead, despite the danger or difficulty. I’ve told the Hawlat that I would be the one. To not do so brings dishonor to me and this uniform. And I will not do so.
Prarim: You speak truth, Commander!
The Hawlat Luminary entered the room with arms spread wide, palms open to the sky, in an expression of good faith. His grass green robes flowed down from his arms to the floor. Behind him followed the Acolyte, Taven, and Pilgrim Sahim.
Prarim: Already you demonstrate the sort of faith one needs to complete the Ritual of Trust successfully.
Prarim: Yes, of course. We have made our preparations, but we have the advantage of gazing into the brilliant light of the Great Spirit every day. We’ve arranged for a copy of the Rite to be sent to your people - and I have brought something with me, granted by the Council of Luminaries.
Prarim brought forth a decorative box and placed it on the table. Unlatching it, he swung the lid open and revealed a glass phial - not much larger than a pencil, within. It was filled with a viscous purple substance, not unlike the residue left behind by the Angels, but brighter in colour and luminosity. The light shone through it with a majestic radiance.
Prarim: The Milk of the Angels! ::After a pause, for everyone to take in its magnificence:: I understand you may have reservations about what undertaking the Ritual will involve. I want to be open with you, as you have so far been with us. You may take this sample as a token of our goodwill.