(( Daaka Waters ))
Max was floating with his companions, being carried by the current. The away team was exchanging cultural ideas with Mo’Kana.
Foster: Mo’kana, is there a difference in your language between ‘child-like’ and childish?
She slowed in the junction between current pathways and considered the question as the translator worked through the words.
Mo’kana: I think I understand. One is … is the word immature? The other is keeping joy?
Foster: Exactly. Then hopefully there’s a common concept between all of our peoples that one is bad, and one is good.
Mo’kana waved her fins in what appeared to be a gesture of assent. Max craned his head to take in the sights along their current route… and laughed at his own internal monologue.
Tannhauser: speaking of acting like children: are we there yet?
T'Seva: :: laughing :: I don't know...I don't know which of those buildings it is, if it's any of them.
Bubbles rose around Mo’kana’s fins and she flipped in the water herding the trio into the last current.
Mo’kana: Yes, yes. Almost there! Ride this current to the large pink coral structure.
Up ahead, Max saw coral of deepest mauve, engulfed in pink flowers illuminated with biotech lights. He imagined the garden they had visited before but the colors had flipped. It was warm here… or at least it looked it. The group followed Mo’kana as she lead them out of the current and into a clearing in the coral.
Mo’kana: There, you see? The brightly colored building with sculptures in the surrounding kelp.
Tannhauser: They’re all pretty brightly colored… oh I see the kelp!
T'Seva: In that case...
Commander T’Seva moved away as fast as she could, which wasn’t very fast at all.
Tannhauser: I’m gonna see if I can keep pace with the Commander.
Foster: Go right ahead. Don’t mind me, I’m enjoying the view.
Mo’kana split the difference, staying halfway in between the fastest and the slowest of her charges.
T'Seva: Is that sculpture intentionally built to provide a habitat for those fish?
The Xindi guide floated closer and flipped in the water once. Max considered trying another flip but decided he had humiliated himself enough for several away missions.
Mo’kana: It is! They are call colealoc fish, and we noticed that the coral structures that we use as buildings in Daaka – while perfectly melded with the vast majority of the flora and fauna here, were the perfect nesting and breeding grounds for the colealoc’s most notable predator. To solve this we created safe nesting grounds for them.
Tannhauser: ::under his breath:: like, kuben-tai-free sort of free?
Foster: And did you specifically engineer them to be artistic
Bubbles rose from Mo’kana’s gills and she seemed to smile.
Mo’kana: No, the originals were bulky and unattractive. But we had a local artist by the name of Ji’haya who decided that they would be more accepted by the population if they could be turned into art. And it worked, very well! You will see these sculptures all over the city.
T'Seva: There seems little point having something be ugly when it can be pretty..
Commander T’Seva was very right, and Max smiled in her direction. The Vulcan was not quite as emotionless as he expected one to be. But then he remembered the Commander was half-Vulcan, and he shouldn’t make assumptions one way or the other. He gave himself a shake and turned his thoughts to the beauty before him.
Tannhauser: is it self-sustaining, or does it require regular tending?
Mo’kana: They are stocked with eggs and ample food each breeding season and then emptied as the fish inside reach maturity. They are far less susceptible to predation once they reach maturity, so this keeps a balance between species.
Foster: I’d love the see the data on the species renewal.
T'Seva: Makes sense. And I would assume that also controls the numbers of what *they* eat.
Mo’kana: I am not a scientist, but I know they publish moon-cycle reports. Including tracking all known species in and outside the city limits.
T'Seva: You care a lot about your world.
Tannhauser: And we are an exceptionally curious people, I hope you don’t mind all these questions.
Max turned his attention from the sculptured habitats, and saw Commander T’Seva moving into the gallery-proper.
Tannhauser: Commander, speaking from personal experience – don’t – don’t wander too far.
Tannhauser: well, I thought I was wandering into an abandoned ruin of a stadium and all of a – ah, never mind. This place has to be harmless…
Max glided through the gallery, stopping here and there to admire a piece he especially admired, or tried to understand. Some of the art was unlike anything on Earth, it took him a minute to figure out what he was looking at. Twice he had to just throw in the towel and ask Mo’kana to save him, again. Max checked his chronometer and realized soon they’d need to surface. It was nearly time for nuptials.
Ensign Maxwell Tannhauser