Chapter Four: First Contact

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Hiro peered ahead, squinting a bit. It was hard to see through the trees. The light was beginning to fade as the sun set as well, which didn't help. Soon it would be dark and that could potentially complicate things. But he straightened up when he realized one of the people inside the copse of trees was coming out. His hand tightened in Honey Lemon's, his breathing accelerating just a bit.

He then let out a sigh of relief as whoever it was who approached them took on the more familiar form of someone at least resembling a human. Maybe he was like the Doctor or Jack Harkness. The man was decidedly taller than Hiro, though, and much, much older. His head was already mostly bald. And his clothes were a bit odd, mostly black with red on top. It reminded the boy almost of some kind of uniform or jogging suit. Maybe pajamas. He wasn't sure which.

"I'm going ahead," Hiro announced, realizing it would be wise to meet the man halfway. He let Honey Lemon's hand go, after one more squeeze of encouragement from her. Slowly, so as not to cause any undo alarm, he made his way to within a few paces of the man. It helped that he still had his helmet in place, tinted visor down, giving him a little more sense of protection. After all, they didn't know what these strange people would do. He knew the others were still behind him, ready to jump into action should something go wrong.

Picard stopped halfway between their refuge and the two strangely dressed individuals. He was heartened when the shorter of the two moved to meet him. It was entirely possible this person was the leader of the group. At least that's what he read from their body language. But why was he so short? Was that a natural characteristic or was the man simply stunted? Because not only was he short, but he was also quite skinny on top of it all, gangly almost.

"Hello," Picard greeted. "I'm Jean-Luc Picard." He decided to forgo any mention of his rank or affiliation with Star Fleet. After all, Data had said this planet had not yet achieved warp technology. They probably didn't have a clue about the Federation, which meant this planet would still be considered primitive by those standards. He couldn't just willy nilly go against the Prime Directive.

Hiro gave a half fumbling wave as he tried to hide just how badly his body was shaking. "Hiro," he said in reply, purposely not giving his last name while using the more common pronunciation at the same time. It wouldn't do to blow his secret identity, even if these people weren't from around the area. The less who knew the better.

Well, that was encouraging, Picard thought as he eyed the midget in front of him, though the voice did sound rather young. The single word reply was also a bit disappointing. "I received your message," he continued, hoping to encourage further communication. Maybe this man was somehow unable to communicate more than that. Though that was decidedly a possibility, Picard hoped it wasn't true. He remembered the message on the rock. That, alone, was encouraging.

Hiro nodded, swallowing. His mouth suddenly felt rather dry. Okay, this was much more difficult than he'd thought it would be. Why was it so hard? It wasn't like he hadn't dealt with aliens before, even if this was their first contact with this particular race. And since Baymax hadn't given any kind of physical description, he had no way of knowing if this man was the alien or if it was another member of their party. "That's good," he replied, his voice sounding funny even in his own ears.

He's scared, Picard realized, wondering what he looked like to them. Despite Data's conjecture that they were essentially human, they might have characteristics that made them look somehow different, like Bajorans or Klingons. It had probably taken them a lot to come even this far. Unfortunately, they weren't exactly giving Picard much to work with either, which left things up to him to convey. "My companions and I seem to have gotten lost," he said, deciding to go for as near the truth as he dared. He had no idea where Q had landed them, much less in what galaxy or system. It would be just like the man to mess with them like that.

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