Log Entry 161231.200

You could be forgiven for thinking that this was the end of our adventure to Tikarra Island, but you'd be wrong. Now there was a bigger question to answer. What happens next?
The High Emperor of Dirria, Honka, wanted to know what lay on the island. He wanted to hear tales of adventure, and he wanted to learn what had happened to the previous adventurers. But what could we tell him? What should we tell him? What were our options? And which one would Starfleet approve?
We surmised that we had three possible paths …

We could tell the truth …
The Dirrians had come to the island and killed the Mairne. In retaliation, the Mairne had killed the Dirrians. It could so easily be the beginning of a war, a war started by misunderstandings. So many wars were started that way. But those events took place a long time ago. It was entirely possible that peaceful relations could be established between the Mairne and the Dirrians, but was this world big enough for an emperor and a king? The Dirrians were rather precocious and Traeth was doubtful that the High Emperor would recognise the authority of the King on this tiny island.

We could tell a lie …
But which lie to tell?
If we said that there was nothing here, Honka would be most dissatisfied. Traeth had told us long before we came here that if we found nothing, we would have to make up a story. We would certainly have to report something even if it was something particularly mundane. But how would we explain the disappearance of the Dirrian adventurers? Could we get away with saying that there was simply no trace of them? Could we make the place sound dull enough to discourage Honka from organising a second expedition?
To ensure that we did discourage him, we could make up tales of monsters that terrorised us, and that we only just got away with our lives. But would that really put him off? The Dirrians may have an inbred fear of water but were they starting to get over it? Traeth had certainly braved the waves as had nearly two dozen before him. Was it only a matter of time before Dirrians conquered their fear of water completely and ventured to the island again?

We could disappear without a trace …
We could all beam back up to the Earhart and ride off into the sunset, never to be heard of by the Dirrians again. Traeth was the only problem there, but he was deeply unhappy on Dirria and I sensed that he would readily come with us and resettle on Earth or some other Federation planet. But with Dirrian relations continuing to improve with the Federation, it would be only a matter of time before they learned the truth. The whole Federation would lie for us.

Log Entry 161224.199

Fear? That seemed strange. The Dirrians may be a little fatuous but I'd seen no evidence of violence in their nature. Arunga continued.
"It was nearly a year later when the others arrived—twenty of them. We saw them coming and debated our options. We didn't want the events of before to repeat themselves. It was horrible watching a man burn to death, so we went quickly to the beach and removed all the celabub leaves before they landed. In retrospect, we should have left them there, then they would have burned." There was malice in his tone. It quite took us aback.
"They landed on the beach, and our forefathers, eager not to startle them, left them to their own devices for a day. It had been a very hard journey for them and they needed to rest. It would have been rude to impose upon them when they were so unprepared for company.
"As before, they lit a fire and camped on the edge of the woods. They appeared to sleep well that evening and the following day, our people went to greet them. A party of twelve of our most important dignitaries left our village, passed through the forests and approached the bipedals on the sand—that's what we call you, by the way: bipedals.
"With arms open and bearing gifts of flowers, the party emerged from the trees. With smiles and pleasantries prepared, they did not expect what happened next. The bipedals drew their weapons and let loose a hail of arrows. Yes, your kind, without word or reason, slaughtered the party in just a matter of seconds, and then it got worse. Having massacred our party, you—the bipedals, I mean …" He paused, visibly upset by what he was about to say, "… took their bodies … and skinned them." He gulped hard. "And then … they roasted their bodies … and consumed them."
My hand slapped over my mouth in shock and horror. I felt physically sick.
"Only one escaped to tell the tale."
It took a few moments for us to digest the horror of what had happened to the Mairne. In retrospect, I suspect that the bipedals, sick with hunger, shot the first animals they saw as a source of food. Undoubtedly, they had no idea that the cats were the sentient natives of the island. If they had, I'm sure things would have been different. But they weren't different. This was the way it was.
"What happened next?" I ventured. "We know that the Dirrians never left the island."
"Of course they didn't," replied Arunga. "We did the only thing a nation can do when war is waged upon them. We fought back.
"We waited until they ventured into the forests. They would be more vulnerable among the trees where their arrows would be less effective. Once there, five hundred Mairne descended upon them." He smiled triumphantly. "A seething mass of claws and teeth, they didn't stand a chance. In the time it takes to sing a single lullaby, all twenty of them were slain and then, as they had done to us, the Mairne ate their carcasses."
We were silent for a moment.
"And stuck their heads on pikes in the forest," added Al.
"Yes, as a warning to those that follow."
"But you have not harmed us," pointed out Rutter.
"No, because you are not like the others. You have been respectful, curious and kind. It became apparent to me that your intentions were not like the others. We may even have approached you earlier if it hadn't been for—" and he turned his eyes to Traeth.
"Oh, but Traeth's a good man. We were childhood friends. He's not like other Dirrians!"
As the words left my mouth, I knew it was wrong and began beating myself up about it. Traeth was different, but he didn't want to be. My demeanour must have shown my instant regret because Traeth placed a reassuring hand on mine—something else a Dirrian wouldn't do.
"It's okay," he said. "In this instance, I'm glad to be different."