Here is a fun little story that came to mind over the last week or so. In the Seven Hunters continuity we have seen numerous incidents where the rainbowfaces accidently enriched the culture of the dinosaurs. Well, what happens when they finally decide to take proper safeguards against this?

Response to the March 2022 GOF prompt challenge. Prompt responded to: "Certainty is comforting, but it is in uncertainty that we discover new wonders. Write a story where a character has a previous certainty in their life shattered, but it leads to new revelations."

Putting the Culture in Cultural Contamination

"Alright, I've got the sticks and the healing plants. We can bring these over in the evening and claim that we were gathering them all day. Hopefully, the valley will be done with the festivities by then."

Logos watched her mate with an impassive expression, but said nothing. This was just as well as Chronos did not look up as he counted the various rot roots and berries which made up the ensemble of healing plants.

"We just need to be out of here until this system's star disappears and we should be good. Don't you agree, dear?"

It was only now that Chronos looked up from his handiwork, though it took him a moment to realize that Logos was behind him. When his eyes met hers, however, he did not see the expected agreement on her features.

"You know, I was talking to Volant today."

Chronos closed his eyes. Nothing good ever began with those words. "Dear…"

"This Great Bright Circle Celebration ritual of theirs, the gathering of sticks and branches, the cleansing of the dining space - even the gathering of the food - it is a most interesting custom. The beginnings of a proper religion, quite possibly. We are residents of the valley, so perhaps it is time that we participated?" Logos finished with a curious tilt of her beak and stern eyes that dared him to disagree.

Chronos rubbed his beak and let out a groan. "Logos, you know my reasons…"

"Because you had a bad experience several missions ago?" Logos rolled her eyes, "Dear, that was over twenty cycles ago and the flyers are hardly fond of sacrificing their guests to a volcano god like the beings of..."

"Just give them a few hundred Cold Times and I am sure someone will be sacrificed. Religions always go through the same cycles, do they not?" Chronos said curtly before rubbing his beak in exasperation. It was only then that the annoyance on Logos's face turned into something akin to shock.

Logos did not say anything for several moments. Instead she allowed her eyes to focus on the festivities which were visible from the opening of their cave. The rainbow-colored beaks of their children could be clearly seen nearby some rolling logs. She could only assume that Tricia's pink form, though unseen, was pushing their weight to the makeshift meeting circle.

"Our children know that the Bright Circle is merely a star, and avoiding a feast will not result in its wrath being turned upon the valley. Yet, they still follow the ritual for their friends," Logos said simply as she sat beside her mate. She then spoke in a soft voice. "What is it that you fear?"

Chronos sighed. "It isn't about superstition or anything like that… it is about what may eventually come to be."

Logos nodded. "Some beliefs may go in odd places over time."

"It isn't that. It is about them." He then pointed at their children in the distance. "You do realize that some of the residents think that we come from the Bright Circle."

"Most of them probably assume that we were sent as a practical joke, in that case." Logos noted jocularly.

Now it was Chronos's turn to roll his eyes. "Be that as it may, consider how many times we have accidentally caused cultural contamination here. Even when you exclude the times that our accidents were not really accidents, we have made changes. Now consider what may happen if we were to screw up in this realm - the realm of belief?"

Logos nodded. "The results are hard to predict."

Chronos was silent for several moments. "I take it that Volant requested our presence specifically?"

"Well, not exactly…" Logos rubbed her hands awkwardly. "She wanted to make sure that we were not upset due to Axiom and Datum attending."

Chronos looked at her in confusion. "Why would we be upset?"

Logos gave him a long look. "You know how you got out of doing this last Warm Time because you told them that we had to study the Night Circle on that special night?"

Chronos nodded.

"And remember how we were away during the Warm Time before that and did not get back until nightfall?"

He nodded again.

"Well… let's just say that there are now rumors that Mr. and Mrs. Rainbowface might be Night Circle followers. And the flyers, being the tolerant people that they are, wanted to make sure that we were not offended by our kids joining in the celebration of the other team."

Chronos stared at her as if she had grown a second head. "Okay. So let me get this straight: the flyers now think that we are Night Circle worshippers and want to make sure that we know that they are not trying to convert our kids to the One True Flyer Religion?"

Logos nodded. "That is a good summary."

Neither rainbowface said anything as Chronos turned his glare to the healing plants that were going to be his excuse for missing the festival this Warm Time. Now they were a condemnation of his previous caution. In all of his concerns over possibly causing another cultural contamination incident, he had created yet another case of cultural contamination.

"You know, we really should stop being surprised when this happens," he muttered.

The laughter, when it came, was contagious as both rainbowfaces couldn't help but chuckle at the absurdity of it all. Once again it looked like the world had forced a situation upon them.

"Alright, well, we need to minimize the damage as it were… I suggest that we head off the Night Circle worshiper rumors at the pass…" Chronos began.

"Right. So we bring the plants for indigestion as our offering to the Bright Circle?" Logos added.

Chronos nodded. "And we can just tell them all that we worship the stars… but we can make time for the biggest star."

Logos patted him on the shoulder. "And then we can mend this situation and put it behind us all."

It was with warmth and merriment that the rainbowfaces joined in the festivities on that day, much to the surprise and enjoyment of the other valley residents. Even Topps only looked modestly bored on the occasion. It was enough to make Chronos question why he had let his fear stop him from partaking in this, the most sacred of valley celebrations. Certainty may be comforting, but it was in uncertainty that one discovered new wonders.

Though, much to the rainbowfaces dismay, it was on this night that they realized that the valley residents had not yet made the connection that the Bright Circle was merely another star until they had been told.

Oops.