Trr'enth was not interested in diplomacy. He entered through the airlock with two other Xi'an military men and refused the Xi'an greeting that Matthias and Gedion were offering.
"Where is the pilot?" He asked grimly.
Matthias and Gedion glanced at each other, then silently turned and led the men to the cargo room. Walking over to the burial pod, Matthias and Gedion stepped back and allowed the three Xi'an to inspect the body.
The three Xi'an stood motionless over their fallen comrade for what seemed like at least five minutes, murmuring something low under their breath. The XSO had learned some about Xi'an death and burial culture, but it still startled and fascinated the men to see the Xi'an deal with the death of someone they never even knew with such ritual reverence.
Finally Trr'enth turned and addressed the men.
"Why have you returned him?" he asked, still gruff but obviously feeling more tender emotions as well.
"We believe in honoring and respecting your customs. We know how important this is to you," Matthias stated simply and directly.
"You are of XSO, Sheno Syncretic Order?" Trr'enth inquired.
Gedion smiled a little, hoping Trr'enth wouldn't notice. He enjoyed the way that the Xi'an pronounced the name, not in a mean spirited way either.
"Yes, we are." Matthias replied.
"You have many dealings with the Xi'an. But someone is raiding our border, killing Xi'an. We cannot trust humans," he explained.
"I understand. We are here to offer our help. If we can assist you in any way, we want to track down the people responsible for this and bring them to justice," Matthias offered.
"That will not be permitted. You must leave Xi'an space. You have our respect, but not our trust. That is why we will allow you to leave," Trr'enth replied. Matthias and Gedion were well aware of the threat that lay just under the surface of his statement. He would use force to remove them if they would not go.
"Perhaps we can still be of some assistance. We can patrol the UEE side of the border, and you can patrol your side. If we find out anything useful, we can share it with you," Matthias suggested, offering him a trade of something for nothing.
Trr'enth considered the offer for a moment. Turning and speaking to one of his officers, he muttered something in Xi'an.
"We will return to you one Photeus. We captured him fleeing the system. He was following another ship which escaped." Trr'enth surprisingly offered in return, not wanting to be in debt to the XSO, and realizing that Photeus himself was not a part of the group that menaced his borders.
"Thank you. Photeus was here with just one ship. Whatever ship he was following was not our ship. There might be a connection," Matthias replied graciously.
Trr'enth grumbled under his breath at the other Xi'an with him. Gedion imagined he was scolding him for allowing the other ship to escape, while capturing Photeus who turned out to be an ally. He issued a final order, and the two Xi'an lifted the burial pod and began to carry it back toward their shuttle.
"We leave now. And so must you," Trr'enth stated, his voice softer now than in the beginning. He turned to head for the cargo bay door.
"One more thing!" Gedion piped up. Matthias looked at him in surprise, and Trr'enth turned around, the grim look of impatience returning to his face.
"You are going to hunt for whoever is killing you people right?" Gedion asked rhetorically. "Well, considering your relations with the Banu, and the distance from Vanduul space, they are likely humans…" he continued.
Trr'enth conceded a nod.
"Then you could use the help of a human to track them down. Someone who knows how humans think, how we act," Gedion explained.
Trr'enth stared sternly at Gedion, sizing him up. Xi'an tend to suspect that every human idea has a self-serving scheme behind it. He was trying to figure out Gedion's angle. Gedion spared him the trouble.
"If you know the XSO you know we care about our relations with the Xi'an. We value our trade with you and we respect your culture. It is in our best interest to help you as much as we can," Gedion finished with a nod.
Trr'enth paused for another moment, then turned and walked towards the door, pausing just in the doorway.
"You will come with us." He said flatly, then proceeded towards his shuttle.
"I hope you know what you are doing," Matthias turned to Gedion and said, sounding almost like a parent.
"Yeah me too," Gedion replied as he followed Trr'enth to the shuttle.