"Spoken and Unspoken"
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Gamma Shift on the Bridge was usually quiet, so quiet that Hoshi Sato didn’t mind. She enjoyed the relative peace as she concentrated on her Hydillian phrases. The Hydillian language flowed like water on silk, its tones soft and pure. A language reflected the culture and Hoshi was eager to meet the Hydillians when the Enterprise would meet them in three days.
“Sana ahuriua ba’niru Hoshi Sato. I’ilubar’na ni rhubara su.” She murmured under her breath, matching the cadence and pitch of target sentence. “Na’reru sh’Enterprise du Ren’Jonathan Archer—“ Hoshi paused; no, that wasn’t right. “Naaa-reeh-ru.” Yes, that was better. I am the Voice, Hoshi Sato. I am pleased to make your acquaintance. My home is Enterprise with Jonathan Archer.
She leaned forward and massaged her temples before tackling the next sentence. Mu’rathua di shi’shu lia. I am honored to add my Voice to yours. The complexity of the sentences enthralled her so much that she didn’t notice Sub-Commander T’Pol watching her from the command chair.
“Your accent is flawless,” T’Pol commented.
“Thank you, Sub-Commander, but it’s taken me a while to get there.” She sighed and managed a smile. “The Hydillian language is built on subtexts and allusions. Just when I think I have the correct translation, more possibilities for interpretation open up. It’s fascinating, like an alien symphony. Always changing, always re-forming itself.”
T’Pol raised an eyebrow. “Would it not be impossible to communicate, if there were no points of commonality?”
Hoshi chuckled and ruefully shook her head. “It’d be difficult, yes, but the Hydillians have three different dialects: one they use for guests, one they use for intimate speech and one for general conversation among themselves. The dialect I’m learning isn’t as complicated, but it still has the poetry of the others.”
“Languages have a poetry all their own,” T’Pol said. “Vulcan may sound harsh to Human ears, but it still has it’s own logical structure underneath.”
“Indeed it does.” Hoshi agreed. A smile threatened to break out on her lips, despite her efforts at a serious expression.
A series of pulses echoed over her earpiece. She frowned and checked her communications board. Nothing out of the ordinary; the space around Enterprise crackled with the normal space noise. For good measure, she ran a level-one diagnostic to make sure nothing was wrong.
Again, another series of pulses. And another. “Sub-commander, I’m getting some kind of repeating signal.”
T’Pol raised her eyebrows and asked, “Is it a distress call?”
“I’m not sure. I’m going to have to analyze it.” Her hands danced over her console, her eyes closed to concentrate better. The universal translator indicated that yes, it was the same pattern, but it wasn’t a language that she’d encountered before. She quickly set up an analysis with the known languages in the sector. Yes, its structure was similar to Uellami, but not exactly, and the words seemed derived from Th’allaliuy, but the grammar was all wrong...
“I almost have it, Sub-commander.” She listened again, breaking the wholes into parts, then reassembling them again into coherent forms. The beats of the message was like music, with quarter rests and half-rests in between. Suddenly, there was an opening, like the faintest glimmer of sunshine, and then, the other pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
“Need...help...peril...heat...” Hoshi’s brow wrinkled as she put it all together. “It’s definitely a distress call, Sub-commander, but their language doesn’t match anything in the UT database.”
T’Pol’s response was immediate. “Location?”
Ensign Lori D’Angelo at Tactical replied, “It’s coming from one five two mark three seven.”
“Lieutenant Mayweather, set a course to intercept. Lieutenant Sato, please alert the captain.”
“Yes, Sub-commander.” Hoshi hated waking up Archer, but she knew that he’d want to know about a possible rescue mission. She heard the exhaustion in his voice, but a hint of excitement crept into it at the possibility of meeting a new race.
She heard the turbolift doors open behind her. D’Angelo said, “Sir,” and moved aside for Malcolm Reed to take over the Tactical Station. He seemed awake and alert for a man who’d pulled a double shift and was now starting his third shift. Malcolm caught her concerned expression and gave her one of her half-smiles.
“Lieutenant, you were not scheduled to be on the roster—“
“With the Sub-Commander’s pardon, I want to make sure the ship is prepared for any eventuality,” he replied calmly. “I will rest later.”
T’Pol opened her mouth to object, then closed it. “Very well, Lieutenant. Ensign D’Angelo, man the external sensors.”
“Yes, ma’am,” D’Angelo replied and moved to her new station.
Five minutes later, Captain Archer arrived on the Bridge, his hand still fastening the pips on his collar. T’Pol briefed him on the situation, with Travis and Malcolm updating him from their respective stations. Hoshi hardly noticed; she still concentrated on the signal. With each successive cycle, she filled in more words and new meaning. The panicked tone of the speaker only served to slur the words and obscure them. Silently and efficiently, Hoshi filtered out the distractions.
“Captain, I have the distress signal translated.”
Archer turned to look at her from his command chair. “Let’s hear it, Hoshi.”
She put it on speakers. “Lydjani. Assistance. Ship peril. Heat. Intensity. Peril. Assistance. Family Unit. Negative power. Assistance. Immediate.”
“Simple, but they got the point across,” Travis said. “They said their family’s aboard and they have no power. Maybe their engines are overheating.”
Hoshi nodded. “It sounds like their language is very complex, Captain. No verbs tenses whatsoever, just nouns and adjectives. But Travis is right, they’re in trouble.”
Archer nodded. “Time to intercept, Travis?”
“Steady as she goes then. Hoshi, alert Doctor Phlox for a possible medical emergency. Wake up Commander Tucker; if they need help with their engines, I want him on the Away Team.”
“Yes, sir.” Hoshi did as ordered. She caught Archer’s look of gratitude, for her talents and her service. He might not say it aloud very often, but she knew the captain appreciated her presence on the Bridge. It warmed her heart and lightened her soul in the face of possible danger.
Archer wanted her on the Away Team, in addition to Phlox, Trip and Malcolm. “We need you to translate for us, tell them we’re here to help.”
“Yes, sir.” She squirmed as she squeezed into the EVA suit, taking deep breaths to control her rising claustrophobia. Zero-G was never one of her favorite pasttimes; she swallowed hard to control her stomach. A gentle hand squeezed her shoulder. Hoshi glanced behind her to meet Trip Tucker’s look of encouragement. She smiled back.
For a man who talks a lot, one simple look or gesture can mean so much. She felt better, knowing Trip was looking over her shoulder.
Fifteen minutes later, Malcolm guided Shuttlepod Two to a docking port on the Lydjani ship. As soon as he cracked the hatch open, they were knocked back by a blast of cold air. Even with the EVA suit, Hoshi felt her teeth chatter. Cold? I thought they said peril and heat.
“Did we have a mess-up in translation?” Archer wondered aloud.
“They probably meant they were in peril because they didn’t have heat,” Trip said. “It’s close to fifteen below in here.”
“Life signs, Doctor?”
“Eleven, three decks above us,” Phlox said. “They’re steadily weakening, Captain. I suggest we make haste.”
“Agreed.” Archer motioned Malcolm and Phlox forward and added, “Trip and I will go over to their engine room and see if we can boost the temperature in here.”
Hoshi followed Malcolm and Phlox as they climbed up access ladders and went through portals. Malcolm’s body was tense with anticipation, his phase pistol always at the ready. Phlox concentrated on his medical scanner with a single-mindedness that rivaled Malcolm’s. Neither man said anything, but Hoshi knew they both focused on their mission.
“They’re in there,” Phlox said, gesturing with his scanner to a closed door. “All eleven life signs. It’s likely they gathered together to conserve body heat.”
Malcolm wiped frost from the control panel. “Hoshi?”
She moved to his side as he shone his torch at the stylized letters on the panel. She blinked as she realized they were familiar. “It’s in Hydillian, Malcolm. They’re flying a Hydillian ship. The inscription says this is their control center.”
“Reed to Archer.”
“Go ahead, Lieutenant.”
“We’ve located the life signs; they’re all in the control center. We can’t get the door open—there isn’t any power.”
“Try to get those doors open any way you can, Malcolm. Trip and I are having trouble with the engines.”
“Aye, sir. Reed out.” He nodded to Phlox and the two men positioned themselves on either side of the closed door. They each grabbed one side of the door and pulled with all their strength. After much straining and groaning, they managed to open a gap wide enough for Hoshi to slip through. She darted between them and slipped through the door.
“Hoshi, wait—“ Malcolm called.
She was greeted by low light, barely enough to see in the blackness. As she waited for her eyes to readjust to the dark, she saw shapes curled onto the floor and hunched in recliners. No one moved as she made her way through them. She put her hand on a bony shoulder, but it shivered violently in cold and pain.
“Assistance. Assistance. Friend?” she whispered, remembering the distress message. Then she added the phrase she’d learned in Hydillian: “Sana ahuriua ba’niru Hoshi Sato. I’ilubar’na ni rhubara su.”
The being started in response, and a tentacle whipped around and wrapped around her waist. She gasped, but before she could pull away, a second one encircled her chest and a third around her legs. Her arms were still free, and one hand still held the UT.
“Hoshi!” Malcolm shouted. She saw the glimmer of the phase pistol in the reflection of her faceplate. And there was a slow rumble among the other Hydillians; although they were hurt, they still responded to a threat to one of their kind.
“Malcolm, wait! Don’t fire!” Hoshi forced herself to relax in the Hydllian’s grip. “We’re just...getting acquainted.”
“‘Just getting acquainted’? Hoshi, it looks ready to squeeze you to death!” Malcolm replied hoarsely.
“I don’t think he means to hurt me, Malcolm.” She twisted around so she could look directly at Malcolm. “Malcolm, please. Listen to me. They will attack if they think we’re a threat, even if they aren’t well.”
He met her pleading look, icy blue-gray eyes meeting liquid brown ones. Finally, he nodded stiffly and lowered his phase pistol. She thought she saw something under the fear and the concern for her safety, but like an oyster hiding its pearl, it was swallowed up by formality.
The Hydrillian held her close for several seconds more, then it began to loosen its tentacles around her. Then four of those tentacles began inscribing symbols in the air, gesturing to its fellow crew. Then it shivered and settled back into its recliner, too exhausted to do much more.
“I think it’s all right to examine them now, Phlox,” Hoshi said in a low voice. “They’ll allow it.”
Phlox nodded and approached the Hydillian with caution. “I’m here to help you. Let me help.”
The Hydillian waved its tentacles and this time, they all heard soft swishing noises. “That’s how they communicate with other species, Phlox. I think he knows you’re a doctor.”
Quickly, Phlox assessed the Hydillians’ condition, while Hoshi stayed close, making comforting, soothing sounds. Malcolm examined the control panels of the ship. To his surprise, another Hydillian tapped him on the shoulder with a tentacle. He glanced behind him as the Hydillian reached past him, gesturing and pointing at the buttons. Malcolm touched and manipulated the controls in the order he was shown, and the Bridge lights came back on.
“Thank you,” Malcolm told him. The tentacle patted his shoulder in approval and withdrew.
Hoshi looked at a Hydillian for the first time. Their bodies reminded her of giant squid, with sheaths of tentacles sprouting from their heads and feet. Yet their sapphire-colored eyes brimmed with intelligence and feeling. She saw another emotion mirrored within them: gratitude.
“You’re welcome,” she whispered, and she received a feather-light touch on her faceplate in reply.
Communications Officer Log:
“Our rescue mission was a complete success. All eleven Hydillians survived the crisis. According to Commander Tucker, their engines overheated and failed, causing a ship-wide shutdown, including of their environmental controls. It turns out the word Lydjani means something like “Angel” or “Guiding Spirit”. It’s supposed to be a prayer to their Gods, asking for help and mercy.
“Their language is a complex harmony of sound and gesture, one that is a challenge to master, but the Hydillian who ‘welcomed’ me turned out to be their equivalent of a communications officer. She recognized one of her kind and allowed me to help.
“This entire event reminds me of how so much is relayed just by our senses of touch. There is so much that we relay through expressions and gestures that aren’t—or not needed to be—said aloud. There is the possibility of misunderstanding (what if I hadn’t stopped Malcolm from firing?), but I’m glad that it all worked out in the end. There is so much that is spoken...and unspoken.”
End log. Hoshi Sato, under password Unspoken.
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