Forward Atrium, Alien Ship
Position Alpha, Andromeda Galaxy
With the computer finally accepting the Universal Translator programming, it was slowly spreading through the entire system—but since it wasn’t completely unlock then it would take time. For now however, Riell Danal’s first major task was completed. She would, of course, continue to study the language, exposing the slight nuances that every alien tongue had whilst learning a little more about the actual people who wrote it, but with the crew now able to start properly working the consoles and technology onboard she was over the first hurdle.
That was until she’d been called to the forward atrium with Commander Takashima. One of the security patrols had found another alien script, one that didn’t match up with what filled the computer banks. The Commander had set her to work on it, wanting answers as soon as she could get them—which was often easier said than done.
So she sat, cross-legged, on the transparent floor, her UT analyser, tricorder and assortment of PADDs set out before her, her eyes tracing every curl, swirl and loop of the words. Written language was always more difficult to decipher than spoken, especially when carved into a wall and not churning through a computer. The fact that this puzzle had been written with a phaser, meant that is was obviously something that was of importance, which was what she’d pointed out to Takashima. He’d asked why such a message wasn’t left in the computer for them to find, to which she could only guess came down to the systems hostility to alien programming—it’d flummoxed their own computer techs for days. Of course, that just presented a whole raft of new questions.
The one that had her was why were the five lines of text left on the wall of this room? The forward atrium, as it had been dubbed, was a three storey room (unsurprising from the name it was at the very front of the ship) with floor to ceiling windows offering some spectacular views—which could be appreciated from the ground level of from either of the two balconies above it. She surmised it was some kind of social space, their equivalent of a ship’s lounge, going by all the couches, tables and chairs, and what looked like a sleek wooden bar on the middle level (on which she now sat). The deck of the middle and upper levels were made of a transparent material, so occupants could see from top to bottom of the room, which was connected by several staircases.
After she had set about her new task, a security guard had been assigned to stay with her, but she’d found the Deltan man to be more of a hindrance than anything else, skulking around the space, disappearing one moment and popping up somewhere the next, the occasional attempt at small talk, all of which distracted her. After just two hours, she’d asked to be left alone. The room was secure, there were plenty of ways for her to escape should it actually be necessary, plus she had a type-one phaser tucked into its holster on her belt. Chief Stone had reluctantly agreed to withdraw the guard, but had made it very clear that he and his team would be close by should she need them.
Left on her own, peace prevailed, with only the sound of her fingertips on the keypad of various devices breaking the silence. Of course she would’ve liked to have had a Starfleet computer to run her analysis through, but had to make do with what was at hand. She would collect as much information as she could, then run it through the ship’s database and see what it made of the writing—even hoped that the ship might have a record of it.
One of the key ways to translate a written language was to look for repetition; it was one of the bases for communication, sorting letters into words, words into sentences, sentences into ideas. She had to look for words that repeated the most frequently, pick apart their letters and start to build an alphabet. That would take time and she wanted to get it right—this message was obviously of some importance, why else burn it into the bulkhead with a phaser?
Danal sighed and slumped forward.
the sweet voice of Laina echoed in her mind, which made her sit up straight, a sad smile now on her face. How long would it be before she saw the light of her life again? It had been Laina who had encouraged her to take the assignment to the Mandela
; after having spent years stuck in communications labs with other language and cryptography experts during the war, trying to crack Dominion codes and create new ones for the Allies to use, she had been about ready to turn her back on her romanticised dream of being in Starfleet. Laina, a researcher for the Federation News Service, had heard of the Mandela
’s mission through her contacts. A ship heading out to chart a few systems wasn’t normally a big news story, but Starfleet Command wanted to show that things were getting back to normal following the war, so the piece was really more to spread some good PR than anything else.
Once she had the details, she had told Danal about it and encouraged her to apply. Though they weren’t necessarily going out to study alien cultures, they could discover some remains of a forgotten people on a quiet little world, which would need a skilled linguist—or rather that was how Laina had sold it to her. Danal had taken her advice and registered her interest, then was shocked to be selected to join the mission only a few days later. She was thrilled at getting to do what she had joined Starfleet to do, but the thought of ten months apart had saddened both of them.
just ten months, and I’m pretty sure you won’t find anyone as good as me on such a little ship,
Laina had teased, plus they do say absence makes the heart grow fonder
Ultimately they’d decided that it wouldn’t be so bad, they could message each other as often as they wanted (though real time communication was out of the question) and afterwards they’d have a lot of reconnecting to do—Danal would need to count and see if Laina had developed any new spots. Never in her wildest dream did she suspect that there would be a literal galaxy between them.
She turned towards the viewports and gazed out at the stars, not even knowing if she was looking towards home.
“I’ll get back to you, baby. I promise,” she told the empty room, her voice resonated around the three levels.