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Commander Saveron: The Language of Science

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@Saveron and @Lazarus Davis have done a great job in portraying the communication between a Federation team and a very alien creature.  I'm really enjoying watching this unfold!


((Tat’si Valley, Path of the Wild Walker, Endaasi))


Lystra had done her utmost to express initial goodwill and give the amphibious being a sense of their language. The very fact that it had picked up the water canteen and drunk the water showed that it had understood at least some of what she was trying to tell it. And proved that it was sentient. 


Behind them, Sarah Mason was working on her comm badge, trying to adjust the Universal Translator to be more receptive to the being’s language, whilst Jalana and Ravenna discussed it’s biology, which was like nothing they’d ever seen.


Mentally tired no doubt, Lystra sat down on the baked ground nearby. Saveron took that as his cue to come forward and crouch, just out of the being’s reach, in a non-threatening manner. 


Saveron: We mean no harm, and will help if we can.


Picking up a stick, the Vulcan began to draw shapes in the burned ground. First a small circle, heavily scribed but hollow, then a larger circle around it in a light trace; on that circle, a heavy dot. Next to that, he drew a similar shape, but instead of one inner circle there were four, two hollow and two filled by scratches. On the outer, lightly scribed circle, he placed two dots. 





Carter: ::unable to see what was being drawn:: Whatcha doodling there, Commander? 


Saveron: The two most common elements in the universe; hydrogen and helium.


It was the conventional, greatly simplified representation of the atoms, as used in the Federation, showing the nature of the electron orbits. 


Looking up at the being, Saveron waited to see if there was any kind of response. Could they find some common ground, some recognition of each other, and some way to help it’s injuries? 


The creature looked at it, but gave no obvious sign of recognition. Perhaps it they gave it some time to consider the scratchings; who knew what kind of representations they used?


Mason: ::excited:: You’re a genius..


Ishar: [Mmm? What have you scribbled in the muck? It’s pretty, in a way, but I doubt you are sharing art with me. :: Ishar looked back to briefly lock gaze with the grey-eyed mammal again :: No, not art. But if it were art, what would it represent? A star system? Maybe, but a system with four stars in it is next to it and that doesn’t make any sense. I’ve never even heard of that before, and these two are shown on the same orbit. What else orbits?]


Carter: Is there a universal sign for hurt or injured?


Rajel: Not that I know of. Even the caduceus is not universal or I'd try to draw that. Atoms are much more simple as a base.


That was when the creature shifted and moved, looking at Saveron's drawing from another angle. The Vulcan shifted out of the way slightly, watching intently. And something happened. The being looked at Saveron and pointed at the drawing, making a sound. Vulcans used a range of language sounds that other species couldn’t, but he didn’t think he could reproduce that one. 


Ishar: [Wait, are those atoms? :: It locked eyes with the grey-eyed mammal again and pointed :: Hydrogen? Helium?]


Rajel: Look. I think they may recognize it.


Lystra: So do I. Wait..::She thought for a moment:: What was that you said about species not hearing certain sounds? ::She looked at Jalana:: Maybe…..


Saveron: It may have just given us the word for hydrogen. 


Assuming it understood what he was trying to represent. 


Carter: Alright, so roughly how long until the universal translate is up and running?


Mason: I’ve done all I can. It’s up to the creature and the programming to do the rest. I’ve input every trick I know.


Rajel: Yeah without anything to go by for the translator who knows if it ever works. Just one word of recognition would be enough already to try more.


The Boslic pointed to the hydrogen atom Saveron drew and started saying the word ‘hydrogen’ in her normal tone then almost singing the word in different octaves. As tenor and as baritone as she could manage before her voice strained. Then tried the same with the helium atom drawing. 


Lystra: ♪Helium♪ ♪Hydrogen♪


Saveron:: We need more words from it, for the Universal Translator to work on. Words with known meanings. 


So far they had one. 


Carter: And how much more daylight do we have left?


And that was a very good question. They were wet, exposed, with minimal supplies - though perhaps not so minimal had they not had a Starfleeter’s tendency towards over preparedness. 


Rajel: We started at 10... Right now it's.. ::She raised her arm and pushed up a sleeve to check her watch:: 4:26. The sun went down around 9 pm the days before. So about 4 and a half hours.


Lystra stopped trying to say the words in various tones and tember and looked to Saveron. 


Lystra: What…::She sounded parched and had to pull another bottle from her pack and took a long drink:: What do you think? Did it work?


Saveron: If it is a question of hearing range then it may. ::The Vulcan said honestly.:: However if it is a questionn of ability, we will need means other than verbal to communicate.


After all, the Endaasi couldn’t speak, though they could hear. If this ‘Wild Walker’ was native, who was to say it might also have different abilities and limitations? Though it hadn’t yet shown the Endaasi tendency for getting grabby when it wanted to say something. 


Carter: So we need to also start thinking shelter too for all of us. And I can’t speak for everyone, but my stuff is all waterlogged and wouldn’t do much to protect me from the elements. Maybe we could all pool our resources and take a mini inventory?


Mason: Makes sense. I brought a pack, but I haven’t fully checked the damage yet.


Rajel: I got some rations and water but nothing to sleep in.


As they talked, the creature reached out and began to groove the soil with a claw. Jalana came to stand by the Vulcan’s side to watch. It drew a heavy, straight, horizontal line and placed a circle on it, like a bead. Above and parallel to that, it drew another unadorned line. Above that, and centered horizontally, he placed one dot with no line. The others regarded the patterns with interest. 






Next to that, it drew another heavy horizontal line with two beads. Above that, another horizontal line with two perpendicular dashes through it. Above that, two dots. Then it drew back, looking at Saveron expectantly. 






Rajel: What are they drawing?


Lystra: I think it’s the same thing Saveron drew, but in whatever symbology this species uses maybe? There’s similar patterns in the drawings. If Ilix was here he could back me up on that. He’s the analyst. 


Saveron: I believe that Lystra is correct. ::He confirmed, regarding the drawings.:: 


Rajel: The way they pointed at your atoms... could those be their symbols for hydrogen and helium? Like protons, electrons, nucleus, shell...


Lystra: Could be. Or they could merely be writing their name. 


Saveron: No, these are corresponding atomic representations. ::He said with that irritating Vulcan surety.:: They are more abstract than ours, but the meaning is the same. Dots for electrons, lines for neutrons, circles for protons; the relative locations likely indicate the charge state. 


Rajel: I wonder what the different elements of the drawing represent. It's quite different from our model. ::She crouched down and then pointed at the bottom line with the 'bead':: Could this be the circling electron? That would make it hydrogen.


Saveron: That is likely the proton. If the representation is logical then the dots will be the electrons, as they have significantly less mass than a proton. 


Rajel: If it is, this there is helium, because it has two 'beads' on the line. But what is the rest?


Saveron: The strokes are the neutrons. None for hydrogen, two for helium. These are, of course, only the most common isotopes. Other isotopes contain different numbers of neutrons. 


Mason: ::mumbling to herself:: Too bad my UT fixes aren’t working yet.. ::Louder for the others:: Do you think the creature has been staying nearby? Maybe there are some clues to its needs if we could find the shelter?


Rajel: It would make sense if it stayed here, or close by.


She only caught part of the conversation behind her and glanced back at Sarah. 


Lystra: I know you said you did what you could, can we adjust the frequency on our comm badges to transmit our voices at frequencies beyond our range of hearing? The UT should still pick up their response even if we can’t hear it, right? 


Saveron: Assuming that it uses verbal communication, and those sounds aren’t simply something it has learned to do to get a response from other organisms. If it lives predominantly underwater, it may not have a sense of hearing at all, much as animals in caves often lose their vision. 


The speed of sound in water was so much faster than that in air, that when under water any sound heard by an organism with two ears gave the impression of originating within that organism’s own skull.


Carter/Mason: Response


Rajel: ::looking to Sarah and Ravenna:: If you want to look for it, make sure to stay together and stay within earshot in case you need help.


Lystra: I have a phaser in my pack if you need it. ::She pointed to her back:: We can use it to start a fire to dry off and keep warm. Or it might scare our new hiking partner. 


Saveron: It would be preferable not to do so, however we must consider the possibility of having to spend the night in the mountains. I do not know whether it will be perceived with the local interference, but you may wish to activate the emergency beacon. 


As they were pooling resources, Saveron unslung his satchel and handed it over to Jalana and Sarah. It didn’t contain much; his water canteen, a few ration bars, and the emergency beacon. 


Carter/Mason/Ishar: Response


Jalana turned back to Saveron, Lystra, the creature and the drawing.


Rajel: Would it be worth to try another atom to see if we find another pattern? Like Lithium or Carbon? To see what happens with two orbits?


Lystra: What about those and..wait..what’s the atomic representation for dilithium? If they understand what hydrogen and helium are, maybe they know more advanced science as well? It might help us narrow down their knowledge base at least. 


It was said that great minds think alike. Jalana and Lystra were both thinking along the same lines as Saveron himself. 


Saveron: Affirmative. Lithium is the next in the atomic progression. 


He picked up the stick again, and began to scratch in the dirt, next to the being’s own drawing. Three tiny dots, a line with four slashes, a line with three circles. The most common isotope of Lithium.





The he looked expectantly back at the amphibious being. 


Carter/Mason/Ishar: Response


Lystra: We could also try drawing harmonic waves? ::She looked at Saveron, then to Jalana:: Waves have patterns and those patterns are universal I believe. We may be able to get a basic language...like sign language, but with song? Tones? I think I remember reading some terran fiction where they tried using something similar. 


The Vulcan still wasn’t convinced that the creature could even hear. It had made noises yes, but perhaps it had learned over the years that such elicited a response from others. 


Saveron: Our new companion is badly injured. Whatever we do, it needs assistance. 


Could they even give it that here? And where was the water it so obviously needed?


Carter/Mason/Ishar/Rajel: Response


Lystra: Music is also mathematical in nature. Right? Would that help us communicate if it had such an understanding? 


Saveron: If it can hear, and if it’s culture has music. ::He said patiently.:: I recommend that we pursue the direction which has already received a response.


Much as he would be fascinated to trade musical theory with it. If they could establish communication with this species, then perhaps that would be a conversation for the future.


Carter/Mason/Ishar/Rajel: Response


Lystra pulled another bottle from her pack, opened it and offered it to the creature. This time holding it in her hand so it could take it from her. An attempt at building trust. Showing she trusted it not to try and swipe at her or rip her arm off and offering the water she’d seen it drink so quickly. 


Saveron: Be wary of using all of our water. ::He said quietly.::


They were, after all, in a survival situation, and most of them would last only a few days without water. 


Whilst she did that, Saveron took up his stick again.


Carter/Mason/Ishar/Rajel: Response


Lystra: Here. I hope it helps you feel better. ::She looked at the creature:: 


Whilst Lystra was tending to the creature, Saveron drew a small circle next to the symbol for Lithium. Then in a new space below the line of atoms, he used that circle as a module to map out an array, pairs of squares arranged in a very specific lattice, with a regular relationship between the pairs.


The structure of the crystalline form of dilithium. 




He looked up again at the creature. It’s turn. 


Saveron/Carter/Mason/Ishar/Rajel: Response



Commander Saveron


USS Constitution-B


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