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Lt. Cmdr Saveron & Lt. JG Alora DeVeau: Universal Language

Kotir Arith

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Lt. Cmdr Saveron & Lt. JG Alora DeVeau: Universal Language


((Ensign DeVeau's Quarters, USS Mercury))

::Dressed in his Vulcan robes and carrying a very fat Vulcan harp case on a strap over one shoulder, Saveron stopped outside the door that the computer identified as Ensign DeVeau's quarters and signaled the door chime.::

::She couldn't be heard from outside the room, but when Alora heard the chime, she immediately ordered that the visitor be allowed to enter.

::As the doors slid open Saveron stepped in, moving with an easy grace, and stopped in the entryway.::

Saveron: Sochya, Ensign DeVeau. ::He made the ta'al and spoke in Modern Golic Vulcan.:: I trust that the timing is still convenient?

DeVeau: Sochya, dif-tor heh smusma. (Peace, live long and prosper)

::Alora offered a smile even if the Vulcan did not and then motioned for him to step further into the small quarters. They had met again the day prior to discuss the DNA, but no conclusions had been made – except when, exactly, they would meet the following afternoon.

Alora turned back to her inner sanctum and plopped down on a couch. The room was comfortable. Soft yet warm light made it easy to see. There were a few holo-pictures that depicted various peoples, most of whom were obviously related to the resident. A quilt of various shades of blue was folded neatly over the back of the couch. A closer inspection
revealed work not done by any sort of mass manufacturing.

Decoration of most sorts was sparse save for the variety of plants that filled the room Most were set upon a decorative shelf, a light above each to help regulate temperature as well as how much light the plants received. There were quite a few species from various planets though all of them required similar conditions to thrive.

Quite a few plants were scattered about the room and not placed upon the shelves. These were small things in coloured pots that had fuzzy leaves. The flowers were velvet in appearance and bloomed in an array of colours from yellow, to purple, to mixed. The most prominent colour was purple with a few sporting a combination of purple and another hue. All but one was in bloom, and the one that remained completely green sported what looked to be a hundred buds that would surely open soon.::

DeVeau: Cop a squat.

::Alora motioned to a seat beside her. A low slung table would sat diligently before her, a place to rest the harp when not in use. Like Saveron, she had an instrument held within its case, that of a guitar which waited by the corner of the couch.::

::The gesture in the direction of the nearby seat was a vital clue as even with the Universal Translator there were certain types of slang that gave the Vulcan a lot of difficulty. He nodded in acknowledgement and settled easily onto the couch, placing his instrument case onto the

DeVeau: Thanks for doing this.

Saveron: You are welcome. ::He replied gravely, a response learned from other species.::

::His attention was however momentarily on the room itself. The soft lighting made it far easier for him to see, the higher light levels of Federation Standard could be glaring, and as he adjusted his third, transparent eyelid slid back across each eye.::

::The plants caught his attention, specimens from many worlds and ecosystems, he judged, for he recognised some of them. Not the small plant with the delicate flowers that occupied so many of the surfaces in the room.::

Saveron: If I may ask, what is that plant? ::He enquired, curious, gesturing with a long-fingered hand.::

DeVeau: Hm?

::Alora actually rose as Saveron sat down. A question had been imminent, but the Vulcan's own came first. She followed the pale gaze of the man to the plants in question.::

DeVeau: Oh those are African Violets. They're native to Terra and hardy little things, though they don't look it. My family has kept them for generations, actually. Some of these are descendents of plants from my great, great, great, great grandmother.

::She reached out to caress the velvet leaf of one plant, less fancy than the others with its darker green foliage and deep violet, single starred flowers.::

Saveron: Fascinating ::He subjected the nearest plant to a close visual examination.:: Clearly you have an appreciation for fauna.

DeVeau: Well, botany is one area I focused on. Do you like plants?

Saveron: My own people are agrarian.

DeVeau: Well, yes, but that doesn't mean you like plants.

::Saveron inclined his head in acknowledgement of her point.::

Saveron: I also have an appreciation of botany and keep fauna from several Vulcan regions in my quarters.

::He would not, of course, say that he liked plants, for that would be admitting to a non-logical emotional response.::

::Alora gave a small grin, then motioned to the replicator that was nestled within one of her walls. ::

DeVeau: Do you want something to drink? Or shall we just get started.

Saveron: A cup of theris-masu would be agreeable.

::Alora made quick use of the replicator, then returned to her seat. She placed the drinks on a smaller table to the side that held one of her plants. There was no way she wanted to risk an accident that might harm the beautiful Vulcan instrument.::

::Saveron meanwhile opened the catches on one side of the case. The reason for the case's size was apparent in the two sets of clasps and hinges; it was designed to hold not one of these instruments, but two. This one was in a traditional Han-Shir style and, unusually, made of a silvery wood, inlaid with a darker, golden wood in interwoven patterns. Lifting the instrument from it's case Saveron settled it on his lap with the ease of long familiarity and began to tune the strings.::

DeVeau: I've heard these played and they're so beautiful. I was always too busy to try and learn at the time though. I guess I'll have a little more free time now.

Saveron: You lacked free time at the Academy? ::He inquired evenly.::

DeVeau: Oh I kept really busy at the academy. I managed a couple of extra curricular activities, but that was it and I tried to actually incorporate what I was studying into those - like using music with the languages.

::The Vulcan nodded gently.::

Saveron: Then one trusts that having fewer demands on your time will permit you to persue other interests.

::Satisfied with the tuning Saveron plucked several clear notes from the strings.::

DeVeau: I hope so.

::Alora watched the last bit of tuning with interest. She wanted to reach out to caress the material and feel the strings. Did it feel anything like the strings on her guitar?::

DeVeau: Are these usually made of wood?

Saveron: They are made of many different materials. The desert tribes use bone, the western peoples laminated hide. The Nel-Gathic peoples are the traditional care-takers of the Tr'alorian Preserve, and are permitted to harvest a sustainable amount of wood from it.

::Of course one could replicate an instrument in whatever material one found preferable, but there was a value in instruments made using the traditional methods.::

DeVeau: I imagine the material used would affect the way the instrument sounds. Like violins and guitars. Types of wood can sometimes make the sound warmer or like it has more depth. The type of metal used to make a trumpet can do that too.
Saveron: So I understand. This particular instrument belonged to my maternal grandfather.

DeVeau: What about the strings? What are they made from? And from what I have heard, the Vulcan music scale is different from what one might be used to from my planet, though it seems to share some commonalities with certain other countries on Earth.

Saveron: That is correct. The Vulcan music system bears a close resemblance to the Terran twelve-tone chromatic scale system which I understand is used in traditional Chinese music, as well as some music from your Indian sub-continent. The strings may be gut or woven hair or in this case fibres from an Aka'sis vine.

::He plucked several strings to demonstrate the series of tones.::

Saveron: The harp can also be tuned to a diatonic scale for playing most western Terran music.

DeVeau: Would you be willing to play a little for me before we go over the mechanics?

Saveron: As you wish. Each culture has it's own musical tradition, and post-Surak our musical systems were revised and unified, and the music differs again.

::He plucked a few more notes then tweaked the tuning of one string slightly.::

Saveron: This is a recent Golic composition.

::Plucking the strings rapidly he set up a flowing series of chords, major and minor harmonics with a complex melody line that required both speed and precision. Long, deft fingers flew over the strings in what was a technically demanding piece and pleasant to listen to, though it
did not capture the imagination.::

::It wasn't like the composition she had heard so many years prior, but it was pretty enough. Alora eased back to enjoy the music none-the-less. When it came to a close, Alora clapped.::

DeVeau: You said it's changed? Do you know any pre-Surak music?

Saveron: Affirmative. I have made a point of learning ancient compositions from my own Nel-Gathic culture.

DeVeau: Would...you be willing to play something for me from that era?

Saveron: I have no objection. ::He replied evenly.::

::Working by ear alone, Saveron adjusted the tuning of the instrument to the ancient system appropriate for the piece, playing a series of chords to test the tuning then pausing, apparently satisfied.::

::The music this time was initially far simpler, beginning with a single pure note that rang out through the air before picking out a flowing melody that wound through a minor key, rising and falling with interleved harmonics that seemed to speak alternately of glowing hope and deep melancholy, the two threads of the music intertwined inseperably to produce a whole that spoke of the bittersweetness of life in all its complexity.::

::The deceptively simple tones seemed almost to wind about one's spirit, lifting it and lowering it with the music, such that one experienced the same joy and sadness as the composer, thousands of years ago. It closed at last on a series of gentle chords that spoke of new beginnings, yet left a sensation that though complete something was missing from the
music, as it sometimes was in life, a yearning for something beyond one's reach.::

DeVeau: Oh! That's more in line with one of the first pieces I've ever heard.

Saveron: It is understood to be a celebration of new beginnings, tempered with the loss of old. Valeohrohen Naykh Hawehl-khur composed it in the weeks following his people's victory in the Battle of Five Springs. He lost his father in that battle, but his people endured. oOMy people. Oo You heard me speaking of him to Saavok.

::Valoren Silver Eyes was also a fairly famous figure in ancient Vulcan culture, for any who cared to study it.::

DeVeau: I've read a little about him, but it was a long time ago.

::Alora had other studies she had to focus on during Academy. History had been encorporated a little in her Vulcan classes, but not to the degree where she could be considered particularly knowledgeable. Still, the figure was familiar to her to some degree at least which kept her from being entirely ignorant.::

DeVeau: You talk about him a lot. As if you were related.

Saveron: He is a direct male-line ancestor. He was a musician, a composer and a poet, a son, father and husband, and a skilled leader of the Ayein peoples. Much of his work is still extant.

DeVeau: Sounds like a well rounded person.

Saveron: He was also a murderer, a rapist, a warmonger and a genocide. ::He added in an odd tone.::

DeVeau: I suppose that's...sort of well rounded. ::Not in a good way.:: Kind of the anti-thesis of the picture painted if you simply look at his positive accomplishments.

::That wasn't that unusual, actually. Even humans were often like that.::

DeVeau: There was a king on Earth back during the 1500s in our timeline. His name was Henry the VIII. The guy was...well, to be honest, I wouldn't call him sane. He went through six wives, two of which he had killed for stupid reasons. He threw temper tantrums like an undisciplined child and was quite the tyrant. Yet, he was also a patron of the arts and even wrote some music himself. So I guess we know what that says about a person.

Saveron: Only that no person is ever simple. Nor any situation. ::It was an important thing to remember.:: With the coming of Surak we rejected our violent past. And all that went with it.

::There was that odd tone of voice again, and the Vulcan plucked again the single note that had led his ancestor's composition; over four thousand years old.::

DeVeau: Yeah. You're right.

::Alora couldn't help but catch the change in tone. She tilted her head to regard the Vulcan and allow an acute study of his features. What was it in his voice? She couldn't put a name to it, nor did the stoic nature of his face change. He was unreadable, visually. But aurally? Something was in there, an emotion of some sort, despite his attempts to mask it. She refused to say anything, however. Vulcans did their best to suppress their emotions - but it would be a far cry to say they didn't have them.::

DeVeau: Perhaps an added benefit to these lessons will be that I get to learn more about your people's history.

::That smile that was so often present upon her features lit up again. Even if he did not care to express his emotions or let them wash over his face, she was not bound by such strict cultural standards.::

Saveron: If you are interested I would be honoured to convey my people's history, but I will not bore you with the details if you are not. ::He was aware that not every species appreciated data-dumping the way Vulcans could and did.:: I would be interested to learn more of Earth's

::The close comparison with this Henry, a leader of Alora's people, had caught his interest. It was fascinating to compare and contrast different species.::

DeVeau: Oh I love history, even history of other cultures. So...how do I begin with this lovely instrument?

::The Vulcan re-tuned the harp to the modern system then offered the instrument over, the wood warm from being held.::

Saveron: The lower curve fits over your thigh, the back held close to your body. Your right hand curves around the body and your left reaches across it.

DeVeau: Okay...so...wait...like this?

::Alora gingerly held the instrument and placed the curve on her thigh. She drew the instrument closer to her body and then curled her arm around to reach the strings. Even though she got the basic hold correct, there was an awkward air to it. She looked to Sav and allowed him to make the adjustments needed so that she held it properly.::

::Careful to touch her by her fabric-covered arm rather than her bare hand, Saveron adjusted Alora's hold on the instrument slightly. It was perhaps somewhat too large for her, but it would suffice for initial lessons.::

::Satisfied that Alora held the harp correctly, Saveron undid the snaps on the other side of the case and lifted out the second instrument.::

::This harp had only the most basic concept in common with the first. Where the harp Alora held was hundreds of years old, hand-made from rare woods, the one that now rested in Saveron's hands was clearly machine-made, formed of gleaming steel and transparent aluminium. The body reflected the low lighting and when he flicked a couple of switches
on its side it became lit with an inner glow.::

Computer: Electronic pickup acquired.

::When Saveron plucked the steel strings to tune it the sound emanated not from the instrument itself but from the room's sound system, aimed to amplify in the general region of the electric harp. The sound was clear and pure but hard and metallic, unlike the soft tones of the wooden instrument with its countless organic subtleties.::

DeVeau: Wow, that's quite a difference.

Saveron: As different as an electric guitar from an accoustic one. ::He was familiar with that Terran instrument, although he'd never played one.::

DeVeau: Are you sure I shouldn't use the one that isn't really old and precious?

Saveron: Affirmative. This ::he indicated the electric harp in his lap:: is a useful compromise, but it lacks the subtlety of the original. I would not teach a student on an inferior instrument.

DeVeau: If you're sure...Okay, I'll stop interrupting now. Please, continue.

::Adjusting the settings of the electric harp so that it mimicked the sound of the acoustic as much as possible, Saveron led Alora through basic Vulcan music theory, offering comparisons to Terran 'western' music theory and taught her some basic musical exercises that promoted strength in the fingers and deftness of movement. The lesson finished with a very simple piece of music, the two playing it through together after several repetitions.::

Saveron: Your talent for music is apparent, you learn rapidly. ::He observed as they finished up.::

::Given that she was facing a whole new music system as well as a new instrument, she learned very fast indeed. It would be preferable if Saavok showed the same level of interest and aptitude.::

DeVeau: Thank you.

::It was indeed a compliment, even if there was no obvious emotion behind the words.::

DeVeau: Music has always come easily to me. If only it were that way for everything.

::Alas, life was just not always easy.::

Saveron: If you would not object, I will arrange for the replication of an instrument that will be better suited to you ergonomically.

DeVeau: Oh, that would be great. I'm sure I could obtain a non replicated one eventually. The sound on yours just just too delicious that I doubt it could compare to one that wasn't crafted by hand.

Saveron: The craftsman's skill brings out the individual characteristics of each instrument, something a replicator cannot. ::He agreed.:: You will however find it easier to learn with an instrument of appropriate size.

::Not that he would object to her playing his, if she found that preferable. But for practice she would need her own.::

DeVeau: Do you want to try some guitar before you go?

::Alora honestly enjoyed the company so if she could extend the time, all the best. However, she also knew they had taken longer than they hand originally scheduled out and she didn't want to keep him from important things.::

Saveron: If it would not impinge overly on your time.

::He did not wish to overstay his welcome, but both the company and the opportunity to learn were agreeable, and he had no other pressing calls on his time.::

DeVeau: Of course not. I have no other plans.

::Carefully putting both harps back into their case, Saveron gave Alora his full attention. He was familiar with western Terran music theory from his study of the piano, but had never attempted to play any Terran stringed instrument, and they came in a wide array of styles.::

::Alora reached over to grab the case and pulled it up. She paused and then twisted her head to frown at the Vulcan. ::

DeVeau: You know, I forgot to ask if you are left handed or right.

Saveron: I favour my left hand.

DeVeau: Oh good. Cause I'm right handed, but for some reason playing the guitar always felt better playing left-handed so I learned it that way. Don't ask me why, my body's just weird.

::Saveron would not have used that particular adjective.::

::Alora withdrew the instrument from its case. It wasn't anything particularly fancy. Like the harp, it was made of wood rather than plastic or metal. It was a dark, cherry hue that was kept well polished. Alora drew it to her body as if it were a lover returning home and almost sighed. Her hands found their place and she began to tune the instrument, head [...]ed as she listened to the tones. Once finished, she turned to allow the Vulcan to examine how she held it.::

DeVeau: This is how you want to hold your hands. Think you can match it?

Saveron: I will endeavour to do so. ::He replied, noting the positioning of the instrument with reference to Alora's petite frame.::

::Of course he could. She didn't really doubt. Alora released her instrument and passed it along. She watched as he took it up and nodded as he immediately settled his body in the proper position - technically anyway.::

DeVeau: Relax. Relax. Don't worry about being so tight and stiff. You'll do better if you let the tension out.

::Saveron had endeavoured initially to copy her posture exactly, which was somewhat impractical given their different builds. Sitting back slightly he pulled the guitar in close and laid his long fingers on the strings.::

Saveron: Is this more appropriate? ::He asked.::

DeVeau: A little better.

Saveron: I understand that it is a most versatile instrument. ::He was sufficiently familiar with Terran popular culture.:: How would you recommend I begin?

::He glanced across at her, grey eyes meeting green, awaiting her input since the tables were turned and she was now the teacher.::

DeVeau: Well, there are two schools of thought.

::Alora let her fingers glide over the strings in one fell swoop which allowed a chord to ring out.::

DeVeau: Some think learning chordal structure first is best.

::Her fingers moved over the strings again, but that time she picked out several notes to create a broken chord.::

DeVeau: The classical style of learning, however, teaches things a little differently. Personally, I'd learn classical style first because it's easy to cross over into more modern music and will help you further down the road. Some people like to start in a less traditional manner, though so really it's up to you.

Saveron: I would concur with your assessment. ::He replied evenly. The classical style was more agreeable to his sensitive ears.::

DeVeau: All righty, let's get started. First, we'll identify the strings and move on from there.
::The lesson progressed as Alora laid out the fundamental workings of the instrument and how it was applied to Terran musical theory. That he already had a grounding in the latter was beneficial, and Saveron was an interested and attentive student. As the lesson drew to a close Alora had him picking out a simple tune of the guitar with passable competence.::

Saveron: Intriguing. The ‘guitar’s’ potential is clear. ::As he had said before, it seemed versatile.:: I am appreciative of your time and instruction.
DeVeau: It's not a problem at all.

::Alora enjoyed teaching - sometimes, she learned things better when she taught - or maybe teaching gave her motivation to learn better.::

DeVeau: Are you interested in learning more?

Saveron: I would find the prospect of future lessons agreeable. ::He allowed, carefully passing the instrument back to it’s owner.::
::Alora carefully replaced the instrument in its home and secured the locks. ::

DeVeau: Well that was fun. I shouldn't keep you. Thanks for teaching - and letting me teach!

::Inclining his head politely, the lanky Vulcan gathered up his harp case and rose gracefully to his feet.::

Saveron: It was agreeable. Until our next lesson. Dif-tor heh smusma. ::He offered her the ta’al.::

DeVeau: Dif-tor heh smusma.

::Alora mimicked the Vulcan's farewell and the salute. Unlike the Vulcan, however, she added her own signature in the form of her ever-ready smile.::


Lieutenant Commander Saveron
Chief Medical Officer


Lieutenant JG Alora DeVeau
Science Officer

USS Mercury
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