bIjatlh ‘e’ yImev, p’tahk!

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Cynthia Harvey entered the control room to the Churchill Spacedock carrying an old-fashioned vacuum thermos and a rather grumpy expression. Her young subordinate Mike Smith, who went by the name Seamus Pyke, was sitting at his station, dutifully checking away at the day’s opening reports and figures. He spun his chair round to face Cynthia, smiling happily.
“Morning, Commander,” he waved cheerfully, “All’s shipshape about the big, floating tub.”
She fixed him with a glare before she sat down.
“Stop hacking the lock, Turtle,” she grunted, settling into her chair.
“But Commander,” he replied, “How then would I make sure to clock you in early for your shift when you’re running a bit late?”
Cynthia’s face broke for a moment then with a brief smile.
“You just like breaking the rules, kid.”
“And you let me.”
“I’m getting old,” she grunted, adjusting her captain’s chair, “Senile, crazy, you know. Any other commander with half a brain would have shot you out of an airlock years ago.”
“Should have, but didn’t,” Mike kept on grinning, holding out his hand in a beckoning motion, “I hope you haven’t forgotten about our… deal, then?”
Cynthia grunted again and tossed the thermos the few feet to Mike. He caught it happily and immediately unscrewed the top, breathing in heavily as tendrils of steam rose out from the confines. He let out an exhalation that was nearly carnal and seemed to melt into his chair a little.
“You know,” Cynthia’s voice was still low, sarcastic, “You can get coffee at the automat.”
Mike shook his head vigorously that even his short-cropped hair danced about.
“N-n-no, you can’t!” his voice quavered with the movement of his head, “That stuff’s like Romulan Ale, but without all the fun parts!”
“And how would you know about the effects of Romulan Ale?”
“My Dad was a Starfleet Medical Officer,” Mike reclined in the chair with a steaming cup of delicious coffee, “I heard my share of stories.”
“Okay, so maybe I stole a little of his secret consignment once. I was fifteen, and… oh, don’t look now, but it’s almost time.”
“Time?” Cynthia cocked an eyebrow, “Time for what?”
“It’s almost eight o’clock,” Mike muttered, checking the clock on his console, “Time for the shift to start in three, two, one…”
They both turned around to see Humak, the human raised by Vulcans, standing at attention in the doorway.
“Right on time,” Mike grinned.
“It would be illogical to be otherwise,” Humak responded, moving quickly to his seat and beginning what little work there was to do on an old, outdated and nearly empty space station. Mike, who preferred to stretch his tasks out during his shift, returned to conversation with Cynthia.
“So, did you see the news this morning?”
“I tend not to turn into the data feeds anymore,” Cynthia quipped, “They tend to just piss me off, usually.”
“Oh, but you should have seen it this morning!” Mike said eagerly, almost giddily, “There’s a transmission that’s been showing up for months now: no one knows where it’s coming from, when it’s going to broadcast, or even what it is! It’s finally starting to get some notice, though, and naturally all of Starfleet’s best exolinguists are trying to figure it out…”
“And I suppose you already know what it says?” Cynthia replied with no shortage of sarcasm. It was good, she’d found, to be frank and unimpressed with Smith’s talents, or he was bound to become nearly insufferable.
“No!” he shouted back with enough force that even Humak took notice, “That’s the best part! Even I don’t know what it means! Isn’t that just incredible?”
“Has there been a transmission of scheduled departures today?” Humak asked Cynthia, who waved him off angrily and instead began probing Mike for information.
“You don’t know something, for once, and you think it’s incredible?”
“It’s absolutely fascinating! I mean, it could be anything!”
“Has there been a transmission of scheduled departures today?”
“Not now, Humak! Do you realize how damned annoying you can be, Turtle?”
“I’ve got a vague idea…”
“You’re ready to go bananas over something because you don’t know what it’s about. You realize that that scared most people, right?”
“It does?”
“Yes, you moron.”
“Has there been a transmission of scheduled departures today?”
This time, Cynthia chose to simply ignore Humak.
“I just thought,” Mike said with a shrug, “that people would be more interested in something like this than afraid.”
“Most people don’t need much of a reason to be afraid, Turtle,” Cynthia, “Who knows what that transmission could be saying, right?”
“Eh, I wouldn’t worry too much,” Mike waved her off dismissively, “It’s a jumble of dialects, tenses, and even different languages, some of them arcane that they only barely resemble their modern counterparts… if they even have one. Just gibberish, nothing more.”
“Then why broadcast it?”
“Why do Starfleet cadets sometimes pull stupid pranks or wear their uniforms inside out? So someone will notice. It’s just another prank, most likely.”
“You sound so sure.”
“It just doesn’t make enough sense to actually mean anything,” Mike shook his head, “What would be the point of such a message?”
“You’re starting to sound a lot like Humak, Turtle…”
“Has there been a transmission of scheduled departures today?” Humak asked yet again, without a change to inflection or tone. Cynthia ran both hands through her short, gray hair in silent frustration, but Mike could not keep quiet.
“Oh, for crying out loud!” he bellowed, quickly pressing three buttons on the console and displaying a report, “Here, Humak! Here, see?! No departures! Just like yesterday! Just like all this week, due to dangerous solar winds, which you already knew about, so stop asking!”
Silence reigned for a few moments before Humak nodded politely and went back to work. Mike busied himself with quickly disposing of the last of the coffee. Usually, he saved some to stay awake for late night study sessions or catching the odd talk show on a data feed. This night, however, he was asleep unusually early, and dreaming.
He was at a console, but it wasn’t his normal console. It was the console of a new, Constitution-class starship. The captain’s chair was absent, but Humak was in his regular spot alongside him, speaking incessantly in his usual aggravatingly level tone. The words made no sense, though, and it wasn’t until several minutes in that Mike realized what he was saying. It was the coded message, over and over and over again until Mike thought he would lose his mind. Humak was being so annoying… MORE annoying than usual, just saying that mishmash a thousand times over until it lost any meaning it had, until it stopped being words at all, and was just a stream of noises, noises that could actually be not words at all, but…
It was then that Mike shot out of a dead slumber so fast that he bashed his head against the door of the locker, forcing it open and sending him sprawling onto the floor. Almost immediately, he sprang back to his feet, his heart beating madly in his chest and his eyes whipping this way and that. His entire body was a frantic mess from head to toe, but that hardly mattered.
He knew what the message meant.

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