The next day Amanpreet found Niobe sitting at her station even though she wasn’t due on duty for a couple of hours. She had a line open to the contact ship and was deep in conversation with Lin. Amanpreet hadn’t realised that Lin was from Cels like Niobe until she realised they were using Trava, an obscure Anglic language that was spoken in parts of Western Cels’ but not many other planets. Amanpreet knew the odd word, enough to recognise that they were discussing translations of one of the Coronan languages but not enough to follow their conversation exactly. She listened for a moment before clearing her throat.
Niobe looked around and grinned. â€œYou should have told me Lin was the team linguist. We used to play together when were little.â€
â€œYeah, and we went to college together,â€ Lin said. â€œIt’s all her father’s fault. He was so famous he made everyone want to be a linguist. I wish he was here. He’d be able to figure this out.â€
â€œHmm?â€ Amanpreet said. â€œA translation problem? Can’t the Coronan system help?â€
â€œNot exactly a problem, just a slightly unusual sentence structure in one of the lowland language families,â€ Niobe said. â€œThe meaning is clear enough but working out which form to use when using their languages is not straightforward.â€
â€œIt’s not an unusual problem with interspecies communication,â€ Lin said. â€œYou should read Paula Egeland’s notes on the first contact with the Ishtari. Apparently it took them six months to agree on definitions of plant and animal.â€
â€œWell, yeah,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œThat’s because of the Tkin.â€
â€œTrue,â€ Lin said. â€œI’m amazed she and her team managed to pull it off. I would love to have lived back then it must have been exciting.â€
â€œWhen are our guests arriving for the journey to Aletheia?â€ Amanpreet asked.
â€œNot long,â€ Lin said. â€œThey can’t get here under their own steam so Promise is sending two bubbles for the delegation. It says it’s already prepared areas internal areas of the ship for both species including light and temperature preferences. Summer is just making sure it understands first contact security protocols.â€
â€œHas anyone explained those to the Coronan System?â€ Amanpreet asked.
Lin laughed.â€Oh, yes. It said it would be concerned if we didn’t have measures in place.â€
â€œWell they are mostly common sense,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œSo any more updates on the situations?â€
â€œWell there’s still no sign of the Vaians,â€ Niobe said. â€œBut the Council are taking your idea that they might be the ones who attacked Kiath seriously. They’re currently trying to insert a small scout ship to see. It’s proving difficult though.â€
â€œUgh!â€ Amapreet said. â€œThat’s dangerous. What if they are spotted?â€
Yes, that’s why it’s proving difficult,â€ Lin said. â€œSummer has been talking to Promise privately about it.â€
â€œPromise is too large to sneak anywhere!â€ Amanpreet exclaimed.
â€œI know, but apparently Summer thinks our new allies may still be able to help and Promise is the one here.â€ A frown crept into Lin’s voice. â€œSummer knows an awful lot about the sophont Fish, even the other Mez are surprised. He says his ancestors were part of the project and he has their notes.â€
â€œAnd you don’t believe him?â€ Amanpreet asked.
â€œI’m not sure,â€ Lin said. â€œI know him well, and he’s a good person but this is strange. I think he’s hiding something.â€
â€œWe should ask Promise what it thinks.â€ Amanpreet paused as the sensors detected two bubbles emerging from Corona’s atmosphere. â€œBut first our guests are here.â€
A/N: No Haventon chapter this week but we are on track to have one next week.