Location: Rest area
Timeline: Day 1 at 0000
Peter looked up from his tricorder readout frustrated. He had scans, images and texts of nearly everything in the engineering/power station and none if it was making any sense. He had been trying to understand what any of the symbols ment or even guess what they could mean but was dry on ideas. He had spent the last few hours trying to decifer, well anything and made absolutely no progress.
Checking his roster, he saw a linguist survived the crash. He was confident she would be buried alive with translation requests from the Commander, but maybe he could piggyback on some of her work. Maybe something up in command would match, well, anything in systems. He made his way down the hall and into what passed for quarters in the current situation as privacy was almost nonexistent at the moment and thought he found her. "Excuse me, Ensign Lelann?" Peter asked.
Lelann's eyes jumped from the PADD to the man's face with sharp accuracy. She was sitting on the floor, amid a small pile of PADDs, all displaying various symbols and messages, and she'd been drawing a symbol herself. The fact alone that it was a two-dimensional symbol was almost miraculously lucky. But to believe in luck, especially in the wake of such tragedy, was illogical.
"Lieutenant. Do you require assistance?"
Peter nodded. He needed a whole lot of assistance, but that all would have to wait. "Yes I do. Sorry to bother you during your research, but that is exactly what I need some assistance with. I'm at a loss on the power systems. I know what it is and an idea on how it functions, but no clue on how to operate it." He offered her his PADD that summarized symbols. "I don't want to add more to your plate, but do any of these look familiar with what you have done so far?"
With alltogether too much forcefulness for a vulcan, she snatched the PADD from him. "This symbol could mean 'power', within the context of a station, but we can not confirm that, since it translates more literally into 'lifeblood' or 'artery'." She pointed at one of the symbols like she was teaching an obstinate child, "This section here means 'heat' and this curled tail augments it to 'entity-heat'. So- we've got environmental systems, likely. Heating for the entities- whether that's the station itself, or the entities within it remains to be seen. Power for environmental systems. One symbol. Any symbol that begins as an arched 'C' shape with a thick top will power something, and the bottom half and tail of the 'C' will demonstrate what." She took a deep breath, then continued, "All plasma conduits on this station seem to be labelled as 'arteries', and from what I recognize, the station is relegated to biological terms often- computers as 'brain', atmospheric regulation as 'breath'. That's about all I can tell you without getting into some deep theory, or I could start describing the grammar for you, if you like, but I'm currently trrying to build vocabulary."
Peter had a glossy look over him. He understood the physical words, but the details on the symbols looked similar to him. "I'm sorry Ensign, vocabulary works fine for me right now. I had a hard enough time in Earth English so unknown language grammar would be waisted on me. Not that I don't want to learn it since we will be here a while, but I don't want to waist your time with my brain struggling to comprehend the symbols as is." He paused.
"Since things are working around a biological thought process, if you discover the word for 'heart, I would guess it is either engineering or the planet core itself. The base is run on a very advanced form of geothermal energy at a level I never seen or read about." He looked at the symbols again. He could almost see difference in them. "Just curious, how long did it take you to decifer all this?"
"Not every biological life form has a heart, or a brain for that matter, but many do have a stomach, which has been referenced several times as being the 'source of blood', I was operating under the assumption that would be some sort of generator room, and thus would be a priority for engineering, but that may just be the core of the planet itself if we're relying on geothermal energy." She sorted a few of the PADDs around, "I began the process of building a vocabulary as soon as we got a good look at the symbols. Numbers and mathematics gave me the 'in' I needed. It has been eighteen hours and thirty-two minutes. I have been stuck on a vocabulary hurdle for the last sixteen minutes."
Lelann quickly inspected him, as though actually getting a look at him for the first time, "It may be beneficial for me to accompany you wherever you are having trouble, so I can see these symbols in context. Since they're logographic in nature, there's no spoken component, physical context is all we have."
"Of course. I'll take you to what I've been working on." He said and offered her his hand to help stand up. "Oh, and I know this interaction so far has not really helped prove anything, but I'm actually brighter than you think I am. The steady 'deer in lights' look is a combination of exhaustion and being way over my head trying to understand an unknown language." He said as he began to lead the way.
She did not take his hand for assistance to get up, but followed him after grabbing one of the PADDs. "I did not assume you were any less intelligent for having trouble with a language unfamiliar to you. Nor did I think you looked like a deer in the headlights, just a very confused human. For future reference, do not offer your hand to a vulcan." She spoke with uniform inflection, with her arms crossed behind the small of her back."
"Oh, sorry. Human habit, and I appreciate the no conclusions. If you ask around you will probably find a few that do question it. When people miss a hot meal, warm bed and a nice shower and think there is a chance it is right at our feet, people start to want miricals and question when they don't provide them." He said and they made their way to the lift. "Anyway, the central terminal will probably be our best start and can branch out from there. I'll just use the word terminal since I'm not sure if each section is a brain or brain is for their equivalent of a Main Computer. "
"Brain Interface, Primary Brain, but you can just call them Computers and Terminals- direct translation is probably not the most accurate way of using this language, especially since they write almost poetically in their logs. It's less of a direct language, more like an allusion to the ideas." Lelann tilted her head carefully, "Your intelligence should not be put in question for being unable to make water with an alien replicator."
Peter nodded. "It's all under the breath, but you know it when they speak. Fortunately, it's just a couple of people. Probably just running off of fear and not being able to do anything about the situation, so they do what they can to make themselves feel better." He answered as they rode down the lift.
"Poetic huh? Would the wording then have some kind of rhythm or cadence to it? A proper sequence of words or number of words to a phrase?" He asked as the doors opened up to his new work area. The room was circular with a large ceiling that had a network of pipes running all directions along the top and branching from a single main pipe that went from the ceiling down through the floor. In the center of the room stood a circular computer bank with a holographic projection of the moon floating in the center.
"That's right. It's as though someone wrote a sonnet to describe their day." Lelann approached the center, looking up at the hologram of the moon, "This was someone's home, once. It will have to be our shelter, for now."
She then quirked her head to the side and pulled the PADD around to look at it- or hide behind it, "I apologize, that's... I'm sure it would sound better in the original language. I believe it's from a novel. Where are those logograms you needed assistance with?"
Peter looked at here. "It's OK Ensign Lelann. Poetry is open to interpretation. I'm sure this species had a similar concept somewhere and I think that is pretty appropriate right now." He said as he looked around. "This is our shelter for a while. A temporary home." He said with a subtle gesture to the holographic moon.
"Oh yes, the logograms. Sorry, each time I come down here and see the hologram I wonder about the nature of the beings that created this. It's fascinating to wonder how they did all this, what they are like and exciting to know we are taking steps to learn that." He said as he walked over to the center console. "Here. I see one of those letters you showed me, but not sure what else. If it has some kind of poetry base, there must be some kind of sequence for each task."
Lelann followed to inspect the symbols, "Well, power or blood, stomach. This one means 'body', describing the whole of something. Could mean the station itself, could mean the whole of the crew. It's not that the language is tricky, it's just that speaking in metaphor seems to be thier standard procedure, and that extends to everything. If we're thinking this is a display of some sort," She pressed gently on the symbol, "There we go!"
The hologram of the moon changed, some colors stretching from the center of the planet to the station, now clearly highlighted in yellow. "The stomach of the body, the blood that keeps it whole."
Peter nodded. "That must be this pipe network." He said indicating one of the pipes. "They are filled with liquid carbon and some other substances we haven't identified yet. Blood seems appropriate then since most organic life is carbon based." He commented as he watched the network slowly expand and begin to web out through the network. "My approach to this was all wrong. Thinking it a computer and machine and needing to look at it as an organism."
"That does seem to be the schema of the technical language. Organic, rather than technological. It's merely a metaphor, from what I understand, but if you utilize the appropriate vocabulary you should have more success understanding the symbols." She drew the symbols from the pipe on the PADD she'd brought, "It is what is most logical, despite the illogic of the language itself."
Peter started looking for other symbols that were decifered and tried to see any sections grouped together. "Could be a point of view issue. To us it is illogical to program something using physiology as a metaphor for function but in their culture, maybe relating things to a basic lifeform was only natural." He paused a moment. "Or, maybe because physiology is nearly universal. Most beings have all the general criteria here, brains, blood, stomach, etc.. all located different but nearly universally same function. Sort of a universal language in their mind."
"It could be indicative of several species finding a common component to base a linguistic scema around, but I hesitate to make any conclusions based on hypothesis." Lelann scrolled through the vocabulary on the PADD, then set it down and looking for more symbols, "The only conclusions we can make from the language so far is that whoever built this station has a written version of their language, and that the language uses biological terms to refer to mechanical concepts."
Peter nodded. "That is more than what I had to begin with. I appreciate your help. I at least have a direction to go with this. Before that I was just flailing trying to .are sense of anything at all. If I can do anything to help your research just let me know. I'll of course forward along anything I may discover related to the language or patterns."
"Data is always appreciated. Symbols, where they were and on what, and if you find any logs or files I need to decipher them. Hopefully, I can get the Universal Translator to start converting some of this language into actual, workable information for you and your crew." Lelann closed out the PADD and hummed, pressing a symbol on the panel and changing the holographic display once again, this time to an image of the moon from a little further away, with the location of the station on it's surface outlined in yellow.
"Of course. I'll have the padd take an image of the area around the symbol and I'll notated any changes if I used if for any reason. Although, I'm not in a habit if pressing buttons randomly except for last ditch effort, and at the moment, this doesn't appear to be the time." He said looking at the new view. "Well, at least we know where we are on this rock. We may not know where this rock is, but at least it's a start."
"Any information is good information." Lelann nodded politely, "If you require any further assistance deciphering this language, you know where to find me. I have many things to translate, but I am willing to help you whenever necessary."
Peter tore his eyes from the hologram and looked back at her. "Thank you Ensign Lelann, I appreciate all your help. I know you have a full plate but thank you for helping me get some barring. I'll keep things well documented and send you all the data I can find." He said and looked back to the hologram. "We both have our work cut out for us."
"I'll leave you to yours, Lieutenant." Lelann collected her PADD and left to get back to everything else.
Lieutenant Peter Wilson
USS Ulysses/Ulysses Station
USS Ulysses/Ulysses Station