Oh well, she thought. So much for evasiveness.
“Yes,” she said, “I speak a little of English. I apologise if I misled, but we have … in the spoken form … a way to introduce to strangers. I was … formal, for security and the official purpose. Thank you for treating my injuries and bringing me to safety.”
The voice, when it returned to the crackly sound system, seemed mollified and less officiously sardonic. “[…] we are happy to help you […] welcome here. I say again, we wish to […] peaceful dialogue. You […] did not […] your name from Gyden.”
“My name is Predericon Ti Akmet,” she reiterated in English. “I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Ansel Munroe. My associates and I also have peaceful intent. We were performing research on this … system, when we were forced to land.”
In the long silence that followed this exposition, Predericon found herself wishing she’d paid more attention during the mandatory human comms extensions that had been part of her preparation for the research tour. She wasn’t sure how much good small talk in Latin would have done her at this point, but it couldn’t have hurt to shore up a bit of her knowledge of human psychology. That probably hadn’t changed much in two thousand years.
“Landing?” Ansel Munroe said eventually. “Looked more like crashing to […],Prejericho Ti Takamed. Do […] shorter version […] name? You can […] Ansel.”
“Thank you, Ansel,” Predericon said, and thought for a moment. She didn’t really have a shortened variant that was under the apparent two Xidh character limit for comfortable human pronunciation. “You can name me to Akmet.”
“Okay, Achmed,” Ansel’s voice went on after another extended pause. “So why don’t you […] what you were […] research on us, and […] next?”
“Oh, we were not-” Predericon paused, running through the conversation to come in her head.
There was no point, she realised immediately, in trying to explain that they had dispensation from Heaven to perform research in the Cursèd environmental envelope and run complex megastructural analyses in the Face of the Deep. None of those things existed any more, with the arguable exception of Heaven – and that had become a cultural concept so fundamentally mythical in nature that a group of aliens in a crashed spaceship claiming to have been authorised by the authorities thereof … well, it was simply nonsensical, and would probably be dismissed as a fabrication. An offensive fabrication, at that.
Although obviously, if Gyden had told them any of this and she now told them something different…
“Achmed?” Ansel prompted.
“I apologise,” Predericon said. “I am trying to think of best way for explaining. We were not researching on this planet or on your people. We were studying other worlds in system. The outside orbit planets. The one you name to Jupiter, and the moons of it. Our vessel was damaged. We made from it an escape craft, and rode it to this planet because it has support life and also technology. Then this is where we crashed. Again.”
“I see. That was very […] to build an escape craft,” Ansel said. There was another long pause. “It was […] technology […] craft of work, to fly so far. We have not […] salvage […] engines […] so much damage […] reconstruct […] strange […].”
Predericon waited for a question to appear out of the general babble. When it failed to do so, she stretched a little, demonstratively.
“It was very simplified craft,” she said. “It was to take off from crash site, to steer here, and to land also as well as possible. The trip was six years, by our reckoning of count. We … made wrong calculation and landed very hard.”
“Yes,” Ansel replied. “Your […] Gyden told us the same thing, so […] trust […] truth.”
“It is truth,” Predericon said, relieved.
“Our […] scientists […] wondering why your […] study the outer planets,” Ansel’s voice continued, “when there […] planet teeming with life.”
“We are not on study life,” Predericon said after giving it some thought. “We are not biologists. We did not have … authorise to land on your worlds, and would not have, if we had not crashed. For this I am sorry.”
“Ah, so you were just […] to look and not touch […] make contact,” Ansel said.
“Exactly so, Ansel,” Predericon agreed. “We did not to interfere.”
“So none of the […] people have reported, or […] fighters in the war […] yours?”
“Ours?” Predericon frowned at the ceiling, then down over her nostrils at the mirror. “You have encounter … other vessels? Other of from my species?”
“Don’t know about that, Achmed,” Ansel said. “We just […] reports. If there are other downed […] grey […] aliens, we haven’t […],” the voice paused again. “Well, […] thought I should ask,” the human continued. “We can […] back to this.”
“Might I be allow to rising up?” Predericon asked. “It helps on my recovery to move around,” she waited, then took a measured risk in the pause. “I would like also to look on Gyden.”
There was another long silence from behind the mirror.
“You’re very […], aren’t you Achmed?” Ansel’s voice sounded amused. “Not going to ask about […]…” another pause, “…Lalmax… until you […] we know about him? Is that it?”
“That is yes,” Predericon said, losing patience. “I will also not be to tell you how to make superluminal spacecraft or Godfang World-Eater weaponry,” she added, substituting Xidh terms for those absent from her vocabulary. “I am assume you are not hostile as we both have said we have a peaceful intent, but I can not make for any else that choice until I know more of status and situation,” even if Gyden talks before she thinks, she added wryly to herself. “And so I must limit information I am share. I apologise if caution is offends to you. It is not intent, offend. My intent is that do least harm to optimal people number, by share of optimal information. I am sure you understand, as you run a very I think organised facility.”
“I see,” Ansel said eventually. She stopped kidding herself that she could understand the human’s tone. “And I […] if I ask what a ‘thoe-kagney alltu-[…] weapon’ is, you won’t tell me,” Predericon did not reply, although she was roundly admonishing herself for letting her temper get the better of her. After a little while, Ansel spoke again. “I will […] what we can do about letting you up,” the human voice told her. “Security measures, you understand. Least amount of harm, and so on.”
There was a very final click from the comms system, and Predericon nodded to herself.
Definitely a military installation, not a medical facility. And she was definitely a prisoner, not a patient – and certainly not a guest.
She lay back, relaxed, and waited.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark.