Literary Challenge #34 : Souvenirs
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Join Date: Jun 2012
12-17-2012, 12:36 AM
Octavia sighed as she slid back into her ready room's large, comfortable seat. After a few moments of relaxation she straightened, ignoring the noises from her shoulders and back.
"Computer," she said quielty, knowing that her voice would still be picked up. "One carrot. Raw, unpeeled."
Crunching away at her snack, she found her eyes drawn to the newest addition to her desk clutter. Nestled between a half-empty bottle of Aldebaranian whiskey and a disassembled type 1 phaser it was hardly the most exciting thing there, merely a smooth, flat stone, rounded by the flow of water and marked by tiny, carefully carved figures.
Yet, that little stone was a memory.
Picking it up with her free hand, Octavia considered the stone as she chewed. It had sat on her desk for a month now, a gift given from one captain to another.
They had been on a standard patrol route, running their sensors over one of the quieter edges of Federation space when the First Contact Office had called them in. They had been observing the development of warp drive on a local world called Lahuit by its natives. The ship they had intended to meet the experimental warp ship had been delayed by an encounter with an Orion raiding ship, and Octavia and the Allegrezza had been given the task instead.
Privately Octavia reflected, she had probably been a better choice than the original captain.
Not that Captain T'Pril was bad at her job, but there were certain conceptual differences between Vulcans and Lahit that her own people shared. The stone in her hand had almost a dozen names; memory, gift, bond, promise ... and each of those words were it's name to the Lahit, the stone's name shifting and changing from moment to moment as one facet of it's existence became more relevant than the others, and it was far from unique in that regard - every object and being in the Lahit language had names as fluid and shifting as the stone's. While the universal translator could handle this, the deeper connotations behind each name would be lost, the translator fixing onto a single, unchanging name.
When the Lahit captain was setting the trend for future relations between his people and the Federation, Bellwether had been a good translation for his name. But afterwards when he was escorting the Allegrezza to his homeworld Octavia had needed to override the translator, which had been insisting on using the earlier name.
Finishing the last of her carrot, Octavia sighed. From what she had read, the Lahit's language was almost as difficult to pin down as the Tamarians had been, at least for the Federation.
Her own people, while nowhere near as fluid as the Lahit, were much closer when it came to names. When she had applied to the Academy she had become Octavia, the eighth of her people to join Starfleet. Before that, a Federation translator would have rendered her name, at least in a professional setting, as Muso. Her parents had always known her by another name, and lovers by another, not that there had been many of those.
Talking to the Lahit had been refreshing, if a challenge to keep up with the shifts in language. With them, words had a much fuller, much more precise range of meanings than what she had grown used to over the years and there simply wasn't any ambiguity. When a Lahit said something, what they said was completely and precisely what they meant.
Grinning, Octavia set the stone back down. She knew that Starfleet linguists were still working on the Lahit translations and would still be at it for years to come.