"You two we need you to search for a...gro....different looking plant, big palm looking leaves with a big fruit on it."

Cass bad temperedly slapped the intercom off and slumped back into her chair in the Drive Room.

“Dick heads” she grumbled “What am I? – A fucking receptionist?”

The comms unit chimed again, but this time, she ignored it, leaving it to chime once more.

“That might be important” Jay nodded towards the light, blinking on the console next to her.

“It won’t be”

Another chime.

“You never know”

Momentarily closing her eyes while she counted to three, Cass banged her hand down on the answer button “For the last time: What?”

Jay grinned.

“Is there anything you can do about this translation software?” it was Artemis “Some of what our new friend is saying is starting to make sense, but most of it’s completely garbled”

“I...” Cass paused and slowly shook her head. For someone with as many qualifications as Artemis allegedly had, he was an utter imbecile sometimes. “How do you think AI linguistics actually work?”

“What?” Artemis sounded affronted “It... Well, you know...”

“It takes a best guess at the language, using exact and fuzzy matches, across hundreds of different language families and millions of stem words" Cass began "Context is inferred via -”

“Yes, yes, I know” Artemis snapped dismissively “What of it?”

“This alien of yours has uttered about twenty words and puked up three times since it woke up. There’s nothing for the software to go on” Cass narrowed her eyes as she stared intently up at the monitors, her hands moving across the console’s controls “At the moment, it’s working with elements of Chewa, ancient Norse and Japanese; all of which is utter bollocks because nothing this alien’s saying is making sense – We don’t have any linguistic data, so we can't magic a translation out of nothing”


“Exactly” Cass rolled her eyes as she settled back into her chair “Holly’s working on interrogating the alien ship's systems – We should obtain some language data as a by-product”

“How long will that take? – She seems kind of ...ill”

"Maybe a day or two - They seem to have used some sort of organic processing substrate instead of computronium, like we do, so it's slowing things down"

"But she could die before then!"

"I don't really give a shit" Cass scowled up at the monitors as the displays all suddenly distorted with static "I've got bigger things to worry about"

Perching beside her, on the console, Jay leaned in towards the mic "Try and make the alien - whatever her name is, as comfortable as you can"

"Tu'Vass" Artemis interjected

"You what?" Cass grinned at her trilingual pun, earning her a weary look from Jay.

"Tu'Vass" Artemis repeated, obliviously "That's her name"

"Try and make Tu'Vass as comfortable as you can" Jay continued "Hopefully Boyd and South will find that plant and we can stabilise her"

"If all it's going to take is a fucking plant" Cass observed "Why didn't the rest of her crew use it, instead of dying?"

"Do you know - I've no idea," Artemis said brightly "but it's going to be wonderful fun finding out..."

"Keep us posted" Jay closed the comms channel.

"We shouldn’t be wasting time on that delicate little princess" Cass grumbled.

Long used to this sort of prickliness, Jay nodded but remained silent. Cass caught his eye and shook her head "Yeah, yeah, I know..." she sighed "It's providing everyone with a distraction"

"We both know that we're screwed if the STCP catch up with us" he nodded "Let them try and help Tu'Vass for the time being"

"Yeah, but I don't want the STCP to catch up with us" Cass protested "I want a life - We should be doing stuff"

The monitors all fuzzed again.

"What the fuck is that?" Cass frowned up at the flickering screens "Holly?"

The AI shimmered onto the nearest display "I reckon that'd be your basic interference from Tu'Vass's distress beacon" e nodded.

"It's still active!?"

"Looks like nobody thought to deactivate it. Maybe that's what more of those micro time gates are locking onto, across levels sixty six to ninety three?"

"There's more of them!?" Jay was up and onto his feet "Get Phil and Ransom up here. We need to figure out where and when these are coming from"

"South?" Cass reactivated the communicator "I need you and Boyd to find the distress beacon aboard the alien ship and shut it off. I don't care how much damage you have to cause to make it happen - Destroy the whole ship if necessary"

"We're just on the way back with the plant - the gro..." South's voice came across the speakers

"Fuck the plant. This is more important"

Wrapped in the thin, scratchy blanket that she'd been given by the smaller alien, with the weird dark-orange hair, Tu'Vass shivered uncontrollably.

The lump of meat in the floating tank barked something at the little one in their weird, guttural language.

"...Sin th’tic den dritiks" Tu'Vas mimicked weakly "nothin ...c'n bee sure? Don giva dam – Aaah" she coiled her arms around her midriff as her guts suddenly knotted with a vicious twist "Monayo onama-ayano tomoha" she groaned in a high, tight voice as she doubled over in pain "Monayo..."

“Blessed science!” Artemis said, backing off in alarm “I think she needs a bedpan Doctor Black – One of the extra deep ones!”

Phil / Ransom – Any ideas about how to track down the source of the micro-time gates? – How do you achieve it? Ping me an email if you want to know who’s responsible ;-)

South / Boyd – Are you going to head back with the plant or are you going to deactivate the distress beacon? – How do you do it?

Jade / Artemis / Tu’Vass – Let’s not have an immediate solution to the linguistic difficulties, eh?

What’s the nature of the medical emergency? – What happens if Tu’Vass doesn’t get the plant? – Does it actually help?

Brett – What’s happening with Penny?

Everyone else – crack on with what you want, but if you’re after something to do, how about heading on down towards Tu’Vass’s ship and helping out? – What’s it like down there? – Are there any hazards aboard?

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