By Senex Presbuteros
Yssiss glanced at the chrono and stood up from the table. “I’d best be going. It’s almost time for me to take evening Watch.”
Igl looked at him “You’ll get there 20 minutes before you’re due. You always do. You must love Watch duty.”
Yssiss smiled. “I just like to know what’s been going on before I take over. We all know Watch can be boring, unless something goes wrong.”
Yalel sniffed. “Nothing will go wrong, not on our cruise. They wouldn’t let us take the route that’s more exciting.”
“Now Yalel”, Igl replied, “you know the Cadet Advisors didn’t veto that trip. We just couldn’t afford the equipment necessary to make it safely. The whole Cadet Leadership Team agreed to this alternative.”
Yssiss left them still arguing and headed to the control room. He could sense the life support motors’ hum, circulating air, regulating temperature in the ship. They were three days into their two week High Adventure trip. Tomorrow they should reach Zetah, the wilderness planet with it’s High Adventure camp. He passed the deck where the other Cadet Team stayed. It was made up of sons of the offworld workers at the spaceport on Zali, his homeworld. Yssiss knew that they were also Cadets on Zali. But he had never been with a Cadet Team which had an offworlder in it. Now here, on this ship, was a whole Team of offworlders. He’d seen them, of course, every morning at the Morning Ceremony. He wasn’t sure he’d ever get used to their strange looks, but they seemed nice enough.
The control room was just ahead. He noticed that the lock doors were closed, as per safety regulations. When he had relieved Yalel once, he’d found them open. Yalel tended to ignore rules when he didn’t see the need for them. Yssiss hit the com switch.
“Cadet 4th Class Yssiss requests permission to enter Control Room” he announced, using Galactic Common instead of Zalee, his native tongue.
“Permission granted” replied an unfamiliar voice in the same language.
Yssiss entered the control room and saw an offworlder Cadet at the Watch. His surprise registered as a brief shade of brown on his neck. He recovered quickly and returned to his normal green color, but the other Cadet caught the change.
“Illisis ya’a shantaya hattaa. May the sun shine warm upon our meeting” the other Cadet repeated the ancient Zalee greeting of friendly strangers. The brown reappeared on Yssiss’ neck, and the Cadet smiled, extending his hand in the Cadet handshake. Then Yssiss noticed the Interpreter strips above the offworlders right pocket; Zalee and Galactic Common. His native language wasn’t Galactic Common?
Yssiss struggled to recover from his surprise. “Illissis ya’a l’ysshaa. May the sun be warm on the path before us.” Yssiss returned the ancient reply. “I am Cadet 4th Class Yssiss of Cadet Team 492.”
“And I am Cadet 4th Class Sean of Cadet Team 2777. You’re a tad early, you know.”
“Yes, I like to have time to review what has happened during the previous Watch. Do you have anything to report?”
Sean moved to the console. “Not really all that much.” He typed a rapid sequence on the keyboard, and the screen changed from gibberish to Zalee.
“Shouldn’t we be using Galactic Common?” Yssiss asked.
“I wasn’t sure how comfortable you were with it,” Sean replied. His fingers flew again and the screen changed to Galactic Common. “As you can see, the nearest asteroid field is about 3 hours away. The asteroids are listed as small, and the shields shouldn’t have much trouble with them. I had to plot a minor course correction here” he pointed to a log entry, “ because we hit a solar wind and a bump in the gravity well that nudged us about a tenth of a degree off. I ran it by the Navigational Officer, and he confirmed the change. We made the change here,” again he pointed at an entry, “ and so far, nothing else interesting has happened.”
Yssis moved to the other console, and checked the scanners. They showed nothing unusual. The gauge clusters for the shields were steady, as were the life support clusters for the different decks.
“How did you learn Zalee so well?” Yssiss asked.
“Easy” Sean replied. “I grew up playing with Zalai around the base. It was easier for me to learn Zalee then for them to learn GC or English, so I did.”
They chatted for awhile, learning about each other, sharing stories about other adventure trips, talking about certification badges, all the while watching the console for any signs of unusual activity.
Finally Sean said “I’d better go. My shift was up 30 minutes ago. I have to write a report for my Ecology certification badge.”
Yssiss grinned in sympathy. “Good luck,” he said. “L’ysshu tish eya’e. May your path abound with plenty.”
“L’ysshai ytl. May our paths meet again,” Sean replied. He slipped into Galactic Common. “Cadet 4th Class Sean requests permission to leave Control Room.”
“Permission granted. I have relieved you,” Yssiss replied. Sean shut the Control Room doors behind him, and the quiet hum of the ship settled around Yssiss.