Short "Uplift" Vignettes originally posted as a prelude to a GURPS Uplift game.
(c) 1996, by David Edelstein
The planet Ça-d@y, designated ZR3-012-5D3-92P49-87DB-92 on Galactic maps, already unofficially renamed "Cathay" by the Terragens Council, glowed a soft blue-green below the orbiting starship.
To Nigel Chang, sitting in an observation lounge of the ancient Galactic vessel, it was the most beautiful sight he'd ever seen. It was a prime, absolutely prime world. Lush, fertile, gravity and atmosphere identical to that of Earth to within half a percentile, and teeming with life forms that had evolved in the two hundred million years since it last had tenants. It was even possible that species with that most precious attribute, potential, might wait below.
And it's going to be OURS!
For over three hundred years, Earthclan had been the "white trash" of the Five Galaxies. The older races of the universe at best ignored and at worst conspired against humanity, and its chimp and dolphin clients. None of Earthclan's many enemies wanted to see a valuable world like Ça-d@y turned over to upstart "wolflings".
But they couldn't prevent it now. Thus far, Earthclan had been given nothing but third-rate colony worlds for stewardship. Planets scarred by ancient wars or environmental catastrophes. The Terragens had turned adversity into virtue, laboring as few other races had ever done to turn their bleak, ecologically impoverished lease-worlds into thriving communities with healthy ecosystems. They did so in spite of continual scheming by hostile Galactics, with even the Institutes themselves sometimes collaborating to throw a monkey-wrench into the works, and most recently, military blockades. Even some of Earthclan's most serious detractors had to confess grudging admiration.
So at long last, Earthclan was receiving its just rewards. Among the many worlds of the Horpie group being taken off the Fallow list by the Institute for Migration, Earthclan had been promised at least four for resettlement....and the first to be assigned was ZR3-012-5D3-92P49-87DB-92.
Beautiful thought Nigel. As beautiful as Earth herself.
He was one of two human crewmen aboard this starship, one of nineteen humans currently serving in the Institute for Migration. He was 54 years old, physiologically, and much older than that from the viewpoint of the rest of the universe, having spent many years traveling with Institute survey vessels through the variable-time layers of hyperspace. He had labored his entire adult life as a dutiful cog in Galactic bureaucracy, to see this day, when Earthclan would finally be awarded a planet worthy of its struggles and achievements.
Officially, of course, he was neutral with regards to who was about to be given the lease for this world, as soon as the Institute ship finished its final pre-settlement survey and inventory, in preparation to take Ça-d@y off the Fallow list and place it on the Open list. But as a human being and a member of Earthclan, in his heart he no more denied his true sentiments than did all the other sentients who served in the Institutes. They were sworn to uphold Galactic law and act impartially no matter what clan was involved in any matter, but everyone knew that "impartiality" was itself a subjective affair, even if few would ever admit this out loud.
"Nice view, huh?"
Nigel smiled as the second human crewperson came through the portal, holding a cup of coffee, and joined him in staring at the planet that was about to become "theirs". Elizabeth Delstan was even older than Nigel, the fourth human ever to be accepted into the Institute for Migration. She was a brilliant biochemist and a skilled diplomat, able to converse fluently and tactfully with the many arcane, prickly or downright hostile races she had to deal with. Nigel sometimes suspected she'd have been much more valuable to Earthclan as an agent for the Terragens Council....and sometimes he suspected that she was exactly that, despite her Institute affiliation. But that was one thought he would never voice aloud. If it was true, he neither wanted to know, nor for anyone else to share his suspicions. The two humans watched the sharp demarcation between day and night cross Ça-d@y's surface, passing over mountains, oceans, green forests, ripe jungles....the rotation seemed unnaturally fast right now, because the ship was hovering above the planet in a time compression field, so they could take a number of longitudinal surveys of planetary data in a relatively short subjective time.
Then a foul stench filled the room, and Nigel sighed. Elizabeth, more controlled, simply pretended not to notice until Blr'rrp'all'tt spoke, through its voder.
/2/ For what purpose, do you (idly) sit? /2/ /2/ This (unexceptional) planet, you have (certainly) seen before. /2/ /2/ (Query) Attempt to escape assigned duties? /2/
Only a Hicharian could manage to sound so obnoxious and insulting in the pops and clicks of Galactic Two.
Hicharians were a minor Patron race, obscure throughout most of the Five Galaxies. Few humans had ever had the misfortune to encounter them, but Nigel and Elizabeth had the double-misfortune to have been assigned to an Institute team supervised by one.
Hicharians possessed one of the more unusual physiologies among oxygen-breathing races. They possessed no organs to speak of, no real body parts at all. They had only a central neural cluster and a tangle of nerve fibers, microns in diameter, that wove through the amorphous mass of their malleable body, which was an organic sludge that emitted methane and other noxious gases as waste byproducts. How they maintained cellular cohesivity was a mystery to most. Their long-dead Patrons must have been both ingenuous and somewhat twisted. Regardless of how the creatures lived, the inescapable fact remained that to most Galactic races, their appearance and odor made them resemble nothing so much as ambulatory masses of fecal matter. Hicharians had a number of nicknames, all scatological.
It would have been easier to be charitable towards them, despite their unfortunate configuration, except that without exception, they had personalities to match their appearance. Hicharians were obedient, law-abiding Patrons, but they got along with no one. Nigel thought that perhaps it was a natural reaction to the disdain with which most other races regarded the Hicharians, but after working for this one for almost two years, he could no longer find any sympathy in his heart for the disgusting, fault-finding, human-hating administrator.
/2/ We have completed our tasks for the day /2/ Elizabeth replied in Galactic Two. /2/ Your (diligent) concern for our status is appreciated. /2/
Blr'rrp'all'tt bubbled obscenely, processing this. Nigel smiled. He doubted the Hicharian comprehended sarcasm, since very few Galactic races could even conceive of it, within the formal confines of GalTwo, and he knew it couldn't read human facial expressions.
/2/ Much work is there, still to be done. Follow me, you will. New tasks, I have for you. /2/
/2/ All day we have (laboriously) worked /2/ Nigel protested, and switched to more elegant GalSix. /6/ We are not under any sort of time limitation, there are no non-automated critical tasks awaiting completion. I am tired, and intend to rest. /6/
Blr'rrp'all'tt bubbled in a more agitated manner, venting more gas. /2/ Typical of (undisciplined) wolflings, you are. All aboard (continuously) work, do you expect a greater share of leisure time? Unaware I am that humans require so much (excessive) rest-time. /2/
"Let's go," Elizabeth said to Nigel in Anglic, which she was safely certain that the Hicharian's Galactic translator was not programmed to interpret. "Hir's obviously determined to stick it to us while hir can." She smiled. "You know it really burns hir neurons that Earthclan has been approved to lease this world."
"It and half the other races of the galaxies," Nigel said. "Well, dry up and blow away, you uplifted piece of- "
The ship suddenly shivered. "What the hell?" Nigel gasped, as he was almost knocked off his feet. Elizabeth also clutched a wall, while Blr'rrp'all'tt merely flattened itself against the floor with a nauseating slurping sound. /2/ What causes this? /2/ the Hicharian's voder demanded in the same flat tone as always, but the glassy globe that marked the optical section of its neural cluster bobbed to the surface of its slick greenish-brown mass, in the direction of the humans, as if expecting to find them somehow to blame.
Then, never-heard alarms wailed. The ship rocked, and a distant booming sound echoed from up the vast corridors of the huge Institute survey vessel. Automated shipboard announcements began calling everyone to emergency duty stations.
"We're under attack!?" Elizabeth gaped.
It was unthinkable. Nobody attacked a Galactic Institute vessel. Nobody.
A spasm went through the ship, making the previous impacts seem gentle. Everything in the observation lounge was spun around, gravity failed and Nigel and Elizabeth heard a roaring sound, accompanied by a chorus of hisses.
"Hull breach!" Nigel stammered, unable to believe it. Never mind that it was unthinkable that any clan would be so mad, so suicidal, as to attack an Institute of Migration vessel, the power it would take to so quickly penetrate the hull of a Galactic starship, especially while encased in a time compression field, was almost unimaginable. The ship was seven million years old, and as indestructible now as when it was first built.
Indestructible, of course, is another relative term.
And as Nigel was tossed through the air, eyes widening in dread as he saw he was about to collide with Blr'rrp'all'tt, his last thought was that this was not how he wanted to die.
"So, you think you want to join the Terragens Marines, huh kid?"
"Is it for honor and glory? You like the idea of being one of the few and the proud? Serving your planet and your clan, maybe score a few fems while you're home on leave, strutting around in uniform?"
"Or do you want to travel to exotic faraway places, meet interesting alien races, and kill them? Plant a human boot in the face of some bug-eyed Eatee?"
"OK, good, glad you didn't fall for that. If you've got an attitude, we aren't interested. You wouldn't believe how many humans there are still out there clinging to archaic testosterone-driven fantasies. Borderline Probationary Personalities come to us with a taste for violence and think the Terragens Marines is the place to go for a little Eatee butt-kicking. Damn good thing we never let most of them off the homeworld."
"Let's clear up a few misconceptions. We have uniforms, but we almost never wear them. You'll wear whatever is required for a particular mission. You sure as hell won't be strutting around back home, or at spaceport bars, flashing pretty ribbons and medals. We frown on our people even making it known that they're IN the Marines, and if you are involved in any, heh, 'meritorious' actions, it'll usually be the sort of thing that's placed under a seal by the Secrets Registration agency."
"Speaking of home, do you have any strong attachments? Folks you don't want to be separated from, a girlfriend, a best friend you'd miss?"
"Well, then think long and hard about joining the Terragens Marines, because chances are, you'll never see any of them again. When you travel out among the stars, a few years for you can be twenty years back home. When you leave home, you have to accept the very real possibility that if you ever return, everyone you grew up with will be old and gray. Terragens Marines have to be willing to kiss everything and everyone they knew good-bye."
"Now let's talk about combat. You have images of strapping on a suit of powered armor, equipping with a 40 megawatt particle beamer, and going toe-to-toe with a Tandu warrior?"
"Or is space combat more your thing? Standing on the bridge of a warship, locking on weapons and blowing enemy spaceships out of the sky?"
"Good. I can't believe the sleek they're raising kids on nowadays, with those stupid sim-games. I saw one with a picture of some psychotic-looking mel with huge pectorals, wrestling a Soro with a dagger."
"Now, first of all, in the unlikely event that a Soro would ever lower itself to grappling with a human in hand-to-hand combat, the human will lose, period. A female Soro weighs over a quarter of a ton, and has a mating claw that can rip your head off with one swipe. Now, it's true we learn a few tricks about Eatee physiology we can put to good use in the right circumstances...but if you're wrestling naked with a Soro, you're way behind, you're stupid, and you're dead."
"No, if you're facing a Soro in battle, you'll never actually see her. She'll be hidden behind camouflage screens and force fields, with killer robots and Client warriors interposed between you, and it's not that mating claw or her big, dripping fangs that will do you in, it's her arsenal of automated high-energy weapon systems."
"What about those tricks? Kid, you've been watching too many holovids. Yes, I know, there are rumors that the Terragens Marines have a whole repertoire of dirty tricks and special tactics for using against unsuspecting Galactics."
"Listen, have you ever heard of the Institute for Civilized Warfare? They have a long list of rules that every Galactic race is supposed to follow when engaging in hostilities. Those rules favor the Galactics, who've been playing this game since before we were air-breathers, and the sneakier Galactic races can get away with breaking them when no one is looking, but we have to follow them just the same. Now, given our reputation as wild, uncivilized 'wolflings', of course they circulate rumors that we play fast and loose with the rules now and then. Maybe they even think it's expected, since it's about the only way we have a chance of prevailing. But you should not be a party to those rumors, kid. Us wolflings can't afford to give anyone the impression that we'd dare to flaunt the Edicts. Avoid even the appearance of impropriety. As long as the rest of the five galaxies are watching us, we have to be scrupulously above-board at all times. See what I'm saying?"
"Now, you want to know how real combat works? If the enemy sees you, you die. Period. That's it. Target acquired, zap, you're gone."
"There's no such thing as infantry; massed ground combat is virtually unheard of. Forget charging across the battlefield- you set one foot out of cover and sensors operating on a hundred different wavelengths will lock onto you in an instant, and about two microseconds after that, computer-guided weaponry will be turning the space you just occupied into superheated plasma."
"90% of modern civilized warfare is about not being seen. Underneath all that high-tech ECM and anti-detection fields and stealth suits, we also use good old fashioned camouflage paint. Sometimes we use it instead of the high tech stuff, because when you get down to it, the Galactics can field equipment that will make anything we use look like stone axes and clubs. We're way behind the technological power curve....about two million years behind. But wolfling cunning....that's something some of the big boys have yet to comprehend."
"All right, yes, we have battlesuits, and particle beamers, and heavily-armed warships- though those are always converted from regular service, since the Terragens Council can't afford to keep starships tied up on permanent military duty. But we only use that stuff for very specific purposes. A battlesuit has very limited usefulness; there is no armor that can stop an anti-matter shell. Fortunately, hardly anyone uses anti-matter weapons on the battlefield, but if we bring in beam-proof armored suits, you can count on the Galactics bringing in weapons that will turn them into slag. So where and when we use our choicest equipment is determined by the needs of the particular mission, and more often than not, you're better off just wearing a basic sneaksuit and some facepaint. Goes back to what I said earlier, if you're seen, you're dead anyway, so why bother wearing armor?"
"Still interested? Of course you're in perfect physical condition, and have no mental defects? Don't worry, we'll check, and if you somehow slipped past the screeners this long, we'll find out."
"So, what's your advanced degree in?"
"Excuse me? What, you think just anyone with a basic education can walk in and join the Terragens Marines? We have to be experts in a dozen different fields. Astronomy, xenology, Galactic politics.....and we don't have the time to teach you what you need just to get by in Galactic civilization. You have to come to us already equipped with that information!"
"So, I'll tell you what, kid. You go home, and look around at your neighborhood and your friends and family, and make sure you can bear the thought of never seeing any of it again. Maintain your physical conditioning, and go back to the university, get yourself some education in advanced Galactic technology, and make sure you're fluent in a couple of Galactic languages as well."
"Then come back to us, and you just might have what it takes to become one of the few and the proud....."
"Speak, daughter. You have a question, I can see that. I give you leave to ask it."
"Why do we hate the Terragens so? Ka-nakBal! The question is inappropriate!"
"Cease your squirming, lest I inflict the punishment you obviously fear! Very well, daughter, I shall answer the question. I say it is inappropriate, because it is improperly phrased."
"The correct question would be, 'Why are we concerned at all with the Terragens, and their subjugation?'"
"To say that we 'hate' the Terragens bestows upon them a status they do not begin to deserve. One hates opponents that are dangerous, and capable of inflicting harm upon us. Hate is reserved for powerful, worthy foes. We hate the accursed Tandu and their fanatical Inheritor alliance. We hate the idiotic Gubru, who have cast shame on all of Galactic society by allowing the wolflings to humiliate them over an insignificant colony world. We do not hate the Terragens; they are too pathetic and insignificant to be worthy of that emotion. We feel contempt, distaste, and even pity for them, but we do not hate them."
"Why does this particular race of lowborn bipeds....vex us? Daughter, the answer should be obvious!"
"These unfinished, half-sentient creatures, abandoned some thousands of years ago by neglectful or cowardly patrons, were left to struggle on their own towards something approximating civilization. Rather than being taught the laws of the universe by wise elder patrons, and guided in their physical and mental evolution, towards eventual productive membership in Galactic society, they were forced to acquire knowledge about everything all by themselves! And for that, we cannot help but pity them. In our benevolence, we must recognize that it is not truly their fault that they are the way they are."
"But when at long last they were rediscovered by Galactic society, were they immediately placed under the supervision of considerate and responsible elders, so that their half-finished process of self-evolution could be completed, and the many glaring deficiencies still remaining in their racial makeup could be corrected? No! Because by a quirk of fate, and through the irresponsible scheming of those Tymbrimi pranksters, the humans were not only not placed in Client status, but were actually granted patron status! Tas'kleh pach! The absurdity of it!"
"Yes, daughter, before they flung themselves out into the space lanes with primitive starships of their own design- starships they continue to use, I might add, rather than making use of the vastly superior starship blueprints available from any Library terminal- they had already begun experimenting on other pre-sentient creatures on their homeworld, in a crude process that aped the glorious art of Uplift, of which we are masters. Because they had, through primitive biochemical and genetic engineering, managed to give their 'chimps' and 'dolphins' a few rudimentary improvements that mimicked the onset of true sentience, they were categorized as patrons!"
"Of course it was blatantly nonsensical, daughter! The only reason they got away with it was that they were discovered by the Kanten and the Tymbrimi first, and you know how those 'reformers' like to meddle and try to disrupt the status quo. The Tymbrimi no doubt thought it was a great joke to play on the rest of the Five Galaxies, using their political influence with the Institutes to have humans recognized as fully-uplifted sentients, with Patron status! Do they think of the consequences to the rest of Galactic civilization? Do they consider the example they set for other races, particularly young, impressionable clients? No! They merely sought to, what is the term humanoids use....'tweak our noses'."
"Think upon it, daughter! Think of our own great and esteemed history! We are Soro ab-Hul ab-Puber ul-Gello ul-Paha ul-Forski ul-Kisa ul-Sthee! Our lineage is long and glorious, stretching back through our Hul patrons, and their patrons the Puber, and yea even back to the Progenitors themselves! We have Uplifted five client races to full sentience and Galactic citizenship! Three of our clients have gone on to become patrons themselves, and some of their clients are now patrons as well! No less than twelve sentient species have been added to Galactic society, through our efforts!"
"625,000 Paktaars have we been sentient! Only after many thousands of years under the supervision of our Hul patrons were we freed and permitted to expand across Galaxy Prime, and seek out our own pre-sentient species whose potential could be nurtured and brought to bloom under our guidance. The Paha, the Gello, and the Kisa served us likewise, for thousands of years, going through the proper, accepted stages of Uplift, before being freed from Client status."
"And humanity, abandoned at most 20,000 years ago, manifestly unfinished, has been permitted to posture before the rest of the Five Galaxies, flaunting their freedom as client races clearly more refined and finished than those wolflings continue to dutifully serve their patrons! And as if that were not bad enough, they freed their dolphin and chimp clients, when both were only in the Second Stage of Uplift! Sentient- if one can call them even that- for a mere three centuries, they are already freed of client status! Such an irresponsible act is unforgivable! How do our Forski and Sthee clients feel, when they have been sentient as long as humanity, and humanity's former clients are now putatively our clients' superiors?"
"Of course it is an intolerable situation, daughter! And the wolflings continue their antics. One would think they'd have enough sense to remain quiet and obscure and hope that the rest of Galactic civilization would forget about them and the insult their existence poses to us, but instead, they have repeatedly gained notoriety, first by humiliating the Pila, prominent members of our clan, then by humbling the Gubru, tricking the Thennanin into allying with them, and most recently by eluding our own battle fleets and those of the Tandu, harboring secrets of the Progenitors that are rightfully ours!"
"No, daughter, we do not 'hate' humankind. We only pity them, and perhaps allow ourselves to feel some irritation, because of the way they offend every principle of Uplift known to the Five Galaxies. And when they are finally subjugated as they should be; when we persuade the Institute for Uplift that they have made a grievous error in recognizing humans as finished, and the wolflings and their poor abused dolphin and chimp clients are placed back in client status....and indentured to us- we shall, with painstaking care, show the Terragens how Uplift is done."
The "Iris", a tiny trade vessel carrying one extremely valuable piece of cargo, emerged from the B'tek9'ak transfer point, to be greeted by total silence.
This perplexed Captain Chrissa Ilchenko. She was expecting to be hailed immediately by the Twiijan, a moderately influential patron race in this part of the galaxy, with a reputation for charging extortionate tolls for passage through their star systems. Like the J'8lek, who were native to a region much closer to Earth, most of the Twiijan's income came from holding tenancy on worlds adjacent to some key long-range transfer points.
The crew of the Iris wanted no trouble, and Captain Ilchenko was prepared to pay dearly, from the ship's limited stock of GalCoins, and a few dozen precious whalesongs, Tolkien and Dumas novels, brought along for just this purpose. It was very important that her small, unassuming vessel not be intercepted or boarded by Galactics.
The absence of any Galactic presence at B'tek9'ak might have appeared to be a lucky break for the Iris, but Ilchenko was always wary of unexpected lucky breaks. Her grandmother, as cynical and pessimistic as her Russian forebears, had taught little Chrissa a host of old Earth proverbs about the malevolence of fate, and the universe in general. Twenty years of plying the starlanes had not lightened Chrissa's worldview. To her, invoking the name of the great goddess Ifni was a curse, not a prayer.
Her sensor operator reported no ships within 3 AUs. "Unless they're cloaked, of course," he added.
"Of course," Ilchenko replied dryly. The Iris was a very sophisticated vessel by Earth standards...which made her a third-rate relic by Galactic standards. The Iris was not a warship, and would have little chance of detecting a Galactic vessel that was deliberately hiding.
She decided that in the absence of any information, the sensible thing to do was continue on their way. If they could get through the B'tek9'ak point without paying a toll, she was not inclined to stop and wonder why. "Lay in a course for the Nahjah Line," she ordered. The chief navigator began making the lengthy calculations for a vector that would take the Iris into the second transfer point in the system, the one that would bring them 3,000 light years closer to home.
Then the Iris's cargo paged the captain from his web-coffin.
"Captain Ilchenko.....I am sensing distress."
Ilchenko steepled her fingers together. "Understandable, Quip'at. We're preparing for another jump through a transfer point, and we're in the middle of none-too-friendly Galactic territory. I trust the last jump wasn't too hard on you?"
Ilchenko thought her valuable passenger was reassuring her that he had weathered the transfer fine...which she already knew; Dr. White would have let her know immediately had his charge's health been damaged in any way.
But then Quip'at continued. "The distress I sense is not within the ship, but without."
The helmsman turned to look at the captain uneasily. She frowned, and considered.
Quip'at was a telepath. A very powerful one. But his talents were very taxing, and she wasn't supposed to call on him to exercise them, except in any emergency.
She decided that this qualified, especially since the dolphin was already picking up mental signals, apparently.
"Can you tell me more, Quip'at?" she asked gently.
"A single entity, in a damaged vessel, this much I sense," the dolphin chirped. There was a pause, and then Quip'at reverted to Trinary. The dual stress of mustering his psionic abilities and speaking in Anglic must have become too much.
* She sits, brooding-
* Wary, wounded-
She senses us, be sure
* But will not call-
Would rather die
* As oxygen leaks spaceward
From her dying craft
Captain Ilchenko didn't like the sound of that at all. A lone wounded sentient in a "dying" spaceship could only be the result of a battle. A battle that cleared the B'tek9'ak out of the region, apparently. But it was odd they had not sensed any debris, energy signatures, or psionic residue....nothing characteristic of the aftermath of a Galactic space battle.
Perhaps Quip'at was tuning into Ilchenko's thoughts as well. He added, managing Anglic again, "I do not think the battle was here....."
Ilchenko looked at the navigator. He was hunched over his console, and she knew that working at top speed, he still wouldn't be able to produce a proper vector within their requisite margin of safety in less than two hours. Like it or not, they had a little time to spend finding answers.
"Portland, consult our Library terminal, and tell me if there are any other transfer points from this system besides the one we just came through, and the one we're preparing to enter." Systems with three or more transfer points were rare, but not unheard of.
"Quip'at, please continue trying to probe the eatee's mind....I need to know as much as possible. If either her friends, or the ones who shot her up, come looking for her, we're in big trouble."
"I shall endeavor to do my best, mon capitaine," the dolphin replied, with an archaic flourish. He'd been reading the Dumas novels.
Tense minutes passed.
Lieutenant Portland reported, "Captain, there IS another transfer point in the B'tek9'ak system. It's listed as off-limits, though. It's a long one.....leads into a Fallow region. In the middle of the Horpie Group.
Ilchenko whistled through her teeth. She liked this less and less. Galactics intruding in off-limits territory, and apparently getting caught by someone. Neither side would be likely to appreciate witnesses....
"What was that?" Quip'at demanded sharply, through his intercom. Ilchenko blinked, and realized the dolphin was referring to her whistle.
* A meaningless sound-
Your land-bound brethren make
* Unable to match your poetic nuances-
We make inexpressive noises
she whistled in Trinary, trying to soothe him with self-depreciating humor. The telepathic fin could get edgy when he was stressed.
Quip'at didn't reply. Ilchenko waited for nearly ten minutes. Then the dolphin spoke in a rush of whistles, squeaks and clicks.
* I cast a net upon the shoals of space-
Seeking the elusive mind
* She resists! She rages! Die she will, before accepting aid *
From savage wolflings, hated foes-
The cause of her downfall
* I do not see, alas-
But I know the name
* She who would suffocate-
And die slowly
* Before alerting us to her plight-
The dolphin broke off the Trinary verse, which was becoming doggerel.
He finished in Anglic.
"Her name is Kisat. A Soro."
"Ifni's tits!" Captain Ilchenko choked.