(16) Learning to Talk

The Misha Campaign (109-1121)

109-1121 : Zett / Klarn / Foreven

    The discussion about the black ship continues on board the H.M.S. Third Eye.
    "How did you put all the energy into those little rods to run a starship?  Because there's no fuel tank." asks Edward "Shark" Teeth.
    "I don't know," replies Mich Saginaw.  "We'll have to try to tear one of them apart."
    Shark then gets the computer to build a map of the deck plans of the black ship from all the video and so on that they recorded.  There's a lot of living space on the 1600t ship, but no fuel tanks.  There are just twelve crew suites, each of them about three times the size of a large stateroom on any Imperial ship.
    Mich muses on the nature of the power system.  "If the big box is roughly equivalent to a bank of zuchai crystals, then we've just charged up the zuchai crystals."

    Robert Morris is still in a fish oil trance.  This is unfortunate, as he seems to be able to translate a bunch of the symbols on the ship to galanglic.  Experimenting with the ship's systems will be much harder until he comes around.

    Misha Ravanos is getting to rather like the mystery ship.  He tells everyone to figure out everything they can here, using the Third Eye's resources, before they return.
    Shark, Mich, and Helia Sarina work on translating the language.  They have a bunch of video of the various symbols, ones that do certain things at certain locations, and in the displays, and in the kitchen.  What they don't have is Robert's work on translation of the mystery script, which he's been trying to translate since he first found it on Digitis.  They do manage to correlate some of the symbols, and can now guess a few more things on the consoles, but they don't get very far really.  Nothing correlates well enough.
    Mich, remembering that the script was also used on the missile warheads of the Anastasia, muses that it's interesting that they fitted the standard Imperial missiles.
    Misha points out also that their bodies fit the ship's beds and seats, and suspects that's there's some cross-pollenization or something.

    Misha asks if there might be anything on the space station computers that would help.  As Shark points out, there is no connection between station computers where it's not absolutely necessary.  They'd have to seek out the physical computer to find it.  The most likely location for that would be in Arm C.
    The hiver, Sagan, has been observing this entire operation with great interest.  Sie is very concerned that the station may be set to shoot hivers on sight, and so although sie's very curious about the strange ships, sie thinks it wisest to stay on the Third Eye.  Sie can't help the crew with their translation activities, though, because sie hasn't seen anything like this script before.

    Misha asks the crew for their opinions on what to do next.
    Helia, of course, wants to fly the ship.
    Mich says they should first make sure they're not going to run out of power.  If it's a capacitor-type system, like zuchai crystals, then they're essentially running the ship on a couple of dozen flashlight batteries.  It would be nasty to run out of power while flying.  The energy contained in those rods must be enormous in order to power the ship.  He can measure that when they return to the engineering shop.  He does remember that there was no heat produced using the rods.  Mich then adds that just flying gently around the bay will probably not be too dangerous.
    Shark points out that if they did take the ship out of the bay, they haven't figured out the communications systems.  That means they can't identify it as friendly to the station's defenses.
    That would be Robert's job, as communications officer and current expert on the new ship.  Misha tells Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead to bring him around right away.
    The Doc replies that the fish oil trance has to be allowed to run its course -- there is nothing he can do to bring Robert around.
    Shark suggests that the Doc might like to see a super high-tech medical facility -- intact and working and powered up.  The Baron says he would, as soon as his patient comes around.
    Shark offers to monitor Robert while the Baron goes to examine the advanced sickbay.  The Baron gratefully accepts.  First, however, he points out to Shark what is going on with Robert.  The changes to his brain chemistry are charging up over time,.  It changed the first time he was out -- when he drank klatrin for the first time and was out for days -- and there was a permanent change then.  Since then, there's been an increasing buildup as if it's charging up and might just go "Blooie" on him at any time.  In the meantime, there's nothing they can do.  If there was some way to discharge it properly, then that would be best, but until then all they can do is observe.  He does recommend that Robert should not be put in a position where fainting suddenly could be a problem.

    So they'll have to go back to the ship without Robert, and without Shark at least until Robert comes around.  Shark asks several of the away team to carry football sensors, so he can gather data and triangulate; one of them is strapped to his robot dog.  Mich checks his psi helmet, to make sure it's operating properly to protect him against mind-sucking Joes or other psionic menaces.
    The investigation team will consist of Misha, his jherig, Helia, Mich, Bridgehead, Teri, and the reindog.  Sagan declines an invitation on the grounds of hir personal safety.
    Misha says that their aim today is to learn as much as possible about the ship, with the possibility of taking it.  Each of the team is to find out everything they can about their area of specialization.
    Fortunately the security systems on the station don't blow away the dog and the dragon.  The team goes into Arm A and approaches the black ship.

    The outer airlock door opens as Misha walks up, and they all go on board.
    Mich takes up station in engineering, where he reports that there are no indications of power having decreased overnight.
    The Baron is left in the sickbay, where he starts playing with the systems.  Every time someone passes by the sickbay door, the old doctor raves enthusiastically about the facility.  Not only can he work out how to use a lot of it, he is delighted to find that most of the experimental systems he was working on the Anastasia -- brain transplant, memory transfer, cloning, etc. -- are implemented here.  There are some quite elegant solutions to problems the Doc was encountering in his own work.  He is rather more pleased when Misha tells him that red is good, and blue is bad -- all the red lights mean that the systems are operational.
    Misha starts at the solarium in the stern of the ship, and goes through everywhere on board using the deck plans.  He familiarizes himself thoroughly with the layout, including all the maintenance shafts and areas containing various ship's systems.

    Back on board the Third Eye, Robert has come around.  He remembers very little of what happened to him, both in the trance and immediately before it.  His first impulse is to find out what time it is and how long he's been out.  Then he gets down to business.
    "I think maybe we can work on the translation program and figure out what some of the symbols mean."
    Shark shows him what he, Mich, and Helia managed to translate.
    Adding in Robert's major work on the script from Digitis makes enormous strides in interpretation -- he can actually make some real sense out of it now, both in terms of specific symbols and philosophy.  He downloads the information to his hand computer so he can take it to the other ship.
    Shark and Robert head off to Arm A to join the investigative team.

    Mich has now managed to get full displays on the jump drive, with annotations on the holodisplay that of course he can't understand at all.  He can zoom the displays, but when he gets it to a high level of detail the components start to look really weird.  He still has no idea about the rating of the jump unit.  There is nothing that resembles his antimatter generators.  Of course it would be much easier to understand if the symbols were translated...  Perhaps he could even find a maintenance log, manuals, and so on, but he'll probably need help for that.
    In the meantime, he putters around engineering and the workshops.  There are some spares, but not nearly as many as he'd expect.  Also there are no vaccsuits, or vaccsuit lockers.
    He does his investigation of the rods.  The red ones have about 6 volts across the plug sockets, the blue ones a very weak residual voltage, and the black ones have nothing.  There is clearly not enough power to run the ship in those rods.  They are very efficient high-tech batteries, but certainly not enough to run the systems on board.

    Helia is playing with the astrogation systems.  The jump system is showing red status.  The only blue item is the airlock indicator; she presses it.  A voice says "Ready to go" in not quite as odd an accent as the day before.
    Helia plots a test route to Mora.  It seems that the ship is limited to jump-6 -- the maximum theoretical limit.  She runs through the calculations in her head, and checks that the ship is right -- which it is.  The route is a direct jump-6 route, not necessarily stopping at systems on the way.
    She tells Misha about it -- that it seems to be a jump-6 ship, and doesn't neeed to stop at systems.  That means the ship may not need to refuel.
    Misha asks Mich if that makes sense.
    Mich replies, "Well, I've been searching for the equivalent of a fuel guage.  All I've found is that you have enough, or you don't."
    Helia says, "Mich, it seems like the ship is ready to go, whenever you want to go."
    Mich confirms that everything is ready in engineering too.
    Helia announces she's going to run a few more test plots, and familarize herself with the systems.

    Misha arrives on the bridge.  He asks Helia what she's found, and she shows him the route plots and tells him that she can fly the ship whenever they want.
    Misha takes his place in the command chair, as yesterday.  The holodisplay is still there in front of him, showing the ship and the bay.  It shows the forms on which the ship is resting, and it shows all the airlocks.
    "Ready to go," says the ship, much less accented than last time Misha heard it.
    Misha points at an airlock, and says "Open this door."
    A blue light comes up on Helia's console, and the airlock shows as open on Misha's display.
    "Show me the ship's occupants."
    Nothing happens.
    "Is there anyone in engineering."
    Nothing happens.

    Outside the ship, Shark and Robert approach the ship.  The airlock door opens as they're walking across the platform towards the ship.

    Through the transparent wall of the bridge, Misha notices his first officer and sensor operator approaching.  He studies the display carefully, and indeed finds them represented there.
    Misha points to them on the display, and says, "Scale up this area."
    Nothing happens.
    "Make this area bigger."
    The area zooms in, doubled in size.
    Misha continues to zoom in until he can recognize Shark and Robert on the display.  The two figures are close enough to read their lips, and they have a red halo around them.  Red is good.  They're about 100m from the door.  Misha points to the door and tells the ship to close it.  It closes, and the blue light on Helia's console turns red.
    Helia asks, "Are we playing with the doors, folks?"
    "I am," replies her captain.
    "Just wondering why the light goes blue - red - blue - red."  She's been concentrating on her plots, and not paying much attention to what Misha was saying.

    Robert and Shark walk up to the airlock, and the outer door opens for them.  "Let's get in before they close it!" says Robert.  They enter the ship, and the door closes behind them.

    The two figures disappear from Misha's holodisplay.
    Misha points at the airlock.  "Magnify this area."
    Nothing happens.
    He calls them on the commdot: "Welcome aboard."
    "Thank you, captain," says Shark.  "How did you know we were aboard?  Oh, that's right, you can see out the walls."  Whether the walls are actually transparent, or whether it's a camera / display system, remains to be seen.  Now doing that over three decks of height, making it accurate from any viewing position on board, and on a wall that's a tenth of a millimeter in thickness is another matter.
    Shark immediately notices something odd.  The panels beside the doors have all vanished.  "Who turned the doors off?  The buttons next to the doors, that you hit to open them, are gone."
    Misha says, "How can they be gone?"
    "How did they appear in the first place?"
    "You don't mean the cranks?"
    "No, the buttons beside the doors."  Shark steps towards a door.  It opens.  "I think I understand.  The ship is learning us.  It gave us door handles until it figured out how to recognize what we wanted.  Now they're gone."

    The two arrive on the bridge.  Misha asks, "How are you feeling, Robert?"
    "OK.  I've a beginning of a translation."
    Shark steps up to the command dias, and takes a seat.
    Robert bustles around the bridge, labelling buttons.  He shows Helia how to reconfigure her console, and where the button for the sparkly pink mode is.  She puts labels on her console in a language no-one else knows.
    Shark asks him where the security chair is supposed to be.  Robert hasn't been able to find a security system yet; the closest he can find is internal ship's status, like on the main holodisplay.  He can set up a smaller version on a console close to Shark.
    "So they don't have a security," says the first officer.  "No wonder I don't have a seat.  Boss, I'll have to figure out something else to do."

    Misha is ready to go.  "Anyone have a reason why we can't fire this puppy up and fly it around the cargo bay?"
    "Yeah," says Helia, "I didn't bring enough toys.  But I guess if I'm going to be flying...  OK!  Can I fly it around now?"  She broadcasts on the commdots, "Everybody be careful!"
    Down in the sickbay, Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead wonders exactly what he's supposed to be careful about.  He mutters to himself under his breath, and continues exploring the equipment.
    Helia goes into sparkly pink mode and flies around the bay.  She says, "Open the door," as she wants to leave the bay.

Helia in Sparkly Pink Mode
(Referee and Helia's player only)

    The ship flies around inside the bay, first approaching the bay doors, then swooping close to the walls.  Then it hovers.

    "Robert," says Helia, still in sparkly pink mode.  "I don't think we need to open the doors to go through, but it might leave damage behind.  But I think we'll be OK.  What do you think?"
    Misha says, "Don't go through any doors."
    "What do you think, Robert?"
    "I don't think we should go through the doors right now.  I'm checking on the communications systems."
    "Just think about that, though.  Tell Mich."
    Helia swoops the ship around some more, then sets it back down again, gently and perfectly into the cradle.
    The pilot comes out of sparkly pink mode.  She says, "Guys, this ship literally flies.  We can do whatever we want with it.  Let's get going."

    Meanwhile, Robert has found communications.  He's figured out transmit and receive, but not any way to indicate frequencies or communicator system.  He'd like to be able to figure out how to get into the station's security system from here so he could open the doors, rather than just blasting a way through.

    Shark says, "If we just steal this ship, the entire Imperial Navy is going to come down on us."
    Helia counters, "We've got the Baron with us, it's not like we have him hostage.  I'm sure he could convince them he was authorized to take it."
    "No, he can't.  He only got two levels of security below where we are now."
    "But Robert could."

    While all this was going on, Mich observed various things going on, including power usage increase.  He watched power go to the thrusters in the outriggers.  Still there's no indication of the amount of power available.

    Misha has been watching his display the whole time, except when distracted by the outside view of rushing close to the bay walls.  Nothing exceptional happens; the gunnery system projection comes on briefly while close to the doors, then it goes off as the ship swoops around again.
    (Mich has vision of a soft hum as a thousand missiles a second fly out of the gatling launcher system... of course, there's only 720 missiles in the magazine, but that doesn't mean they can't be launched in less than a second.)

    Robert tells Misha he can transmit and receive... that's something, at least.
    A voice comes over the commdot.  It's the Baron.  "Hey, Robert!  If you're done playing around with stuff up there, why not come down here and do something useful in medical?"
    On the communcations console, the transmission is indicated.  "Cool," says Robert.  He fiddles around for a bit, and gets the ship to transmit on the general commdot frequency: "I'll be down in a few minutes."

    On Mich's display, the communications system shows it's in use.  The power consumption is indicated.

    Shark checks his football data.  He did get a reading when Helia was in sparkly pink mode.  It was a low level of activity, but continuous through her pink mode.  To his surprise, there was no activity related to the door operations.
    Helia asks, "Does that make me a mind-sucking Joe, or does it make the ship a mind-sucking Joe?"
    Shark say, "The ship was reading your mind, doing exactly what you wanted it to do."
    "Cool.  Well that's a good kind of mind-sucking Joe, isn't it?"
    Misha laughs, "Is there such a thing as good demons?"
    Shark collects the footballs, and arranges them on the bridge to triangulate a reading accurately.  He also cranks up the sensitivity because he's expecting very localized activity.  "So, Boss," he says, "Show me how you ran that screen, and looked outside."
    Misha shows him.  The footballs record nothing.
    Shark says, "I want that display here also."
    Nothing happens.
    Misha says, "I'll try.  Put this display over there."
    Nothing happens.
    "Duplicate this display over there."
    Nothing happens.
    "Can you change the labels to galanglic?"
    "No," says the Voice.
    "Why?  Not?"
    Nothing happens.  Of course, if the labels were in galanglic it wouldn't help him, as Misha can't read.

    Robert has arrived in the sickbay.  He helps the Baron out greatly, and the noble is very pleased.
    Shark calls, "Robert, the captain just asked the ship to change the labelling system to galanglic, and it said no.  Literally.  Said.  No."
    "Right.  It'll take a little bit, but I'm working on that."
    The Doc is asking Robert to lie down on one of the beds.  "I need to get a baseline on this equipment.  Good.  Now lie still, relax, this won't hurt."  A very nice holodisplay of Robert appears, and the Baron peers at the brain.  "Bigger," he says, and is delighted when it works.  He continues pottering around, telling Robert to stay still.
    Shark asks Robert to help Mich in engineering, while Shark goes down to sickbay to be the guinea pig for the doctor.
    Robert gets up to leave.
    "Oh," says the Baron casually, "Be aware you might faint at any moment.  Did Mr. Teeth update you on your status?  No?  He should have done.  Your brain's charging up.  The brain chemistry changes, since that first big trance episode... taking that as a baseline, it's been charging up every time you pass out and I take a reading.  In fact, looking at this right now it's charged up more than when you passed out yesterday.  It seems to be an ongoing thing.  If you've got any way to reset it or something, that would be good, but in the meantime don't stand near any edges or anything like that."
    "I'll try not to," says Robert dubiously, and walks aft to engineering.

    Shark is popular with the noble doctor.  His broad experience, combined with the Doc's, helps figure out quite a lot of the systems.  Shark learns how to work the scanner, and is shown the baseline scan.  Attempts to find a portable medical scanner result in an object of about the right size, which Shark wants to check with Mich to see if they can use it.
    The Baron would rather just call people into sickbay for monitoring.  "Do you suppose we can get this sickbay onto the Third Eye?  It's actually a decent quality sickbay, up to my standards," he says.
    "No," says Shark.  "I think what's going to happen is that we're going to take this ship.  The staterooms here are three times as...  Have you been to a stateroom?"
    "I've only been here, and this is excellent."  This facility is indeed enormous.
    Shark resolves to show the Doc the luxurious staterooms.  He's sure that will convince the Baron to transfer to this ship.
    The Baron asks, "Well, if we're going to take the ship, shouldn't we try flying it?"
    "We have.  You were on board."
    "Oh.  I wish people would tell me these things."
    "Didn't you hear her say hold on, be careful?"
    "Well, she I didn't say why.  She says all sorts of strange things, I ignore it."
    "She's a pilot.  What do you expect?" laughs Shark.

    Robert has helped Mich as much as he did the Baron.  They've found the manual for the ship.  Unfortunately, it's in a fractal ideogram representation, and is unintelligible at first glance.  Also at first glance, Robert's head starts to spin.  He makes his excuses and goes to the garden to sit down quietly.
    Even so, they've done surprisingly well.  Mich had not thought of talking to the computer -- when engineers talk to their drives, they aren't usually very complimentary.  Fortunately the exploded view of the system is something that Mich has already managed to bring up on the holodisplays, even though the labelling is not readable.
    Now, though, he has found the power grid.  The power indeed comes from the large box, and goes all sorts of places in what is shown as a straight line from the box to the unit.  Depending on magnification, he can see where in the unit the power is going.  The main power is powering all the ships systems, and also all the little handheld devices and everything else.  "Powering the entire ship on a car battery," mutters Mich, "With no wires."

    Back on the bridge, Misha starts trying anything.  "Ship, do you understand what I'm saying?"
    Nothing happens.
    "Is the ship ready to fly?"
    "Oh yeah," says Helia.
    "Ready to go," says the Voice.
    "Fly... that is the word!" adds Helia, with a touch of awe in her voice.
    Misha says, "Could we jump from here?  I'm not asking you, Helia."
    Nothing happens.
    "What's our fuel status?"
    Nothing happens.
    "Are the batteries fully charged?"
    Nothing happens.
    "Do you have any training programs?"
    Nothing happens.
    "Where's Mich?"
    Nothing happens.
    "Which is the captain's stateroom?"
    Nothing happens.
    "Where is the gymnasium?"
    Nothing happens.
    "Where is engineering?"
    Nothing happens.
    "How many missiles do we have on board?"
    Nothing happens.
    "How much energy did we use in our most recent flight?"
    Nothing happens.

    The Doctor is through now, so Shark takes him on a quick tour through engineering, the garden, the living areas, and then to the bridge.
    In the garden, Shark shows Robert the device he thought was a handheld medical scanner.  Robert shows him how to turn it on.
    Shark tries it out on himself and the two other people there.  He, and the Doctor, show red; Robert shows mostly red with a touch of blue at one end.  Now all they need to do is get some detail out of it...  Shark is a little surprised that he was totally red himself, as he has an artificial elbow, but he guesses that he is "normal" in this state.

    Eventually they arrive at the bridge.  Shark and the Baron take up the other chairs on the command dias.
    Misha asks, "Does this make sense to you?  Any of it?"
    "Of course it does," replies the Doc.  "It's a ship.  Medical is excellent, unlike that primitive ship we've been travelling on."
    "So, it would be your opinion that we should upgrade?"
    "OK.  So you think you can run medical?"
    "Yes.  I've already taken baseline scans of a couple of your crew.  I'd like some supplies that are labelled so I can read them."
    "Have you had Robert come by and label things?"
    "Yes.  Helped a lot.  You know, his brain is very interesting.  But you might not want to put him in a position of too much responsibility, because he could flake out at any moment."
    "I only have six crew.  I think everyone is in a position of responsibility."
    "Well, he might flake out at any moment."

    Shark goes down to the science lab, looking for some sort of a scanner.  He puts his computer there, and looks for a button to turn the scanning equipment on.  He sees nothing that looks likely, and says, "Computer, scan this device."
    Nothing happens.
    Shark sighs.  It was what he expected, but now he'll have to go get Robert to help him later.  He returns to the bridge, where he tries to keep everyone from asking Robert anything symbol-related for an hour or so.  Turning Robert's commdot off, and with Teri's help fielding any physical approaches, he succeeds.

    So it's an hour later when Shark asks Robert if he's feeling better, andsuggests he should limit the amount of symbol reading.
    The Baron laughs, "We'll just put all the symbols in front of you, and give you a couple of liters of fish oil!"
    Shark says, "We don't have a couple of liters of fish oil."
    Robert says, "Yes, we probably do.  About that much.  And it doesn't take a couple of liters."
    Shark turns to the captain.  "We have determined that if Robert overtaxes his ability to read heiroglyphs, he feels bad, and the doctor has said that his brain is exploding."
    "Charging up," the Doc corrects.  "If I could come up with some way to relieve the chemistry, I would."
    "So what we need to do is figure out all the things that we need Robert to read and label, and then prioritize them, because he might just pass out at any moment and have his brain explode."
    "Oh, I don't think it would explode, but he might go into a total breakdown for a while.  Maybe permanently, actually."  The Doc still sounds interested rather than concerned.
    Misha says, "OK, here's the priority.  Let's have him concentrate on teaching the ship to translate for us."
    Shark suggests to him, "Here is my computer.  Please ask the ship to read all the data from my computer."
    "Ship, please read the data from his computer."
    Nothing happens.
    Sharks says, "Now ask it to translate the labels."
    Misha says, "Can you translate the labels to galanglic?"
    "No," says the voice.
    Shark asks, "What languages can you translate them into?"
    Nothing happens.
    Misha asks, "What languages can you translate into?"
    Nothing happens.
    Misha points at a label.  "What does this say in galanglic?"
    Nothing happens.
    "Can you translate this into galanglic?  Spoken.  Verbal."
    Nothing happens.
    Shark says, "Can you tell me what this means?"
    Nothing happens.
    Shark touches the display.  "Bigger."
    The display zooms.
    Shark grins, "This is the first thing other than the doors I've got to work!  I'm happy!"  He continues, on more a serious note.  "Display the data from this handheld computer."
    Nothing happens.
    Misha says, "Can you read the data from this handheld computer?"
    Nothing happens.
    Shark ponders for a moment.  "Can you contact the ship known as the H.M.S. Third Eye?  Contact the ship H.M.S. Third Eye.  Vonish?"
    There is no answer.
    "What is the present range of this ship?"
    Nothing happens.
    Misha asks, "Are there places on board this ship where the set of verbally accessible functions or the set of queriable alternations is larger than here?"
    Nothing happens.

    Shark tries something else.  He asks Helia, "Can you take us one meter off the deck and put us back down, please?"
    "Sure," says Helia.  "Just one meter?"
    "Just one meter."
    Helia slips briefly into sparkly pink mode.  The ship lifts up a meter, then sets softly down again.  "Is that it?" she says.
    "That's it."  Shark checks the footballs, and triangulates the center.  It was right where she was, and nowhere else.  It did not emanate from anywhere else.  Very odd indeed, he thinks.

    Shark continues, "Display the ship's log."
    Nothing happens.
    "How many orbits of the local star has this ship been here?"
    Nothing happens.
    Misha says, "Is this ship aware of it's history?  So it's smart enough to be able to figure out our language, but it's not smart enough to talk to us."
    Shark says, "It can answer some questions.  Very limited questions."
    "Do you think it's being annoying, or...?"
    'No, I think we're expecting too much from it.  Last time I heard about a computer-controlled ship, it tried to kill the crew.  And then it misjumped and crashed on a planet, and they were rescued.  It was the Anastasia."

    Misha looks for the bay doors on the display.  "Ship, do you know how to open these doors?"
    Nothing happens.
    "Ship, does this ship have a transponder?"
    Nothing happens.
    Misha turns to Shark.  "It knows some things, but it doesn't know very much.  Or it just doesn't answer questions that it can't make into a sentence."
    Shark says, "It doesn't answer questions it doesn't know the answer to, or has no way of communicating the answer to us."
    "You would think it would say 'I don't know,' but apparently that isn't what it does."
    "I could tell it to do that, but I think it might be doing that an awful lot."
    Misha resumes interrogating the ship.  "How are the batteries on this ship recharged?"
    "I don't know," says the Voice.
    Shark observes, "We told it to say 'I don't know.'  It did."
    Misha says, "I didn't tell it to do this, but I guess it figured it out."  He continues: "Where is Mich?"
    "I don't know," says the Voice.
    Shark: "Where is the engineer?"
    "I don't know," says the Voice.
    "Where is the captain?"
    "I don't know," says the Voice.
    Shark points at Misha.  "This is the captain.  I am the first officer.  Where is the captain?"
    A position lights up on the holodisplay, showing Misha's seat on the bridge.
    "Thank you!" chorus Shark and Misha happily.
    Shark turns to Misha.  "Captain, we are working with a brand new, untrained, ship.  It knows absolutely nothing until you teach it.  So we're basically working with a blank slate.  It knows how to make all of its appendages move.  It can fire missiles, it can move, it can -- whatever -- but as far as any other knowledge, it doesn't have any.  It does have a starmap, but...  So if I sat down here, and said this word is 'captain' in galanglic..." (displaying the word on his hand computer) "...  Computer, display the word 'captain' in galanglic on your display."
    The label for Misha becomes "captain," in galanglic script.
    "That's what we've got to do.  OK."
    Misha asks, "How many people are on board this ship?"
    "I don't know," says the Voice.
    Shark says, "We are people.  There are four in the room.  How many other beings like us are on the ship?"
    "I don't know," says the Voice.
    "Hm.  Well.  That's interesting."  Shark sighs, then looks over at the Doctor.  "Now you can go down to medical and start teaching it the procedures you want it to do."
    "I think I'd rather do it myself, thank you very much," says the Baron.
    "Things like check temperature, prepare this, routine stuff..."
    "I can do that already.  I'm smarter than any dumb computer.  I can always ask you to do it."
    "I won't be there.  I'll probably be on the bridge," smiles Shark.
    Misha resumes, "How many lifeforms have entered this ship in the last couple of days?"
    "I don't know," says the Voice.
    "Do you know what time is?"
    "I don't know," says the Voice.
    "Actually it does know time," says Shark, "because it knows transit durations and other stuff.  We've just got to figure out how to tell it."

    Shark walks over to Helia's console.  "Computer, can you change the symbols on your console to match the ones on these pieces of paper?"
    "I don't know," says the Voice.
    "Please do that."
    "I don't know," says the Voice.
    Shark then collaborates with the Baron in trying to get the computer to save "I don't know" for responses where it really doesn't, rather than doing it all the time.
    Baron Bridgehead walks over to Helia's console, points at the label and then the button, and says, "Computer, that is that."
    The label on the button changes to the sticky text, exactly as Helia wrote it, duplicating her handwriting.  A moment, then all the others change too.
    Shark calls Mich to find out if this has happened all over the ship.  "Mich, do the buttons now match your stickies?"
    "Yes, they do," says Mich with surprise.
    "You're welcome!  The Baron actually did it."  Shark turns to Bridgehead, "Thank you."
    Bridgehead acknowledges with a nod.
    "Now we have to teach it handwriting, and handwriting recognition, and details...  Oh, and Mich, can you bring up a status display, and tell me if any of the labels have changed to the same as the buttons?"
    Mich confirms that they have.  They are starting to get somewhere.

    Shark's plan is to show Robert what they've done, show him how they did it, now using his handheld computer can he do a high-speed dump of galanglic and start getting more and more things labelled.
    This will be Robert's high priority duty: he shows his current translation table between ideogram and galanglic, and says "Make it so."  With some work, and quite some time, he suceeds in getting a whole bunch of stuff translated.  It's not complete by any means, but it is good groundwork.
    The task weighs heavily on Robert.  His head starts to throb as he finishes it.  A good fish oil trip would be really relaxing right now...

    Misha contemplates what it would take in crew terms to run both ships together.  The Third Eye is set up to be handled by a crew of three, but they are woefully short of qualified engineering personnel.  They could of course handle it remotely, checking out the drive, then setting the jump coordinates, and leaving nothing for the Third Eye crew to do but press the button.