Canto 121 : Leafy Green Problems (That are Probably Nutritious if you Eat them)
As Gyro came through the weird blossom-like airlock without his helmet, just like the others, he saw Billy and Sara helping Junior clean plant secretions off Junior’s face, neck, and hair. Ged was also cleaning secretions off his hand-rocket and plasma pistol, a rather important thing to keep clean and free of particles that might cause a thermonuclear explosion.
“Hey, guys,” Gyro said, “that thing took my helmet off and ate it or something.”
“No flowering plant is ever going to want to eat your stinky helmet,” Sara said. “It smells too much like your spahnschloop ar nembhis.”
“So, you speak Nebulonin, now?” Gyro said with a dimpled blue grin.”
“Khompuruc sah, Gyro. All I have to do to learn an alien language is grab it out of your little Smurf brain with my telepathy. Kheehannan doh Churro.”
“What? You want to force me to eat Mexican cinnamon bread?”
“That’s not what that means, Gyro, and you know it well. It goes in the other end entirely.”
Gyro giggled. “I like your weird accent, though. It makes everything you say sound like a joke.”
“That’s practically what everything is when you translate it from Nebulonin,” said Junior with a wry grin of his own.
“Speaking of translating, that whole messy process used a semi caustic plant juice to sterilize us enough to enter this plant-filled environment. Do you still have the universal translator, Gyro?” Ged Aer0-semsei said. He was finishing the careful cleaning of his deadly weapon/transportation aide.
“Oh, no! It was in my helmet, Sensei.”
“The helmets came out on the other side of the blossom. Retrieve yours and take proper care of the translation device. There are strange alien beings aboard this strange alien ship”
Gyro suddenly had an anxious little knot in his stomach. The last thing he wanted to do was let his new friends and teachers down.
He retrieved his helmet. Using his Psionic ability to measure the molecules of the translator device, he soon discovered that, not only did he not have to worry about damage, but the thing was cleaner by far than it had been before passing through the blossom airlock. And besides, he was confident of fixing everything when all he had to do was shift the molecules that the thing was made from.
The inside of the alien thing was a complex of tunnels between root structures, flowering alien plants, savory-smelling herbs, and various plant-like leaves, branches, and brush.
“If this is an alien space craft, where are the crewmen?” asked Sara. “I sense alien minds, but I see nothing that looks like alien personnel.”
“I don’t sense any mechanical minds,” said Junior.
“Billy, do you intuit anything with your clairvoyance?” Ged asked the young shaman.
“I get a strange sensation of war and impending violence. But not here. It is coming from some place far away.”
Gyro looked all about himself. Nowhere was there anything, creature or machine, that looked like anything but a plant. But… maybe that was the key.
He bent over to look at a large, squat, onion-thing. The bulbous part at the bottom had a couple of fruit-like black orbs on it that almost resembled sad, expressive eyes. And a mouth-like hole was blowing visible clouds of onion-stink at him.
“You know, we haven’t seen any crew or technology. All we’ve seen are plants. Could it be that the plants are the technology? Maybe even the crew?”
Nobody responded to Gyro’s observation. They were obviously all deeply invested in their own wonderings.
So, Gyro wondered if the people on board this plant-like starship were plants… What would they look like? And how would they communicate?
He looked at the onion-thing. It blew another cloud of eye-watering onion-stink at him.
Was that the answer? Did they talk with odors instead of words?
He looked at the translator. There were parts of the translator’s battery system that he could repurpose to be a mini-material-synthesizer… to make smells of his own. And then he adjusted the microphones to become olfactory detectors. It was easy when all you had to due was shift atoms of hydrogen, lithium, and carbon into other elements that were even more useful. Soon, he had the smell-detector working hard. He reprogrammed the translator A-I to interpret smells as language. He set the new stink-sniffing detector to translating onion smells.
“Ola, Mi AmiGos!” he heard from the speaker. The readout display said (Oopsie! Not Spanish!) Then the Galactic English translations started pouring out.
“ThanK bugbladDers! I can finally tAlk to you. I aM captain (best approximation) LuiGi the Onion-Guy!”
“Hey, guys! Come here and listen to this! I am talking to an onion, and he says he’s the captain of this ship.
“YeS! That’s nearlY, possibly right. YoU are on board the Cornucopean Ship, the… UglY Pod!
“We corNucopeans need Your HelP,” (said in really strong smells… possibly due to anxiety or excitement.)
“Wow, Gyro!” said Sara.
“Yeah, wow… I’m talking to an onion…” Gyro grinned sheepishly.