Chapter Thirty-four: Listen

Report. The Elder asks even though they can see the same display.

Lots of comm chatter on the Camfurdian frequencies. We’ve never seen this much activity before, especially this far out.

Well, the Camfurdians are in the middle of a war. Their comment is bland, if not borderline sarcastic.

You mean, they’re in the middle of another conquest…

It isn’t our place to judge their ways. We’ve agreed upon boundaries that allow both of our kinds the ability to explore. They’ve held to their side of the treaty so far. The Elder paces across the bridge calmly.

Will you at least admit that they’re barbaric in their methods of exploration and colonization? It’s an easy answer. Most of us feel this way, but it’s not often we speak of it.

We aren’t here to judge them. It doesn’t matter how close we are to the border, we’re just a patrol, not a tribunal. The Elder glares this way.

Seriously, these frequencies are hot. Military channels and otherwise. Something big is going on, and it’s probably bigger than just this war. After pressing a few buttons, the screen changes to show dozens of frequencies all with activity. Now… these are the same frequencies based on the logs from yesterday.

The screen changes again and shows the same frequencies, but with very little activity, except on a few of the military lines.

That’s… actually alarming. Tap the civilian lines first. It may give a clue, and it’s at least legal. If you hear something that sets off any alarms, try to tap the military frequencies, but only if you can do so undetected. It’s not worth angering them, especially if they’re already in a fit over something. The Elder sighs and looks around.

Bring us closer to the border. We’ve heard about a lost crew and requests for reinforcements. We may end up with survivors fleeing wherever they can, and we’re obligated to help any wounded. Keep sensor scans at maximum range, and depending on what the this comm chatter is about, we might send a recon probe toward that warzone.

Don’t you think a probe is going to draw their attention? Probes aren’t exactly subtle. They’re easily detected if you’re running routine sweeps.

We’ll tell them the truth. We sent the probe because we were looking out for any survivors fleeing the area after we heard about the reinforcement request. That came through on general distress, and they know we know about it.

It takes some time, but eventually, each highly active frequency is scanned. Comms training has its perks – multilingualism being at the top of the list. Even if none of us can speak it, Camfurdian is an interesting language to hear. It possesses countless subtleties that make it a very intricate language, even more so when you realize it’s likely an amalgamation of an older tongue blended with a more modern vernacular. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough of the original language to study, and the Camfurdians apparently lost almost all of their ancient records.

Elder, so… there are a few trends so far. First, it seems that the lost squad has been recovered. That was heard on a military line. If that probe is going to be sent, now might be the time to send it.

Second… both classifications of lines are going crazy about some defector.

The Elder’s eyes widen, the yellow irises standing out even more against pale blue skin. A Camfurdian defector?! That seems about as likely as a Camfurdian good-will ambassador.

The Elder’s surprising joke has everyone on the bridge laughing, the walls echoing the high pitched trilling sound that so many others seem to find amusing. It is one of our few vocalizations.

Apparently, he was second to the commander leading the war against those Groyin creatures.

Second in command or second as in their relationship heirarchy? That… system of theirs is so confusing. The Elder comments to widespread agreement.

Relationship second, it seems. Alim Elikel is the one leading the charge, and Alimari Janil is the one they’re accusing of defecting. They’re branding him a traitor and a war criminal, offering reward for his capture, dead or alive. They’re in the process of striking his name from all Camfurdian records, military, familial, and otherwise. Whoever this man is, they’re desperate to get a hold of him.

Still, the idea of a Camfurdian turning his back on his kind in the middle of a war? That’s… unheard of. If they’re that desperate, they’ll probably try to call us.

Unless they don’t want to acknowledge it. They might treat it as an internal problem.

The Elder laughs. Then there is reason two we should deploy the probe. We can call them out on it if we discover anything. Yes, let’s deploy the probe. Let’s get right on the edge our territories, and let’s keep monitoring all frequencies. Things are about to get interesting.