This a gift for WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for the holiday season. It's a short anecdote from ST TOS (new version) era... Universal Language “These guys are intelligent, right Nyota?” Kirk leaned in and whispered to Uhura as they trudged across the sparkling crimson sands of Xmassa. The unusual landscape complemented Uhura’s minidress and contrasted with the young captain’s golden jersey. The humans halted and confronted the pack of yelping inhabitants. The hairy bipedals alternated between howls and short grunts. Some licked their own bellies. Uhura consulted her Padd again and shrugged. “That’s what Spock says.” “Well,” Kirk gestured vaguely. “Do your thing. We gotta make them understand the Federation offer or we lose this planet.” The slender communications officer straightened at the challenge and switched her attention to her universal translator device. It was spouting gibberish in response to the alien cacophony. She frowned and brushed a stray strand of hair from her face. “Try talking to them. The UT will do its best based on gathered data.” Now Kirk sweated under the pulsing turquoise sky. He coughed, then began. “Greetings from Earth!” The pronouncement was greeted with a hail of pink missiles that slapped onto the ground before the two visitors. Uhura gagged. They were slabs of fresh meat. Kirk raised an eyebrow at her and she said, “Let me try.” She fiddled with a knob and modulated her voice through the UT. “People of Xmassa, the Federation proposes an exchange of gifts with you, for our mutual happiness and cooperation.” The UT whined like an ancient mistuned radio. The parcels of meat were joined with a volley of half-gnawed bones. Kirk reached for his phaser pistol. “No!” Uhura warned. “It’s not an attack – look – they are smiling when they throw.” Kirk squinted at the furmen. “They look like they are snarling to me.” Uhura decided to try something unorthodox. She bent down and scooped up a dollop of flesh. Kirk spun just in time to see her toss it back at the aliens. The reply was instant and vociferous. A storm of body parts smacked Kirk and Uhura on the legs, midriff, arms. Uhura even took a whack to her chin. “This isn’t working!” Kirk yelled. “We’ll have to establish the research station somewhere else.” “Wait,” said Uhura, watching the Xmassans. The one nearest her own improvised missile was not acting like the others. She understood in a moment and tugged on Kirk’s sleeve. “Do what I do.” Kirk watched Uhura and then made a face. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. That’s disgusting.” “Just take one bite!” Kirk sighed and bent to one knee. He selected the freshest looking of the blobs at his feet, winced, then tore a chunk off with his teeth. The Xmassans were instantly silent and watchful. Uhura and Kirk rose slowly to their feet. Even Uhura’s hand strayed close to the phaser at her hip now, the attention focused on them both was so intense. “What now?” Kirk spoke out of the side of his mouth as he chewed on the morsel. “Swallow.” “What?” “You heard me.” Uhura gulped down the mouthful. It was actually rather good, now that she had dared to try it. “Bones is going to kill us – if this alien food doesn’t – it’s bound to be full of unknown bacteria!” moaned Kirk. “That’s the point,” breathed Uhura. “It’s a test of manners to the host.” Kirk finally finished his mouthful and burped. “Someone get me a shot of bourbon, quick!” The hairy aliens howled and rushed at them both. Kirk and Uhura exchanged a look of panic and reached for phasers. But a moment later the canine-like species were upon them, stunningly quick. Paws poked Uhura. Wagging tails whacked against her legs. The bipedals crowded in to nuzzle her with wet, black noses. She looked across to Kirk, who was grinning as he was similarly assailed. “Just remembered who these guys remind me of – Bessy, my old aunt’s Labrador!” Uhura grinned and joined in the show of affection between the two species, as human and Xmassan hugged and patted one another with wild abandon. Then Uhura’s UT sprang to life. “Welcome to Xmassa!” it translated the yaps of one furman. “We have exchanged food, and now friendship and dialogue can begin. Tell us what we can do for you.” * * * “What is this stuff again?” said one of the Xmassans, chomping greedily on the rare-grilled steak. “Hickory sauce,” Kirk grinned and turned the spits over the open fire. He decided another of the cuts was ready and offered it to the next in the impatient queue of canines. The receiver smiled and yelped and said, “Cooking! We never knew burning things could make them taste so nice!” “Wait ‘til I introduce you to bacon,” Kirk smiled back. Uhura watched the impromptu barbeque and shook her head. Jim always found a way to make the deal. The Federation would be welcome here any time. She sensed the Xmassans would make loyal friends. Spock strolled up next to her and cleared his throat. “Your contribution here was invaluable, Miss Uhura. By passing their culinary form of initial communication you have secured a site from which to study the nearby star. I have just surveyed the perfect location.” She glared at the Vulcan. “You knew how they communicated, and you didn’t tell Jim?” Spock raised one eyebrow in a characteristic expression. “The purpose of the exercise is to show faith in your friend. To give and receive without prejudice. To forewarn would not have been logical.” “And you knew he would be really uncomfortable,” Uhura folded her arms, still glaring. Spock’s eyebrow remained at its elevated position. “Possibly. It did prove a good learning experience for both of you, did it not?” “Learning experience? Why you mean, cold…” Uhura shoved Spock playfully. They both wandered over to the grill where Kirk still served eager Xmassans. His golden jersey was streaked with dark smudges, but he turned to his crewmates and offered plates. Uhura considered the Vulcan’s words as the mouth-watering scent washed over her. She glanced at the Xmassans enjoying their food and chatting happily. Annoyingly, Spock was right. She had learned. Here was a form of universal language her UT would never pick up. .