trekwriter151: (enterprise)
[personal profile] trekwriter151
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't make money off 'em.

Notes: The title for this story comes from a Japanese song and game called "Kagome, Kagome."

Kagome, Kagome
Kago no nako no tori wa
Itsu, itsu deyaru?
Yoake no ban ni
Tsuru to kame ga subetta
Ushiro no shoumen dare?

English translation:

Kagome, kagome
The bird in the cage.
When will you come out?
In the evening of the dawn,
The crane and the turtle slipped.
Who stands right behind you now?

A ring of children with one child in the middle, like a reverse "Duck, Duck Goose." The "bird" has his/her eyes closed, and the children go around him/her as they sing the song. At the end, they stop, and the "bird" has to guess who's standing behind him/her. If he/she's right, then the one behind takes the "bird"'s place in the middle and the game goes on.

I thought "the bird in the cage" describes Hoshi's childhood, since she said she was mostly alone with tutors for her language talent, and this sparked an idea. Translations for Japanese and Swahili phrases are in bold. The suffixes -san is "Mr./Mrs.", -sama is honorfic for a Very Important Person, -chan is an affectionate name suffix, -sensei is "Professor or teacher".

Rating: T

One

Crossing Destinies

July 9, 2139


Soft light filtered through the paper shoji and rested on Hoshi's eyelids. She opened her eyes and stared up at the ceiling of her room. Blank white panels stared back at her. Then she sighed and burrowed deeper within the futon quilt. The sounds of the morning came through the rice paper door: her mother's steady stream of orders, her brother's howls of protest, and the cat's loud snuffling as it ate from its dish.

"Hoshi-chan, samaru ka?" (Are you awake?) Her mother's sweet voice floated from behind the shoji.

She groaned, but replied demurely, "Ā, samaru desu yo." (Yes, I'm awake.)

"Ii, isoguku ne!" (Good, hurry now!)

Hoshi groaned again and threw off the quilt. She sighed and padded across the tatami room to her closet. Casual clothes wouldn't do, not today of all days. She winced as she considered the set of formal kimonos hanging at eye level. Blue? Red with the cherry blossoms? White---no, not white, that was for funerals, but Hoshi was tempted to select it anyway.

The shoji door whispered open and Cousin Yuika poked her head into the room. "Hoshi, I'm here to help you with your kimono. Have you decided which one you'll wear?"

"The blue and white one," she replied in perfect English. "I think that'll do."

Yuika nodded in sympathy. At fourteen, she was Hoshi's elder cousin and her favorite by far. Usually, she was at a symposium or a laboratory with her physics tutor, but today, she had offered to go with Hoshi. And as usual, Cousin Yuika's kimono flowed off her body like graceful water, her hair and makeup immaculate.

"Let me help you. That obi can be such a pain to do by yourself. Besides, your mother can't complain about your appearance if we make sure there isn't anything to complain about."

"That's true," Hoshi admitted. She sighed and allowed Cousin Yuika to help her out of her nightgown and into the kimono, with all its accoutrements. Fifteen minutes later, Yuika proudly coaxed her in front of the mirror. Hoshi blinked at the stranger that stared back at her.

"Let's go. Not good to keep your mother waiting." Yuika squeezed her shoulder tenderly.

Hoshi nodded, but she worried anyway. She couldn't afford to make a bad impression today, of all days.

*****

She forgot her nervousness as she greeted the other attendees as they arrived, took their coats and led them into the Sato-Yamazuki family compound. Hoshi spoke in French to Monsieur LeVeran, her father's number one import director. Herr Becker received the same speech in his native German, while Mwemina Fakumwe heard it in Swahili. Fakumwe nodded gravely at the ten-year old hostess.

"Asante sana, msichana mzuri." Madame Fakumwe replied. "Thank you, my dear girl." She peered down at Hoshi through thick spectacles. "How old are you now?"

"Ten," Hoshi answered proudly.

"Shouldn't you be enjoying your own birthday party instead of being the greeter at the door?"

She smiled and said, "I am enjoying myself, Fakumwe-sama. I get to be the first one to meet and welcome everyone as they arrive."

"And where in the world did you learn Swahili? It's not the easiest language to learn."

"My tutor lent me a computer game that helped me understand the words. I made sure to study it over and over until I got them right. When I mastered that, I moved to the next level, and the next."

Fakumwe smiled, her white teeth gleaming within her dark face. "I see. You enjoy learning new languages and meeting new people. Those skills are very important."

"That's what Mama says. She wants me to study hard and make the family proud."

"I see that." A shadow passed over Fakumwe's face, then she slowly knelt down to Hoshi's level, mindful of her arthritic knees. "Hoshi-chan, I would be honored if you called me Mwemina. Just for today."

Hoshi's face colored in embarrassment. "I couldn't do that, Fakumwe-sama! That would be rude!"

"Just between us. I wouldn't take offense, all right? Please, honor an old woman by doing this."

She hesitated only a moment, then gave Fakumwe---Mwemina---a deep bow. "Very well. Just for today...Mwemina."

"Good." Fakumwe extended her a gnarled hand. "Will you please escort me to your honored mother? I have yet to give her my regards."

Hoshi nodded and slipped her hand within Fakumwe's. She walked by the grand lady with her eyes shining and her entire body glowing with pride at the honor given her. Mwemina, now her friend.

*****

As the evening went on, she circulated around the room and introduced herself to her parents' colleagues and acquaintances. They all commented on how mature, how grown-up she acted for a ten-year-old girl. No one paused at the fact that other ten-year-olds might have invited her friends for a sleepover or had a party with cake and ice cream. Hoshi herself had never considered it.

Cousin Yuika and Mwemina Fakumwe watched her as she floated from guest to guest. Yuika and Mwemina exchanged veiled glances as Kitsune Sato beckoned her daughter to her. Hoshi caught a glimpse of her friends' concern as she approached Mama, and as she drew closer, she saw the cause of that concern.

"Hoshi-chan, this is Hatayama-sensei, a professor at Tokyo University," Mama introduced, her normally warm smile frozen on her face. "She would like to speak with you."

Hoshi immediately gave Hatayama-sensei a deep bow, as was proper. "Hatayama-sensei, I am honored that you took the time to visit my humble house."

Doctor Nita Hatayama only nodded and replied, "Raise your head, child, and let me take a good look at you."

Hoshi did as requested, and she stared directly into a pair of glittering black eyes as they weighed her and evaluated her, all in one fell swoop. Hatayama-sensei towered over her like a tall, thin crane, with a razor-sharp beak. She tried to maintain her serene expression in the face of such judgment.

When Hatayama-sensei finally glanced back at Kitsune, Hoshi felt able to breathe again. "Bring her to me at Tokyo University in two days time, Sato-san. We will see if she is ready."

Kitsune bowed deeply. "Thank you, Sensei. We will be there at the appointed time."

"Good. I am doing you a grand favor by allowing this, Sato-san. I normally do not break rules, but I am willing to make this exception."

Kitsune bowed even more deeply; any more and she would have ended up on her face. "We are grateful for your consideration."

Hoshi had no idea what was going on, but she dutifully copied her mother's bow. Hatayama-sensei nodded in response, then said, "I look forward to seeing you." The professor turned and walked away.

"Mama, what was that all about?"

Kitsune straightened, but her face was as pale as milk. "Your future, Hoshi-chan."

"My future?"

Her mother took a deep breath to steady herself, then managed a smile. "Do not worry, Daughter. Everything will turn out for the best. Now, go and enjoy your party. There are many people you haven't greeted yet."

"Yes, Mama." Hoshi wanted to ask about the wistful, uncertain expression, but she held her peace. Instead, she bowed her head and went back out into the crowd. Quickly, she lost herself again in the excitement of meeting new people and practicing her skills, and she put the encounter with the strange professor out of her mind.

*****

"Hoshi-chan, will you please come here?" Hiroshi Sato beckoned her to him. "I would like to introduce one of my friends from San Francisco."

It was getting quite late, and she was tired, but she summoned up yet another smile. Hoshi took a deep breath and set herself in the proper state of mind; San Francisco meant America, which meant English, one of her favorite languages. She was thrilled, but oh, was she tired!

The exhaustion lifted when she saw the new visitor. He was not one of Hiroshi Sato's business associates, that much was certain by the Starfleet uniform. The man was tall, so tall that she had to crane her neck to see him. His dark brown hair was cut short in a neat hairstyle, and his dark green eyes sparkled in humor. There were two squares at the collar of his uniform, but no name tag.

Hiroshi turned and smiled at his daughter. "Hoshi-chan, this is Lieutenant Jonathan Archer. His father is Henry Archer, the designer of the warp engine."

Her eyes widened at the words. This was Henry Archer's son? She had translated a scientific article about the new engine from English to Japanese for Cousin Yuika. His father was a great man, indeed. She bowed her head and said, "I am pleased to meet you, sir."

"I'm also pleased to meet you, Hoshi." The warmth of his voice washed over her like a gentle river. "Happy tenth birthday. Are you enjoying your party?"

"Thank you." She inclined her head, for no one had asked her whether or not she enjoyed herself. It seemed that everyone was more interested in her ability to converse in their native tongues. "Yes, I'm enjoying myself. I've met many interesting people."

Archer's mouth quirked in a smile. He had a very nice smile, Hoshi decided. "I'm sure you have. I've been listening to you during the festivities. Here, I have a present for you." He handed her a gift wrapped in silver paper with a golden ribbon. "Happy birthday."

"Thank you, Archer-sama."

He laughed again and shook his head. "No need to address me so formally, Hoshi. Jonathan is fine."

She wondered if he realized the significance of his allowing her to use his given name. Probably not; Americans were so informal compared to the Japanese; almost sloppily so, according to some of her relatives. Mwemina Fakumwe understood it, but she doubted Jonathan Archer did. Still, it would be prudent to go by the social rules, especially under her parents' scrutiny.

Prudence seemed to be the watchword. Hoshi bowed her head. "Thank you."

A bell chimed, indicating one of the guests was about to take his leave. Hoshi nearly sighed in relief. "I must go. May I take my leave, Father?"

"Go, Daughter. I believe Fakumwe-sama wishes to speak with you before she leaves."

Hoshi nodded and walked quickly across the room. Indeed, Mwemina stood at the door, waiting for her. The older woman smiled as she approached.

"I had a wonderful time, Hoshi-chan. Perhaps it would do us well if it wasn't another year before we meet?"

"I would like that," Hoshi said with a grin. "Very much."

"Good. It's settled then." Fakumwe glanced over where Hiroshi Sato and Jonathan Archer stood talking. A odd little smile passed over the old woman's face; Hoshi wondered at it, but it was gone before she could be sure.

"Mwemina?"

"Ah, if I were sixty years younger!" She shook her head. "I have a feeling about that man. He is destined for great things, Hoshi-chan. Keep an eye on that one."

Hoshi blinked, then blushed. "Mwemina! He is much too old for me!"

Fakumwe laughed and shook her head. "I did not mean in that way, Hoshi-chan. Lieutenant Archer's destiny is entwined with yours nevertheless. Mark my words, you will see him again."

Hoshi tried to change the subject. "And I will see you again?"

"If I can. For now, enjoy your innocent life while you can, my dear." Fakumwe's smile was bittersweet. "I will keep in touch. Be a good girl for your mother, all right?"

"Yes, Mwemina."

Fakumwe smiled and shuffled out the door, heading for the guest building at the end of the pavilion. Hoshi watched her go and thought, This is a strange night. I wonder what she meant by that. I should ask her tomorrow, before she leaves.

She never did, for Mwemina Fakumwe had already left for Ghana by the time she woke up the next morning.

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't make money off 'em.

Notes: Hoshi has a fateful meeting with Professor Hatayama that determines the course of her life.

Information on Tokyo University, Komaba Campus is on Wikipedia. Translation isn't as easy as it sounds...especially from an unfamiliar language with little in common with your own!

A few other notes:

Translations from Japanese in bold.

In Japanese, it's significant when someone gives you permission to use their given name. It implies trust. Colleagues who have worked for decades together would probably still refer to each other as "Lastname-san". So when Mwemina asks Hoshi to call her that, Hoshi's surprised, esp. given the honor bestowed on the elderly. Of course, when Archer tells Hoshi to call him "Jonathan", he isn't aware of the cultural significance, esp. given what the future will bring!

Please R&R. Thanks.

Two

July 11, 2139


Tokyo University was spread out into five campuses; Komaba was the center of the University's Arts and Sciences department.. Students milled around campus as they finished their exams before the month-long summer break. Mama pointed out the various buildings with a wistful pride: the Auditorium, the Communication Plaza, and the Library. Hoshi could see herself taking classes here, when she was grown. A group of female students sat nearby, talking and laughing, and she stifled a flare of jealousy.

The tour ended where it began, at the entrance gate. Hoshi raised her head to see Building One, a grand edifice with a tall clock tower. She listened as it chimed two o'clock over the campus.

Mama gazed at Hoshi, her almond-brown eyes set in an oval face, much like Hoshi's own."Are you ready?"

She faked an appropriate smile."Yes, Mama. I'm ready."

The Academic Guidance Center was on the second floor, and Hoshi waited patiently as Mama talked with the receptionist. She reached into her pocket and touched the little star-shaped necklace on a simple gold chain. Lieutenant Archer had written, "A star for a lovely star. Happy Birthday." Hoshi wished she could wear it openly, but Mama frowned on what she considered "osentatious" jewelry.

Please don't let me make a fool of myself in front of Hatayama-sensei, she thought.

The receptionist nodded at Mama, then said, "Her office is down the hall and to the right, Sato-san. Good luck."

"Thank you. Come, Hoshi-chan. She is expecting us."

Professor Hatayama's office was one of several that branched off the twisting corridor. Hoshi hoped that she wouldn't have to try to find her way out by herself. After a few seconds, she was well and truly lost. Mama's sense of direction was much better than hers, and they arrived at Hatayama's office well before the appointed time.

Mama knocked on the door and a voice from within called out, "Come in!"

Hatayama's office was just like any other office Hoshi was familiar: small, cramped and lit by only one tiny window. Yet this one was scrupulously clean, with file cabinets lined along the back wall and labeled boxed stacked neatly, almost up to the ceiling. A rice-paper folding screen isolated Hatayama's desk from the rest of the space. The professor came from behind the screen and folded it out of the way to reveal two chairs in front of her desk and a porcelain cha service on a lacquered tray.

"Shitsurei shimasu, Hatayama-sensei," (Excuse us, Doctor Hatayama), Mama began, but Hatayama only waved an impatient hand in their direction.

"Iie," Hatayama replied. "Please, sit down, both of you. Would you like some tea?"

"Yes, Sensei. Thank you."

Hoshi studied the professor as she gracefully poured the aromatic brew into the cups and served her guests. Hatayama's movements were clean, precise and pleasing to watch. Every detail was correct, from the placement of the wire brush to the handling of the teapot. After the first serving, Hatayama refilled their cups, then sat down with a straight back, her unblinking eyes gazing at Mama.

"I understand your university mate Tanaka- san recommended that I test your daughter for admission into my special linguistics program," she began, without further delay. "Why do you believe she is ready for such an undertaking? She is only ten years old. Most of my students are twenty years old or older."

Hoshi flinched at the cool tone. Everyone always believed she was too young and too immature for the more advanced classes. She knew she was only ten, but she could do it, if only they allowed her to prove herself! Mama launched into a a familiar spiel, citing all of Hoshi's stellar reports from her tutors. Exactly on cue, Hoshi handed a copy of her portfolio across the desk to Professor Hatayama. The professor reached over to accept it, and their gazes locked over their joined hands. Hoshi saw an ancient soul within those eyes, very wise, yet very tired as well.

Hatayama nodded absently at the appropriate times and asked the polite questions. Finally, she glanced over at Hoshi again. "So, Sato-san, do you believe yourself ready for such an undertaking?"

She met the gaze and nodded, "Hai,Hatayama-sensei."

The professor's mouth quirked up in a slight smile. "We shall see. I understand you are a natural at bilingual...and sometimes, trilingual translation? I listened to you at your party; very impressive. Can you do a translation for me?"

She expected some sort of initial evaluation. Part of her was relieved that this part had come at last, part of her was terrified at what Hatayama had prepared for her. Hoshi squelched the fear as she nodded again.

Hatayama reached for an electronic tablet at the corner of her desk and handed it to her. "There is a passage on the screen in an unfamiliar language. I want you to translate it directly into English, please."

Hoshi bowed her head in acknowledgment, then turned on the tablet's screen. The symbols looked like nothing she'd ever seen before. Not Greek, Hebrew, Arabic or even Vulcan. Her eyes narrowed at the squiggles and geometric scrolls, noting the frequency of each individual character and how they were grouped. She picked up the stylus and made notes in the margins and in the space below the symbols. Before long, she needed another page, and another.

The words seemed nothing more than a stream of gibberish. Her brow furrowed as she tried another technique, then another, to no avail. Hoshi focused her concentration on her work; she didn't notice her mother's worried expression or Hatayama's confident one. All that mattered was that she complete her task.

Then the solution came to her...she wasn't sure where the stroke of inspiration came from, but it prodded her to take a closer look at the symbols. Many of them were similar to each other, with slight variations. What if it wasn't a direct symbol-to-symbol match, but a pictographic one, with each group of symbols representing one idea?

From then on, it was still difficult, but she managed to find some common reference points between the mystery language and English. It was enough for a rough guess at the message within: Use spirit inner rules nothing one or two. What did that mean? "Use your inner spirit and rules, not one or the other?" Or was it: "Use both your inner spirit and the rules, not just one or the other?" Both were possible; it was difficult to determine semantics without a larger sample...

Which one sounded more like what Hatayama-sensei wanted to hear?

Which one was closer to the truth?

Hoshi looked at the two translations, similar in meaning, yet different, and made her decision.

"Use both your inner spirit and the rules, not just one or the other."

Hatayama-sensei gazed at her, then asked, "Are you sure that is the meaning behind the words?"

Hoshi nodded. "Yes."

"Let me see your work on the tablet."

She passed it back to Hatayama, who scrutinized every detail. Mama glanced at her and tried to smile, but her trembling hands in her lap gave it away. Hoshi held her breath as Hatayama said nothing for several long moments. Finally, the professor's mouth turned up in a smile.

"Very good, Sato-san. You are able to think beyond the confines of the structure of a specific language, but only when you are forced to." Hatayama tapped the stylus on the symbols on the screen. "Linguistics is so much more than just a game with words. It is the meaning that lies beyond the surface, not just what is apparent." She glanced sideways at Mama, then refocused on Hoshi.

"You need a solid foundation to build on, the how and the why language works. The rules are still important, to supplement your natural ability to read people. I can teach you that, but I must warn you...some of what you must learn can be tedious and complicated. It will require your utmost attention and devotion. You are young, only ten years old, but you are more mature than many of my senior students. Are you sure this is what you want? It will require your complete dedication."

Hoshi blinked. Was this what she wanted? This was what she'd been studying and preparing for, an apprenticeship with the famed Professor Nita Hatayama. For some reason, she heard Jonathan Archer's question in her head: Are you enjoying yourself? Could she devote her entire life to the study of language and nothing else?

She was very aware of her mother's stare, and Hatayama's. They were awaiting her answer.

"Yes, Hatayama-sensei. This is what I want more than anything else in the world." She bowed her head. "That is, if you truly find me worthy."

She felt Professor Hatayama's fingers under her chin and looked up as Hatayama tilted her head until she looked directly at her. The woman's eyes were unreadable, but her tone was as cool an neutral as ever.

"Very well, Sato-san. Your new life begins now."

And the cage door shut loudly behind Hoshi, locking her inside.

Profile

trekwriter151: (Default)
trekwriter151

May 2012

S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728 293031  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 21st, 2017 04:03 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios