Sing-sing entered the lounge, lower hands reflexively clenching and clenching, her antenna quivering. She quickly scanned the room, then made her way over to the counter and pulled herself up, antennas quickly swiveling to look behind the coffee maker and behind the old computer.
"Excuse me, Mr. DeZufingia - have you seen my lenses?"
Diego sat up from his prone position on the couch. "Those glasses things? Uh, no - no I haven't?"
"Thank you." The alien squeaked, "I must have left them at the village this time."
"Is this a major problem? Do you need to go home? How good is your eyesight with out them, might I ask? You don't use them much."
The alien folded her back legs, giving the impression of a sitting dog, flicked on the translator unit, and moved the microphones into pickup position on either side of he mouth.A few test beeps later, and the modulated voice replaced he own high pitch.
"My eye sight is perfectly fine. In both sets. Better than average actually."
"You've got more than one set? Where is the second?"
"Obviously, the [low chirping] are the main set, with wide angle vision and good acuity in low light. The [loud mew] are low angle of vision - telescopes really, but very high magnification."
"I'm guessing there is some adaptation that means you don't get sick when you move the antennas about."
"That should be obvious"
"So then what are the glasses for?"
Sing sing stood up, her antennas once again bouncing, and he lower hands wringing, she sidestepped a bit to the left, and then began to walk fight, not looking at Diego. She then turned off, and removed the translator, lapsing back into her high pitched natural voice.
"Well, um...I I"
"Something wrong in the translator you can't use it."
"Not something - you politely speak of. Or that I want the machine to record."
"That thing has been recording all of our conversations?!" Diego shot up, now towering over the alien, who began backing away."That is how it works - and this is a mutual learning you know. I am not a [lapse into rapid natural Citizen language]!"
Hobbes rushed into the room "Diego - what the hell are you doing to her?"
"Nothing! I just got a little angry that we were being recorded."
"It is a radio station Diego"
"I mean the translator device."
"Oh. Well, you haven't said anything wrong in front of her - have you? You're not part of some anti-alien guerrilla group and haven't told me?"
"Of course not!"
"Then what is the problem? The aliens want to learn about us too - that is why they consented to lend us one for a few weeks."
"Its just...right. I just like to be notified if I'm being recorded. It runs in the family. Papa wouldn't even say 'good morning' until his body guards swept the house for police listening devices.""Sing-sing, its alright. He didn't mean to hurt you. Just surprised. We forget that standing up can scare you. Diego, sit down, and calm down. No Mexican Special Service here. Besides, didn't you leave the family?"
"The Grupo de Operaciones Especiales can be a bit overzealous, but yes. Wait - what do you know about my family?"
"Nothing major, we can discuss it another time when your more comfortable."
Hobbes shook his head and left. Diego sat back down, clasping his hands in his lap. "I am sorry. I know that you were about to say something difficult, and I hop that you still feel safe enough to share it."
"Will you explain why you always get so mad when people ask about your family in return?"
"If you can forgo the recordings, yes. Later."
"Thank you for the apology. As to what I was going to... Well. I'm poor. Not the most prominent family, and one of the most junior workers in the fleet. Setting out with a colony does mean an automatic promotion and pay raise - but its in name only really. Arguably I still have a few years of apprenticeship before I can vote on guild matters."
"How old are you?"
"Eleven or twelve. I think. Its hard to tell, years and seasons are very different here than at home."
"I apologize for going further off topic, but that does raise two other questions - would you know what a citizens life span is for point of comparison, and what is the name of your home planet anyway?"
"Fifty or sixty years, though the average was getting closer to seventy. As to the name - that is sacred. It is not to be shared."
"I apologize for the rudeness, miss sing-sing. May we return to the question of glasses?"
"The easy way to put it, is we see a different spectrum of colors than you do. Those eight-sided signs along the roads are really dark and odd to us, the downward triangles less so, and the ones that note hospitals are about where things get easy."
"Can you see ultra-violet?"
"I don't know what that means."
"So the glasses alter the colors?"
"No, well, sort of.. more like you only see the best parts at a time."
"Sounds right, but I don't know. What I do, is that good books use special ink, it even seems to glow. But its expensive and fades, unless its printed on the right materials and preserved, which is even more expensive. Cheap books do not, but are hard to read for long."
"Can I apologize for scaring you earlier by reading it for you?"
"Well, you can not read our language... but Mr. Hobbes did suggest something by a man named Aech-Gee Wells?"
"Was it 'War of the Worlds?'"
"You know it?"
"I don't think he was being serious."