“Say again. Over,” Captain Rik van Winpell of the Royal Space Regiment enforcement shuttle Sir Prijs said into the microphone.
“You have to press the ‘transmit’ button, Captain,” CFP Edna Bucket informed him, always trying to be helpful.
“Bugger! So I do,” the Captain ejaculated.
“You’ll have to stop doing that, Captain,” Edna said.
“Swearing, Captain. Bad for morale.”
“Okay, CFP Bucket.” The captain then pressed the transmit button and repeated, “Say again. Over.”
“Surprise, this is Borborygmus Explorer Grade 3 Flatulon Grumpblast. Stand by for transmission.”
“Proceed with your transmission. Over. Bugger. Sorry.” The captain pressed the transmit button and repeated, “Proceed with your transmission. Over.”
“Exploration ships left our planet, Borbor, a long time ago, with our progenitors on board. Their open-ended mission was to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no borborygmus had gone before. There was and is no provision in the mission statement for a return to Borbor; no achievable, measurable goals and, we now believe, no expectation of the return of any of the two thousand vessels that left on this quest. I, Flatulon Grumpblast, am a member of the 853rd generation since the launch. By your way of counting time, the launch was twenty-three thousand and seventeen years ago, although it could be a lot more or a lot less, because of the way the universe expands. We arrived at our present location, the natural satellite that orbits your planet, three hundred of your years ago. We’ve been observing your Earth, and we’d like to make a contact with you. We are your friends. Message ends.”
“Aren’t you going to respond, Captain?” asked Lt Weinberg who, you will probably remember, may or may not acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.
“Of course,” the captain replied. This time, he remembered to press the transmit button and said, “What do you want from us? Over.”
“Some of our group would like to meet with some of your leaders and commence a dialogue.”
“What’s that supposed to mean, Over”
“I think, Captain, that he wants to talk,” Merry interrupted [yes, she and Tarquin are still there – still prisoners and still wearing their hypercuffs].
“But he’s doing that already, isn’t he?”
“I think he wants to talk to someone important; someone with authority; someone with a bit of common sense.”
“Impudence. I am important. I have authority, though there is nothing common about my sense, as you’d find out if you’d do me the courtesy of listening to me occasionally.”
With the notable exception of the captain himself, everyone present in the radio room burst into laughter; as did Flatulon Grumpblast – the captain still had his finger on the transmit button.
“Now listen here,” the captain said, though whether to those present or to his off-world interlocutor isn’t yet clear, “anything anyone wants to say to any leaders, they can say to me first, and I shall pass it on. Is that clear?”
“Who was that aimed at, Captain?” Tarquin asked.
“The bloody alien chappy; what’s his name? Flatulent?”
“Shouldn’t you have said ‘over’, then? Him being on the radio and all?”
“Yes. You’re right. Very well, here goes. [pause] Over!”
“Very well. Here is our message to your leaders. Ahem. We have no home. This place is not suitable for us. We need a breathable atmosphere. We can adapt to your gravity, given time, although we would need special arrangements to be made, due to our relative, shall we say, fragility.”
“What are you saying? Over.”
“Sorry. I thought I was speaking your language. If you would like to specify an alternative, we will learn it and talk later.”
“Impudence upon impudence! You are speaking my language. I understand the words you are saying, but I don’t get your meaning.”
“Put someone else on, then. There must be someone there who understands me.”
There followed a chorus of officers and prisoners all claiming to have understood Flatulon’s message.
Merry said, “Flatulon. Our planet’s laws require that you state in, plain words, exactly what it is you want, as well as the number and nature of individuals on whose behalf you are speaking.”
“I see. There are about fifteen hundred Borborygmi on a this satellite, including young. On their behalf, I wish to claim asylum.”
“Oh bugger,” the captain said.
“Oh bugger,” the rest of the room chorused.
“Can I take that as a tentative yes?” Borborygmus Explorer Grade 3 Flatulon Grumpblast asked.
Copyrights are acknowledged in respect to wording drawn from "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" and from "Star Trek"