The Zeta Reticuli Exchange Program
This was a gigantic problem, to say the least. It took our linguist specialists several years to adequately establish a form of communication with the Ebens. A group of Ebens learned to understand English and a few other Earth languages.
This group contained the "Travelers," as our team called them. Our Team Members connected themselves with the Travelers. Although the Team couldn't always understand their responses, the Eben travelers understood our Team, most of the time. During this time period, the only exchange of information was simple.
The Ebens, not being able to completely explain something to our team, used a form of sign language by pointing to the object or item they wished to explain and made hand movements. Our team, two members, eventually grasped that method of communication. However, our Team didn't receive much information from the Ebens during this time period.
The Travelers (the very few who understood English numbered about 30) did not fully understand all words in our language. Later, the Ebens called our language too complicated and difficult to understand. We eventually determined the Eben Tonal Language to be very complicated and extremely hard to translate. We were able to record their language and then play it back, listening to each Tonal dialect and each tonal bar.
Eventually we crudely translated some of the languge. We started with simple items, for example, the flying object that they used to travel around their planet on. Then things like houses, roads, food, clothing, their suns, their planet, etc. Although we did establish some form of communication, it was crude and not always helpful for our Team when something complicated happened.
For example, when our first Team Member died in an accident, it was hard to communicate with the Ebens. The member died instantly, therefore, no medical care was provided. Our two doctors examined the Member's body and determined the injuries were consistent with an accidental fall. Initially, the Ebens never interfered with our care or offered to provide any of their medical care.
However, once the Ebens – a very benevolent and caring people – saw our team members crying, the Ebens stepped in and offered to attempt some sort of medical care. Although our doctors felt the Team Member was medically dead, they allowed the Ebens to try their own medical care. Most of this was either through sign language or speaking to the Travelers who could understand some English.
The Ebens transported the Team Member's body to a remote area of the largest community. They took the body into a large building, apparently their hospital or medical center. The Ebens used a large examination table to view the body. The Ebens ran a large bluish-green light beam over the body. The Ebens watched a display, that appeared on a large screen that looked like a television screen. The readouts were in the Eben written language and thus our team could not understand it.
However, there was a graphic display, similar to a heat beat graph. The solid line was not wavering. Our doctors understood that meant the same thing that their equipment measured: the heart was not beating. The Ebens administered some liquid through a needle. This was done several times. Eventually, the heart started beating.
But our doctors knew the internal organs of the body were damaged, but couldn't fully explain that to the Ebens. The Ebens finally made a sign, placing both their hands to the chest and bowing their heads. Our team members knew that meant the body was dead and nothing could be done.
The Ebens showed affection to our Team. During the last work period, the Ebens had a ceremony for the dead Team Member, the same ceremony used when an Eben died. Our team held their own service, attended by the Ebens. The Ebens were extremely curious about our religious service. One Team Member, who was acting as a minister, performed a death service. Our Team was eternally greatful for the Eben's caring attitude for our dead friend.
The Ebens live in a very simple society. The individual Eben family contained a male, female and at least one child. Our team did find some families with as many as four children. We later learned those families were caring for children of Ebens who were either on Traveling Missions (exploring the universe) or dead Ebens.
Our Team witnessed an aircraft accident that killed four Ebens. The Ebens performed a form of ritual at the crash site. The Ebens transported the bodies to a medical facility and examined the bodies. Our Team Members were always allowed to accompany the Ebens, except during rest period, when the Ebens closed their doors for privacy.
Our Team Members saw the sorrow in the eyes of the Ebens during the death of their own. Later, after the last work period of the day, the Eben's had a "funeral," at least that is what our Team concluded it was. The Eben bodies were wrapped in a white cloth. Several types of liquids were poured over the bodies. Large numbers of Ebens would stand in a circle, chanting.
The sounds became almost nauseating to our Team Members. The ceremony lasted for a long time. Finally, the bodies were placed in metal containers and buried in a remote location away from the communities. After the burial, the Ebens had a feast. Large tables of food were brought out and everyone ate, danced and played games. This occurred at every Eben death witnessed by our team.
The individual Eben family lived a simple life. Their homes were constructed of clay, some type of material similar to wood, and some metal. The houses all looked the same. They appeared to be something from the Southwest, looking like adobe. The interior of the house consisted of four rooms. One sleeping room where all Ebens slept in the same room on mats, a food preparation room (kitchen), a family room (the largest in the house) and a small waste room.
This brought up an interesting point for our Team. The Ebens did not have a physiological need to release body wastes as we did. The Eben's had small collection locations in the residence for their body wastes. But the Eben's body was extremely efficient in processing all food taken in. Their body wastes consisted of a small amount of fecal matter, similar to a small cat dropping.
Our Team Members never saw any urine excretion from an Eben. On the other hand, our Team Member's wastes consisted of bulk quantity of both fecal matter and urine. The Ebens had to dig large waste reception sites for our 12 Team Member's waste. The Ebens accommodated our team.
Food, as I mentioned previously, was a problem for our Team Members. Our Team consummed mostly military-style C-Rations, but eventually had to switch to Eben food. The Ebens had a variety of food items. They grew vegatables. Our Team found items similar to potatoes, but they tasted different. They had some type of lettuce, turnips, and tomatoes. They were the only items similar to ours. The Eben's had other vegatables grown.
These were strange looking round items with long vines. The Ebens cooked the vines and ate the large portion of the plant raw. The Ebens had some type of white liquid, which we first thought was a form of milk. But after tasting it, our Team realized it was different, both in taste and content. The liquid came from a small tree located in the northern portion of the planet. The Eben's literelly milked the tree for the liquid. It appeared to be some sort of pleasure to drink the stuff.
Our Team Members never got a real "taste" for the liquid. The Ebens cooked food. They make pots of stew, which was extremely tasteless to our team. We used a lot of salt and pepper. They also baked a form of bread. It was non-yeast bread and tasted fairly good, but caused extreme constipation to our Team Members. We had to drink large quantities of water in order to digest the bread.
The one common food that Ebens and our Team Members liked was the fruit. The Ebens ate a great quantity of fruit. The fruit, although different from anything we saw, was sweet. Some of the fruit tasted something like mellons, while others tasted like apples.
Another problem was water. The water on Serpo contained a number of unknown chemicals found by our team. Our Team eventually had to boil the water before drinking it. Seeing this, the Ebens built a large plant that processed water for our Team.
In our Team's final report, written by the commander (Colonel), the report states that during the exchange period (he was careful not to use exact time periods), the Team was able to communicate with the Ebens about 50% of the time. There were some things we were never able to communicate.
Our Team brought along softball equipment for sporting activity. The Ebens would watch the game and laugh out loud. (The Eben laugh sounded like a high pitched yell.) Eventually, the Ebens started playing the game, but never got used to catching the ball before it hit the ground.
Our Team also played touch football. Again, the Ebens watched the game intensely and then played it themselves. But again, like softball, the Ebens never figured out they had to catch the football before it hit the ground!
Although our Team Members honored the privacy of the Ebens, our Team was allowed to witness births. Our team, snooping aroud, was able to capture the sexual activity of the Ebens. The males and females had similar sexual organs and performed intercourse. The frequency of sexual activity was not recorded as being as often as our society performed. It was believed that they performed the act for pleasure and reproduction.
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