"Pink ... frogs ... fly ... angels!" Luke suddenly shouted.
I turned and gawped, my mouth falling open. His words were disjointed—complete and utter gibberish in fact, but he had spoken!
"Rhino ... fell ... banana!" he cried.
I could see the exasperation in his eyes as he struggled to re-master the English language.
"We must hurry," urged Troy.
"Congo reels sad!" Luke cried taking a step back from me.
"Don't worry, Luke," I assured him. "It'll come. You're getting better all the time."
"Belittle porters ... brail seeking!"
"But now, we have to get to AL3. Come on, Luke. You lead the way," and I took his elbow, but he snatched it away from me and glared angrily.
"Buckets! Buckets ... print!" and then he screamed loudly, a long, deep holler, in complete desperation.
"Pinter fish look see!" he bellowed.
"We don't have time for this. We have to go," urged Troy.
"I know but—"
"But nothing. Come on!"
"Feel cats applesome!"
I stepped up to him, but he again stepped back. My feelings were so mixed. I had felt deep joy at Luke's improvement but now sadness filled me.
"Volume speaks frail!"
I saw Midas and Troy glance at each other and read their thoughts. They were both losing faith in Luke's ability to help us, as was I, but something was niggling at me.
I could feel Luke's anguish as he babbled but there was something else in his voice and manner—a sense of frustration and urgency. Was he trying to tell me something, something important?
"Luke?" I asked.
"Pasta," he said softly.
"Jen, come on!" cried Midas. I shoved my palm rudely into his face to silence him.
"Luke, what are you trying to say?"
"Pale man," and he pulled way from all three of us. "Pale man seeks fish."
"We must leave him," said Troy. "He's gone mad."
"Fish feel fruit."
I shook my head.
"No, I don't think so," and I turned to Luke again. He stood rigid with anger, his fists balled and face screwed with tension.
"Luke, I'm going to ask you some questions. Don't speak. Just nod or shake your head. Do you have something to tell us?"
He nodded desperately.
"Ah-ha!" I cried triumphantly.
"That means nothing—" began Troy.
"Yes, it does!" I shouted angrily.
"Luke, are you my friend?"
"Are you an ensign?"
He shook his head.
"Is three the square root of nine?"
"Is brass an element?"
He shook his head.
"You see. The answers he is giving are correct. He just can't vocalise properly."
"That's hardly going to help us though, is it? I mean, even if he has something to tell us, he can't verbalise it."
I scowled. Midas was right, and then I had a thought. I got down onto my knees and beckoned Luke to join me. He looked confused but did as I asked and knelt beside me. With my finger, on the ground, I wrote the word 'WHAT'.
A beaming smile broke out across his face and then he drew on the ground the words 'THEY MUST GO LEFT'.
"Left?" I queried.
'YES', he wrote. 'MUST GO LEFT. RIGHT BAD. MUST LEAD DANCERS AWAY. MUST GO LEFT'.
I stood up and leaned over the edge to look into the bay below. Rutter was busy at the door, but Al was pulling the captain to her feet.
"Al!" I cried and she looked up. "When Rutter gets the door open, you must go left!"
"Okay?" but I could tell she wasn't convinced.
"LEFT!" I screamed down again to emphasis the importance of the instruction.
"Yes! I got it!" she snapped with Klingon ill-temper. "Left! Now push off, for crying out loud!"
I smiled and turned back to Luke. He looked much happier.
"Lead the way," and I swept my arm in an arc before me. Luke bowed his head slightly and then stepped forward.