See PROLOGUE for disclaimer and comments.

ACT I

(KIRA, ODO, O'BRIEN, SISKO and DAX have collected in Ops and are all jabbering in different languages--KIRA and ODO in Bajoran, SISKO in English, DAX in Trill and O'BRIEN in Irish. SISKO's voice rises above the din, speaking Federation Standard)
 

SISKO: STOP! Time! (Everyone stops) We do this in what we all speak. Try. (Everyone gathers their forces to make an effort)

DAX: Chief. What...what is...off?

O'BRIEN: I'm not...I can't...provide a response now. I must do more testing. Yes. Comm system, of course, comm system is where the problem. Surges, perhaps. Overuse.

SISKO: How long before...

O'BRIEN: Don't know why means don't know when, Captain.

DAX: Must be...not individual.

O'BRIEN: Systemic.

DAX: Thank you. Must be systemic. I'll help you locate the problem.

ODO: Security will be a problem. (SISKO nods)

KIRA: (her fluency is limited, and she is frustrated)Captain...there be...strange...docked ship with...unknown...AAAAAAAGH!! (Breaks into a stream of Bajoran, which ODO translates to SISKO)

ODO: She's asking about that Gamma Quadrant freighter that docked here yesterday. (More Bajoran from KIRA) Yes, Major, I think you may be right. Their language is nonverbal--telepathically communicated images accompanied with hand gestures--and she thinks the strain may have been too much for it. (SISKO appears to have gotten most of this; O'BRIEN hasn't.)

DAX: When did you be so good linguist?

ODO: I don't sleep, so I have a lot of free time. (looks around at the others) This is supposed to be *your* lingua franca--why do you all sound like androids on low power?

SISKO: Federation standard...

DAX: Inhales. (Stares) Air intake. Negative pressure system--

O'BRIEN: (suddenly comprehending) Sucks.

DAX: Thank you. (KIRA adds her own emphatic appraisal of it in Bajoran.)

SISKO: Not...(laughs, shaking his head) Not poetry.
 

(Cut to chez Garak-Bashir, where the two of them are standing looking at each other.)

BASHIR: Eh bien...(Hands him the flowers) Pour toi parce que je t'aime.

GARAK: (Taking them with a sigh) Potwem kl'iff tritt, das...(Offers his to BASHIR ruefully. BASHIR takes them. They look at each other and laugh.)

BASHIR: Le rire, ca au moins se traduit. (Shakes his head) Aujourd'hui, de tous les jours, ca aurait du passer. Tu ne sais pas comment ca me tue d'etre ici te regarder comme un etranger...(GARAK is sort of nodding politely, but clearly not understanding any of this)...comme si nous nous sommes rencontre a un soiree et je t'interresse mais tu ne te rappelles pas exactement comment je m'appelle...

GARAK: Ejl nuntiral...(frustration gets the better of him) WATRA! Myntral, myntral FNAA rupta--(He turns around; BASHIR comes up behind him and strokes the back of his shoulders)

BASHIR: Allons, allons mon pauvre chou, on essayera...
 

(We cut to the Promenade; O'BRIEN is trundling down it on his way to work on the translator with DAX. He passes various people, greeting them in Irish, who do not respond because they have no idea what he's saying; he is becoming more and more frustrated)
 

DAX: English, at least, you speak?

O'BRIEN: Not. (DAX looks surprised. Passing a perturbed OPHIDIA, he greets her wearily) Dia dhuit.

OPHIDIA: (Preoccupied) Dia's muire dhuit. (They get a few steps past each other, then stop and turn. O'BRIEN grabs her by the arm)

O'BRIEN: An bhfuil thu gaelige agat?

OPHIDIA: Ta me caledonige agam, ma...
 

(The Irish dialogue is now overlaid with an English voiceover translation, which gradually synchs up with their lips as the Irish dialogue fades. We are to understand that they are still speaking Irish, but it's being overdubbed. This convention will be used from here on in--everyone will be overdubbed in English, but in actuality they will still be speaking their native languages. It should be clear from context who can understand whom.)
 

OPHIDIA:...it seems to be the same as Gaelic. Wouldn't surprise me, given our history. But I'm kind of surprised you're not bilingual.

O'BRIEN: Bloody Gaelic revival nationalist claptrap--"Move out of the Gaeltacht," they said, "it's still alive in Ireland but nobody *else* is ever going to learn it," they said, "and it's an intergalactic world out there," they said, but no, my parents had to bury themselves in the middle of Connemara and--

OPHIDIA: So what's the matter?

O'BRIEN: That's what you're going to help me find out.
 

(Cut to Ops, where KIRA, in an attempt to discuss her theory about the malfunction with SISKO, has blown a gasket and abandoned the attempt to speak Fed Standard)
 

KIRA: You've been here *how* long and you don't know a single word of Bajoran?

SISKO: Major, if you could just *try* to tell me more about these telepaths you--

KIRA: I can't *believe* you expect me to try to muck along in that ridiculous non-language! (SISKO is uncomprehending) This means nothing, does it? I could be speaking Cardassian, couldn't I, and you wouldn't know the difference. It's all just gibberish to--

SISKO: Are you saying you think the Cardassians had something to do with this?

KIRA: You're going to be here at least another three years, you'd think you could at least learn some basic vocabulary! Even most Cardassians picked up at least *some* terms.

SISKO: If you think this has to do with that terrorist group, by all means communicate your suspicions to Odo, since he still understands you--

KIRA: They knew what was useful to them--you know, "Stop," "Mercy," "I confess," "Please don't hurt me"--you don't even know *that.*

SISKO: Major--(Tries to focus her attention on him) Odo. Talk to Odo.

KIRA: Yes. I will. (Starts leaving) At least the Cardassians thought we were *worth* understanding.
 

(Cut to chez B-G. They are sitting down across from each other at their table, on which the flowers are sitting in vases. Again, although their dialogue is now in English, neither can understand the other.)
 

BASHIR: (after a long silence) I hate this.

GARAK: I hadn't noticed this before, but our relationship *does* thrive on talk, doesn't it?

BASHIR: I'm not...real to you now, am I? Some kind of windup toy with a part that's not working.

GARAK: And yet in all those lunch meetings I never really *told* you anything.

BASHIR: What do you even see when you look at me? I can't...think of myself as alien, but that's what I am, to you. An alien.

GARAK: So why did it matter so much? Does it matter. Still. Even with nothing in particular to tell you, I sit here thinking, if I don't see it in your eyes, soon, that spark that says you can hear me, that I'm meaning something...

BASHIR: How did we do it? How did we connect?

GARAK: It will quite simply drive me mad.

BASHIR: What translated for us?

GARAK: Now why is that? (They look at each other. There is another long silence)

BASHIR: I can't--(stands up and starts walking nervously) I can't believe our whole--us--is dependent on some *microchip,* that's insane. (GARAK stands too, and approaches him.)

GARAK: Because I'm words and nothing else, is that why? Because that's all I ever was, an invented story?

BASHIR: Because it's *not,* you standing there I can feel--alien as you are I can feel it, the pull--

GARAK: (moving closer) I never noticed before how the muscles in your throat move when you speak. (Puts a hand on BASHIR's throat) Speak again.

BASHIR: You're still there, under the strange words and the alien skin--

GARAK: You'd think I would have. I looked at you long enough, hard enough.

BASHIR: Or because so much of you doesn't translate, is that why I love you, anyway?

GARAK: (moving his hand over BASHIR's moving lips) Speak again. (BASHIR runs his tongue along GARAK's palm) Yes, that I understand. Speak again.

(Fadeout to commercial)

*end Act I*