Stella, at the controls of the surface vehicle, steered them between rocks and around sand dunes at full speed away from the lander and towards their rendezvous with the Nabians. “At least we won't have that dratted computer voice to annoy us here.” she remarked cheerfully to the still grumpy Stefan. “Mummy, are we there yet?” came a tinny voice from the vehicle dashboard. Stella's face fell and she swore under her breath. Silence reigned until they sighted the Nabian delegation lined up at the edge of the vegetation which bordered the desert.
Stefan and Stella climbed down out of their vehicle and approached the waiting assembly. The Nabians were clearly excited and were bouncing up and down on their single legs and clapping all four of their hands, or at least trying to clap, sometimes they missed. Stefan wondered if this lack of co-ordination might be one reason for their limited technology. The Nabians stopped clapping and made their usual gesture of greeting which involved covering both ears with one pair of hands and their eyes and mouth with the other. This of course presented the humans with somewhat of a problem, only having two hands. Stefan and Stella compromised by covering their ears first and then moving their hands to cover eyes and mouth. Stefan could not get the image of three monkeys out of his head.
The humans turned on their computer assisted translators and Stefan dreaded to hear what voice it would use. The devices were linked to the main computer and he had to hope that this had not been among the systems that the computer tech, who Stella had jilted so vehemently, had interfered with. To his dismay a familiar voice spoke into his ear. “Hiya, good buddies, great of you to drop by. Come on into the shade, take a load off and chill out” The Nabians led them into the purple shade of the plants. Each Nabian headed over to one of the purple blooms and extended a finger into the centre and withdrew it covered in purple pollen. They inserted the finger into their mouth and sucked contentedly for several minutes before they started talking again. Stefan noted a change in the language they were using, even without the translator they sounded confused and the software was having difficulty in making sense of what they were saying. Stella muted her microphone, “Stefan, they are stoned! What's more I'm beginning to feel a bit of a buzz too”
Their return to the lander was a nightmare. Stella's driving got worse and worse. It was not helped by comments like “Pink elephant ahead” and “Look out there's a cop!” from the computer. Once at the lander Stefan engaged full autopilot for the return to the SS Ptolemy and that was just as well as by the time they docked he was joining the computer in choruses of “Show me the way to go home” and “Ten green bottles.”
Alex in a full isolation suit decontaminated Stella, Stefan and the lander before getting the merry pair through the airlock and strapping them down in the autodoc modules to purge their systems of the intoxicating pollen.
The next morning both Stefan and Stella were sober again as well as nursing the biggest hangovers they had ever experienced. Each hearty and loud comment from the computer made them wince as they filed their official reports. What most worried Stefan, was that he the short summary the computer suggested as the message to send back to Earth by ansible greatly amused him, perhaps a lingering effect of his intoxication “Nabians, one legged, four armed, drunken purple pollen eaters.”