Winning Entry: Universal Non-Translation
You descended into the water for Session 14. [Fæfǁǁ^fɔ:] was waiting already, long fern-like tail gently swishing in the current. It wasn't like in fiction. There was no handy coms badge to translate for you, no tiny fish in your ear even.
This was less the first contact of the movies and more like that time you had tried to learn Welsh in night school. Surprisingly, those Welsh lessons were proving helpful. In a way. Sort of. At least you were already used to flailing wildly at a new language.
You were however, relieved that the [Swǁ_ɪɪɪ] favoured shallower waters and you didn't have to descend into a deep sea trench for each meeting. You had established so far that there were at least 6 and no more than 12 of the aquatic visitors. Counting was difficult when one used fingers and the other ... something else. Either fin ripples or a series of small nodules behind their eyes. It hadn't been completely clear.
Today though, two weeks after your first meeting, you were going to ascertain where they had come from. And how. You had asked before of course. It had been one of first questions the MI5 divers had asked after the Department of Fisheries had raised the query and a team had been sent to intercept.
It turned out, that while MI5 had divers and protocols for first contact they hadn't considered that these two needs would intersect. They hadn't anticipated language either.
So that's why you were called in. A linguistics consultant, who happened to have diving certification. Hurriedly given confidentiality papers to sign, a crash course in procedure and sent to the Irish Sea. To meet them.