Last night, the Minister of Science in the Republic of Zekostan announced that local scientists had unearthed what could be a crashed alien spacecraft.
Today, you'll be the first foreign correspondent to land in Zekostan to cover the story. On your last assignment, you were too slow and Agence France-Presse got the scoop. You've got to beat them this time!
Your publisher has arranged for a guide to drive you to the remote crash site and translate from Zeko for you.
Now you're hurrying off the plane into the tiny airport, looking for your guide. A tall, thin man is holding a sign with your name on it. He greets you warmly, saying, "Bregodo, bregodo."
He hands you a folded piece of paper.
[[You open it.]]The note says,
<em>I was originally contracted to be your guide, but Agence France-Presse has given me a more generous offer. Therefore I will guide their journalist and you will travel with my cousin, the man who bears this note.
I regret to say that my cousin does not speak English or know how to drive, but he will show you the way. His name is Ludo.
Ludo is smiling expectantly. "Bregodo," he says again.
You say, [[Where is Jodgor? I must speak to Jodgor!]]
You say, [[Let's go!]] and gesture toward the exit."Jodgor?" Ludo says dismissively. "Pffft. Agence France-Presse!"
Ludo puts his hand on his heart and bows. "Bregodo," he says again, and gestures grandly toward the exit.
You sigh and say, [[Let's go!]]Ludo leads you to a dusty Land Rover parked haphazardly along the edge of the road. He hurries to the driver's side door and opens it with a flourish.
Overhead, a plane is approaching the runway. Is it carrying the Agence France-Presse journalist? There's no way you're letting them scoop you again!
You jump into the Land Rover and Ludo eagerly climbs into the passenger seat. He hands you a key.
[[You start the engine.]]The Land Rover lurches into life.
"Fretur," Ludo says, waving his hand toward the filthy windshield. "Fretur fretur."
[[You turn on the windshield wipers.]]
[[You pull onto the road and go straight ahead.]]"Bid, bid," Ludo says, frowning. "Fretur!" He waves his hand forward again. You turn off the wipers.
[[You pull onto the road and go straight ahead.]]"Pa, pa," Ludo says, smiling. "Fretur."
The road is rough, but the Land Rover handles well. You pick up speed, hoping to put as much distance as possible between you and the Agence France-Presse usurper.
Suddenly the road stops at a T junction.
"Kurtol," Ludo says, waving his hand side to side.
[[You turn right.]]
[[You turn left.]]
You say, [[I'm sorry. Which way?]]"Bid, bid!" Ludo says frantically, twisting to wave in the other direction. "Kurtol!"
You quickly back up to the T junction.
[[You turn left.]]"Pa," Ludo says, smiling.
After another bumpy kilometer, an intersection appears. A newly paved road branches off to the left, while the road you're on continues straight. You could go a lot faster on the new road.
"Which way?" you ask Ludo.
"Fretur," Ludo says.
[[You continue straight ahead.]]
[[You turn left onto the new road.]]"Kurtol," Ludo says again, waving his hand side to side.
You dimly remember reading somewhere that pointing is taboo in Zekostan.
[[You turn right.]]
[[You turn left.]]"Pa," Ludo says with satisfaction as the car continues lurching down the old road.
He pulls out a pack of clove cigarettes and offers you one. "Chigareti?"
You don't smoke, so you say:
[[Bid]]"Bid, bid!" Ludo says, looking exasperated. "Fretur!"
You back up and return to old road.
[[You continue straight ahead.]]Ludo smiles and hands you a cigarette. He pulls a lighter out of his pocket and holds it expectantly.
You don't want to offend him, so you sniff the cigarette appreciatively and then put it in your pocket. "Later," you say.
Ludo looks a little confused but puts away the lighter.
[[You continue driving.]]"Okey," Ludo says. He puts the cigarettes away.
[[You continue driving.]]The road is getting rougher. The afternoon sun is to your left, so you know you're going north, toward the supposed crash site and your international, first-on-the-scene report.
A haze appears in the rear-view mirror. It looks like a distant cloud of dust from another vehicle!
Ludo notices your alarm and twists in his seat to look back. "Agence France-Presse?" he says.
You press harder on the gas pedal. Another T intersection is rapidly approaching. You can't waste time making mistakes. "Which way?" you ask Ludo.
"Heep," he says.
[[You turn to the left.]]
[[You turn to the right.]]"Bid bid bid!" Ludo cries in dismay. "Heep!"
You slam on the brakes and back up to the T instersection, the tires kicking up dust.
[[You turn to the right.]]"Pa," Ludo says with satisfaction.
This road is even rougher and narrower. You're going through woodlands now, and up ahead you see that someone has been cutting trees. Long trunks are piled at the side of the road.
"Hegga!" Ludo suddenly says as you pass the felled trees.
You look at him in confusion.
"Hegga! Hegga!" he says, waving his hand back at the trees.
[[You stop the car.]]
[[You turn the car around.]]"Pa," Ludo says, opening his door and jumping out of the Land Rover. He runs back to the felled trees and begins pulling one into the road.
"Agence France-Presse!" he yells to you.
You run back and help him pull another heavy trunk into the road, blocking it.
Then you both get back into the car and [[speed north again.]]"Bid, bid!" Ludo cries in dismay as you drive toward the trees. "Hegga!"
[[You stop the car.]]You round a bend, and suddenly there's a fork in the road.
"Heep!" Ludo says.
You don't have time to think about it.
[[You take the right fork.]]
[[You take the left fork.]]"Pa!" Ludo says. The road makes another turn, and suddenly you see two military vehicles parked at the side of the road. A soldier with a gun is standing near one of them, watching you approach.
"Hegga?" you ask Ludo.
"Pa," he says.
[[You continue straight past the soldier.]]
[[You stop near the soldier.]]"Bid bid BID!" Ludo cries. He mutters something, holding his hands in supplication to the sky, as you turn around and go back to the fork in the road.
[[You take the right fork.]]"Bid! Hegga!" Ludo cries, nearly grabbing the wheel from you.
You slam on the brakes.
[[The soldier walks up to the Land Rover.]]Ludo is looking in his pockets for something. You take out your press credentials.
[[The soldier walks up to the Land Rover.]]The soldier sternly says something that includes a lot of "bid." Ludo protests and says something that sounds like "yurnalista." The soldier looks at your press credentials and walks over to his partner.
Ludo is searching his pockets with increasing frustration. You reach into your own pocket and pull out a 100 zekor bill. You take one of Ludo's cigarettes and roll the bill around it while the soldier heads back to your car.
He walks up to you, "bid" written all over his face. Before he can say anything, you smile politely and hold up the cigarette.
You say, [[chigareti]]?
You say, [[sigaret]]?"Pa, chigareti," the soldier says, removing the bill and sliding it into his pocket before putting the cigarette in his mouth.
"Bregodo po Zekostan," he says, pulling out a lighter. "Fretur."
When you hesitate, Ludo says, urgently, "Fretur!"
[[You pull away from the soldier and continue down the road.]]The soldier looks baffled for a second, then bursts into laughter. He deftly removes the 100-zekor bill and slides it into his pocket, then turns to show his partner the cigarette.
"Sigaret!" he says, laughing. His partner rolls his eyes and says something that sounds like "idioti" and then ... tries to kiss his own elbow?
Ludo whispers "chigareti" and taps his cigarette case. Then he whispers "sigaret" and taps his elbow.
Still laughing, the first soldier slaps the fender of the Land Rover. "Fretur," he says.
When you hesitate, Ludo says, urgently, "Fretur!"
[[You pull away from the soldier and continue down the road.]] In another kilometer, the road abruptly rises. When you reach the top, you realize that you're on the edge of a wide, shallow crater. Near the center of the crater are white metal trailers, earth-moving equipment, and several people.
Just beyond the people and equipment, you can see a jagged hole in the earth, with fresh dirt piled to one side. Between a group of workers and a pile of dirt, you catch a glimpse of smooth metal jutting from the hole.
"Fretur," Ludo says.
[[You drive down toward the site.]]
You pull up next to one of the white trailers, and an official-looking woman with a clipboard approaches. Ludo gets out of the car but motions for you to stay put.
As Ludo walks up to the official, you pull out your notebook and jot down some of the Zeko terms you've learned so far.
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This activity shows how training designers could use branching scenarios to help people learn through experience. For details and discussion, see <a href="http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2011/07/sample-branching-scenario-cool-tool/">this post in my blog</a>.