“He’s alive, but only just,” came a voice at Vadir’s side. It spoke in the human tongue. He had little grasp of their language and couldn’t move from his current position. They had him in restraints. That made sense. He was, after all, an alien. They had no way of knowing what he was capable of. There was also various pieces of tubing tapered to his arms and legs pumping all manner of unknown chemicals into his system. It dulled his senses and made him sleepy every time he stirred.
“So it’ll live?”
“I should think so, Commander, provided there are no complications unaccounted for. I mean, aside from some anatomical differences, his internals are not that much different from ourselves.”
“So it’s some kind of xeno human?” The Commander asked.
“Not quite but based on our evolutionary history. Something similar probably occurred on the world he came from.”
“I wonder, where did it come from?”
“A long way away I imagine. For now. Letting him rest is the best course of action. I assume you have the matter of recovering the bigger ship to deal with, sir.”
“Before anyone goes anywhere near that other ship, I need to know what we’re expecting to find inside of it. Inform me of when it next wakes. I’ll bring the A.I. unit. It said it would be willing to help with communication.”
“I will, sir.”
When Vadir stirred next he fought the tiredness and strained into a seating position. A female human nearby saw this and left the tent. It was nice being away from the cold insides of his doomed transport. The strange warmth of a foreign world was oddly comforting since it had likely been centuries since he had last felt the wind on his skin. A few minutes later, another male human entered carrying a small module. He recognised it almost immediately. The container unit for the transport ships A.I.
The human began speaking but like before he barely followed what they were saying. It was all just words to him. The man eventually sat down and rested the module on the table nearby. After a single button press, the holo-form of the A.I. appeared. It first spoke to Vadir.
“Captain, I am here to assist in your communication with the human.”
“I see. What does he want to know?” Vadir asked, looking at the grizzled human face.
“Tell me what brings it here?”
The translation came quickly and Vadir answered. “We were a scout vessel sent to assess and determine whether there are habitable worlds in this solar sector. We would have continued on our set course if not for the distress signal transmitted from your moon city.”
The man cocked his head as the A.I. translated. “So there are more of you coming?”
“Possibly, if they locate our beacons.”
“We left a record of our findings in secure beacons. Only those with the matching frequency can detect it.”
The man leaned back for a minute, his face had paled. “Are you part of an invasion force?”
As the translation came through, Vadir held his hands up. “No, no, not at all. At least not from my own knowledge. I was just an engineer so my understanding of the mission is limited. We were just seeking a new home. Each habitable world we encountered was archived and ranked based on compatibility with the native life forms and the environment itself.”
“Interesting. What can you tell us about the main ship you came from?”
“It’s infested with those things my people call the Nirimor,” said Vadir. “It needs to be destroyed.”
“Nirimor? You mean Mortans. Then it is as I thought,” the Commander said standing up. “I will have you relocated to Site 51 once you’re on your feet. Welcome to Earth. Shame it had to be like this.”
The man stopped in his tracks and half turned.
“Let me help, I know every part of that ship. Get me to engineering and I can help you destroy it from the inside.”
A minute passed. “I will relay this to my superiors and keep you updated. Thank you…”
“Vadir, thank you, for being forthcoming.”
Once again he was alone except for the single Nurse and guards positioned outside the tent. As the heat faded to give way into the evening. He felt a chill run through him. If he wanted to be of use to these people, he would need to be able to speak to them without relying on the A.I. I wonder could a trace allow me to absorb the data I need. He looked over to the nurse wearing white and waved at her. Perplexed by his actions she stood up and approached his bed. She carried in one hand an old electric lantern. Its illumination kept back much of the darkness and it allowed Vadir to take in the alien person’s features. The Kaskari had encountered many alien races across their travels through the vast void of space. Some alive. Many more extinct, and some of those races had come close to looking like them but the humans were so similar he almost wondered if a group of Kaskari had gotten here first centuries ago. It would explain much of their technological feats unless something else was responsible for that.
“How can I assist you?” she asked, placing the lantern on the side table. She had interrupted his train of thought and he didn’t know how to communicate his intention. He simply held his hand out. Obviously, even more confused, she presumed he wanted her hand for something. It hovered above his silver palm. She looked visibly shaken, uncertain of what he intended to do. Not wanting to give her the chance to pull away he gripped her pale pink hand and engaged his trace. The veins on his skin turned bright yellow. If I can read her mind, I can better understand the human tongue and hopefully better understand them.
The smell of burning plasma and the sound of crying wounded would have led a weak-willed person to turn away from it all. But she had to remain steadfast. She had a duty of care to these men. Even if that care meant they would end up back here anyway. A never-ending cycle… What were they even fighting for anyway? The Japanese had a vested interest in securing the pacific region of course. It was as much a reaction to China’s growing strength as it was a desperate power grab. That was the paraded answer but there was probably more to it than just that. On the one hand, they wanted security and the resources that came with that. On the other hand, if the rumours were true. There were ‘alien sites’ dotted across South East Asia. She knew this because she had been reassigned from Site 51. One of those alien sites. The treasure trove of ancient alien technology had accelerated the race for technological superiority in a world that was progressing ever more off a cliff and into the unknown. She dreaded how this all would end. But as long as she did her duties, and if things went as intended she might actually be able to return to her parents at the farm. Or they would just send her back to Site 51. To live the rest of her miserable life under the Earth. A never-ending cycle…
The vision shifted then to a cold sterile environment. Outside this tomb was the endless space. Vadir Kor had been informed of a power fault in this corridor and with his assortment of precision tools, he set to work on removing the grates and soon found the issue. A split wire. Fixing it took very little time and as he fixed the grate back into place he stood up and stretched. In doing so he turned to see where they were. A grey crater-ridden surface was below them and beyond that sitting on the horizon was a handful of large connected domes that stretched out in all directions. Another fledgling civilisation, one that had just begun reaching out into the dark forest. A new player to join this never-ending game. Beyond the alien domes sat the planet itself. Indescribable in its majesty. He took a minute to absorb its finer details. He had longed to set foot on another world. Perhaps this would finally be the one and their journey could at last end.
Little did he know that hell would soon follow.
He let her hand go and felt an immense weight of despair and sadness wash over him. A mixture of her regrets and his mourning. He saw her recoil back clutching her hand in abject horror.
“What did you do? What did you show me?” she screamed at him.
The flaps ruffled and one of the guards entered, his weapon now pointed at Vadir.
The Nurse held her hand up to stop him. “It’s fine, I think. You can leave us.”
The guard’s icy stare pierced Vadir but the man relented and left them alone.
“I – needed – communicate. So I got inside your head. I forget it’s – a two-way link. I see your mind. And – you… you see mine. That was moments before… first contact. Before – I lost everything.”
She loosened up and placed her hands on her hips. “You could have asked. I thought you were trying to take over my mind or something. I thought you were -”
“A Mortan?” Vadir shook his head realising he had absorbed how the humans referred to those creatures. “Can I get out of this bed?”
“I – I – I” He struggled to articulate what he wanted. For him, his first two times waking up on an alien world had been from a state of unconsciousness. He had not yet felt the ground underneath his feet. That’s what he wanted. That’s what he had dreamed of. “I just want to see how it looks from the Earth.”
She rolled her eyes but appeared to understand. “I saw the Earth from your perspective. She looks so -”
“Yes. It kind of gives me hope in a way.”
She didn’t elaborate and instead went about removing the tubes. She grabbed some nearby bandages from a storage unit and applied them to where openings had been cut. With Vadir no longer chained to a bed, he sat up and swung his legs over the bed, planting them on the dirt. It sent a cold shock up through his ankles. He had forgotten he was barefoot. He used his toes to rub dirt between them. This odd coolness proved soothing. It also hurt as his feel rolled over small stones. The Nurse soon helped him to stand. Dizziness overcame him and it took a moment to steady both his nerves and himself. The Nurse thankfully helped him remain steady. He was reminded of her memory. He was about to ask about it when she spoke, “careful, don’t do anything too sudden, you’ve been out of it for a while, remember.”
“Thank you, you know my name but what’s yours?”
She met his red eyes and huffed. “You saw into my mind and you didn’t even learn my name, Vadir? Really.”
“Forgive me, I was too focused on getting to grips with your language.”
“Right, since you asked so nicely, it’s Kate, now let’s get this over with. Come with me.”
She parted the flaps much to the surprise of the two guards. A simple request gave them the room they needed to exit. By now night had fully settled. Vadir removed her hand on his shoulder and stumbled forward so that he stood alone. Behind him, Kate and the guards remained vigilant. The two men looked ready to gun him down. He expected that. There was so much to take in, from the chatter of the nearby tents, their flickering light and the ship he came from, almost invisible due to its metal design. Its final resting place would be here. He looked beyond it and saw her. The Dauntless sat in an open grave. Its impact had more than left a mark. And above that, a bright white circle casting light across the landscape. On that celestial body, humans likely remained fighting against the Mortans and any Kaskari fortunate enough not to have returned to the Dauntless before it crashed. Vadir’s legs finally crumbled beneath him and he landed on the dirt. Kate began barking orders but he had all but tuned her and everyone else out. All except the Dauntless now stood in focus.
Am I the only one left?
A single answer floated in his mind but he dared not accept it.
We didn’t come this far, all to die!
With some help from the guards, Kate had him back in bed. She placed the quilt over him and stepped back.
“Will you be okay, Vadir?”
No… because the nightmare isn’t yet over. The Mortans inside that tomb will soon wake and then the real struggle begins. Who can stand against such consuming madness? The humans would be at a disadvantage by themselves. They would need someone who knew that ship like the back of his hand. He looked at Kate.
“Tell your Commander, I can help. I must destroy my ship. If it means an end to those creatures.”
“I’ll do that, but first Vadir. You need to rest.”
And rest he would, until the dawn approached.