Opportunities are given to everyone. Not all opportunities are the same; some are large and some are minute, but they do have one thing in common. They all have the power to drastically change the course of someone’s life, and in the rarest of occasions, all life as we know it. When destiny and luck play together, sometimes an individual is the fortunate recipient of the greatest opportunity ever known.
I’ve always been fascinated with space travel. I think most children are, but it carried over to my adult life, and my parents soon noticed that they couldn’t quell my curiosity with simple books and stories and superficial information. I managed to trace one of my ancestors to the first moon landing. He was actually involved with the mission and worked in the control room. I am blessed to have wonderful parents, and with their help and money, I was able to enter the Space Exploration University. As all of you know, this isn’t an easy task for anyone, but I graduated at the top of my class with highest honors. SEU named me as the number one new prospect for future explorations, and as time passed, I became a season space explorer. I’ve seen sights that only a handful of others can say they’ve seen.
It was at this time that I was approached by my commanding officer. He seemed very aloof and vague and escorted me into the debriefing chamber. To my surprise, there was a government official sitting in the room (anyone can recognize their garb). I felt fear and anxiousness as my commanding officer told me to sit. There were no pleasantries; there was no mistake as to what this was. I was being questioned and examined. I’ve heard about these. I was being evaluated. Why? To be erased. To be forgotten. If I was what they wanted, my identity – my past, present, and future were going to be annihilated into nonexistence.
It’s hard to process and actually articulate the emotions that are involved in a situation like this. You see, I’m not just going to be passed off as “dead”. Try to grasp the term “erased”. I was being removed from the lives of my friends and family. If I agreed to this process, they would wipe any memory of me away from those closest to me. The process is physically harmless, but emotionally, this was a huge burden for me to carry.
I sat and thought for awhile; my mind racing. I know that my parents wanted me to fulfill my dreams even if that meant that they weren’t around to see, or in this case, even know they had a child. I’ve come this far, and I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way. My father told me when I was very young that I should never stop even when I’ve reached my goal. His advice and my parent’s love reinforced my decision to follow through with the plan.
And so it happened. I was erased. I began my rigorous training for a mission I didn’t have any information on. For countless days and nights I trained. And trained. And trained. I remember when I got my first briefing on my mission. We were led into a room and told to sit down. There were four of us – me, Jark, Mioree, and Daycund. There were five or so government officials and SEU officers in the room with us at that time. We were all hungry for any small morsel of knowledge they were willing to give us as to what we were doing. A rigid individual began to address us: he told us that we were being trained to pilot the farthest manned mission ever considered. With the new advances in technology and recent advent of the fused ion propulsion engine (FIPE) we could reach new destinations that were previously far beyond our grasps. We were going to rendezvous with a planet sized asteroid on the outskirts of our asteroid belt. We were then briefed on the logistics and technicalities of the mission, but then, they hit us with something huge.
During the first moon landing; many, many ages ago, we found something that was kept secret. To be honest, when they told me what they found, the first thing I felt was disappointment and then fear. There are those questions that live on for ages. Generation after generation people seek to find the answer to these seemingly unanswerable questions. The fanatics and crazies are given credence because no one can actually prove them wrong; well, no more than they can actually prove them right. It’s an air of mystery – a contentment of not knowing that makes it so fantastic. However, when the question is answered, and the crazies are no longer crazy, and you realize that fantasy, that wild thing conjured in your mind is actually true, the enigma is replaced with chilling fear. It was now very real.
The rigid individual that was speaking looked at us intently and said, “There is no reason to pretend anymore. No more vagueness. No more mystery. All your life you’ve never known the answer. Now you will.”
An image flashed on the screen that was wholly unidentifiable. I don’t know how to describe the shape except that it had corners. It seemed to be a metal of some sort, and it had grooves, switches, buttons, and terrifying symbols written all over it.
“I’m here to tell all four of you. We’re not alone.”
I somehow half expected him to say something like this. But even then, it still made all of us gasp. He continued to explain that aliens had been living on our moon for ages; observing, experimenting, abducting, and bestowing. Their plan was unclear, and we could not tell if they were benevolent or violent. The aliens had built a base camp on the far side of the moon, and operated from there while continually observing us in our own habitat. When we gained the ability to travel to our moon, they packed their belongings and left; leaving only the skeleton of their camp and this… this thing. This transmitter. It took several return trips to successfully deconstruct and bring the skeletal camp back home to be studied.
During this time, the transmitter continually spewed this alien tongue. They played samples of broadcasts for us. It was a horrifying language that I cannot mimic verbally let alone textually. In the beginning of the discovery, there was a bombardment of streaming alien voices; however, as time marched on, the voices became less and less until they were finally silenced.
He continued, “We were left to wonder. To wonder if these aliens would ever return. And, if they did, would they want their belongings? Not too long ago, we observed a crash on a planet size asteroid on the edge of the asteroid belt. At first we assumed it was a smaller asteroid colliding with the larger one. But then… then we started to hear something. The transmitter began to talk again. The aliens had returned.”
I became a little dizzy at the thought and I continued to listen. “The hard part of this is trying to understand why they returned. Deductive reasoning would say to collect their transmitter, but then, why would they leave it for us to find? Also, what happened on that ship? What caused it to crash? These are questions that you will be answering. The transmitter is receiving the same loop from the crashed ship. It seems to be some sort of distress signal, and because there have been no changes and no answer for quite a long time, it is safe to assume that all occupants were killed in the crash.”
“Yeah right.” I thought to myself. If learned anything from reading and watching alien programs and books over the years, it was that the alien was NEVER dead. It only seems that way. But then again, I thought, this isn’t fantasy… I had to reevaluate my thought and remind myself that all of this was real, and that aliens would probably be subject to the same forces that we are; thus, being destroyed in an interplanetary crash.
The rigid individual gave us a little time to soak up the information he had just poured on us, and then our officers began to outline our mission. The mission was going to be very difficult and dangerous. Nothing like this had ever been attempted before.
As our training commenced, time again went forward, but even this wasn’t a fraction of what we would be experiencing during our trip. Fortunately, to us, the actual trip was going to only be a flash; well, hypothetically, anyway. A new system of travel had been tested, and proven to be 75 percent effective. During travel, Jark, Mioree, Daycund, and I would be in a state of suspended animation (SA). The ship’s on board computer would navigate and control the life support systems until close to the arrival time to the asteroid. The thought was unnerving, but the reward of “knowing” far surpassed what might happen.
And so, our voyage began. We, of course, controlled lift off and the passing out of our atmosphere. In fact, we even did a flyby of the moon. After we escaped its gravity, we set the computer’s autopilot to our destination, and retreated to our life support pods to be placed into suspended animation.
Like most unprecedented things, it’s quite difficult to explain SA. It’s not like sleep. I simply… was. I was awake, and then, I was awake again. I remember climbing into the pod and activating the life support systems, and then, I remember deactivating them and leaving the pod. It’s rather strange to have no recollection of my past events, but, with all of the strangeness that had recently filled my life, it was becoming normal.
One by one, we removed ourselves from the pods. After a period of refreshing ourselves, we congregated in the control bay to analyze our data and be briefed on our current situation. To my surprise (maybe I’ve watched too many alien programs); everything was going exactly as planned. The mission could not be going more perfectly. I guess, slowly, I was starting to accept the fact that this was life, and that life is never as exciting as fantasy even if you’re living within the pages of fantasy.
Soon, we were able to see the asteroid in plain view. There really wasn’t much to see. It was barren and dull in color with impact marks peppered all along its surface. Home Base let us know of the time of our landing, and soon, we would be seeing what no one else has ever seen – an actual alien spacecraft.
We began our descent, and soon we found ourselves on the surface of the asteroid and face to face with it. The spacecraft was not as large as I expected, and, interestingly, not as alien. It seemed rather reminiscent of our own spacecrafts; however, just more advanced. It had wings and fins which suggested it came from a planet with an atmosphere. The vessel was in pretty bad shape, but the hull’s integrity seemed to have held together despite the violent crash. Pieces of the ship littered the surface for some distance, while charred remains stuck out from the bedrock.
A moment I will never forget is when we left our rover and approached the alien craft’s airlock. We weaved our way past mangled remains of this different, vastly different metal and settled under a canopy of flashing lights and hissing electrical wires.
There was the airlock. And, there was the control panel. We look at each other for a moment, and Daycund said, “Ummm, how do we get in?”
We stared blankly at each other from our space environment suits and I said, “I have no idea.”
We huddled more closely to the control panel, and under the blinking light I saw a button. Above it, alien symbols were written across, and without thinking, without hesitating, I pushed it. A terrible screech came from the monitor screen and more alien symbols appeared across it. Below the symbols, there were two shapes. Inside the first shape there were simply three alien symbols. It was then I realized that these alien symbols were rather primordial. Simple, yet effective. It’s strange that you assume a master race of aliens would have a complicated form of communication; however, when you think about it, simplicity – clarity is a wonderful form of perfection.
The first symbol was a long line that branched another line from its side, the second symbol, similarly, were four lines put together with three of them branching on one side, and the third symbol was a strange elongated line with curves. Below these symbols was the second shape with two symbols inside it. The first symbol was three lines standing up and placed together and the last symbol was the strangest of all. It seemed to be lines place together in an infinite loop. Very odd.
Mioree looked at me and said, “All right, hot shot, what next?”
Looking at her, I said, “I have no idea. I guess I’ll push the first one.”
There was a collective “No” but it was too late. I had already touched the screen where the first three symbols rested within that shape. There was a hissing of pressure. The airlock door began to spin in the middle and it opened very quickly. With continued haste and excitement we stepped into the airlock. The door closed behind us and there was a hiss of pressure equalization as well as an atmosphere dump.
When the door to the inside of the spacecraft opened there was a moment as time stood still. I looked in disbelief at the multilevel corridors along with walkways that lined the upper levels. There were terminals spread throughout and pressed against the metallic rails and walls. The metal reflected an eerie glow as the emergency lights continued to blink. Everything was silent. There was only the quiet sound of death accompanied by a very low resonating hum.
Within our first few steps we noticed that our feet were sticking to the floor and that our environmental space suit's exogel was beginning to melt. In a moment of panic, no one could speak until Jark yelled, “Activate your hard shell!”
We all clumsily punched at our suit's control panel, and with a whir, the shells surrounded our suits. Jark looked at us and said, “I don't know how long that shell is going o protect us against this atmosphere. We need to hurry.”
Daycund said, “What kind of atmosphere is this anyway? Mioree, can you get a reading?”
Mioree activated a sensor on her suit and fear washed over her face. She said, “The air in here will kill us in seconds. It's highly noxious... and... and... filled with eld.”
“ELD?” We all said simultaneously.
“Yes. It seems eld is dissolved everywhere in this atmosphere. What kind of monsters live with eld in their air?”
It did seem terrifying. Eld was discovered during the last Great War, and it was used as the most effective weapon in our history. All of you know this, and I'm fairly sure that everyone knows that anyone who is even found in possession of eld will face a lifetime in prison. That's why it's so hard to grasp the concept that not only do these aliens breath a highly noxious atmosphere but they also have eld dissolved and floating around in it.
“We need to be extremely careful,” said Jark.
As we ambled further down the craft, I began to contemplate why it was so easy for us to actually get into the ship. “Hey, Mioree,” I said.
“Why do you think it was so easy for us to get in? I mean, don't you think an advanced alien race would have an undefinable security system? It's not like we really had to do much to get in.”
She hesitated at my question for a moment and said, “The only explanation I can think of is that the crash damaged the security system, and that only the basic functions were allowed to work.”
“Yeah, maybe,” I said. I wasn't satisfied with that answer, but I decided to not push the issue. There were much more important dangers to worry about.
We came upon a door, and it had a weird protrusion coming from it. After looking at it for a little while, we could not understand how it opened. We looked for a terminal like the airlock, but we couldn't find anything. We finally decided that the strange protrusion had to be the way it opened.
“So... who's touching it?” asked Daycund.
No one answered.
“Fine, I'll do it,” said Jark.
Slowly Jark hovered above the protrusion and then grasped it. Not to my surprise, nothing happened. He began to try and manipulate it but still nothing. Daycund helped Jark, and after some very strange and strenuous manipulations, there was a “click” and the door cracked open.
As usual, we hesitated before entering the room. Mioree screamed when she saw it. There was a dead alien splattered across a counter. It was so mangled and decomposed that we couldn't clearly make out where it began and where it ended. We could clearly see its disgusting tendrils. In its core there seemed to be several holes. From what I could make out, it appeared as this alien was assaulted.
We had to look away because sight was so disgusting it was beginning to make us weak.
“We need to leave here,” I said.
Everyone agreed and we left the dead alien behind us. A narrow hallway lead to another open room, and on the side in the wall there was a basin of some sort. An odd spout hooked over it, and instantly we knew this is where the aliens drank. Another wave of disappointment washed over me because I had always assumed an advanced alien race would have transcended the need for food and drink.
Daycund flipped the lever, and a mysterious clear liquid began to pour from the spout.
“I need to get a reading,” said Daycund.
Daycund deactivated his shell and readied the sensory readers.
“Daycund, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I yelled.
“You know I can't get a correct reading with the shell up. It'll only take a moment.”
Daycund waved the sensor under the flow of liquid. This was his last motion. The liquid almost instantly melted his suit and dissolved half of Daycund's side. The atmosphere rushed in to meet my friend, and Daycund slowly melted and dripped through the craft's floor.
Mioree began to scream and Jark broke into a panic. It was an inexplicably horrifying experience. Both of them rushed out of the room, and I quickly followed them to try and calm them down. In my haste, I did not fail to recognize the ten or so dead aliens that were littered through the craft.
I finally caught up with the other two, and we talked for a moment to calm each other down. After another few moments, we gazed at our surroundings and saw an alien dead on the floor with what seemed to be a weapon in his hands. Beside him there was a pod that was emitting a dark blue glow. Slowly we crept alongside it and gazed in. An alien was there. Details were difficult to make out through the blackish-blue liquid, but it was definitely an alien.
“What happened here?” asked Jark.
I looked down at the dead alien. It too had several holes throughout its core. Then, I understood. I turned to Mioree and Jark and said, “Mutiny. Something happened. The aliens turned on each other and began killing one another,” I paused for a moment, “even the most advanced races can still succumb to the most primitive instincts, it seems.”
Like before, I was disappointed. How could a race so advanced, so beyond us, still fall prey to this primitive behavior? Pondering this, I pick up the alien's weapon. It was rather bulky yet light. It had a small display screen on its back side that had more of those strange symbols. I looked at its ammunition and it was a dark metal projectile. How it worked, I couldn't figure out, but as I thought, alien weaponry wasn't concentrated light or heat rays. Projectiles were far too effective at killing, and this advanced alien race had perfected it.
I dropped the weapon when I realized that Mioree and Jark were over by the radiating pod. Before I could tell them to step away, Jark had already pushed a lever. The pod began to shake and hiss, and a few foreign lights began to flash. In an instance, the pod opened and the liquid along with the alien flowed to the floor.
“Is it dead?” asked Jark.
I whispered, “No.”
The alien thrashed about and flung its tendrils toward Mioree and Jark. He connected with both blows sending them crashing to the ground. In the instance of it happening, I could not have reacted quickly enough to respond. The alien rushed to the weapon and hit me with one of its tendrils. The blow was so fierce that it send me flying and crashing into a terminal.
The alien began to fire its weapon at Mioree and Jark. With each shot a loud explosion came blistering from the end of the weapon. The projectiles ripped through Mioree and Jark's environmental suit's shells with ease tearing them apart. The atmosphere rushed into their bodies and melted them almost instantly.
The alien turned toward me and began screeching. That familiar alien tongue. That terrifying language was now directly in front of me. I began to try and explain myself. I can't imagine how ignorant and stupid I must have sounded to this great alien. It looked down at me with what I imagined were his light sensory organs. I was silent. I was beyond terrified, and I could not speak.
It reached behind the terminal I was against with one of its tendrils and pulled out a device. It strapped the device around what I could only assume was its mouth and aural receptors and spoke, “Can you understand me?”
“Yes,” I said in disbelief.
It slowly lowered its weapon. I finally got a clear look at the alien. It was a strange and awesome sight. It had grotesque smooth, light skin covering its core and four tendrils. It seemed to brace itself on its two larger lower tendrils which were covered in some type of alien garb. The other two tendrils came out from its side and at the end of each of those tendrils several smaller tendrils protruded. On the top of the core there many tentacles and other odd structures.
It began to speak again and it told me that they are benevolent and mean no harm to our primal race. It apologized for what happened to my crew mates, but it explained that it thought it was being attacked. He also proposed something to me; an offer that no one could ever say no to. It is because of this offer that I am writing this. This is an explanation to all my race. This is a revelation to all my people. Aliens exist.
This alien has offered me safe passage to their homeworld. To study. To learn. It radioed for help and a new alien ship will be arriving to take me away soon. So, I write this as my last testament until I return.
I will learn how advance aliens conduct themselves socially, politically, economically, and religiously. I will learn all of these advancements and return to you in time revealing a way life that is vastly superior to ours that is plagued with deceit, racism, hate, poverty, and tyranny. The aliens have taken the liberty of sending my words to every major media source on our planet. They are not going to remain a mystery.
So, my people, I bid you a farewell. I go to study these aliens which call themselves “humans” on their homeworld of Earth.