2 of 6 | Chapter 19


“I'm glad you haven't lost heart, Jeff, but pay close attention to everything you learn here because one day you may get the post,” she said, and then spotted the head of the energetics department, with whom she still wanted to talk. She nodded to Jeff and walked towards Gibbs.

“Understood, Ms Colella,” Jeff called out.

“How are they holding up, Neil?” Karen asked as she fell in beside Gibbs.

“Surprisingly well. I would've freaked out if I were to be banished into space for years on end,” he said.

Karen smiled. “We've put together a fantastic team. I'm sure there'll be no problems that they're unable to cope with,” Karen looked around at the crew.

“I hope the map won't be a problem either.”

“Well, yeah, me too.”

“It's crazy, Karen. You have to admit that it's crazy no one knows that we're using extraterrestrial technology to navigate, besides a handful of people!”

“Look, make sure you keep it to yourself!”

Gibbs nodded. “Where's Mr Steersman?” he asked.

“Concentrating on other things,” she replied shortly. Karen knew why Steersman wasn't taking a more active role in the launch of the space fleet. She knew that he would not rest, would work day and night until he established direct contact with … them.”

“The crews sure would appreciate it if he said a few words to them,” Gibbs said, pointed to the ‘inmates’. “After all, he's Sean Steersman.”


The Aliens

Steersman was pacing up and down in his office. He couldn't concentrate on anything, besides the aliens. He thought only of them, and wracked his brains for possible explanations as to why they were here. What logic could explain the fact that he alone held the link or location or the mind necessary for communication. Obviously, his first and most natural reaction was to assume their presence was a threat, because it could be the start of rivalry between their species.

While going over possible reasons for it all, he analyzed peaceful and hostile scenarios, but after a while it began to drive him mad; the anticipation, the waiting. From a scientific point of view, when he thought about it more calmly, he found the picture less disturbing. He assumed that they had perhaps experienced a similar planetary history to Earth, since the Big Bang—that had created the universe and started the processes that led to conditions necessary for life—had created the same probability for biogenesis everywhere.

Sure, they may have been more fortunate, and the building blocks for life may have appeared sooner. But he did not feel that they were more developed. At most, their evolutionary development had perhaps taken a completely different direction, making them different rather than more advanced. Steersman tried to come to terms with that idea, and when he had successfully convinced himself that it must be the case, he felt that he was ready to meet them again.


This time, he found the blue-black darkness lurking elsewhere, but it was equally troubling, bubbling and writhing, as if it were about to explode. He touched the distant dark mass, causing it to collapse in on itself again. He had no idea what was happening to him, but one thing he was sure of was that the force pulling him in could only be some kind of raw elemental power.

The movement stopped, leaving him in a horizontal position.

There was no sense of impact. The feeling of moment simply ceased and he knew that he arrived. He looked around to where the creatures had been previously, but they were not where he expected them to be. They stood right in front of him, and a pulse of shocked surprise went through him at their unexpected proximity. This was unlike anything he had ever experienced. For a moment, he thought of moving back, defending himself somehow, but it felt ridiculous. He pulled himself together and stood up. They were no more than three meters away.

Their entire body was now clearly visible. He was slightly taller than they were, but their upper torsos were far wider than his. From the inverted teardrop-shaped body protruded a number of arms. Steersman counted a total of four pairs, one behind the other, resting along the body. The aliens seemed to levitate with very precise propulsive organs that pulsed in waves, controlling the orientation and balance of their bodies. Their lower body slowly undulated like some kind of prehistoric sea creature, yet somehow far more sophisticated and incredibly expressive. Atop the trunk of their bodies sat their heads, only just distinct from their bodies, but which, amazingly, they were able to rotate. The dark flickering vibrations on their heads seemed to indicate speech, yet there was no sound.

He watched them for a while, then felt the need to do something to avoid being pushed out in the same way it had been earlier.

“Hello … I'm glad to meet you,” he said softly, the first ever words from a human to an alien species. They didn't respond to his voice at all, almost as if they had not even heard it, but their arms moved and Steersman could see that they were holding something that was flickering in the same way that heads were. Interestingly, although their heads and bodies seemed fused, they could turn their heads to an incredible degree with a fluid-like motion that allowed Steersman to easily follow the direction of their attention towards the devices. Then, he saw them focus their attention on him.

Steersman felt a little uncertain. He suspected and hoped that this something had interpreted his words and translated it for them, but he wasn't sure.

One of them left the group and began to float towards him. Steersman felt even more uncomfortable, unsure what to make of it.

“Welcome, Delegate,” a voice spoke suddenly inside his head. There was no physical sound, just a presence in his mind. “We also are pleased to meet you.”

He felt that he should feel uncomfortable at hearing them speak, but on the contrary, the idea that communication would be easier somehow reassured him. The voice was not unpleasant, though it was clearly artificially generated and resembled neither male nor female. It was completely androgynous.

“I have so many questions that we may never reach the end,” he began.

The heads turned and flashed, and the others joined their comrade, drifting closer to him. Apparently they were unafraid.

“Do not worry, we don't have all of the answers either.” Oddly the voice seemed to convey a smile. “The most important thing is that you are here.”

Steersman nodded. “Can we start at the beginning? I think I need to, so that I can understand all of this.”

“Certainly,” said a second figure, vibrating to the right of the first. “As a matter of fact, our two civilizations differ in almost every respect, so I will try to talk to you in your own terms. We have no concept of time, which could prove most challenging,” the sound of the translation skipped a little. “Our planet is part of what we could define as a neighboring star system. It is the fifth planet in the system. Gravity is very low on the surface, yet our atmosphere is much denser than on your planet Earth.

Fifteen thousand generations have come and gone on our planet, as there has only ever been one cataclysmic event causing extinction, unlike Earth which has had many. Unfortunately, we were not blessed by rich mineral or metal ore deposits, but when an asteroid collided with our planet, an event to which we owe our entire civilization, it brought us something that has provided us with the capacity for great technological development. A type of crystal. As a result of this, we are able to see further into the galaxy than any other species. The technology is based on supra-photon radiation, which travels as light does, but many times faster.



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