Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

LJ Idol - Week 20 - Love...

   In the blackness of space, it would have looked like a golden comet hurtling through the starry background. For weeks it would be visible approaching the planet. First a distant speck the very existence of which astronomers would argue about. Day by day it would grow brighter, larger, closer. A comet? Is it on a collision course with us?
   But comets appear to fly sideways, the “tail” off to the side. This one would appear to have the tail right in front of it. That would probably be the first sign something was amiss. That and it’s decelerating rapidly.

   Up close, if this were a movie, the spaceship would appear to roar past … flying backwards. Enormous engines blasting a straight and steady stream of fire forward into the direction it’s heading. But this is not a movie, so it wouldn’t roar (there’s no sound in space), and without a point of reference who’s to say the ship is moving one way or the camera position is moving the other?
    Nevertheless, engines first, the ship speeds past our arbitrary vantage point. Cylindrical modules, spherical nodes, tubes and girders, all painted a chalky white. Perhaps a little darkened on the faces currently facing backwards. Near the front (current back) end, emblazoned in big red letters on the hull is Ex Animo.
   If this were a movie of course, this would also be accompanied by some dramatic music.

   And this music is in fact playing. In the control room, because Captain Garrey has a soft spot for the dramatic. But, after all, this was a pretty dramatic moment for the entire crew. Other solar systems had been explored in the several years since propulsion breakthroughs made interstellar travel possible, but that didn’t mean being on the first expedition to a new solar system was anything short of a lifetime experience. After months in transit (five accelerating, five decelerating), the Ex Animo was approaching its destination, the star Alpha Piscis Austrini. So it felt appropriate that Garrey pipe some suitably intrepid music through the ship – but certainly not so loud to distract from everyone being on top of their game monitoring the sensors.

    “Twenty minutes until arrival in orbit” called out Helmsman Trogyev, trying to sound clinical and matter-of-fact. All eyes were on the large viewscreen covering the front wall of the bridge. On it the planet Fomalhaut could not yet be seen but the star was becoming visibly larger by the minute.
This wasn’t, of course, the view out a window. The bridge is located in the most logical position on the ship – in the very centre. Views from the wide array of cameras and sensors projecting from the outside of the ship could be used to project a variety of images onto the main bridge screen. And so, as the ship blasted backwards decelerating into the system, the view on the screen in the bridge is still the direction the ship is traveling, as if they were facing that direction.

   “Fifteen minutes.” Everyone on the bridge had their own sensor display to be monitoring but no one was about to blame anyone for only glancing at that from time to time while watching the main screen as the planet became visible – a green orb hanging in space like an emerald.

   “Ten minutes.” The image zoomed in, the planet filled the main screen. Beautiful and green, white clouds draped in long swirls around it..
   “I’m picking up an incoming object sir!!” called out Stephens, one of the sensor operators, with alarm. “About three hundred meters wide, metallic, accelerating towards us out of orbit from the planet!”
   All eyes stared at the screen in disbelief.

   “Can you bring it onscreen?” asked Garrey. Seconds later a blurry grey blob appeared on the screen. It slowly materialized into a grey oval shape as it rapidly closed distance with the Ex Animo. “It appears to be saucer shaped” reported Stephens.
   “Shall I attempt to contact them?” asked communications officer Callista urgently. Garrey gave her the go-ahead and she initiated the pre-planned communications sequence prepared for the event of extra-terrestrial contact.

   Not a person dared to breath as they awaited a response to the incomprehensible (but assuredly genius) message which had been written by a team of mathematicians and experts back on Earth. The alien craft silently closed the distance.

   “It appears to be energizing one of its arrays!” reported another sensor operator. The ships were now less than a minute from intersecting one another and the incoming saucer was slowing its approach. “Lets hope this is a communications device and not a weapon!!” thought Mark, looking back at the Captain nervously. Notwithstanding the “What Would Picard Do?” sticker Garrey had humorously slapped on the front of his desk, this ship carried no science fiction shields or weapons.
   Suddenly there was a loud humming noise and everything went blurry. And then things went black.

   Liiiick. Mark awoke to his face being licked. It was slobbery, and disconcerting.
   He opened his eyes and saw the branches of trees above him, and blue sky beyond that. Earth trees. And a dachshund was licking his face.
   Deeply confused, Mark sat up. He appeared to be sitting in a city park. There was grass, trees, a park bench or two, lamp-posts, a mailbox, and bounding all four sides an unbroken white fence. He could have sworn he’d been cooped up in an interstellar starship for the last several months. He was, after all, still wearing his blue uniform coveralls with UNOOSA patch.
   The grass seemed… odd. Then he realized. The grass was plastic. It was just realistic looking astro-turf! And in fact.. The trees were plastic! He ran over to the mailbox – not only was it plastic, but it didn’t actually open. And why would there be a mailbox here anyway? … and then Mark realized – aliens had placed him in a terrarium!
   Mark regarded the dog. He quickly realized he knew this dog. It belonged to one of the chemists, and was named Watson. The aliens must not have known who to put him with.

   Presently, as Mark regarded his strange surroundings, a door opened up in the “sky” --actually just an illuminated blue ceiling-- and a ramp came down to the ground. Bright golden light glowed through the doorway.
   Two alien creatures emerged and made their way down the ramp. Their bodies looked round and bulbous, and they walked upon a number of tentacles. They each had two eyes upon stalks and a short proboscis with a mouth on it.
   They approached Mark, who could think of no better course of action then to stand there and see what happened. Standing in front of him, the alien being pointed at itself with its noodly appendage and said “Gavagai.” It then pointed at Mark. “Uh, Mark?” Mark responded. The other alien being jotted something down on what appeared to be a notepad. It then held up a picture of the Earth. “Earth?” ventured Mark, and the other alien jotted down on the notepad.
    Mark observed that two more aliens had come down and were a little ways off attempting to communicate with the dog. They were surprisingly proficient at making barking noises.

   Weeks passed with the aliens making regular visits to attempt to communicate, and gradually becoming more proficient at it. Mark gathered that the rest of the crew was similarly in other terrariums. Eventually the aliens transferred communications officer Callista into his terrarium. At first he thought the aliens had thought to give him a friend, and though he had never been particularly close with Callista, he appreciated it. But then he learned their true motives.

   “Why you do not mate with her?” Gavagai asked impatiently.
   “Why do you not breed with the female?”
   “I do not WANT to breed with the female!”
   “Not-of-sense! You humans love to breed. Is she not nubile?”
   “She’s plenty nubile, I just love someone else.”
   “What is this love? You wish to copulate with someone else?”
   “No one here.” Mark thought of his wife back home.
   “So love is… desire to spawn with someone?”
   “No, no.. it’s… more than that.”
   “Other crew members we bred did not have this love problem”
   Mark wondered who had been “bred” among the crew. He and Gavagai were walking among the fake trees. Mark poked tentatively at a fake apple hanging from the wrong kind of fake tree.
   “So what is ‘love’ and why does it prevent you from copulating?” Gavagai returned to the question.
   “Love is … not having to explain to your wife you were forced by aliens to breed with a coworker!!” exclaimed Mark in exasperation. “Why are you so interested anyway?”
   “We are concerned about your breeding habits”
   “MY breeding habits?”
   “Human breeding habits. Humans breed out of control. Most creatures adapt to their environment. Humans adapt their environment to support their own ever increasing numbers.”
    “We were looking on wikipedia—“ Gavagai continued, referring to the copy of wikipedia stored on their starship. Evidently someone had taught them to access it. “There is an Earth creature that treats its environment like humans”
   “What’s that?”
   “A plague of locusts. This is what humans do too.”

   Mark wondered if he’d ever see his wife again.

Tags: aliens, fiction, in the future, lj idol, lj idol entry, science fiction
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