A novella by Canadian Science Fiction Author
Phyllis K Twombly
A webbed blue hand hovered over a backlit computer console. Big black eyes regarded the large computer screen with intelligent curiosity. Alien hieroglyphics surrounded the image of an unidentified ship entering the planet’s solar system. A steady series of clicks and whistles came over the computer’s speakers. The blue creature understood them all. “Relay outpost to Alpha Base Commander, we still cannot establish communications with the alien ship. However, we were able to copy and translate their computer files. It seems our visitors come from a system that supports some of our distant cousins. The species they call ‘dolphin’ was apparently unable to communicate with them. Our first evaluation is that they’re probably desperate to find a hospitable planet. Their fuel and food reserves seem to be unacceptably low.” The first creature’s webbed hand tapped his rounded face. “Can you determine the extent of their weaponry?” “What they have is inferior but still dangerous if they choose to activate their missiles.” The base commander’s bottle shaped mouth gaped. “Missiles? They went into space with archaic weapons?” The response was similar to a laugh. “We double checked to make sure we hadn’t made a mistake. Such simple beings… No wonder their own records contain incidents where our cousins rescued some of them. Apparently they can’t even breathe in water.” The commander’s eyes blinked several times. “They can’t breathe in water? Then why does their trajectory indicate they’ll land in our ocean?” “Perhaps they plan some kind of course correction. Or perhaps they don’t realize they’re heading for water.” The commander began to sound perturbed. “It goes against all common sense and reason…” “Sorry to interrupt, Commander, but I think we’ve detected a defect in their navigation. They direct their ships with visual recognition. They have no liquid sonar.” The commander rolled his black eyes and sighed. “What a shame. I’d begun to think we were dealing with a highly evolved species.” There was a pause before the clicks and whistles responded. “Perhaps they are. Perhaps they’re just…different. They have achieved space travel.” The commander slowly moved his head and neck. “Then we should probably look after them until we can determine their intentions. It seems our cousins have set a precedent regarding these creatures. Even so, caution is advised. Continue to monitor their approach.” “Aye, Sir.” The commander pressed a green area on his control panel. The image on his view screen switched to show a creature like himself. It smiled back at him. “Hello, Commander. What can I do for you?” The commander’s gaze momentarily dropped to the floor. His voice softened. “Hello, Astra. We have guests arriving. They’re going to need an oxygen atmosphere.” “That’s no problem.” “They can’t breathe in water.” “That might be a problem.” “That’s why I called.” Astra had begun pressing keys on her computer terminal. “I suppose, if we rotated a series of air pods through the core of your station, it could work. How long do these guests of yours plan on staying?” The commander rolled his shoulders slightly. “I have no idea. They’ll splash down within a day or two.” The skin above Astra’s eyes wrinkled ever so slightly. “If they can’t breathe in water why don’t they aim for land?” The commander knew he should answer with the standard response of ‘top secret.’ Instead he drew a sharp breath that made his voice become deeper. “We suspect they may be a bit clumsy in their navigation. Besides, I’d rather be in a position to ensure the safety of our planet. If they’re running around on land our access to them will be limited.” Astra turned and nodded to someone outside of the commander’s view. “That’s a wise precaution. I hope your guests don’t resent so much restriction.” The commander winked at her. “They’ll barely notice.”
Look for chapter one next week.
Phyllis K Twombly