This is a continuation of a story I worked on some time ago in collaboration with SJ Hundak on ficlets.
And wow, it occurs to me that this is Ficlet number 1 by the lead designer of the site.
The ship was speeding up. All sensors seemed to agree on that.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” I announced to the passengers. “Please take your seats for a very special occasion. Kiki’s Time Travel and Emporium want you to know this is an enormous first in Human history and you are lucky enough to be the first people to see this.
“We are now heading for our First Contact with a non-earth race. Yes, truly. That ship you see before you is completely alien. Please remain seated while we introduce ourselves.”
“What the hell you go and tell them that for?” Arni demanded.
I flicked through the sensor settings trying to make out anything, any detail that would give us some advantage in this dilemma.
“What did you want me to do?” I shot back. “Ignore it and wait till 3000 people started to panic? You really rather face that scenario?”
“Yeah,” Arni admitted, after thinking for a moment. “You’re right.”
“Come on,” I pulled him over. “We gotta get something on that thing before it does something to us.”
I ran through every sensor scan I could, trying to get any information on the pulsing, transforming mass in front of us. It didn’t seem to be doing anything threatening, it just kind of floated, wriggling into mind-bending patterns while it drew us in closer.
It was then that I noticed that along with everything else, the astrometric readings coming in indicated that we were more that 3,000 years off course, in the futurely direction.
That’s what they taught us back in the Chrononaut Academy. It’s always much easier to go forward through time than to go backwards. We must have slipped ahead a few millenia when the ship malfunctioned. That would at least explain why Kayla was having so much trouble staying in sync with us. I said a silent prayer to whatever higher-dimensional being might listen that she would make it back safely to the ship, and soon.
As we glided slowly towards the alien ship-thing a message came in broad spectrum, displayed on my screen:
“We have seen you before.”
Strange jittery tones went through the ship, as musical as Kayla’s noise.
I peered at the long flashing line of colors that arced over the top three spines of the alien ship.
“Arni, see that big band of flashing red’s and greens across the top there.”
“Scan a video of it for…five seconds. Then run it through the computer.”
“K, anything you’re looking for?”
“Words,” I said. “I’m looking for words.”
I looked out over the crowd, 3000 odd people staring up at a spaceship bigger than Brand New New York. No one was freaking yet, though I could see a face or two going a little bit pale.
Flicking a few commands into the air conditioning system I introduced a few mild sedatives into the air. That should help calm the really nervous ones.
“Well, I’ll be jiggered,” Arni swore.
I looked over to the screen and the analysis results.
Undecipherable’s Time Travel and Entertainment
I clapped my hands together, grinning.
Now this was business.
I grabbed the microphone again. “Currently on your viewscreens you should be seeing live video streaming from our ships external sensors. This alien ship appears to also be a time traveler like us. We are now attempting to communicate with it.”
Everything in Kiki’s training forbade communicating with citizens of foreign time frames; I could be in huge trouble here. But if they were also time travelers as was announced on the hull of their ship, well then that was totally different.
“Arni, let’s use that same code we found to send a message across our bow.”
I routed our message to the front display, triggering a flash of scintillating color that ran down the length of our ship. I tried to keep it simple, since the syntactical engine was still having problems with the translation coming from the other ship.
The musical chattering emanating from the ship’s hull continued to increase in volume as I watched the display screen for any response. Surely they would have something to say to that.
By the time the aliens responded to my message we were so close all we could see was their ship. The stars hidden behind a billion tons of alien metal.
So close we could see shadowy shapes behind the distance portholes.
“Greetings, Leader Kaine. Consolidations from Leader Vronel. We, eager to meet you.”
Eager to spring a trap, no doubt.
“Greetings, Leader Vronel,” I sent back. “It is an honor to meet you. Though concerned you should use such, unfriendly, methods to gain our attention.”
“We required you to listen to our proposition,” Vronel sent back. “We can become mutually profited by a combined venture.”
“Where is Kayla?”
“Your engine-people will be returned once contracts are dealed.”
Hey, a deal, I could handle a deal. I could handle any deal.
“What is your proposition?”
“We require 40 of your family units, for display at our entertainment centers.”
“Kaine, you can’t.” Arni said.
“In exchange, one thousand ton units of platinum.”
”…think about it.”