The Husk of a Galactic Cruiser
On the outskirts of Riab, in the Riab Galactic Travel Station, is a room where two volunteers stay in case ships from the Galactic Alliance need to land. Therefore, on rare occasions, two volunteers will follow a strict protocol on the proper way to land and dock a space vessel. So rare, in fact, the citizens of Riab rotate this duty throughout the year for seven days at a time.
Currently, two, Iva a Veterinarian and Surgeon and Burke a school teacher, manned the small room with one light, multiple display screens, and a wall of levers and buttons.
Both lounged upon cots in the corner of the room where they slowly woke. Iva, a taller than average Tetchkin, sat up and stretched his arms above his head as Burke started to open his eyes.
They started a discussion about a woman named Marva. Marva never left her home. Consequently, she did not attend worship and people hardly noticed her.
“There is nothing odd about this behavior Iva.” Burke said standing up to brew some Brac-na. “Tetchkins who are solitary, like the Chorite Snail who remain in their shells, are not as rare as you think. For instance, this behavior may be a return to our predecessors who lived alone in holes to survive. In conclusion, I am not a naturalist, I feel her behavior is not unnatural.”
“A friend of mine, a teacher of ancient Likou tongue, died recently.” Burke continued. “I would consider him a baseline for unnatural antisocial behavior. He would never leave his home unless covered from head to toe with heavy robes. Therefore his hood was always up and no one could see his face or figure through the robes. Obviously he had an irresistible longing to cover himself, isolated and protected, from outside influences. The world around him kept him in a state of constant alarm. His robes became his husk. As a result, these robes became protection from the present so he could spend his time lost in his past.”
“Ancient Likou is such a beautiful language.” Interrupted Iva.
“He followed all rules, no matter if they made sense, and never left his house except to teach. Therefore when at school his punishments for students or staff who broke the rules, even the slightest infringement, remained severe. Every day during his breaks he would sit quietly in our classrooms as a hooded silent figure in the back. In conclusion, this unnerved many teachers in his time. Whether he meant to or not his behavior controlled the actions of everyone in town. Women groups were afraid to gather for fear of breaking small forgotten rules. He even caused concern at our places of worship where the Holy seemed worried whether their services followed rules.”
Iva put up a hand to interrupt but quickly forgot to continue.
“The whole town lived in fear. They were afraid to do anything. He lived next door to me and he just seemed like a solitary ‘dispossessed’ man.”
“Our children do not listen enough during their studies. I feel there is a problem with proper discipline.” Iva tried desperately to change the conversation. “This husk of a Tetchkin bores me Burke. Have I told you about Varva? She leads the tea ceremony for citizen Kamin.”
“No. You have not, Iva.”
“Burke. Listen. She is tall, well built, blue cheeked. She is always singing little Tetchkin songs and shares her laugh freely.”
“Why have I not met this Varva?”
“I do not know…When she sings her feelings blow like whirlwinds. Very captivating to listen to.”
“But they say she is married.”
“Then why waste yourself on such nonsense. Put your energy into your work the rewards will be greater.”
“I met her at a dinner party and I swear eye contact was made.”
“Ugh….unrequited love is such a bore.”
“Well I like her and I am disrupted by this.”
An alarm from one of the Travel Center panels whistled and lit up. Both Iva and Burke looked over at each other then ran over to the panel.
A medium size Galactic Alliance Cruiser began descent onto the Landing Zone outside.
“This never happens!” Burke grabbed the protocol manual. “Step One. Push that button Iva. THAT BUTTON!”
Lights flashed around the landing zone. Ship locks freed themselves and prepared to attach to the oncoming vessel.
“Contact the City Organizer. Step Two.”
Iva lifted his wrist communicator up to make the call. Burke could hear the voice of the City Organizer fill the room as Iva explained the situation. Above all, he included in his explanation the steel grey color of the ship, the details of the Galactic Alliance crest, and the size.
“Yes, the ships name appears to be The Vanitch.”
More buttons were pushed, dials turned, and levers lifted as The Vanitch quickly approached the Landing Zone. Iva explained to the City Organizer, whose voice remained within the room, that no attempt of communication between the Cruiser and the Travel Center occurred.
Soon The Vanitch slowed and the ship’s thrusters created the force necessary to settle the Cruiser as the ships landing gears retracted.
“Still no word from the crew sir.”
“Scan the vessel for threats.” Ordered the City Organizer.
“Yes sir.” Iva lowered a lever located off to his left as a robotic vehicle left the Travel Center Docking Bay and headed towards the Landing Zone. A small metal orb left the vehicle after the approach to The Vanitch.
The orb began a journey around the Cruiser as it emitted a mixture of light and sonar at different wavelengths.
“Signs of hostility are negative. Negative on explosives. No weapons of any kind. This Cruiser brought peace.” Iva translated the data received to the City Organizer.
“Is the AI still operational?”
“According to the scan…yes.”
“Alright let’s connect to the AI and begin a conversation.”
“Yes sir.” Burke began typing commands.
“Our AI has made contact. Communication is open to broadcast.” Burke listened. “Hello Vanitch this is the Riab Galactic Travel Center on the planet Tetchki we are requesting access to your memory to answer a few questions before we board.”
“Hello Riab Galactic Travel Center this is Vanitch. How may I answer your questions?”
“First Vanitch please share your purpose, and second, why are you free of crew members?” The City Organizers voice echoed through the room.
The Vanitch answered as Iva and Burke stood still in suspense.
“After quickly scanning Tetchki policy it seems your request for knowledge is valid. I was dispatched from Lai months prior and carried passengers on a diplomatic mission to Tetchki. This mission required the presence of one Somyan on the planet of Tetchki as instructed by a Tethckin named Tabook. There are two crew members on this journey including Kolpa, the ships maintenance officer, and the requested Somyan. As we entered the atmosphere a disruption within caused a glitch in my internal processor. I am running diagnostics to find answers as we speak. The two crew members vanished along with one of my escape vessels. Currently The Vanitch is empty and without orders.”
“Iva and Burke contact the other City Officials and begin a search for the escaped vessel. Until we understand their purpose we may be under a threat. The passengers are alien and may be hostile and armed.” The City Organizer barked orders. “Quickly. We must find out why these two decided to enter into our city without being welcomed first.”
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