Chapter Four: Meeting

Nine months prior



That cannot be right. We have no ships that far out. The slingjets can get us there easily, but the tenth and eleventh planets of the system are desolate. There’s no need for us to have a craft that far out.

Cautiously, I begin to run a diagnostic routine on the sensor. Perhaps it is just feeding us erroneous data. A few minutes later, the computer beeps and reports that all is well with the system.

My mind focuses on the possibilities. Alien contact? Some kind of anomaly? A ship broken off from the rest of us somehow? After relaying the information home, I wait for my orders. In mere moments, I know what I must do.

After I’ve entered the coordinates, my ship pitches up and around, heading toward the nearest slingjet. Our slingjets allow our ships to jump from planet to planet in a matter of minutes. Engineers are still diligently working on means of faster-than-light travel, but until those projects produce results, the slingjets are our best means of transportation.

The slingjets are an engineering marvel for us. Two triangular gateways are connected at each point, and by passing through the two gateways, an object can be propelled at incredibly high speeds by means of gravity manipulation. Carefully, I input the activation code and transmit it. The white lights scattered throughout the machine begin to flash, but otherwise, there is no discernible difference. The heading that the slingjet reports is exactly where I want to go, just above the eleventh planet, near enough to the anomaly. I turn the ship one last time and begin to accelerate.

The first gate of the slingjet seems to slow the ship down to a crawl, but the moment that the nose of my ship crosses the threshold to the second gate, the ship is thrown into high speeds.

What if it is a ship? Are we prepared for alien contact?

My kind has wondered for so long if we are alone in the universe. Some of us have wondered more than others, but regardless, we’ve always maintained our focus on reality. Reality for us has been unchanging over the centuries. Grow. Reproduce. Learn. Adapt. Thrive. This mindset has helped us spread across our solar system. Seven of the eleven planets in this system are colonized. The other four, each gaseous planets, have outposts. Several moons throughout the system have been colonized as well. We’ve managed, over the past twenty years, to construct a slingjet near each planet, as well as a few in certain locations for ease of navigation. The past forty years or so have been a technological golden age for us.

But are we truly ready for this?

Just because we’ve wondered if others existed in the universe does not mean we are ready to deal with it. Our priorities have always been ourselves, not others. We are the sole intelligent species in this system, so we’ve never had to deal with others. At one point, there were three tribes on our home planet, but when we all realized we were better off expanding together, we put aside our cultural differences in favor of the betterment of our species. But what do we do with outsiders? With aliens?

What happens if they are hostile? We aren’t foolish enough to have dismantled our weapons in spite of prolonged peace, but we are no longer accustomed to combat. Training and knowledge can only go so far when compared to a warrior with true combat experience. Still, the eldest among us do have experience, and we will all benefit greatly from the guidance of our queen.

I pause for a moment and look around the bridge of the ship. I have a duty… a responsibility… to protect this ship and all life on it. I have a responsibility to my people. If I am to be the first to meet an outside species, then I will carry myself with pride.

Finally, the eleventh planet comes into full view. As my ship begins to decelerate, the anomaly comes into sight. Indeed… this is going to be a historical moment.

The alien ship is an unusual looking thing, blocky in its construction. The long fuselage is unusually squared, not very aerodynamic. Clearly, it’s more meant for spaceflight rather than any other means of flight. It has a pair of wings that give the entire ship an almost diamond shape to it. All in all, it’s probably comparable to the size of this ship. I check the sensors and it detects a hundred and twenty two life signs. Slowly, the craft approaches.

What do I do? They will not speak our language, or understand our gestures. How do we even begin to communicate?

I press a button and begin broadcasting, hoping they can detect the message.

“Alien vessel, please state your intentions.”

I set the message to repeat, but before I can execute the command, I hear a voice in my mind.

My kind is accustomed to telepathy. It is how our queen communicates with the rest of the our kind, and how us workers communicate with drones. This… however… this is different. This is coarse, jarring even.

Creature, are you capable of telepathy? The being asks.

Yes. We… did not expect that an alien would, however. We are the Groyin. What are your intentions? Are you explorers? I ask nervously. Still, I have a duty.

You could say that. Groyin? Very well. And what is your name? I am known as Alim Elikel, Alim being my title.

I do not bear a name. It is not common for any of our kind to have a name. Alim Elikel, what are your intentions here?

No name… telepathic… you’re a hive-minded species, aren’t you? Something about the man’s tone sends a chill through my body.

Yes. Alim Elikel, I must ask this again. What are your intentions here?

We are the Camfurdians, and we seek resources. Minerals, chemicals, fuels. Our long-range probes detected heavy concentrations of a variety of resources that we have in demand. We didn’t expect a welcoming committee.

You’ll not find any available resources here. Perhaps we will barter in time.

Friend… we weren’t asking.