Chapter 1



You'd think that a life of adventure, fame and material fulfillment is something that all people want, and those who have it are to be envied. Well it's not so simple. Being considered a hero is situational and usually only happens to those who do not want it. Being a leader is something that someone can choose to be and may want it in the abstract. But few would choose leadership if they knew the fine print... If given a choice, even leaders would wish that there was someone else to do it, but there never is.

I guess that I should start in the beginning. My name is Jack Masst. I am a soldier fighting a war that I can't win; for a people who do not know that there is a war; and who unwittingly help the other side. The price of failure is slavery or death for me and my people. You know that things are dark, when the best possible outcome is death. Torak is right I am depressing. If he was here right now he would tell me to cheer up. He would say that being given a chance to save the galaxy is great honor. But I guess since he started it all he can't think it's a bad thing.

I was majoring in history the summer before my senior year of college, when my life fell into shambles. The day that I went to propose to my girlfriend she broke up with me. If you have seen the movie "Legally Blond" remember the scene where she expects him to propose and he dumps her, well in my case the rolls were reversed. After that my grades went to the crapper, got on academic probation and lost my scholarship. I had a really tuff year.

I decided to go visit my uncle John who had been something of a mentor to me and I was the son he never had. He had been sick lately.

Uncle John asked me what I would do with 50 thousand dollars cash. I told him I would use some of the money to travel the summer and get myself together, and use the remainder to return to school. He asked me swear on our friendship that I would finish school, no matter what else happened. When I agreed he told me he wasn't just sick, he was dying of cancer. It was everywhere; I think the word is metastasized.

Three weeks later, when I was supposed to give the eulogy at his funeral, I couldn't, I was so emotionally shattered. Four days after the funeral his attorney gave the 50 k that my uncle left me as part of my inheritance. A week after visiting the attorney I started the trip changed the course of my life forever.

I was driving through Kansas in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, when a bank of bright lights passed 50 feet over my head and landed in a field off to my right creating a huge cloud of dust. I thought it was a small plane making an emergency landing or something. There was no explosion of burning fuel so I decided to quickly go investigate and offer what aid I could. I pulled over and approached the area that the plane should been. I could see nothing but the damage to the field. There were three deep ruts running perpendicular to the pattern of the plowed field, but the end of the ruts where the aircraft should be I could see nothing. This made no sense. I walked in the ruts toward the end but I couldn't see what caused them. As I reached the far end of the ruts I could feel some radiating heat and then I bumped into something I could not see.

As a sci-fi reader my mind immediately went to thoughts of a cloaked craft. Considering we only found out about stealth only after it existed for years why not cloaking technology. This meant that it was either a top secret US plane which was in trouble, or a ship from somewhere a bit further out.

The question was moot when a door opened above the ruts in what appeared to be nothing but air. What stumbled out was not a US pilot.

He was almost 7 feet tall with a slightly blue skin. His large hairless head had slits between his deep black eyes in the place where his nose should be. His long arms ended in narrow hands that had 4 fingers. He was dressed in white pants and a white long sleeve shirt with symbols like a military uniform, but not from any military that I knew of. There were several long narrow burn marks and what it look like blue paint splattered all over his shirt.

The pilot staggered to the ground and sat on the edge of one of the ruts. He pulled out something out of a cargo pocket on his pants that looked like a small computer or large PDA. He spoke to it in a language that I could not understand. He motioned me to come over and sit across the rut from him. He handed the computer to me and on the display screen was written in English.

PLEASE DON'T HURT ME HUMAN I MEAN YOU NO HARM

I said, "It's not me you have to worry about. If the government catches you, both you and your ship will be toughly interrogated, analyzed and dissected"

The interpreter computer beeped and some symbols appeared on its screen. I handed it to him his face appeared not to be happy with the prospect of a dissection. He spoke again and handed me the interpreter. It read:

MY NAME IS LT. TORAK OF THE VO'VAL STAR FORCE. I SURRENDER TO YOU MY SHIP AND MY SELF.

This confused me for a minute. Then I said into the machine, "I am Jack Masst a civilian. Civilian people here usually only surrender to police. I didn't know we were at war so that you could surrender to me. I am not a member of any military. However, the police would turn you over to the military if you surrender to them." I handed him the translator.

Lt. Torak spoke once again into his translator and handed it back. It read:

PLEASE JACK MASST SAY YOU ACCEPT MY SURREDER.

I was very confused. This surrender business must be important to him. I said into the translator, "I accept your surrender." When handed the translator computer back a broad light beam fanned out of the top of the device and shown on my body starting at my feet to the top of my head. I was very unsure of what was going on up until then and when the light came out the device I freaked out and jumped up ready to run. Lt. Torak held up his hand for me to wait and handed me the device. It read:

SCAN COMPLEATE TRANSFER OF COMMAND COMPLEATE

Lt. Torak held his hand out requesting the device back. He spoke again and handed me the device which read:

THANKS YOU MAY HAVE JUST SAVED BOTH OF OUR LIVES

I said into the device my overriding fears, "Its not over yet. If the government finds us we are both screwed. You because you are an alien and me for just for knowing about you." I handed the device back. Lt Torak read the screen and saw the concerns on my face. He spoke into the device and when returned it read:

THE CLOKING FIELD MAKES THAT NO ONE KNOWS WE ARE HERE

I asked Lt. Torak, "What about the marks on the field? That's how I found you." When he returned the device it read:

TELL THE COMPUTER TO REPAIR THE DAMADGE TO THE FIELD

I said very unsure of what I was doing, "Computer repair the damage to the field." The device beeped and what it looked like a flying metallic spider came out of the ship and began filling in the ruts so quickly we barely had time to move out of the way.

Now to be perfectly honest I always believed in extraterrestrials and loved sci-fi but gap between believing in the concept and seeing it for real is huge. I was scared and ready to leave. I told Lt Torak by means of the device that I would just be on my way and wished him luck. The returned device read:

YOU MUST STAY. I AM INJURED AND THE SHIP NEEDS REPAIR. I NEED YOUR HELP.

Trying not to sound cowardly but concerned for my welfare I looked for a way out. I told Lt Torak through the device, "What about my car. I can't just leave it there. Someone will find it and search the area for me.

Lt Torak thought for a moment and spoke into the device. It read:

PULL YOUR CAR FURTHER OFF THE ROAD AND TELL THE COMPUTER TO CLOAK IT

I pulled my car next to a telephone pole at the edge of the field so it was at least twenty feet from the edge of the road. I held the device up and said, "Computer cloak the car by the side of the road." The PDA beeped again and another flying spider flew out of the ship over to the top of my car and made the car and itself invisible.

Then Torak motioned for the device. He spoke and the device translated:

I NEED TO GO TO THE MEDICAL POD. YOU MUST TAKE CHARGE AND BEGIN REPAIRS ON THE SHIP.

I thought for a second about repairing the ship. He could no more leave the ship in the farmer's field as I could leave the car on the side of the road. Using the translator device I asked how I was going to repair the ship

Lt. Torak read the query and with a smile that turned up at the ends of his thin lips but showed no teeth responded into the device. It read:

FOLLOW ME INTO THE SHIP. WHEN WE GET THERE, SIT IN ONE OF THE COUCHES AND TELL THE COMPUTER TO REPAIR THE SHIP.

I thought about that and decided that I had nothing to loose and possibly a good night sleep to gain if their advanced civilization could manufacture a comfortable bed. I motioned Lt Torak to lead the way.

He walked into the ship and I followed. He opened the first door on the hallway we were on. He motioned for me to one of the couches. A vertical 3'X3' flat display panel with a smaller panel of buttons and controls attached diagonally from the lower edge hung from an apparently adjustable arm before each couch. When I laid in left hand couch, Lt Torak spoke into the translator device and handed it to me. He then looked up and said something to no one in particular. The screen in front of me flickered once and displayed what was apparently satellite television. In the two lower corners were tow sets triangles. One had its vertex pointing up and the other down. I read the translator device it said:

TELL THE COMPUTER TO START REPAIRS. THE ICONS IN THE LOWER CORNERS CONTROL THE CHANNEL ON THE RIGHT AND SOUND VOLUME AND POWER ON THE LEFT. THE UPWARD POINT ICON INCREASES THE CHANNEL NUMBER OR VOLUME. DOWNWARD DECREAES THE CHANNEL OR VOLUME UNTIL IT TURNS THE SOUND AND PICUTRE OFF.

He went over to the second compartment on the right I followed him he climbed into a pod and it closed. I told the computer to begin repairs. Several more robots appeared out a compartment in the rear of the ship and began removing access panels. The robots started replacing burnt wiring and broken hoses which leaked red fluid. I then thought of the blue paint like stains on Lt. Torak's shirt. If the hydraulic fluid was red; his skin tone was bluish, I was not sure I wanted to know what the blue stains were. I sat on the couch but even before I started to channel surf I fell asleep.

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Story tagged with:
Science Fiction / Slow /