A NEW HOME
After an hour of looking at the screen “reading” the information, James realized that even looking at one page every second, it would still take him one hundred and thirty eight hours to get through the whole thing. He hadn’t calculated that result, the multiplications of various numbers was already in his head, he merely recalled the information. It reminded him of the time in primary school when he learned the times table. Once learned you never multiplied the numbers in your head ever again you merely remembered the answer.
So he decided to see if it could take him less time. By holding his finger down on the screen the pages were only displayed for a microsecond and to James’ utter amazement it was enough. After another two hours 100,000 pages had briefly appeared and disappeared. In three more hours he had “read” the whole thing.
Putting the computer to one side James went over the information in his head. Accessing it was like scrolling through an encyclopedia, he just had to think of a subject and bang it was there super imposed on his eye balls for him to read like a book, it was astounding.
The first thing he thought of was space ships and as he dwelled on that subject, pictures of ships paraded through his mind. He then thought of languages. It was obvious, even to James that English was not going to be spoken by every alien he was going to meet. Surely Mede and Isto were going to teach him a few alien languages, so he went looking for them in amongst the information. In seconds a list of choice alien phrases was before his eyes. He had never been good at foreign languages in school and was pleased that it was now so easy.
He then realized that he had had nothing to eat or drink since he had been abducted. He stood up and took a deep breath, ‘DON’T I GET SOMETHING TO EAT?’ he bellowed.
After a minute he shouted out again.
He shouted again.
The oval door to the prison slid open and Isto squirmed in holding a tray of food.
‘In future you will refrain from shouting for your meals. You are a slave - from this point forward we will tell you when to eat, not the other way round,’ Isto said.
James eyed the food Isto had with him. It was essentially a bowl of soup, but there was something next to the bowl that looked like bread except that it was purple.
‘You will get this when you have read through all the information on that computer,’ Isto said motioning to the food. He then started to leave.
‘I have read it,’ James said moving forward.
‘You couldn’t have,’ Isto said without stopping. ‘Your brain may be advanced, but it’s not that advanced.’
James smiled at the irony of Isto’s statement. ‘Test me,’ he challenged.
Isto stopped and in the same language he had spoken to Mede with, which was the language of someone with a bad chest infection, he said a few words to James.
James rolled the words over in his head then glared angrily at Isto. ‘I am not a primitive human,’ he said to the slug.
Isto had no eyebrows, but the eyes on the stalks visibly rose in surprise. He placed the tray on the floor and slid it past the threshold of James cell.
‘Eat quickly, you will soon be put to work,’ he said, then left.
James started eating, it wasn’t great food, but it was filling. As he tore at the bread he wondered what kind of work he was going to be doing.
James was glad to be out his cell, however he wasn’t having the time of his life.
The device on his forehead was still there and now its function had changed. He stood in the laboratory where Mede and Isto had expanded his mind. They were busy working with equipment and with similar devices to James’ on their foreheads.
Since James was out of his cell Mede and Isto had to protect themselves. With the devices on their heads all connected, if James so much as touched them he would be paralyzed again. He found that out when he tried flicking Isto in the back of the head. James had immediately collapsed to the floor and was left there for two hours as punishment.
It was worth it.
The two aliens were putting blue crystals in plastic boxes. James looked up blue crystals in his memory and discovered they were computer storage devices, like memory sticks.
Isto placed the last crystal in the box. ‘That’s all our sensor scans and maps for this sector of the galaxy,’ he said to Mede.
Mede lifted the box that was full of crystals and walked over to James.
‘Take this to the cargo bay,’ he said.
James was busy leaning against a wall with his arms crossed. He stared down at Mede and didn’t take the box.
‘Do it human, you know what will happen,’ Mede said.
James thought about it and took the box, Mede or Isto could also shock him through the device on his head, and it hurt, so it was best to obey.
He left the laboratory and strolled down a corridor that ran through the spine of the ship. He pulled one of the crystals out of the box to examine it, nothing seemed particularly special about it except that within the crystal were striations of metal, like chicken wire inside of glass.
James considered smashing it in order to annoy his alien captors, but it wasn’t worth it so he placed it back in its box and continued on towards the cargo bay.
Mede and Isto’s ship, the Whorrak, a pathetic name for a space ship James thought, was oval shaped and the corridors of the ship followed the contours of the hull. The ship only had two levels each separated into four rooms accessible from the central corridor. On top of the ship was a dome, this housed the control centre accessible from the forward part of the ship from both the lab and main computer room.
James reached the rear of the ship and turned left, heading down a ramp towards the lower deck of the ship, also separated into four rooms. The two rear quarters were the cargo bays while the other two were the prison cells and sleeping quarters. James placed the box he carried next to others in the bay.
This was the kind of work he had been doing for the last few days, mostly heavy lifting for Mede and Isto. As soon as he had finished his food the aliens had instantly made him carry out menial tasks on board the ship.
‘Human, store the boxes in the Energy Compartment,’ Isto voice said, apparently from nowhere since James couldn’t see a speaker.
James recalled information about the Energy Compartment from his enhanced brain. It was full of instructions on how to use the advanced technology on the ship, but not how it actually worked. That never bothered him though, because it would take a human year’s to figure it all out.
James went to one wall and brushed its surface. A large drawer then slid out of the wall. James looked down inside the drawer, which was filled with blue light. At the bottom he could see small objects the size of match boxes.
James’ mind told him what to do next.
He picked up the nearest box in the cargo bay and held it over the Compartment.
He then dropped it in.
For a second it floated on top of the blue light emanating from the Compartment.
Then very slowly the box began to fall into the drawer and as it did, it started to shrink getting smaller and smaller as it fell down at a snail’s pace.
When it settled on the bottom it was the same size as the other match boxes.
Cool, James thought.
He grabbed other boxes lying about in the cargo bay and dropped them into the Compartment. At one point he dropped several of the blue crystals together into the drawer, to see which one made it to the bottom first.
As he watched the last box shrink into the drawer his mind told him what the Compartment was doing. It had the power to reduce the space between the atoms of an object so that they occupied less space in the universe.
James was slowly getting used to the technology that he had to work with, stuff he was sure even science fiction writers couldn’t come up with let alone human scientists.
What amazed him most was that it all seemed second nature. He remembered, very clearly, what he was like before he had had his mind expanded and now he felt like a very different person. The strange things around him didn’t intimidate him anymore, he felt calmer, focused. He liked who he was now, but he didn’t like where he was.
He left the cargo bay and went up to the top level of the ship heading back to the laboratory.
When he reached the top corridor he noticed a slimy trail leading up towards the control centre. He followed it and found Mede and Isto already at their computers. The control centre was a round room with the far wall covered in thick glass, allowing him to look out into space and watch the stars whiz by the ship.
The two aliens sat in chairs suited to their unique body shapes and were working the controls of the ship.
‘Where are we?’ he asked.
‘A meeting place,’ Isto responded paying him no further attention.
James looked out of the view screen and noticed that the stars no longer rushed past the ship, which had come to a complete stop in the middle of nowhere. As he peered through the window out into space he saw that moving closer to their ship were other vessels, obviously who they were here to meet.
James’ understanding of the universe before being abducted had been practically microscopic, space had never interested him, nor had he ever believed in the existence of aliens. He thought about the people on Earth, those who do believe however never knew for sure. Well he knew and as the ships moved closer to Mede and Isto’s he wondered how much more he would learn of the universe, how far did it go? How many aliens were out there? The information Mede and Isto gave him was sketchy the only thing that pertained to other aliens were the languages he had a rudimentary understanding off.
As the other ships drew closer to theirs, they became larger and they looked nothing like Mede and Isto’s vessel. James saw a host of different designs and weird shapes.
‘Who are they?’
‘Scouts, like us,’ Mede responded and he tapped the controls on his console.
‘It doesn’t need to know,’ Isto said.
Scouts? Scouting for what? James wondered.
‘Why are we meeting like this?’ James said.
‘So that we can take our information back to our employer,’ Mede replied.
‘Using that,’ Mede said pointing out of the view screen.
James looked at the stars and all he saw…were stars, but after staring at them for long enough he noticed that one of them was growing brighter than the others and getting larger. Soon it was so bright the room was bathed in white light and the ship vibrated slightly. When the light faded there in space was a portal, like the eye of a hurricane spinning in front of their vessel. Behind it flowed a tunnel curving and waving about in space.
‘What is that?’ James asked.
‘An Interstellar Accelerator Rail,’ Isto said.
‘And what does that do?’ James asked.
‘Hyperspace is the fastest and easiest way to travel for all spaceships, but even if we used it to return to our employer it would take years, this Accelerator Rail is a tunnel to our destination much faster than hyperspace so it will take only a few seconds.’
‘You never gave me information about that,’ James pointed out.
‘It’s not something you needed to be aware of,’ Isto said.
‘So you just open one of these accelerator rails and it takes you anywhere?’ James asked deciding to ignore Isto’s pompous comment.
‘You can call these Rails to your position, however you can only travel back to the source of the Rail,’ Mede said. ‘The size of the aperture at the destination, also determines the size of what can travel down the Rail,’ he added.
James moved to a different spot for a better view at the swirling vortex. Then he got a shock, for the first time since being abducted he caught a glimpse of his own reflection in the glass view screen. The light outside, for a moment, made the glass less opaque.
What he saw horrified him.
The left side of his face had lines across it extending from his forehead down to his ear and his neck. They were arranged parallel and sometimes crisscrossed each other like the metallic lines on a circuit board.
‘WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME?’ James yelled at the aliens.
Isto and Mede jumped at his outburst.
‘What are you talking about?’ Isto asked.
James stabbed his finger at his face. “What’s this?” he asked.
‘Oh, their called Teleportation Stitches,’ Mede responded. ‘When an organic being is teleported the recombination of the atoms in your body is sometimes slightly off, your cells are not aligned properly causing the lines.’
James stared wide eyed into the reflection and he rubbed the lines, trying to get rid of them. His perfect memory recalled his arrival on the space ship and the tingling sensations on his face right where the lines were. Now he knew what had caused it, his body being put back together in the wrong way.
‘They’re not permanent human, as your body regenerates and replaces the cells your face will revert to its usual pattern, probably. Since you won’t go through a teleporter again you won’t have any new ones,’ Mede explained.
James continued to fret over the marks on his face. Then he saw the other alien ships started to move into the Rail and one by one they disappeared, soon it was their turn to enter it and Mede and Isto’s ship edged forward crossing the threshold.
The tunnel walls zoomed by impossibly fast, it was actually hard for James to tell if they were moving or not. The pattern on the wall of the Rail seemed to blend together as they whizzed past. Then after several seconds the view changed again and they returned to normal space.
Filling the screen was a planet. At first James thought he was looking down on the planet Earth, but it soon became apparent it was nothing like his home world since it had extremely dark blue seas and deep red land.
Orbiting the planet were huge alien ships that looked like giant shards of crystal and dispersed amongst them were space stations made of the same crystal, except they were much larger, flat and oval in appearance with additional oval sections sprouting from their hulls. They looked like flower heads.
James could only look on in shock at what he saw.
The planet was decimated, with huge scars across the continents and the aftermath of explosions sending plumes of smoke and debris into orbit.
It was a horrific sight an apocalyptic vision.
‘The war has already started,’ Isto mused.
Mede and Isto smiled as they eyed the destruction. ‘This is the other side of the galaxy Human very different from your backward planet,’ Isto said.
‘Here begins the future of every star for thousands of light years,’ Mede said.
James looked out of the view screen again, taking in the devastation before him. No words came; he had nothing to say, he was only thinking about the mess he was in.
Several million miles away ten red and blue space ships were conducting long range scans of the solar system.
The ships were long, dis-proportionally and asymmetrically shaped. The only standard look to them was that there was an engine on the back of each ship.
The Commander of the lead ship of the small fleet, stood on the bridge looking at a view screen displaying a long range image of her former home world.
A new explosion on its surface sent a whole mountain range into orbit. A giant ash cloud spread from the site of the explosion covering a quarter of the planet’s surface.
The commander gritted her teeth. ‘Operator Quart will we be able to go back?’ she asked directing her question over her shoulder.
Operator Quart, who was sitting at one of the control consoles, read the information displayed on the screen, sighed, and then answered.
‘No Commander Yaurt, the combined fire from the Zetsca warships have destabilized the crust and ignited the atmosphere, in a few days anything alive will be dead or dying.’
The Commander gritted her teeth and stared at the ruins of her planet. She saw the alien warships in orbit and wished that they would just explode.
‘Why did they do this we haven’t been in contact with the Zetsca for over a century,’ Operator Quart said clenching his red and blue fists.
‘They wanted to make an example of us, for the rest of the galaxy to see how far they were prepared to go to get what they want. They destroyed an entire world as a demonstration,’ the Commander replied.
The Operator scowled then some new information appeared on his screen. ‘Sir, the council and the rest of the fleet are waiting two systems away, are we going to join them?’ the subordinate asked.
The Commander said nothing.
‘Sir the council wants to get as far away as possible head towards the unclaimed territories and…’
‘Who wants their revenge on the Zetsca?’ the Commander asked interrupting her crew member.
The red and blue aliens on the bridge looked at each other, then one voiced what everyone was thinking, they knew their Commander, they knew that she would be able to strike back at the Zetsca. ‘Sir if you have a plan you know we will follow you.’
Commander Yuart swelled with pride at her crew’s response. ‘Good contact our ships and tell the council we won’t be coming back, our world has seen its last sunrise soon the Zetsca will experience their darkest night.’