Encounter
"Oh man, this is gorgeous! Bode, you getting this via ast
Encounterrocam?" Jhav Delmos drooled out at the panorama from the clastrophobically small vessel. Brilliant colors danced around in a vortex of light. It looked nothing like Jhav, Aurora 3, or any human had ever seen before, and he had a front row ticket.

"Yeah, Jhav, I'm getting it. You are one lucky piece of space junk, you know that?" Bode Brekker replied only half sarcastically from Aurora 3. He wanted to be the one out there in center stage. He was the one who deserved the task, who had earned it. "You know, I saved your butt. You wouldn't be out there if it hadn't been for me."
"I owe ya big time, buddy. Almost died then. Way too close."
"Way." Bode remembered the time in Beta-Sigma when they had gone space jumping in an asteroid mine. Debris flew at them from all directions as they crossed the belt. Then, midway through the section, Jhav's airbox had be hit with a helmet sized rock. He almost died out there, and Bode saved his life. They'd been through a lot together. Ever since Academy, where both's fathers had been teachers, Jhav and Bode were best friends.
"Cut the chat, boys," Captain Kehranna Koir said impatiently. "Delmos, keep sending the readings. Alpha Base is gonna want a good look at this baby. When we get outta here, the whole galaxy's going to know each name, first and last, of all 37 crew men and women on Aurora." And they would know each name, but for another reason.
"Yessir, Kehranna, sir," Jhav's voice echoed over the stellarcom. Kerhanna Koir was titled 'sir' despite the fact that she was a woman. Women and men were both equal in this day and age. He busied himself by humming and studying the data banks. Something slowly emerging out of the anomaly caught his eye.
At first it was just a tiny black nose. Then more emerged. It came slowly, as if it was a worm gliding along the pavement. Or that's how worms appeared in the holos Jhav had seen as a baby.
There weren't actually any real worms, and very few real animals anymore. In the 21st and 22nd centuries, Earth died away quickly, surrendering her precious resources to the greedy rulers of our planet. Us. Humans. We moved on, expanding beyond the galaxy and flourishing beyond anyone's wildest belief. The few animals and plants that had survived Earth's decay were now blended, almost 300 years later, into the wildlife of planets like Rieka, Losolos, Minere, and Perz. The only species that fully survived were humans, the one species that
brought about our home's destruction.
The object grew longer, and wider.
"Bode? Kehranna? You readin' this?" He asked, unaverted eyes at the emerging object. Bode's voice came over the stellarcom.
"Jhav, I read it. Can you make out what that is?"
"It appears to be...." the object was now in full view. It was.... "a ship! But that's no Intragal Company ship! Kehranna, you there?"
"I'm here, Ensign," she announced, "You're right, that's no Intergal ship. In fact, it's not like any ship known to the United Galaxies."
"I'm running a model scan. None of the vessel readings match anything in the databanks. Not even the basic computer system," Bode informed them, from the console. Sighing, Kehranna leaned in closer to get a good look at just what they were about to encounter. The travail of being a captain.
"Jhav, attempt first contact sequence. See if they respond." She instructed.
First contact sequence was used for meeting new life forms. Or intended for. So far even in the vast expanse of space that humans occupy now, no one has ever found another sentient life form. Scientists gave up research years ago, but the hope still lingered that someday, maybe someday, we would meet another species, varied from
ourselves.
"No response, sir." This was a heck of a lot more work that it was intended to be.
"Hmmm. I suppose, Ensign Delmos, that you should try again."
"Running sequence, trial 2." After a pause, he said, "Still no response, Captain," in an agitated voice.
"Keep trying." The sleek, black vessel slid smoothly along the raven expanse. The anomaly Jhav had first been examining was dying. The colors faded and slowed until they were gone altogether. A wave ruptured throughout the sky like the rings of water expanding from the tiny droplet. The Aurora's small shuttle, Zet, tremored wildly. Jhav clung desperately to the control panel.
Suddenly, space was still and stark as death, as if the torrent of lucid light had never existed.
"Delmos, you okay?" A female voice asked. Captain Koir's ship had also felt the aftermath of the unidentifiable anomaly, though not as violently. They'd been shaken around a little, but no harm had been done.
"Fine," his voice was shaky as the lie formed. He wasn't okay. That had been a fright ranking right up there with the scariest frights of his life, "Captain..."
"Ensign? What is it?"
"The fluctuation...it's gone." Jhav said staring out into the cold, forbidding darkness of space. The ship was still there and hadn't responded to the hails."
"I can see that."
"Is the data all there, Bode?"
"Why wouldn't....spacerock! Jhav-it's gone!!!" Brekker said in anguish.
"There goes insti-fame," he muttered under his breath.
We can't catch a break can we? Kehranna thought, First Ake Marh and his crew beat us to Marupola, and now this? A defeatists attitude overcame her. It was useless. The crew would never get anywhere, or be anybody..
The black ship had been turning towards them, all the while they were distracted by the other unidentifiable oscillation. A beam of white light emerged. The long, thin strip stretched out to Zet. On contact, the shuttle burst. Particles shot out in every direction. A final scream from Jhav sounded over stellarcom, and he was gone.
"Jhav? JHAV?" Bode inquired anxiously. No reply. A sharp pain twisted Bode's heart. He was gone. Jhav was gone. His best friend was space debris. They'd shared so much that it seemed as though a part
of his life had ended. Like it had been chopped off. Kehranna gave him sympathetic look.
"Sir? Captain Koir?" One of the pilots called, motioning towards the large screen. There was another large beam emerging from the vessel. It climbed towards Aurora 3 in slow-mo. pace. Kerhanna cursed shamelessly under her breath.
"Miko, get us out of the way. Lilla, Put Intergal Command on. Tell them its an emergency. NOW!" The young woman did so, typing hurriedly.
"Captain, I can't move us. We're on standstill. Everything is frozen. We have approximately 15 seconds, 14...13...."
"10....9.....8..."
"Lilla, can't you get Command Center on?"
"No sir. That is frozen too."
"4...3....2...1..."
The blast of light engrossed the ship and Aurora 3 was no more. The alien vessel kept moving along, intent on further destruction.