A slight intergalactic cultural clash

The rapid sword slashes of lightning lit the glutinous mud caked upon the girl's clothing. Trudging beside the glistening jet of the bitumen, the girl battled the malicious wind which whipped at the trailing ends of her raincoat and backpack.

The girl's feet skidded out from beneath her, and she was suddenly kneeling in the mud, swearing defiantly at the storm that raged overhead, drenching her and delaying her from her purpose.

Where was it, where was it… ah, there.

In a burst of speed which caused bemusement amongst the hidden watchers, the girl suddenly was on her feet and scrambling for the scant sanctuary of the jade corrugated-iron arch which comprised the bus stop.

Sodden from the torrential downpour of the sky's misery, the girl contemplated her own. She settled herself on the cold aluminium of the bench, and numbly wondered where she thought she was going…

Angrily, the girl stripped off her raincoat and bag in a single movement, and checked if her father's pocket knife was still in the pocket. Yes. Good. Flicking out the can opener tool, the girl rummaged inside her backpack until she found the pineapple tin. She grinned, and began to gouge the tin open, to get at the contents. The can opener slipped on the moistened metal, and she cut her hand, but stubbornly continued to saw at the lid until it popped off. Triumphantly, she began to devour the contents, dripping juice everywhere. The girl cared not for it, nor for the shallow wound, which dripped blood from her hand, and this intrigued the hidden watchers.

They surveyed the candidate, some with trepidation, some with eagerness, but all with studied interest as she sipped juice from the tin.

Their seers had all pointed in the direction of this girl's family. After the original prophesy, that a denizen of this hot continent in the southern reaches of the world called Earth would have knowledge that would be the saviour of theirs.

They knew that they had the right family. The prophecy had pointed directly to the descendents of a particular Eastern European refugee, who had come far from home in order to keep his family safe. The genes were the easy parts to locate.

It was the generation, which had been the hard thing to deduce.

The first Candidate they had chosen had been older and, some still argued, far more qualified. However, when tested, the older candidate was found inadequate for their purposes.

They had deliberated about what to do for what on their world was little over a month, but when they had returned their attention back to Earth, five years had passed, and there was now only one candidate left. They never even would have considered this girl, who was little more than a child in their eyes, but she was the only one left of her line, and they didn't have the time or the patience to wait for her to grow up and maybe produce another for them to choose from.

So, are we agreed? The oldest observer sent the silent query so that it etched itself into the minds of the other eleven.

She will have to do, came the reply of the most reluctant watcher.

Slowly, the others voiced their agreement, until it grew into a crescendo, which seemed to draw power from the corners of space, and thrust it towards the huddled form of their new Chosen one.

As though she sensed the sudden tension in the air, the girl looked up from her juicy feast, and, dropping the can, clutched her belongings close to her chest.

Beneath the percussionic crashes and voiceless howls of the storm, a low, insistent humming noise could be heard.

Unsteadily, the girl stood, and felt the noise. She shuddered involuntarily as the accumulated power in the air and ground resonated through her bones.

An immense CRACK of lightning sounded, and the tension released as a vortex of light began to spin about the girl.

She screamed loudly, and it began to close in, extending rays of shattered and distorted pure light. Eyes wide, the girl felt their fizzing touch stretch though her…

Then everything burst inside a colossal firework of darkness.



"WE OF THE COUNCIL OF MULTITUDES ARE PROUD TO PRESENT…"

The girl regained consciousness, wondering what the hell was going on. Seemingly randomised patterns of colour and light shot across her vision and a great black spot seemed to be growing from a wall, just out of her reach, had she desired to touch it. Somewhere above her, what sounded like a focus group was going on over her head.

Well it could be a focus group, if it was possible for those bizarre noises mixed with otherwise human sounding speech to be communication. She decided to test if anyone could answer the basic query of human existence, and then reconsidered.

Oh why not.

"WHAT the HELL is GOING ON?!?" she bellowed, in what she hoped was a pleasant, sane, but firm tone.

The focus group paused, and a few beings that defied description from any qualified schools of logic, classification or rationality dropped from what the girl had assumed was the ceiling. As they chose to float just in front of her face, it occurred to the girl that this might have been a premature assumption to make.

"As you have possibly just discovered, we are alien to your race, just as your race is alien to ours," moiged one whose predominant colour appeared to be a sort of bluish orange-pink.

The girl snorted, replying, "Is that understatement your sense of humour, or is that just your favourite clichéd start to conversations with other life forms?"

In a way that defeats attempts to illustrate via words, the girl was certain that the alien glared at her. It blepped a sound of agitated annoyance then lummed, "None of that. We have to know- the Answer to the Question."

"What question?" wondered the girl bemusedly.

"The ultimate Question!" sqwrikked one creature.

"The Great Question!" jurred another.

"The only question worth knowing an answer to!" plymed the fourth.

"Yes, but what is it?" queried the girl. "And why is it so important?"

The being that had originally informed her of the obvious decided to fill her in on the less so. In what was apparently supposed to be a grand way, it xizzed, "Our nations of our fair planet of Polymolyguripguripfeema have been at war for millennia over the answer to one question..." it paused for dramatic effect, then hodsed, "WHAT CAME FIRST? THE CHICKEN… OR THE EGG?"

In the true Earthling spirit, the girl gave the last good answer to that question that she had heard. "Who cares? They're both delicious!-Stephen K Amos, Earth comedian, 2006" she said in a solemn voice.

Silence.

And thus a nation was saved from itself, as the aliens decided that obliterating a world that contained people who ate holy birds, hatched or not, was a far better decision than fighting amongst themselves. It was such a shame that the Candidate from Earth united the chicken and egg worshipping aliens against her own planet, but prophecies rarely took into account insignificant details like that.

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