Katie glares at the post-it note on her fridge. The note reads:

Katie, we decided to go to Disneyland for the weekend! We would have brought you, but most of it's for adults anyway, so you wouldn't have enjoyed it much. The number for pizza is written below, and your mother's spare credit card is on your dresser to pay. We'll be back Sunday night!


Katie neatly rips the note in two, and shoves it down the sink's drain. It might probably cause plumbing problems but she couldn't care less. She's still fuming firstly at the fact that her Dad referred to that woman as her mother, secondly at the fact that they didn't take her to Disneyland, and third that it's her fucking birthday. Hoping to turn her anger into creative angst, she storms upstairs to her laptop. She opens the file for her novel, [Ancient New Antiquity], and starts to type.

[Sophronia galumphed across the dry, waterless, beige, light-brown, cactus-ridden plains, her plaid, maroon, cotton skirt lifted by those peaches on sticks she so rebelliously called hands.] Yes, Katie thinks, That's good. Before she can type more, an earth-shattering crash shakes the walls of her room. She runs to the window overlooking her sizable yard, in which a flaming saucer is half buried in the ground. Through the glass dome at the top of the structure, she can just make out a figure. It isn't moving.

Katie, who has watched enough sci-fi movies to know that crashed ships can only lead to good things, sprints outside. She grabs the hose and turns the dial as far left as it will go, before turning the jet of water on the ship. She notices a cracked hole in the glass at the top and focuses the water there. Once it's safe-well, relatively safe-to enter, she slips inside before she can realize what a terrible idea that is. Katie tries to carry the limp…whatever it is, but she has the athletic ability of a dead jellyfish, so she settles for dragging it and just letting the hose go haywire in the ship. Once she finally gets the creature in the house, she pulls it on the couch.

She wonders briefly if she should call someone about the fire, and then wonders if the fire department would let her keep the alien. Well, she thinks, It's pretty far from the house and it'll put itself out eventually. If my darling parents can afford a surprise trip to Disneyland, they can pay the damages. She turns to look at the creature. It's shaped like a human, except for two curved horns protruding from its head. She can't tell much else about it under the metal plates it wears, probably armor. Or maybe that's just what its skin is like. No, that's definitely a helmet so it must be armor. The visor of the helmet is tinted black of course, so she can't see anything.

She doesn't know how to tell if it's alive or dead, but its chest is moving, so its probably alive. Katie figures that trying to treat a nonhuman is too risky, so she just puts a couple of blankets over it and waits for it to move. And waits. And waits.

Unbeknownst to her, Kraal woke up a few minutes ago. His armor protected him from all but a few scratches, but the force of the impact knocked him out a few minutes. If the human hadn't dragged him away though, he doubts he would have come to in time to save himself from the fire. He knows she can't see his face, so he watches her, to determine if she poses a threat or not.

. She wasn't expecting visitors, extraterrestrial or not, so she's wearing pajama pants several sizes too big, and a Tom and Jerry t-shirt, her shoulder-length, blonde hair gathered into a deftly placed ponytail. He sits up suddenly, making Katie jump.

"Well, you're obviously not a threat, so where's my ship?" he demands, removing his helmet to glare at her properly. However, Katie doesn't speak Chromish, so she heard "Yri cho neh-oh, yuh em?" She knows that by meeting an alien, she's the universe's first impression of Earth. What she says now must be eloquent, thoughtful and above all, impressive.


Kraal is not impressed. Just his luck he not only gets stuck in the middle of nowhere with a primitive lifeforms, he gets stuck in the middle of nowhere with a primitive lifeform that does not appear to be sentient. He presses a button on the cuff of his sleeve, which drops two miniscule rings in his hand. He holds them out to her.

"What do I do with these?" she asks. He exhales through his nose, before miming, in an exceedingly sarcastic fashion, the act of putting two invisible objects in his ears.

Katie looks at the rings, and then at Kraal. He points at his mouth, points at the rings, and points at her. Katie understands he's saying they're translators, but she's not sure if she believes him. Don't get her wrong—having an alien crash in her yard is the best birthday present ever—but she knows better then to take earplugs from strangers. Upon realizing the reason for her hesitation, Kraal, holds up his hand, lowering the ring and index finger. She doesn't know it's the Chromish equivalent of crossing one's heart, but gets the gist and reluctantly placed the rings in her ear.

"Do you understand me now, idiot?" Kraal asks, eyebrow raised. Katie's amazement at not only seeing, but talking to an alien is pushed back by her need to outdiss him. Katie prides herself on the ability to win any insult war, and she certainly won't be upstaged by some bozo who can't even fly his saucer properly!

"What did you call me, Captain Crash-A-Lot? The ring thingies had better be malfunctioning," she says, hands on hips.

"Let me save you the trouble of learning this the hard way: you don't want to get into a war of any kind with me—especially not a war of insults. Shut up, repair my ship and tell me where the nearest Chromish embassy is," he dismisses her with a flick of the hand. Katie surprises him by retaliating with a swift yet business-like smack upside the head.

"I will most certainly not shut up, and even if I knew how to fix your ship I wouldn't since you're being such a jerkass about it! You are going to pay for my pizza to apologize."

"How dare you! I'm the king of the damn Chromish Empire and you are a peasant! Bow at once, and I might not have you executed!"

"If you're a king then you can afford to pay for a pizza!"

They glower at each other for a full minute, each surveying the other to see what kind of opponent they're facing.

Katie notices first his nonhuman features, the two black horns, the skin without any pigment whatsoever, the royal blue hair which at the moment is shining like a light bulb. Even if he hadn't said he was a king, anyone could tell he belonged to nobility. His proud nose and strong jaw are hints, but it's the way he carries himself, and the way he has of looking at you like a side dish he didn't order. He's definitely handsome, but in the Anakin Skywalker way, rather then Luke.

He scrutinizes Katie in turn. Not an equal, Kraal decides, yet she has the audacity to disobey him.

This will be fun.