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"Provisional Mission I" ©2004 Stephen Turner
From two thousand light years away, Pilar and Dant had managed to pinpoint, within three hundred feet, the very spot that Ralph and his men were rummaging around in in an exploration of the ancient Nova Terra settlement. Being ten times the size of an Earth human, three hundred feet would be only a matter of a few steps to the giant aliens. While they walked toward the sound of voices they had heard to the east of where they emerged via the c-scope, Dant brought up a cogent point:
"Pilar, did you remember to bring a phonetic analyzer with you?"
"Why should we bother? Their simple language will only take us a span of seconds to analyze and decipher. Don't be such a worrier, Dant! These people are children compared to us!"
Among the Krimson party, it was Nimitz that first noticed something strange on his bio-indicator.
"General Krimson! According to my indicator, there's life...human life...not a hundred feet away from us at this very moment!" The others immediately referred to their own indicators and saw that Nimitz was not merely hallucinating from the overabundance of tainted oxygen. According to their own b-i units, there were indeed two humanoid forms advancing toward them at at least three times the speed a human should be able to walk!
Krimson was just a bit skeptical.
"According to my module, these `humans', as you call them, are over fifty feet tall!"
"Check your batteries, sir....that's got to be a mis....no, you're right! Mine reads the same thing! You think they might be mutations caused by this altered environment, General?" All four of them started backing away from the oncoming signal. From behind the decrepit wall of one of the old residences of the colony, Pilar peered out toward a very apprehensive group of tiny Earthmen.
Pilar's eyes were large and possessed of a range of hues that could only be described as kaleidoscopically iridescent. The light that Titan could absorb from both the Sun and Saturn made them prominent against the dim lighting of other objects, primarily the rest of his oversized face and the larger bits of rubble around him. The sight of him peering back at them reminded Ralph of the tamalatongs of Sonsuang, for Pilar's eyes truly glistened in the distance.
Dant came up beside Pilar out of sight of the Earthers and engaged him in telepathic conversation, avoiding frightening the cringing Earthmen any more with their rather strange etymology or vocalization.
["What do you think, Pilar? Should we approach them any further? They seem terrified of us!"]
["Give them a chance to approach us, roommate! I want to get a sample of at least one expressed, complete thought from them so I can decipher their speech pattern. Let's smile at them....that should calm them down! Look...the oldest looking one's already starting to come toward us!"] And Ralph, true to his somewhat brassy nature, had indeed started advancing toward the two mammoth aliens, specifically Pilar, who was still the more apparent of the two of them. The other three followed him, cautiously.
"What are we going to do once we're near them, Gen. Krimson? We don't have any weapons!" Fletcher was visibly uneasy.
"Just follow my lead, guys! I get the feeling we don't have much to worry about. They look peaceful, but gahhh, what monsters! The one in the foreground must be as tall as a four-story building! I wonder how they stayed alive and propagated up here for a thousand years! The dome looked like it cracked in a few places we didn't spot earlier, and there were no food plants brought up here when we originally colonized it, and these guys must eat whole grain elevators' full! I'll confront them first. You guys stay quiet until I give you the high sign!"
Ralph stopped the whole procession thirty feet short of Pilar, who, as he had recommended to Dant earlier, had been smiling benignly for the past few minutes. Dant queried his dear classmate once more on how best to handle the humans.
["They're such small creatures, Pilar! Their planet must be extremely nutrient poor for them to be so stunted! What say we offer them plasma pills as a peace overture, eh?"]
["Hmm...well, Dant...! Their world is very rich in nourishment! It presently is supporting sixty billion individuals and there is very little evidence of widespread famine! In fact, they are just now starting to feel the press of humanity on their food supply. I'm also not sure how our plasma pills would affect their systems. But that's neither here nor there right now, my friend. All we need is for him to speak to us directly so that I can formulate some sort of discourse with the leader."] As if on cue, Ralph started addressing Pilar in an attempt to introduce what he thought were the mutated descendants of stragglers left behind in Nova Terra a thousand years ago...elephantoid descendants of trapped individuals, to the normal humanity they had probably been denied.
"Hello there! I don't know if you've kept your vocal skills current, but my friends and I are from Earth, the planet your ancestors originated from. We represent the provisional government that's in charge of affairs down there now. As you can see, your condition is very different from ours. You would be considered what we call `mutations', specifically environmental mutations, back on Earth, but you would also be considered heroes for surviving and flourishing the last thousand years under less than ideal conditions. We salute you for your heartiness and we would be honored to meet others of your number! By the way, my name is Ralph Krimson, and these gentlemen are: Fletcher Wymark, brother of the two presiding Earth governors; Elroy Nimitz, our communications officer and Dauphin Avril Garçon, our navigator!" He pointed to each man in order, to sentient nods.
Pilar and Dant kept smiling wanly, and all the while Ralph was speaking, Pilar was running the cadence of his speech pattern, the accentuations used and the possible meanings and references the words could have through his mind, using his knowledge of English, culled from records he had read on Earthian customs and vernacular.
"[According to my computations, I have just been appraised as to how heroic we are for surviving the rigors of this moon, Dant. Apparently, he thinks we are natives of this orb, perhaps the survivors of the colony that was established here one oras ago just before the Awakening of the Child. These people are evidently scavengers of some sort, scouring the world for artifacts or descendants of the colonists.]"
"[How long before you can answer him?]"
"[Approximately three of their minutes, four verats our time. To stall, why don't you offer them one of our plasma pills, like you suggested earlier? That ought to keep them occupied long enough for me to construct a coherent train of thought based on what he has given me...."
Dant then slowly approached Ralph, taking a huge plasma pill out of his shoulder pouch, proffering it to him. Fletcher, Nimitz and Avril rushed for cover as the huge, but delicately-built, alien approached their ground. Avril was the first to comment on the impending confrontation.
"Scandaleux! Raoul is just letting him come up to us! For all we know, they could have survived here through headhunting and cannibalism!"
"I agree, Capt. Garçon! He's endangering all of us by letting his guard down like that! Pick up anything that's reasonably heavy for its size for a brickbat so we can protect ourselves should anything go wrong!" At Nimitz' suggestion, the other two men started rummaging around for rocks that might be peeking through the decayed ground covering the walking surface of the venerable settlement.
"Jupiter, Cowboy, Milky Way & Moons"© 2004 Stephen Turner
"Ralph's Cowboy on the Surface of Asteroid 10"© 2008 Stephen Turner
"Cowboy Near Titan"© 2004 Stephen Turner
They found suitable armament against the great freaks they were facing and brandished their weapons like cavemen defending their territory and families. Hidden from sight, Pilar, who felt he had finally deciphered vocal patterns sufficiently enough to converse peacefully with the tiny Earthers, laughed paternally at the comic tableau of these reasonably modern looking planetary explorers reverting to their base roots of protective behavior.
Meanwhile, Dant held out the plasma pill to a wary Ralph Krimson, who looked it over assiduously. The pill was as big as a library-sized globe of the Earth, and though Ralph had no idea what it was exactly, his bio-indicator showed that it was totally innocuous and non-toxic. He accepted it as the peace offering it obviously was and was immediately forced into a bent-over position by the weight of the oversized lozenge, still holding it in both hands.
"Whew! Did they somehow develop transparent lead up here in the thousand years you've been isolated from Earth contact? I'm surprised I still have feeling in my fingers!" Krimson had no idea whether the huge creatures even remembered English as a language in its original form in his misconception of the giants' origins, but nonetheless, Dant soon joined Pilar in his amusement caused by the little Earthmen. Pilar soon surprised everyone, including his companion, by addressing the Earthers in their own language.
"Has our primary source of portable nourishment proved too heavy for you to digest, Ralph Krimson?" The three territorial defenders dropped their brickbats as the sonorous voice of a well-educated baritone reverberated in their heads.
"Alors! What is zees!? Am I hallucinating?!" The telepathic intrusion did not sit well with Avril, who was not used to hearing clear, unjumbled speech, or any other kind of outside speech, resonate in his Gallic cranium like it was now. Fletcher, however, had a somewhat adolescent revelation....
"Wow! This is like being a radio! These creatures have evidently developed the ability to communicate telepathically, probably due to the changes in the moon's air density making normal speech difficult! What a discovery!"
"Over the course of a thousand years, Fletcher?! Fat chance! There's only one other explanation....these two aren't from Earth, or Titan, or anywhere else in the system! In all likelihood, they're visitors from another system altogether, and they just happened to home in on us!" Nimitz concurred, though Ralph wished it had been someone else.
"I've got to agree with you, General! There's no way that any strain of homo sapiens could possibly develop the ability to converse without benefit of vocal apparatus in so short a time. It would take something like a half a billion years for any bio-strain from earth to increase its cerebral power that much!"
"Thank you, Dr. I.Q.! But I have to admit you're right....there's no way any species could evolve that fast. What say we ask them where they are from....?!"
"Bien, Raoul! It would seem tres apropos, maintenant. By all means, solicitez!"
Ralph took a deep breath, looked toward the aliens, who were smiling even broader now after hearing the little men quarrel amongst themselves, and tried addressing them in the most diplomatic way he knew, keeping in mind they were probably not what he originally thought they were.
"Well...uh...let me be the first to welcome you to our solar system! Don't let these ruins fool you....this is not the way most Earth cities look. What you see around you are the remains of a colony that was set up on this moon quite some time ago, when our system was at the mercy of a great cataclysm that took place near this sector of space. Earth really is much nicer looking! Now...why don't you tell us where you're from and why you're here and we'll see what we can do about introducing you to our leaders and friends!"
Pilar then approached Krimson even closer and positioned himself on one knee as he tried to address the four as non-condescendingly as possible.
"We come from a planet revolving around a great star, one far larger than your own sun. Its diameter, in fact, would equal the span of two thousand of your solar systems, and our world would be roughly the size of the gaseous orb that this moon revolves around." Pilar got off his one knee, brushed it off, and pointed back toward Sol, south of the orbits of the planets to the purplish-white speck that would be Avedon from the vantage point of Titan.
"Do you see that strangely colored cluster of stars south of your sun near the constellation you call `Hercules'....?" Of the four Earthmen, only Nimitz seemed somewhat familiar with the array.
"Yes! That's Avedon 717! That little collection of reversed stellar matter has been the center of quite a bit of controversy lately! Don't tell us that's where you and your friend are from...!"
"Why, yes...it is!" Pilar looked at the impudent Nimitz with an expression of mild surprise.
"....Well, sir...that little microverse has been a focus of isolated panic concerning the eventual destruction of this system...in fact, of this entire sector of space! According to our scientists, the polarity of your cosmos is in direct opposition to the rest of the known universe! When your cluster comes in contact with any section of the rest of creation, and it must be a miracle that's kept it from doing so so far, one or both parties will be utterly destroyed! It's what we call a matter/anti-matter cancellation, and your microverse is the main culprit!"
"Great, Nimitz...you've just undone any good will I've built up in the last five minutes! I hope you're satisfied!" Pilar held up his hand.
"It is all right, Ralph Krimson! That is part of the reason we decided to visit your system....to discuss this matter, a matter of paramount importance to both of our peoples." Ralph whimpered:
"Thrill a minute, universe!" The Krimson cycle had started again.
"Poojar Meadow"© 2003 S.T.
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