Cavanaugh Interstellar, Episode 4: First Contact

Shai’Hara-Lee Coming to Life, Art by Kristen Hubschmid.

 

“We get a Space Ship!?…”

 

Read the whole story so far here… http://neilenock.com/books/cavanaugh-interstellar/

 

There was no time to react. The smaller ship left the main craft, angled itself towards them, something at the front end glowed blue, and it was hovering above them hovering. Instantly.

“What the…” I started to say, then stopped. A panel slid open in the bottom of the small ship.

I had not completed closing my mouth when she appeared in front of us.

I learned something new in that moment. When you first meet a being from another world, your brain simply makes all the assumptions that it usually makes about anyone that you might bump into on the street. Perhaps it does this to make things feel normal, or maybe there is some universal body language that transcends all of space and time. Who knows and frankly, who cares? Suffice to say I knew instantly that this gal was both nervous and uncomfortable. She had a right to be. She wore no clothes at all, and the short yellow fur that covered most of her, shielded none of the fact that she was most definitely female.

She adjusted her wings in what seemed like a formal gesture, then touched the ornament around her neck and spoke softly. “I am Shai’Hara-Lee. Here to seek treaty with those who created the K’ltchy field.” She straightened herself out and looked expectantly at us all, me somewhat more than the others. I hoped it was because I was in front and not because I was staring at her.

Lily cleared her throat, which was enough to get me started.

“I’m Gordon, and if you mean the thing that caused all this,” I waved to the destruction around us and towards the city, “Then you probably want to talk to us.”

She relaxed a bit. “I am glad to meet you Gordon. When a civilization discovers the K’ltchy field,” She noticed his puzzled look, cocked her head as if listening to something, then tried another way, “When a civilization discovers the Zero Point energy field…”

She paused again. I still did not know what she meant. Undeterred, she continued, ”…a ship is dispatched to form a treaty to protect your civilization and ours from any misuse of the field.”

She focused intently on me. Her words seemed scripted.

“Do you speak for all?”

“I can speak for all of us here,” I didn’t look at the others. “We are…”

I trailed off as Vlad interrupted, limping over and handing me what was left of a lab coat. He looked at her, then back at me, nodding pointedly at the coat.

“Um, would you like a jacket or something?” I asked, as I offered it to her, my face flushed red. “You seem like you might be, um, cold.”

She looked at me gratefully. In that moment she seemed somehow both more vulnerable and more certain of herself. She bowed her head slightly to us and stepped back a bit. She unfurled her wings and wrapped them around herself. Seconds later she withdrew them, leaving herself clothed in a shimmery translucent cover-up.

“I hope I have not offendeded you,” She said. “I had been informed that clothing was not appropriate on Earth.”

“Who told you that?” Lily asked, her hackles up.

“One of my shipmates.” Shai’Hara-Lee said, icily. “I will inform him of his error.” She turned to Vlad and added softly. “Thank you for your… concern.”

Vlad smiled, then his eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed. Bruce missed catching him and Lily automatically reached out…  and screamed.  She’d used the wrong arm.

“You are injured!” Shai’Hara-Lee said, taking in the remains of the garage behind us.

“Our ‘Zero Point energy’ test did not go… smoothly.” Joel spoke up.  “There was an accident.”

“Several actually.” I looked towards downtown.

Shai’Hara-Lee seemed troubled. “We are forbidden to interfere or assist without a treaty in place.”

“But you can help?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Then we will sign your treaty.” I said.

“Gordon!” Bruce warned.

“Look around,” I replied. “We need their help. Shai’Hara-Lee, what is this treaty?”

“I will tell you. But come stand here with. We will go to the Aurelana for your injured. I will explain there.”

We were inside the Aurelana in under a minute. Ten seconds to get to the launch and get settled, ten seconds to the Aurelana, the entire rest of the minute to offload Lily and Vlad. They were taken away to what was we hoped was a sick bay while the rest of us stayed with Shai’Hara-Lee in a small room off the launch bay.

She explained that the treaty was critical to help us both understand and properly use the energy we had created. So that we could join in the collective culture that spanned the Universe.

“The treaty is very beneficial.” She said. “Carelessly used this energy can be dangerous.”

“We know.” Joel nodded wryly.

“Perhaps not,” She warned. “Without proper instruction, you can accidentally create a Zero Point warping event. I think you would call it a black hole? It could consume large portions of your Galaxy and the many civilizations within.”

Silence filled the small room as we digested that tidbit.

“Gordon?” Bruce said slowly.

“Yeah?” I answered, expecting his usual cautions.

“Sign the treaty.” Bruce said.

“You will sign for your world?” Shai’Hara-Lee asked, as if that was the sort of question people really asked other people.

“Well…  no. I can’t!” I answered honestly.

“What?” She asked.

“Nobody can sign for our whole world. We don’t have that kind of government.” She still looked confused. “Our planet has many different regional governments.”

“Well, which government created the K’ltchy field? Which one are you of?”

“We’re Cavanaugh Trucking.” Joel piped up helpfully. “We are the only ones on Earth who have this power or the ability to recreate it.”

“This is so?” She looked at me.

“Yes, I believe so,” I nodded. “We’ve never heard of or seen anything like it before.”

“This is most unusual,” She seemed to be mulling it over. Vlad groaned and stirred on the ground. She looked at him, worriedly. “Very well.”

“Aurelana?” She spoke to nobody that they could see.

“Yes, Shai’Hara-Lee?” the disembodied voice of the ship’s computer startled us as it echoed in the small room.

“Register a treaty for Cavanaugh… Trucking?” She looked at me to be sure.

“Hmmm, let’s make it ‘Cavanaugh Interstellar’,” I said smugly.

“For Cavanaugh Interstellar of… Earth?,” Shai’Hara-Lee repeated as I nodded at the addition. “Effective immediately.  You have the conversation on file?”

“I do and the treaty is registered and transmitted,” Aurelana replied. “Which means you are all now needed on the bridge.”

On the way there, Shai’Hara-Lee surprised us further. “I am looking forward to working with you.”

“What do you mean?” I asked politely.

“Until your own ships are operational and up to fleet standards, we will supply you with transport as we instruct you in the technologies needed to control the field and enter the Universal culture.”

I looked at her, still not comprehending.

“As part of the standard treaty process, the Aurelana and her crew are at your disposal.” She explained.

“We get a space ship?” Joel’s eyes were wide.