The Milky Way
Staring at a holographic image of Earth for hours was not what Haĝiēn intended when he agreed to travel across the galaxies. He understood the purpose to be one of honor and hope for his planet, Ilum, however, never had he imagined the assignment would be more monotonous than the year before, or the one before that.
He was wrong.
“Coordinates?” General Eukara asked matter-of-factly. The radiance emitting from her body crisp and overflowing as she floated a few inches above the ship’s lustrous, yttrium floorboards pacing back and forth.
A few seconds passed without a reply.
Monocromatically Haĝiēn voiced their position. For the past two months, nothing had changed. As when they arrived, they hovered in the same location.
“Air quality?” The general asked Qûarzar, their newest shipmate. This was her first expedition to Earth.
“Poor,” she replied.
General Eukara swayed her hairless head around in disapproval. The golden tone of her skin gleamed around her. “Earthlings will never learn. They have data upon data that teaches them how they exterminate themselves to the point they must evolve quicker the next time around—yet they don’t.”
“Why do we come back, General?” annoyed, Qûarzar asked. Her greenish skin, although dimmer, irradiated light, much like all original inhabitants of Ilum. However, since she was a hybrid, her eyes bugged out profusely, similar to the occupants of Draco. Her mother was Ilum but her father was an insectoid from the Draco system.
“There are many other galaxies and planets we could choose from,” she continued.
The General went to further explain the reasons why to all working in the spacious room; Qûarzar, Captain Makkio, and Haĝiēn.
“Yes, that is true. As you gathered from the briefing earlier, this is a red galaxy, therefore, a dying galaxy. To be able to enhance the continuity of our survival, important. Also, there are biological and geological motives linked to our planet and our solar system, you see—”
Haĝiēn tuned out shortly after. The explanation the General gave his fellow traveler metamorphosed into white noise behind him because he already knew the answer. It was one of the reasons he chose to be on the mission to their constellation. His planet and Earth were both in their respective Goldilocks Zones.
Earth’s solar system and their own were alike in that specific way; they were the perfect temperature to support water. Consequently, both had the possibility of life.
The possibility? Haĝiēn smiled to himself. More so the assuredness of life.
Based on stories passed from generation upon generation on his planet, he knew humans shared similar DNA with Ilum. The ancestral inhabitants of Ilum tell the tales of travelers from their constellation to Earth at the beginning of time on Earth and how they helped create human life.
When he learned of the expedition, he was fascinated and could not wait to reach the Milky Way. However, at the time he wasn’t aware they would not be landing on Earth nor have the authority to be in proximity to his subjects.
The crew was advised to keep their distance from earthlings. They were much too underdeveloped neurologically and not technologically advanced enough to react well to their visit. Therefore, they chose to fly above that big, blue marble and collect air and soil samples from beyond. His head hung in frustration.
The following year, their program allowed monitoring different kinds of wild animals and plants. General Eukara navigated closer to the Earth’s troposphere and camouflage the ship to not attract attention. But their veil proved to be faulty and human technology captured them on what they learned to be videos of unusual clouds formations or UFOs.
Unidentifiable? He chuckled.
“Is everything in order, Haĝiēn?” Captain Makkio turned to look at him.
Seemingly he’d laughed loud enough to attract his attention. “Affirmative. Everything is in order, Captain.”
That year they withdrew back to where they’d started two years prior which to Haĝiēn was disappointing. To interact with humans was what he most wanted. Perhaps he could communicate with their energy, get to touch their skin, or better yet, their hair and collect DNA samples.
His mind took him on a journey to younger years, recalling when he met a few higher beings from the Kimah star cluster, who impacted his upbringing. The display of intelligence, insight, and involvement in the evolution of Ilum and now Earth’s, captivated him. Physically, they were the most similar to humans. Perhaps his fascination with hair started when he met them.
That was another reason why, three human years ago, he wanted to be part of this journey. But when he learned that yet again they’d observe Earth from such an incredible distance, he doubted and wondered if the assignment, the crew, the ship—were truly his calling, until recently.
In a new turn of events, the situation had become interesting. For the last week, in the mornings and evenings, she started showing up on his hologram. A dark-haired female. Human, of course, and some sort of weird-looking, grey and white mammal that inhaled and littered everything in its path. It also had pili. A lot of it.
Ilums like himself and inhabitants of nearby planets were in vast majority hairless. It was safe to say fur fascinated him and while a few crewmembers on the spacecraft had manes, humans had more of an abundance of it.
To him, the woman was lovely and more appealing than any of the female counterparts on the vessel. Even perhaps his planet if any one of them remotely looked like a Homo sapien. Very much he liked how perceptive she seemed--for a human. Barely did they pay attention to their skies, their eyes entranced staring down at their limited technical devices.
She owned said devices, but she was curious about her surroundings, the sky, the stars ... Late in the day, she relished within the atmosphere of her planet and the low glow of the earthly bright star they called Sun. But more importantly, she had seen him.
Well—not him per se, but their spaceship. Eight days ago. That was the moment his assignment became tolerable. Enjoyable even. And he looked forward to seeing her twice a day since then, the most.
The first time she stared at them from where she stood between the trees, he wouldn’t have paid particular attention except, her expression was one of confusion. Her head snapped from one side to the other multiple times. At one point she left and came back with a human male. The dark maned female pointed at the location in the sky where their spacecraft hovered while the male stared with a quizzical expression of fear in his eyes.
Haĝiēn imagined they compared the brightness between his craft and the stars, to make sure they were the same but deep inside they knew the possibility of it being something else, existed.
Feeling the radiance of his aura warm-up, he smiled. Of course, they aren’t.
For a long while, they looked at the sky and pointed, clearly discussing what his spaceship could be. Then, and this was the point of no return for him, before going inside for the evening, she motioned with her hands favorably.
Shocked with surprise, it jarred him. His heartbeats slightly accelerated and for a split-second, he hesitated on what he should do. In the end, Haĝiēn decided not to report it to the General nor let the Captain know about the human’s curiosity.
That’s when his fascination with this person grew beyond scientific reasons. Moreover, it gave his daily tasks a tinge of excitement. Excitement, Haĝiēn realized, he wanted to keep as only his.
That particular evening became long and restless. His mind raced thinking how absurd it was he wanted to get closer to her. He couldn’t relax or stop questioning himself with what-ifs and buts.
What if, the human not only saw their space ship and wasn’t afraid, but was open-minded about interplanetary visitors? What if he scared her and scarred her for the rest of her life?
“Haĝiēn, obtain air specimens,” the General’s smooth voice cut right through his thoughts.
With his brainwaves, Haĝiēn pressed a few buttons on the smooth glass surface floating in front of his seat and six, small air-pockets at the ship’s sides opened and collected the samples.
Glancing at the hologram, his heart raced.
There’s the female human with the funny looking mammal.
“If the conditions are poor up here,” he heard Qûarzar say. “Imagine how terrible it must be down there.”
Qûarzar was having what seemed to be a conversation about the only thing she learned in life, with both the General and the Captain. Haĝin thought Qûarzar to be obsessed with quality control, she rarely spoke of anything else.
She is knowledgeable and an expert at what she does, he teetered his head back and forth reminded himself, but she’s pretty dull.
With her lineage, he would’ve considered her to be adventurous and unpredictable. But, she wasn’t.
“Good point, Qûarzar,” Haĝiēn interjected and turned to face his Captain.
“Captain, if I may?”
“We should get closer to the planet this year. There is a virus attacking humans and with genetics being my expertise it is my opinion we get a few infected and noninfected subjects in our craft.” He turned to look at Qûarzar, “And yes, Qûarzar, it would be to our advantage to take samples of the troposphere once our ship is stationed there.”
“Their troposphere?” Captain Makkio interjected looking unsure.
“It sounds risky, we tried this before ...” he said closing his eyes and going through his mental archive.
The Captain adjusted the grey collar of his coat and contemplated the idea. He loved to dress the part according to the mission. The long coat represented humans and how they clothed themselves on Earth.
Haĝiēn believed it to be droll.
“Based on prior studies, Ilums are not affected by the virus but what if it's harmful to one of the other beings in our ship?” Makkio asked Haĝiēn.
“We will work with them in a controlled group. It’ll be myself, Qûarzar, and Ecniv. We not only have space, but a way to get them in and out without contacting others who live here. Without a doubt, they will not be affected. And, we have all the tools needed.”
The Captain brought a hand under his chin, “I still think it is much to close to Earth. And yes! We ventured and got close to Earth almost two human years ago but ... What do you think General?”
“It’s a good thought,” she pondered. “This part of our assignment would be complete, although, I’m not quite convinced about bringing earthlings onboard.”
“We should start slowly, and we could always use our cover shield and look like a cloud,” Haĝiēn continued carefully. He didn’t want the color of his aura to give his excitement away and make him seem eager. “Qûarzar?”
“A distorted cloud?” Qûarzar said between chuckles. “Those cause chaos and confusion between humans. It attracts too much attention. Yet, is it our best option? Possibly the only way to get the task done right.”
General Eukara paced the control cabin again giving the idea some thought. Long, thin arms swayed the air creating energy vibrations similar to waves. The movement helped her think.
“A genuine concern, yes. But our subterfuge has improved greatly since last year, Qûarzar. If we show up during a cloudy day or storm, our visibility is zero percent. Perhaps we should try again. The storms would be easy to foretell. Earth weather is predictable.”
One of her four fingers rested on her forehead. “What are your thoughts about this, Captain Makkio?”
He sighed. “Might be necessary. I won’t say no yet” The yellowish-red glow his body expelled shone with excitement. “We should take advantage of humans staying in their shelters during storms and now that there’s an order for them not to go out ...”
General Eukara laughed. “Who do you think your fooling, Captain? Your light is oozing all over the cabin. You love this idea.”
“Ha! Am I that transparent?” he asked running a hand through his bare head while the others nodded.
Smiling, he continued, “This planet is interesting to me. It is a reminder of our ancestry thousands and thousands of years ago with its simple civilizations and technological advances. Also, there’s great beauty you can’t find in ours.”
“Agreed.” Eukara stopped the movement of her hands. ”The candidness is appreciated, Captain. This discussion I shall bring to the council. If we gain a quorum we’ll have permission to proceed.”
“Thank you, General,” the three of them said in unison.
General Eukara nodded curtly bidding her goodbye. “Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s been a long day.”
“Of course! Everything is under control,” Makkio replied adjusting his collar once more then turned to face his control screen. Quietly, he clicked at the screen with his fingers.
Haĝiēn chuckled at Captain Makkio’s peculiarity. Many of the species who traveled in the mothership wore clothing. However, Ilums usually kept their energy form and had the option to wear clothes perhaps when they materialized.
The glow they ensued controlled the temperature of their bodies accordingly if there were any climate changes which affected them. Because they were able to control the energy they emitted, their bodies were not exposed in the same way a human body was based on the density of their skin if they were naked. But the Captain loved wearing the cloak when on assignment. Especially assignments to Earth. Haĝiēn thought it to be absurd but Captain Makkio believed he looked humanlike.
Suddenly, the realization of being closer to Earth hit Haĝiēn.
In a few days, when it rains, we might be closer. Perhaps even standing on its soil. The thought was both scary and exciting. Haĝiēn’s skin glowed brighter than usual. Happiness was released out of every one of his pores.
“What are you so luminous about?” Qûarzar questioned.
“Getting closer to Earth.” That is true.
If he had lied, Qûarzar would’ve been able to tell by a sudden dimness to his aura, and if he wasn’t careful, a change in color. However, he did not want to say anything that might discredit him. He couldn’t. If they sensed he had a personal interest, the mission might be jeopardized and he could be replaced and returned to his planet.
That would be devastating.
“I see how that would excite you—clearly, not as much as you, but it does me too.”
“I perceive that,” he said cooly.
Expectantly, he turned to look at his screen but his human was no longer there, he’d missed her. The light in his eyes darkened and the emotions in him sank. The times he was able to see her were not enough. Roughly thirty human minutes daily, at the most, was not going to be sufficient and with their stay on Earth limited, time was ticking.
Yttrium: Soft, silvery, and very shiny. A good conductor of electricity and heat, and easy to mold. The radioactive isotope yttrium-90 has medical uses. It can be used to treat some cancers, such as liver cancer.
Draco/Dragon constellation is the eighth-largest constellation. It has nine stars with known planets and contains one Messier object, M102 (NGC 5866). The brightest star in the constellation is Eltanin, Gamma Draconis.
Earth is in the second-largest galaxy in The Milky Way and it is spiral. Earth is located in one of the spiral arms called the Orion Arm which lies about two-thirds of the way from the center of the Galaxy.
Earth is a Red Galaxy. It means it is a dying galaxy.
Earth is in a Goldielocks Zone. There are many planets in their respective Goldielocks Zones, therefore, there is the possibility of life.
Kimah or Pleiades star cluster/Seven Sisters: is an open cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars in the north-west of the constellation Taurus. It is among the star clusters nearest to Earth and most obvious to the naked eye.