Silvery shards of moonlight seeped through the elongated, one-way windows. The glimmering rays sifted through the panes. Fluid bronze lined the contours of the sphere-shaped chamber and ochre orbs warmed the otherwise barren surroundings. Curved, chromed benches circled the perimeter and a quartz monitor hovered over a four-foot sunken platform. Facing each seat, a nano-receiver translator flashed at eye-level. On a north wall, hung interactive maps representing the solar systems of all species aboard.
Those who formed part of the council were a hodgepodge of intergalactic, pure-conscious souls who worked on a formidable mission. Twenty in total the traveler’s auras glowed awaiting details, and electromagnetic waves charged the atmosphere. Although Telekinetically most prattled, a blanket of silence enveloped them.
The amber of Haĝiēn’s pupils scampered and Ecniv held his attention. Wearing a virtual, moon-gray uniform with crisp edges and maroon lines at each side of his arms, he scrolled through a minute screen without the use of his fingers. Sensing being watched, he hoisted his head and bowed in response to the prying eyes, before tending back to the device.
With an eerie feeling, Haĝiēn scrunched his brow.
“Hmm. Hmm ...”
The thirteen-foot geneticist to his left took him out of deep thoughts when in a meditative state, he closed his lids and rumbled. Unable to recall his name, a reddish tint heated Haĝiēn’s chest spreading to his face and abdomen. The names reeled in his brian but were difficult to pronounce.
Cousins to the Pleiadians, from planet Avyon, in the Lyra constellation, most of their kind were scholars. Existing before terrestrial creation originated, the Titans were able to form an exemplary society, where elders were revered for their wisdom, and both genders held equal societal status.
Their star, Vega, burned forty times brighter than the Sun. The planet’s density, temperature, and gravity matched Earth’s and the vegetative life begot lush, trees, and plants dating millions of years. The crystalline bodies of water resembled polished, rose diamonds, and orange citrine.
Droves of Haĝiēn’s adult memories came from there. A biosphere where he completed a substantial portion of his training, underwent an unsurmountable amount of adventures and experienced eros for the first time.
Puffing out constricted air, he placed his sight over the giant examining the fine fur on his bare skin and the burnt orange mane which was typical on males and females. Introspectically he grinned with a tinge of envy. Not for himself, he had never desired tresses, but his hearts thumped when the opposite sex sported it.
The catlike-humanoid swiveled offering a smile turned up at one corner. The gleam in his pupils reflected a lively temperament. With a sunny disposition matching the feline’s, Haĝiēn reciprocated before turning his attention to Qûarzar.
With all four spindly hands on her lap, she sat a foot away to his right. Behind her oculars, the calming expression settled him. An inquisitive eye gravitated to her smooth head. She did not have the usual antennae the majority of Insectoids did. The balanced DNA blend of ilum and insectoid genes notable.
His light flickered and dimmed. “Dalutia.”
“Greetings to you, Haĝiēn, are you concerned?”
Nonchalant he shrugged and her eyes fluttered.
“I don’t believe you.”
A grin spread across his face. “Some ...”
Haĝiēn switched their verbal communication to telepathic.
A collection of data, charts, and graphs I compiled prove a majority vote. The propositions will pass. While the feelings of uncertainty were evocative, he pushed them back. Proximity is imperative to obtain material samples and—subjects.
Swiveling, she faced him. I’m with science and you. I’m here to learn. Ilum base decisions with their brain, but must I remind you, they involve their hearts? Not everyone here is from your planet, but you hold the majority. That could affect the outcome.
Giving an eager nod, his eyes swelled providing an expression filled with expectations. Prior to Qûarzar’s comment, he suspected she didn’t want to descend but deemed most onboard would.
Do you have any particular thoughts about today?
Qûarzar delivered an encouraging smile. Most will agree we should approach—but land? Her head gave a firm shake.
Do you worry about anyone in particular? he pressed.
Challenging to answer ... Depends on the mood? The greys will choose not to. Even though banned, having conquered the human market years ago, they still believe to have a say in who studies them.
The appearance of his skin turned a faint-cream tone, he squinted and his head bobbed.
Greys earned a poor reputation by being careless. While induced, they used force and methods that affected their subject’s deep consciousness levels. Many were awake or gained awareness during experiments. Numerous recalled horrific events and ended traumatized. One of the reasons the multi-galactic assembly forbade them to return over the last decade.
His eyes drifted toward the rangy, ashen beings who sat together at the other end of the room. A lackluster expression in his eyes.
They were able to manipulate and conquered three planets outside their own. But they are not a threat any longer. The two Solipsi Rais on the ship, come from the Cygnus nebula, not Zeta Reticuli. On my first expedition, I learned of the poignant distinction. The latter was refused entrance to most galaxies, while the former is a different species and their thought process, much like ours.
Lifting a hand to her chin, two of her fingers tapped at her temple. Interesting. I wasn’t informed.
The attention shifted ending their conversation.
Wearing a short, holographic tunic, General Eukara coasted in. Slim and of grand stature, the short, ivory robes floated with the movements of her body. When in corporeal form, the aureate powder of her body, glimmered heavy on her exposed skin. With ease, she neared the sunken podium. Behind her, Captain Makkio bore a turquoise cloak, a peaked hat, and a glint in his eye.
“Dalutia,” they spoke in unison.
The group returned their welcome.
“I spoke with most of you; I listened to your suggestions and inquietudes concerning proximity. For the preceding days, Captain Makkio and I met to discuss in-depth what we need from Earth and its humans. A list of motions was put together for a consensus.”
A great number emphasized with their heads, others hung to each of her words. Haĝiēn was one of them.
“Arriving at the end of Winter and leaving following the Summer Solstice allows five months of data collection. The risks of being spotted are dangerous—but we should be on the ground. This is why we are taking a vote.” She glanced down at him. “Captain Makkio?”
“Thank you, General.” He cleared his throat and removed his cloak allowing it to float in midair. “First proposal, who are in favor of lowering our craft to Earth’s stratosphere while camouflaged?”
Everyone agreed and the monitor turned blue.
“Excellent. Passed. Moving on to the second motion. When it rains or under cloud cover, we’d like to transfer to the—troposphere.”
The crew shared bewildered looks, a series of gasps, and physical changes.
The hovering screen blinked different tones of coral, brown, and green. Makkio’s pupils roved and rested upon Dreggot. A member who hailed from Gemini and a usual mouthpiece when the group had quandaries.
Gaunt, with three ribs showing under his chest, and of white-grayish complexion he stood. For those who didn’t have a translator implanted in their brain, the nano-receiver facing them activated. With a series of clicks and sounds, he stated the issues that unsettled them.
Unlidded eyes shifted when he gestured and lengthy arms moved above him while articulating. Haĝiēn found himself mesmerized by the astronomical sized optics. Not only were they sizable for his head, but inky. One could see tremendous amounts of information and knowledge behind them.
“Thank you, Dreggot. All good points,” Makkio acknowledged.
“I’ll address the first. We would approach when cloud cover is dense or if it rains and for short periods of time. One or two human hours maximum. The time will be adjusted conditional upon the trial and error phase. And, getting into what is the next proposal, yes, we are considering landing.”
With less distress in his voice, Dreggot spoke again.
“Yes, on a proposition offered by Haĝiēn.” Makkio pointed in his direction and everyone turned to look at him. “He suggested we acquire a few subjects. If passed here, we require approval from base to bring them on board.”
Haĝiēn regulated the intensity of light reflected through his body. The tinge even and sharp throughout. He was becoming an expert at concealing and controlling his emotion. He never needed to do so before.
“Our lead biologist and geneticist are beset about losing another opportunity this year and accomplishing less than what we came for.”
A large amount emphasized with their heads, others flashed different shades.
“Any other questions?”
He rotated around the room. “In lieu there are none, let’s vote. For or against—weather permitting, entering the troposphere?”
The screen turned blue.
“Excellent!” He slapped his hands together once and beamed. “All approve! I wasn’t expecting the decision to be unanimous. Third motion. Who are in favor of abductions?”
The glass turned a jumbled mess of colors.
Makkio held his hands up. “Let’s take a step back. After precautions are exercised, do we support our scientists drop from the mother ship and land in pairs or solo vehicles for closer observation of flora and fauna other than humans?”
Again, the voting screen turned a hue of purplish-blue.
“Good, very good. Fourth, in favor of or against boarding the before mentioned plants and animals?”
The assembly was in clear agreement of that also.
“Fifth motion ... In favor, or against human contact while docked?”
The screen split into three. Yellow, indicating it feasible. Red and the largest screen amount covered, expressing no. And the smallest sliver was deep blue, which meant complete agreement.
Captain Makkio made a telepathic note and transferred it to the three heads of research members and the general. They acknowledged it by standing and wording the word received.
“Noted. Motion not passed.” Makkio twisted his head to glance at Eukara and she confirmed.
“Contact, while dangerous, I am willing to explore. It is a piece of the puzzle we aspire to collect. At this time I’m in agreement with those who perceive contact nor abductions should be part of this mission. However, we will address it in the near future. It might become a part of our obligations.”
The general inched forth and assumed a brief command of the meeting.
“Based on the quick results and the four yeses, it is evident we were lacking direction. The agreed motions are accepted and I’m enthusiastic about working on our new parameters. They are strides apart from where we are today. The final decision to engage humans will be brought forward one week from tomorrow. All in support?”
The glass turned blued.
“You are appreciated. The research commanders, General Eukara, and I thank you.” The captain reached for the hovering cape. “We will meet again when the time comes to make a decision about humans.”
“In seven days’ time, we will secure a decision,” General Eukara stressed. “Tomorrow we commence a new phase of exploration. It will take an hour to set into our new position but sending a report to our superiors for acknowledgment will take twenty-four.”
Qûarzar faced Haĝiēn. “The output was phenomenal although one of the most important elements of the plan didn’t come to be. I voted yes, not that it changed anything.”
“Tonight went splendid.” He gave a look of satisfaction and a mischievous smile. “It does make a change and I appreciate it, friend.”
Qûarzar gave a cool nod. “I was as surprised as our captain.”
“The group accepted the most important elements.” His eyes widened and his body thrummed. “We have been given permission to land. That in itself is extraordinary and—”
Ecniv approached them in silence. An uncomfortable flutter pinged the pit of Haĝiēn stomach and hushed mid-sentence. A foreign haze surrounded Ecniv and he distrusted his behavior. Something he had not perceived from him before.
“Greetings, Ecniv. Are you prepared to join us at the lab and work on trial experiments?” Qûarzar didn’t need to turn to know it was he at her backside.
“Dalutia. I am.”
“Then—happy?” Haĝiēn knitted his brows.
Even though he said he was, and his tone shone acute and healthy, Ecniv displayed as much emotion as a rock. That was unusual of Ilum, they were of high intelligence but carried an equal amount of emotions.
“Aren’t you thrilled? What are you looking forward to the most?” Haĝiēn pressed.
“Thrilled?” A staticky vibe came from him as if he didn’t understand the word. “All of it.” He raised his shoulders in a shrug.
For a millisecond, the light in his scleras wavered and changed hues. From alabaster to pitch dark. Haĝiēn shivered, exposing a variety in coloration. From flaxen to lavender.
Did you notice his glow? Haĝiēn asked Qûarzar.
No, I wasn’t looking at him ... but I did notice yours. What did he do?
Later then. We’ll speak about it later.
“First time on Earth, Ecniv?” Haĝiēn studied his facial expression.
“Great.” The dull expression on his face unnerved him. “You’ll like it. It’s cerulean and leafy. Similar, but not as lush or vibrant as Avyon.”
“Haven’t been there either.”
“No? Where did you train?”
“I—” Distracted he directed his attention towards the front of the room. “I have to go. I need to ask the captain and the general a few questions before they leave. See you at the lab in several days?”
“Yes. We’re always there if you—”
But with a wave of a hand and a flip of his head, he floated away. Haĝiēn’s pupils followed until he reached the front of the room where Makkio and Eukara conversed.
“Was this odd or is it me?” he asked rolling his hands between them.
“That was—” she searched for the right word. “Weird, I admit. But, I wouldn’t give it much importance.”
Nodding he observed Ecniv. “I’ll try not to.” But he couldn’t stop. The feelings that had irked in his head.
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