Layla was fidgeting with her fingers so aggressively that Kira worried she would break one. To calm her down, Kira grabbed her hand and asked to talk about Xulor. A smiling Layla and dove into stories about her male.
Throughout the trip, they took various stops to feed Terra and let the females stretch their legs. Layla directed them here and there, but Vrox kept her in the safety of the carriage.
When they finally arrived, Kira peeked out of the window. The enormous ship wasn’t saucer-shaped. It was more of a triangle, with a flat base and no wheels. It was parked perfectly on the even land. The silver that coated it was wet with mist, and the thing had no entrances other than the smaller triangle on one of its sides.
The men walked around the thing for hours, waiting for little green men to pop out. Layla instructed how to open the door, and they spent another hour inside there as well. When Vrox finally decided that the coast was clear, he helped the women off the carriage.
Draekon stayed in the carriage with Terra while her parents went inside.
The spaceship was equally creepy and cool. It was warm in there, and it smelled like a doctor’s office. Everything was pristine clean. The lightbulbs emitted a strange green color, and the walls had lines of code flickering across them.
Vrox had to bend down to pass the entrances. The Tulisians were definetly shorter than Ezronians.
When they reached the command center, Kira gaped. It was nothing compared to a NASA spaceship. There was a hologram image of a planet in the middle of the room. It was Ezron. She could see its two continents– Drukai and Xendros. Above the planet were the words “X–902”
“I think that X–902 thing means Ezron. When we left Tulis’ stratosphere, the system told us that we were exiting X-001.”
“001,” Kira repeated. “Egocentric. They recognize their planet as number one. So how do we turn this thing on? Does it understand voice commands?”
“No. Xulor changed the language to Ezronian. I just have to figure out how to turn it on.”
Layla walked to the blacked out glass and pressed her palm against it. A circle appeared as her fingerprints were read. Vrox got so alarmed by the sound of whirring that wrapped himself around Kira.
“Relax, big guy.”
He ignored her, clutching her to his chest with one arm and holding his sword with the other.
The black visor turned transparent, showing them a view of what was outside. Red text scrolled across the corners. Kira saw a little sun icon with a number she couldn’t read. It must be the way they measure temperature.
“Computer,” Layla called out, only to receive no answer.
“Is there some command prompt?” Kira asked. “I was never the best coder, but I can try my luck,” she offered.
“Don’t fly us back to Tulis,” Layla said.
“No promises. I’m tempted to kick some ugly Tulisian butt.”
“I saw Xulor use this area a lot,” Layla said. She walked to the far left of the screen and tapped a circle that expanded.
“Where’s the keyboard?” Kira asked.
“There is none. He kind of scribbled things on the screen like his finger was a pen.”
“Hmm… Vrox, can you write something on the screen? Here, just put your finger on this and write ‘information.’ Maybe some user’s manual will pop up.”
Vrox walked forward and wrote ‘information,’ but nothing happened.
Kira raised her finger and wrote:
ls, pwd, cat ~/.bash_history
On an older Linux system, the command would give all files in the current directory.
“Primitive language identified,” the computer said. “Translating data to Terran counting systems.”
Vrox jumped a little, but the girls grinned. At least they were getting somewhere.
A file opened, and Kira’s knees weakened when she saw Earth. “X-1222p” was written atop the beautiful green-blue giant.
“Wow…” Layla said.
Kira swallowed. “Yeah.”
“What does the p stand for?”
Kira tapped the name of the planet, and a flow of information appeared. “X-1222primitive.”
She read past the atmosphere information and frowned when she found the population numbers– 1 billion Terrans. Right next to the number was “deletion detected,” and “information outdated.”
“Tulisians must call The Vanishing The Deletion” Layla said.
“Yeah. Lamara told me that Earth calls it “The Wipe.” It looks like each planet has their own name for it. The ‘advanced’ planets probably never got a chance to exchange information about it. They didn’t know what hit them.”
She sighed. According to Tulisian research, nuclear bombs were dropped after The Vanishing, decimating their population. Every country wanted to find out what happened to its women, so humans did what they did best– they went to war. Even in the end, Earth showed the universe that it was not divided by oceans, but by its religions, races, and nations.
“How do I close this thing?” She did a swiping motion, but nothing happened. She tried to clap her hands, too. When she pinched planet Earth, it finally minimized and got replaced by rows of multicolored lines. Each line had a number next to it.
“So it looks like this computer only has local files stored. It’s not connected to Tulis’ cloud, or whatever they have for internet. I get that impression from the ‘information outdated’ line. If this thing was online, the information would be live or at least get updated more frequently.”
Kira went to the very first line.
No data available.
“Of course they wouldn’t keep files about themselves,” Layla grumbled. “The bastards are too smart for that.”
Kira opened another random file. This one offered a view of a purple planet.
Under the atmosphere information was “Population: No intelligent life detected. No Deletion detected.”
She went back to Ezron’s file and opened it. The population read 38 million Ezronians, and she assumed that was post-Vanishing. There was a red dot next to the population number, so she tapped it.
16 planetary cycles ago
487 planetary cycles ago. Botched. Estimated 5,000 females survived.
“Oh shit,” Layla whispered.
“Fuck, Vrox,” Kira swallowed. “You were right. Ezron had multiple Vanishings.”
The news made him grip her harder.
“The second wipe was the successful one.”
They digested the creepy news for a minute, before digging through more files. There was a comprehensive anatomy report on Ezronians. Kira looked through the females first. They were beautiful– smaller and flat-chested, but had the signature black scleras.
“Well, that’s cool. Ezronians have three kidneys,” Layla said.
“And a hell of a fucking lot of sperm. They have twice the total motile count of a human male,” Kira observed, skimming through the endocrine system report.
“Explains why Vrox pumped twins into you the first try.”
Vrox thrust his chest out with pride, and Kira snorted.
According to their notes, the Tulisians considered Ezronians to be biologically superior.
The girls moved to Ezron’s natural resources and found out that the planet was rich in metals and oil. Since the Tulisian assholes had a comprehensive list of locations of the planet that were especially rich, Kira suspected that they were flying to Ezron and looting. Their trips were probably rare, though, since no men shared stories about flying saucers. Something was holding them back from constant trips to Ezron, and it probably had something to do with insufficient fuel since Tulis was millions of light years away.
Kira scribbled as much as she could in her notebook. Within the hour, she had twelve pages filled.
“Hey, what’s up with this planet? It’s the only one that’s written in black.”
Layla expanded the file.
“Why does it start with a T and not an X?”
“Open it,” Kira encouraged.
Layla tried to open it, but she came across an authentication wall that demanded she scanned her palm again. She scanned it, and four planets appeared.
“Cool. This one has four planets, and it looks like they had a Vanishing, too. The population…”
The file closed, and speech waveforms appeared in the visor.
“This is Ambassador Ton of The Federation, serving under General Kirokis. You have accessed information that according to Treaty 10F, is classified. The owner of this Tulis spacecraft must identify themselves immediately to be prosecuted accordingly.”
A panicked Layla jumped away. Vrox grabbed both females and ran outside. He slammed the door shut.
“Shit,” Kira rasped. “We made first contact."