Starscape: Destiny

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Chapter 3

Earth, 2016

Apparently, passing out on the basement couch at midnight counted as “staying up obscenely late.” Almost as soon as his rush from the two cans of Mountain Dew had worn off, Symon crashed, not even bothering to relocate upstairs to sleep in his bed. For the last three-and-a-half hours, he lay fast asleep, fully clothed, on the long, black leather sofa, seemingly unable to be awoken. He had even managed to sleep through the loud string of profanity that his sister had unleashed when she stubbed her toe against an end table on her way to her bedroom.

And then it happened.

An enormous crash came from somewhere outside, shaking the house violently and throwing Symon off the couch. He snapped awake with a startled yell as he hit the carpeted floor.

“What the hell was that!?” he shouted after a few seconds.

He heard a door open to his left and turned his head in the direction of the noise. Candace had stepped out of her room. She was clad in a long, violet nightgown,and her hair was sleep-tousled. Her eyes were wide open with a mixture of confusion and worry.

“What the hell just happened?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Symon said. “I-I, uh, I don’t friggin’ know. It kinda sounded like something landed in the backyard,” he said, replaying the sound of the crash in his head.

“What could possibly land back there and make a sound like that without destroying the house?”

Symon opened his mouth to respond, but quickly shut it again. He cast a glance over to the sliding glass door to the right of the couch. Through the large window pane, he could see smoke rising from a large object resting in the center of a small, newly formed crater.

“Whatever that thing is, apparently,” Symon said, nodding towards the glass door.

Candace turned her head in the direction indicated and let out a nearly inaudible gasp. “What the hell is that?”

“I’m gonna find out,” Symon said as he stood himself up.

“I’ll come with you.”

Symon didn’t object. He slid the door open and stepped out into the backyard, Candace following him closely. As the two cautiously approached the mystery object, Symon took in its details. It seemed like it was mostly circular in shape, like a large disc. What appeared to be a pair of jet engines on the back of it looked as if they had been completely destroyed and were billowing plumes of jet-black smoke into the sky. The front of the thing had a large, bulbous structure extending from the rest of its body. At the end of the extension was a circular window, like a canopy of an aircraft.

Aircraft,’ Symon thought. ‘This thing is some sort of aircraft, but I’ve never seen anything like it. An experimental military jet, maybe?’ He took a closer look at the craft. He couldn’t see any obvious weapons, but he knew that the military was capable of hiding guns on just about anything. He felt like his “military jet” theory still held some water until he and Candace stepped within fifteen meters of the craft.

The hull was hot. Really hot. Symon could feel the intense heat emanating from the strange craft from where he was standing. He was actually surprised that it wasn’t glowing bright red at this point, because the temperature of the hull almost suggested that...

“It just cleared atmosphere,” Symon said aloud, stopping in his tracks.

Candace stopped beside her brother and cast him a confused glance. “What now?”

“This...ship,” he started. “It just cleared through the atmosphere. This thing wasn’t made by humans.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Have you ever seen any of the recovered Apollo command modules?” Symon didn’t wait for a response to continue. “Those things had metal heat shields on their hulls. Heat shields that were almost completely wrecked during re-entry.”

“What are you getting at, Symon?”

“I’m getting at the fact that we don’t have any metals strong enough to make it through atmospheric reentry in one piece. Whatever made that clearly does. I mean, look at it! It’s not even glowing!”

Suddenly, the canopy in its entirety was ejected from its housing in the hull with a loud pop. Symon yelped and fell down backwards, landing butt-first on the grass. Candace let out a small, frightened scream, but remained standing where she was.

Smoke and dust filtered out of the craft’s cockpit, but Symon saw something else moving within the ship. Something vaguely humanoid in shape was weakly crawling out of the the exit it had made. Symon couldn’t quite make out its features, but one thing was certain; it wasn’t human.

“I was right,” Symon said shakily. “I was right. I hate it when I’m right.”

Candace was too stunned to say anything as she watched the alien work its way out of the ship and onto the grass. Symon was able to recognize that the creature was female as it tried to sit itself up on its knees. She had the same sleek, feminine form that a human model may have, but that was where the similarities with humanity ended. Everything else about her was...strangely vulpine. She had the appearance of a blue-furred anthropomorphic vixen.

Let it be remembered that first-contact with an alien species occurred in my backyard,’ Symon thought. ‘And that the alien was a fox-woman.

The alien looked up from the ground, her gaze falling upon Symon and Candace. Symon’s heart rate picked up immensely. He had frozen up, unable to will himself to move.

“Don’t let it smell your fear,” he said, partly serious, but mostly to see if he could alleviate the stress with a bit of humor. But, his efforts were in vain.

“Shut up, Symon,” Candace said.

From what Symon could tell, the alien showed no signs of hostile intent. Even if she was hostile, she probably wouldn’t be able to do much damage, considering how weak she looked. A few seconds passed before she closed her eyes and collapsed to the ground entirely, but not before she said something inaudible to her human observers. Symon wasn’t the best lip-reader in the world, certainly not when it came to reading the lips of alien animal people, but he could have sworn that he saw her mouth the words, “Humans...damn it.”

Symon took a few seconds to recompose himself. After a series of long, deep breaths, he managed to get his heart rate under control. “Did that just happen?” he finally said. “Did I really just see that? You saw it too, right Candace?”

His sister slowly nodded in confirmation. “Y-yeah. Yeah, I did.”

Symon stood himself back up, brushing a loose lock of his long, dark brown hair out of his face once he was on his feet.

“What are we going to do about this?” Candace asked.

Symon didn’t respond, his eyes were locked on the form of the alien collapsed on the ground ahead of him.

“Symon? What are we gonna do?”

Suddenly, he took off in a run towards the alien’s body.

“Symon, what’re you doing!?” his sister called after him.

Symon knelt down next to the alien. Nervously and cautiously, he reached out and tapped her on the shoulder. No response. He rolled her over onto her back and looked over her body. The brown tunic she wore was ripped and scorched in several areas, but she didn’t seem severely wounded. She may have been heavily bruised under her clothes, but Symon wasn’t about to strip her and find out. He brought an ear down to her chest and listened. Her heart was still beating softly.

“She’s still alive,” Symon called over to Candace. He lifted the alien off the ground and turned back towards the house. “Get the door for me. I want to bring her inside.”

Candace just nodded nervously, moved back to the basement door, and slid it open. With the alien fox woman in his arms, Symon began walking back to the house. Just before he stepped back into the basement, he cast a glance back to the wreck of the alien’s ship.

“Well, it looks like we have a new lawn ornament. That thing isn’t going anywhere.” he said to himself. “Thank God we don’t have any neighbors. If we did, the government would already be all over this shit by now.”

As Symon laid the alien down on the living room couch, the gravity of the situation began to dawn on him. He was harboring an extraterrestrial being in his parents’ house, and he and his sister were the only two that knew about it. Though, the more he thought about it, he figured it was better to keep this on the down-low. If word of this got out, it would mean nothing but bad news for him and his family. Every extra person that knew about this increased the chances of him getting dragged off to Area 51 or something and getting interrogated by some suits from some branch of the government he didn’t know existed. And then he would--

He lost his train of thought when he heard Candace begin entering a number into a handset phone.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Calling Mom and Dad,” Candace said. “I’m telling them what happened.”

Symon’s eyes grew wide with fear. “No, stop,” he said. “Put the phone down.”

“They’re our parents, Symon,” Candace protested. “Besides, this happened on their property. They need to know.”

“If you enter one more digit into that phone, I’m taking it and smashing it.”

“Why? Why can’t I tell them?”

“Because very bad shit will happen if word of this gets out.”

“You have no way of knowing that.”

“Granted, I don’t. But, if word of this gets out, the odds of the consequences being bad are way higher than them being good. Will you please just put the phone down?”

For a few seconds, Candace hesitated, her eyes dancing between her younger brother and the phone in her hand. She sighed, deleted the digits she had entered in, and placed the handset back into its charger dock.

“I won’t tell anyone,” she said.

“Thank you. I really mean that.”

Candace raised a hand to her forehead and groaned. “I need a drink,” she said, turning to make her way into the kitchen.

“Could you bring me a Mountain Dew?” Symon asked.

“Yeah, yeah,” Candace called back.

Symon turned his attention back to the alien on the couch. ‘Yep, still a furry alien,’ he thought to himself in another attempt to bring some humor to the situation. As he looked over her body, he noticed something he didn’t catch when he first saw her. Clipped onto her belt was an object, dull gray in color and cylindrical in shape.

Symon arched an eyebrow at the object. ‘What have we here?’ he thought as he reached for it. He took hold of it and pulled it off of her belt. He turned it over in his hands, taking in its design. As he observed it, he couldn’t help but remark just how much it resembled a lightsaber from Star Wars.

“No way, that can’t be it,” he whispered to himself as he strode to the other side of the living room. “Well, only one way to know for certain.”

He gripped the object in both hands and reached to thumb a small, red button on its metal surface. But just before he could depress it, he heard his visitor on the couch stirring behind him. His heart rate picked up, and he felt himself building up a cold sweat on the back of his neck. Slowly, he turned back around to face the couch. The alien had regained consciousness, and her large, sky-blue eyes were locked directly on Symon.

Oh God, she’s staring at me!’ he thought to himself frantically. ‘What do I do!?

Awkwardly and nervously, Symon raised a shaky hand and slowly waved at her. “Hi,” he struggled to say.

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