She Came From Outer Space
A long time ago, there was a race of aliens known as Iluvians. They lived on an incredibly harsh planet called Iluvia. It was full of many other creatures and plants that could kill them in an instant if they weren't careful. To survive, they needed to evolve into warlike beings with impeccable skills and little mercy. They faced their harsh situation with pride and dignity, and always dominated over the other species. Their methods were considered primitive to many, but the Iluvians knew of no other way to live.
One day, a new race came to Iluvia. They called themselves the Nil and introduced the Iluvian people to new technologies ways of life. The Iluvians quickly accepted the foreign, but more advanced, ideas into their culture. After a few centuries, the once rugged jungle planet became a planet of commerce and trade.
However, with the opening of their borders to other species, they soon fell prey to raiders, thieves and bandits. Their planet was being slowly plundered into oblivion. The Iluvians fought back bravely but they were losing. They were outclassed and outmatched by their enemies and soon found themselves defeated. The Iluvians fell, and as a result, their planet was lost. They were forced from their home planet.
Desperate for aid, the Iluvians turned to the Nil, their former friend and ally. However, the Nil turned away from them. They revealed that they had only come to Iluvia to take their planet, and all that it had to offer. Since the Iluvians no longer had control of their planet, the Nil had no further use for them.
Homeless and unable to sustain themselves, the Iluvians were forced to scatter to all corners of the galaxy. For several generations, they remained in hiding, doing whatever work would come their way, waiting for a miracle.
Then the miracle came as a single Iluvian, tired of waiting.
A young Iluvian mercenary by the name of Zortan began the slow process of reuniting his scattered people. He rallied them into a final stand against their enemies. His goal: reclaim Iluvia.
The ensuing war lasted five years, until, in a desperate attack, Zortan used a supernova to obliterate the Nil and their followers. Unfortunately, Iluvia was destroyed as well in the supernova. However, Zortan was not deterred. He proposed that they rebuild their planet, making it better, stronger.
Using salvage from multiple wrecked starships, the planet was rebuilt as a massive mechanical planet powered by small lunar generators orbiting the planet. But Zortan was far from finished. He did not want Iluvia to be seen as weak. Iluvia II quickly began to gather a large military, thus beginning the Age of Zortan.
The Iluvians began a galactic conquest, capturing and enslaving races that had once been their enemies. Those who had fought beside them found peace and prosperity, aligning themselves with the new conquerors.
However, Zortan's actions did not go unnoticed. The Harmonic Concordance, an interstellar Council that governed the endless skies watched in fear as the grip of the Iluvians began to spread across the Galaxy. They could not allow this to continue, and were forced to engage the Iluvians.
By now, Zortan was old, but he still refused to back down from a fight. This was, in the end, his downfall. After only fifteen days of battle, The Great Zortan fell to the sword of the Harmonic Concordance. With the death of their beloved leader, the Iluvians surrendered.
In exchange for the release of the conquered planets, The Harmonic Concordance offered the newly elected leader of Iluvia a seat on the council. Xilphis the First was more than happy to accept these terms, despite long lasting effects. Now that the Iluvians were part of the Concordance, military and personal rights were severely limited, but after nearly 200 years of conflict, not many argued.
STARDATE 002078 [1822 STELLAR CYCLES LATER]
ILUVIA II – THE OFFICE OF HIGH EMMISSARY XILINE
"Lady Xiline!" a voice rang out through the long, blue, metal hallways of the High Emissary's Chambers. "Lady Xiline!"
Xiline the Fifth, current High Emissary of Iluvia II, looked up from her desk to see her secretary Blorfis stumbling in. He had a holopad in his arms and seemed slightly flustered. It was understandable, considering Xiline went through secretaries like socks.
"Good afternoon Blorfis," Xiline greeted her secretary. "You are late."
"My humblest apologies, Lady Xiline," he stammered, fumbling with his holopad. "But I do have a reasonable explanation for my tardiness."
Xiline laced her fingers together, resting her chin on top of them.
"I do hope so, Blorfis... for your sake."
Blorfis quickly swiped his hand across his holopad a few times, until he finally pulled up a single file.
"A report has just come in of an unidentified object crashed into lunar generator 37, completely shutting down power to sectors 120 through 139."
Xiline blinked for a second in an attempt to process what she had just been told.
"I apologize. Whatshut down the generator?"
Blorfis handed her the holopad and Xiline saw a large model of what she could only guess was the object that had destroyed the lunar generator. It appeared to have some sort of round, flat base with a long slender appendage sticking out of it. Several loose wires could be seen hanging from parts where sections of the projectile were missing. On further examination, there appeared to be several strange symbols on it.
"This is the object. As of yet, our scientific department has yet to identify its purpose, or its planet of origin."
"Where is this object now?"
"With Head Scientist Zeedin in the Astronomical Anomalies Division Headquarters."
"Good. I shall personally see this object myself. Cancel all of my meetings for today and inform General Skarx that her presence is requested in Astronomical Anomalies."
"The General? Why her?"
"Because if this object is what I think it is, then someone has just declared war against Iluvia."
ASTRONOMICAL ANOMALIES DEVISION HEADQUARTERS
The strange object was quite large, much larger than Xiline had expected. The base appeared to be white in color, though it was discolored by rust and external damage. The metal was like nothing Xiline had seen before, and seemed to be very brittle.
"So this is the object that destroyed our lunar generator?" Xiline asked as she slowly circled the strange object.
"Affirmative, Lady Xiline." Head Scientist Zeedin replied from where he stood.
"It seems very low tech. It is probably something from a bygone era or a lost planet."
"It certainly is old, but I do not believe it is older than maybe 100 stellar cycles."
Xiline squinted at the strange object.
"At least that is what we believe. It is quite possible that what we have is not all of it. There may be parts missing. Without these, it is nearly impossible to tell exactly what it is."
"What do you know?" Xiline asked in slight irritation.
Zeedin pointed to the side of the object where a strange emblem was visible underneath the grime. It seemed to be some sort of strange insignia with alternating red and white stripes, as well as a blue corner with several white specks in it.
"I do not recognize this mark." Xiline commented. "What race does it belong to?"
"So far, all of the marks in our databank have yet to match. I am extending the query to outside of the Concordance just in case."
Xiline's hand then brushed against some of the grime caked on the strange object. It began to flake away, revealing some black symbols underneath. Xiline's eyes narrowed and she continued brushing away at the grime until a set of symbols were revealed.
"Zeedin. Over here."
Zeedin walked over and peered at the strange symbols.
"What is this symbol?" Xiline asked.
Zeedin stroked his chin.
"I believe it is some sort of new language. Perhaps a new alphabet unknown to us."
"So, we have no idea where this scrap heap came from, the race responsible for its construction are not in the database of the Concordance... and more than that, they are using an alphabet that is completely unknown to us. Is there anything we do know?"
Across the lab, a different scientist suddenly stood up.
"Finally. The results just came back."
Zeedin quickly turned to his assistant.
"What do you have?" he asked.
The assistant quickly brought in a holopad with what looked like a bar graph on it.
"I finished the analysis of the metallic compounds the device is composed of. According to the results, the metal is a combination of elements 13, 14, 26, 28, and a high percentage of element 6."
"Element 6?" Zeedin asked confused.
"Yes sir." The assistant replied. "See for yourself."
Zeedin took the holopad and quickly scanned over the results.
"That is impossible. None of the nearby galaxies have a high enough quantity of element 6 to use in the construction of devices like this. The only galaxy I can think of is-"
Zeedin stopped talking suddenly, realization dawning. He dropped the holopad and quickly ran over to the main databank, bringing up the keypad and typing fast. Xiline walked over, a look of puzzlement on her face.
"What is it?" she asked.
A large map of the multiple galaxies dominated the entire wall. As Zeedin continued typing, he focused on a galaxy tucked away in the corner of known space. Xiline blinked in confusion.
"Is that... The Spilled Milk Galaxy?"
"Affirmative, Lady Xiline." Zeedin replied. "It is the only known galaxy with such an excessive amount of element 6. There are traces of it in almost all particles found in the galaxy."
"So... this object came from the Spilled Milk Galaxy.... But that does not make sense. The Spilled Milk Galaxy has been meticulously researched over the stellar cycles by the Harmonic Concordance. The planets there are completely uninhabitable."
"Lady Xiline..." the assistant interrupted. "You forget about SMG-003."
"The Blue Marble?" Xiline scoffed. "The creatures on that planet are little more than basic humanoids. They are too primitive to be the threat that built this.... Thing."
"Ringo... When was the last time a scan was done on SMG-003?"
Ringo, the assistant, quickly did and inquiry search.
"Stardate.... 001724" he supplied.
"The inquiry is over 350 stellar cycles overdue." Zeedin commented. "Use the interstellar satellites to get a view on the planet."
Ringo quickly sat down at his work station and began typing away. A loading screen came up, then the screen was dominated by a planet view of the Blue Marble. It zoomed in on one of the larger land masses, then zoomed in again, and again, and again. As it did, Xiline was surprised. Instead of the rudimentary homes that she had seen in the old files, there were large, tall buildings everywhere. Strange contraptions moved across long strips of black rock. There were even some contraptions flying around in the sky.
"What is this?" she gasped. "How could they have changed so much?"
"You seem to forget the history of our own people, Lady Xiline." Zeedin commented. "You forget how quickly our home changed."
"But we were aided by...." Xiline's fists clenched in anger. "By the Nil... I highly doubt that these humanoids have such aid."
"Then perhaps they are not as primitive as you believe."
Xiline let this sink in. If the creatures of the Blue Marble had evolved so quickly, the possibility of them building the strange object was becoming more plausible. More than that, the object was obviously old, meaning that these creatures may have access to technology far more advanced than whatever the object was.
"You may be right." She concluded. "But until we find out what this thing is, I cannot make any final decisions."
"I may be able to help you with that." A different assistant spoke up.
Both Xiline and Zeedin quickly turned. The new assistant, whose name was Hilti, quickly spoke up.
"While there was not much to go on, I was able to find a sort of power source." Hilti explained. "While the supply was severely depleted, I was able to figure out what was powering this device."
"Well, what are you waiting for?" Xiline demanded. "What is it?"
"Strangely enough, the power source was element 94 in a very reactive state." Hilti supplied.
Xiline gasped, taking a step back. Even though she was not a scientist, Xiline recognized element 94. It was commonly used in quantum weaponry, specifically fusion rays. It was incredibly powerful when forced into instability, and though it did not have world destructive power, it was still pretty strong.
"Lady Xiline...." Zeedin said cautiously. "Are you alright?"
Xiline regained her composure and gave a small nod.
"Affirmative... At least now we know what this thing is. It is obviously some sort of rudimentary orbital fusion ray. Whether it was sent here will malicious intent, or if this was simply an unforeseen accident, I do not know, but I refuse to let my people be driven from their homes again."
The doors to the lab opened as General Skarx came in. The highly decorated soldier gave the High Emissary a quick salute.
"You summoned me, Lady Xiline?" she asked.
Xiline walked over.
"General. I want you to accompany me to the Conference Room. I require your opinion on a matter of utmost importance."
"Affirmative, My Lady." The general replied without hesitation. "But why the conference room?"
"I must inform the Harmonic Concordance about what has transpired."
THE CONFERENCE ROOM
General Skarx had never been in the Conference room, nor had any other Iluvian outside of the previous High Emissary's, so she was quite amazed at what she saw.
The room was large and circular in shape with bright blue walls that seemed to go up forever. All around the room were several white circles all arranged so they hugged the wall. One white circle held a large blue throne, which Lady Xiline was now sitting in. The general took her place at Xiline's right side, then waited.
All of a sudden, bright pins of light focused on each of the different circles. The lights expanded, each revealing a holographic image of a different alien. Soon, the General and Xiline were surrounded by the other 41 members of the Harmonic Concordance.
"The Harmonic Concordance shall come to Order." One of the councilors, The Emissary from the Planet Ein, called out.
As the councilor that had called the meeting, it was Xiline's duty to step forward and state her case.
"Fellow Emissaries of the known galaxies. I come before you in need of your assistance."
"This is a first for the Iluvians." A tree like councilor from the planet Yugen commented. "Your people have never trusted us to aid you in any way."
"Considering their history with the Nil, can you truly fault them?" The large froglike emissary from the planet Smorgon commented.
"If I may continue," Xiline interjected. "I have reason to believe that my planet was attacked."
A round of gasps and murmurs filled the chamber. A few councilors exchanged words, while others seemed to panic slightly.
"ORDER!" The Emissary from Ein ordered. "We shall have Order!"
The councilors all calmed down, then the Ein Emissary spoke again.
"What proof do you have of your claims?"
Xiline opened a small panel on the arm of her throne, revealing an array of buttons. She typed in a small code, and in the center of the room, the hologram of the orbital fusion ray came up. On the side next to it were the charts and discoveries logged by the scientists.
"This device, which I have come to believe is a fusion ray, destroyed our lunar generator." She explained. "Power was cut to multiple sectors for several megakliks, and according to my engineers, it could take at least a decacycle to bring the generator back into full operational mode."
A few murmurs stirred up again, but were quickly quelled by another emissary.
"I do not recognize the design of this device." The emissary from the planet Yert commented. "How can you be truly sure that it is what you say it is?"
"That is it, I cannot be sure. That is why I have come before you. I beg the Concordance's permission to initiate a fact finding mission about its planet of origin."
"What is its planet of origin?" The Yugen emissary questioned.
Xiline hesitated, but then typed in a different code, and a holographic image of the Blue Marble came up. The councilors all blinked, then busted out into laughter. All around Xiline, there were shouts of hysteria and disbelief.
"The Blue Marble?"
"SMG-003 is a Class M. Planet. It has no intelligent life, much less the capacity to create a device even as rudimentary as this one."
Xiline, then typed in one more code, revealing the pictures from her interstellar satellite. The sight brought the laughter to a steady decline until all the councilors were watching in complete bewilderment.
"That is the Blue Marble?" The Ein emissary asked.
"Affirmative." Xiline replied.
"With the technology that they appear to possess, it is quite possible that the construction of such a device is plausible." A bug like emissary from Chrysalis commented. "Still, this sudden transformation might be due to outside aid."
"And this is why I wish to initiate a fact finding mission. Allow me to send one of my stealth agents to the planet to investigate. Let them discover the truth."
"And should a threat be found?" the Smorgon emissary wondered.
Xiline just laced her fingers together, resting her chin on them.
"Then we will do what The Great Zortan did to those who dare attack us."
The murmuring started once again, until The Ein representative spoke once more.
"Very well, High Emissary Xiline. You have the Concordance's permission of send a single agent to the planet. They are to search for any sign of a threat, and take a REASONABLE course of action to neutralize it."
Xiline noted the Ein's emphasis on a certain word, and gave a nod of understanding.
"Thank you, fellow Emissaries." She said. "I shall begin the mission at once."
With business now concluded, the Concordance adjourned until the next meeting. The lights died and the holographic images faded away. The second they did, Xiline rose and turned to General Skarx.
"General, I want your best soldier sent on this mission. I want no chance of error."
The General saluted, a small smile on her face.
"I think I know just the soldier."
GRAND ILUVIAN BATTLE ARENA
The Iluvian battle arena was a popular hotspot for off duty soldiers and young trainees hoping to make a name for themselves. It was here that a young Iluvian agent went whenever she needed to blow off some much needed steam. Agent Xentalia, when not on duty as an Iluvian Soldier, was one of the arena's best fighters, and a real money maker for the gamblers that frequented the area.
"I bet 500 credits on Xentalia's victory!" an Iluvian called out.
"Make that 600 credits!"
The bets continued to pour in, but Xentalia merely tuned them out. Instead, she focused on her opponent, one of the rare male soldiers in the Iluvian Armada.
Since the beginning of Iluvian culture, females have dominated the power spectrum. Females held positions of power and were in charge of the army. Males were the grunt workers and scientists. Occasionally, a male would prove himself in combat and be allowed into the army. However, they were always seen as lesser, which would constantly lead to fights like the one about to occur.
"When I finish putting you in your place, I will force you to recant the foul words you dared to address me as." Xentalia stated as if it were fact.
A large male soldier removed his shirt, revealing a wall of muscle and scar tissue.
"I meant every word, and nothing you do will make me change my mind." He bellowed.
The crowd had begun to cheer as Lady Xiline and General Skarx entered the Arena's VIP seating. The General saw the upcoming fight, and turned to one of the soldiers standing on the other side of the wall dividing the VIP section from the common area.
"What is the reasoning behind this fight?"
"Trainee Killtrix called Agent Xentalia a 'useless cripple' and a 'Nil Spawn', General." The Iluvian explained.
The General shook her head in dismay.
"And Killtrix showed much promise for a male."
Xiline was confused.
"What do you mean?" Xiline asked. "You talk about this Killtrix as if he is dead."
"When Xentalia is done with him, he will be."
Xentalia walked into the arena, shedding her shirt so all she was wearing was an Iluvian battle cover over her chest. She cracked her knuckles loudly, then got into a well formed Iluvian ninjitsu offensive stance.
"So that is Xentalia." Lady Xiline commented. "She is quite young."
"Affirmative." The General replied. "She is approximately 21 stellar cycles of age."
"She is still a youngling?" Xiline gasped in amazement. "And yet she has full agent status?"
"That is right. The youngest Iluvian soldier in all of history."
Killtrix stepped forward, taking a brutish fighting stance.
"This is going to be too easy. I mean, I am fighting a handicapped cripple!"
Xentalia hissed in rage, but took a deep breath and steadied herself.
"Why does Killtrix continue to call Xentalia a cripple?" Xiline wondered. "She does not appear to have any physical abnormalities."
"Physically, no." The general clarified. "Her 'handicap', as Killtrix labeled it, is in her eyesight."
Xentalia reached over to the sides of her face, tapping two small circular devices that seemed to be embedded into the skin right next to her eye sockets. She twisted them and they popped free. She then tucked them into one of the side pockets of her large pants.
"Xentalia was born with weak eyes. Without a pair of ocular enhancers, she is unable to see anything besides blurry shapes."
"And yet, she is a soldier... How is this possible?"
"Just watch." The General insisted
"Why are you removing your optical enhancements?" Killtrix asked in a mocking tone.
"Because I do not require my eyesight to defeat a weak disgrace for a soldier." Xentalia replied coolly.
Killtrix snarled in anger and launched himself at Xentalia. She closed her eyes and swept out her leg, tripping the oversized Iluvian. He fell hard against the floor as Xentalia got on her toes and into a fighting stance.
"Come now." She taunted. "I thought you were fighting a 'handicapped cripple' and that it would be too easy."
Killtrix snarled again, and got back on his feet. He swung a punch at Xentalia's head, only for her to dodge it with a small step to the left.
"You call that an attack? A wisp from Meekrob could punch faster and harder than you."
Xiline and Skarx watched as Xentalia seemed to be simply avoiding Killtrix's blows effortlessly
"How is she doing that?" Xiline asked. "I thought you said she cannot see without the enhancers."
"Xentalia has developed her other senses in case she is unable to use the enhancers." Skarx explained. "She can feel the air displacement of the punch and can dodge it easily. She can also focus on sounds to figure out what is going on around her."
Xentalia dodged another punch, then quickly leapt in the air to avoid a leg sweep. As she jumped, she brought her feet together and double kicked Killtrix in the gut, sending him flying into the wall. She landed gracefully, then walked over to the wall confidently. Killtrix was gasping for breath from the kick, struggling to get to his feet. However, Xentalia quickly hindered any movements with a quick spin kick to the side of the head, sending Killtrix right into the metal walls with a loud bang. He slumped to the ground, leaving a dark blue smear mark as he did. Xentalia fished her enhancers out of her pocket, fixing them to the sides of her face once more.
"I may have poor eyesight... but I am far from crippled." She growled.
The crowd began loudly cheering as Xentalia walked away from the fighting circle. Killtrix's body was quickly carted off as a small smile played on Lady Xiline's face.
"Skilled, ruthless, and driven. She is perfect for the mission." She said turning to the general. "Have her debriefed on the situation immediately, and then I want her on our fastest ship to the Blue Marble. There is not a moment to waste."
General Skarx gave a salute and walked off to find Xentalia. Xiline then leaned back in her chair, looking up at the starry sky.
"Zortan knows what those humanoid creatures are doing right now."
EARTH – GERNSBACK UNIVERSITY – ADAM HALL
"What on earth are you doing, dude?! It's 2 in the morning!"
20 year old Norman Hall, or Nor as he was usually called, turned away from his Orion Space probe telescope set up in front of a large window to face his roommate, 21 year old Sanjay Bajalahbad. The two had been friends since grade school, and had chosen to become roommates after graduating high school. Upon their decision, both had learned about some of their stark differences. One of these differences was Nor's habit of staying up all night watching the stars.
"This is the first clear night in a month." Nor explained as he turned back to the telescope. "I think I can finally get a clear shot of the Lando Nebula. If I can get a clear photo, then my collection will finally be complete. And who knows, maybe I can find some concrete evidence of extra-terrestrial life out there."
Sanjay rolled his eyes, looking at the floor around Nor, which was completely covered in pictured of different stars and parts of the sky. He knew that Nor's room was covered in even more.
"Dude... if you spent half as much time talking to other people rather than staring into space, literally, you might have more friends than just me." Sanjay chastised.
"There is no need for other friends, Sanjay." Nor replied. "You are the only other person who can truly understand what it's like to be me. To have so many ideas whizzing though your head with no way to bring them to light."
"Right now dude, the only ideas whizzing through my head are all of the ways I am going to drag you to bed. Classes start tomorrow... we need sleep."
"Five more minutes..."
"You said that 3 hours ago!"
Nor was about to retort when something caught his eye in the telescope. He quickly focused in on the object, attempting to get a good view of it. As he did, he nearly fell off of his chair.
"No way... can't be..."
Sanjay was completely confused. He was use to Nor having sudden changes in mood, it was just part of who he was, but never had Nor been so shocked. Wanting to know what was wrong, Sanjay peered into the telescope, and almost immediately followed Nor to the ground.
Floating just above the Earths atmospheric layer was a small, blue ship. It was designed like nothing neither Nor or Sanjay had seen, and more than that, there didn't seem to be any sort of writing on it at all. That could only mean one thing.
"Aliens!" the two roommates exclaimed.
Excited, Nor quickly snapped several pictures of the strange craft as it began to fly away, grabbing the photos as they came off of his printer. Both Sanjay and Nor stared at the photos in absolute fascination.
"I can't believe it." Sanjay whispered. "An alien craft... a real alien craft."
"I wonder why it was just sitting above our planet." Nor muttered.
"Who knows?" Sanjay replied. "But I don't think we should tell anyone. If the government found these, they'd take them all... and probably your telescope."
"The last thing I'm going to do is tell the government about this." Nor replied as he gathered up all of the photos. "They'd just set up some stupidly elaborate attack plan. I mean, seriously... if aliens came all this way, wouldn't it make sense for them to come in peace?"
EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE – THE FIST OF ZORTAN
Agent Xentalia slowly circled the planet in her ship, staring in wonder and fascination.
"So this is it... the Blue Marble... I pictured it larger. Still, you cannot judge something on its size alone..."
She brought the nose of her ship down and began her descent into the planet.
"Computer, scan the atmosphere of the planet. I want an analysis of the air content, and have my harness filter prepared for whatever toxins are present."
ORDER CONFIRMED. PROCESSING
A small blue tube came out of the console, attaching itself to the metal collar around her neck. After a moment, the tube disconnected.
Xentalia gave a small smile and focused on the task at hand, find a secluded area to hide her ship while simultaneously avoiding any form of aerial forces. So far, she had yet to run into any, which was a slight disappointment.
"When the General told me of a potentially dangerous mission, I was hoping I would finally find a worthy opponent. So far, I have a feeling that I allowed my hopes to get a little too high."
Eventually, the small ship broke through the thick wall of clouds, giving Xentalia a perfect view of a large city. It seemed to be packed with large, tall structures that almost reached the clouds. Xentalia quietly steered around the buildings until she spotted a patch of green off in the distance.
"Dense organic foliage... Just what I needed."
Xentalia quickly hit her ship's accelerator, speeding towards the area. She then dove through the barrier of green into a large, secluded clearing. She then killed her thrusters and brought out the landing gear. The ship gently lowered to the ground with a perfect landing.
"So far, so good... Now... I cannot allow for the indigenous life forms to discover the truth about my ship. Best disguise it."
She typed in a quick code on a keyboard, which sent out a scan around the area. Once the scan was complete, a holographic field was brought up around the ship, giving it the appearance of an oversized rock.
"Excellent. So far, the mission is going off without a hitch. Now all I need is a disguise of my own, and some basic information about the lifeforms here."
She lowered the landing platform so she could exit the ship. As she pierced the holographic field, Xentalia heard what sounded like a voice off in the distance. Something was calling out in a language that she did not recognize. Very carefully, Xentalia slunk through the trees towards the voice, until she could see something in the distance. There was a single humanoid creature sitting in front of a large fire pit, a female by the looks of her. She appeared to be completely distracted by something she was holding over the fire, making her a perfect target.
"It is as if this planets wants me to invade." Xentalia whispered.
She lifted up her left wrist, looking at her Omni-tool. She turned a large dial on the top until it clicked five time, then she pressed down on the center. The device began to shift around until it formed a fair sized blaster on top of her wrist.
"Set the blaster to digitize... and done."
She took aim from behind a tree, then fired. There was a flash of bright blue light and the humanoid creature suddenly vanished, their clothes collapsing into a small pile.
"Excellent. Now all I have to do is download the relevant information, and begin the composition of my new disguise."
A display quickly came up on the holographic screen, displaying a humanoid figure. A loading bar came up as features began to appear on the figure until a humanoid girl with pale skin and long light blue hair was present. There was a click, then a whirring sound, then Xentalia's entire body rippled and shifted slightly until she took the appearance of the human on the screen.
"Not bad." She remarked. "But my uniform is too noticeable..."
She looked at the pile of clothes on the ground and shrugged.
"Well their previous owner is no longer in need of them."
Scooping them up, she disappeared into the tent, reappearing a moment later wearing a white blouse with a brown sweater vest over it, faded jeans, and her boots tucked under the jeans. Her uniform was currently folded up and tucked into a backpack she had found in the tent. With her disguise now complete, she slung the backpack over her shoulder and walked quickly back to her ship. There, she sat down in her seat and brought up the ship's mainframe.
"Computer, upload the files from the humanoid I digitized. Make sure to catalog the physical specs into the Iluvian databank. Also, separate the memory file and bring them onscreen."
ORDER CONFIRMED. PLEASE INSERT OMNITOOL INTO SLOT
The left arm of her chair opened up until a slot for her Omni-tool to reside in was accessible. She lowered her arm and there was a click, locking her arm into place.
UPLOAD IN PROGRESS
The screen became visible, showing multiple file as well as the humanoid figure.
"Download basic information about the planet, its indigenous lifeforms, as well as the native language."
That same tube from earlier extended outward, connecting to her harness. Almost immediately, images began to flood Xentalia's brain. With each image, there were many words that were associated with it.
"Planet... Earth... People... Humans... Man... Woman.... Child.... Boy... Girl..."
Then even more images began to flood her vision. Images of words and letters.
"Language... English... So many languages... all with similar alphabets."
The knowledge of the other languages aside from English were very sparse, but it still amazed her that a single planet could have so many different languages. She wondered why there were so many, but the next wave of images answered the question.
"Different people... different cultures... ethnic groups... so strange."
Eventually, the wave of images began to ebb away and Xentalia was released. She clutched her head, her vision swimming.
"Wow.... I have never had to process so much information at once before."
As she attempted to walk, another image flitted through her head. This one was of strange face wear she didn't recognize.
"Glasses.... So that is what this planet uses as optical enhancers..."
She stumbled over to the ship's console, imputing some directions manually into the computer. There was a whirring sound, then a panel opened, revealing a pair of blue glasses. Xentalia took them and slipped them onto her face. She smirked.
"Primitive... but effective."
She slipped her optical enhancers off her face and into the backpack she had taken. While she was at it, she opened a compartment in the side of the ship and began tossing in small hypercubes with different labels on them.
"Weapons... communications array... training equipment... personal laboratory... I think that should work for now. I can return later to get the rest."
Finally done gathering her things, Xentalia zipped up the bag, tossed it over her shoulder, and exited the ship. No sooner had she cleared the holographic screen of the ship, she was suddenly blinded by a bright light.
"What's going on here!" a voice called.
The words were both familiar, and completely new to Xentalia, and it took her a moment to register that she could now understand the language of the humans. She blocked the light from her eyes until she could make out a strange figure standing in the middle of the clearing shining a flashlight in her eyes. Almost immediately, her brain began comparing images to the silhouette until a match was found.
"Security guard... law enforcement..." she mumbled.
"What was that?" the security guard asked.
Xentalia cleared her throat, then spoke in perfect English.
"Is there a problem officer?"
The flashlight lowered a bit as the security guard approached.
"Yeah. What are you doing out here? Don't you know this is Gernsback University property?"
"Gernsback.... University?" she repeated.
As she did, some of the personal memories of the girl floated into her head, supplying her with everything she needed to know.
"University... school... college... place of learning" she mumbled.
"Will you quit mumbling and answer the question?" the security guard demanded.
Xentalia quickly blinked, regaining her senses, then spoke again.
"My apologies. Yes, I am aware that this forest is the property of the Gernsback University. However, I am a student here, so it is alright that I am here, is it not?"
The security officer blinked, then nodded.
"Right... Sorry. I guess after that strange shooting star I saw in the sky, I'm a bit on edge. What's your name?"
For a moment, Xentalia panicked, but two words quickly entered her mind.
"Talia Newman." She replied.
The guard smirked.
"That's right... You're the exchange student from London. Should have recognized the Union Jack backpack."
Xentalia snuck a glance at her backpack, which did bear the pattern of what she now recognized as the British Flag.
"Come on, Miss Newman. Let's get your campsite taken down and get you back home. I've got a feeling it's not safe in these woods right now."
Xentalia just gave a nod and followed the security guard. Inside, she was celebrating. She had successfully fooled this human into believing she was this Talia Newman, and now she was one step closer to fulfilling her goal. This planet was as good as hers.
TALIA NEWMAN'S RESIDENCE
Since the original Talia Newman, who Xentalia had deduced was the girl she had digitized, was from a foreign country, she had been given her own private residence on the campus. In one of the windows was a Union Jack, and on the door, it read "Talia Newman" in big letters. It was a fair sized house, perfect for one or two people to live in with room to spare.
"Here we go." The security guard who had brought her home said with a smile. "Now be careful, and make sure you get to class on time tomorrow."
"Affirmative." Xentalia replied. "Your assistance is very much appreciated."
Xentalia entered the house and closed the door as the security guard walked away. As soon as he was gone, she deactivated her disguise and smiled.
"Infiltration complete. Now I have my human identity, and a home base, and they were both just handed to me."
However, when she looked around the house, her face fell. Everything was incredibly fancy and delicate. There were tea pots, lace decorations, and other fancy decorations all around the house. Xentalia looked around, poking her head into the different rooms. The bedroom had a rather large canopy bed with Union jack sheets as well as pictures of places from all around London.
"If the former owner of this residence could live in a housing unit like this, I did her a favor by digitizing her."
She opened the doors to the large closet to look at the clothes. Luckily, the clothing did not seem to be as fancy or decorative as the home. A quick scan of the clothes with her Omni-tool, and she could make her own subtle changes to the wardrobe so she would be comfortable.
"I will work on the wardrobe later. For now, it is best if I focus on the rest of the household."
She continued her little tour of the house, and found that there was a study full of books and papers, a spare bedroom that seemed to be unused, as well as a large basement, and an extra study, once more not in use.
"This set up will not do at all." She remarked as she pulled her backpack off her shoulder. She fished inside until she pulled out three of the hypercubes she had stuffed in her backpack. "This should make the resting quarters much more to my preference."
She pressed the large blue button on the top of the cube, then tossed it into the room, shutting the door. There was a bright ray of blue light that illuminated the doorway.
"One nanoklik... two nanokliks... three nanokliks..."
The light died and Xentalia opened the door again, picking up the now diffused cube. The walls of the bedroom were now a light blue color, the carpet was dark blue, and the canopy bed was now bearing the pattern of the stars and a shooting comet. The posters were gone, as well as all of the decorations she had hated. She put the hypercube on one of the shelves on the wall.
"One room down, several more to go."
She did the same thing with a few of the other rooms. The spare study was turned into her training area, the basement into her laboratory and communications center. The living room received a total make-over, and even the kitchen was completely redone. Finally, she looked around at the now blue, and much more stylish house with a grin.
"Now this is a home base. I think I may enjoy it here."
The final touch included installing a security system which would allow her to see what was going on outside of her home, as well as make sure that the door to her lab and communication room was secure. After setting up the molecular construction machine to create her new wardrobe, Xentalia went back into the used study to see what she could find.
"If I am to become this Talia Newman, perhaps I should learn a bit more about her life."
She picked up one of the first sheets of paper and started reading.
THE NEXT DAY – NOR AND SANJAY'S DORM ROOM
Sanjay was passed out on the couch, one arm draped over the edge and his face halfway in a pillow. Nor stood in front of him, fully dressed and backpack slung over his shoulder. He looked down at his roommate and sighed.
"He will never learn, will he?"
He pulls out an air horn from a nearby cabinet, aiming it at the Indian boy's ear.
Sanjay sat up screaming, then promptly fell off the couch. He gasped and looked around frantically until he laid eyes on Nor.
"Good. You're awake." Nor commented. "Hurry up and get ready. Class will start soon."
Sanjay groaned, then slowly got up off the floor.
"How is it that you stayed up all night, and yet I'm the one who gets the wake-up call?" He asked as he went to find a clean shirt.
"Because I've trained my body so I only require about 3 hours of sleep a night." Nor explained as he took a sip out of a coffee cup. "That, and the coffee helps."
Sanjay grumbled to himself about his insane roommate, and why he ever became friends with him in the first place. Eventually, he found a clean shirt and put it on. However, he managed to catch a glance at the clock in his room and nearly flipped out.
"7:54?!" he screamed.
Nor poked his head in to see Sanjay hurrying to put on his shoes.
"Is there a problem?"
"YES THERE'S A PROBLEM DUDE! CLASS STARTS IN 6 MINUTES!!"
Nor just shrugged, completely unfazed.
"You act as if that's a problem." He said nonchalantly.
Sanjay ran around his room, stuffing random books and papers into his backpack.
"It IS a problem, dude! Ramsey Hall is a ten minute walk from here! Even if we run, we'll still be late!"
Nor sighed, shaking his head.
"Sanjay, we don't need to run. We have the hover boards, remember?"
Sanjay stopped panicking for a moment, then face palmed. He had completely forgotten about the hover boards. The two of them had built the boards when they were in middle school after watching Back to the Future. Over the years, some improvements had been made to them, including room for a second passenger, and they were about as fast as a car, only with more maneuverability.
"Right... I'd forgotten..."
Nor shrugged again, then walked out of the dorm room with a sheepish Sanjay following behind. They found the two hover boards and quickly hopped on. They sped along the sidewalk, weaving through the different people with ease. However, as Nor rounded a tight corner, he came face to face with a girl with light blue hair. He expected to crash, but surprisingly, the girl jumped high into the air, twisting to avoid collision, then landing gracefully on the sidewalk. Nor stared in complete shock, stopping his hover board. However, Sanjay did not, and the two ended up completely crashing, papers and books going flying.
"Honestly, watch where you are going." The girl chastised in a thick English accent. "Had I not dodged you, I could have been seriously injured."
Nor and Sanjay groaned and pulled themselves to their feet, Nor dusted himself off and turned to the girl.
"You're right... Sorry about that. I should have been paying more attention."
Sanjay began gathering up the papers again, grumbling some more and he stuffed them into his backpack. Nor, however, just kept talking to the girl.
"My name's Norman Hall, but everyone just calls me Nor."
"Talia Newman." The girl replied.
Nor recognized the name.
"That's right... You're the girl from London, right?" he asked.
"Affirmative." Talia said with a nod.
"I've been curious as to why someone from the European Union would want to go to school here in the American Confederacy." Nor commented.
"Let us just say that I have a particular interest in this area." Talia replied.
Sanjay, then stood up and got back on his board.
"Dude, we don't have time for this." He exclaimed. "Class starts in 3 minutes, and you know Mr. Albright doesn't accept tardiness."
Nor quickly nodded and hopped onto his board. However, Talia quickly spoke up.
"You have Mr. Albright's history class?" she asked.
"Yeah." Nor replied. "Why?"
"I too have that class." She replied.
Nor held out his hand.
"Then hop on." He said. "I'll give you a ride. Consider it an apology for nearly running you over."
Talia shrugged and took Nor's hand, getting onto the back of the board.
"Your assistance is much appreciated." She said with a smile.
Nor just smirked and they sped off.
The three students ran down the hallway, looking up at the clocks attached to the wall.
"7:59..." Nor muttered. "This is gonna be close."
They rounded the corner to see their classroom, as well as their teacher slowly closing the door. Thinking quickly, Talia picked up the pace and slid through the door. She triumphantly straightened and took her seat. Nor followed closely behind, leaping through the door just seconds before it closed. Sanjay, however, wasn't so lucky. He ended up running face first into the closed door just as the clock switched over to 8:00.
"Owwww..." Sanjay muttered as he pulled himself off of the door.
The teacher opened it again, and Sanjay meekly walked in, shooting daggers at Nor. However, before he could take his seat, the teacher grabbed him by the shoulder. Sanjay eyes the pale white hand that led up the arm of a tall man in a pitch black suit with a black shirt underneath, and even a black tie. His face was thin, as were his lips, which were surrounded by a short cropped beard of black hair. His eyes were such a dark color, they were almost black as well. His hair, which was neatly arranged on his head, had small streaks of silver running through it, but if anything, it just made him creepier.
"Remain standing, Mr. Bajalahbad." He demanded in a voice that sounded like the personification of darkness.
Sanjay nodded slightly.
"Yes, Mr. Albright."
Mr. Albright turned to the rest of the class and gestured to Sanjay.
"Class, examine this student closely. Note the slight ruffle in his hair, the dishevelment of his clothing, and the pronounced bags under his eyes. This is a fine example of a student destined to fail."
Sanjay blushed a deep red as Mr. Albright released him.
"And as for the other two who came close to accompanying Mr. Bajalahbad," he added, pointing right at Talia and Nor, "Consider yourselves fortunate that I am in a forgiving mood."
Mr. Albright then shoved Sanjay towards the empty seat next to Nor. As the boy recovered and took his seat, Mr. Albright turned away and began writing terms on the chalk board. Talia took this opportunity to pull up her sleeve and fiddle with her Omni-tool.
"So far I have successfully infiltrated the planet." she thought to herself. "In addition, I am in a learning institution, which should allow me to learn any extra information that girl may not have possessed. However, I cannot allow myself to be sidetracked. I must discover if this planet is truly a threat or not."
She turned the dial on her tool a few times, then pressed down on the center. Unseen to the students, a small scanner popped out of her Omni-tool, and began to thoroughly examine each person in the classroom. Thanks to some midnight hacking, Talia had been able to download the school's records, as well as the personal files of the staff and students. It was a step in the right direction, and now she had a chance to match names to faces, as well as assess their threat level.
After about five seconds, the scanner disappeared and a small screen appeared with Iluvian script reading "Scan Complete". Talia pulled her sleeve back over her arm and slipped off her glasses. Making as though she were cleaning them, she discretely slipped her hand into her pocket and pulled out her optical enhancers. She slipped them into the ports on the side of the handles, and put them back on. The glass lenses then became tiny computer screens with began showing her the information she desired.
"Display any possible threats." She whispered.
The right lens displayed a picture of Mr. Albright, while the left showed his statistics. Strangely, the only information it had on him was his name. The rest of the information was blank. Even his threat level. This confused Talia, who flicked the side of her lens, thinking something was wrong. Still the information didn't appear.
"This should not happen..." she muttered. "Unless, Mr. Albright is a creature that is not registered in the Harmonic Concordance databank."
Looking back up at Mr. Albright, Talia made a mental note not to get on his bad side, then quickly moved on.
The next picture was of Sanjay. This time, all information was present. According to the threat assessment, he was only a Level 3 threat. She scrolled passed the basic physical information and went straight to the intellectual information. From what she had discerned, humans only used 10% of their brains, and only averaged about a 95 on the Galactic Intelligence Quotient. The humans were so slow that their IQ test did not go above 200. However, when she looked at Sanjay's IQ, she was surprised to see the result.
"A 198 on the GIQ?" she gasped. "That is... Unexpected for a humanoid...."
She looked over at Sanjay, who was still embarrassed about being called out by Mr. Albright. He did not appear to be that intelligent, but Iluvian scanners never lied. However, aside from the surprisingly high intelligence level, Sanjay had no other real notable attributes, and in the end, he only came out to a level 3.
"I guess it would be best to keep an eye on the Sanjay-creature. I will not be caught off guard."
Moving on to the final threat, she saw a picture of Nor. She saw his threat level and blinked.
"Level 8? For a humanoid?" she silently asked. "I wonder why..."
She looked at his stats and found herself slightly impressed. He was in good physical condition with the build of a runner or a swimmer, and taking a look at him from where he sat on her right, she could indeed see some slight muscle definition under the baggy clothes. When she looked back at the screen and read his GIQ results, she was completely floored.
"295?!" she mentally screamed. "Impossible! No being has ever come close to a 300 on the GIQ scale! Not even the Ein!"
Not knowing what to think, Talia looked over at Nor again. Her eyes settled on the hoverboard leaning against his chair. Its design was unique, and did not even come close to other hovering crafts she had seen in her time.
Talia eyes then drifted to the backpack hung haphazardly across the back of his seat. Her scanner began picking up multiple pieces of machinery inside of it, combining into something that Talia could not even fathom.
Finally, she looked at the notes he was taking. He seemed to be writing in some sort of strange pattern across the page, making spirals and squares out of the words. Those of a higher GIQ level tended to write in unique ways in order to keep their work secret, and it gave them a chance to continue to challenge themselves.
"Could then Nor-human truly be that smart?" she wondered, a bead of sweat running down the side of her face.
For the first time in many stellar cycles, Talia felt something bubbling in her stomach. A sensation that made her smile. Anticipation. The Nor-human could possibly be the adversary she had been waiting for. As she turned off the scanner and focused her attention back on the class, Talia silently prayed that Earth would turn out to be a threat, giving her the excuse she needed to fight the Nor-Human.
GERNSBACK MESS HALL – 3.5 HOURS LATER
Sanjay pulled up a seat at one of the corner tables. Nor followed suit, carrying a tray full of food.
"So, dude... What do you think about Mr. Albright?" Sanjay asked.
Nor took a bite of the school pizza as he contemplated his answer. After about a minute, he shrugged.
"He's... alright I guess." He decided. "Though I'm a bit concerned about the new girl."
Sanjay raised an eyebrow in confusion.
"You mean Talia Why is that?"
"She kept staring at me all through class." Nor explained. "Like I was some sort of freak..."
Sanjay shook his head and sighed.
"Perhaps she saw your notes and became curious... Or maybe she saw H.A.L."
Nor looked over at his backpack, and then he pulled out his notebook, flipping through his notes.
"I fail to see the big deal." Nor commented.
Sanjay just sighed.
"You know, for one of the smartest people ever, you are really dumb."
They settled down to eat, and just as Nor was about to take another bite of pizza, Talia walked over.
"Excuse me. Is this seat taken?" she asked, gesturing to the seat right next to Nor.
Both boys blinked in surprise, not use to having someone talk to them, much less have a girl talk to them. After a moment, Nor regained his senses and nodded.
"No... go on ahead."
Talia set her tray down and settled in.
"I never got the chance to express my appreciation for aiding me in arriving to class on time."
"Don't mention it... I owed you for nearly crashing into you."
Sanjay spoke up.
"How did you avoid a head-on collision with Nor anyway?" he asked.
"I have been training my body to avoid incoming projectiles much faster than your..." She paused for a moment. "What was that device you were riding called?"
Nor fished out the hoverboard from his backpack, unfolding it and setting it up so it hovered slightly over the table.
"It's called a hoverboard. It uses a magnetic propulsion system to keep itself from touching the ground. It's still got a few flaws. I mean, I can't fly it any higher than 3 feet off the ground, nor can I take it over water, but it's pretty good for getting to class on time."
Talia nodded, a small smile on her face.
"Did you construct this device yourself?" she asked.
"Yeah... though it's not one of my best inventions..."
"Dude! Tell her about H.A.L." Sanjay interrupted.
Nor glared daggers at Sanjay while Talia looked intrigued.
"What is H.A.L.?" she asked.
Sanjay gestured to the backpack.
Talia looked at the backpack in confusion. She thought back to the scan she did on the Nor-Human and the machinery detected in his backpack. Was this the "H.A.L." the Sanjay-Creature spoke of?
Nor said nothing but instead, picked up his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. He pressed a small hidden button on the strap. There was the sound of gears turning then a strange mechanical arm emerged from the main pocket. It was then joined by another... and another... and yet another.
"This is H.A.L.," Nor explained. "Hydraulic Autonomous Limbs. He is a multi-purpose aid who can do everything from writing poetry to smashing a car."
"Not to mention, he is an excellent bodyguard." Sanjay interrupted.
Nor glared at Sanjay once more. "We do NOT talk about that."
Sanjay held up his hands in surrender while Talia inspected one of H.A.L.'s limbs.
"Impressive," she muttered under her breath. "And to think, a human built this."
"What did you say?" Nor asked, turning towards her. She turned to him.
"I was saying that this is impressive. When did you built this machine?"
"He built it for de third grade science fair," Sanjay interjected.
Talia thought about that fact and reasoned that he must have been nine years old when he built H.A.L. If he could build something that intricate at nine, just imagine what he could construct now that he was older and wiser? Before she could dive deeper into that thought, her Omni-tool began to chirp. She pulled her sleeve down quickly to muffle the sound.
"Please excuse me. I have something that I need to take care of."
Talia walked away from the table before the boys could say anything and as soon as she was out of sight, she twisted the knob on her optical enhancers until her glasses became screens once more.
INTRUDER ALERT: SHIP SECURITY BARRIER HAS BEEN BREACHED.
Talia swore under her breath and took off from the mess hall.
GERNSBACK UNIVERSITY FOREST – 5 MINUTES LATER
When Talia got to the forest, she was utterly astounded. There were multiple men and women going in and out of the forest, all of them dressed in black suits with dark sunglasses and earwigs. Talia's scanner began to compare these people to the different professions she had downloaded, until there was a match.
"Federal Investigative Bureau..." she muttered. "Zortan's foot..."
One of the male agents spotted her, and quickly approached.
"Sorry Miss." The agent told her. "But this area is currently restricted to F.I.B. agents only."
Talia looked up at the agent and crossed her arms in irritation.
"Why?" she demanded. "This area was completely safe when I was camping out here last night."
The agent seemed to squint in suspicion behind his glasses.
"So you were out in the woods last night..." the agent commented. "Where exactly were you camping? And did you see anything.... Different... happen around 0200 hours?"
Talia felt her digestive organ begin to churn unpleasantly. It had been around 0200 hours when she had arrived on this planet. Had she been discovered already?
"Answer the question, Ma'am..." The agent demanded impatiently.
Talia blinked, then cleared her throat.
"My apologies." She said, shoving her concerns to the side. "To answer your question, I was camping in a small clearing not too far from the University's foreign exchange housing units. And as for seeing anything different, I cannot say that I did. A security officer found my campsite and suggested I vacate due to the possibility of rain."
The agent took note of Talia's alibi, and then snapped his notebook shut.
"Thank you for your cooperation." He told her. "Now I'm afraid I'm gonna have to ask you to return to your home. We have important business to-"
The agent was interrupted by a strange buzzing noise coming from his earwig. He turned to the side to listen, and Talia quickly punched in a small code into her Omni-tool behind her back. The agent listened for about a minute, then nodded.
"Ten-Four." He replied. "Let's move out."
He went to turn back to Talia, but she had begun walking back towards the University. Satisfied, the agent returned to his post. Talia waited until she was out of sight, then she darted behind a tree and pulled up her sleeve. A small screen appeared and Talia quickly typed in a request.
"Replay intercepted message."
The screen was dominated by a single line that quickly began to fluctuate as the message was played.
"Sir, we finally managed to pierce through the field. The anomaly appears to be some sort of craft meant for deep space. Orders are to bring it in to headquarters for further examination and study."
"Ten-Four. Let's move out."
The message ended, and Talia quickly twisted and punched a tree.
She leaned against the tree and slowly slid to the ground.
"Just one cycle into my mission, and my vessel has already been compromised." She cursed. "Now what am I supposed to do?"
A strange beeping sound began emitting from her Omni-tool. Confused, she pushed up her sleeve to reveal a holoscreen with a map of the surrounding areas. There was a flashing blue light that appeared to be moving across the map, and Talia quickly caught on.
"Of course... The emergency tracking beacon. It must have activated after the security breach."
She pulled her sleeve back down, then stood up.
"With the beacon activated, I can find it again easily. However, this will not be an easy task. I will need assistance..."
Talia thought for a minute, then she perked up.
"Yes... That could work..."
NOR AND SANJAY'S DORM ROOM – 20:00 HOURS
Talia stood outside of Nor's dorm room, her story replaying in her head. From her calculations, this was a foolproof plan, she just needed the Nor-Human to believe her.
Knock knock knock.
From the other side of the door, Talia could make out the muffled voice of the Sanjay-Creature questioning who could be at the door. The Nor-Human gave a muffled response, then slowly opened the door.
"Nor-Hu... I mean, Nor?"
Nor blinked in surprise.
"Oh. Hey Talia. What's up?"
"I find myself in need of your assistance."
Nor groaned loudly. For as long as he could remember, he had been bombarded with requests for homework help, or to construct complicated machines to make life easier.
"Look, the university has a strict policy on plagiarism, and I refuse to-"
"My request has nothing to do with school work. This is a personal matter involving some rather delicate equipment of mine that was confiscated by the Federal Investigative Bureau."
Nor cocked his head in confusion, and Talia continued her explanation.
"The F.I.B. believes that some equipment of mine is dangerous and have absconded with it. I have been able to locate the facility in which it is being contained, but I am unable to reclaim my property without assistance."
Nor quickly understood.
"So you want my help to take back what's yours."
"Affirmative. Will you aid me?"
Nor thought about it, then shrugged.
"Sure. Why not... Just give me a minute to gather a few things, then we can head out."
Talia smiled, then gave a curt nod. Nor then closed the door and went to gather his things. Sanjay, who had heard the entire conversation, was appalled.
"Dude! Are you seriously going to break into an F.I.B. storage facility?!" Sanjay exclaimed.
Nor looked up at his roommate with a blank expression.
"You act as if this is the first time I've done this." Nor replied matter-of-factly
Sanjay opened his mouth to speak, but Nor quickly interrupted him.
"Look, the F.I.B. only goes after certain equipment; Alien tech, foreign weaponry, or creations that could be weaponized to aid during wartimes. The chances of it being alien tech are 3720 to 1, I highly doubt a college student would be bringing foreign weaponry to a university, so that means it's some sort of invention she doesn't want to fall into the wrong hands."
Nor threw H.A.L. over his shoulder, and Sanjay quickly blocked the door.
"What if you're wrong dude?" Sanjay insisted. "What if Talia is using you?"
"Sanjay... Trust me on this. I've got this covered. If she is using me to get to some sort of weaponry, I'll just short circuit it, rendering it obsolete."
He shoved passed Sanjay and went to open the door.
"I'll be alright." He insisted. "Just keep an eye out for me."
He scooped up his hoverboard and headed out the door.
F.I.B. STORAGE FACILITY 51 – 22:00 HOURS
The facility was quite isolated, hidden off the main highway leading out of the city. Nobody who wasn't looking for it would find it. Luckily, both Talia and Nor knew what they were doing. Nor peeked out from some bushes with a pair of binoculars.
"Looks like they increased their security patrols since the last time I was here." Nor commented. "I can see cameras on each of the entrances, as well as strategic points on the gate."
"Is there a way to block the cameras to keep them from spotting us?" Talia inquired.
Nor smirked, then pulled himself out of the bush.
"Leave that to me."
He reached into H.A.L. and pulled out a laptop. He opened it up and quickly started typing.
"I wrote a universal cheat code the first time I came here. It allows me access into any secure network, including the security cameras. I can set up a virus that will erase our image from the cameras, leaving us to deal with the ground troops."
After about three minutes of nonstop typing, Nor grinned triumphantly.
"Excellent." Talia replied with a grin. "Now, we need to cause a distraction in order to give us an opening."
Talia's grin got wider.
Talia slipped through the bushes and slunk down the hill towards the gate. Army crawling through the grass, she approached a breaker box. She stood up and opened the box, then placed her hand right in the center of it.
"Have a taste of the endless darkness." She muttered.
Her hand began to spark with electricity, and soon, the entire box was sparking wildly. Soon, it exploded, plunging the entire base into the dark. Talia took off back up the hill where Nor was waiting.
"That should buy us some time."
Nor found himself impressed.
"How did you do that?" he asked.
Talia hesitated for a minute, not wanting to reveal her alien origin, so instead, she revealed her Omni-tool.
"It is standard issue for military forces where I come from." She explained.
"Military, huh?" Nor replied. "I guess that explains your training, and your formal mannerisms."
Talia shrugged as the two made their way down the hill towards the rear entrance.
"So, if you're part of the European Union's military, why did you decide to go to school in the American Confederacy?"
"Field Research." Talia stated.
They reached the gate to the rear entrance, and Nor used H.A.L. to get the two of them over quickly. The two darted through the doors, making their way through the darkened hallways.
"Do you know where your equipment is stored?" Nor questioned.
Talia nodded, sneaking a glance at the radar map on her Omni-tool. According to it, they were only a few feet away.
"Turn right here." Talia ordered.
They rounded the corner, and almost immediately went back. There were two guards standing at the entrance to the room where they needed to be. Luckily, Neither Talia or Nor had been spotted.
"Of course they would keep my equipment guarded." Talia chastised herself. "How could I have been so naïve?"
Nor patted her shoulder.
"Don't worry." He said. "I have a distraction of my own."
He took off H.A.L. and set it on the ground.
"H.A.L, Initiate bodyguard protocol, Codename: Third Grade."
H.A.L.'s limbs immediately sprouted from the top of the backpack, and began spider crawling across the floor. Talia peered around the corner to get a better look, but Nor pulled her back.
"Trust me. You don't want to see this."
Talia's ears were then assaulted by what sounded like high-pitched whining, like a saw blade, followed by screams much too high to belong to male soldiers. Soon, both came to a rather sudden halt, then there was the sound of something heavy being dragged away, then a thump.
"Alright. The coast is clear."
The two made their way down the hallway, where Talia could see H.A.L. just sitting on the ground, and the guards nowhere to be seen.
"Where are the-" she tried to ask.
"Trust me... you don't wanna know." Nor interrupted.
Talia eyed Nor, then his backpack carefully. It would do her well not to underestimate him. Nor picked up H.A.L, then opened the door to the storage room. It was the size of an aircraft hangar, and filled with so many different forms of technology. Many Talia recognized as old pieces of observation hardware used during the Concordance's examinations of the rural planets. Others were things that must have been made by humans, though they seemed to contain some alien elements. Finally, she spotted what she was looking for. Something large covered in a tarp. From the dimensions of the shape under the tarp, it could only be one thing.
"The Fist of Zortan..." She whispered.
Talia darted over to the tarp, and Nor quickly followed.
"While I cannot risk removing this from the facility, I can shut it down so the F.I.B. cannot access it."
Nor nodded in understanding. He was dying to ask what was under the tarp, but it was obvious Talia didn't want to say. It was something Nor could respect, having done the same thing with many of his own inventions.
Talia slipped under the tarp, then stuck her head out again.
"I will take only a few minutes. Make sure I am not disturbed, then we can leave this place."
Nor nodded, then Talia disappeared again. She saw many wired attached to the panel meant to open the door. It did not appear that they had entered the ship yet, but they had managed to fully deactivate the protective holo-barrier. She ripped the wires free and typed in the access code. The door hissed and opened for her, and quickly ran in.
"I need to get everything out of here."
She grabbed the remaining holo-cubes and turned them on, grabbing everything off the shelves and out of the multiple storage units hidden in the ship. Once everything was gathered, she placed the cubes in the satchel bag she'd brought along, them she went to the control console.
"Computer, initiate lockdown procedure."
ORDER CONFIRMED. PLEASE STATE SECURITY PASSWORD FOR REINITIATION
"For the glory of the Iluvian Empire."
The computer began to shut down, screens flickering off one by one.
LOCKDOWN PROCEDURE INITIATED. PLEASE EXIT THE SHIP IN 10 NANOKLIKS.
Talia stood up and situated her satchel bag.
She walked to the door.
The door lowered for her.
She walked down the steps.
She opened the panel once more.
She inputted her code in order to close the door.
The door began to rise.
This door hissed shut.
Talia closed the panel over the keypad
The seam on the door slowly closed itself until the ship's hull became seamless. The windows on the ship also covered themselves, leaving no weak space to exploit. The only open area was the panel, and it would only open to her vocal signature.
"Mission accomplished." She whispered.
She slipped out from under the tarp, only to be greeted by a rather unpleasant sight. The Nor-Human was on the ground, a large guard on top of him holding H.A.L. Two more guards were standing there, their backs to her, giving her time to dunk back behind the tarp.
"Zortan's foot." She cursed. "They must have been alerted to our presence."
She quickly switched on her Omni-tool, switching it to Blade Mode. She took a deep breath, then jumped out from behind the tarp, attacking the two guards. Her knife cut right through his weapon, and a kick to the face took out the other. She then turned to the guard currently pinning the Nor-Human down.
"Get off of the Nor-Human." She demanded.
The guard instead pulled out a taser. He fired at Talia, only missing and hitting her Omni-tool. It sparked and hissed, then Talia screamed. Nor used the distraction to elbow the guard in the face and freeing himself from his grip. He then snatched H.A.L. out of the guard's hand.
"This is mine."
The guard went to stop Nor, but Nor grabbed the hovercraft out of H.A.L. and fired it up. He jumped on and sped towards Talia, scooping her up. Unfortunately, Talia was in the middle of one of the worst electrical attacks.
Being a race with natural bioluminescence, Iluvians already had several volts of electricity coursing through their body. Increasing the voltage made things incredibly difficult, and in the case of Iluvians, they had to get rid of the excess electricity somehow. That left Talia with one option, the hoverboard.
The instant Talia's skin hit the board, it began glowing brightly. The magnetic propulsion system increased in power drastically, sending the hoverboard skyrocketing.
"What the flip?!" Nor exclaimed, gripping the edge of the board while desperately clinging to Talia.
The board was out of control, flying wildly upward towards a skylight. The guard looked up just as the hoverboard smashed through the glass, shooting out wildly into the night. The guard stared up at the hole in the ceiling, then shook his head.
"I am so gonna get fired for this."
SOMEWHERE ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF DYSTOPOLIS – AN UNDEFINED AMOUNT OF TIME LATER
Nor had no idea how long the hoverboard was flying, or how far they had gone, but he knew that unless he did something, both he and Talia were going to die. Thinking fast, he fumbled his hand across the bottom of the board until he felt the hatch where he held the power core. He scratched at it desperately until it came loose. He then grabbed ahold of the large copper ring he used as the basis for the electromagnet. It hurt like, hell, but he was desperate. He yanked hard and the charge stopped.
That's when the long drop began. Luckily, they were over the seemingly endless forests abundant in Dystopolis, and they ended up falling through what felt like miles of branches and trees until finally, landing hard on the forest floor.
"Ow..." Nor grumbled, his voice twitchy from the electric shock.
He fumbled around on the ground in search of his glasses, which he quickly located and placed on his face.
"That hurt. Talia, you ok-"
Nor's voice died almost instantly. He could only stare in utter shock. Talia laid on the ground twitching, the taser's nods still stuck in her Omni-tool. However, Talia was shifting between her human form, and a blue skinned girl with hair that reminded him of blue glow sticks, only flexible. Her hand was slowly moving towards her tool. Shakily, she grabbed the wires and yanked them out. The spasms stopped, and her form solidified into her human disguise.
"Ow.... Zortan's foot that hurt."
She picked up her own glasses and slipped them onto her face. She then sat up and turned to Nor, who was staring at her. She blinked at him, then slowly stood.
"Is your hair supposed to be standing up straight like that?" She asked.
Nor unconsciously felt the top of his head, and sure enough, it was sticking up and was warm to the touch, like he had been struck by lightning. However, that was quickly pushed to the back of his mind, his thoughts focused solely on what he had seen.
"You.... You were.... There was.... Blue...." He couldn't form coherent sentences. He couldn't tell if it was from shock, or from... well, shock.
"Blue?" Talia repeated. "What do you-?"
Realization dawned on her. She looked at her Omni-tool, and saw the impressions of the taser nods in the face of it. The electricity must have been overloading the disguise matrix. He had seen flashes of her true form.
"What..... What are...? Are you?" Nor finally managed to stutter.
Talia panicked for a second, but then quickly calmed. She turned and faced Nor, and switched her disguise fully off. She was still in human clothes and still had the glasses on, but the effect was enough. Her light blue skin, her slightly glowing dreadlock hair, and her unnaturally bright eyes told the full story of her lack of humanity.
"I am called Xentalia. I am a Field Agent sent from the Planet Iluvia." She stated.
Nor stared at Talia, his brain almost completely shut down. All his life he had wondered about alien life, if it existed or no, and now, undeniable proof was standing before him. And he had just helped it break into a Federal Storage Unit.
"I can understand that this may be hard to process." Talia continued, "And there is no doubt that the electrical shock you receive combined with the fall has done some rather extensive damage to your physical body. So, I will attempt to convey this in the simplest way possible."
She crouched down until she was eye to eye with Nor.
"I am an alien, as you humans say it. I am here on a mission that may affect the very existence of your species. There is a very possible chance that, should I decide to go through with it, your planet will be either conquered or destroyed."
Nor's eyes widened. He felt as if his entire world was crumbling underneath him. He attempted to speak, but all he could say was one word.
"Why am I telling you this? For one simple reason."
Talia leaned in closer.
"Because you cannot do anything to stop me." She replied. "I have researched your races belief in 'alien life'. Everyone believes it is a hoax, and those that do are considered... how do you say it...? Oh yes. 'Mentally Unstable'."
Nor knew what Talia was saying was true. It had been the whole reason he had never shared any of his theories about alien life with anyone but Sanjay.
"More than that, I am aware of your government's interest in alien life, but how will you explain what you saw, considering the circumstances surrounding your discovery?"
Once again, Talia's words rang with truth. If he tried to explain Talia's existence, there was no doubt in his mind that they would ask how he discovered her identity. If he told them he discovered the fact after aiding her in breaking into a Federal Storage unit, they would arrest him on the spot.
Talia went to walk away, but Nor clumsily grabbed at her arm.
"I.... w-will..... stop.... Y-you..." he stuttered, his gaze hardening.
Talia turned back to him and smiled.
"I was hoping you would say that..."
With that, she backhanded Nor across the face with her Omni-tool effectively knocking him out. She then stood up and walked away.
"Ta-ta Nor-Human." She called to his unconscious body. "See you in class."
TO BE CONTINUED...