If you can hear me…I don’t know where I am. The ship’s computer is given me coordinates but they don’t mean much to me. Nor do I know where I’m headed. The auto pilot is in control and I can’t figure out how to reset it. Not that I know where I’d go if I could. I knew space was large, unending, but I never realized how empty it could feel. You hear reports of the planets, the ships, the aliens, wars, treaties, trade embargoes, colonies; it always feels like there so much activity out there. But when you’re here, you wonder if you’ll ever see civilization again.
I’ve never traveled before past the Earth Military Orbital Station where I worked. I was an administrative assistant to one of the admirals. I took the transport every day from Dublin to the EMOS, and worked nine to five then headed home. It was a good life. I was happy. But then suddenly she came.
They said she had vital information to the current location of terrorist group Against Humanity. Of course they didn’t call her ‘she’. They called her an ‘it’. She was an alien, and as far as they were concerned that was as good as an animal. It’s been that way ever since the Century War. Aliens started it, but we finished it.
I’d seen it before. Their interrogations. I’ve never liked it and always tried to stay away from it when I could. But there was never the need to stop it before. But then, it was never a little girl before either. She wasn’t human. The slightly grey skin, the fur along the arms and the ears in the back of the head made that obvious enough. But she was still a little girl. And for the first time something that had always seemed an unpleasant necessity seemed…wrong. I watched her through the security cameras at night, after they finally left her alone for a few hours of sleep…and she looked so alone.
I never could have broken her out without help. Someone helped me. But just in case this radio transmission is picked up, I won’t give their name. Suffice to say it was the person I will miss the most.
I stole my admiral’s pass key, while my friend knocked security offline long enough for me to grab the girl. I used the key again to hijack a shuttle to the junk yard on the moon where space ships are sent to die. It’s where I got the one I’m in now. It’s old, but it flies. As soon as it was out of orbit of the moon it jumped off into space, locking on to whatever was the last location set into the nav computer’s auto pilot system.
The ship’s quite large, at my best guess it was meant for a crew of fifty, but there’s only the two of us. On top of which me and the little girl don’t share a common language. My best guess is she speaks some obscure local dialect, and never learned anything more common. I can’t even figure out her name. She’s also not sure whether to be terrified of me since I worked for those who hurt her, or whether to trust me since I took her out of there.
I got lost wondering the ship yesterday…I think it was yesterday. I’m having trouble keeping track of time. I think I’ve been out here three weeks, with no one to talk to, only a little girl who can’t understand a word I’m saying. So I’m talking to nothing. I’m sending this transmission out into the void because even the vaguest idea that someone could hear me speak is better than staring out at the empty nothing through the view screen. All alone, and silent and- wait.
The ship’s stopped! Why has the shipped stopped? The engines are making a grinding nose, that can’t be-, there’s another ship coming out from being that moon!
Eileen leaped to her feet and moved closer to the view screen. The ship slowly inched closer, out of the shadow of the moon. Even with her lack of experience, she could clearly tell there was something wrong with it. There was a giant hole in one side of the ship, and it seemed to be moving in short spurts instead of a smooth motion.
She moved to the navigation controls. Several lights were flashing alarmingly and the computer showed a warning sign reading ‘Unidentified Obstacle’. She heard footsteps and turned quickly to see the little alien girl running onto the main deck.
“It’ll be alright, there no need to be scared,” Eileen said quickly. “Not that you understand or probably believe me,” she added under her breath. The little girl looked out the view screen tentatively. The ship was much nearer now. It was smaller than theirs. Maybe if she knew how to properly run the ship, Eileen could fight them off or run away…but the ship was coming nearer and she couldn’t stop it or move her own. She turned quickly to the girl. “Stay here,” she said, gesturing at the little girl and then at one of the chairs, hoping she’d understand. “Stay!” She then turned and ran out of the room, down the hall, heading towards the loading dock.
She was weaponless, defenseless and alone. She had no idea what she was doing but she might as well find out what they were up against. She reached the loading dock just as she heard a loud thud as the other ship latched onto theirs. She slipped to the back, behind some old, rusted barrels, and crouched behind them watching.
It was several long minutes, before the airlock doors slid open and three people stepped through. She felt a surge of panic as she recognized them as aliens. Two of them, a male and a female, were tall, nearly seven feet and incredibly muscular, with small little eyes that seemed to dart around the room at dizzying speeds, taking in every detail. The third alien was shorter and looked more human, but there were several scars to show that was just the result of extensive surgery. Each of them held a weapon that they were pointing around the loading dock as they eased in, looking around.
The woman made a comment in a language Eileen couldn’t understand, and the shorter man responded. There seemed to be some sort of disagreement going on. She kept pointing back in the direction of their ship, while the man kept shaking his head and gesturing with his gun, forgetting he was supposed to be on the alert with it.
Eileen took a deep breath. Alright, she’d wait till they left the loading dock and then she’d sneak out and get the little alien girl and find a place to hide. This was a big ship, there were plenty of places, maybe the engine room or-
There were footsteps and she heard the familiar unintelligible words of the little girl. As one, all three of the intruders swirled around towards the speaker and raised their guns.
“No!” Eileen jumped from out of her hiding place, throwing herself across the room and towards the girl. She was a good twelve feet away and never would have made it in time if any of the intruders had decided to shoot.
It felt endless before Eileen reached her, and was standing between her and the guns. The intruders blinked for several seconds, shocked. And then the woman spoke.
Eileen raised her chin defiantly. “I don’t understand you,” she snapped.
The little alien girl however looked out from behind her and responded.
The more human looking of the three smiled, and spoke in English. “She says you only speak Earth languages. Uneducated, huh?” When he spoke, his teeth showed, just a little too sharp, a little too pointed, as if the work done on them had been cheap and not quite authentic. It did however look slightly predatory.
“I’m highly educated,” snapped Eileen, “I just don’t see the point of learning to speak barbaric dialects.”
The man grinned. “You’re surrounded by aliens and you’re throwing around some mighty big words there.”
“I’m not scared of you.”
The tall alien man interrupted, “Good. We do not want to hurt you.” He frowned at the shorter man. His words were slow as if he were struggling to speak the language. “We want help. Our ship is dying and we need transport.”
The woman alien spoke now, still unintelligible to Eileen.
The tall man nodded, and turned back to Eileen. “My name is Gor-reth. This is Mondina,” he said gesturing to the woman. “And this one,” he nodded towards the second man, “Is Hal’reth. We would like to speak to the captain of this ship.”
Eileen shifted uncomfortably. “There isn’t one.”
“Who is in charge then?”
The man frowned deeply. “This is a very large ship. Who else is on board?”
Eileen chewed her lip nervously and did not respond.
Mondina spoke again, and she and Gor-reth exchanged several words, before the little alien girl broke in and started babbling.
“There is really only the two of you?” asked Mondina, returning to English.
Eileen looked back over her shoulder at the girl, and tried to gesture for her to stay quiet, but the little girl didn’t seem to be looking at her.
“Yes,” said Eileen after a long pause. She eyed the guns nervously. Gor-reth seemed to notice the direction of her eyes.
“We mean no harm. We were in an ambush and now our ship is dying and we need transport. We would not have halted your vessel with the force field if our radios were not down. We had no other means of contact. We were out here all alone, with only days left to survive. We thought we’d never see another ship and then yours came…”
“You were alone.” Eileen blinked at them several times.
Gor-reth lowered the gun in his hand. “We only want to survive.”
“I couldn’t really stop you though could I?” She looked again at the guns.
“No. But we can work together. This is a very big ship for two people. And a strange pair at that.” He smiled at the little girl. “You must need help too. We can offer it and protection. Please. Let us do this the peaceful way.”
Several hours later Eileen was seated on the main deck, watching Hal’reth, bent over the nav station, trying to hack into the auto pilot system. He kept cursing at it explicatively and even though they were all in a language she couldn’t understand, Eileen could tell from the tone he was getting fairly graphic.
“This system is ancient,” he finally snapped in English. “Something newer I could crack in a matter of minutes but they haven’t used this program since the war. Where did you get this heap of junk?”
“A junk yard?”
He grinned. “That explains it.” Somehow his smile seemed less predatory now as Eileen studied it.
She heard voices and recognized one as belonging to the little alien girl. She was jabbering away in whatever language she spoke, and occasionally Mondina would respond, her voice deep and rich, and even though Eileen couldn’t understand the words, the tone was kind.
The two appeared on the deck and came towards were Eileen was sitting. Mondina bowed her head in greeting and for the first time spoke in Eileen’s language.
“I have been given a task. She has told me how you saved her,” Mondina said, her tone soft and low. “She has asked me to thank you.”
Eileen looked at the little girl, who offered her first tentative smile, and Eileen returned it.
The little girl turned away and started to leave while Mondina following behind her.
“Wait!” Eileen called out.
Mondina turned, looking inquiringly.
“Could you ask her…what’s her name?”
Mondina turned to the girl and said a few words and the little girl responded.
“Hilee. Her name is Hilee.”
As Mondina and Hilee left the deck, Eileen smiled to herself.
Her thoughts were interrupted by another curse from Hal’reth. He picked up his tools and headed towards the exit, calling over his shoulder, “I’m heading down to the engine room to see if I can’t find a back door entrance to the system.”
The door slid shut behind him.
Eileen sat for a long minute by herself and then stood up and made her way towards the communications station. She picked up the radio and switched it on.
“If you can hear me…maybe we’re not so alone after all.”Bio:
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Naomi Laeuchli has lived overseas in nine different countries on three different continents where her family was posted with the American Foreign Service. In November 2012 she moved from the Democratic Republic of the Congo back to the states and currently lives in Arizona, where she works as a freelance writer and is the author of the web serial Holly(Woods)
Link to Holly(Woods): http://hollywoodserial.wordpress.com/
Thanks again for writing for me, Naomi! Feel free to send in something any time you'd like! :)