I screamed as I plummeted down the chasm. As I fell, I knew there was no one to save me. Everyone was too far ahead to reach me in time. Even ALAN wouldn’t be able to get here this quickly. I had no gadgets with me. I couldn’t even save myself. This was it, I knew. The end. I had lived a long and eventful life, seen things beyond my wildest imagination. I had few regrets. If only I had been able to make up for what I had done to Jennifer…but there was no making up for that. I could never have imagined that this was going to be how it was going to end. Slipping off a rung underneath an alien planet, falling to my…
It suddenly came to my attention that I wasn’t falling anymore. Instead, I was floating, hanging suspended in…nothing. There was no one here. No one had caught me. There was no net, no rope, not even a mild breeze. Though it was fairly dark in the bottom of this hole, there was enough light from above to see, but I saw nothing. It was just me hanging in the middle of this hole. I couldn’t feel anything either, nothing supporting me. I was just suspended in midair and I had no idea how or why.
Then I started moving. Not up, as I would have wanted, or down, as I would have feared, but sideways to god knew what. I could see the side of the pit getting closer and closer until I was nearly upon it. I braced myself for impact, but there was none coming. I slipped right through the wall as if it were just a hologram and into a room that appeared to be upside down. There was furniture on the ceiling, things that looked like chairs, like desks, even potted plants with their branches growing down. And even more importantly, there was someone using one of those chairs and one of those desks.
I looked at and it looked back. The creature was purple and green and all hands. I counted seven including the ones that were securing it to the chair. It began snapping and making various other sounds with its hands. Seconds later, a strange language eminated from somewhere I couldn’t see. The language was then translated by the implant in my head: “What are you doing here?”
“Who are you?” I asked.
“No!” it said immediately, snapping its fingers loudly. It spoke with its hands and was using some program to translate it into another language. Realizing that, I was surprised how well this double translated alien language sounded in my head. “I ask the questions. You answer them. What are you doing here?”
I was still trapped, so I’d play its game. “I fell. Something caught me and brought me in here. I’m assuming that was you.”
“Why are you here? Why are you in the tunnel? Why are on this planet?”
“I came looking for answers. This is where it led me.”
“No. No. No answers. Not an accident. Not a coincidence. You are here for a reason. You are here for me!”
“I don’t even know you,” I said, trying to calm it down. “I don’t even know what you are. The Xian brought me here, to try to help.”
“The Xian!?” it clapped. “Help? The Xian are not the help! The Xian are the problem!”
And with that I starting dropping again right through the floor! As far as I could tell I was passing right through solid rock! Strangely, I appeared to be in a bubble. Not that I noticed it before, but there was now an area around me where there was no rock, only air. The bubble stopped. I had no idea how far down I was or how I could get out. But I wasn’t panicking. No, in fact, I was getting very sleepy.
I awoke on the floor. It was cool against my skin. It appeared that I was out of the bubble, as I was no longer floating, but had I just traded one jail cell for another? I looked up and I realized that the room wasn’t empty. Everything was just on the ceiling…inluding my captor. That was going to take some getting used to. “You do not appear to be infected,” the alien snapped. “I have done a complete scan, but it is impossible to tell. Your species is unknown. Your companions only complicated matters.”
“My companions?” I asked. “You have them? You captured them? Are they ok?”
“The automaton was useless, as was the augmented creature. The third appears to be of you race, but it too was augmented too greatly with technologies I do not know. Your scan was anomalous. There is something wrong with you. What are you? Are you a weapon? Did the enemy send you to kill me?”
“I was sent here to find information,” I explained. “The Xian you think are your enemies were really just under some kind of foreign control. The Xian are good people, believe me. All they want, all we want, is to know the truth about what’s going on, about what’s controlling them. We thought we could find the truth here. That’s why we came. That’s why we’re down here. You’ve got to believe me. We want to help.”
The alien didn’t seem to be sold. “It was the Xian attacked my people. For no reason, they attacked. They converted my people to their side. We believed the solution would be here, that this was the point of origin, but then the Xian came. They killed my unit. Everyone, but me. I hid. I kept researching. They use the local animals to protect their secrets. They hunt me always. They are evil and I will defeat them!”
“Did you find the solution?” I asked. “Do you know what was causing the infection? Do you know how to stop it?”
“You do not…” The alien was interrupted by a loud clapping. It sounded almost like a gunshot.
“What was that?” I asked.
“Danger,” it snapped, turning away from me, climbing away. I followed it. The alien stopped, placing one of its hands on one of its machines, then angrily it turned to me. “What did you do? What did you do?”
“What’s going on?” I asked. It raced to another part of the room and I was forced to follow on the floor.
“They are coming!”
to be continued…