« on: December 05, 2011, 11:43:05 pm »
This is station designation Star Train.
Alan Bryce never heard any alarms.
Please come in.
There must not be any. He was reading Dr. Seuss into the communications console when heavy footsteps and a gritty voice first became audible. Finally, he wasn’t alone.
Please come in.
He jumped out of that uncomfortable chair as quickly as he could. He tossed a pile of civilian clothes aside to find a wrinkled, unused uniform and put it on as quickly as he could. Whoever was in the station waited patiently at the entryway, speaking lowly as he laced up first one unpolished boot, then a second. The hat was a lost cause. His first project to improve it was an excellent lesson in park issued quality. His second project to improve it was to turn it into a functional flying disc, bereft of any similarity to the hated hat but with the benefit of keeping him occupied for roughly one afternoon.
Star Train has come under…attack.
Tucking in his shirt, he was the picture of a park employee, albeit an unkempt one, all in blue and another type of blue and a shiny badge.
“All right then what do we have he…” Alan stopped as he turned the corner out of his office. Standing at the entry to the station were four heavily armed soldiers. It was about time someone showed up. Although he wished it were human soldiers. Not enemy soldiers.
He breathed deeply and slowly. He was trained for this. Visitors, that’s all. Armed, red eyed, wet nosed, toothy and grey visitors. They hadn’t killed him yet. This was important. “Welcome to station Star Train!”
Star Train still flying. I’m okay.
They stared at him, weapons leveled. They hadn’t killed him yet. “Uhm. Originally a double deck luxury Earth railway car, Star Train was the first station retrofitted for use in space! The success of the conversion led the way for all manner of space faring objects, allowing for a ready and affordable means of bringing more people to the stars.”
Here he paused. It was a good idea to let his introduction sink in while the kids looked around. When there are kids, that is. Instead, one of the soldiers spoke in that low, gritty voice to the others. They lowered their weapons.
There does seem to be a slight problem though if anyone is out there.
Maybe the Haeltid didn’t have tourist destinations. Alan hoped they were just as confused as he was. He skipped to the more technical aspect of the tour. Usually this part was for the end but it seemed more prevalent than going through the construction and funding parts.
“These days Star Train’s primary purpose is education. It was designated a historical landmark twenty years ago and supports a small staff, yours truly, standing by to guide you through one of humanity’s first important steps into space.”
Again the same Haeltid soldier gritted something out. Then, louder than he thought their voices could be, all four of them rumbled together, their voices fading in and out rhythmically. Then they turned and walked back through the airlock. One of them tossed a device behind him just before the door closed. At this, they rumbled together again.
Alan couldn’t help but think they were laughing.
They left something behind.
He put the microphone down. What he wouldn’t give to find out what he was holding. Or to hear a human voice, for that matter. Almost a year ago he received a transmission from Park Base, all broken up and panicked. Something about the Haeltid and a war.
He hardly left the communications console in the office for the first few months. He’d transmit and transmit, plead and yell, sob and receive nothing. Not even static, just dead air. He would stare out the windows and look at the blinking lights far in the distance. They were still operational. Someone would come eventually.
Two months prior he started reading Dr. Seuss into the console. All the other options seemed senseless so he might as well try something equally so. Right now, though, right now that silent station hurt just as much as it did those months ago.
“Star Train? Star Train, the historic site? You guys are still operational?”
A voice. From the communications console. Alan’s dive to pick up the microphone was perhaps the most athletic moment of his life.
“Yes, this is Star Train, I-we’re still operational. Just had contact with a Haeltid party. They left something behind. Who am I speaking to?”
“Wait, left something behind? You’re still alive? What did they leave behind?”
“I don’t know. It’s about the size of a football. It has a button on it – don’t worry, I haven’t pressed it. It’s heavy, and warm, uh…”
“Oh. Star Train. I am so sorry.”
“Star Train that’s an explosive device.”
Fuck, Alan thought. Give me evil aliens. Or monster aliens. But for fuck’s sake, why give me asshole aliens? I’m so tired of dealing with assholes.