Contact: an Ending and a Beginning
© IA Mullin 2017 All rights reserved
Contact: an Ending and a Beginning
By IA Mullin
Aziza Rusticolis sat nervously on a bench at the edge of the city square. She tried to be patient as she waited for Grandfather to finish speaking with the strangers from space. She had seen them as they had entered the Department of Diplomacy building. They had seemed strange with red skin, pointed ears, and black hair. However, she suspected that the red appearance of their skin had been a product of the red supergiant that blessed her world with light, just as it made her violet skin appear black. In the bright white light of the lab, they would probably prove to have pale colored skin.
Aziza’s world was running out of time. In the near future their sun would die and destroy their planet. These strangers were the first to respond to the diplomats’ pleas for help. Before they would help however, they required a number of volunteers to leave with them. Much to Grandfather’s dismay, Aziza had submitted an application.
Aziza snapped to attention as the doors of the Diplomat building opened. Diplomats walked across the square to various applicants. Grandfather stopped in the middle of the square with the strangers. He caught her gaze and motioned for her to approach.
Aziza strode confidently to them and bowed. “Eldest. Honored Guests.”
“This is the young woman you spoke so highly of?” the short male stranger spoke coldly.
“This is Aziza Rusticolis, newly chosen scientist of my house,” Grandfather said proudly.
Aziza stood straight and met the male’s strong gaze. She ignored the irritation building in her facial glands from the scented smoke of the incense burning in the sculpture to her right. Instead she focused on the stranger’s pale eyes with colored irises. She wondered what he thought of her own blue eyes with pale irises, as well as the green glands that radiated out around her eyes.
“Your grandfather says you have shown an aptitude for learning science. Have you also been trained to fight?” the male stranger asked.
“I have passed the exams and have been inoculated with the biochemical enhancements of a scientist. Like all youths, I have been cross trained in the other professions in order to learn where my aptitudes lie,” Aziza answered succinctly.
“They do not quite understand about our facial glands,” Grandfather said quietly when the strangers did not offer a response.
“My apologies,” Aziza offered briskly. “I shall endeavor to help you understand about my species as well as learn all you offer to teach.”
“Indeed,” the male replied as the silent female turned away. “We will be leaving shortly, say your goodbyes now.”
“When will you return,” Grandfather asked quickly.
“The Tal Shiar will return as needed,” the male said before walking away.
“Grandfather, I will miss you,” Aziza said quietly, looking up into his dark face haloed by the red light of their sun.
“I will miss you also, but be careful. These strangers are not very forthcoming; they do not answer questions unless they wish to.” Aziza’s gaze flicked to the blue glands surrounding his eyes and wondered what empathy indicators they had given him. Her own green glands would not help in that regard; hers were attuned to chemicals and logic as befitted a scientist. “Remember Aziza, no matter what they teach you, strength, honor, and patience will guide you to your fate.”
“I will return to help our people, I promise.”
“It is time,” called the male stranger.
Aziza quickly hugged Grandfather then strode to join the other dozen volunteers selected by the strangers. She tried to feel pride at being chosen, but Grandfather’s warning still rang in her ears.
Suddenly the world around her shimmered, faded out, and was replaced by a bright room. The strong scent of antiseptic assaulted her nose and glands. She assumed it was some kind of lab or medical ward onboard the Tal Shiar spaceship. She wanted to know how they had been moved across the distance, but had other more pressing questions.
Several short, pale-skinned strangers moved around Aziza and her tall, violet-skinned fellows, directing them toward examination beds.
“What is going on?” Aziza asked the technician closest to her.
“I am a scientist. May I see the procedure on one of my fellows first, to learn about what you are looking for or help you understand our anatomy?” she tried again.
Aziza frowned, feeling displeased and worried, but lay down as directed. Something pricked her neck. Anger flooded her thoughts just as her vision faded to black.
Aziza became aware of a blue skinned stranger attacking her. Reflexively she blocked the attack, spun and elbowed him in the face. The attacker faded away. A simulation?
“What is going on? You promised to help my people? You promised to teach me your science,” she demanded of the training room.
“She is aware, restart indoctrination,” a voice spoke from a speaker.
Aziza’s vision faded to black.
Voices came from a long distance. Her facial glands were irritated.
“...tests failing...red-marked soldier turned aggressive...terminated.”
“...indoctrination complete...blue-marked diplomat over-stimulated...self terminated.”
Aziza looked around a lab with ongoing experiments. A flask bubbled in front of her. Her glands tingled with warning. Toxic fumes. She quickly closed the hood and turned on the vent.
“Why are you doing this? When will you help us?” she shouted angrily.
Something hit her from behind, and her world went black again.
Aziza felt herself half waking as if in illness.
“...green-marked scientist, indoctrination begins then fails...inconclusive source of failure.”
“...erase memory, inoculate with nano-surveillance, and insert into a colony.”
Aziza awoke suddenly. Monitors flashed around her, but there were no wires or restraints on her. She sat up quickly not knowing where she was, but she felt it was wrong. Her facial glands retracted violently and she fell forward retching. Some kind of toxic metallic chemical oozed from her facial glands and she wiped it away, relieving the irritation. Quietly she walked out into the hallway. She cautiously moved along the dim corridors until she found the escape pods. Feeling that this escape was much too easy, she climbed in and pressed the emergency release. The pod rocketed away from the ship toward a cloudy, green and brown world.
The pod crashed to the ground in a tremendous jolt accompanied by a cacophony of screaming and twisting metal. Acrid fumes of smoke and electrical fire filled the small metal capsule enclosing her. She unclasped the safety harness, pulled her knees to her chest and kicked out hard several times to force the canopy open enough to crawl out. Rage and despair gripped her as she knelt alone on a strange planet. She could not remember why she was so filled with anger or why she had been on that ship. She could not remember where she had come from. She threw her head back and screamed.
The sudden clacking of stones sliding down hill made her look to the edge of the small crater created by her crash landing. A group of pale-skinned, pointy eared people stood holding shovels and looking down at her. Instantly Aziza grabbed several jagged pieces of debris and took up a fighting stance. One of the watchers detached himself from the others and descended down toward her. He held his empty hands out in front.
“Easy, friend,” he said quietly. “We saw your escape pod crash. We’re just here to help.”
“Stay back, Tal Shiar filth!” Aziza hissed.
“You’ve got the wrong idea. We’re not Tal Shiar,” he said. “We are Romulans, like the Tal Shiar, but we are an independent colony. We do not submit to Tal Shiar oversight. Many of us have strong reasons to hate the Tal Shiar.”
Aziza slowly lowered her impromptu weapons and studied these Romulans.
“Where are you from? How did you come to be here?” he asked staying back a ways.
“I...” Aziza blinked trying to remember. “I don’t remember. I can only recall snippets, pieces of memory. A dark figure surrounded by red light, accompanied by a feeling of love and urgency. The name Tal Shiar with an image of a pale male with dark hair and pointed ears, accompanied by a feeling of hatred.” Aziza put her hands to her head as pain erupted behind her eyes.
“It’s going to be alright,” the male said. “It sounds like the Tal Shiar erased your memory. Your memory may never return, but we can try to get it back and, if not successful, we can help you move on.”
“You would help me?” she asked looking at him seriously.
“I promise. I will personally make sure we do everything we can with our limited medical facilities. Do you remember your name?” he asked extending his hand to her.
“Aziza...” she shook her head, “just Aziza.” She placed her violet hand in his pale one.
“My name is Tovan Khev,” he said with a smile. “Welcome to Virinat, Aziza.”