By Raymond Tobaygo.
Zero eight hundred hours found Captain Bryce Roberts seated in front of the plasma screen and looking into Colonel Teis’s round, brown face.
“It is good to see you, Captain. In your message you stated you may have discovered life?
“Yes, sir. On my last hopper excursion I noticed a sizable rift developing thirty kilometers north of the station. For ten seconds the hopper’s bio lab registered a definite life sign, only to have it vanish seconds later with no additional readings.”
“Unfortunately none at the moment, sir. Genius’s matrix indicates the possibility that they were underground microbes, which died when exposed to Elamide’s atmosphere. I ran a sub-routine through the bio-lab’s equipment and found no abnormalities. I ran the findings through Genius’s matrix with the same results, Colonel.”
Colonel Teis rubbed his chin. “Damned unusual, Captain. Care to venture a guess?”
“Not at this time, Colonel.”
“Send your information, and I’ll have our team run the data. Anything I can do for you, Captain?”
“No, not at the moment, Colonel.”
“Affirmative, Captain. Good hunting. I will contact you as scheduled. Teis over and out.”
Roberts set the hopper down thirty meters from the rift.
Ten minutes later, as Roberts studied the rift’s black void, the bio-detectors on his suit pinged. He flipped down the helmet’s infra red visor and activated his suit’s molecular motion sensors. For a brief moment, his infra red visor detected another gaseous entity exiting the rift, yet the molecular sensors registered nothing.
“Damned unusual, Bryce. Let’s see what Genius makes of the image.”
Back in the lab, Genius confirmed what Roberts’ infra red visor detected.
Roberts ran his fingers through his blonde hair. “Possibilities, Genius?”
“Unknown gaseous life force with splayed molecular structure, not compact enough for your sensors to record, Captain Roberts.”
Odd, Genius didn’t say life form, but life force. “Explain determination, Genius.”
“Logical conclusion, Captain: life force was able to spread its molecules to avoid the sensor’s dense streams.”
“Threat assessment, Genius?”
“With splayed molecules the force may possess the ability to vibrate through solid matter, Captain. According to your data feed, this life force is identical to that of your first, brief contact, sir.”
“Care to venture a guess about its origin, Genius?”
“I cannot, insufficient data. A logical extension concludes more than two life forces have exited the rift, Captain.”
“Still, it can’t explain why they were visible for mere seconds, Genius.”
“Elamide’s atmosphere contains ten percent oxygen, Captain. Plausible theory is possible metamorphose adaptation from interior environment to the exterior atmosphere.”
Roberts landed the hopper twenty-five meters from the rift. What he witnessed amazed him. Hundreds of blue, gaseous life forces were emerging from the rift and making their way towards the hopper, encircling it.
“Genius, life forces have surrounded the hopper. They almost appear . . . curious.”
“A possible indication of rudimentary intelligence, Captain.”
“They’re beginning to change from a blue, gaseous form into colonies mimicking Davir fireflies. Genius, I’m leaving the hopper to see if I can establish contact.”
“Inadvisable, Captain, until we have processed additional data from the hopper’s scans.”
“They may be gone by then. They’ve made no menacing moves towards the hopper, and my gut tells me I’ll be perfectly safe.”
“Visceral feelings are illogical, Captain.”
“Your concern is touching, Genius, but I’ve made up my mind.”
Within three meters of the lights, Roberts saw the life forces take the shape of a human form.
There’s one for the books, Captain. I wonder what they want. Well, there’s only one way to find out.
He moved toward the form, only to see it approach as well.
It’s as though they’re mimicking me. Let’s find out. Bryce raised his arm and saluted.
The form, now a solid yellow mass, saluted back.
Confident, Bryce extended his right hand. To his amazement the form extended its hand and shook his.
Bryce felt a sense of fulfillment, of euphoria, of rapture. How odd. Is this how they communicate?
“Captain Roberts, break off contact immediately. I repeat, Captain, break off contact immediately.”
“Would like to oblige, Genius, but I feel sooo damned good.”
“Danger imminent, Captain. Data from hopper indicates life force is deriving energy from your endorphins. The life force is feeding on you, Captain.”
“So be it, Genius. Please record our first encounter for prosperity; Captain Roberts out.”
“Captain, activate your suit’s electronics. The current it generates will end contact.”
“Genius, I think I’m flying.”
“You leave me only one option, sir.”
Genius activated the suits electronics.
Back in the lab, Roberts faced Genius. “Thank you, my friend. I would’ve died without your intervention. Damn, death through euphoria.”
“Essentially correct, Captain, brought on by an unknown opiate which no longer infects you, sir.”
“Yeah, it would’ve been one for the books, Genius. Death by euphoria-induced rapture.”
RAYMOND TOBAYGO is a retired teacher (World Cultures and World Geography) and have been writing on and off for nearly thirty years. He belongs to WC and Fanstory and his preferred genres are SciFi, Horror and Fantasy or any combination. He is working on a novel, entitled, ‘The Snow Kingdom.”