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Old April 2 2006, 12:27 PM   #7
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

February 2006

"We Come In Peace" by AdamCzar

Captain G’rant waited so long for this one particular day that when it finally happened he could hardly believe it. As he stood in the middle of the bridge in the starship – his starship – he had to laugh to himself that he had predicted the situation so well: like anything anyone waits for, when the time comes, it seems like any other instant, moving by too fast. It’s only in a state of retroflection that a moment seems to slow down.

Even so, he took a deep breath to add a little drama to the situation. “Mister Call,” he ordered the helmsman, “take us out.”

The young helmsman couldn’t help but smile, himself. G’rant realized he was being a bit selfish by basking in this moment, making it his own, when his entire crew was right there with him.

He spun around to face his chair and the rest of the crew behind him.

“This is it,” he said after a moment. “We’re doing it.”

That’s it? He thought. The big moment, and that’s all I say?

With the slightest hint of embarrassment, G’rant sat in the chair. He’d sat in it a few times before, but now, as he began the mission he had wanted for so long, he took in the details. His arms fell onto the rests with ease, and as he took one more deep breath he felt his posture lean right back against the red fabric, his head held high.

The Starship Explorer’s primary mission – finally granted by his planet’s Space Commission to get out there – explore all that was to be explored.

Oh, the possibilities, he thought. I may even run into someone just like myself… seeking out new life and new civilizations for the betterment of all.

On the other hand, as far as G’rant knew, he was alone. He’d pondered the subject with his family many nights before. Acquaintances and strangers alike would even ask him, “Do you think we’re alone in the universe?”

For a scientist like himself, he always felt a bit pressured to give a definite answer. Grey areas never appealed to him. However, he knew the best answer his people’s studies could come up with was “I just don’t know.”

The unknowing of it all drove him crazy. He wondered, if there was just one form of life like his own, why haven’t they made contact?

Then the adventurer in him would take over, and decide to take the matter into his own hands.

If they weren’t going to introduce themselves, he’d go out and introduce himself.

One of G’rant’s largest ambitions was the forming of some kind of alliance. “The Great Planetary Alliance,” as he called it, was the source of controversy back on his home planet. Some of G’rant’s biggest critics called it too extreme and looked at it as a child’s fantasy. They hadn’t even make contact with any forms of life yet, and G’rant was talking about forming alliances whose sole purpose would be to go out and find more alliances to ensure a peaceful universe where everyone could be happy.

But, the Space Commission saw in G’rant what many others saw – extreme optimism, and an unyielding determination to do the right thing. G’rant was a good man, and as soon as the first Starship was commissioned, after a few obligatory shake-down missions, he’d get the orders he always hoped for: “Go out there, see what you can find, and make friends.”

So when the alert claxon came to life – the one that was programmed to notify everyone when a signal was being picked up that could indicate an intelligent broadcast – he was shocked.

“This soon?” He asked, with wonder in his eyes.

G’rant sprang up from his chair and ran over to his communication’s officer. “What is it?”

The communication’s officer looked over his readouts. “It definitely has the signs of being intelligent. Definitely not any random noise.”

“What kind of signal is it?” G’rant knew it would take time to figure that out, but he asked anyway.

“It’s not analog,” the officer responded. “Not a radio wave. Switching to digital.” He pressed a command into the computer.

The speakers creaked and popped a bit, but eventually there was a voice.

And it spoke their language.

“Clean that up.” G’rant ordered. His mind spinning, he pondered the situation. “Listen, we can understand them,” he finally stated. “Is it coming from the Space Commission?”

“No, sir.” The communication’s officer answered.

All eyes on the bridge were facing their Captain.

“It’s gone, sir. The signal stopped.”

Before G’rant could utter another word, the helmsman, from in front of the view screen, shouted for his Captain’s attention. “Sir!”

The helmsman didn’t have to say anything. G’rant knew what he was going to say as soon as the large vessel materialized out of nothing in front of them. He got weak in the knees as he marveled at the architecture of such a beautiful vessel.

G’rant laughed.

“I don’t believe this!” he shouted. “Not even ten minutes out on our first mission and we’ve already found life!”

Some of the other bridge crew began to laugh, too.

“I knew it!” G’rant continued. “I knew life was abundant! I’m jumping to conclusions, sure, but if there is life right next door to us, logically there’d be more the further we went!” He shot excited glances all around.

For a moment, an awkward silence took over the bridge. G’rant realized he was becoming too excited. Some of the crew looked scared. And when G’rant took another look at the vessel, the thought did enter his mind that the large green vessel was intimidating.

Nonetheless, he didn’t wait for the signal to come again. “Can we send a communication to them?”

“We can certainly try, sir.” The communications officer said.

G’rant nodded. He walked around to the center of the bridge and stood directly in front of the view screen. When the communications officer gave the word, he began to talk.

“On behalf of the planet of Rhemor, I greet you in peace.” He’d rehearsed this so many times, the words rolled right off of his tongue. He wished he could slow down this moment, too. “My name is Captain G’rant of the Starship Explorer. Our mission is to seek out new life, to make contact.” He left out the part about the Great Planetary Alliance. “Please, the last message we received was garbled, probably because of our—”

He couldn’t finish his sentence. A large discharge of static came over the speakers. After a moment of fighting off the impulse, he gave in and covered his ears. He rushed over to the communication’s station.

G’rant lowered his head to the officer and removed the hand from his right ear. “What’s happening?!”

“It’s coming from their ship, sir!” The officer shouted back. “But we should be able to hear them just fine. It’s as if they’re sending the noise on purpose!”

G’rant looked back at the view screen. The ominous vessel floated before them. What looked like white windows peppered the outer green hull. He could see no one inside.

The noise stopped.

“Captain G’rant of the Starship Explorer,” a voice announced. The bridge froze. A few seconds passed. “You have entered space belonging to the Romulan Star Empire. You are ordered to leave at once.”

G’rant’s head began to spin. “The Romulan Star Empire? I’m sure there is some mistake,” he questioned aloud. “We’re only minutes away from our home world… this area is, by default, already claimed by the Great Planetary Alliance.”

Some of the bridge crew began to understand.

Sometimes, it happened as kids.

They’d find a really neat area in the back section of their parent’s land and build a tree house, only to find out the tree was on someone else’s property.

They’d be playing in the sandbox when another kid would approach and kick sand in their face for messing with their area.

Back then, as children, they saw only one logical way to settle the dispute: who was there first? Even as adults, more often than not it ultimately came back to that one question.

But G’rant was so thrown through a loop he was having a hard time maintaining his composure. “We’ve studied this area. There was no one out here. Our boundaries clearly indicate that at this time—”

“Captain, you’re boundaries mean nothing.” The bully kicked sand in G’rant’s face. “You are not welcome here. Leave, or be destroyed.”

As if suddenly realizing how badly this first contact was going, G’rant tried to redeem the situation. “Please, we mean no disrespect. Perhaps we’ve made a bad first impression—let me once again state our peaceful intention. If we’re this close by, we should be allies!”

“Sorry to interrupt, sir, but I’m getting a peculiar reading,” one of the bridge officers reported. “There is an energy discharge forming along their starboard bow.”

“A weapon?” G’rant’s brow furrowed. “Fine. Mister Call, get us out of here.”

“Yes, sir,” the helmsman said. “Reversing course.”

They headed home without saying much. On the way back, the moments seemed to go by a little too slow.
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