A cold wind was blowing in Heidgate making the windows of old man Fred's house whistle like a howling ghost. Brandon, sitting in the lounge looked over at one of them and eyed the paint that was peeling on the frame. He wondered why the old man had not bothered to try and insulate the place and make it warmer as a shiver went through his body.
"Here it is!" Fred announced as he came back into the lounge, holding a box.
"What is it?" Brandon asked, raising a brow.
"Proof," replied Fred, setting the box down on a beat up coffee table. "The contents of that box I have never shown anyone."
"So why me?"
"Well, your brother… I think what has happened to him could be connected."
Fred pressed his shaking fingers over the 3 number lock and began to roll each individual reel until he stopped and slid the catch to the right. There was a click before he lifted the lid. Brandon lent forward to try and get a look at what was inside. Fred picked up a handkerchief from the side of his chair and wrapped it around his hand before placing it in the box.
"This artifact I am certain came from another world," Announced Fred as he pulled out a peculiar crescent shaped contraption. "It is made from pure Vanadium."
"What does it do?"
"Ahhh my boy, that is the million dollar question, but that's not the exciting part, no. The exciting part, is the fact it exists!"
"Are you sure it's not some military thing, or better still a practical joke?"
"Made of PURE Vanadium? I think not… no this is something not born of earth."
"So where did you find it?" Brandon asked, leaning in for a closer look.
"There is a small woodland area at the end of the street. I was out walking my dog when I came across it half buried in the ground. What was also curious is the evidence of burnt metal, and when I say burnt I mean melted. There were shards of burnt metal spread out in an area about six feet squared, and just to the side of it was this object."
"Fred, look humour me here, if there was Aliens then don't you think there would be more interesting places to go than this place?"
"I believe they were looking for something… something to take back with them."
"And what brings you to that conclusion?"
"Like you say, why would they come here. Normally a person would not visit a specific place of no particular interest unless they were looking for something. I think this artifact may have assisted them in looking for it."
"But it's a stupid lump of shaped metal, what purpose could it serve?"
"There are markings on it… look, you see that?" Fred asked, moving the object closer to Brandon. On the surface were tiny inscriptions which made no sense to Adam's brother as he squinted, such was the small size of them.
Brandon leaned back in his chair and sighed. He was a pure sceptic but something Fred was saying was making sense even though it seemed so farfetched. "I know you are gonna say it sooner or later, or at least suggest it, but do you think these… these people have my brother?"
"Brandon, I am open to all the alternatives believe me, but also believe me when I say there is overwhelming evidence that something has visited not from this world."
"Ok, ok… so say for instance these people from outtaspace do have my brother, what then, what can I do?"
Fred cackled loudly producing a toothy smile. "Do? My boy you can't do anything! What were you suggesting, we go search for the aliens?"
"Of course not, I'm not that naïve!" Brandon said, before growling softly. "I want an answer that's all and so far the only person who has given me one is you, even if it is crazy!"
"Everyone thinks I'm crazy boy, and maybe I am but I know what I know."
"I should go… may I take the artifact?"
"Most certainly not!"
"I just want to borrow it so I can look around on the internet to see if I can dig something up."
Fred placed the grey dull object back in its box and snapped shut the lid. "No!"
"Fine, have it your way! You know you should probably try selling it, it might be worth something rather than guarding it in a fucking locked box till you die, what's the point?"
"One thing I leaned working in the secret service is that some things don't have to have a point boy, they just are!"
"Whatever!" Brandon spat, stomping out of Fred's lounge and exiting through the front door. He pulled the zip on his jacket as far as it would go as a guest of icy wind slapped his body. Looking all around him he started to walk up the derelict street heading for home.
Adam was just stepping out of a magnacar when he saw Sage walking down a set of wide stairs connected to a grand looking white polished building. Adam ran over to him and grabbed him by the shoulders, pulling him into a hug, watched from a distance by a disapproving Relshek.
"Fuck, I'm so glad to see you I thought you were dead!"
"Wow, thanks for the stark reminder Smithy!"
Adam broke the hug and looked at Sage before homing in on his right eye.
"Cool ain't it!"
"What the fuck Sage, its… it's purple!"
"Best they could do, but it looks ok right?"
"Can… can you see out of it?"
"Pffft! Course I can see out of it, and better still it clearer… kinda like having one eye in HD. Take the material on your t-shirt, I can actually see the individual threads if I focus hard enough."
"But its purple Sage… you have one white eye and one purple. I guess it goes well with your blue pupils though. I guess now you can say you are half Puritan, how is that for the planet hater?" Adam said, chuckling.
"Don't get smart! Hey, why is he standing over there?" Sage asked, looking at Relshek continuing to hover by the magnacar.
Adam looked back. "Maybe he just wants to give us some space, I don't know."
"Hmm, So did you find out what the deal was with the fucking fireballs?"
"I'll tell you later, anyway the main thing is you are ok, I still can't believe it, your injuries were fucking awful Sage, half your head was smashed-"
"Yeah thanks Adam, I get the picture. Anyway I was given the full story by those doctor people in the building behind. Apparently they had to rebuild part of my head and repair three inches of my brain."
Adam shook his head. "Horrible to think but if this had happened back home you would have definitely been dead, so I think being here saved your life."
Sage drew back in anger. "Fuck off Adam, If I had been back on earth I wouldn't have been blown up by some bitches with fireball weapons would I… what a stupid fucking thing to say. So now you think I owe these people my life?"
"Whoa, calm down, I was just making a comment."
"Boys, can we leave now please. Under the current circumstances I don't think we should be out in the open until Space Operations can assess the risks." Relshek called.
"Great, we might still die yet if these terrorists decide to return." Sage mumbled, sarcasm in his voice. Both boys walked back towards the magnacar and got in with Relshek following. The car sped off at speed in the searing heat sucking Adam and Sage into their seats.
Grand Master Telstrek paced the floor of his grand reception room lined with various Puritans standing in silence. Huge native plants hung from the circular ceiling which was itself painted in flowers and strange objects. The thick walls were designed in a luxurious pale blue polished stone that resembled glitter as your eyes moved over it decorated with recessed columns containing Puritan language.
"How did this happen!" Telstrek bellowed, his voice echoing in the large hall. "How? Somebody tell me how we were attacked right under our noses!"
Most of the people lined up like statues just had their heads bowed looking at the floor, but one decided to speak.
"Grand Master, we have lessons to learn of that I am sure all will agree but they came in fast and we did not have the time to react?"
"Lord Kishta, deputy commander of security at space operations."
"A commander of security lets an alien enemy attack my planet and then stands here and tells me we didn't react fast enough. NOT GOOD ENOUGH!" Telstrek scowled. Lord Kishta bowed his head.
"I beg forgiveness my highest Lord, we will do better."
"Seven hundred and fifty two dead, over two thousand wounded, buildings destroyed and you are promising to do better?"
"But Grand Master, we-"
Centurions, him out of my sight, Immediate Termination!" Telstrek shouted. Moments later two men in blue uniforms hauled the Kishta away. There was neither a cry for mercy nor a physical protest; it was as if Lord Kishta had accepted his fate.
"Where may I ask is the Supreme Commander of space operation? Does he not feel it warranted to be here in person on such an important situation?"
"Helecto, space operations Sir… The commander is aboard the Tomleek assessing the damage he was unable to get down to the planet in time so he sent the deputy."
"I summon the heads of each quarter and I get their deputies, is this an insult to the High Council?" Telstrek spat. "Construction, report!"
"Uh… yes Grand Master, we have begun building immediately and I have every tradesman currently assigned to rebuilding. We have placed Priority on power networks and social housing."
"Good, some straight answers! Science, report!"
Lord Kelshen stepped forward. "Grand Master, we have confirmed that the source of the attack was indeed the Silga race from chemical analysis of their vessels and tissue samples recovered. We will attempt to study more of their technology and pass our findings onto space operations."
"And the Human boy?"
"Safe, High Lord. I will consult with my understudy to make sure this remains the case and will again liaise with space operations for security advice."
"Thank you Lord Kelshen."
Master Telstrek seemed a little calmer now he was getting answers.
With defence and exploration quarters both under space operations and science along with construction already reported, grand master Telstrek walked out of the room with one last comment to two of his centurions standing guard at the enormous doors.
"Find High Lord Verelon of space operations and terminate him, punishment for his incompetence!"
With that he was gone, leaving the room in silence, all but the audible sigh of reliefs from the summoned personnel.
On earth, Brandon was back at home pouring through pages and pages of internet images to try and find an object similar to what he had seen at old man Fred's house. He wanted so much to find something created on earth so he could put to rest Fred's outlandish theory of UFO visits. He also wanted to wash the mad thoughts from his own head as to what had happened to Adam.
Finding nothing he tried to look at the situation from a different angle. Fuelling the "Fred's word" part of his mind he landed on the SETI site. SETI stood for the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence and upon clicking on its website he began to look through the various pages.
To Brandon it immediately became apparent all the content explained that despite running for many years the institute had actually found nothing. For some reason Brandon felt deflated by this until he stumbled across another article simply named the WOW signal.
Intrigued, Brandon reading on found out that one summer night in 1977, Jerry Ehman, a volunteer for SETI may have become the first man ever to receive an intentional message from an alien world. Ehman was scanning radio waves from deep space, hoping to randomly come across a signal that bore the hallmarks of one that might be sent by intelligent aliens, when he saw his measurements spike.
The signal lasted for 72 seconds, the longest period of time it could possibly be measured by the array that Ehman was using. It was loud and appeared to have been transmitted from a place no human has gone before: in the constellation Sagittarius near a star called Tau Sagittarii, 120 light-years away.
"Hmm!" Brandon murmured to himself before leaning back in his spring loaded office chair. "Nineteen seventy seven, why nothing since! Arrgh, this is madness!"
Brandon got up from his chair and decided to take a hot shower fearing he would start getting too wrapped up in what he firmly believed was too far-fetched.
High Lord Verelon, recently back from the Tomleek opened the door to his apartment and was greeted by his male companion. Taking off his mask they both had sexual intercourse before each taking a sonic shower. Verelon was looking forward to having his monthly meal, relieved the attack on his planet had been short and the enemy defeated. He proudly told his partner about the glorious battle that had taken place in the system and how he commanded the victory from space headquarters. He was about to retire to his eating area when four Puritans crashed through his door.
"By order of Grand Master Telstrek you are under arrest and are to accompany us to a waiting vehicle. By order of Master Telstrek citing clause sixteen alpha you will be terminated prior to the charge of planetary negligence which will be formally read to you before the procedure." One of them stated.
2 of the men advanced forwards before Lord Verelon put his hands up. "What do you men think you are doing, do you know who I am?"
"We know who you are High Lord Verelon, and we are under orders to detain you until termination, please do not resist us or we will regrettably use force."
"Optimus, get me Grand Master Telstrek!" Verelon shouted, seething at the current situation.
"Unable to comply, your communication privileges have been deactivated Lord Verelon."
Unlike his deputy Verelon put up a fierce but futile fight as his struggles led to him being stunned with a aesthetic type injection gun at point blank range. The old man fell to the floor watched by his shocked male companion before being dragged away.
Verelon was injected with a substance which caused him to awake and become alert. He looked around and saw he was in a small windowless room. His body was strapped to a fixed chair and two Puritans in blue uniforms stood by the only door. Moments later another man walked in holding a flexipad and stood before him.
"Let me out of this room immediately, I am Supreme Commander Verelon of Space Operations!"
The man ignored him and clicked on his pad before looking up. "High Lord Verelon, You have been condemned to immediate termination by his Lordship Grand Master Telstrek. Citing clause sixteen alpha stating planetary negligence this means there will be no trial. How do you plead?"
"Plead? Not guilty of course you idiot!"
"Thank you High Lord Verelon. I will now read the ceremonial scripture after which you will be terminated."
Verelon struggled in his chair and protested. "I think you have made a grotesque mistake, let me go immediately!"
The man holding the flexipad cleared his throat. "High lord Verelon, It has been decided that you will be terminated. You are now relieved of all your titles and privileges of the home world Purity. Your spouse will receive two thousand five hundred token as compensation and your remains will be passed back for burial or evaporation. Under section sixteen alpha the charge does not entitle you to a trial and for the records of justice I have recorded your plea of not guilty. All Puritans thank you for your years of service to the planet and your expired body will be treated with the upmost of respect. You will now be injected with a chemical that will send your from your conscious mind and your heart will be stopped. Do you have anything you wish to say?"
Verelon sat silently, stunned, numb and exhausted. Then, in one last act of defiance he slammed his head down on the table in front of him, shattering his mask.
"If you do intend to kill me then you will look me in the eye when you do it SHRANT!*"
With Verelon looking hard at the man in front of him the man himself came round the side of the table and injected him with the deadly chemical. Almost immediately Verelon's body started to slump into the chair. The man placed his flexipad against the arm of his prisoner before looking round at the two guards and nodding, confirming it was done.
Verelon was dead!
Adam walked into Relshek's apartment after leaving Sage at his own to get some rest.
"No I haven't told him, does it look like I have a death wish?" Adam declared after Relshek had asked if Sage knew why the Aliens attacked the planet.
"Adam, I don't think you should, ever. Sage appears to me to be very… emotional, and I don't want him feeding you negative information."
"Christian that's a pretty cryptic thing to say. How about you tell me how I am supposed to stay alive if these things decide to come back?"
"We are working on better defence for the planet Adam but this will take time. As I hear it, the people responsible for protecting the home world have been… dealt with."
"And so they should, I could have been killed… and Sage for that matter."
"Sometimes I think my head is going to explode Christian, you know that? I mean, first being here, then Castro, now being nearly killed?? I'm struggling to take all this new stuff in and its making me feel zoned out!"
"You need to rest Adam, get some good sleep and dream. Wherever you are in the universe beings have a need to be rested and sleep. Your mind is fragmented because it is not fully rested and this will start to have an effect on you should it continue long term."
"Sleep, yeah that's a good one, seeing as I'm not sure now whether some lone alien creature will beam down and kill me in my slumber."
Relshek shook his head. "These words you use, I just don't understand. We must sit down when the time is better to discuss this earth language you use."
"In a nutshell Christian, I just said I was scared of being terminated by an alien while I sleep!"
"Ahh, well this makes more sense."
"Not to mention the fact it is always so damn hot… im not used to tryna sleep in this heat."
"Adam, I will arrange some additional cooling and after this I wish to see you well rested. Secondly, do not worry yourself about invaders. The high council is well aware of your importance and will not allow you to come to any harm."
"In case you forgot, I almost got fried by your friends up there just days ago!" Adam retorted, pointing straight up.
"It will not happen again, I give you my word!"
Adam blew air through his lips. "I wish I could just become numb to all this bullshit! When can I see Castro?"
"Once you have rested, now I will have you taken back to your apartment where you will stay until you have gotten at least a moon time sleep."
Yawning, Adam got to his feet and nodded. Relshek asked Optimus to send a magnacar to his apartment and told it the destination.
"Remember to take care when you arrive, Adam, our people are still doing repairs to the area."
"Just glad my place is still standing after what those freaks did."
"Yes, it could have been different my child, much different."
Adam peered through Reshek's door and saw his car had arrived and briefly put his hand up to gesture goodbye. Relshek bowed his head and let him go. As Adam walked to the Magnacar he stopped and looked up at the night sky. Everything seemed peaceful, and for a moment, as he stared at the millions of stars above he could almost imagine a time back home when life was just as calm.
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