Part 5 of Beyond the End of the World, Lokians 1

Chapter Five

Welcome to Beyond the End of the World. My name is Aaron Dennis, and I will be presenting this published novel to you one chapter at a time. The entire novel is free for download via Barnes and Noble online.

This is an action-packed, scifi military novel. Some language may not be suitable for minors.

One morning, at 07:00 hours, Presh station received new transmissions. The beings called themselves Thewls, and an English-Thewlish translation was underway. They unknown creatures revealed they, too, were of a double helix DNA, but their ATCG make up was slightly different. They also had two arms, two legs, two eyes, and a strikingly similar genetic makeup. They were carbon based and breathed oxygen. Finally, they specified that the repeating signal they originally broadcasted was a distress signal. Their planet had been attacked ages ago.

That was big news. Not only had Eon made first contact with an unknown race, there was a second, unknown race out there also capable of space travel, and bearing destructive powers. The Presh scientists were told the other beings were radically different in their genetic makeup. They were also hostile. News traveled quickly, and Admiral Lay set up a briefing with Phoenix Crew. A top-secret mission was underway. Eon colony was not to be informed.

****

The AMS came on general broadcast, calling, “O’Hara, Day, Martinez, Swain, Imes, Becker, Nandesrikahl, Zakowski, DeReaux, Fitzpatrick. Admiral Lay is ready to receive you in conference room B.”

After hearing the summons, the crew proceeded from the mess hall, or crew quarters, or from whatever post they occupied. One-by-one, they filtered into room B. Admiral Lay was sitting next to the lectern, his legs crossed. Once the crew lined up at attention, the admiral stood. The crew saluted, and he saluted back. The soldiers waited impatiently for briefing.

“Be seated,” Lay started. “What I’m about to tell you will not leave this room.” The admiral took a patented, long inhalation. “Over the past week, the Thewls have informed us of a great many things. Turns out their communication abilities surpass ours by a long shot. Other than exchanging pleasantries, we’ve been informed of a hostile race they call Lokians. We know that the Lokians destroyed the Thewlian home world. Now, they’re telling us Human colonies might be next.

“Lokians are…efficient. It seems they travel through space and destroy advanced civilizations. Once a civilization masters space travel, the Lokians view them as a threat; the implications are mind boggling.

“Because Thewls believe we’ll be targeted soon, they want to arrange a meeting in person,” Admiral Lay said with a furrowed brow. A great deal of concern flooded his visage as he spoke. His commanding presence was his saving grace. “I’m sending you and your crew to meet with them. It’s hard to believe, I know, but Thewls can travel much faster through space than we imagined. They’re set to land on Eon some ten, thousand miles southwest of the colony. This will eliminate any chance of the colonists discovering our meeting.”

The captain stepped forwards, a frown on his face, and said, “I appreciate the involvement here, Admiral, but shouldn’t you be meeting with them?”

A smile flickered across Lay’s face. “It’s imperative they meet the men and women who discovered their beacons. It’s also imperative that I stay behind the scenes in order to play down suspicions amongst the colony. As far as the colonists are concerned, Phoenix Crew is simply scouting out a second location to colonize. You’re to leave first thing tomorrow morning. They’ll be arriving in less than twenty four hours.”

Nandesrikahl stepped up, asking, “Sir, if I may?”

“Of course, I expect most of you have questions. I’ll be happy to answer to the best of my ability,” the admiral replied.

“Yes,” Nandesrikahl began. “Can we be sure Thewls aren’t misrepresenting themselves? I mean, ’ow do we know their story’s accurate, truthful?”

“That’s a good question,” Lay breathed. “We’ve been exchanging quite a bit of intel, and their planetary history is among the exchange as well as their military history. Their main ship isn’t entering the Gemini system. They’re only sending a small shuttle with a select crew and an ambassador.

“While it might be possible they’re lying about that, or for them to attempt an attack, we’ve been given their current location, so we’re tracking them. We’ve also set up a defensive, support unit just in case. We’re calling it a training exercise to downplay any suspicions.

“Currently, Earth Air Force has an air strike team mobilized. They’ll be arriving on Eon soon. Our best pilots will be ready for any kind of attack. Men, you’ve all been trained for this day. I’m sure there’s no need for violence, but you’re ready to handle anything,” the admiral stopped speaking, and took a long inhalation. “If there are any more questions, now is the time to ask.”

Becker stepped forwards, asking, “Sir, who are we meeting, and what exactly are we expected to find out?”

“You’ll be receiving Ambassador Weh. He wants to discuss the reason for the beacons placement, the Lokians’ modus operandi, and propose a plan for us to work in unison in order to prevent the Lokians from doing to us what they did to them. I’ll be in touch the entire time.”

The soldiers passed glances, but no one else had any questions. Lay nodded and left the room. O’Hara watched him go; the old man’s usual nimbleness had left his legs.

“Hey Cap? We gotta’ keep this on the down low from the rest of the crew, ya’ heard,” Martinez said.

O’Hara nodded and responded, “True, we’ll tell them we’re meeting another ship and leave it at that. It shouldn’t rouse any suspicion.”

The crew shifted their weight nervously, or scratched their cheeks, thumbed at their lips. Fitzpatrick fidgeted with her belt. O’Hara took notice and stepped over to her. She looked up to meet his eyes.

“This seems strange doesn’t it? Why would these Thewls, or whatever, be so eager to work with us?”

“I don’t know…they left beacons here, maybe they want to return here. If they lost their home world they might want this planet back.”

“Agreed,” Nandesrikahl added.

Swain scanned everyone’s face. Most of the crew appeared hesitant. Imes cocked his head back a little and spoke up.

“I think we shouldn’t try to expect anything. If we go into this meeting expecting the worst, we might make some misjudgments.”

Becker sighed. “He’s right. We have a defense unit set up and have all day to check the reports. There are reports, right?”

The captain shrugged.

“There’s always a debriefing report. This is the most important mission I’ve ever heard of. Admiral Lay wouldn’t send us in blind,” Zakowski commented.

The crew nodded accordingly. “Alright, then,” O’Hara heaved. “I’ll check my office for the debriefing and send everyone a copy. Remember, no one else onboard can know what we’re doing.”

O’Hara’s team saluted and left for the quarters deck, except for Day, who returned to the helm. At the bridge, she had Roberts plot a course via the AMS to land ten thousand miles southwest of Eon’s colony. They arrived at their destination by 14:00 hours, allowing the entire crew extra hours of R and R off the ship.

That relaxation allowed the crew enough stimuli to keep any questions regarding new orders subdued. While the Phoenix’s crew camped out in the open expanse of a rocky terrain speckled with bluish trees resembling palms, O’Hara and his team met in the deserted, mess hall. Zakowski rounded up plates. They ate as the captain glossed over details.

“Okay, for starters, reports show Thewls are coming in with a small craft. It says small, but it’s about the size of the Phoenix,” the captain explained.

“Then, we know they can’t be coming with a full, military crew,” Swain added.

“True, but, are we sure they don’t have other ships in orbit,” Nandesrikahl asked.

“We can trust the admiral’s intel,” Fitzpatrick remarked. “He said he’s tracking them.”

Martinez clicked his tongue, attracting Day’s attention. She then looked to O’Hara.

“Marty,” O’Hara inquired.

“Ya’, Cap. These guys can travel half way across the galaxy in no time. We got word on their weaponry? If they can travel better ‘n us, I gotta wonder if they can blow shit up better ‘n us, ya’ heard?”

“Uh, Captain?” Swain interjected with a raised hand. O’Hara looked to him and nodded. “Down here on the report, page seven, it explains Thewls were attacked by this race of creatures. Logically, if those Lokians destroyed the Thewlian, home world, they have the capability to destroy Eon, right?”

“Yes….”

“Uh, what I’m saying is it’s unlikely that Thewls want to set up another home base here if it can be wiped out. I think they are genuinely interested in some kind of Human alliance. I mean, even I have to wonder what the chances are of there being any more intelligent races out here in our vicinity. We have ourselves, Thewls, and Lokians. We’re probably the only ones out here that can help these guys. They won’t want to make enemies out of us.”

“Well said, mon ami,” DeReaux responded.

“Well, that’s not good enough for me,” Becker griped.

“Okay, I see what has you concerned,” O’Hara started.

“Do you? Maybe there are Lokians, maybe there aren’t. This could be a ploy just as much as it could be the truth. Plus, the reports say the Lokians travel around to other civilizations! That means that there are other races, right? The last we thing we need is to place our implicit trust in something we’ve never encountered,” Becker argued.

“Fair enough,” O’Hara consented. “Listen, the best thing for us right now is to prepare for anything. We have air support, and the Phoenix is armed and ready. We also have communications with Presh and the admiral. We can try to imagine all sorts of garbage, or we can stay focused. Stay focused. We meet, we talk; if things get ugly we’re trained. We know the area.”

Day smiled. “You’re right. I’ll stay at the helm in case anything comes up. That should help to keep anyone else from getting suspicious about what’s going on.”

O’Hara nodded, adding, “Nandy and Zak, I want you two to be especially alert in case someone gets hurt. DeReaux and Fitzpatrick, you guys’ll get out there, and find the best place to post up, keep an eye on everything. Swain, check the report for anything that can pose a structural weakness. Their defenses aren’t listed in the report, but it does say they have some minor weaponry aboard their shuttle. See what you can find.”

Worried glances went around the room. Their food sat half eaten on the plates before them. O’Hara ground his teeth.

“Get a move on, guys,” he ordered.

“Sir.”

As the night wound down, the remaining deckhands returned to the ship. Orders were broadcasted to get a few hours rest and be ready the following morning. The spec ops team also tried their best to get some sleep before the big meeting. Some of them only tossed and turned as the stress of the unknown plagued their minds.

****

At 05:00 hours O’Hara’s crew woke, geared up, and congregated outside. It was a cold and windy morning on Eon, but the twin orbs of orange light cast a glimmer of hope. They chatted about their surroundings; rocky hills, very, little, plant life, apart from the blue palms and some reddish shrubs. No one saw a bird, or bug, or lizard, or whatever Eon had.

The strangest thing was the way everything had an orange hue with red or brown specks throughout. Swain said it was because the area was rich in Iron and Sulfur. No one really cared, but it eased the tension. Finally, Fitzpatrick and DeReaux set up on the highest hill, roughly two hundred yards from the rest of the crew. DeReaux had his rifle drawn and Fitzpatrick scanned the area with her binos.

“You copy, Captain?” her voice came in through O’Hara’s earpiece.

“Copy, Fitzpatrick. Be ready for anything.”

She set up her rifle, too.

****


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While the captain’s ground crew readied themselves, Day sat in her chair on the bridge. Since she wasn’t specially trained for ground combat, she provided air support, albeit grounded, air support. Roberts snuck up next to her, causing her to jump in her seat. She laughed it off.

“You alright, Day?”

“Fine, why?”

“I can’t help but notice our cameras are off….”

Day scanned the bridge. The service members hadn’t seemed to notice the discrepancy. They were still talking about their previous night.

“Uh…Swain said something about shutting them off for a while, so I just followed orders,” Day answered.

“Uh-huh,” Roberts was skeptical, but Day fired a surreptitious look. “Yes, Ma’am.”

****

“Alright, people,” O’Hara started. “DeReaux and Fitzpatrick have us covered from the hill, and the air strike team is a couple clicks away; they’ll be circling shortly. We shouldn’t have any trouble, but keep your eyes peeled.”

A voice suddenly erupted through his earpiece. “Captain O’Hara? This is Captain Daly, do you copy?”

“Copy, Daly. This is O’Hara.”

“I’m leading the strike team. We have visual contact. One shuttle is approaching from the southeast. You should see this thing. It’s amazing,” Daly gasped.

“They’re coming in,” O’Hara said with a hint of excitement.

“I confirm visual, Sir,” Fitzpatrick responded.

****

Back on the bridge, Day’s face lit up. Only Roberts caught her expression and wondered what was going on; she hadn’t noticed before that the helmsman wore an earpiece, so she inconspicuously checked the radar. It was tracking an air strike team and something else. Day and Roberts locked eyes. The look from Day implied silence on the matter. Roberts winced before looking back at the radar.

****

The ground team watched a streak appear in the purple sky. A silver object was coming in from the southeast. As the crew steeled themselves, it drew closer. A moment later, the silver object was in full view, something shaped like the bottom of a shoe; a large circular area in front, a thinner, elliptical center, and a small circular area at the rear. An odd silence prevailed as it drew closer and closer.

The captain thought it large for a shuttle. Maybe, it is a vanguard, he thought. It was possible that they had been misrepresenting themselves as Nandesrikahl suggested. O’Hara wanted to draw his gun and take aim or contact Miss Day and tell her to aim the Phoenix’s weapons. No, he knew jumping the gun had devastating impacts. If they had come in peace, the following, galactic blunder would henceforth be called pulling an O’Hara; he didn’t want that on his head.

The shuttle slowed to a halt in midair. It was like a great whale suspended in the ocean. There were no sounds at all. Then, a puff of wind hit the ground, blowing dust everywhere. The crew covered their eyes momentarily and a deep, droning sound rumbled for a second. A large panel opened from beneath the ship. A loading platform slid out until the edge touched the ground. A strange vehicle rolled out, something like a bulky all-terrain with tracks covering six wheels.

The enormous rover was shiny chrome with several, blue windows. It calmly pulled up a few yards from the crew. Shapes of men showed through the windows, and the windows themselves were the oddest part of the vehicle.

They weren’t made of glass. They weren’t made of any material. They were a force field with a light, blue tint. When doors opened upwards from both sides, like an old DeLorean, O’Hara about wet his britches. The vehicle hummed monotonously, and the strangest beings imaginable stepped out.

First, a tall figure worked its way off a seat. One leg clad in black armor then another protruded. A hand grabbed the side of the doorway, and a creature, this Thewl, pulled itself free. It had two arms, two legs, and a head, and it certainly moved like a bipedal being, but one, major difference in the legs was the extra joint; they were more akin to cat legs or frog legs with, long stocky toes, and the heel of the foot extended at an angle towards the calf.

After exiting, the Thewl extended a massive hand to help out more from the vehicle. Five in total gathered around the rover, looking towards the Humans and their vessel. That’s when O’Hara noticed another, bizarre difference; their skin.

At a distance, Thewls looked to be red, or mish-mashed shades of red. Fitzpatrick had a better look through her binos, though; she saw their skin was actually translucent, like jellyfish men. It was their structure beneath the skin that was all shades of red, pink, purple, and orange, and she saw their faces quite clearly.

Their heads were similar to Human heads except they swelled out behind the face. They didn’t have eyelids, either; the eyes were completely covered by the thick membrane, which presumably covered their whole bodies, allowing slits for nostrils, and one for the mouth. Other than their hands and heads, they were all clad in black, armor plated suits, and were all very tall, perhaps eight feet.

As they started marching for the captain, who was flanked by Swain and Martinez, he raised his right hand in peace, before taking a step. The remaining crew members were on their guard, awe stricken though they were. Once everyone was within speaking range, O’Hara figured the ambassador was the one in red and black garb. His suit—for lack of a better term—was the only one with any color other than black. It had fewer, armor plates and seemed more comfortable, lighter than the others’.


Thewl concept art

Yes, the artist misspelled the name

“Ambassador Weh? I am Captain Riley O’Hara. Admiral Lay has asked us to receive you under a banner of peace. We welcome you,” he said, slowly.

The ambassador raised his right hand as well. The fingers were long, there were five, but with an extra joint. His skeletal structure was evident among a plethora of ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Their veins were shades of purple, pulsating beneath translucent skin. The tendons and ligaments were orange, and the muscles were shades of pink and red, and everything moved with an eerie fashion, not that it was any different from the way Human bodies moved, but no one ever caught a glimpse off the operating table.

“I am Weh, and it is a great honor to meet the men capable of securing their future through travels in space. There is much to discuss,” Weh proclaimed.

O’Hara and the others were taken aback by the guttural droning of his voice. It was monotone, but somehow musical and gurgling like the warble of a bird that sang only one note. During the greeting, several, other beings came walking out of the alien craft.

They carried chairs, and tables, and other objects. The Humans and Thewls worked together. Soon, an outdoor conference was in session.

The crew was shocked to see the size of the tables and chairs. They were much larger in order to accommodate Thewlian anatomy. Once everything settled down, the captain spoke loud enough to drown out the voices of the aliens, who were likely conversing about the oddities of Humans, and the chatter of Humans, who conversed about the aliens.

“Ambassador, I’m impressed you’ve mastered our language in such a short time. I’m also in disbelief that your kind can travel so quickly. I assume this means your people have mastered faster than light speed.”

“As far as language is concerned, we all find it simple to learn. We have existed for over four million years and have learned many languages. We have also traveled space and time for three million years, so it is not difficult for us to acclimate to our surrounding, social environment,” the ambassador replied.

The captain was astonished, though his reports had stated incredulous facts about Thewls, it was another thing to see them, hear them in person. He remained flabbergasted a moment, saying nothing. The ambassador’s hue then changed. It was like his face brightened.

“As you well know, Captain,” the ambassador continued. “The beacons you discovered were left behind four thousand years ago. Their arrangement on this planet was meant to be a signal to any passing travelers, so they might rest or meet on neutral ground. Was there a need, the beacons were also meant to be used in unison to signal for help or relay some sort of message, and there was a need….”

“So…no one has attempted to colonize Eon,” the captain asked.

“Ah, Eon, you say; before your time, many of us were in agreement that this planet remain neutral territory. No one race dared to seize it, not that we blame you or your people for erecting a colony. You could not have known such details.

“Alas, there have been no meetings here in many centuries. There are other such planets, but this is trivial at the moment. We Thewls are in the throes of a crisis,” the ambassador said.

O’Hara stirred in his large seat. It was not the ambassador’s voice that was earnest, but his words, somehow, seemed genuine, and again, his face changed; it had grown darker, grim.

“The Lokians,” the captain finally said.

“Yes, the Lokians,” the alien nodded. “This insect-like breed; over our long existence we have encountered them on numerous occasions. The first was long before my time. They landed on our home world just after we began space travel. Our Element-115 is a very valuable resource, and the Lokians coveted such treasures.

“They came in relatively small numbers, but we were a peaceful people. We had no real weapons at the time. They came unannounced and attacked us. Most of them didn’t use weapons, but their superior, physical attributes nearly destroyed us.

“Fortunately, we drove them back with our superior numbers. After that encounter, we suspended space travel for a time to fortify our defenses. We engineered weapons. They came a second time, centuries later—still before my time—but we were prepared, or so we thought.

“You see, we were not the only ones who had prepared. We were not the only ones who had advanced. The Lokians are a strange race. They do not cogitate as you or I. They do not adapt or acclimate as you or I. No, these Lokians harvest other races, their technology, mainly. When they attacked the second time, they had augmented themselves physically by using some form of robotic technology. They were stronger, faster, and nearly indestructible. We fought long and hard, but they could not be driven back,” the ambassador took a pause.

O’Hara didn’t note any facial expressions. Thewls conveyed emotions differently, it was something in their faces, a chemical reaction, he thought, that made their color change, and darker seemed to connote darker emotions, sadness, anger, perhaps.

“So, the Lokians are on your planet now?”

“No, no, if you’ll allow me to give you the history, it will all become clear,” the ambassador said.

“I apologize, Ambassador, this is all so overwhelming.”

“Certainly, but we would like to enlist the help of your people, and so it is only proper to explain the situation,” he calmly continued. “We were staring extinction in the face. Everything seemed lost. One night, another volley of ships penetrated our skies.

“These ships were radically different than those of the Lokians. These vessels weren’t alive, yet danced across the horizon. Some of them landed, others fired energy based weaponry at our enemies. Then, strange men clad in suits of light demolished our opposition.

“It took less than a day to turn the tide. Our benefactors were impressive. In a week, the Lokians were banished to space, and once the threat ended, our saviors left as mysteriously as they had appeared, yet a few stayed behind. Twelve of them remained and helped us advance our civilization beyond our dreams. They stayed until we were able to stand on our own again, and then, they, too, left.

Lokian transporter concept art

The artist has mistaken the subject. These are Lokian transporters--living vessels

“Since then, we’ve encountered the Lokians again. On occasion, we fight a small fleet in the expanse of space. Once, we followed them to a small colony and helped another space faring race secure victory. This brings us to the present state of affairs.

“As I have said, the Lokians harvest technology. They amassed around our sun over two hundred years ago. The interference from the sun kept them hidden from our scanners and satellites. The Lokians are now not only able to bring their ships close to a sun, but they have the technology to create and utilize subspace, compactor photons.”

The captain raised an eyebrow, asking, “What are they? These subspace, compactor photons.”

“They are not unlike your Bose-Einstein condensates. Essentially, they fired packets of light energy into our sun, except those energy packets do not excite the molecular structure of the sun as one expects. They have the opposite effect and create an energy vacuum in the space between the nucleus and electron energy levels.

“You see, there is a tiny space in between the two. Your scientists think electrons are particles with characteristics of waves or wavicles. What you fail to realize is that electrons are everywhere in that energy level at once, like an energetic membrane. The space between that membrane and the nucleus is not empty. It can’t be filled with air, can it? Air is too big. It, too, is composed of atoms. That space between the nucleus and electron is a unique, resonating energy. Some of your ancient minds called it aether.

“Now, these compactor photons effectively destabilize the aether, causing atoms to implode. This starts a reaction, slowing down the movement of the molecules, causing a loss of heat, and finally, crystallization. Two hundred years ago, our temperatures began falling. There were fewer solar flares.

“We assumed it was a natural, climate cycle. The lack of heat and flares allowed our atmosphere to become too cold. Initially, we lost a few degrees over the years. In a decade we were twelve degrees cooler year round, causing crops to fail and trees to die. We then lost Carbon Dioxide, and the plant life was stifled. Then, we lost Oxygen. Finally, we started to freeze.

“After ten years, we attempted to contact other races we had met, but there were complications. Suddenly, our satellites veered into planets or asteroids. We lost all forms of normal communications and were forced to board ships. We began an exodus into space…it took fifteen years to make our home inhospitable.

“As we left our home, we picked up frequencies, which we archived and studied. Eighty years ago, we landed on and colonized a small moon, but resources are short. We sent scouts back to our old home to gather intelligence and discovered what I have told you now and ultimately decided to find the Yvlekesh, a race we saved from the Lokians on that colony I spoke of earlier, but that colony has also been destroyed. Our only hope is to find the men who saved us long ago, but we do not know who they are.

“Most recently, we picked up your transmissions, and so we find ourselves here today. I’m afraid it won’t be long before the Lokians come for you as well. We would like to help you with our skills and knowledge and ask only that you help us in return,” the ambassador then grew silent.

The chilly winds of Eon cut through the captain and his crew. The Thewls seemed fine, though. The moronic thought that their bodies were better insulated than Human bodies made O’Hara angry; he wanted to think about what the ambassador had just said and not biology. After a minor struggle, he brought his thoughts to order.

“So, if I understand this correctly, you’ve been drifting through space because the Lokians destroyed your home world.”

“Correct.”

“But the Lokians didn’t take control of your world; you said they aren’t there now.”

“You are right.”

“Then, where are the Lokians?”

“They could be anywhere at this point. All we know is that they have no home base of operations. They likely landed on our world, took the resources and technology then moved on. They either attacked the Yvlekesh before us or shortly after,” the ambassador explained.

“So, now you’ve colonized a small moon and are in search of the people who helped you during that second invasion,” the captain asked in a leading fashion.

“Again, that is correct,” the ambassador responded.

“I don’t think I understand…what could these people do for you now? If your sun is destroyed then there is no hope for your world, is there? Also...I fail to understand how you were helped by a race of people, who then stayed with you for a while, and not know who they are or from where they came,” O’Hara argued.

He was certain his logic wasn’t failing him, and though he intended no offense, he needed to know exactly what was at stake. He thought for sure Weh was omitting something of importance.

“Yes,” the ambassador said after a moment’s pause. “It is difficult to explain. You see, according to our records, the people who helped us never spoke. They simply appeared, fought, and then taught us, showed us new technology. They never used words. They were able to communicate directly into our minds.

“They had no names for themselves, or us, or what they showed us. They had no words for where they came from or where they went. Everything was just concepts, whole blocks of knowledge and ideas, and then, they simply vanished.”

O’Hara was shocked to hear about silent and direct knowledge. “I see, not sure I understand, but I’m on board. My other question...you said you travel space and time, what does that mean?”

“Ah,” the ambassador paused again before responding, “Yes, your people call it String Theory or Quantum Loop, and before you say more, they are the same concepts, but viewed from different angles.”

“Wait, what?”

The ambassador’s face grew lighter, almost pink when he said, “Take something like a rubber band and hold it out before you while it is held in its round shape. No matter how round, how large, or stretched it is, it is round, and if you slowly turn it until you see only one side of it, it appears to resemble a line segment, no? Look at it this way.” O’Hara’s mouth involuntarily gaped a little while the ambassador explained what he thought was theoretical physics. “The universe is a conglomerate of parallel membranes of reality. These people who helped us we have dubbed the travelers, a simple but all-encompassing term.

“They gave us the ability to essentially pin two membranes of reality together with a burst of energy. On occasion, two or more membranes touch anyway whenever their frequencies are waxing and waning at certain intervals. Our technology, which we call wave coalescence, allows us to briefly form a bridge between space, time, and reality.

“What we do is bring two points together. If two peaks in an oscillation are brought together then one can jump a great distance. This is not a simple or easy matter, but we can do it when required.”

“So, you don’t move faster you cut the distance,” the captain exclaimed. The ambassador nodded. “Can the Lokians do it, too?”

“Lokians have different methods, ones we cannot even hope to conceive. They are not susceptible to the same, environmental forces as you and I, and lack the same self-preservation. We believe their technology allows them to generate a tremendous amount of energy, piercing those same membranes. They navigate by some unknown methods.

“You see, their ships are not like yours or ours. Their ships are great, big, living Lokians, spliced with unknown technology. For all intents and purposes, their ships are inter-dimensional beings used for transport,” the ambassador elucidated.

That took the cake. O’Hara’s head was swimming. He felt infinitesimal, useless. What could I do? How can we help anyone in this situation?

“What…what can we do to stop them?”

“I have but a single request, Captain; I would like to use some of your charts and way stations to search for our benefactors. You see, we have reasons to believe that your people know who they are.”

O’Hara grew skeptical. While trying to make sense of the cryptic statement, his eyes darted around. It didn’t sound like the ambassador was accusing them of squelching intel, but he seemed confident in his assertion.

“How is that possible?!”

The alien began another explanation, “As I said, we are over four million years old. We have been traveling in space for much of that time. Of the few, space faring races we’ve met, we have found similarities. The Lokians are the oldest that we know. The travelers possibly older, but we can’t be sure. The Yvlekesh began traveling through space twenty or so thousand years ago, and they have been in existence for roughly one and a half million years. You Humans are the only anomaly.

“There have been many variations of your kind over the past six million years. There was a time when your planet did not harbor intelligent life at all. Your planet was crawling with large beasts you call dinosaurs. Suddenly, those great beasts vanished, time passed, and then there were primitive apes. Just as suddenly, those primitive apes exhibited non-primitive, behavioral patterns. Then, they learned cognitive thinking.

“At one point, your Neanderthal man overlapped your modern man. Modern man was more intelligent, he was able to trap, he was able to invent. He out performed Neanderthal, who was relegated to obscurity.

“There are signs that some species of men cross bred, giving birth to modern men, yet this is not evolution…perhaps adaptation. Your planet still has apes and they never cross breed with similar species, nor do they give birth to more advanced versions. There is no deformity, no genetic mutation responsible for making that single member of a species more efficient, and there certainly is no genetic mutation responsible for creating an entirely new species.

“Does coelacanth not still exist on your Earth, or the lungfish? It is a strange concept for you, I’m certain, but the truth is more likely that the travelers found your planet and cleansed it of the great beasts, the dinosaurs. Perhaps, they even settled it for a time, and when they felt it necessary, they created your modern man and played with its genetic makeup until they reached a desired result.

“Did you know that some of your religions coincide with this theory, and so does your oldest civilization. Your ancient, Sumerian canisters almost prove it. They even spoke of men clad in light, who traveled the skies.”

The ambassador’s color brightened before returning to its neutral pallor. The captain was simply breathless. Ambassador Weh continued after the dramatic pause.

“The data your scientists provided and the methods they used to communicate convinced us that a trip to Earth may reveal where our travelers have gone. We will do our best to help all of your people. We will help you colonize, we will help you travel through space, we will help to defend you from the Lokians should they target you, and I sincerely believe they will.

“I am here to provide a story and an explanation. I, on behalf of my people, would like the permission of your people, but you have to understand, should I fail to acquire that permission, we will still visit your colonies and go to Earth to find what we need. Our continued existence requires this extreme measure.

“Please, help us and benefit. Allow us to be your benefactors. Allow us to show you from where you came.” With that, the ambassador stood and said one final thing, “Please, speak to your superiors, and do my cause justice. Contact us soon. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Just like that, he and his entourage walked back to their vehicle as the remaining Thewls gathered the chairs and tables. They left as quickly and dramatically as they came, leaving O’Hara to imagine the travelers and the Lokians.

“Admiral? Did you copy,” O’Hara asked.

“I did, Captain, I did. Have the Phoenix return to the colony, and we’ll set up a debriefing. Get some rest. We’ll discuss this at 05:00 tomorrow. Out.”

That was the first time O’Hara had ever heard age or concern in the admiral’s voice. After the crew boarded, they avoided eye contact. Something big was going down whether they were part of it or not. Fortunately for them, they didn’t have to make a decision. Whatever the admiral decided was all that mattered.

It took some time to return to the colony. Most of Phoenix Crew fell asleep from mental exhaustion. Day was feeling the effects herself, and she hadn’t even been there in person. She took a shower to calm down.

The warm water fell on her face and cascaded down her trim body. She hung her head and let the flow massage her neck. Looking at her feet, she turned to introspection. What a strange turn of events. Not too long ago, I was in training. Then, the beacon mission on Eon, which I didn’t even play a part in; still, I felt the thrill. Now, aliens from another planet need our help to research our planet because they think we were engineered by yet another, more advanced race of aliens. I don’t think I’m ready for this….

While Day showered, Zak snoozed, and Becker and Imes found their own way to forget about aliens, Swain and Martinez went to conference room B for a little privacy.

“I told you, man! I! Told! You!” Swain was laughing and pointing firmly at Martinez. “Aliens, and we are going to help them. Yes we are. My, my.”

Both men were laughing. “Ah-ight, ah-ight, man. You need to bring that shit down a notch, Swain. Yer’ freakin’ me out.” Martinez was enjoying himself and Swain’s display, but he was a little worried as he spoke. “I mean, what if the admiral don’t wanna’ cooperate? Then, these guys just go to Earth? I mean, none of us can stop ‘em, right? When they land on Earth, it ain’t no peaceful banner, ya’ heard? So...I’m sayin’, maybe we should try to persuade the admiral to let us help, right?”

Swain looked at Martinez in disbelief. Marty rubbed his nose, his sign of concern.

“I’m sure it won’t be an issue. The admiral had us come this far. Besides, doesn’t it seem like O’Hara always ends up caught in the middle of something bigger than himself?”

“Like when he got promoted and took over Phoenix Crew?”

“And then found alien beacons,” Swain added.

“And just like that, bam! We got aliens landin’ on our, I mean, on this planet,” Martinez cheered. “You right, you right. Lay’s gonna’ want us in the thick of this shit.”

The two men sat in the small room and tossed ideas back and forth. Each, imaginary scenario became wilder than the last. By the end, they laughed their brains out and decided to call it a night.

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Part 5 of Beyond the End of the World, Lokians 1
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