EPISODE ONE: In the Year Three-Thousand.
“And this is Vanity’s head biological researcher and scientist, Doctor Rainbow Miller.” The captain, who was in charge of the first contact with the Komali, stepped back, and waved the other human forward.
The human standing in front of Doctor Pless was a female, with tawny skin and brown hair. Her light amber eyes flickered over them, and she bared her teeth. The alien had already noted that for humans this was a sign of pleasure and not of aggression. She held out a hand, the one not gripping a long piece of metal.
“How do you do, Doctor?”
The Doctor held out their own hand, shaking with the scientist. Terran skin was much warmer than the Komali’s and it was all the alien could do to stop themselves from taking their hand back when it felt like it was being burned.
“Very well, thank you Doctor.” The translator did its job seamlessly, letting the humans, and the Komali all understand the delicate idiosyncrasies of each other’s languages.
She nodded and moved aside, allowing the human captain to keep going with the introductions from the human space vessel.
Clio rolled her eye.
“First contact is always so boring,” she muttered aloud. “Nothing ever happens in the first five minutes, everyone knows you have to get past the first commercial break to get to the introduction of the conflict. I might as well not even be here.”
The muse yawned, propped up against the corner of the ship and unseen by everyone. She’d been ‘randomly assigned’ to this narrative, but she suspected that either Spectra or Monaco had something to do with it. She was meant to follow the doctor, Rainbow Miller, until she got back to earth.
Lazily closing her one eye, she tilted her head back against the bulkhead. The hum of the ship’s engine was soothing and the Komali kept their ships so dark. If she just closed her eye for a moment, she wouldn’t miss any cues, she was sure. Spectra slept on her assignments all the time, and if that stupid hyena could do it, it would be no problem for an older, more respected muse like Clio.
Taking one last peek at the scientist she was supposed to be observing, the unseen narrator closed her eye.
“Doctor Miller, may I ask, why the piece of metal?”
Rain smiled, placing her teacup down. The alien ship was beautiful. There was an organic, plant-like quality to everything. The pathways were gently rounded by the exposed and phosphorescent lighting in the conduits. Rain had nearly tripped already several times, eyes still adjusting to the darker environment of the ship. It contrasted neatly with the glassy, bright and neo-human aesthetic of the Vanity.
“It’s old fashioned really. My intern on earth, Kam, laughs at me for it. It’s called a walking stick.”
The alien, deep purple skin and bright blue eyes, tilted their head.
Rain laughed again, amused. “No, it helps me to. When I was young, four or five, I was thrown from a horse and shattered my right hip. The doctors didn’t fix it completely since I hadn’t stopped growing yet and they didn’t want to tamper with my bone structure too much. I used one all through school and by the time I was done with puberty I just had gotten used to using it.”
The alien dipped their head low and back up, bird like. In a way it reminded Rain of flamingos, dipping their heads in and out of the water to catch shrimp to eat.
They certainly are colorful enough to be tropical birds, she thought.
“I understand now. And it is humorous for people to use walking sticks on earth now?” The alien wondered aloud.
“Well it is for the year three thousand. Most of our major disease and injuries have been solved by now. Nearly no one even dies by mechanical error anymore!” She bragged, recalling the work she’d done the bio infrastructure of the newest model of the T-7000, a hovercraft that was self-driving and had a neural interface, making it nearly foolproof.
“So why do you still use one?”
Rain smiled, looking into her teacup. “Nostalgia. A way of fishing the past from the garbage. People way back used to use these walking sticks all the time.” She then smiled somewhat sheepishly. “I guess it’s also a form of conceit, to use something so outdated. It makes a statement to people. They remember the scientist with the old fashioned walking stick, better than they would ever remember a plain old Doctor Miller.”
The alien nodded deeply again and raised their drink, sipping for a moment.
“We too, have a way of preserving our past, and our arrogance’s.”
Rain tilted her head. “Really? On earth we have museums. Tell me, how your culture does it?” Her interest was polite but somewhat distant, attention returning to her teacup.
The alien looked away.
“We are not allowed to say. It is a sacred practice.”
Rain nodded her head and made the correct noises of understanding. After finishing her tea in one long draught, she stood up.
“It was fascinating to talk to you, thank you for the hospitality you’ve shown us.” Rain dipped her head low, like the alien had, before turning around to walk away.
Clio slowly opened her eye, sighing. She only closed her eye for a moment and everything was fine. Maybe Spectra was right, maybe Clio was too stressed. She blinked as she looked around for Rain. About now she should be getting the information from Doctor Pless…
Looking over, Clio scrambled away from the wall, cursing as she darted over tables and through mortals. Why was Rain walking away? They were supposed to be giving each other information!
Pless was looking down into their cup, and Rain was quickly leaving. Clio ran a hand through her hair, hissing through her pointed teeth in frustration. The plot was already derailing and they hadn’t even been here an hour yet.
This called for drastic measures.
Clio smoothed back her hair and marched silently over to Pless.
“We bring them back.”
Rain nearly jumped when a long fingered hand landed on her shoulder. She was being steered towards one of the darken corridors.
“We bring back our past. Our ancestors,” The alien hissed in her ear, voice sounding more emotive than before. Rain tried to twist her shoulder out of the grip but nearly tripped over her cane. This was when her sense of aesthetics really crippled her.
“What on earth are you talking about, unhand me!” She snapped.
“We bring back our ancestors. I can show you how, Dr. Miller. Imagine it, all of history at your fingertips.” The alien shook her arm slightly and Rain wanted to snap but then what the alien said finally processed to her brain.
The world swam around her. Her mind started racing, trying to figure out if this was poetic metaphors or if the alien was being literal.
“You bring your ancestors, bring them back to life?” She asked breathlessly, spinning around to face the alien. Their face swam before her for a second, which she chalked up to being dizzy. The alien nodded, eyes never leaving hers. Rain had the sudden feeling that even if she wanted to look around she never would have been able to.
“We have discovered how to recreate bodies-”
“Oh.” Rain said, disappointment. Bodies were one thing, simple enough. Flesh wasn’t hard to recreate, even the late twenty first century on earth had been able to do that. But the minds…
“And the minds of them as well,” the alien continued on, shaking her arm again.
Rain’s heart raced in her chest, making her ribs rattle.
“Would you be able to show me?” She asked slowly, hardly daring to hope. If what this alien said was true, if this truly was possible, could it be adapted, modified? Would it work on humans? What did you need to bring a person back to life?
The alien tilted their brightly colored head again, seeming to nearly smile and for a moment Rainbow’s heart stopped.
“Yes, I assume so. Would 20:00 hours be alright?” Her arm was finally released as Pless stood back.
Rain stuttered out her agreement and watched at her new friend walked away from her, knees bending backwards in that odd, birdlike way.
“Nice job, that,” Spectra said, leaning against Clio’s corner. Clio shook off her shimmer, the disguise melting away. No one noticed.
No one was meant to.
“Shut your mouth,” Clio snapped at the trickster.
The Hyena grinned even wider. “Why? That was masterfully done, for a half blind lower life form.”
“Don’t you have your own story to be following?”
Spectra shrugged. “I like surprises, so I let them go free range every now and again.”
“Well, go hunt them down, I’m busy,” Clio shook her head in frustration. She’d been so close to letting the entire instigating event go awry, there almost hadn’t been a story at all.
“Fine. I’ll let you be. I’m sure I’ll see you around, long before you see me.” Spectra laughed and left.
Clio sighed. Now she just had to make Pless blackout long enough to show Rain how to work the re-invigorator.
To be continued.