The Day the Earth Went Dark Episode Five: Contact

Xal sat in the musty chamber of what remained of the Officer’s club. While it didn’t compare to anything on Earth, the life on the ship made it seem more relaxing than a five-star hotel. Fleet Admiral Crafton sat at the head of the table, but Xal could barely see him past the bent in metal roof and wall. A neon sign glowed directly in Xal’s face advertising a space beer that was supposed to taste the same as beer on Earth. From what Xal heard from the Junior Officers, it tasted nothing alike. They said it tasted like water with TV static and a drop of beer mixed. 

“Before we begin Fleet Admiral,” Third Guardian Dalton said, “you are sure that you want Spaceman First Class Robinson in these meetings.”

After enough time in the military, no matter the branch, lower enlisted learned that the higher-ups didn’t always appreciate their presence. Xal took no personal offense to the statement. Third Guardian Dalton sat at a comfortable position next to the Fleet Admiral where both men could have plenty of room to breathe. With them were two more senior Guardians from supply and medical. Luckily it seems some of the essentials survived. Xal didn’t like to think like that, but the reality was they didn’t need everyone to survive to make it through. It may make it easier to survive with fewer bodies to feed. The glow of the neon light was starting to give him a headache, so he waited until the Fleet Admiral responded before he pulled on the power string.

“Yes, Guardian Dalton,” Fleet Admiral Crafton said, and then raised an eyebrow in Robinson’s direction, “he has already proven a valuable asset to our efforts.”

Oh no, they’re going to think I sucked up to the Fleet Admiral. While it wasn’t horrible, the fact that the Fleet Admiral didn’t address his rank may appear as extra favor towards him. Fleet Admiral Crafton referred to Dalton as Guardian, and then Xal by his last name. It was a distinction that Dalton showed her recognition of the difference with a scowl in Xal’s direction. 

“Either way, we need to begin the daily meeting and take stock,” Fleet Admiral Crafton said. “Guardian Dalton, please go first.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Dalton said, “Personnel is now fully accounted for at one-hundred healthy bodies—“

Xal tuned out Guardian Dalton’s brief as the Television behind the Fleet Admiral’s head. The screen remained black until the briefing officially began. Then what started with a flicker of color turned into static before the image of someone in some kind of full-body armor appeared. It reminded Xal of the video game characters from Collateral Damage. The headgear covered any identifying feature and looked to be on the brink of alien but closer to a human head design. The sleek black armor shone with jointed gold lines of light. Xal tried not to let his mouth fall open, but the dryness of his tongue told him he failed. 

“Si-Sir,” Xal stammered.

“See Fleet Admiral, this is what I mean,” Guardian Dalton said.

“Oh shut up,” Fleet Admiral Crafton said. “What is it, Spaceman?”

Xal pointed, and the others who weren’t looking turned towards the Television. Even though the Television didn’t have a camera that Xal knew about, the figure on the screen began to speak once everyone watched.

“Dark Specter One, I am Adonis, the head of the Creare Compound. We have heard your calls for contact and wish to offer you some understanding. Please prepare a party no larger than you have here for departure from your ship. We will fly you over to our own and speak of further actions at that point. Please be ready for departure in the next hour. I believe your Earth works off of this time frame still. If there are any concerns before that time, we will be listening for your objections.”

The Television blacked out, and Xal felt like he needed to run out of the closest space hatch.

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