For This Alliance May So Happy Prove
Disclaimer: This work of fan-fiction is not intended for personal profit. All characters utilized herein which are not creations of myself belong to The CW or to NBC.
"Attention all passengers and crew!"
The Captain's voice reverberated through the ship, startling Omon as he rushed to the classroom's windows. Was the blue-tinged planet below them the one? The one everybody'd been anxiously chattering about for several shifts now?
"For those of you who are near a window, you can see the planet that we are currently orbiting. We will soon leave orbit and begin entering the atmosphere. While we plan to have a very steady and gentle landing sequence so you can watch as we land, please be careful and mindful of emergency strap-in procedures if we experience any problems."
Cheers went through the classroom, and their teacher, Iveta, was smiling even though she was trying to quiet down the children so they could hear the rest of the announcement.
"We are leaving orbit in ten – nine – eight…"
Omon felt the tiniest of shudders through the deck plates as the ship underwent the smallest of course corrections to begin atmospheric entry. He pointed, stabbing the glass with his finger. "Look! The planet's getting bigger already!"
It was true. Slowly, but surely, the ship tilted down – the planet's gravity pulling their ship ever more swiftly downwards to their final destination.
Omon had ducked into the bathroom and crouched into a small ball when the first tremors had hit the ship; just a little while before, he and the other children in their classroom had been raptly watching through the windows as their ship made a stately descent through the planet's atmosphere. Only the slightest keening whine of air against the ship gave any indication of the challenge facing the ship's bridge crew as they controlled the descent to the chosen landing spot.
But even during a ship's landing, one occasionally needs to deal with bodily functions, and Omon had gone to the facilities down the corridor from the classroom. But just as he exited, the lights flickered alarmingly and the ship began shaking, which prompted his immediate dash for the far corner near the sinks. Not long after, the lights had completely died; even the emergency lighting didn't work.
As best as he could judge years later, the entire terrifying experience had probably lasted no more than half an Earth hour from the moment the ship began shaking, but with the hard floor and wall against his back and side, the ship ominously creaking and groaning, which culminated in terror rattling his teeth as much as the shuddering impact against the ground – it all seemed as if it would never end!
But eventually, the loud roaring shuddering finally stopped. A pipe had broken somewhere; Omon could hear water spraying from one of the sinks. He hesitantly rose to his feet and got a faceful of water for his trouble. In trying to dodge the spray, he ended up soaked from head to toe. From the glow of his luminescent markings, he could see that the bathroom door was ajar, and the frame it was supposed to fit into was distorted just enough that it hadn't shut properly while it was banging back and forth during the landing.
He didn't waste time considering his run of good luck; he swallowed hard as he realized he was aboard an oppressively dark ship and he wanted his father. He raced down the dark corridor, heedless of the fact that he was heading exactly in the opposite direction of the Common Hall.
Ray noticed a flickering light shining through the door of the ship as it slid back, and he took one look at the shapes he could make out; they looked very human.
"Shit," he breathed.
Should he aim his gun? Did whoever was on the ship have electricity? Even if not, did they have projectile guns like his own?
He barked, "Whoever you are – if you can understand me – we will not fire on you if you do not attack us! Exit that ship slowly and no sudden moves!"
Nox stood dumbstruck, listening to the strange being's words. They were in absolutely no language he understood! Not even a backwoods Sondiv dialect sounded anything like what he'd just heard. He looked to his left and right, and the tightening in his stomach only intensified as he recognized worry and fear on his fellow Atrians' faces, the flickering light behind them only adding to the uncomfortable looming sense of danger.
He bellowed back, "We are refugees from a faraway planet! We mean you no harm!"
The air echoed with the Sondiv words, then stilled.
All the patrollers standing in the abandoned industrial park went stiff with shock at the completely unfamiliar words.
"Jesus almighty Christ," blurted Jerry. "Did you hear that, Ray? That's nothin' like anything I've ever heard before. I don't even think that's an African language – you know, the kind with the funny clicks?"
Ray growled, "Whatever it is they do speak, we can't understand them and they can't understand us. Do we trust them or not?!"
He shifted his grip on his gun, trying to figure out what to do next.
All Omon wanted was to find his father, and he was feeling rising panic as he threaded his way along the dark corridors. He stumbled ahead, his hands touching the walls to his left or right with the only light thrown by the barest flicker when a tear occasionally fell from his eyes. After what seemed like an eternity of searching and not finding any Atrians who could tell him where his father was (it would transpire later for Omon that he had the unlucky fortune to be moving through the supplies section, which had been vacated during the landing sequence as all the supply and inventory crew had moved up a level to watch from one of the large lounge rooms), he rounded a corner—
And he could see! There was light! Dim light, true, but he had managed to reach one of the corridors that ran alongside the inner hull, and he could just see outside by the faint light reflected by this planet's moon (he knew about moons, of course; he'd been taught about the Atrian solar system just a while ago) when he mashed his face against a window to see how high up he was. He figured if he just went down one more level, he could get out and get to the ground. At least, to his way of thinking, he would find his father that way. The ship had never before felt so scary and unsafe, and he didn't like that feeling.
He put his hand against the opposite wall, feeling for the chute that contained the emergency ladders you could use to get from deck to deck. Luckily, just before one of the bulkheads, his hand felt the circular cage that kept people from accidentally falling in; after swinging it aside, he nimbly descended to the next level down, and was greeted with a breeze through a long rectangular window, carrying the unfamiliar scents of the planet he was on. He didn't know how the window had shattered, but he could just see the glinting shards on the floor at his feet. He stepped gingerly to the shoulder-high windowsill, and pulled himself up, shimmying himself over, and after a moment of letting his feet hang freely, he let go.
His feet hit the hard pavement which was partly overgrown with an alien grass, jarring him as he stumbled and rolled. He looked up at the ship looming over him, and a sudden wave of vertigo made his head swim. He shook his head and deliberately looking to his left and right and not up, he picked the way to the left as it seemed like the trees (well, they looked a bit like the trees he'd seen in pictures and holograms of plant life on Atria) were a bit thicker that way.
As with his memory of the landing, he would thank whatever fates, years later, that he hadn't blundered into the bayous beyond Edendale.
But at the time, he just wanted to be safe, and the ship did not feel safe. He began walking resolutely along the long axis of the ship, rounded the stern, went past the enormous nozzle-blasts and peeked out. He could make out Atrian-looking shapes in the semi-darkness and somehow he knew it would be dangerous to get near one of them. He kept to the shadows of the bushes and trees as he tried to creep behind the group of not-Atrians.
Ray Whitehill would later wonder at how many ways the extraterrestrial contact he was part of could have gone wrong.
As it was, it was a near thing.
Ray decided to go with caution, and slowly lowered his gun to the ground, his eyes never leaving the opening of the ship. He stood back up, gripping the handle of the Coleman lamp as he held it up. His heart hammered in his chest as he warily took a step forward. He thought he could see the tall man in front stiffen just a bit, but he made no move that looked like a gun was going to be pointed at Ray.
Another slow step.
Yet another step.
Let out the breath he'd been holding.
Ray's training kicked in and he threw himself to the ground, looking around him as best as he could from his prone position. "What the hell was that?!" he roared. The intact lamp nearly tilted over, its normally steady light sputtering as he grabbed it.
Out the corner of his eye, he could see the vaguely human shapes at the doorway press themselves against the door, making as though to slide it back across the opening and hunker down inside their ship. Meanwhile, most of his patrollers had raised their guns and pointed them at the ship, while the ones at the extremes of the line he'd formed up pointed theirs in various directions around them. He bellowed, "Hold fire! Hold your fire!"
He caught one of the men at the end hesitantly aiming his gun at a copse of bushes about a hundred feet, maybe two hundred feet, away and off to the side. Ray pursed his lips and slowly got back up, shouting "Guns down!" as he did so. He picked up the lamp again, and with deliberate steps paced over to the offending shooter at the far end at the right. "Brad? Brad, is it? What d'you think you're shooting at?! There's nobody there."
The heavy-set man was wiping sweat off his forehead with his sleeve. "Goddamn, Ray! I thought I saw somethin' moving over there! I was just so jumpy, all right?"
Ray forced himself not to explode. Everybody was keyed up, and Brad would probably swear for the rest of his days that he honestly saw something lurking in the bushes and trees when he fired. "All right. Make yourself useful and go back to Scott at the truck and go get the Mayor. And for God's sake don't shoot that damn gun off on the way back, huh?"
Brad cast his eyes down and with a sheepish look on his face, left the group. Now, Ray thought, I hope I didn't screw up whatever this First Contact is!
I want to thank my very helpful betas and idea-bouncer-offers: For Revolution, IronAmerica! For Star-Crossed, justvisiting80 and Sibuna'sDivergent!