We ran the last hundred meters to the bridge. The hatch was open and there was a man I didn’t recognize, a large bird, and a woman that looked like a tree in the center of the room. The XO and Ellen were off to one side. The helmsman was sitting at his post at the helm. The captain was about to speak when all of a sudden I heard Janice’s voice in my head.
“Captain, may I present the patriarch of this planet.” The man bowed slightly from the waist and extended his hand to shake. The captain stared for a minute and then took his hand.
“I’m Captain Jack Armstrong. This is the Starship Beagle. Welcome.”
The old one smiled. “I have had many names. I am the avatar of my people. I should explain. I have taken this form to better understand your people as your crew member, Janice Fletcher has taken the form of my people. It is temporary I assure you. We have much to talk about, captain.”
“Are you hurt?” The captain asked the tree woman.
“Captain, you were speaking to the one called the mother of the forest. I am the bird over here.” Janice’s voice in my head held a hint of amusement as she waved the tip of one wing at the captain.
“Sorry. I’m pleased to meat you,” the captain said to the mother of the forest.
She nodded at him and we heard an old woman’s voice in our heads say, “As am I, sir.”
The captain turned to Janice. “What is going on here? Your mother will kill me if you are hurt.”
Janice replied with the same calm voice in our head, “We have a quandry. These fine folk are very reclusive. They have technology the like of which we have never dreamed. They have explored this universe and more. But now they want to be left alone. They realize that there are those of our species that would never leave them alone if we reported their existence. They have offered to remove all memory of our contact with them from our minds. It is the only way they will let us leave here.”
The captain reached for his sidearm. It wasn’t there. The old one said, “You disappoint me sir. I had thought you wouldn’t resort to violence.”
“You kidnap one of my crew, transform them into an alien creature, invade my ship, and you are disappointed in me? You are a condescending, self centered snob. Transform Janice back to the way she was and get off of my ship!”
Janice spoke in our heads again, “Captain. One of their young shot at our ship. That was what pierced cartography. They wanted to make amends. They were not aware how young a race humans are. They didn’t realize the panic that teleporting me to their holy place would cause you. They only want to live in peace and quiet and contemplate their existence without having to constantly deal with people that wanted to steal their technology.”
“But what right do they have to manipulate others to suit their whim?,” the captain said. “They may have the power to force us but that doesn’t make it right.”
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.