Chapter one: The search for intelligent life in outer space

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#1
add your own characters from your neck of the Astroverse below. let's write an epic! Please don't comment in this thread.

Traga stared out of the window of the massive starship. He found it hard to believe that the entire crew had mysteriously vanished, but they had. Fortunately the technology that pilots the ship was top notch, but Traga had another problem, he was in a part of space far from Atlas and Largo. Now, all of the endless wars seemed so alien to him, all he wanted was to go home and be amongst the familiar things he had known so well.

Traga worried that he might lose it without any human contact. The ship's AI was a very boring conversationalist and every time he uttered something aloud, he worried that he was slipping into the embrace of madness. He spent his time at the communications center, searching for any signs of life, either his crewmates or... anybody.

A green blip on the big grid began to flash, at first Traga didn't notice it but as soon as he did he searched for the frequency and initiated an ultra microwave transmission.

"This is survey ship Murkwet 6, if anybody reads me, I am a peaceful explorer. I am Secondary Commander Traga. I need assistance, particularly local starmaps and information. Will trade supplies. Does anybody read me? Over."

And with that he slouched in his chair, feeling hopeless. He turned the volume up to maximum in case a weak signal should come through.
 
#2
Lt. Clark Calvin stared at the strange suns from the porthole. His rocket had come to these alien stars by some means he could not fathom. His crew, gone. He consulted the mechanical brain for signs of the familiar worlds of home. But he could locate none of them. No sign of Gilath, Astrad, Avernus or even desolate Halchiron. Calvin was not one to give, overmuch, credence to space legends but there were tales of phenomena that could whisk ships across space and perhaps, even time. Currents and eddy's that none had charted. Or at least none that had returned to tell the tale.

Giving up on the mechanical brain, he went to the visi-screen to see what lay beyond the walls of his ship. There against the curtain of stars was one star moving. A ship. Calvin, ever cautious, pushed buttons and pulled levers to divert energy to the ships ray cannons. He sought, and found the ear piece which would allow him to detect transmissions across the void, and placed it in his ear. In it he could hear naught but the strange, yet hypnotic, sounds of space. A cacaphony of pulsating sound amidst an ambient static. And within this there was an urgent and orderly aberation, a signal, of sentient orgin.

Calvin directed the rocket's sensing beams towards the star, and had confirmed for him that it was indeed a ship. A ship of strange design, for it bore no likeness to the ships of the Rocket Patrol or any other design in the Astro Republic. Nor did it bear any resemblence to those vessels from the surrounding kingdoms, either benevolent or hostile. The sense of isolation increased as he came closer to the unknown here in this alien space.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#3
Traga awoke several hours later. How many, he didn't know. But he knew it must have been a while because he felt rested in spite of falling asleep sitting in his chair at the console. He stretched, then it hit him all over again, the entire crew has mysteriously vanished with no record of how or why, not even a note pinned on a wall, nothing. The big grid was completely inactive now. A star system was just coming into approachable distance. Traga decided to go up to the command station and alter the course for this system.

These long corridors once held the hum and banter of his crew, and now they were silent. He could see how worn out the carpet was. Smudged handprints were clearly visible at the button for the elevator, Traga extended his hand to press the button but something was strange. He could hear the elevator already running. Someone else was still on the ship. From the command station he could isolate any other people onboard. He was excited, so many questions to ask. What happened? Where did everybody go? The elevator ride was very quick but seemed protracted, like traveling near a black hole. Every second seemed to breathe it's own breath. The door opened and Traga ran down the hall to the command station, entered and sat down at the systems desk. A few clicks and the biosystems monitor screen came up. Traga ran the proper protocols and the readout indicated that there was only one life form on the entire ship, and that was in the command station, that was Traga. He stared at the screen in disbelief. Traga began to weep.

He spun around in his chair and engaged the console directly behind him. Music began to fill the room. It was a piece composed almost 2500 years ago back on Atlas. Very emotionial but strong measures gave Traga a sense of hopefulness, but tears of confusion were still working their way out of his eyes. He bagan setting certain systems on auto and configuring others to watch for signs of life either visual or on the communications bands.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#4
What an incredibly dreadful sense of freedom. Not a soul onboard, except for whatever that was in the elevator. Traga chalked it up to a hallucination, the stress and shock of being the only living thing in a huge area of space is quite daunting. He instructed the computer to bring the ship about and head back in the direction they had come from, and then he saw it, it was a ship. But not a starship, it was more of a rocket. The design was both alien and familiar at the same time. He wondered if the inhabitants of this ship were the ones riding the elevators on his.

"Cut engines, drift range from fifty to seventy-five KtX per second."

The massive ship responded by shuddering, the lights dimmed momentarily and returned to normal. Traga stared intently through the viewscreen, studying the lines of this alien craft. It certainly didn't look hostile, but what does a hostile spacecraft look like. He saw the figure of a humanoid wearing a rocket pack crossing the void that seperated the two ships.

The communications grid lit up again. This time, there were several green lights, and a few yellow ones too. For the first time in his life, Traga was completely at a loss for what to do. This was all a bit overwhelming. Then something struck him as odd. He slowly looked around the room and there it was. A beautiful woman draped in a single piece of fabric was standing in the doorway looking at him and softly smiling. The woman was not Atlasian, in fact he wasn't sure what species she was, but she was beautiful nonetheless.

"Hello...?" said Traga.
"Hello" said the woman.
"What are you doing here?"
"I don't know." she said, "I've always been here."

Now Traga found that hard to believe.

"Do you know what happened to my crew?"
she seemed puzzled by his question.
"My people, do you know where they are?"
"I'm sorry, I cannot help you."
"Who are you?" said Traga.
"I'm sorry, I have to go now. I'll return soon, but they're calling me now."
The woman turned and walked away and out of sight. Traga ran to the door frame and looked down the hall. There was no sign of her anywhere.

The communications grid was lit up like the night sky, but with colors. Traga sat back down at the communications station and pressed a few buttons. A crackling voice came through on the audio channel.

"...........is Clark Calvin of........strange region .......the..........if there....aboard, please identify yoursel........peacefully.

Traga had absolutely no idea of what was going on, but as a safety measure he armed weapons systems and started pulling the ship away from the alien craft until he reached a safe distance away. He then heard several voices laughing far away in the ship.
 

Deslok

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Jan 1, 1970
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#5
Then the lights went down and the emergency systems came up. The dim light cast strange shapes on the bulkheads. The only other light in the room was the light cast by a nearby sun. He sat in his chair just taking it all in for a second. The main computer was down, weapons systems were down, there was no way of knowing if life support was down until the air quality changes to non-existent.

Then it dawned on him, "I gotta find that woman."

he leapt up and left the room. Traga walked with intense purpose down the halls, checking every room he passed. The fact that it would take a very long time to personally check all sections of the ship, he seemed determined. Then he had another idea, he would lie in wait somewhere and catch the intruder if they should pass by. He headed toward the commissary and grabbed a bunch of food. He went to the armory and grabbed some weapons and some spare power cells. Then he went to the centermost section of the ship, the engine room. He shut down the emergency lighting and hid in one of the offices just off the main room. Traga opened a jar of liquefied fish parts and took a healthy gulp, Traga smiled... and waited... and ultimately fell asleep.
 

Deslok

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#6
Some time had passed, Traga didn't know exactly how long. He opened his eyes and saw several beautiful women standing in the room with him. They all radiated an unnatural light from within, even though they all seemed solid. Traga thought he was dreaming at first, then one of the women spoke. It was the one with bright silvery hair.

"We need your help." she said.
"Who are you?" said Traga.
"We are those who need your help."
"I need help too. What have you done to my ship? How did you get aboard?"
"We do not know how to answer your question." said another of the women, this one was of a different species than any of the others. Traga brushed some empty food wrappers off of his lap and stood up.
"Okay, if I help you, will you help me?" he said.
"We will try."
"Okay, how can I help you?"
"There is a world that is like a jewel, on that world is an evil that has spawned destruction across half of this sector, it's beginning to reach out to the rest of creation. You are one of many who can liberate the living. You must succeed."
"Don't I have any choice in this matter?"
"No."
"Are you saying that you're some kind of ghosts? I don't believe in ghosts."

Traga blinked and they were all gone.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#7
Unsure if any of this was really happening, Traga stood staring in disbelief, staring at the empty room which moments before was filled with people like him. His heart rate picked up and his eyes dilated with fear. He ran as fast as he could through the the empty corridors, he had no clue as to what to do. Back to the command center, the doors wouldn't open fast enough for him as he crashed into anything that was in his way. The massive ship hummed on every deck, he hadn't noticed it before and he barely noticed it now except for the fact that the sound was setting him more on edge. Upon entering the command center the lights went on again, he sat down at the navigational computer and adjusted the course settings to take him past a planet he had seen a few days earlier. It was a planet that held a primative race of people at the height of a massive world war. They were fighting continent to continent with crude nuclear devices attached to wooden boats that would explode when they reached close proximity to the enemy. Needless to say, the environment was destroyed in all but the polar ice caps. It was shortly after surveying this planet that things began to get strange onboard the ship. Then, for a split second, it appeared that the entire crew was around him, doing their daily routines, nobody took special notice of Traga, and then they were gone again.

Traga brought the ship into a tight axial orbit at the top of the planet. Surely this world holds the key to the mystery, he had no other options anyway so this seemed as likely a place as any to start. He spent hours studying these people on this obscure world below. From what he could surmise, these people hadn't even reached their industrial age in proper, but they had crude atomic weapons. Under normal conditions, a planet like this is to be avoided and tagged for anthropologists to return to at a later date, but there was nobody to tell him not to orbit the planet, and it seemed like his best chance for survival at the moment.

After hours of study, Traga began to tire. He was slipping into sleep when he heard the communications alert behind him. He jumped up and switched the channel on. He spoke franticly into the device, "This is secondary commander Traga of the Murkwet 6, if you are on this channel I need assistance, my crew is... missing." he stared blankly at the panel before him. After a few moments of static he heard a voice address him.
"Greetings Traga. This is Kalo of the Largonian cruiser Tamalis, I appear to be in much the same situation as you are. My weapons are offline and I pose no threat. Do you have any idea what is going on?"
"No, I do not. I can't even recall when this happened." said Traga.
"May I dock with your ship? This solitude is killing me." spoke the voice of Kalo.
"Come around to port number two, I'll meet you at the hatch."
"Proceeding to port number two."

Traga ran down to port number two with a neural stunner in hand, just in case. Centuries of civil war between Atlas and the moon Largo had left it's mark in the psyche of both civilizations. Although hostilities had ended 6oo years earlier, there was still a fair amount of distrust between the two societies. Traga hid behind some crates a fair distance away from the airlock. The port door hissed open and out stepped Kalo, he was just a kid.

"Put your hands up!" Traga commanded. Kalo complied immediately.
"I'm not armed!" he said. Traga revealed himself and moved toward Kalo. After two seconds he put his weapon away.
"Welcome to the Murkwet 6"
"That's some welcome, I'd hate to see how you greet your enemies."
"I'm sorry, history is pervasive. I had to be sure you weren't a threat."
"Well, I'm not. I'm lost and alone in a part of space I know nothing about. There's no reason for us to fear each other. My people and your people have been living in peace for a long time now."
"I guess I'm just jumpy. Come with me back to the command center, I'll fill you in on what I know."

The two went back to the command center. Traga felt a little better, having someone to talk to who not only could carry on an intelligent conversation but wouldn't vanish into thin air with no warning.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#8
Back in the command center Traga and Kalo sat discussing the strange events that led them to one another while they ate a meal.

"So tell me Kalo, you appear to be a junior pilot. Have you finished your training?"
"Yes, only ten days ago. I've been flying for many years, but not officially." said Kalo with a mouth full of food.
"We've got to find our people."
"Yes."
Traga bit the head off of a medium sized fish and chewed vigorously. "I had family on my ship." said Kalo. He drank from a cup and hiccupped.
"That's terrible. We'll try to find out what happened to them. Meanwhile, we need to figure out a way to get in touch with our people and warn them."
"Our people?" said Kalo.
"Yes, our people." said Traga. "The wars are long over and there's no reason to hold anger for something that we didn't even participate in."
"True." Kalo pushed his dish forward. "So, do you have a plan?"
"Sort of. I want to take a closer look at the planet below. After the next night cycle I want to take a scouter down to the surface and see if our people didn't wind up down there."
"I think that's a bad idea. We need to be careful."
"We don't have time to be careful!" Traga stood up. "What do you know about wavecrest transmitters?"
"Nothing at all."
"Well that's about to change. Go to the communications console and start rerouting the signal nodes to focus on quantum echoes. With any luck we'll find something that might be able to shed some light on what has happened here. I'll go prepare the scouter. Let me know if you find something or need help." Traga left the room for the hangar deck. An hour later he was loading some scanning equipment onto the scouter when he heard Kalo's voice on the intercom. "Commander Traga, I think you'd better come and see this."
"I'll be right there." He put down what he was doing and made for the command center. Upon opening the door, he saw the strange women again.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#9
"Now one has become two." said one woman.
"Two shall become ten thousand." said another.
"I don't know how they got in here. I didn't hear anything!" said Kalo nervously.
"That's okay, we've met before, I just thought it had been in my dreams."

One of the women glided across the room toward Traga. "You are going to the world below?" she said.
"Yes."
"What do you hope to find?"
"I don't know. My crew, an answer? I don't know."
"We need your help" she said.
"You've said that before, what do you mean?"
"You have to see it to understand. Words are an inneficient means of communication."
"Well, it's all I have going for me at the moment. Would you care to help me out?"
"We need your help."

Kalo looked up from his monitor, "Traga, I think we can lauch the scouter whenever you're ready."
"Let's do this." Traga picked up a case that was near the door. "You women are welcome to enjoy these facilities, just don't open any airlocks."
The luminous women smiled softly, Traga and Kalo left for the scouter.

Inside the scouter, Traga and Kalo initiated the launch sequence. The bay doors opened and the cabin lights dimmed in preparation for ignition. The craft proceeded out into the vacuum of space, readjusted it's angle, and dove through the ionosphere.

"We'll do a few low passes across the equator and collect some data, there's a thick jungle we can land in right there." Traga pointed at a location on the dash map. "In that case, we have neural stunners and more than enough energy cells to power them. Remember, don't drink the water or eat any plants, and-"
"Ummmm... I did go Astropology school you know." Kalo said looking very annoyed.
"Okay, prepare for a bit of turbulance." and with that, Traga leaned into the flight controls slightly. Visibility dropped to nearly zero as they descended through the yellow clouds that hung over the lush jungle below.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#10
The ship skimmed the treeline, stirring the birds in it's wake. Traga turned to Kalo and said, "Do a scan and find a spot without any nuclear fallout."
We're over a likely spot right now, far from the water, not too many people in this area."
"Okay, we're going to set down right here." The engines switched over to the vertical position and the craft set down in a small clearing. "Do you really think we'll find our people down here?" asked Kalo.
"I don't know what we'll find. But we're here, let's take a look around."
The ship touched down and the thrusters switched off with a whining sound.
"Okay, prepare to dig in." Traga pressed a few buttons on a seperate panel and the ship descended further, down into the soil below. Landing was now complete. The pair moved toward the center of the ship and undid the hatch in the ceiling. They climbed up and out into the jungle above. Then they arranged some tree limbs and leaves and whatever else was nearby on top of the hatch area.

"There is a small settlement in this direction. Are you up for a little walk Kalo?"
"Yes, I'm fairly atrophied from space travel. I stopped my daily workout when everyone disappeared."
"Let me know if you need to stop and rest."

They walked and walked until they found a well worn dirt path. They followed the path and the path led them to a village. At the edge of the village they watched the people from a distance. Everyone in the village was of different species, including some from their own, but neither Traga nor Kalo recognized any of them. They entered the village and spoke to the first person they met.
"Greetings! I am Traga of Atlas, and this is Kalo from Largo. Can you tell me who is in charge here?" The villager seemed passively confused at first, then he spoke, "You can find the chief's house toward the center by the fountain." He pointed. Traga and Kalo turned and saw that the dirt path became a stone surface where the bulk of the small buildings sat. Traga thanked the villager and they proceeded toward the fountain. By the fountain were several buildings, but only one of them could be that of the town's leader. They walked toward it and knocked on the door. A guard opened the door, "How can I help you?" he said.
"We would like to speak to the chief."
"Who are you?" asked the guard.
"I am Traga, and this is Kalo."
"Please, enter. It's the door at the end of the hall." They walked through the open door and went inside. Another door, another knock, and another guard. This one asked no questions as he pulled the door open. At the far end of the room there was a figure hunched over a desk, working on something, oblivious to the two figures walking up behind him.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#11
Without moving or seeming to notice the pair that entered the room, the seated figure spoke, "How may I help you today?"
Traga and Kalo looked at each other, and then back at the chief who still hadn't looked up from his task.
"We're trying to solve a mystery." said Traga.
"All of life is a mystery." said the Chief, finally looking up at the two travelers. "Ah, you're not from this planet, are you?"
"No." offered Kalo.
The Chief turned back to the table before him and closed a book that he had been writing in. He stood up and adjusted his robes. "It's about time you got here, this world is in turmoil."
"You've been... expecting us?" said Traga with an air of surprise.
"Someone like you."
"I see."
Kalo sat down on the floor. The Chief sat back down, Traga remained standing, he spoke, "We're looking for our people."
"Do you know where they are?"
"If I knew that, I wouldn't be standing here talking to you."
"Good! You have a very energetic spirit. You've come to the right place."
Traga looked confused. "Can you help us?"
"Can you help yourselves, that is the question." Traga rolled his eyes."
"I can help you" said the Chief, "but in order to do that you will have to help me too."
"How can we do that?"
"You will have to bring your ships down here."
"Our ships weren't designed to land on planets."
"You'll have to find a way." said the Chief insistently. Traga and Kalo looked at each other, more confused than ever.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#12
One would never know that a horrible war was being waged on this world given the peaceful nature of the forest. The trees stood silent sentry as Traga and Kalo retraced their steps to the spot where their ship was hiding. Once there, they entered the hatch and powered up the computers. One by one, the craft's system lights came on, first blue then yellow. The ship dug itself out of the ground and the struts pointed the nose up toward the sky. Seatbelts were buckled and engines whined, and then they were off into the night sky. The planet below fell away from under them and they soon found themselves docking in familiar territory. In the docking bay, Kalo turned to Traga and asked, "Do you think this is a good idea? Landing our ships down there?"
"No, I'm not sure it's a good idea at all. We're only going to land your ship down there."
"My ship? Why?"
"Because my ship is a better design, it's faster and has better weapons systems."
"Come on! Everyone knows that Largonian technology is better than yours."
"Also, I outrank you."
"I don't take orders from you!"
"We need answers, I don't know of a better way. Do you?"
"No."
"So, it's settled. My ship will remain in orbit, we're going to make a crash landing into the sea below. We'll need to land as close to that camp as possible."
"You're forgetting one thing though, they're waging war with ships on the ocean, those ships are all nuclear warheads."
"We'll have to deal with that contingency if it arises, for now we must get some answers, and our people back."

Kalo was not liking this discussion at all, he reluctantly and silently agreed to go along with Traga's plan... for now.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#13
Some time later, the pair were making the actual descent to the planet below.

"This is crazy, you know..." said Kalo.
"What's crazy?"
"This whole thing, it's crazy. We don't even know anything about this world, or it's people."
"Rotate for maximum reverse thrust"
"Huh? Oh!" Kalo flipped a switch. A light went on next to the switch. "Uh-ohhh."
"Hang on, we have a systems failure!"
The ship plummeted, the engines were spitting out fire as pieces of it melted away. Everything heated up, and then they hit the ocean.

"We've landed." said Traga.
"I always knew you Atlasians were geniuses." said Kalo sarcastically. He undid his safety harness and looked out the tiny port window.
"Well, it looks like we landed pretty much on target."
Traga undid his safety harness and stood up. He leaned his hand against the bulkhead, and pulled it away, "Owwwww!" he said.
"Yeah, the walls are hot. We just went through the atmosphere. How long have you been a pilot?" Traga looked at him with anger. "Let's get this thing near the shore." Kalo leaned over and activated the directional jets on the top of the craft. "Why are we doing this again?" he said.
Traga stopped what he was doing, looked over at Kalo and said, "You know something, I don't have a clue."

"Something strange is going on here." said Kalo as he looked at the telemetry from the descent. "This says that life support went out moments after we penetrated the atmosphere."
"Well, I don't feel dead." quipped Traga. Kalo looked out the tiny window and noticed that they were nearing their target. "I think I see the forest people. We're here." Traga killed the engines and the pair climbed up to the top of the ship. It ran aground and they fell off the hull and into the murky water. When they surfaced, they could hear the laughter of the men and women from the forest.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#14
"Well, we made it!" sputtered Kalo, his head bobbing on the water's surface.

"Yes, indeed." said the chief. He extended an arm and helped one, then the other out of the water. "Your people are anxious to see you now that you've arrived."

"Our people? You mean they're alive?" Shouted Traga.

"Alive? No, nobody survived." said the chief. "Your ships were trapped in an ionic incuctance field when you passed by a while ago. Your ship crashed as a result, the life support on the other one simply failed. For some reason, you didn't go down with your ship when it came down through the atmosphere, a copy of it remained among the stars. You could not be allowed to wander the universe forever in a ghost ship. Ghosts must remain grounded. On this world, you can exist in a way that is almost exactly like living, except that you cannot die here. Think about it, your ship just made a very dangerous descent, one that would have killed you if you were alive. Not to mention that your bodies are highly dependent on water and the pressure controls on your ship. You could never have survived the crash.

"Oh great, we're living on a planet of dead people." Said Kalo.

"Not exactly dead," said the chief, "just different from what you're used to."

"I don't like it." said Traga, and he and Kalo walked away from the villagers.

"Stop by my house when you have settled in a bit. I have much to tell you." shouted the chief as the pair vanished into the thick cover of the trees.
 

Deslok

regruntled and reemployed
Jan 1, 1970
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#15
"Well, what now genius?" said Kalo, not looking at Traga as he spoke.
"What?" said Traga. He stopped in his tracks, anger and uncertainty washed over his face.
"He said that we're dead, didn't you hear him?"
"No, he said we weren't exactly dead."
"What does that mean?"
"I don't know, but we have to find a way off this planet. We've obviously made a huge error."
"No, the error was made by whoever gave you command of a ship."

Just then, the sound of gunfire disrupted the relative calm of the jungle. Traga and Kalo ducked for cover.

Kalo pulled himself up onto his feet. "Hey, if we're dead, then what am I worried about?"
"Get down you idiot!"
"We're dead, don't you get it? We just came down from waaaay out there, and we don't have a scratch on us. Those weapons can't hurt us!"

Bullets whizzed past Kalo's head, one pierced his arm and continued to it's random target. "See!" he shouted with joy, "I've been shot!"
Traga looked, but did not rise. Kalo turned around and saw around about thirty alien soldiers advancing through the trees and brush. They ran right past the startled offworlders and on into the distance.

"They didn't even see us! How do you explain that?" said Kalo as he helped Traga up onto his feet.

"I can't" Traga mumbled.

"I think we'd better go see the chief and get some answers."

Kalo began walking in the direction of the village, Traga followed. Gunfire erupted before them, then the same alien soldiers retreated to thier former position, again ignoring these two figures in the jungle. Traga and Kalo looked at each other, and continued on their way.