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Science Fiction

The globe hovered silently in the middle of the room. It was about a meter across, with a clear surface and an inside filled with glowing orange and yellow gasses. Four Temple guards stood around it, phase guns drawn, faces stern. A distant sound of bells chiming mid-morning trickled through the air.

Last Poin walked in, his deep green ambassador’s robe rustling as he knelt to look at the underside of the globe. “Who saw it first?” he asked.

“I did, sir,” said one of the guards.

“What’s your name?” asked Poin, awkwardly getting to his feet.

“Trew, sir.”

“Well then Trew, tell me what happened.” Poin sat down in a chair against the intricately painted wall. The globe was floating mid-air in one of the reception rooms, a series of small, overly decorated spaces designed for individuals to meet members of the Service. There was a set of chairs, a few small tables with incense and bowls of fake fruit, and a large bouquet of drooping flowers that needed their water changed.

Trew kept his eyes on the sphere as he talked, phase gun still pointed straight at it. “It showed up about an hour ago, at the front entrance to the Temple. It floated in through the main doors and headed to the back of the hall. I looked around but I didn’t see anyone guiding it remotely, at least not that I could tell. I called for backup and followed it. It floated down four halls, entered several rooms, and finally stopped here.”

“Why do you think it picked this room?” asked Poin.

“Not sure, sir. This particular spot in the Temple has no cultural or military significance outside its intended use,” answered Trew.

“You can put your phase guns down everyone. If this thing is dangerous, we’d know by now,” said Poin.

The guards lowered their guns but glanced at each other. 

  “Alright, let’s see. No particular smells or sounds emitting from it, no repetitive movements. Are the colors inside the same as they were when it came in?”

“Yes sir,” replied Trew.

“Actually,” said one of the other guards, “the colors look a bit darker.”

Trew looked at the globe again. “Yeah, now that you mention it, they do look a bit duller.”

Poin nodded. He pressed a button on the comm unit on his wrist. “Offered Wess, please come to public meeting room seven. Bring an identikit with you.”

“Master Poin?” questioned a voice from his comm unit.

“Yes, Offered, who else would it be calling you from my comm unit?” replied Poin.

“Yes, of course,” stuttered the voice. “But… an identikit?”

Last Poin raised an eyebrow and looked around blankly. “Yes Offered! An identikit!” He pressed a button on his comm and shook his head. “I swear, someday Wess is going to do what I ask the first time, without question, without errors, and I shall fall over, dead from incredulity.”

Trew’s mouth quirked, but he held his tongue.

“Well,” said Poin, taking a deep breath and letting it out with a sigh. “What do you lot think this is?”

“Sir, I think it’s a remote-controlled camera. Sir,” said one guard.

“Really? Hmm. That’s possible.” Poin looked at the globe. “Where do you think the machinery is, behind the fog?”

“Maybe it’s technology we don’t understand and it’s the gasses themselves,” replied the guard.

“I think it’s an ambassador of some kind,” said Trew. “Maybe a race we don’t know has sent a representative to negotiate with us.”

Poin nodded. “That could very well be true.” He got up and circled the globe. “No drastic shifts in color or movement of the gasses though. If it’s trying to communicate, it’s being remarkably subtle about it.”

A small, four legged being rushed into the room. It was dressed in a soft gray Offered’s robe and its central torso rotated as it moved. It had no visible head. A dozen tiny arms spun around with the torso, three of them clustered together and clinging to a small box. It stopped and the guards could see multiple eyes dotting its arms.

“Ah. Offered Wess,” said Poin. “I see you’ve brought the identikit.”

Wess’ arms telescoped up to offer the box to Poin. “Master Poin, your identikit.” 

Poin tilted his head. “Yes, Wess. As I said, you’ve brought the identikit.” He shook his head and took the box.

Wess twirled around, arms flung out, and maneuvered itself under the globe. “Master Poin, what is it?”

The four guards started forward as Wess moved under the mysterious object, but stopped at a gesture from Poin. Wess stayed under the globe, its torso slowly spinning, its arms gesturing gently.

“We don’t know. What do you think it is?” asked Poin.

“A child’s toy. A memory from a robotic race. An unpopped breath from a subterranean monster…” Wess continued with a stream of options. “An altered moment of time and space. An unexploded firework. A container of rare gasses…”

The guards looked at each other with wide eyes. One made a circular motion with his finger near his ear.

Trew leaned over towards Poin. “Sir, is your Offered ok? He seems a little, well, over excited about what the globe might be.”

“Yes, Wess is, indeed, full of ideas.” said Poin. “Four legs, twelve arms, six brains, and at least twenty fully developed consciousness in one, constantly moving body.  Wess is a Wyst, an incredibly ancient race found in the southern part of the galaxy. It will continue listing ideas until the various consciousnesses come to an accord.”

Trew nodded and glanced at the other guards. “Must be difficult for it to order food in a restaurant.”

“Indeed,” said Poin, as Wess continued with its litany of possibilities. Poin opened the box his Offered had brought. It contained a small screen, several tiny pieces of equipment, and a tiny torchlight.

“Alright, let’s see what we have here. You, take this and aim it towards the globe.” Poin turned on the torchlight and handed it to one of the guards.

The guard shone the light on the sphere, making the gasses inside glow even more. The gasses inside the globe were much darker now, much more intense.

“Master Poin?” asked Wess. “How did the globe get into this room? By choice or was it brought here?”

“By its own choice and volition,” answered Poin. He picked up the screen and flipped a switch on its side. He faced the screen towards the hovering sphere and a rapid series of images started appearing and disappearing on the screen. Poin carefully propped up the screen against a gaudy bowl on a table, making sure the screen was still facing the globe and that the pictures kept cycling.

“Alright, this screen will cycle through all the known entities and beings in the galaxy,” said Poin. “It will also analyze the globe and let us know if it’s sentient or not, on the off chance there’s no record of a gas filled floating globe.”

Wess was still muttering underneath the globe. “An unexpected present. A concordance of charisma. An attempt at atmospheric flight…”

Wess stopped speaking, then moved across the room and picked up a stick of incense. It blew on one end, which promptly caught fire, then fizzled out. The guards stiffened and put their hands on their phase guns, but then relaxed as the flame went out.

Smoke drifted from the incense, deep purple, smelling of fade flowers and distant water. A cloud grew above Wess, opaque and swirling. “Privacy,” said Wess.

Poin frowned. “Privacy?”

The globe moved. It slowly floated over to the cloud and then into the purple mists, disappearing out of sight behind the thick smoke. The screen on the table gave a beep and Poin strode over to pick it up. He looked shocked for a moment, then held up the screen. “Sentient. No records found of race or origin.”

Wess flailed its arms and then held still. The cloud above it was slowly dispersing. Poin frowned and rubbed his eyes. The guards put their hands back on their phase guns. As the purple fog cleared, the globe was still there, its gasses richly colored gold and bronze. Surrounding it were four additional, much smaller globes.

Wess twirled and bent its torso. “A neonatal endeavor.”

May 28, 2021 23:26

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