~ The alien who crash landed on Christmas Eve (Part 1) ~
It was the day before Christmas and all was well within the little town of Sprinkleville. Everyone was preparing to welcome in their homes the good ol' cheerful Santa Claus. They told happy stories in front of their Christmas tree, enjoying the company of their beloved family. No one even thought that on this holy night someone would dare try to be naughty and bad! Oh, no! Most wrong-doers often avoided doing such vile acts only on this one peculiar night.
After all, nobody wanted to get on Santa's naughty list, or well... so the story was told to those young and too innocent to know of the wretched world out there.
For you see, what the happy residents of Sprinkleville didn't know, was that somewhere up there in the sky, far beyond the moon and among the twinkling stars, there were a lot of sapient species who had never heard of something like Christmas. To be fair, Earth was a rather of a remote planet among the stars. Milky Way galaxy had far less stars than its neighbour Andromeda, and when one were to compare it to some of the older galaxies out there, this one was just a child, a teenager at most.
Life had just started to bloom within this sparkly galaxy, but this didn't mean it didn't have species that had reached the level of space-faring technology. There were some who were even at the inter-galactic one.
That was how, at this moment, a spaceship belonging to a far-away civilization was heading towards Earth with its cloaking systems barely hanging on, while within its corridors there were countless explosions taking place as the internal combat security systems were fighting off a shadowy entity.
“Klendar! What's the situation down there?” the captain and pilot of the ship asked through the intercoms while trying his best to keep the ship on a steady flight course towards the nearest planet with breathable atmosphere for the remaining crew.
“The Skreatuul is... Bzzt... we... Bzzt...” and then a loud ear-piercing screech was heard through the intercoms as the faces of a bleeding human clown appeared on the monitor.
“Klendar... Sakarz!” the captain cursed as he knew that there was no way for his officer to escape his fate from the jaws of that terrible monster.
“Captain. May I suggest decompression of all the compartments with the exception of the cockpit?” the AI asked.
“What about my crew?” he asked, but he feared that he already knew the answer.
“There's only two life signs on board, captain: yours and the Skreatuul's.” the AI told him.
“Do it.” he ordered, and although he would have wanted to believe that his crew managed to survive somehow someway, it was far too late and far too improbable for something like that to be true.
Only a fool could stand to believe such a thing, while the wise who lived to tell the tale would always say otherwise.
The question that was now on his mind was how the did the Skreatuul manage to get on board his ship? When they left the docks of Terazda, there was no sign of this thing among the crates, yet halfway through the jump-gate, the beast popped out and attacked the crew in the cargo bay. Since bringing a Skreatuul to one of the Empire's main worlds was akin to treason, all they could do was to abort the jump and then head for some small planet where they could wait for help from the empire's rescue forces.
It wasn't that difficult for the army to take care of a Skreatuul, the problem was that if it arrived in a densely populate area, it could do a lot of damage before the soldiers could move in. By aborting the jump and sending an SOS signal to Nezari, the world they were heading to initially, they prompted the army to come rescue them instead of destroying them for attempting terrorism.
“This whole thing stinks of Leyand's doing.” the captain grumbled as he focused on calibrating the struggling faster than light engines.
The whole ship was hiccuping with explosions where the Skreatuul was attacking the ship. The beast was highly sensitive to noise, especially the low humming of the engines. The people from the captain's species had good ears as well, but they used the humming in their advantage, to know if there was something wrong with the vessel when their sensors failed to give a clear answer.
“Come on, doll, hold on... Just a little more.” he whispered to the ship as the once beautiful lean hum had turned into a deathly screech that signal the imminent death of the vessel.
He was now flying purely based on luck because if those engines came to a halt before they could be used to stop his descent through the planet's atmosphere, then he was as good as dead. Reentry forces weren't something to joke around with and no mere energy shield could keep the ship intact from something like that. When they would crash, they would end up scattered to the four corners of the planet just because of the impact force itself.
“Captain Azurdale, I fear this is goodbye. The Skreatuul has entered my core... My defenses will injure it, maybe damage it, but I won't be able to stop it.” the AI told him.
“I understand. Thank you, you old crone. If your AI core manages to survive this, I'll pick you up and then install you on my new ship. If not, then thank you for your service.” Azurdale said as tears started to form in the corners of his eyes.
“You are crying, Captain.”
“Shut it... Turn off before the beast finds you.” he told her.
“Yes, Captain. May the stars shine brightly upon your path.” and this was the last words he heard from the AI before the ship's systems turned to manual control.
Well, technically speaking, every single piece of tech onboard of this vessel was controlled by a tiny AI, but the main one was the one that ruled them all. Without it, the other AI could only collect data through their own sensors and move according to the user's input. There was no such thing as a true manual spaceship.
“Here we go!” Azurdale said as he grasped the helm with all of his might and looked at the sensor details like a hawk, trying not to miss even a single detail from them.
“Reentry angle... 39.6... Reentry speed 30255.667 sars per tick... Reversing engines...” when he said this, the entire ship trembled and the metal moaned. “Hold on, baby, don't you give up on me!” he said as he looked at the sensor's speeds. The outer temperature was rising fast and the energy shield was starting to fluctuate. “29000 sars per tick... 28000 sars per tick... Come on!” he said as he was getting closer and closer to reentry speed for this planet.
Azurdale was terribly lucky that his AI managed to calculate all of that data before turning off, otherwise, if he was flying blind as a bat, he would have burnt out into the atmosphere by smashing into it at speeds of at least 60 times that of sound.
The only other system that was still holding on was the cloaking system that was used for the most part to avoid pirate detection when flying through Old Vestige territory. In this case, it was used to avoid detection from the local civilization. From the looks of things, it was in its early development of space flight technology.
Unfortunately, at just around 1 kilometre into the air, the cloaking systems stopped functioning and the shields took protection priority only around the hull. The engines were hiccuping at best and now large pieces of the ship's hull were being ripped off by the friction force with the air around it. The ship was starting to disintegrate and looking at the sensor data, Azurdale knew that the impact with the surface would turn his precious ship into a big metal junk pile.
“Well, if I survive this and don't get hunted down by the locals, at least this planet's civilization will get a boost in tech development...” the man joked as he moved all the power to the front shields and gravity regulators in the cockpit and then braced for impact.
At that time, Selene, a gentle deer anthropomorph, was driving through the snowy forest road towards her cabin in Neyar Forest. Unlike her fellow residents of Sprinkleville, she chose to spend this blessed holiday of Christmas all alone. Well, she did bring a bunch of books to read and games to play. She was going all-out and made it her goal to spend the following three to four days just having fun.
“Brrr! If only I could close the roof. It's freezing!” she said as she looked up.
Thanks to her male antlers, it was a bit difficult for her keep her head inside the car at all times. They were pointy and annoying, which made her wonder why all the males of her species were so proud of them. Selene by nature was what everyone called a mutant or a divergent. She was the case of a one in a million births, which brought more attention upon her than she needed.
Those huge antlers of hers never helped her with anything and she even ended up shedding them far earlier than most of the females did. Those women would be often seen giggling as they went shopping for Christmas antler decorations, while she worried about when they were going to fall off. The nekatarians, who were feline in nature, often had wonderful accessories to sell.
It wasn't that Selene hated going antler accessory shopping, but who was she going to try to impress? No male would dare to ask her out on a date and most suspected her having gone through gender change operation anyway. Those antlers of hers were nothing but a pain...
Did I bring the 100 Luck series with me? she asked herself at one point and then took a quick glance at the backseat.
The stack of volumes was right there. It was a newly bought series from her favorite author, so she couldn't wait to dive into that tale and see what the mysterious hero was going to do.
I did. she said with a giggle, but when she looked back at the road, she saw the entrance to the tunnel.
Slowing down her speed, she drove through carefully. There were no other cars on this lonely road. On Christmas Eve, most anthropomorphs were back home together with their families and friends, having fun and eating a nice supper. She would have probably spent her holiday with her family as well, if the vast majority of them haven't moved either to the south of the country or in Europe. The last postcard she received was from her uncle in Italy, who was pretending to hold the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
It was silly, but she loved the fact that her family still cared for her even when she had such an obnoxious defect such as her antlers.
A smile formed on her lips as she thought about this, but when she got out of the tunnel, there was a bright light coming from above her that forced her to close her eyes for a moment. A second later, from her left a loud explosion was heard followed by a shock wave that made her ears ring and her car to slide off the road. Selene stomped the breaks and held onto the wheel as she prayed she wouldn't crash into the trees.
It was a near miss, but she survived. With a sigh escaping her lips, she perked up her ears and turned her head to the left. Whatever just flew over the forest crashed not that far away from the river and shook off all the snow on the foliage.
What was that? she wondered, but when she turned her gaze back at her car, she realized that she was in big trouble. “Oh no!” she gasped.
The car was half buried in the snow and if she didn't get it out of there fast, she would end up spending Christmas Eve as a snowy decoration on the side of the road in the middle of the Nefayer Forest.
Getting out of the car, she made her way to the trunk and rummaged around until she found a small hand-held shovel. It was just your average emergency equipment for when you got stuck somewhere or had a nasty squirrel to chase after.
At the same time, at the site of the crash landing, Azurdale was assessing the damages to his ship. There wasn't that much left to salvage, but from what he could tell, the SOS signal was still transmitting, and the Skreatuul, unfortunately, was still alive.
“Blasted skarlions!” he cursed and then rushed to the armory.
The doors opened and revealed the few weapons he could carry with himself for self-defense. There was a bow with around 30 guided arrows, a military rifle, two hand-held energy pistols, and Luna Blade, which was basically an energy sword. In the back of the container was a body vest and a gas mask.
Without a second to lose, he equipped everything in there and then walked up to the command console. He set the AI core on lock-down and activated the fire prevention systems in the few areas that still worked. Even if it was just by a little, he wanted to prevent the fire from spreading too far. He didn't forget to deactivate the power core too because if that thing exploded, then anything within 100 kilometres or sars would turn to dust.
“What now? Ah, yes! Transport... The jet-pack!” Azurdale said and then turned around.
Walking to the other other side of the cockpit, he opened the storage unit with his captain code and from there, he took out a flying board and a metal backpack.
“GRAAAH!” the growls of the Skreatuul could finally be heard now that there was air in the burning corridors of the ship.
“Sakarz!” the captain cursed and then quickly put on the backpack and headed for the cockpit's lock-doors.
The doors opened just as the Skreatuul reached the cockpit. The fearsome clawing at the metal barrier that kept the monster from its prey gave away the rage and pain of the beast. It was impossible for it to have came out unscratched after suffering the full force of that impact and also whatever damages his crew and AI managed to inflict upon it. These creatures weren't impossible to kill just very very difficult.
Azurdale didn't wait to take his chances with the monsters and activating the flying board, he jumped out of the burning ship. Several explosions on the lower decks announced its demise as the lights of the cockpit gave out their last flickers.
The flying board kept a distance of a few meters away from the tips of the trees, but he still had to dodge the taller ones. Looking back, he saw the horrible state his ship was in. If he hadn't activated the frontal shields, he might have ended up as a splatter on the windshield. This told him, however, that the beast might actually be in a worse state than it let out to be. With a bit of luck and some careful planning, it wasn't that difficult to find a way to strike it down. He did have a rifle with him, and the bow wasn't something to joke about either. The pistol and sword were probably the least effective in this type of battle, but they could be handy against some more rowdy locals.
“Warning! Battery low!” the flying board's AI announced him.
“Battery what?!” Azurdale made a gasp as he looked down.
Turning on the screen on his palm holo-computer he synced with the flying board's software and saw that he only had a mere 15% battery left.
“Who in the kragnaz was left in charge with maintaining the equipment?! That piece of sakarz!” he cursed and then looked at the list to see who he needed to haunt as a ghost for this.
The name displayed, however, made him narrow his eyes eyes at the holo projection.
“Oh... that piece of sakarz was me.” he let out a sigh and closed the window.
The battery would recharge if he turned on the recharging function or connected it to the ship's power core, but the first option rendered the flying board useless and the latter one meant going back to the ship. Both of which were options he quite seriously didn't want to even think about.
The only option left was to run with the flying board as far as he could from the ship until the battery ran out and then use the jetpack to gain a bit more distance before running on foot or preparing some traps.
“If I survive this, I'm going on a vacation to the Salistar Moons to spend all of my insurance money! That's it! Enough playing the transporting idiot for all the idiot merchants out there!” or so he told himself, but Azurdale knew better than anyone that the life of a captain on board of an interstellar spaceship wasn't something someone could just let go like that, especially when considering a long-living species like the elves.
At that time, Selene was unaware of the danger that had been brought to her peaceful planet. While humming Christmas carols that played on the radio, she dug out a path through the snow all the way to the road. She might not have had the possibility of going shopping for antler accessories like most modern deer-women out there, but using a few tree accessories, she made herself a little more festive. The red and white coat she was wearing was both warm and festive, not to mention it hugged her body shapes quite well, pushing out her chest and giving a nice curve to her rump.
Still, over here, in the middle of the forest, at 8 PM in the evening, who was there to ogle at her for wearing a more fashionable coat?
“There we go!” Selene said with a happy smile on her lips and a red color in her cheeks.
Looking up, it appeared as though it was going to start snowing again, so it was absolutely important that she got to her cabin before that happened. So, tossing the shovel in the trunk, she hopped in the front seat and just as she turned on the engine, something landed right in front of her car.
“KYA!!!” she screamed in fear.
Hear heart was beating faster than that of a rabbit anthro, and she was breathing so fast now you might have thought she ran all the way over here not drove.
The thing or rather the someone who landed in front of her car was none other than Azurdale. The handsome elf captain had a sleek muscular frame, and fabulous blond hair flowing down all the way to his shoulders. His crystal-green eyes could captivate any woman that looked into them and send chills down her spine. His complexion reminded of a handsome charming movie star in his late twenties that was offered to play the role of the Romeo one too many times.
For Selene, however, the most shocking features of his were the lack of fur and the long pointy ears. She had never seen or heard of any being who didn't have a coat of fur before, which made her first think whether or not the poor fellow suffered from some terrible skin condition. After all, Earth was a planet where only anthropomorphic creatures lived. Only fish, amphibians, and reptiles didn't have hair.
“Asnaghiar ezuo navem!” the handsome male called out to Selene, but she couldn't understand a single word he was saying.
“Pardon?” she blinked surprised and then asked “What are you saying? I don't understand!”
She didn't need to open the door because there was no rooftop above her head, so the sound of her voice could still reach him.
“Sakarz. Cajrnari ezuo avunam def. Hoshina! Serting sak dev escalia.” he said as he held out his palm towards her and then started tapping on his wrist.
Of course, she couldn't see his holographic computer from that angle, but what Azurdale was currently doing was simply to adjust the translator in order to make talking easier. He didn't have the time, patience, or energy to start learning a language as complex as English from scratch.
“Can you understand me now, furry creature?” he asked.
“Yes, but I think you are being rude, aren't you? I may be furry, but calling me a creature is too much.” she declared puffing her cheeks.
“Hm? Is this things really working? It feels like you misunderstood something.” he furrowed his brow and looked at the settings once again.
“So who are you? And where did you come from?” she asked.
“Hm? My name is Azurdale. I'm from the planet Nezari, and I crash landed at about 10 kilometres away from here. A Skreatuul made its way on board of my ship and damaged the engines as well as killed my crew.” he declared immediately.
Unfortunately, Azurdale didn't have time to look over the data on planet Earth and was unaware of the fact that the earthlings were still in the pre-interstellar spaceflight era.
“Huh? So what was that hospital you escaped from again? Nezari?” Selene didn't believe him at all.
Sure, he wasn't furry like her, but skin conditions were not that uncommon, especially those that made you bald. To immediately accept his alien story was a bit too much for the doe.
“What? Don't take me for a madman, furry creature! I am a proud elf! Didn't you see the flying burning heap of metal that just flew past here a moment ago?” he asked pointing in the direction of the crash.
“Well, I did see something but...” at that moment, from within the forest, the terrifying howl of the Skreatuul was heard.
“W-What was that?” Selene asked.
“Danger.” Azurdale said furrowing his brow and then rushed over to her car.
“W-What are you doing?” she asked when he saw him fiddling with the lock on the other side.
“Trying to get in. We need to get away from that thing or else we're both goners!” he declared.
“Erm... pull the handle? There's a button there.” she said pointing at it.
“Hm? What?” Click! “Oh.” he nodded “It's been a while since I last saw something as primitive as this.” he remarked.
He tossed his jetpack and flying board in the backseat and that got in the car.
“Erm... Ok... I'm not going to the city, though.” Selene told him.
“As far away from civilization as possible is better. If that thing catches wind of a populated city, it won't stop until it slaughtered everyone there.” Azuradale said in all seriousness.
“I'm having a hard time believing you, but... that shriek from earlier, that wasn't something any creature I heard of could make it.” she said furrowing her brow.
“Of course. Skreatuuls aren't from your planet.” he declared. “Now, fly!” he ordered.
“Huh?” Selene raised an eyebrow at him.
“Start your vehicle and fly us away.” he declared.
“You think a car can fly? Ha! I wish!” she scoffed and then turned on the engine.
Azurdale flinched when he heard the sound of the engine.
“Is this vehicle in pain?” he asked immediately.
“Pain? No! How rude! I just bought this car! The engine hums just fine!” she scoffed again and then pressed the gas pedal.
The car slowly got out of the snowy trap and then returned to the road. Not even a minute later, Azurdale looked back with a furrowed brow and asked.
“Why are we going so slow?”
“We're going 50 kilometres per hour on a snowy road, if we go any faster, we'll crash!” she declared. “Then again, why in the world did I let someone like you in my car? You don't have fur, so maybe you have a skin condition or something? Tell me, are you sick? You do look sick with no fur on.” she said furrowing her brow and pointed her deer ears towards him without taking her eyes off the road.
“How rude! I'm in perfect condition, lady! Elves are simply born without fur on their body! Actually, you are the weird one, in my opinion. You have fur... on... your... breasts!” he pointed at her.
“I apologize.” Azurdale said as he rubbed his cheek and looked at the road ahead.
“How did you even know that? I mean the coat is unbuttoned here, but it's not that visible and just saying that, you know how rude it is towards a woman? I should have stabbed you with my antlers for that...” Selene started to grumble as she continued to look at the road.
Despite her harsh words, the doe was turning red in the cheeks. When it came to facial features, despite one being more furry than the other, the two of them were quite similar: two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two ears. That was why she found it hard to believe that he wasn't an earthling. Besides, she did hear of elves, but she didn't remember any interpretation of them looking like this.
After about ten more minutes, Azurdale asked “I've been meaning to ask, but what's playing on this device of yours?” he pointed at the radio.
“Christmas carols.” she replied.
“What are those?” he asked with a raising eyebrow.
“Hm, Christmas carols are... let me see if I remember it right, they are also called a noël, and they are basically songs that are played during holiday season.”
“Songs? Holiday season. What holiday?”
“Christmas.” she replied as if it was something obvious.
“What's Christmas?” he asked furrowing his brow.
“Are you making fun of me right now?” she narrowed her eyes at him and lowered her ears.
“Alien here, remember?” he pointed at himself.
“Hmph! Before I answer that, tell me, why aren't you mourning for your dead crew then?” she asked.
“We don't mourn for the dead. We worship their departure and cry at their births. We believe that once the soul has learned all that they need from this life they will depart in the manner that they choose be it violent or peaceful. Of course, sometimes, the departure is sad and painful, but in the case of my crew, we all knew what we were getting into the moment we stepped on board of the Tzeruglade." Azurdale explained, but he was right, the sadness he felt for losing his friends and shipmates could be felt in the tone of his voice.
The elf knew that this wasn't the first time he felt this and probably won't be the last time either.
“I see, I'm sorry... That was insensitive of me.” Selene flattened her ears and focused on the road ahead.
“No problem. Every species has its own way of looking at this sort of things. I'm guessing that you mourn the people you lose?” Azurdale asked as he looked through the window at the falling snow.
The Christmas carols were a bit too cheery for the theme of their conversation though, but it did help lighten up the mood and not drag everyone down into a state of depression.
“We do... We cry and try to remember them the best we can. For us, earthlings, it's very sad and painful when we lose someone we care about.” she explained.
“I see...” he said as he focused his gaze on the speeding scenery.
“Selene.” she said after a long moment.
“What?” he blinked surprised and looked back at her.
“My name... it's Selene. And you... you're Azurdale, right?” she asked.
“Yes. A pleasure to meet you Selene.” he said with a smile.
[Continued in Part 2]