A non-humanoid alien race, who communicate by tapping into the resonant frequencies of their planet, react to a visit from the human race, by T.L. Cummings.
Despite what had seemed years of preparation, the wedding was completely unlike the event they had planned. But in the days leading up to today they had anticipated little else. It was done and they were married, and that was the important thing. Secretly both wished they had delayed the event, but neither had wanted to voice this, and so it had transpired as scheduled.
At this point, in the course of any normal wedding, the couple would remove themselves from the celebratory noise, from the gathering of friends and family and officials and find a quiet, secluded place where they could be alone. Leading up to a normal wedding the couple would be shivering with anticipation for days or weeks before the union, desperate to come together, at last, on this the most sacred and important of nights.
Instead, their special day had been filled with sombre reflection. Of those who had gathered, which was roughly a third of those who had planned to, few were filled with any noticeable joy. Vibrancy had been replaced with the shudders of memories, song was replaced by barely concealed moans of sorrow. All who had gathered were somewhere else in their thoughts.
The wedding had taken place with routine efficiency and little else.
They began the long journey home.
The skies of Prerius had always been blue. Deep blue, washed with traces of opal and cream, random whispers of ionised frozen gas which hang suspended, barely changing for years, slowly drifting in the shimmering sapphire shroud which separates Prerius' lands from sister planet Iral and beyond that, the yawning abyss of space. Yet, it was only now that the true beauty of the skies had become completely appreciated. The stretching horizon was etched by the rounded peaks of bulbous glacial mountains and here, where they stopped for pause and a few last moments of togetherness, the mountains verged slowly beside a lake of perfect calm where billions of gallons of pearlescent liquid nitrogen rested placidly, reflecting the dirty blackened hue from above. A few of the peaks shifted, almost imperceptibly, giving them undulating tones of recognition, welcome and even congratulation for their day. These tones made the surface of the lake shiver. But most of their friends sat quietly, silent and still apart from the vaguest whisper of thought.
Normally at this point they would have started the long process of becoming joined. It would be the climax of their relationship together and would define their being from this point forward. The coming months would be spent in contact with one another, their bodies slowly coming together, their rough edges worn away with friction, leaving two perfectly compatible surfaces which would then simply melt into one another. A fragile process at first, tender and delicate, but becoming bolder and stronger over time. And soon they would be one. Over time even their thoughts would be indistinguishable from one another's, merged in the same fashion as their bodies. They would become new, different, a whole where before there had only been two halves. It was of course the most significant and meaningful transition known in his world. But at this point, recent events had made this union impossible. At least for now.
His thoughts and grief were pushed to one side as he forced himself to think of more practical, pressing and immediate matters. He was about to be going on a journey, one which had never been tried before. An ambitious journey which had been derived from a fusion of necessity and revenge. The ship they had constructed would move by shock waves caused by a simple hum, travelling through thousands of intricately formed nodes across the surface of the craft, angled slightly toward one another to amplify and direct the waves away from the ship. A simple egg shaped construction which would be sealed shut when they boarded and opened again upon their return. The moment the ship walls fall away, when they are stationary again on firm land, exiting the craft and seeing her there, waiting. This was an image he savoured. The moment when this problem will have passed and they can start their existence together in true unity, spending millennia as two people joined as one. Whole and together at last.
It would be so easy for them to slide quietly into the lake. They would sink slowly, melting into oblivion, their bodies flowing together and becoming part of the stretching volume of liquid, in a way becoming integrated together for eternity, unaware of painful thoughts of destruction, death. But then they would be unaware of love, oblivious of one another and he couldn't stand the prospect of not having her in his mind for one single day. He pushed the thought away and gazed at her, hoping that she had not picked up on his morbidity. She was staring into the lake, lost in her own thoughts, intense sadness hummed and throbbed throughout her entire being. Perhaps, as she looked at the stillness of the lake, she was thinking the same.
He directed a narrow, focused hum before him and soon a crystal shape hung suspended in the air just above the surface of the lake. He had created it in the form of one of her favourite crystal formations, the type she had said she especially liked one clear day when they were together. She had spent long moments staring into its glistening colourful form and he had seen her shimmering with happiness. The replica he had created for her didn't have the same level of detail and he was not naturally of an artistic disposition, but all the same it looked similar, similar enough at least for her to know. He directed her attention toward it and for a moment she seemed to brighten. But the moment slipped away and she became lost again. He let the form fall back into the surface of the lake.
He sighed and she heard. She gave pleasing tones of togetherness but beneath were underlying reverberations of questions she was struggling with inside, doubts, regrets, fear. The pleasing tones she tried so hard to express were jaundiced by background noise. So sad. So void of hope.
His thoughts returned to a familiar subject and soon he had forgotten where he was, who he was with, the fact that he had just been married. Soon he was back there, lost in his own reflection, his thoughts as black as the sky. All the way back to that first day.
He remembered the jubilation which had flushed through them all when looking down on those tiny creatures. Their first impression of new visitors from a far-away world. They could tell that even though the construction of these abstract, tiny beings was almost beyond comprehension, still there were noticeable similarities with themselves. The proportion of base water in their forms was approximately equal. Whereas his kind were made of ice and silicon, they were made of water and carbon. Their mysterious little fragile-looking bodies pulsed rhythmically with unknown forces which seemed to be linked to thought and emotion. Sporadic reverberations would travel through them and out into the air, creating responses and indicating some form of communication. But there were few harmonies between these unknown visitors and it was a wonder how they managed to convey any true meaning toward one another. Whatever it was being said, the presence of thought shone through. These were sentient beings.
The world changed for him on that day. Although he had known that rationally there had to be countless other forms of life, he had never been able to fully imagine the strangeness these forms would take. These beings appeared to be coated with a thick puffy white covering which contained a rapidly moving network of fluidity and a connected series of internal solid structures which moved against each other to create motion. At the top of their forms were reflective domes, similar to the surface of their lakes and their backs seemed full of mixtures of compressed gas.
Remarkable, complicated and fragile. These creatures were fascinating.
For long moments, they had stood looking at the creatures which moved around what appeared to be their crafts at great speeds, busying themselves with strange constructions and surveying the land around them in their cumbersome but mesmerising way. They seemed so uncomfortable in their gait that he wondered why they would choose to perform actions which required so much motion. It took a long time to realise that they had to touch everything they wanted moved. These little beings appeared to have no harmony with, or control over, the environment around them. It was a fascinating display of effort and endeavour which held him transfixed.
Seven of his kind had stood watching this display on that day. They had been on their way to join a theological gathering, it was an ordinary day so much like so many others. His thoughts had been mostly on his approaching wedding and he would have missed the spectacle completely if others had not stopped and gathered at the side of the path. There, to his complete astonishment, there right before him were creatures from another planet. There was no doubt about their alien nature, they were so completely strange that he could barely comprehend their existence even though he stood there watching them. He noticed that the others at the side of the road stood in complete silence, he too could find nothing to say, no thoughts to express. So he watched these tiny forms scampering around, little more that one twentieth their size, so small, so delicate and complex. They had brought colours he had never seen before, they made noises he had never experienced before. They were performing tasks which he couldn't hope to fathom and their purpose was beyond his imagination. Yet here they were, right before him. Tiny beings from another world. He remembered stupidly thinking how this would certainly change the upcoming topics of their regular theological meetings and for that he was secretly glad.
One of those who had probably stood there longer than the others found his voice and greeted the small visitors. At once, all the tiny creatures lay flat on the ground and the structure of one of their craft seemed to become unstable. It sloped to one side where before it had been level. The shock of this caused my companion to cease his greeting and again we all watched in wonder, approaching slightly in case they were unaware of our presence. We watched as they picked themselves from the ground and started running to the other craft.
In a moment they were gone, bright light and heat stroked the sky but the heat was far enough away for it not to touch us.
The experience was over.
It was at that moment that we found our voices and soon thousands of others were sharing in our experience.
Several elders with particularly acute harmonic sensations joined together to observe the tiny craft as it left the surface of the planet. They followed its path for many months until eventually, just as its sounds seemed as though they would be lost forever in the blurred noises of the motions of the depths of the universe, the craft came to stop. Their senses re-attuned to this point, they found a dizzying commotion which must have represented billions of these tiny creatures. They had tracked the creatures back to their home world. For many months afterwards the elders became the centre of attention for everyone, old and young. They released thoughts, scenes, snatches of noises, harmonies they thought they had found which almost seemed musical. They distributed and channelled these miraculous scenes and for a while nothing else on the planet seemed to matter.
Until the day came when the sounds of a returning craft were first noticed.
The months which followed this were truly joyous. There had never been another point in history where their kind had come together in such unity with the anticipation and celebration of welcoming new life. The possibilities this brought to their own existence, to the meaning of their place in the universe, to the potentials of forming a relationship with these new beings. Throughout the entire world the atmosphere was filled with debate, preparation, joy. It was so vibrant that for a while he forgot he had thoughts of his own, so intense and plentiful were the thoughts all around him, all so similar to his own, all focused on the same thoughts. The same event.
The day the rocket came was the culmination of this anticipation.
Those who could, had made the trip to the place where it was deemed most likely for the rocket to first enter their atmosphere. This place was judged simply by the speed of the rocket and the spin of their own planet. A simple equation which proved entirely accurate. There, on a tiny continent on the far north of the planet, millions gathered, their senses tuned to the skies, tracking the object moving towards them, preparing themselves for the most memorable day of their lives.
In the final moments, a few wondered when the object would think to decelerate. A few questioned the potential effects of a high speed surface impact on such a fragile construction as this sleek fast moving craft. A few wondered if there had been a mistake or accident of some kind.
The fires which swept over them a few seconds later were as alien to them as the tiny visitors before. Most were vaporised immediately and would never know anything other than anticipation. Some, a little further afield, would have time to wonder at the danger, before they too were vaporised. Some a little further still, had a chance to feel fear, probably for the first time in their lives. Until they too were vaporised. Their thoughts however, managed to travel across the entire planet in those few moments.
For those away from the now devastated continent, there was time for consideration. Millions of voices had been removed from their world.
Some days later, a lone voice screamed from the confusion. It warned of further rockets approaching from the alien's planet. Similar constructions to the small object which had brought the heat and death to their world. Similar objects which had smeared the colours of their skies with an ugly black and created fractures through their planet which reverberated angrily still. Others tracked the approach and progress of these objects and for a while panic spread unchecked. The elders knew there needed to be clear discussions away from this jumble of horror, pleas and expressions of disbelief, so a few of them travelled away to a remote land and meditated until their thoughts were clear and focused enough to detune the cries of their world and speak to one another.
When they returned, they had formed a solution to the approaching threat. They gathered some of the strongest and youngest of their kind and issued them simple instruction, to focus on the objects, direct their harmonies and simply shake them out of existence. The elders entered the thought streams to calm and help focus the younger ones and soon they had managed to create and direct a beam channelled and destructive enough to pull the closest of the menacing objects apart at the seams and scatter it harmlessly across the reaches of space. With this first object destroyed this method was used to dispatch the others which approached until they were all eradicated.
A bitter, tired hope returned to the planet.
He had experienced hatred for the first time in his life and was shocked that he should wish destruction upon another being. This is what the tiny creatures of this far away planet had given to him and others of his world.
They spent the night together, but their closeness was tempered by desperate sadness and conversation was mute and short. She tried to conceal her feelings from him but as she slept she lost control of her restraint and her body was racked by anguished shivers.
He was not able to sleep that night and left early in the morning without waking her. It was easier to leave this way.
Further into the ravine, and approaching the place where the others were gathering, he began scanning the air for thoughts and picked up voices talking, planning, reassuring. He focused on them further and joined their conversation, telling them that he would be there soon. He heard talk of the ship they had constructed, the time it would take to travel to their destination, navigation, communication routines, provisions. He heard lingering arguments about the validity and morality of the endeavour, arguments which had been voiced, well heard, debated time and time again to exhaustion. Standard responses were now given to the answers, so well known were the lines of debate that there was little fruition in re-treading avenues which had been travelled before. The debate was over and the decision was made. It was only a few lone voices now that persisted, and their persistence was becoming softer, perhaps because their audience had grown deaf to their pleas. His concentration was on the one question which remained. The last point not to have a definitive solution. He let his imagination drift to a point weeks from now when he and a few of his brethren would be hanging above that large blue and green planet, peering through the clouds saying their first words to an entire civilization. And if their words of reason were not heard then they would sing. And as their harmony swept across this hateful little planet, all of the tiny creatures would hear. Secretly he hoped they wouldn't listen to reason, secretly he just wanted to sing.
And watch all before them crumble away to powder.
He just wanted his life to truly begin.