Science Fiction, Short Fiction, The Fall Years

The Fall Years, Roswell: CHAPTER TWO – THE WELCOME WAGON –

The jeep shuddered and shook as it approached Crash Site Bravo. The driver and his passengers could hardly believe what lay ahead of them. They had departed from Site 51, after being given a short briefing on what their mission entailed. The large convoy aimed to secure two crash sites. Alpha being the main source of the problem was the priority. While a smaller taskforce led by the Welcome Wagon would break from this convoy and begin the recovery effort of Site Bravo. Overhead reconnaissance from reconnaissance planes had given them a rough idea of the scale and shape of the smaller alien craft. But seeing it up close for the first time put them in awe of its size. It was clearly intended for rapid troop deployment and could likely hold a dozen alien soldiers inside.

The oval-shaped sleek looking ship still looked mostly intact despite the hard impact. The semi-circular wings on either side had large defensive turrets installed but they had since been rendered mangled and inoperable. As the second group took position around the craft. The bottom section of the ship finally became visible. It had a larger upward curvature near where a ramp would be deployed. The wreck by itself was fascinating but the vision on the horizon was even more awe-inducing. The remains of the larger craft stood out against the setting sun. It’s ruins smouldering as it sat in a trench of its own making. In both cases, neither team knew what to expect from their respective wrecks. They had no clue if there were survivors or worse if they were all Mortans. 

The troops allocated to site Bravo began unloading various kinds of support equipment while the squad designated the “Welcome Wagon” and based at Site 51 when the call came in were gearing up to enter the craft once preliminary scans had been completed, and a perimeter had been established covering all possible exits. A few military-grade tents were also erected; one served as the main command tent, another housed scanning and communication equipment while the remaining two were temporary barracks and a field hospital. Inside the Command Tent, the squad of six destined to enter the craft had gathered alongside other personnel that were coordinating the operation.  On the table was the preliminary report immediately following the impact of both this small craft and the much larger one some miles away.

“Judging by aerial reconnaissance, nothing has escaped this craft. However, our attempts to scan for life inside of it have proven unable to penetrate the hull itself. In other words, we don’t know if there’s anything waiting for us in there,” Commander Miller said. 

“You really think someone could survive that?” asked Gregory. He was one of the squad’s medics, a small man known for nimble fingers and nerves of steel.

The Commander stared intently at the report and furrowed his brow before putting the tablet on the table. “We have no way of knowing until we get in there.” He turned to face the remaining members. “I need you all to look sharp, you’re about to make first contact with life from another world. So put on a friendly face and for Christ’s sake let’s try not to cause an intergalactic incident.”

“I think we’re already past that, sir,” remarked Jackson, the tall muscular black man had a strong gaze and was the only of them qualified to use the experimental exo-suit.

“What if all the Xenos are dead sir?” Asked the other medic, Munroe.

“Then we prepare the bodies for exfil, and have Site 51 scientists handle the autopsy. Any more questions, Corporal?” Commander Miller asked. 

No one else spoke. “Good,” He said. 

The squad consisted of six men, each of them was specialised in some form. Two of them, Mason and Webber were engineers if anyone could make sense of the alien technology, it would be them. Munroe and Gregory were medics, and the final two were Commander Miller and the Exo-specialist, Jackson. The reason being that if the aliens were hostile, it would be best to hit them hard and fast. It would be the warmest of welcomes for sure. 

The squad and the accompanying personnel from Site 51 also had an unusual kit that involved laser rifles and similarly designed pistols. The exo-specialist had brought along plasma-based charges that would ideally melt the weakened exterior, giving them easy access to the ship. Once everything had been checked and triple checked, the squad of six left the tent and headed for the craft. They navigated past the automated turrets that were positioned facing it. 

“Sergeant Jackson, prepare the charges for a breach. Everyone else keep your weapons primed on the exit hole. This ship may be crawling with Deterrents.” 

The squad let out a chorus of yes sirs and took positions so that if anything did leave the ship, it wouldn’t get very far. Sergeant Jackson removed the small plasma charges from his backpack and approached the port side of the ship. He reached out and first got a feel for the strange alien metal that made up much of the craft. It felt incredibly smooth, and unlike anything, he had come across on Earth. 

“We have no time to admire some Xeno’s handiwork, Jackson. Set the charges and get back here for a remote detonation!” the Commander ordered, snapping him back to his senses. 

He set the charges and hurried back to where they all had taken a position at the edge of the semicircle they had created. 

The ensuing explosion created a large plume of smoke and what followed was a loud clang as hot metal collapsed inward revealing the craft’s interior. 

“Great job, Jackson, now give us some light.”

Jackson passed a button on his exosuit as he approached the gaping hole. The torches attached to his shoulders turned on illuminating the insides of the craft. Jackson lifted his exo-heavy rifle and moved to enter first. He did a 180 survey of his surroundings before calling out to the others to enter. 

“All clear!” 

The squad entered what appeared to be the equivalent of a troop seating area. They also switched on their shoulder torches making it easier for them to see all that was around them. The interior much like the outside had a sleek silver touch to it. It looked alien compared to the more rugged aircraft used by humans. 

“What kind of transport deploys without men?” The Commander asked. 

Mason shrugged. “The kind that was likely in a hurry. The cockpit is up ahead. That should answer your question.” 

No one disputed his claim and together they entered the large cockpit. Intended to carry a handful of people. It too was empty. The front screen had a protective seal forcing them to navigate by torchlight. The front end of the cockpit had three seats. Two were unoccupied while the third positioned in the centre had a solitary alien passenger. The squad were speechless. More so because they had expected to find more than one Xeno. 

The Commander gestured to one of the medics. “Munroe, run a scan, see if it’s still breathing.”

“Understood, sir,” Munroe said, opening the case he brought with him. First, he performed a surface scan. That projected a patient’s vitals onto a monitor built inside the case. Like most of Bravo’s tech it was advanced beyond much of what was currently in active deployment. 

The other medic hovered close and chuckled after seeing the initial readings. “Aside from external differences. Internals aren’t too different from us. That’s not really surprising though,” Munroe said.

“Is it alive?” Jackson asked.

Munroe nodded. “Yes, unconscious, likely from impact but still breathing. So that’s one thing it’s got going for it. I’ll get to work with Gregory here, and we’ll get it prepared for extraction. Shouldn’t be too difficult.”

“Good,” Commander Miller said, spinning to see the Engineers trying to make heads or tails of the alien consoles. He approached with Jackson lingering not far behind. 

“Webber, Mason. Any luck?”

“Well we know one thing for sure. These guys are way way ahead of us,” Mason said.

“It’s on the level of Site 51. Which is not good, sir. Especially if more are on their way,” Webber said.

“Do you think these people built Site 51?”

Both engineers look at each other and knew neither could give a definitive answer to that question.

Miller straightened a little at their lack of answer. “Then we need to be prepared. Is any part of it operable?” 

“Perhaps. It’s just more a matter of finding the right…” 

Before Webber could finish his sentence, the console lit up and a small holographic form appeared in much the same shape as the man alien behind the Commander. Its sudden appearance put the six of them on edge. It spoke rapidly in an alien language before it entered a long silence. 

“I took the time to analyse your communication network and live conversation. I believe I have a strong enough grasp of your language to communicate with you, Terrans.”

“What are you?” Asked Mason. 

“I am a Kaskari Artificial Guidance System. Or Kags if you want something that’s less of a mouthful.” 

“You brought our friend here?” The Commander asked, pointing at the resting alien.

“Yes, based on my current assessment, designate Captain, Vadir Kor is the only known Kaskari to evacuate the Dauntless, as it would be called in your tongue. And they may be the only non-compromised survivor.”

“Dauntless? Is that the name of the large ship that crashed close by?” Mason asked.

“Yes.”

“Anything else you can tell us about it like why did it come here?” 

“Unfortunately, my programming means I only have access to this ship’s logs. Kor would be better to ask, once he is in a better shape.”

“Are you able to share those logs?” The Commander asked. 

“No, the only way I can do that is by authorisation from Kor himself.”

“Damn it,” blurted Jackson.

“Makes sense though,” Mason said. “Since the ship looks clear we should move to salvage what we can from it.” 

“Agreed,” the Commander said. “In the meantime, once Kor is stable. We can ask it some questions.”

“I would like to assist in that,” Kags said. “I can be removed from my current location and act as a live translator. Even Kaskari, have first contact guidelines.” 

“You two work on getting Kags removed. Once Kor is taken out of here, we can get more people in to better assess the contents of this ship.

All six of them gave a chorus of “yes sir” and set to work.  The Commander looked back to Kor. 

Let’s hope he is forthcoming about what led him here. I dread to think what those at the Alpha site have in store for them. And if this is just a mere scouting force. Is a much bigger armada on its way? Looking at the internals of this ship, a sinking feeling gripped the Commander. 

We are hopelessly outmatched. 

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