I joined the British Army to make a difference; to keep our future - our tomorrow’s safe. I joined to uphold a belief that the free world should stay just that - free.
My name is Kieran Fellows - Major Kieran Fellows, and when I joined the army, the world was all topsy-turvy with people doing all manner of crazy things in the name of patriotism or religion. I guess I was inspired by the heroism of the people involved in the aftermath of 9/11 and the London Tube bombings, vowing that if I had anything to do with anything, things like that would never happen again.
Eventually, I wound up at Land Command in a Joint Operations Task Force, codenamed ‘The Fast Response Unit’. It consisted of members of the Royal Navy, Army and RAF and was led by Colonel James Acrington.
I was second in command, not because the Colonel was also an army man, but because I earned it. I was top of my class in computer science, had live experience of covert ops and proven leadership skills. Above all, it ensured that I was at the sharp end of any terrorist attacks, doing my bit to keep the country and its inhabitants safe.
* * *
On the morning of April 22nd 2015, we got an emergency call from Yeovilton. It transpired that an unidentified aircraft crashed on Salisbury Plain. Hardly surprising considering the storm we were experiencing.
“Unidentified?” I asked as we headed towards the Chinook.
“They couldn’t get close enough, sir.”
“We are talking Tornado’s aren’t we?”
“Sir, yes sir, but according to the pilots, they were at about mach 1.5 and it just disappeared.”
“What, like vanished?”
“No sir. It accelerated to around mach 3 or more, sir. Had it not been hit by a bolt of lightning, they would never have known where it went.”
“Yes sir. They think it’s a UFO.”
We had to wait until we got there and in the driving wind and rain, we located the downed aircraft to find that it was indeed unidentifiable though apparently undamaged. What was more, there was a pilot inside. He wasn’t moving, which was why we took the decision to load the whole lot, into the Chinook.
It wasn’t difficult. We marvelled at the fact that this thing wasn’t any bigger than say a family estate car and yet, it was able to outrun our most technologically advanced fighters. Where it came from is anyone’s guess, but it definitely wasn’t from Earth.
* * *
Back at the base, Colonel Acrington was there to meet us as the craft was offloaded, still with the pilot inside, and placed in a large, secure hangar.
“Not of this world, eh?” he commented, dryly.
“No sir. Wherever it is from though is far more advanced than us.”
“You don’t know that, Fellows. It could be something the damned A-rabs got their hands on.”
“I don’t think so, sir.”
I was a little disturbed by that remark. The thing outran a pair of chasing Tornados that were heading for mach two in weather that would ground most civil aircraft and it did it almost silently. The thought that it might be something someone on this planet had put together was just not on my radar.
I was in the office when two RMP’s turned up with the ‘prisoner’. I looked at what looked like a normal human being, of average height and weight.
“Where shall we put h-, uh…”
“He is fine, Captain,” I said irritably. “Confine him to quarters.”
“But sir,” the RMP Captain complained. “He doesn’t have quarters.”
“Then find him some.”
This didn’t go down well with the Colonel.
“Just what d’you think you’re doing, Fellows?” he demanded. “This isn’t a bloody holiday camp.”
“I know, sir, but at the same time, this is our first contact with an alien species. I didn’t think that it would be fair to just dump him in the cells.”
“Didn’t think?” he asked, his face reddening with the apparent effort it was taking to keep himself under control. “Didn’t think? I should say you didn’t think. You have no idea what this… this… thing is doing here and you’re offering it guest quarters?”
“Sir,” I said quietly.
“If you want anything done, do it yourself…” he muttered.
* * *
The interrogation of the ‘prisoner’ started later that day and I can’t say I was in favour of the methods. To my knowledge, the pilot had been given no food or water since his arrival and we had no idea whether he was in any fit state to undergo interrogation.
“We have to get in before the suits from the ministry get here,” was the Colonel’s argument.
He had also had the pilot moved to the cells, where food and drink was provided and later, I got to sit in on a couple of the questioning sessions.
The pilot had a sufficiently good command of English to make it possible to converse - although that appeared to be the last thing on the Colonel’s mind - browbeating might have been more accurate.
I was quite embarrassed by the way this lone pilot from who knew where was being treated. I had hoped it would have been with a little more decency and respect, but instead, he was being treated more like a criminal.
I think it was the fourth session that we finished late and still the Colonel had stormed out, having got nowhere - well aside from making the pilot more tight-lipped and I was alone with him, waiting for the guards to come to take him back to the cells.
I wondered what it was like on his planet, whether they had the same petty problems as we did and also what it looked like. Did they have trees or mountains? What was their weather like and what about the animals?
I knew I wouldn’t have the chance to ask; to actually sit down and talk to this man whose life might not have been so dissimilar to my own and whose hopes and fears might weigh upon him just as ours did.
As the door opened, I motioned for the prisoner to stand and as he did so, he ‘fell’ forward and grabbed hold of me.
We stood locked together for what felt like a lifetime and as we did, I saw things I had never seen before and I could almost touch the scenery, the sky, the grass - the trees.
I could feel the fear he felt as we had marched him into the interrogation room for the first time. I understood how he felt about being captured, that one oversight at being hit by that lightning bolt as he crossed Salisbury Plain.
Then there was how he felt about me. He liked me, just as I felt that he and I were kindred spirits; that we would probably have put protocols aside and talked to one another. I knew he understood my position and trusted me.
He knew I would do the right thing.
As the guards rushed us, it seemed like it was all happening in slow motion as my head filled with stuff I couldn’t comprehend and as they pulled the two of us apart, I heard his voice in my head:
“Use it wisely, my friend…”
At that point I had to sit down.
“You alright sir?” one of the guards asked.
“Yes, I’m perfectly alright thank you. No harm done, I think he just stumbled.”
It took ages for me to get to sleep that night, but the more my brain processed, the more I understood Aldmect’s motives. I had his entire life history in my head after all - or at least, that’s how it seemed. It also seemed as if I had a choice for tomorrow…
* * *
The next morning, much had become clearer. I could see why Aldmect did what he did and somehow, his motives seemed to reinforce the feeling I had about him from the very beginning; that he wasn’t here to harm.
On the contrary, he was here to save.
“Well that was a complete waste of time,” said the Colonel.
“We had him here for two days and learned nothing,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “Still, we have his craft…”
“They’re not taking it?” I asked.
“Not today. The have said that it’s safe enough where it is and will come back in a week or so.” But before then, I can get some of my chaps on it…
I nearly jumped out of my skin.
I looked around to see if there was someone else in the room, but apparently not. It must have been Colonel James thinking. I wondered whether telepathy was another facet to the ‘gift’ Aldmect had bestowed upon me.
A man appeared in the doorway. “Colonel Acrington?” he asked.
“What is it?”
“The man - um, well, the thing that was in custody…”
“Yes?” the Colonel asked irritably. “What is it man? Spit it out.”
They had found him this morning and it appeared as though he had died during the night.
I didn’t know quite what to do. The information I had in my head was increasing and now not only did I know what Aldmect wanted, but what would happen if he failed.
It seemed that his race and ours were the same. Well we were originally. It was just that some of them went one way - his way, finding an uninhabited planet, while for some reason the others landed here where there was already an indigenous species present - Neanderthal Man.
They shouldn’t have stopped here, but for whatever reason, they did and over the millennia, Aldmect’s people developed far more than us, but at the same time, they developed genetic deficiencies that were threatening their very survival.
We on the other hand, had a long and very rocky road to our present, but we don’t have nearly the problems that they have. Sure, we had problems of petty feuding between the various races - something they ironed out centuries or more ago, but our bloodline was much stronger.
A contingent of Aldmect’s people was heading for us.
They were in a ship that’s about one quarter the size of our moon and it carried about five thousand of those little craft he was found in - armed and ready to fight.
The fact was that what they’re doing was not the will of the people. Although they don’t wish to die, they were not prepared to give up without a fight and we - or our genes may well have held the key to their survival and our continued survival.
It would take them no more than a couple of days to be within striking distance and Aldmect had no idea whether they would be polite about taking samples or whether they would take by force.
If the latter should have proven true, the people of Earth don’t stand a chance.
I had to do something.
* * *
I knew what Aldmect had done. He trusted me to do the right thing. That comment as he had finished planting all that stuff in my head was fresh in my mind and it was curious how I could see it from both my side and his too. He knew I would have to make a choice; a choice that would affect all the peoples of this world and his too.
My options were limited to one.
I needed DNA samples and I needed to get them to the fleet of ships that were heading this way - quickly.
How I would be able to get my hands on the samples was something I had not considered. I could walk into the medical centre and take them, but that was across the camp and I would never make it back to the hangar.
Then it dawned on me. I already had one sample - me.
I entered the pass code and stepped into the hangar.
There were a couple of people in there with clipboards and laptops.
“I must ask you to leave, gentlemen,” I told them.
“On whose authority?” one of them asked.
“Mine. I am second in command of the unit that brought this in and I’m asking you to step out.”
“But we’re here on the orders of Colonel James. Are you countermanding those orders?”
“Look, be good boys and do as I tell you,” I suggested mildly, herding them towards the door.
“Security is going to hear about this, Major. You can’t just…”
“I can and I am,” I said as I shoved them out, closing the door behind them.
I knew that they would bring security moments later, but it was a risk I had to take. I climbed into the craft and looked at the array of tiny lights and glyphs, shaking my head in disbelief as I knew exactly what to do, even though I had never flown anything before in my life - least of all, one of these.
Yet it was all there in my head.
I pressed a series of buttons and the canopy closed over me. The craft lifted and moved forward towards the big doors at the end of the hangar, just as security burst in. I could hear them shouting as they watched the craft moving.
My hands were moving on their own; as if I’d been doing this all my life, easier even than driving my car. The next thing I knew, the huge concrete and steel doors before me disintegrated into dust and rubble, and people everywhere dived for cover as slowly and silently, my little craft exited the hangar.
I saw more armed troops running towards me and I knew that this was it. I either did it now or risked… well I didn’t even want to contemplate that. I jabbed at another couple of buttons and the craft began to rise.
As I looked out of the cockpit, I could see the faces of the fast-growing crowd below and for a brief moment I wondered whether I was doing the right thing. I weighed it up in its simplest form.
If I went, I could perhaps prevent the invasion of a far superior force and help them at the same time - meaning that Aldmect’s death would not have been in vain, nor his faith in me.
If there was a downside to the plan, I couldn’t think of it. I touched another button and was pushed back and down into the seat as the craft shot upwards at incredible speed and I was out cold before we even left the atmosphere.
* * *
“He’s coming round,” said a voice. The language was different, but because of Aldmect, I understood perfectly what was being said - before I realised I wasn’t actually hearing it.
“Looked like Aldmect was right after all,” said another.
I suddenly realised I wasn’t where I thought I was. I couldn’t focus and back out I went.
I don’t know how long for, but my head was pounding like a bass drum when I woke up. However, instead of being locked in a cell like Aldmect had been, I was in a comfortable room with no restraints.
A swishing noise accompanied the opening of the door and in walked a young woman accompanied by two men.
“How are you feeling?” the woman asked.
“Not too bad. Looking forward to going home,” I replied.
“Ah,” said one of the men stepping forward. “That, I’m afraid, will not be possible.”
I was shocked. I had given them what they wanted and now they weren’t prepared to let me go. “Why not?”
“We had a feeling this might happen,” said the other man. “The fact is, that we view your planet as our sister planet, despite the fact that we’re in different galaxies and tens of light years apart, but not only are we physically apart, we have also grown apart.”
“Like a long-distance relationship?” I asked, remembering some of mine in the early days of my military career.
“I suppose so, yes,” the man said. “The fact is, we don’t know what happened to split us up the way it did. We should all have been destined for the same planet. As it transpires, we’re glad we did get separated, because now we have been able to find a possible cure for what caused our problems. It may not happen for this generation, but for subsequent ones, we have high hopes.”
“I know all that. Why does it prevent me from going home?”
“Unfortunately, the plan that Aldmect set in motion was one he set himself. We were against it, but he had been a very vocal opponent of us arriving at your planet in such numbers and just taking what we wanted. Our idea was a regrettable one and one I hope we can be forgiven for.
“Aldmect stole away from here to see whether he could obtain what we needed by more peaceful means, but his craft was temporarily damaged in the entry procedure, which I’m sure you know, wasn’t aided by the chasing aircraft your military people sent in pursuit. The result speaks for itself.
“When Aldmect gave you the gift he did, he evidently knew then that he was not going to be successful in his endeavours. He decided to try something we would have been absolutely against. He emptied himself into you.”
I wasn’t too sure what to make of that. It sounded disgusting, but it would account for me being able to do things; know things, that really I shouldn’t know anything about.
“So I know everything he knows?” I asked, just to be sure.
“Everything,” the man replied. “So you can understand that we cannot allow such a wealth of information slip into the hands of a people who are not yet ready for it and do not possess the maturity to be responsible for what could be done with that information.”
“Perhaps you are doing us an injustice,” I suggested.
“We don’t think so. You are the exception rather than the rule. If more were like you, it would be a different story, but sadly, that isn’t the case.”
Somehow, the memories of Colonel James’ interrogation methods and wanting to get some of his men in to look at Aldmect’s craft popped into my head and I sighed.
“You agree then?” he asked.
“I can’t disagree, can I?”
So far they had explained that I wasn’t going to be able to return home, but they hadn’t told me what would happen.
“We were coming to that,” they said.
I’d forgotten they could tell what I was thinking. I would have to be more careful – especially around the women.
“We have no problem at all with you staying. In fact we welcome you. We think you would integrate well with our people and we would see to it that you are well looked after.”
* * *
There was no turning back and whilst it was a wrench to know that never again would I see my family or my friends, now it was time to move on.
I had done what I had set out to do within the military and have to admit to getting excited at the thought that I had not only saved the planet, but saved a whole other race of people at the same time.
So with a fair amount of trepidation and no small amount of excitement, I set forth with my new friends for the next phase of my life...
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