The movies talk about how space is cold. And big. And empty. And just super hostile to humans. You know, you've seen that shit about heads popping like a zit. Or freezing and floating away from the planet into an endless void. Scary, right?
It's something else when you're out there. It really is just too big. There was home. Planet Earth. It was just floating below me. Feeling like I was swimming in nothingness, my limbs drifted apart and I looked down between my feet. There was a whole planet peeking out from below. Billions of people all in one place. And it was like I was looking at half of them all at once. How do you even comprehend that shit?
My mind reeled back in from where it was reeling off in the deep end. "Huh?"
Jess yelled, "Watch out!"
I looked away from the planet and caught sight of an incoming orb of light. Now, it didn't look particularly special, but—as mentioned—I'd seen some science fiction in my time. If movies taught me anything, it was that random orbs of light weren't something people should touch.
Dodging out of the way hardly took a thought. I simply wanted to move, and then I did. It was like dreaming of flying; drifting through the air was effortless and magical. I thought of moving, and I zoomed straight away from that glowing orb of weirdness.
"It is in your best interest to avoid their pulse explosives," said Feyr. Zir voice felt like it was inside my head.
"Oh, really?" Jess almost spat the words.
Could she spit? Wouldn't the spit freeze? Though, I kept feeling like we should've been turned into popsicles ourselves. The flimsy "suits" we were in didn't seem like they'd protect us well enough. We didn't even have helmets. Yet, somehow, we were still alive. Whatever that alien had done to us, we really were something different.
A half dozen orbs of light sparked into being at the edge of my vision. They shot at us without a moment's delay.
Craning my neck, I spotted one of the ships and turned on a dime. I basically just angled myself like I'd bounced off a wall, dodging the new group of attacks with ease. "Come on, let's get that thing!"
Jess did a spiraling roll around the group of light pulses and caught up to me in what looked like a blur. Dang, she was fast. Though, I guess I was probably moving at the same speed. "Feyr said we could just... Puncture them? So, what? We just punch a hole in their ships?"
"Correct," said the alien. Zir voice buzzed in my head again.
I felt myself recoil at the sound. At the feeling of zir mind inside of mine. That's what it was. Not a voice, but a presence. It was more than hearing. It was feeling the words as if zie was right next to me. "How are you doing that?"
Jess slowed, rubbing her forehead. "We aren't... hearing you? Are we?"
When she slowed, I pulled back to stay close. Yet, even as we slowed down, we were still rapidly gaining on the enemy ships. "You okay?"
"Yeah, just, this is all so insane," grumbled Jess. Except. Her voice sounded different too. I realized that I felt it inside of my mind more than I heard it. The difference wasn't easy to notice, but it was distinct. Feyr's voice definitely felt more intrusive.
Then, suddenly, the enemy ships changed direction. Their sudden shift in orientation revealed a cigarlike shape. The enemy scouts were kind of like silvery tubes, but their surfaces were covered in spiny protrusions. There was no front or back, but they started moving away from the Earth—fast!
"The enemy scouts have realized what the two of you represent," stated Feyr. "Please, catch them. It would be unwise if they alert their command of my successful replication."
"Replication?" I shared a look with Jess.
She shook her head. "I don't know, Trae. I don't know what to think of any of this."
I glanced after the enemy ships. They were going so fast they looked like they were shrinking. "Can we even catch them?" Biting my lip, I clenched my fists. "What if they bring more aliens? What if they cause some sort of invasion?"
Jess pressed her lips together. She clenched her fists too.
"Please," pleaded Feyr. "They cannot know that I still live. They cannot know that you two exist. It is as you worry over. They would bring death and destruction upon your planet."
Looking down to Earth, I let out a long sigh. Funny thing is, that still felt normal. I felt so normal. Like I was still breathing, even out in space. Yet, I guess I'd probably stopped breathing the moment I was converted or whatever. "I think we need to stop them."
Jess hugged herself. I was struck by how beautiful she looked in her sparkling suit. Floating in front of our giant blue home. If nothing else, I wanted to protect her. I wanted to make sure Earth still existed for the both of us.
"They attacked us first, right?" I asked. They had shot at us without even trying to communicate.
"I guess so." Letting her hands drop, Jess slipped beside me. She put her hand in mine. "Just? Let's do this together. You make this easier to manage."
"You make this easier. Everything." I smiled at her, and then we turned away from Earth.
I squinted to spot the two retreating scout ships. "Alright... Let's go." Summoning all of my thought into the idea of speed, I leaned forward. I squeezed Jess' hand in mine. "Now..."
And then we were blazing across space. It wasn't anything like speed usually felt. There was no wind and no roaring engine. There were no aching muscles or drips of sweat. It wasn't anything that made a lick of sense. We just moved, and it was like skipping through reality. One moment, we weren't too far from Feyr's ship. The next moment? Those alien spiky-cigars were just within reach.
Yet, this time we didn't slow down. We didn't even try to stop. Jess and I raised our joined hands together. We were going to punch a spaceship.
Our knuckles tore through the metal surface like it was butter. Two halves of the first scout tumbled away from us in noiseless chaos. Sparking wires and torn-apart sheet metal scattered away from the point of impact. There was also loose equipment, stuff that looked vaguely familiar like wrenches and other tools. I couldn't look away from the chaos. I kept expecting to see someone. A human. I wanted to see the pilot.
Jess tugged me along, tearing my eyes away from the unsettling destruction. "We have to get the other one!" She pointed.
It was careening away from us in a zig-zagging motion. The thing looked like it was wobbling to wriggle away faster. Though, on second thought, maybe that was how it moved. Maybe all those spines were how it pushed itself along.
Of course, how it operated didn't matter. We needed it to be inoperable.
Leaning forward, Jess and I went after the ship as a unified force of destruction. Just like before, we shot through space as if distance was more an idea than some property of reality.
Just like before, we ripped the spacecraft in half.
"Excellent!" cheered Feyr. Zir voice sounded tinny. There was almost a sort of static. "I no longer detect a threat!"
Turning my head, I glanced back for Earth. My mind recoiled. It looked more than half as small than it did before. We were so far away. "Jess?"
She looked away from the carnage we had caused. "Trae. There were people in here."
I gasped, spinning to look at the wreckage. I felt my body locking up. My mind went hazy. Every muscle in my body was tingling.
They weren't human by any means, but the creatures were undoubtedly people. At a glance, I might have thought they were from Earth, but then I noticed their horns. Their skin also had a blueish tint, and I noticed weird scaly tails hanging limply from straps on the back of their uniforms.
They were wearing uniforms. Definitely people.
"Oh fuck," I muttered. "We killed them."