There was something disturbingly compelling about watching the news feeds from the Battle of Aletheia, Amanpreet decided as she sat in the viewing lounge watching the screens displaying from every angle.
“It looks like it’s nearly over,” Prima said. She was standing nearby eating some sort of roasted purple scaled tubers which had been covered in a stew of some kind.
“It does,” Amanpreet said. “Is your food good?”
“Yes,” Prima said. “I must thank the Ishtari for re-engineering some of their growing tanks to produce food for us. The hatchling nectar is nice bit it gets boring eating just one thing.” She looked back at the screen. “It seems you people have managed to avoid many casualties too. That speaks well of you.”
Amanpreet snorted. “It speaks of us finally growing up you mean?”
Prima looked back at her. “Yes, Midori says you and the Mez were both a bit like the original Coronans.”
“I don’t know much about the original Coronans,” Amanpreet said. “And I can’t speak for the Mez but we nearly destroyed ourselves. We were just recovering when the Ishtari turned up wanting to buy Venus.”
“And though we didn’t know it at the time we scared them so badly we nearly sent them up in flames again.”
Amanpreet and Prima both turned to the source of the mechanical voice and found Mei standing there in its environment suit.”
“Mei!” Prima stopped eating and hugged it. “We think we know how to fix what we did to you! And I’m really, really sorry about that! It wasn’t meant to happen.”
“It’s okay,” Mei reassured her. “It’s odd but no harm done.”
“It’s not okay!” Prima slapped at the keyboard of her synthesizer with obvious irritation. “The rune wasn’t meant to burn its way into people’s minds like this, just deposit an information packet, but we should have anticipated what might happen if it encountered a radically different neurology. We anticipated enough to make it work with your neurology after all.”
“What’s done is done,” Mei said. “But if you can fix it that’s even better.”
“The system and I just need to double-check some things,” she replied. “We don’t want to accidentally do more damage.” She looked back at Amanpreet. “But it’s probably a good job that it was the Ishtari the system became aware of first. If it had been awoken by a human it might have assumed hostile intent and evicted you.”
“Really?” Amanpreet said.
“Yes, but it didn’t see you until it knew you were here with other species and therefore it had to be a coincidence. Unlikely as that is. That’s why it contacted you. It wanted to be sure.”
“Huh?” Amanpreet said. “What about humans worried it?”
“Oh yes,” Prima said. “It said it didn’t know how to raise the subject.” She hesitated and turned the volume on her synthesizer right down so only Amanpreet and Mei could hear what she had to say. “It’s just you look a lot like the enemy – one of their morphs anyway. I mean it’s obviously a coincidence because your species was only just getting going back then and you are the exact opposite of them with regards to hyperspace tolerance.”
Amanpreet stared at her for a moment then rose to her feet and offered Prima her hand. “I think we need to speak with the administrators about this.”
“We do?” Prima said as she took Amanpreet’s had while snagging the remains of her meal with one of her free arms. “Why?”
“Because if the resemblance is as close as you are suggesting it should be impossible and I don’t trust such an unlikely coincidence.”
“She’s right,” Mei said. “Superficial similarities I can imagine but you are suggesting something more. It needs looking into because it could be important.”
“Okay,” Prima said. “I understand. Let’s go and see them then.”
Midori, Umi and Qichi listened to what Prima had to say. When she finished Midori scowled thoughtfully.
“I wish you’d mentioned this earlier,” she said. “It might be significant.”
“It certainly might,” Umi agreed. “Does your computer have any images of the enemy?”
“I’m sure it does,” Prima said. “Let me ask it.” She went over to a console and began communing with the Talis computer. “It does,” she announced after a few moments. “It’s recoding them for your various visual ranges.” She hesitated. “But it’s not sure it can do Mez senses justice yet so interpretation may take some time.”
“That’s fine,” Umi said. “Midori and Qichi can tell me what they see if needed.”
“Thank you,” Prima said as two monitors came to life. “That makes it quicker.”
Amanpreet turned to the one near Midori as an image showing a small humanoid creature about the size of a five year old with leathery reddish skin and huge glowing red headlight like eyes and massive pointed ears. It was completely bald and stark naked revealing that its genitalia strongly resembled a male human’s.
“I can see the resemblance,” Qichi said. “But there’s enough dissimilarity it could be coincidence.
“It looks like a goblin,” Amanpreet said.
“Oh this isn’t the morph I was talking about,” Prima said. “It’s sent images of all three. I’ll bring up the next.” She tapped the console and another image appeared. “No, not this one ei–”
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me!” Amanpreet exclaimed as she stared at the image on the screen. “This is some sort of practical joke right?”
“It’s not, I promise,” Prima said. “But why would you think that it is?”
“Because that creature.” Midori pointed at the image. “Is a Grey and they aren’t real.”