A young girl with dangerous powers arrives from a far away galaxy and crash lands on Earth. While trying to complete her mission, she is befriended by other teens her age. But she may not be telling them everything about her mission on Earth. It doesn’t take long for her new friends to wonder: Was she sent to help Earth or destroy us?
Excerpt from a recent lecture by Dr. Rubel Vinta of the University of Solara on The Ethics of Exploratory Research to Other Worlds:
Scientists often disagree on the universe, but one thing they hold to be true: the universe, known and unknown, is vast and wholly uncharted. Stars that blink in the night sky belong to long-dead stars and solar systems, but there are many more out there that still live. We have sent probes beyond our galaxy; although many have returned, we understand that the...
Clouds rolled in over the tree line, quickly filling the sky. They turned the landscape below from white to dark grey, then finally to black. A violent thunderstorm grew from the darkness, enveloping the landscape. Blazes of lightning strikes lit up the sky, and rain drenched everything below.
“Well done, Raya. Your control of air and rain is commendable.”
Prof. Tibal turned towards the young girl who was holding her hands in front of her, manipulating the surrounding air.
Raya woke in the early morning hours to the sun streaming in her window. She had forgotten to pull the shade down the night before. Despite her embarrassment when her father and sister suggested she seek Dev out, she had done just that. Well, not in person anyway. She called him on her tablet, and they talked until very late. Despite her protests that she was not tired, Dev insisted they end the call when he saw she was struggling to keep her eyes open. Raya finally had to admit she was exhausted and sai...
Raya was instantly struck by how stark white the room was. The walls were white and had no paintings or other adornments. The floor had been lain with a gleaming white tile, and lights suspended from the ceiling seemed to reflect their luminescence off every surface. Even the desk that Dr. Vinta sat behind was white. The only other furniture was a set of low-backed chairs, each covered in white leather.
Raya and Prof. Tibal stopped when they reached the middle of the room. Dr. Vinta looked up from ...
Raya was still screaming when she felt the hands on her shoulders. She opened her eyes and looked up into the face of Prof. Tibal. She smiled down at Raya, who was kneeling on the floor. Raya looked around and saw they were still in Dr. Vinta’s office. No terrorists. No bombs going off. No injured students.
Her hands were still above her head. Dr. Vinta took hold of her wrists and gently pulled her to her feet. Her legs were shaking as he guided her carefully back to the couch behind her.
Raya was looking under the bed for her wayward shoe when she saw the hoverchair enter the room. Grabbing the shoe, she called out, “I said I don’t need a hoverchair. I feel fine. My head is fine.” Standing up, she was pleased to see Dev entering the room behind the nurse. Smiling, she said, “Oh, Dev. Hi.”
The nurse engaged the brake and told her, “It’s protocol. We can’t have you falling on your way out.”
Dr. Vinta entered the conference room, followed by two people Raya did not recognize. A man and a woman, both looking too serious for Raya’s liking. The man wore a grey suit with a matching grey tie and flashed a smile to Raya as he approached. The woman looked younger than her mother, with dark hair pulled back into a severe bun.
Prof. Tibal and Raya waited as the three newcomers sat across from them. The expressions on their faces gave no hint of what they were thinking. Raya suddenly felt ...
Raya stood by the window of Prof. Tibal’s office watching the people below going about their daily business. From this vantage point she could see much of the University campus, including the transportation platform’s remains. Smoke no longer rose from the debris as recovery personnel crawled over it like ants on an anthill. She sighed, then turned back to her teachers, seated on chairs in a lounge area.
Tibal said, “Raya, come sit, please. We need to talk.”
Before the hovercraft landed at the Science and Space Centre, it picked up three more passengers. Two were engineers returning from holiday time with their families. The other was a new trainee like Raya, with many questions for the engineers about the spacecraft they were working on.
Raya listened to his constant questions and took in as much information as she could. She avoided asking them anything as she didn’t want to let on anything about her mission. The young man bragged about going t...
“Thousands of millennia ago, our people came to the Solaran system to escape a dying world. Once we had established our new home here on Solara Prime, we wanted to ensure we didn’t make the same mistakes. Part of that was to search for other worlds to go to if we needed. Solara wasn’t the only world our people migrated to. We sent many ships out like branches on a tree to ensure we had the best chance for our society to survive.”
The last week went quickly, and soon it was the day before the launch. Raya was excited about the upcoming mission and what lay ahead for her. She was in the medical centre getting a check-up. The doctors and nurses had been closely monitoring her well-being. They had the final say on whether she was fit for the journey.
“Your heart rate and blood pressure are a little higher than normal,” Dr. Sammon told her. “But that is to be expected with the launch so close. How do you feel?&...
Raya decided she didn’t want to be around other people. After dinner, she and Dev returned to her room and watched a comedy play on her tablet. The laughter helped get her mind off the launch for a short time.
After, they continued the conversation they had started earlier on the beach. They talked about what they would do when she returned from her mission. Dev teased her about how many kids they would have.
“I figure five or six ought to do it,” Dev told her.
In the aftermath of the launch of the Intrepid Rising, the hangar bay on Solara Prime had to be cleaned up and prepared for the next mission. Any monitoring of the ship would be done from a central mission command from here on in.
A technician was putting tools away and approached Mr. Kiva’s computer workstation. He picked up the metal pieces Kiva had shown Raya when he told her about the sabotage done to the dish. Casting a glance around him, he quickly pocketed the pieces and continued putt...
The Intrepid Rising carried on its lonely journey through space, far from home. It passed through galaxies and star systems, some inhabited, many not. Its cloak remained engaged to ensure no one could intercept it along the way. Inside, its sole occupant slumbered peacefully in her cryo-chamber. She was, for the moment, unaware of the events that had unfolded on Solara Prime after she left.
The clothing and shoes Raya discarded at the beginning of the journey now floated around the tiny ship. With ...
Raya spent the next week going through the transmissions from Earth’s satellites. It took a little time for the onboard computer to translate everything, but she was able to get an idea of what she would find on the planet. She kept careful logs every day, as she had been trained to do on Solara. She also sent periodic reports home to update them on her findings.
“The people of Earth are much more advanced than we believed them to be. They have jumped forward in the 500 yea...
Raya watched through the viewing screen as the Intrepid’s angle changed, pointing towards the Earth. As the propulsion engines kicked in, the ship shot forward, breaking orbit.
At first, everything seemed to go as expected. The ship flew toward the planet, and the coordinates programmed into the navigation computer. She had planned to land along the southeastern edge of Lake Ontario. Without warning, the ship jolted violently. She would have fallen to the floor if she hadn’t been secure...
Ten minutes later, the truck stopped next to a cabin. Jake jumped out and opened the back door, carefully pulling Raya’s limp form out. Then he rushed inside and laid her on a couch in front of the fireplace. Priya took a blanket from the back of the couch and spread it over her.
“We need to get a fire going,” he told the kids. “Come with me.”
Outside, they went to the nearby woodshed, and he told them, “It’s summer, so there’s no wood in the ho...
“I am from a planet in a galaxy far from here. My world is much like yours, with water and oxygen in abundance. My civilization is much older, and our technology is more advanced. Your world is primitive in comparison.”
“I don’t think I like that word,” Priya said.
“Which word?” Raya asked.
“I think ‘primitive’ is the word she is objecting to,” Jake said.
“I did not say it as a negative term. It just refers to...
Jake was getting ready to take Quinn and Priya home the following day. Raya went with them so she could see more of the area. When her ship had come down the night before it was dark, and she had been unconscious when they brought her to the cabin.
The two girls sat in the back seat for the ride. Raya marveled at the forest and fields around her.
“It looks like Solara Prime,” she said. “I can almost forget I am not home.”
Raya, Priya, and Quinn sat on the patio behind Quinn’s house. They had just treated Raya to her first taste of ice cream. She was enjoying a cone with chocolate and strawberry scoops while they discussed the MUFON visitors.
Raya said, “I know Uncle Jake said I should not be worried, but I am. Mike Cooper said someone saw my ship land in the water. What if they go searching for it?”
After dinner a few nights later, Jake had a surprise for Raya. “I know you’ve been a little bored, and I thought we could watch a movie. There’s a John Wayne movie on tonight, one of my favourites: ‘True Grit.’ You’ll love it.”
“Who is John Wayne?” Raya asked as he turned the T.V. on and found the channel. The movie started, and Jake sat down.
“Only one of the best damn actors who ever lived!” Jake proclaimed.
The following morning, they heard a car pull up. Thinking it was Jake returning, Raya ran to the door to greet him. She had been thinking about his surprise for her and was looking forward to seeing it. She was disappointed when Declan appeared at the door.
“Hey, Raya,” he said as he pushed past her into the house. “Are you alone? Or is my baby brother still here?”
“I’m still here,” Quinn said from the kitchen. He was cleaning up after their breakfast...
A few days later, Raya rode her moped into town to see Priya and Quinn. She had become frustrated with her inability to find any information about the Solaran ship that had disappeared on the last mission to Earth. She and Priya met up at Quinn’s house.
“I still don’t understand why your people would come all this way in the first place,” Quinn said. “There must be galaxies full of worlds closer than this one. “
Back at Jake’s cabin, Raya sat on the couch and threw her helmet down next to her. Jake was on the deck and had heard her slam the door when she entered. Inside, he found her sitting with her arms crossed and a frown on her face.
“Can I join you?” he asked. “I love a good brood.”
Raya looked at him, the frown not wavering. “If that is more sarcasm, I am not in the mood.”
“I see,” he said, taking a seat across from her. “If you ...
Ultimately, Priya and Quinn did convince their parents to let them go on the trip. They told them Jake was planning to take Raya on a road trip across the States to see the Grand Canyon. Quinn had gone on previous trips with Jake, so it hadn’t taken much to convince his mother to say yes. Priya’s family was leaving soon to fly to Edmonton to visit relatives. After some cajoling, she convinced her parents she would have more fun on the camping trip with her friends.
Far above the Earth, the Solaran ship, The Dauntless, and its lone occupant, were tucked away in the darkness behind the moon. Dev leaned back in his chair inside the ship, silently waiting for the other ship to arrive. He had come less than a day earlier and wouldn’t have to wait long.
The computer spoke. “A ship is approaching.”
Dev sat up quickly. The new scanning protocols he and Kiva had designed were working.
With the sun rising, The Dauntless sped westward above the desert floor toward Raya’s ring tracker coordinates. Dev looked anxiously back and forth between the viewing screen and the tracking monitor. The steady beeping of the tracking signal was the only sound in the ship’s cockpit. With only 50 kilometres to go, the tracker suddenly went silent. Dev stared at the monitor that was now black. The red light that had previously flashed on and off was gone.
Raya raced through the corridor with the others close behind. She was looking for a door near the examination room where the General had taken her earlier. She found the door marked ‘Lab 42. Authorized Personnel only.’ Swiping the general’s security card on the plate next to the door, she pushed it open, and they all entered.
Around them was complete darkness. As the door closed, lights turned on around them one by one. They saw they were at the top of a metal staircase that led d...
Once outside, the four kids moved as fast as they could. Alarms continued to go off around them, and they heard men shouting as they ran across the compound. Rounding a corner, they found themselves in an area between several buildings with military vehicles lining the road. A door of one building burst open, and soldiers ran out.
Stopping in their tracks, the kids ducked behind a Humvee and contemplated their next move. All were breathless from running.
The others had witnessed the battle from their vantage point on the hillside. Dev watched in horror as Raya caught on fire before successfully dousing the flames. He wanted to run back and help her but knew there was nothing he could do but wait. He finally breathed a sigh of relief when he saw her head toward the trees where they were waiting for her. He raced down the hillside and reached her just as she collapsed.
“Raya!” Dev yelled as he knelt by her side, staring into her face. He ...
They spent two nights at the lake, swimming, fishing, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company, trying to forget that Raya and Dev would leave when it was over. On the morning of the third day, while the others were cleaning up from breakfast, Dev walked out of the ship.
“I just checked the weather forecast,” he told them. “Today is the most optimal for leaving. The weather is going to turn tonight, and we may not be able to leave for another week.”
Raya sat with her friends on Jake’s deck. It was twilight, and they were gathered around the fire pit, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows in the growing darkness. They were all laughing, listening to Jake tell them stories from his childhood. They were also making plans to help Jake install the new solar panels and wind turbines stacked neatly against the deck railings.
“What about my moped?” Raya asked him. “When are you going to add a solar panel to that?”