Return to Short Stories

The Song Inside


Submitted to:The Third Alternative magazine.


The Song Inside

Singing. It was definitely the singing that marked them out. Never mind how they looked or how they spoke. It was the singing that made them unique.

Twelve hours earlier, there had been only blackness. And then: ringing.

Emily Fairchild reached two hands into the darkness of the bedroom, one turning the alarm clock to face her, the other picking up the telephone. The ringing stopped abruptly.

She fumbled the receiver to her ear, fighting back sleep. Green digits glowed on the alarm clock - 2:10 a.m.

"Yeah," she yawned into the phone.

A male voice called breezily back at her. "That you, Emily?"

"Only barely."

The male voice sounded unsympathetic. "Yeah, well, time to get up. We've got a reported crash on the coast near Cumbria. Definitely non-human - no planes were scheduled to be anywhere near there at this time."

Emily rolled back on the bed. "Shit, Doug, what now? Another meteor? Weather balloon? More swamp gas?"

"Uh-uh. There's a police officer on-scene. He's already given us a description."


"And meteors don't have windows."

Several hours later, Emily Fairchild was pulling up at the crash site as the light started rising over the horizon. She waved her badge at the security personnel, a mixture of police and army, and left her car huddled with the others. Douglas Nelson was waiting for her.

"Hey Doug," called Emily, stepping out of the car, "This is pretty heavy. Tell me that it deserves the soldiers."

Doug grinned. "You just won't believe this when you see it."

Doug escorted her down the beach, through the loose sand and reedy grass. As they climbed a sand dune, Emily said, "Geeze, Doug, this'd better be worth it. I'm tired of having my time waste..."

Her voice trailed off as they reached the top of the dune and looked down. Down below, there were already teams of people running around, soldiers and scientists, setting up equipment in a wide semi-circle. Floodlights pointed in to the centre of the circle, and there, dominating the scene, was the unmistakeable shape of a large, silver spacecraft.

Emily gasped. "Doug, tell me that's for real." She started stumbling her way down the slope.

Doug trotted after her. "Too right it's real. This is the genuine article - our first ever UFO. Though I think we're dangerously close to making this one an Identified Flying Object."

"How big is it?" Emily walked around the outside of the semi-circle, oblivious to the teams of people pushing past her. The silver structure was immense next to her, though some of it clearly lay buried in the sand. The metal shone white and yellow in the competing natural and artificial lights.

Doug practically ran to keep up with her, bumping into her as she stopped. His eyes shone with excitment. "Our best guess puts it somewhat bigger than a 747. That's based on what we can see of the trench it made during touchdown, though we can't be sure how much is buried or if any of it broke up on impact."

"There's no obvious damage on the raised portion though," began Emily, "and there's no..." She broke off as the sound of diesel engines came from behind her, and a set of caterpillar tracks came up over the sand dune.

Doug shrugged apologetically. "Tanks," he said, "Only three of them. Standard procedure I'm afraid."

"Are they really necessary? This isn't exactly the welcome I had in mind."

"Not my say so. Anyway, never mind that, you're missing the best bit." Doug took her by the elbow and led her round the perimeter of the half-circle. He stopped as they came perpendicular to a large smooth surface of the silver metal and pointed. "Watch," he whispered.

Emily turned to the huge structure, casting her eyes along its length. The metal was seamless, and where it hit the ground it alluded to being part of a much larger curved panel. From the sand, a series of small squares ran out and slightly upwards - windows she supposed, though the structure seemed to be tilted off level from the impact.

A faint light came from the windows. "They've still got some power in there," she whispered.

Doug nodded. "Keep watching."

She did so, barely aware of his voice, or the tanks, or the rolling and crashing of the sea. A stillness seemed to fill the scene.

Then, suddenly, she saw a shape sillhouetted at one of the windows. She drew her breath in quickly, but the shape was gone again almost as fast. She turned to Doug. "I saw something!" she exclaimed. "It... It went so quickly, but it definitely had a head, arms, but not like us, it was..."

"Not human?" finished Doug. Emily nodded as he continued, "We've been seeing them for about an hour now. They keep taking quick looks out the window - trying to work out what we're doing, I guess. There's been no other sign of life, but initially there were apparently as many as five of them seen at once. Since then, we only get one every now and then. Checking up on us, probably."

Emily watched the windows again, her whole body tingling with excitment. "My god. This is incredible."

Her thoughts were disrupted by the tanks again, rolling through the soft sand and coming to a halt spaced around the ring. The huge guns whirred around to point at the wrecked spacecraft.

"Shit, Doug, is there no way we can back the tanks off?" said Emily, casting them only the briefest of looks. Movement caught the corner of her eye - another figure appeared at a window, looked around, then disappeared. Soon it came back with a second figure, which gave the same quick scan across the scene before disappearing.

Doug, seeing the same vision at the windows, replied slowly. "Well, I can try and talk them back fifty yards, but they aren't going to let this one go completely. National Security and all that."

"Yeah, but I'm not interviewing them at gun point. That's not my job. First Contact should be peaceful."

"Okay, I'll go see what I can do, but..." he stopped.

Emily turned to him, then followed his gaze across to the silver metal. A panel had just shifted and begun to protrude from the side of the ship. A low whine filled the air, as of electric motors, and the whole site suddenly fell silent. All commotion stopped abruptly.

The panel, having moved away from the metal skin, slid slowly sideways, leaving a dark hole. Then, as all eyes watched, a set of steps extended away from the hole, reaching down at a strange angle and falling far short of the sand.

A collective gasp arose from the audience as a figure appeared at the doorway and, with some difficulty, climbed down the steps. It dropped to the sand when it reached the bottom, pulling itself to its feet carefully.

Emily grabbed Doug by the shoulder as the figure turned around to face the crowds. The head was round and small, atop a long neck and a thin body. Two thin arms protruded from narrow shoulders, with nobbly joints. Slowly, very slowly, the figure struggled across the sand on two short legs, limping slightly.

"Tell me it's real," hissed Emily. Doug only shrugged and said, "It's got me fooled."

As the figure approached the edge of the circle, a series of clicks came as the soldiers cocked their rifles. The alien figure stopped short, holding its arms out to the sides, palms up and empty. It looked around, seeming to squint with dark eyes.

"Please," it said, and the crowd almost jumped out of its collective skin, "Please. We mean for peace."

And so the singing began.

Emily seated herself at the table and looked across at her alien companion. After the initial encounter, the aliens had been led from the ship, thirty of them in total, and taken to a hastily erected compound on the beach. The compound consisted of little more than four walls of wire fencing, a few tents, and soldiers guarding the perimeter.

Now Emily was left facing the alien who had announced himself as the leader. The alien himself looked uncomfortable, sporting as he did a field dressing to one leg; however, he was quite insistant that he would answer questions if basic medical support was extended to the injured among his crew. It had taken some persuasion, but the military had agreed eventually, and Emily was given the initial interviewing, with a team of military observers and recorders.

She flicked a glance at the recorder on the desk, hearing the little electric whirr as it operated. She wished it recorded pictures too, though doubtless one of the military types had thought to bring something capable of recording video. Something, she thought, ought to remember how they looked.

The alien sat opposite her, unblinking. He was short next to Emily; even seated he appeared so. But his eyes were large and dark, and looked odd in his small body. Ears and nostrils were recessed into the side of the head, which was hairless, and even the mouth had only the faintest suggestion of lips. The effect was to make his head look like an olive-green ball.

Ah, yes, thought Emily, let's not forget the green skin; it completed the alien look perfectly. That and the joints. The alien sat there, hands resting on the desk in front of him, fingers interlocked in an oddly human gesture, though the great round knuckles made it look like he was holding a bag of ping-pong balls. Now he stared expectantly at Emily - at least as far as she could tell.

"So," she began. "I think it's only fair you know who I am. My name's Emily Fairchild. I work for the Alien Intelligence Department. I apologise for the treatment of your people - I trust you'll see how it could be considered necesary."

The alien thought for a moment, then said, "Indeed, Emily Fairchild. Your people are most gracious to extend such care upon us. I am Dimora, captain of Golarn."

Emily made some notes, then looked back up at Dimora. "I see. You have us at a disadvantage, Dimora. It seems you speak our language but we can't speak yours."

"Indeed it is so, Emily Fairchild. We learn many of your languages - English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese. We do not yet speak them, how would you say, fluidly?"

"Fluently," Emily corrected, "though to be honest we were surprised you spoke them at all."

"We have watched your kind for some time. You have a great many transmissions carrying your voices."

"Then you've learnt very well." Dimora blinked slowly, and moved his head slightly. Emily supposed the gesture was a nod of courtesy. "But I have to know, why were you watching us? Were you spying?"

"We were observing."

"To what end?"

"When you can travel between planets, you want to find other races. But not all can you introduce yourselves to immediately."

"Then your landing here was as... unexpected as we thought?"

Again came a blink and a head movement. "Indeed Emily Fairchild. We had systems failure, and landed as best we could. Many of my crew are dead in our spacecraft."

Emily nodded. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"That is okay. After the crash, we had neither the equipment nor the skill to help them."

Emily paused a moment, saddened. While she waited, music came to her from outside the tent - or rather, a lone voice, singing. She recognised it as one of the alien songs - they would periodically break out into song, each time different and sung by a different member of their group.

Emily nodded in the direction of the sound. "Is that your language?"

Dimora blinked twice. "Oh no. That is music. That is Arana. She has the most beautiful music."

"You recogise her voice?"

"I recognise her song."

Emily looked puzzled, and Dimora continued, "We each have our song which we sing at times of distress, or at times of celebrations of ourselves. The song is unique; and with it, we hope others will remember us when we die."

"That's sad."

"Oh no. It is good. Though it will never quite be us, this way we hope to live on forever."

"I see." Emily listened to the music until it stopped. It was quite pleasant, thought lacking any real melody that she could tell. She made a note of it as another alien voice started singing.

"Are there many more of your race, Dimora?" she asked.

"Oh yes." The alien blinked in confirmation. "A great many, but far away. We sent them communication that we were in trouble before we crashed."

"Do you think they heard you? Will they come?"

"We hope that they will, Emily Fairchild, we hope that they will."

Doug caught up with Emily as she left the compound. "Hey," he said, "How did it go?"

"Good," she replied, stopping to shake sand out of her shoes. "We'll be carrying on tomorrow. Dimora was weary and requesting to return to his people for now."

"Dimora? That's his name?" Emily nodded. "Cute."

"How's the spaceship?" asked Emily.

Doug shrugged. "They won't let us inside for fear of disturbing the dead. However, we have free rein of the outside, which is interesting in itself. Initial testing suggests the hull is some type of aluminium alloy, with heat shielding along the bottom, for all the good it did them. It's a pity we don't know what the entire ship looked like yet."

"You may yet get your chance."

Doug stopped in his tracks. "The mothership is coming?"

Emily turned to him. "Possibly. They made a distress call before they crashed."

Doug whistled through his teeth, then looked over his shoulder to the wrecked spacecraft. The light was fading again, and it shone with reflected flood lighting. "We'd better hide the tanks."

"No kidding. And we're going to have to find somewhere better than a cage to put this lot."

"First impressions go a long way, right?"


They watched the spacecraft as the sea rolled against it, and an alien song started faintly in the background.

The next day, Emily was waiting in the interview tent when two soldiers brought in Dimora. He seemed slower than before, struggling as if his leg gave him more pain, and yet he nodded politely at Emily and seated himself opposite her.

"Good morning, Emily Fairchild," he said. "I trust this sun finds you well."

"Indeed it does." She smiled, amused by the alien's politeness. "And does it find you well also?"

"Alas, no, and I fear the others also are not well. Their songs are more frequent."

"Yes, I have had complaints from the soldiers. They wish you would stop singing."

Dimora blinked quickly, and spoke in a rush. "No, Emily Fairchild, that we cannot do. In fact, I must come to you with another request."

"Go on."

Dimora looked away a moment, then looked back. His unblinking eyes stared at Emily, but did not reveal any thoughts. Eventually he said, "We are dying, Emily Fairchild. It is your atmosphere, it poisons us. We thought we could live in it, at least for a while, but we had no time to prepare. It kills us now."

Emily was aghast. "It kills you? But there must be something we can do? What about your ship - it must have medical fascilities?"

"They were destroyed in the crash. We have nothing left to use."

"Then maybe we can help. Our doctors could examine you. Maybe, maybe if we had one of the bodies, we could find out what poisons you and how to prevent it?"

"No, I cannot allow that, Emily Fairchild. We do not hurt our dead like you do, even for medical purposes. Each operation must be done with the consent of patient. So it is at home; I could not allow it to be any different here."

Emily grew agitated. "But we must be able to help you? It can't be over so soon."

Dimora blinked slowly, but the great eyes winced as his head moved. "There is only one thing you can do to help us now. Our music must be recorded. It is our way of continuing. I cannot stress its importance enough. I ask only that you take one of your recorders and capture all our songs before we die. If the others arrive, they will want our songs."

"But we could help..."

"There is no other way, Emily Fairchild. We are a sensitive race. It is too late to undo the damage."

When Emily went home that evening, her head echoed the words of Dimora over and over again. She thought about the aliens in the compound and their songs drifting into the tent.

Eventually she distracted herself with Tschaikovsky and a bottle of wine, and slept on the sofa while her mind filled with images of Dimora humming "Swan Lake".

Her dreams were interrupted by the telephone. She woke sharply, fumbling for the telephone before pressing it to her ear. Even before she said anything she heard Doug's voice.

"Emily? You'd better get down here."

"Doug?" She checked her watch. It was 3:37 a.m. "Do you delight in waking me up?"

"Never mind that," said Doug, sounding anxious. "It's an early one for me too. We have bigger problems."

Hearing his trouble, Emily pulled herself upright and started putting on her shoes. "What happened? Did the mothership arrive?"

"Worse," said Doug. "One of the aliens is dead."

Even as she arrived, she could tell something was wrong. The sound of alien song came to her, not one, but several all at once. She ran to the compound where Doug was standing by the gate.

"What happened?" she wheezed, breathless.

"We don't know. The soldiers realised one of them was dead earlier on, went in and pulled the body out. They've been like this ever since."

"Crap." Emily fumed and stormed over to the captain's tent. She burst through the door even as one of the medical team was leaving.

"What the hell is going on?" she shouted.

The captain remained unflustered. "One of them died. We're speculating on atmospheric poisoning, based on your report. My men pulled the body out and sent it for medical exam." He went back to reading a report.

"Goddam it!" Emily thumped her hand down on the paper, creasing it slightly. "If you've read my report then you'll know they don't want us touching the bodies."

The captain firmly tugged the paper away from her. "With all due respect, I don't consider that your concern. This is a medical matter now, and we aim to learn as much about them as possible. With luck we'll also find out what poisoned them so we can save the rest. Surely you can't have a problem with that?"

"I have a problem knowing that the rest of their kind may soon arrive and will want to know why we dissected one of their people."

The captain shuffled his papers and reclined in his chair. "We'll deal with that when and if it becomes a problem. I would encourage you to think diplomatically though, Miss Fairchild. Now if you would be so kind as to leave me alone. And you might want to ask the aliens to reduce the noise, also."

Emily shot him a glare and spun on her heel, storming out of the tent. She went back to the compound and discovered that Doug was gone, but Dimora was leaning on the gate. He looked weaker, and tired, and even by torchlight and distant floodlight, somewhat more grey than the usual olive green.

"Dimora!" Emily called, nearing the gate. "I'm so sorry!"

"Emily Fairchild, it is good to be seen by you."

"I heard about the death. The soldiers should never..."

Dimora interrupted her with a gesture of his hand, blinking fast. "It matters little now. None of us have much time left. The one who died, Arana, she was most sick."

The name echoed in Emily's head and brought with it music. "Arana - we heard her song during the first interview."

"That is right, Emily Fairchild. Alas, she died suddenly, before we could remember her song in its entirety. We have only fragments. She cannot live on with only fragments. The others, they sing now because they are panicked. They want to make sure their songs are remembered. They work as pairs, one singing, one listening."

"I see. We too must remember our dead. We have memorials to them."

"Do you see now why it is important to us to remember our songs? You must help us. Emily Fairchild, we will not live to repeat the music. None of us will live on without you."

Emily looked into the black eyes. Finally she reached a conclusion. "Alright. I'll help you. Can you make them quieter for now? Tomorrow we'll begin the recording."

Dimora straightened a little, some life if not colour returning to him. "That is good, Emily Fairchild."

"Why do I have to do this?" Doug complained as he carried two recorder units behind Emily.

"Because you keep waking me up. It's time I was compensated."

Doug sighed. "All this in the interests of intergalactic relations."

Emily stopped and turned on him. "This is important to them, Doug. Dimora says when the search party arrives, they'll want the songs. I don't want to disappoint them."

"If they arrive," reminded Doug. "We still don't know if they'll arrive."

"Yeah, well, if they don't, we'll have the most unique party music in the world. Now come on."

As they arrived at the compound the soldiers opened the gate and ushered them through to be greeted by Dimora on the other side.

"Dimora," said Emily, "This is Douglas Nelson. He'll be helping with the recordings."

"Hello, Douglas Nelson. I am pleased you are to help us."

"It's just Doug," said Doug. Dimora remained blank and motionless, and Doug said, "Never mind. Who's first?"

"You must start with the most sick," said Dimora. "Those who have the least time. Then there are those who have remembered another's song - some of us did not make it through the night."

Emily nodded sadly. "Let's get to it then."

They started working their way around the group, capturing the names and songs of each alien twice for safety. There were problems - background noise and interruptions, fading batteries and incorrect recording levels - but eventually they had most of the aliens' songs as two identical recordings.

They stopped, then, for a break. Emily found herself humming tunes over and over.

"Don't you start," said Doug.

"I can't help it. That last one was pretty catchy."

They sat on the sand for a minute, humming the tune together, when Dimora came over. Emily could see he was struggling, but he spoke slowly before she could question him.

"I hear that you two know the song of Reena. Even amongst our people, it is considered a difficult one to forget. I wish my own song were so easy to remember."

"That's what we have the box for," said Emily, patting a recorder. "Tell me, Dimora, when the rest of your people arrive, what will they do with the music?"

Dimora slowly lowered himself to the sand to talk to them. Even on an alien face, it was obviously painful, but he spoke no different from before. "The songs define who we are. Our people will take the sounds and feed them to a machine for the ... I am not sure of the term. Re-birth, perhaps? To live again in another body."

"Reincarnation," suggested Emily. "You believe in that?"

Dimora blinked slowly. "I am not sure. The songs are taught us at a young age. In school, we are made to learn them, so we may recite them to others - family and loved ones. A machine examines us, and gives us the song, and another machine takes the song and builds us again."

Emily frowned and exchanged a glance with Doug. As she turned back, Dimora started to rise. "Dimora, this machine..."

"I am sorry, Emily Fairchild. I must go now to remember the songs of others. Even with your efforts, they may not live to recite their music." He turned and struggled away, leaving unbalanced footsteps in the sand.

"What now?" asked Doug.

"I need a favour," said Emily.

"Another one?"

"I need you to carry on here without me."

"Why? Where are you going?"

"I have something to check out."

"Early mornings or not, you're going to owe me," said Doug.

"Maybe. But I owe Dimora more."

"You owe me," said Emily.

The army captain looked her up and down. "I've done my duty the entire time I've been here. I don't owe you anything."

Emily glowered at him. "Sure you do. If the next aliens arrive, I'm going to have a situation on my hands about the one you took away."

"I see," said the captain, steepling his fingers. He looked thoughtful for a moment. Then he said, "Well?"

"I need the medical information. Whatever you've got, and maybe some extra specific stuff."

The captain stared at her a moment, then sighed. "I can't give you the report; it's classified. However, unofficially you could speak to some of the team working with the body. Will that do?"


The captain had some soldiers take her in a jeep to a small mobile medical facility. They led her inside and left her in a chair in a small office. She waited, studying the ceiling, until a young man with a beard and lab coat bustled in.

"Oh, hey," he said, shaking hands and sitting down. "I hear you're the one that's been speaking to the aliens."

"That's me," nodded Emily.

"Wow. I'd sure like to see some of that."

"You probably can. Whereas I, of course, can't see what you've been doing..."

"Hey," said the man, waving his arms expansively, "Tim Waters at your service. Off the record, of course." He almost giggled at that.

"I need you to tell me about the alien."

"Of course. Well, substantially they're like us, humanoid body, as you know, broadly similar organs, only one lung, and one kidney that functions as two. We suspect they come from a planet with less gravity and a thinner atmosphere."

"What's killing them?"

Tim shrugged. "Combination trace lead poisoning and reaction to the nitrogen in the atmosphere. That's our current guess anyway. Some failure of the nervous system possibly. They should be able to live in our atmosphere, if it was a few percent different. Either way, after this much exposure, I doubt there's anything we could do to turn it around."

Emily nodded. She had feared as much. Still, she had one idea left. "Listen, what about DNA?"

"DNA? Oh wait, yeah, get this - just for fun we tried to run a blood sample through the gene sequencer."


"It didn't work."

Tim sat back, waiting. Realising her cue, Emily said, "So what does that mean?"

"It means the DNA is wrong. We had to take a step back and look at the DNA. Get this - you and I, and everything else on this planet, has four possible bases, A, C, G and T, whch pair up to form DNA. In the aliens, the DNA is replaced by something different. Their 'DNA' has eight bases with variants, and the pairing is more flexible."


"Meaning their gene sequence is vastly shorter than ours. Similar concept, but stored in much less space. Believe me, we could spend years researching this - the DNA replication alone will keep us going through several research grants."

Emily thought a moment, then said, "Can you show me the gene sequence?"


Tim took her to a lab and sat in front of a computer. He ran through a program until it showed a string of letters and numbers.

"This is it basically," he said, pointing at the screen. "We've labelled the combinations with letters and numbers in sequence. It's a simple code that represents an enormous amount of data."

Emily stared at it for a moment. The text was meaningless to her, all A1 and F3 and D6 and others. She thought quietly, then said, "Could you do something for me? I want to hear the sequence."

"Hear it?"

"Yes. As in, can you play it like music?"

Tim looked sideways at her, then back at the screen. "That sounds crazy, but yeah, I guess so. Let me get one of the computer guys in here."

Tim went to get one of the software engineers, and thirty minutes later they were ready.

"Okay," said Emily, "Do it."

The gene sequence scrolled by on-screen, and as it did so, the computer started playing music.

"I can't see this ever catching on," said Tim, but Emily wasn't listening to him.

"Arana," she thought.

The next day Emily returned to the compound to find Dimora lying in a tent. The alien was having trouble breathing and his skin had lost most of its colour, but he still managed to blink once to her and raise an arm in greeting.

Emily sat down next to him and laid out three recorders. "It's your turn now, Dimora."

Dimora sat up weakly. "It saddens me, that I am the last of my crew alive."

"It saddens me too."

"And yet I must thank you for all you have done."

Emily smiled and started two of the recorders. The alien leaned in close then, speaking his name softly to the boxes, and beginning to sing. The sound was sad and slow, but Emily waited patiently until he had sung the last note and dropped back from the recorders.

"It is done," he said. "And without much time."

Emily paused the recorders and looked at Dimora. "I have a question about the songs."

"Please ask me. You will not have another chance."

"The music is your genetic code, isn't it? That's what your machines teach you. That's why you want it remembered. Your loved ones can have you reconstructed after you die."

"That is right, Emily Fairchild. You understand well. The songs are given to us privately, and we entrust our songs only to those we wish to. Our family, our friends, when the time comes, they have the power to bring us back. But this far from home, there is no way to remind them of our songs, or ask them to remember us."

"I see," said Emily, looking away. "Then I have a confession to make. The body we took away - we examined it."

"I thought as much," said Dimora, blinking twice, quickly. He seemed weary suddenly; disappointed.

"Don't be upset. We have tools, we can also read gene sequences. Even yours."

"You can?"

"Yes. So, you are not the last; there is one more song to record." With that, she unpaused the two recorders and spoke clearly, "Arana." Then she started the third recorder playing.

The sound was artificial, definitely, lacking the depth of the real singing, but the music was still clear and distinctive as Arana's song played into the tent. Dimora blinked slowly, until finally the song ended and Emily stopped the recorders.

"The quality isn't great," she began, but Dimora interrupted her.

"It is enough," he said, "It is enough." And his great eyes closed, and stayed that way.

Days passed, and the crash site had changed again. Most of the equipment had been discreetly moved aside, the wire fencing of the compound had been removed, and the tanks had been backed off behind the sand dunes. Only the great silver wreck remained where it had been, buried in the beach.

Doug met Emily by the spacecraft, still standing at the edge of the semi-circle out of habit. He tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention.

"Hey," she said.

"Hey," he said back. "Have you heard? NASA say something big entered the upper atmosphere. It should be with us in ten minutes."

"I'm ready." She patted the recorders slung from her shoulder. "Think it'll go better this time?"

"Well, at least we can warn them about the atmosphere." He looked around, settling his gaze on the half-obscured metal before them. "Maybe this lot can park better."

Emily almost laughed despite herself, but she wasn't giving Doug her full attention. She had a message to deliver, and that was more important. A message from Dimora and all the others.

In the sky, high above, a silver shape slowly got closer.

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