danqueller wrote: »
I'll add mine as well...
There But For A Cat's Tail
Excerpt from Starfleet entry examination interview of Vice Admiral Finity Westland (under assumed name ‘Kelro Verne’ at time of inteview):
My first meeting with beings from another world wasn't the planned event of a typical First Contact mission, but one of those all too frequent incidents that happen by a combination of random chance and a mistake by the spacefarer. I'm sure Starfleet has plenty of case studies to compare mine to, so I don't feel special in that regard. I do think some explaining would help you understand how I ended up here, though.
Prior to contact, I had no idea the Preservation Alliance had been in the process of selecting and inviting Terrans from the late twentieth century with the skills they considered important into their galactic civilization. It was a very covert effort, not unlike the methods Starfleet uses when investigating Prime Directive species, though the goals were recruitment instead of exploration. In particular, they watched potential military candidates, and had been going through the records at the training academies on Earth to find those who might have what they were looking for, but who wouldn't be missed. Somehow, my name ended up on one of those lists, almost certainly the 'investigate only as a backup choice' list as I had left the Service earlier that year for medical reasons.
I was living in a two-story rental apartment at the time, and I admit the place was a bit unkempt. I hadn't taken my rejection from the Military very well, and had not found a new vocation yet. The Navy had been my only real interest and with that taken from me, I was rudderless. So, when my cat screamed his head off in the middle of the night, I pulled on a bathrobe and ran downstairs.
The room was undisturbed and I found my feline companion under a table, his fur standing out like he'd just seen the biggest tomcat in the world. No amount of coaxing would get him out, so I made a quick check of the apartment, failing see anyone or anything out of place. I was about to head back to bed when I noticed something laying just under a chair. It was a coin-sized object, made of some material I couldn't place, and with a blue light flashing on one end. Not knowing what a transporter beacon was, I of course triggered it in the course of my examination. In a flash of light I found myself in a brightly-lit area that was all flowing curves and white material, and which was not my apartment.
And also containing three obviously-stunned blue-skinned humanoids who looked at me with the same open-mouthed expression I'm sure I had.
As I said, they were humanoid, and more similar to Terrans than I've come to know can be the case. The Kay'van were one of the Preserver's attempts to 'improve' Humans, so that isn't a big surprise to me now, but you have to understand that I'd never seen a person with gills before. And, I just thought their white hair some kind of additional strangeness on top of the single-form clothing they were all wearing.
We just stood there for at least five seconds, I in my bedclothes and they in their ship uniforms, each frozen in what they had been doing. In retrospect, I guess I'd been given enough introduction to the concept of aliens in popular media that their familiar form and reactions let me relate to them as I would any other person instead of panicking, and I did the only thing that came to my mind.
I offered them the beacon and said "I think you dropped this."
What followed was a series of interviews, and the Captain of the ship explaining that the crewbeing assigned to investigate my house had been tasked with gathering information about me, but had stepped on my cat's tail in the darkness. Startled, the investigator had transported out before realizing that they had dropped the beacon. The Captain had been debriefing the crewperson when I'd made all of that moot by appearing on their ship without warning. For my part, I quickly overcame my shock and realized that these really -were- people, not aliens. That, for all their physical differences, we were more alike than I'd ever expected from beings who had their own homeworld to love and to worry about. I got into conversations with some of the crew, learning some of the places on their world they thought of as beautiful, and how an amphibious race lived when it was based in a solar system featuring binary stars. It didn't take long for me to start thinking of them as people I could like, unlike some other Officers I've met who think we're the only ones who matter in the universe.
“I will be blunt and tell you that we did not intend to bring you up here.” Captain Sess’numi told me after about a day aboard the ship, using the accented English all the Kay’van aboard spoke “But, you are handling all of this with impressive calm for one of your particular vrenki…that is, your culture. That makes me think there might be a place for you after all. I am prepared to offer you a chance to help your planet and learn things very few of your species will ever have a chance to experience. Not safe, mind you…we would not be here if the entire galaxy were not at war…but your efforts would matter.”
By then, my mind was already pretty much made up that I wasn’t going back to Earth without figuring out what was going on, so I didn’t take long to think about it. I just answered “What kind of job would you have in mind for me up here?”
“A very difficult role. One requiring long hours of tedious work in the most dangerous environments known to sentient life, with few if any material benefits. You would have to work with members of at least twenty species without causing undue friction, some of whom will consider you inferior and have no reservations letting you know that. You will also encounter those who wish to end your existence without hesitation, and face hardships knowing that anything you accomplish will likely never be known to your homeworld until well after you have passed into the Great Beyond.” The Captain replied, the grin on his face letting me see his sharp teeth in full view. “And, you will have to wear more than sleeping garments.”
I couldn’t keep myself from matching his own expression. “Where do I sign up?”
So, I met my first aliens and ended up recruited despite not being actually sought by the Alliance. I learned how to fight in the war the Preservers had gotten themselves into, commanded a starship crewed by people like none I had ever imagined existed, found comradery and sorrow across a hundred stars, and eventually returned to Earth after they drummed me out of their Alliance for opposing a policy I felt was immoral and wrong. Then I got picked up when that Alliance cruiser came calling to Earth on an automated emergency recall mission a year or so later, the incident that put the entire planet on edge against aliens and set the path for the formation of the Empire when the Vulcans showed up over half a century later.
That, as they say, is another story.