Part 12

12/07/2012

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As she scraped the last morsel from the container, she absentmindedly raised her head and looked out the window.  The planet she was aiming for was close, and she hoped she would reach it today, because her fuel was almost gone.  As if on cue, her engines began to stutter.  Jumping up, she ran to control panel, and reached for the communicator.  "Hello?  Can anyone hear me?  I'm running out of fuel."

Moments passed and Lanie keep her eye on the planet.  Her ship was starting entry procedures in accordance with the coordinates she had plotted.  If she hit their atmosphere and it had a gravity pull, she would crash if her engines ran out of fuel.

A voice finally returned her call, "We will take control and see you in safely.  Please remain calm."

A purple light seemed to engulf the ship and cast a purplish glow into the cabin.  Lanie sat at the control panel and waited.  Buildings came into view and she could see where she would land.  Trying to imagine what it would look like on the surface, she craned her neck in odd directions.  As the ship descended further, the light became darker, and the air outside the ship looked polluted. 

The ship vibrated slightly and she felt a thump; she was sure she had landed.  The voice asked her.  "Have you visited this planet before?"

Picking up the communicator she answered, "No, I'm kinda a new traveler."

"You are in an airlock, are you an air breather?"

"Yes."  She smiled, it seemed like a silly question, but it probably wasn't.

"What is your air mixture?"

"Um I breathe oxygen, and uh, nitrogen, and ...stuff."  She had made the mistake of thinking a captain wouldn't need that information, and didn't retain it after the test.

There was a long pause.  "Where did you come from?"

It was her turn to pause.  If she told them, she was from Earth it may not go well for her, being so far from home.  Not knowing the name of the planet she just left, she told them, "I don't know."

"If you have an empty container, quickly throw it out your hatch."

Without asking why, she did as they asked.  Then it hit her, they would test the air in the container.

While Lanie waited for them to figure out her air mixture, she silently thanked Hootie for the translator.  Not being as prepared as she thought for space travel, she pitied the other captains venturing out from Earth.  She knew she had been extremely lucky.

When the voice spoke it startled her from her thoughts, "Our atmosphere would be volatile to you.  We will place a breathing device in the airlock, and the airlock will be filled with your air mixture.  When you have the apparatus on, just announce it, we will hear you."

Lanie agreed, gathered a few of her things, and walked to the hatch.  As she opened it, she saw a pedestal table with a mask on it.  This was her protection?  Picking it up, she examined it.  It looked like a doctor's mask, but as she held it in her hand, she could tell there was a filter of some sort between the fabrics.  Raising it to her face, she covered her nose and mouth, and that was when she realized there were no ties.  Just as that thought came to her, the mask forced its way down her throat.  Gagging and choking, she hit the floor.  Lanie gasped for air, and then she was breathing easier.  What was it with these crazy devices that invaded her body?

The airlock door was opened and in slithered one of the inhabitants of this planet, they were indeed ugly.  The smell alone made her wrinkle her nose, but the assault to her eyes, paralyzed her.  Hootie's words echoed in her head, they're friendly.  Lanie slowly rose to her feet, with her mouth agape, having to mentally remind herself to shut it.  She stood looking embarrassed.  The being reminded her of a snail, but without a shell.  The skin looked slimy and it glistened.  It glided, rather than walked, and its eyes were on the end of appendages.  Lanie did notice it appeared to be smiling.

"Welcome to Tentalu!  You are certainly lost little traveler; a long way from home!  What stumps me is how you got here! Your air mixture tells me you are from Earth!"

Lanie felt uncomfortable and she fidgeted, sliding her hands along her hips looking for non-existent pockets, "Well... it's a long story."

The being laughed so loud it made Lanie jump.  "You must have dinner with me tonight and tell me more."

She smiled, 'A girl's gotta eat."  This brought more laughter from her new friend.

He turned around and told her to follow him.  "Your ship will be fine there.  Don't worry.  After you see the city, we'll decide how we can help you."

That seemed like a good idea to her.  She needed all the help she could get.  Lanie followed him out of the airlock and through a large doorway.  The environment changed drastically.

The simple act of walking through a doorway took her from a facility that was clean and well maintained to a dark, pollution filled city.  Many noises combined to create a constant hum of activity.  Voices, music, something mechanical, an engine maybe, all swirled through the dingy air. As they moved through the streets, Lanie caught sight of many different species of beings.  There seemed to be a lot of businesses in a center area, where most of the beings were gathered. 

Trying to make sense of what she was seeing, Lanie proceeded to put them all in order, snail-like ones seemed to live on this planet.  The others, the ones with  antennae, the bug-like, lizard-like, even some humanoid-looking beings, they were most likely travelers like her.  This had to be sort of a cross roads of the universe, many provisions were being sold here.

Just as her host motioned Lanie ahead of him through a door way, there was an outburst of music and loud voices.  She turned to see where the noise came from.  Two figures spilled from a doorway, one landing on their back on the ground.  A bar fight? The other stood over it with a weapon that looked like a large knife.  Her host blocked her view and hurried her forward.