"Come with me."
I race out of the command center and towards an access elevator to the surface. I recognized the alien as the one who confronted me outside Dillard's department store - I think his name was Cerata and he comes from the world of Skalon. In about 30 seconds I am out on the airfield tarmac where he and a dozen or so aliens materialized.
"We meet once again Tech1! As you know, your world's plight is being broadcast across the galaxy in what you would describe as a 'reality' show. Those of us whose worlds have more time, such as my world of Skalon, have plenty of time to plan things while here you run around in a frenzied state reacting to things after the fact, because you can't see them coming."
"Are you here to help us?"
"Yes. You remember I offered to help you build a shield against the overshadowing signals from hostile worlds. Well I am here to offer my world's assistance. Skalon is a very technocratic world. We are just as technocratic as Lal-atha's world, perhaps moreso."
"What can you do?"
"We know the shields put up by Htra-deg and the Confederation are likely to be breached by Lal-atha's ships in a matter of hours. Your world has precious little time to plan a defense. Our world however has plenty of time to entertain the possibilities. The Confederation knew this day was coming and yet did very little to avert it. We are going to help you fight Lal-atha with technology."
"How did you breach the shields?"
"We teleported here. The shields were designed to prevent levels of mass in excess of a certain quotient from being teleported to Earth or to reside in Earth's orbit. Your entire solar system is presently secured as well as possible with Confederation technology. Unfortunately the technologies Lal-atha has access to are not limited to Confederation worlds."
"So there are a dozen of you? What can you possibly hope to achieve against an invasion armada?"
"We will find out. Is Yal-hune back yet?"
"No. I haven't seen her at all since this started."
"She's probably quite busy."
I glance at the people Cerata appeared with. They all look very serious and intelligent. They let Cerata do the physical talking, but they were communicating with him telepathically. They all are carrying some sort of device on their arms. From a distance it looks quite a bit like a 'tricorder' from the old Star Trek series. I sense these devices are much more potent and are part of the technological assistance Skalon brings to the party.
Shayla is in my mind on our own personal wavelength in the very back of my mind.
"Be careful. He is concealing something."
I look at them with a new perspective and I find myself back looking at the world through the filter I have worn so long. A filter that looks at everyone in a less than favorable light. A filter where trust and face value are barred from passage.
"Can you tell what it is?"
"No. Their minds are all locked up quite tightly."
I turn to Cerata, "Let's return to the command center and see if we can't find a spot for you to prepare what you came to prepare."
He marches off with his group. They know exactly where they are going. I forget that they know this facility and all of Earth like their own homes. They watch it regularly and unlike a stage set, which is false, all they see is quite real. They probably know all the codes and could march right into the command center without any hesitation. As the sunlight glints off their clothing I see something else - a shimmer. I keep forgetting they are operating here with their own personal forcefields and atmosphere.