Those ever curious and watchful jade eyes of the then young Julia gazed out of the tiny porthole which populated the cramped starboard wall of her command module. She floated in the perpetual free fall, that gorgeous, long flowing, golden hair held down tightly at her neck by white knuckled hands. It didn't quite hide the shapely curve of her left ear, which gradually hinted at a point.

The trip out thus far had been long and monotonous, the stars hardly changing as her primitive bio mechanical vessel hurtled through the vast reaches of the oort cloud. The planets and major population asteroids which circled her home system had been left behind months prior, so when she finally reached her intended destination, she was obviously ecstatic that her journey had reached its halfway mark. Communications with home had been difficult to maintain, and after all, she was all alone here in this lichen covered aluminum can. A bit dangerous, yes, but the technology, albeit primitive was also easy to keep in shape. And more important, it was cheap.

And what use would another humanoid serve? Just deplete her food stores twice as quickly, her logic informed her. However now, as she gazed at the quite alien object some meters beyond, its black sheen glinting in the dim starlight, she wished she had brought along someone, anyone.

She hadn't expected she would have been so frightened when finally faced with the object she had been observing for most of her adult life. But, on Gaias Fifth, the alien vessel was only statistics, and the occasional blurry smear against a sky that more or less was static. But Julia was, those whitened knuckles gripping her shoulders tightly, pulling her hair down to maintain some illusion that she wasn't entirely weightless. Her heart was pounding relentlessly in her small chest, despite being weakened a considerable amount in the zero gravity environment. She could feel her neck veins throbbing as a lump rose in her throat. She prayed to no one in particular that space sickness wouldn't kick in. Not now when everything was coming together.

The instruments around her were all automatic. Blinking LEDs would have told her the super computer was going through its preprogrammed checklist, attempting to make contact with the immense hulk beneath her, that is, if she could take her eyes off of the thing.

It was monolithic, nearly ten kilometers long, and two wide as her instruments on her homemoon had told her long ago. But now, actually being this close to it, she was in awe. Flatscreen and partially immersive holographic displays blinked into activity around her as a series of floodlights illuminated the tiny fraction which was presented to her. There was absolutely no insignia, portholes, or for that matter airlocks. The featureless black was seamless, coated in a thick evenly distributed translucent material. It took a couple of moments, but those floodlights were refracted every which way, a billion tiny pinpricks glaring back at her and what lay beyond. The surface light spread illuminating nearly one sixth of her discovery, somehow travelling beyond the reach of her powerful lights through that odd skin.

Was it even a spaceship at all? She mused to herself. It certainly didn't possess any noticeable engines. So was it a monument of some kind, built to simply convey a message, emotion or signify an event? If so, it had been drifting for a long time. A really long time. Millions of years long. She thought it possible, but that would be an awful waste. She was first and foremost an ambassador. Not once in her life had she even day dreamed of being an archeologist. And even if she were, what was there of significance here?

The nexus of bio engineered dolphin grey matter, enhanced with blitzing silicone circuits was quick, the light was instantly gathered by the tiny photonic sensitive communication cells on her vessels hide. Almost instantly it was thrown into a thousand different subroutines.

Tearing her gaze away from her porthole once again, she kicked back and finally released that golden hair. It floated every which way as she glided through her oxygen-nitrogen ocean effortlessly. Quickly she steadied herself in front of the communication terminal. When the floodlights were disengaged, a white toothed smile erupted on her pretty young face. Those petite fingers tracing along the real time feedback of the craft beneath her. It's smooth, featureless black returned, blinked light back at her, then returned once again.

She repeated the gesture five times.

As did it, six.

Julia could hardly contain herself. She screamed in joy, her previous fears temporarily drowned out in the excitement. The radio dish under her command assaulted the ebony surface beneath. It returned the gesture in kind, in fact, it began to move as well.

There was no surge of background matter as the vessel swished beneath her, no radiation, nothing but the constant stream of radio pulses, she noticed almost immediately, directed entirely at her. A bright, crisp and clear series of clicks. Almost like that of a whale.

How the immense bulk moved so effortlessly without any noticeable sign of propellant was far beyond her.

And was it fast. That super computer strained to keep up with it, cameras tilting and panning, directional radio antennas trying to track the thing as the tail end raced toward her faster and faster.

The young woman tumbled toward her navigation terminal, initiating a chemical burn to keep up with what she had come so far to make contact with. It was tiny in comparison to the speed worked up by her companion, but she hoped it was a gesture something intelligent could understand. But by that point, the majority of the mass was past her.

Those small feminine hands grasped the flat display terminal as she saw the behemoth's rear pass the craft's front most camera. But something glinted in her powerful mini-novae as she was abandoned. Like a fine water mist, it sparkled and sent off a thousand mini reflections. It moved in ripples, delicate waves cascading from the ebony hide which was departing her. It was beautiful, she thought while securing her long golden hair behind now fully revealed Elven ears. The camera's high resolution couldn't have done it true justice still, she found herself wishing she had gone out in a vacuum suit.

The vessels clicking eased, and what followed would have made her jump if she wasn't already air bourne. A deep and sudden resounding bellow, a lurching series of powerful resonances followed by a high pitched squeal made those sensitive and pointed ears ache. It continued as she turned down the volume, it was a whale's song. She couldn't have possibly guessed at how ancient and complex it really was, not with that humanoid brain.

The craft disappeared into the silky black beyond, that matching hide only making itself known by the absence of starlight. The bellowing continued, its rich, complex language five billion years old. A language that predated even the earliest of humanoid civilization.

The massive, bellowing craft pivoted with tremendous ease far ahead of her. That radar pinging of its thick skin telling her that it was now approaching just as quickly, then slowing, until it yet again was within reach of her floodlights.

Again, it refracted a dozen which ways, sending off a wonderful, lustrous glow. But it continued to spread as if it were a fire, outlining every curve. An onrush a kilometer a second, revealing grand quad wings which were even now forming from port and starboard. Long, almost hydrodynamic they twisted, their tips the last to remain that lustrous, but featureless ebony.

But it didn't stop there. The thin trial which she had observed earlier flashed into existence. Complex currents of the unknown material illuminated and spreading, all around her in fact. Complex, twisting currents enveloping her tiny craft. The light grew, and with it colors appeared. First, the primaries, but where the trillions of microscopic currents criss crossed, a dazzling series of secondaries flashed into existence. A wonderful peacock's tail, oh, how could water in flood lights compare to this marvel?

It moved her to tears, trembling hands wiping reddened eyes. This was what she had come all this way for, certainly.


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