Deep in the bowels of the Strike Command's underground bunker, Sergeant Potts was not just pissed off, he was extremely pissed off. He had totally failed to detect anything else from the Unidentified Flying Object in question and his CO had scrambled two fighters to search the suspected area.
He knew what would happen, they would find absolutely nothing and return to base. It happened all the time.
He knew UFO's existed, he saw them almost every day on radar. But would any of them leave behind any concrete proof of their existence? No. They never do, he thought mournfully. They make me out to look like a complete idiot, showing themselves here, showing themselves there, then buggering off faster than shit through a goose. One day, he thought, I'd like to meet a UFO and give the occupants a large piece of my mind. I'd teach 'em a lesson in planetary courtesy they'd never forget.
This was one UFO that wasn't going to get away. Not if he had anything to do with it.
Sergeant Potts grinned a grin that would put a Cheshire cat to shame. He was a man...with a mission.
* * * * * *
In the dark, cold, wintry fields outside Tyem, Zork stopped swinging his Biodectron Life As We Know It Analysis Meter, or 'Blawkiam' for short, and frowned. Without turning to face his colleague, he whispered, "Psst! I've found something!"
Torg gave up on the idea of trying to pick up a small spiky animal which didn't want to be picked up, and strolled over to him. "Don't be silly, we're miles from anywhere."
"But I have!" insisted Zork.
"Well it can't be Human, we're not anywhere near them. Honestly, we stop somewhere secluded to plan tactics and you go and find something!"
"It's not my fault!" said Zork, a little grumpily.
"Well maybe it's not working properly. Give it here."
Zork reluctantly handed over the Biodectron Life As We know It Analysis Meter.
Torg switched the machine on and started to swing. "Which direction?"
"That way," replied Zork, pointing.
Torg directed the Biodectron Life As We Know It Analysis Meter towards the offending building. The silent red indicator flashed angrily back at him.
He stopped, gave it a thump, and started again. The red indicator flashed once more, but louder this time. He thumped it harder.
"Careful! You'll break it!" hissed Zork, trying to keep his voice down. He totally failed and it came out as a screech.
"This equipment's faulty," Torg lied. He didn't want to admit - even to himself - that it really was working and that yes, it had detected something.
"Can't be," said Zork. "I checked it out this morning, personally."
"Oh, well then," said Torg, grasping this latest bit of information with both hands, "That explains it then."
"Are you implying I can't do my job properly?"
"No. Of course not. It's just that, well, it's picking up something that shouldn't be here."
"If you remember," said Zork, grabbing the chance to get the upper hand for once, "the purpose of us being here is because there are things here that shouldn't be."
Torg relented. "Okay, okay, you win. All right? The machine isn't faulty, it's in good working order and it's detected something that shouldn't be here. Happy?"
"Not really, it means that we now have to find out what it is without drawing attention to ourselves."
Torg kicked at a passing leaf, half daring it to fight back. "Any ideas?"
"Could be tricky," predicted Zork.
* * * * * *
Billie paced backwards and forwards across her kitchen floor like a Tory on poling day. She wanted to get some photos of the aliens but they were too far away. The camcorder wouldn't be any good either, she had forgotten to recharge the batteries. Besides, it wouldn't work in the dark anyway.
Her only option was to make contact and so tried frantically to think of ways in which to approach them. Had she known then what it was they wanted, she probably wouldn't have bothered. Billie threw a few ideas around her confused mind. It was no good, she couldn't just go up to them and say, "Hi, I'm Billie, I was just making a pot of tea when I saw your lights and was wondering if you'd like to join me..."
But then again...why not? Before she had the time to talk herself out of it, she pulled on a pair of red leggings, changed her mind, pulled on an old pair of jeans, picked up her torch and boldly ventured out into the chilly, night air.
* * * * * *
Torg and Zork stood transfixed. The door of the structure opened slowly, revealing a white light and an ominous silhouette.
"Run!" shouted Zork. "It's a Human!"
As one, the two terrified aliens ran for cover behind the stocky legs of their spaceship.
"Hang on a minute," said Torg, straightening up. "What are we running for?"
Zork crept cautiously around the landing leg to get a better look. "Because it's bigger than we are. Do you think it's seen us?" he asked nervously.
Billie switched on her torch.
Torg frowned at the oncoming beam of light. "Er. I'd say it has, yes."
"Stun it then..."
"What?!" asked Zork incredulously.
The searching light from Billie's torch zigzagged across the muddy ground in front of them. "Hello?" came an adventurous voice from out of the gloom. "Hello? Can you understand me?"
"Move closer!" hissed Torg encouragingly.
"You bloody move closer!"
Torg glared at him and moved slowly away from the safety of the craft's legs. He waited nervously for the Human to get within zapping distance.
"Excuse me? Hello?" Billie stepped out of the cover of the blackness. "Er... I mean no harm," she added, thinking it would help.
The aliens stood motionless and gawped at the sight in front of them. It was definitely Human, no mistaking that, and it was definitely young, about the average height and build for the species, but something was wrong, the creature didn't appear to be armed. Why wasn't it armed?
Zork shuffled closer to his friend and hissed through clenched teeth, "It's grinning. Can't be a good sign if it's grinning!"
Torg quickly remembered himself and held out his arm. Stretching to his full impressive height of 3 foot 2, he aimed his finger and fired. A red beam of energy surged from its tip and engulfed Billie, freezing her instantly to the spot.
Her grin melted and was replaced by a look of surprised anguish. "What the hell did you do that for?" she yelled indignantly. "I only wanted to say hello."
"Now what do we do?" whispered Zork. "Tell it it's trespassing and then run like hell?"
A little way off, in the safety of its domain, a green pair of eyes watched the proceedings with interest.
"Let me out of here! I'm not going to hurt you!" Billie yelled. She tried to struggle but got nowhere.
Torg sidled closer to Billie and took the torch from her unresisting hands. It didn't look much like a weapon, but being of a very cautious nature, he tossed it into the night behind him, causing a sound like a screech and something white, furry and very angry to come darting out of the bushes and streak past them like a bullet. "That's not what we've been told," he said.
"I don't believe this! I come out here to offer you the hand of friendship across the lifeless void of the universe and you do this! Not to mention trying to kill my cat."
Torg and Zork consulted each other briefly. Friendship? That couldn't be right.
"Er," said Zork cautiously, "What do you mean friendship?"
Billie started to lose her patience. This was not how it was meant to be. "You know, friendly, er..." In sheer desperation, she silently prayed for any God who was listening to tell her that this was all just a big joke and that Jeremy Beadle would come running out of her barn any second now.
"...sociable, chummy. Um..."
The aliens looked on with confused but polite expressions.
".....agreeable, hospitable, you know! Neighbourly! Good natured?"
Torg and Zork exchanged worried glances.
"...pally! You know, friendly!"
Fearing the Human was insane, Torg grabbed Zork's arm and with a mumbled "Excuse us", they shuffled off to the nearest tree.
"Hey!" Shouted Billie. "Let me out of here!"
"No chance," replied Zork quickly.
The aliens huddled together. "Should we believe it?" asked Zork. "I mean, Humans are known to lie." As an afterthought he carried on, "And cheat and steal and kill - especially kill - and very well from what I've heard."
Torg shrugged. "Well, we have to give her the eviction order or the boss'll terminate us. Besides, she seems harmless enough."
"Yeah, but don't forget the grinning. Would you trust someone who grinned like that?"
Torg thought about this. "Not normally, no. But then, this isn't normal, is it?"
"So what do we do?" Zork looked at his partner as if questioning the sanity of the whole thing.
"I believe you were going to ask one of them where they came from," said Torg sneakily.
"Oh yeah," said Zork, his voice dripping with all the sarcasm he could muster. "I'm sure it wouldn't mind telling me where it came from so we can send it back."
"Ah, but she doesn't know that yet. Besides, you suggested it."
"I was only kidding!" Zork threw up his hands in despair.
"Come to think of it, it's quite a good idea actually. Go and ask her then," Prompted Torg. "I mean, it's not like she can do anything to you, not while she's stunned..."
"You ask it then," demanded Zork.
"Your idea," countered Torg quickly.
"Bastard." Zork paused. A frown spread across his face. "How do you know it's a she?"
"It's the bumps," whispered Torg knowingly. He grinned.
"Oi!" shouted Billie from behind them. "You can move your damn spaceship 'an all!" While the aliens had been off whispering to each other (something which she very much hated), she had decided against trying to make friends with them. They obviously didn't want to be friends with her and if they weren't going to be civil and friendly, then neither was she. Two, or in this case, three, could play that game.
Torg and Zork sighed and shuffled back to their Human captive.
"Are you going to move your vehicle or not?" she demanded. "Or do I have to have it clamped?" she threatened angrily. "It's a £50 fine, you know," she added, hoping it would do the trick.
Needless to say, it didn't.
"Listen," said Zork irritably, vaguely wondering what a clamp was. "It's you who shouldn't be here, the vehicle stays. You go."
"I live here!" Billie couldn't believe it. Here she was, in her own field, arguing with an alien wearing a baseball cap, who refused to move his spaceship.
"This isn't your property anyway," said Torg, figuring 'what the hell' and going straight in for the kill. "You're trespassing."
"What?!" Billie had never heard anything so ridiculous in all her life. She finally gave up and lost it. "What on Earth are you talking about? Who the hell are you anyway? Where do you come from? How come you speak English? And let me out of here!"
Torg risked a quick glance at Zork, who shrugged. "On one condition," he said cautiously. "We er... we're going to need your help."
"Oh yeah? What sort of help? It had better not be any medical experiments, I've heard all about them."
The aliens exchanged raised eyebrows.
"Know a lot about us then, do you?" asked Torg.
"You bet I do," said Billie proudly. She hadn't studied all the literature and reports for nothing. "Now let me go, I mean, if you can paralyze me any time you want, what's the problem, huh?"
"The Human's got a point, you know," whispered Zork reasonably.
"Hmm. Okay, but don't get any funny ideas." Torg waved a stubby, green digit. "Just remember, this finger's loaded..." He concentrated and snapped his fingers.
Billie stumbled forward and fell flat on her face. Ignoring the humiliation, she picked herself up and brushed the dirt from her jeans. "Thank you. Finished playing silly buggers now, have we? Good."
She stretched and relaxed. The energy field had given her the cramps something rotten.
Zork turned to Torg. "Are those the bumps you mean?"
"Yeah, it's something to do with the layout."
"Oh! Like camels!" said Zork brightly.
"No," sighed Torg sadly. "Not really."
Zork stared at Billie's chest thoughtfully. After a few moments of obvious concentration, he reached up.
"Don't even think about it mister." She glared down at the diminutive green creature. "I'm a lot bigger than you are."
Zork leapt away like a startled cat. "She's threatening me, she is!" He hid behind Torg. "Zap her! Go on...Zap her!"
Torg shook his head apologetically. "This is all a bit much for him I'm afraid. It's his first time, see?"
"Look," said Billie, changing the subject. "Let's start at the beginning shall we? What do you want?"
Zork managed to get a grip on himself. But then, he was spitless with fright so it could have been somebody else... He poked his head out from behind his friend. "Where do you come from?" he ventured.
"I was going to ask you that!" exclaimed Billie.
"What? The chemists?"
"No," he said, in the tired tones of one who's had to explain it all before. "Bootes the constellation..."