Vigilant - Chapter Five (PG)

"We're not taking a spaceship?" Jack's voice was muffled by the respirator he wore. "I come all the way to another dimension, befriend an alien, and have to walk?" He gave a short laugh but it sounded more like choking through the heavy filters.

"I am sorry to disappoint you," Draephas replied. "We have been without fuel for our vehicles for some time. The people of Aeddonea abused and wasted its natural resources. This is why the atmosphere is acrid and the landscape barren." He waved a hand at his desolate surroundings.

"That sounds a lot like what we're doing to my planet. I hope this isn't where Earth is heading," Jack said as he took in the devastation.

The bitter air hung heavy around the pair as they trudged across the infertile soil towards the home of Tarthiun. A few gnarled growths broke the otherwise sterile surface. Jack noticed that nothing moved; there wasn't a creature to be found. A dull light barely lit their way but Jack couldn't find the source of it through the haze.

Draephas slowed as he approached a shallow depression. Halting Jack with his hand, the alien crept cautiously in an irregular zigzag towards the center. Pinpoints of light seemed to dance within the crater. When he reached the middle, he crouched down and brushed off a thick layer of dust to reveal a small control panel. He lifted the cover and pushed a series of buttons. The bits of illumination blinked three times and disappeared. Draephas stood, took a step back, and waited. The ground began to shake as a metallic cylinder rose out of the dirt and rotated open to reveal a small transportation capsule.

"After you, Jack," Draephas said as he gestured toward the hatch.

Jack hesitated. He had spent so much time making Tarthiun evil in his pretend universe that he was actually scared to meet him! Let's go, up. He took a deep breath, walked over to the tube, and entered the pod.