Author : Jabez Crisp

Vagner: Your name please?

Niken: Niken, William, Flight Lieutenant, 10039880

Vagner: [pause] Date of birth?

Niken: 29th February 1912

Vagner: And you went missing how long ago?

Niken: To me, well… it has been two years. To you, sixty? Eighty? I’m given to understand we made peace in the end, such as we always do.

Doctor Vagner: So where have you been?

Niken: Amongst the stars, if such a thing seems plausible. Taken… You read what I said to the last doctor. Abducted, he said, by a race called the Herzan.

Doctor Vagner: So why you?

Niken: You’ll probably already know that I was shot down over Kent. A Herzan Hunter-Gatherer ship picked me up while collecting dead meat. I remember the twisted metal, the smell of the Merlin as it smoked me to death. Next thing I knew I was watching the war from an unknown vantage point, being tended to… God only knows why me, maybe I was originally meant to be food. I remember waking in a steel container surrounded by carrion… [Sighs, audible lighting of a cigarette] And of course no one noticed. Well, who would notice a missing dead man or another light in the sky? As it turned out they came down to where the lights were because they thought it was the most civilized. Technically it was. What a depressing farce. [pause] I guess you’d call me the ships cat.

Doctor Vagner: Go on.

Niken: The Herzan are… travelers. A long lost race in search of their home, traveling with the burden of the fact that the faster they travel the less likely they are to get back. I never quite understood the folklore, though they tried to explain. They were running, I could never quite make out if it was a civil war, or war with another race. But whatever fighting they did they were very adept at. I remember once we were ambushed, out by Alpha Proxima. From nowhere these two vast vessels appeared from the blackness. I remember Herzan ships being batted like flies. Fearing for my life, not knowing what death the uncaring vacuum had in mind for me. I was there when they retaliated. Space came alight with fire and the silent thump of destruction. It was [pause] quite terrifying.

Of course, they could travel quickly away from their tormentors, but as they approach light speed time slows down. With that in mind, they have the choice between destruction on their path or the knowledge that when future generations reach their homeworld it will be but an unlit lump of char. Just imagine [pause] growing up and living in a community that only knew the thump of war on the hull and the danger and necessity of repair. The Herzan would travel in vast ships, knowing only florescent light, and surgical steel. After a year with them I got very sick, they sent a smaller craft to drop me back. I was amazed they did that, and humbled as well. But that has left a tremendous problem, it’s been coming for many centuries for us but only a few years for them.

Doctor Vagner: And that is?

Niken: The wake of the journey the Herzan leave behind them can only bring their tormentors here.


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