MANX-232
By Puffinstuf

The year is 7309 H.T (2309 A.D) and Humanity has just found another habitable planet with odd features. Its name: Manx-232...

Dr. Kwok lay down as he faced the deep green sky that was the precious ozone of Manx-232. Dr. Kwok watched the grey and ever-condensing hydrogen gas move along silently high up in the air slowly, silent. There was also no rain on Manx-232; all the hydrogen did, strangely enough, was drop to the ground on its weight as it slowly became liquid at the same rate.

However, Dr. Kwok didn't come to Manx-232 simply for the weather (he certainly didn't come for the view!) but to study these weird hydrogen clouds. Manx-232 was so far the only other Human-supporting planet that anyone had come across.

And that was when something happened. A new hydrogen cloud appeared with two oddball features: the first was that it moved at an unusually fast rate, which meant that it was either vastly lighter or with a life of its own.

Secondly, the cloud was blue.

As Dr. Kwok stood up gaping at the sky, the blue 'cloud' (or whatever it was) suddenly halted in place while dropping to the surface at what seemed to be terminal velocity-at . Dr. Kwok hated to think of just what would happen to him if the cloud collapsed right on top of him with the full force of gravity, so he ran as fast as he could while the cloud came down on the surface. Within seconds, Dr. Kwok found himself 5 feet in the air, ears ringing irritably. Dr. Kwok landed on his belly, dirt flying as his mind wandered in a sort of confusion.

Whatever that blue thing was, it had landed. Dr. Kwok slowly, painfully stood up to see what had happened after it crashed.

"Woah!" Dr. Kwok thought out loud when he saw, he saw...

***

"So, this is the artefact," Miller remarked, pushing past all the scientists circling around it.

"The artefact" was not of Human design, yet anyone could tell that it was electrical by the look of it. The artefact was still working on its own, glowing a faint yellow. It looked very "Human" indeed, at least more "Human" than the scientists thought something alien would be. The mechanism was a large, gray hunk of metal, a sort of rectangular prism with tall openings etched into it, and in these openings there would be a series of red levers/pumps moving up and down at an incredible rate.

Miller stood to look up at the artefact. "What is this used for?" Miller asked a scientist, scratching his head quizzically.

"Not a clue, nobody knows... Yet, that is. We have our ways of finding out, though, so expect results by Manx-232's next spin."

Miller put his hands on his hips to gape at the artefact. A hundred secrets are safely hidden in that machine, Miller thought, and with its help, Humans will be one step closer to being Godlike...

***

The "blue cloud's '~inhabitants?'" thought about that differently. They had crossed galaxies to stop what they feared the new visitors would do to it from ever happening. They even captured one of their race to use as a puppet to make them understand exactly what they were doing. The inhabitants could only hope that their efforts had prevailed...

***

Miller sat by the artefact, waiting patiently for the scientists to find out something, to do something. Miller could imagine accomplishing many a task with an electrical appliance with such power as the artefact approximately had, all of them he never thought possible with one single power source. Nothing can stop us now, Miller thought, not even its creators...

***

The inhabitants had made it to the planet's surface, hopefully in time. Their puppet's time had come to be their diplomat. When they found it, they noticed many of the visitors surrounding it. The inhabitants knew that they had to try it out now...

***

Miller began to pace as the scientists continued their "studies" (Miller didn't think that they were trying their hardest). Miller felt like hugging the artefact, but he stopped himself as he knew that it would be of no help to him, except to get him electrocuted.

"What's that?!" one of the scientists screamed, pointing up at the sky.

Miller jumped up with fright as his distraction was disturbed at the sudden shout. Pulling himself together, Miller looked up in the sky to see just what that scientist was yelling about. When he seen it, he shook his head.

A blue gas cloud, Miller thought as he chuckled in disbelief, right. A blue one. Honestly. Blue.

To Miller's amazement, the blue cloud didn't seem to be moving at the same rate as the others, instead slowing down to a stop. Hmph, Miller thought, this is no ordinary gas.

At that moment of confusion, the blue cloud seemed to flicker before shaking off a huge mass of blue foam...

...Then it was no longer a cloud...

...But a ship, not of Human origin (you could only tell that if you looked at it closely enough). It looked very simplistic and smooth in texture; a simple gray besides the red etches dotting the outside hull.

The [cloud] quickly lowered itself until its shadow covered the team of scientists and Miller. A soft thump was heard a few seconds later, which could be realised as being the sound of feet hitting the ground after falling the short distance from the top of the small [cloud]. All the scientists went silent as they observed along with Miller, who was slowly clenching his fist in front of him.

***

It walked towards them. No strutting, no jumpiness- just walking at a perfect pace. They shall be told what they should do, it was commanded. Its programming responded to that order as a sort of specific instruction, looking to see if it had attracted the attention of everyone in its vicinity when someone came up to it from the cluster of visitors, to say:

"Dr. Kwok... Is that... You, Dr. Kwok?"

***

Dr. Kwok was there in front of the team, arms and face frozen in a weird shocked position, eyelids never blinking as they constantly watered. Dr. Kwok was, and yet was not, Dr. Kwok.

"He's obviously possessed by an external source," Miller noted, "if it's a brainwash or if it's not, let's hope that he can speak English."

The response after that startled many of the scientists along with Miller, because at that moment [Dr. Kwok], indeed, spoke English.

"Judging by your reactions, you visitors are well on your way to leaning, to understanding what it..." [Dr. Kwok] was saying as he pointed to the artefact, "...What it is... What it does... And how you can use it. But at close inspection your species still needs to know more, visit more places and experience more events before you can comprehend the importance and use of it. I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that it is going to have to be taken away by its creators and rightful owners: us. Perhaps your species will see it again, on better experience. You might even meet us again, on peaceful circumstances. But now is not the time."

Miller did not comprehend the 'speech' in the way [Dr. Kwok] had intended it to be understood. Miller had promised himself to let nothing take it away until he had benefited from it. And he wasn't about to break that promise. Miller reached into his inside vest pocket to draw out his handheld photon accelerator concentration module. Now, Miller thought, no more sentiment, it's time for use of weapons. Closing one eye for aim, Miller fired at the alien ship.

The response was sudden. As the photon particle reached the ship, an invisible barrier blocked the proton, sending it deflected into the air, glowing blue light and immense heat breaking apart as it flew in the opposite direction, as if the shields of the ship acted as a sort of prism.

[Dr. Kwok] stepped up towards the team of shaken Humans. They sure didn't expect anything nice to come out of his mouth...

"Fools! What was that for? Your species is obviously less sentient than it looks. Don't let us use force...!" As [Dr. Kwok] bellowed at Miller, something dropped in behind [Dr. Kwok], this time not even remotely Human at all.

It looked like a beetle, a blue beetle, a blue, 1-meter tall beetle. It looked calm to the Humans, expressionless and unforgiving.

It felt rage.

[Dr. Kwok] kept talking. "This is your last chance. Yes, that means you, only you, the man with the gun," [Dr. Kwok] stated, "you have two options: you can withdraw from your actions and let us take it, or respond to your wholly primitive instincts and suffer the consequences...!"

Miller squinted at them both, unconvinced at them both. He knew that it would all have to come to this for him. Okay, Miller thought, they won't get their prize at all. Miller aimed his weapon at where the artefact lay, and fired. On impact, the sky seemed to shimme-

***

When seen from space at that moment, the alien's fears had come true. Manx-232 was visibly dying. The colour of its ozone had once been an ugly green and now it was quickly fading to nothing. After a few flickers, the sky of Manx-232 vanished completely, along with the air, heat and UV protection. The ozone was gone.

Right after Manx-232 died in vacuum, a small explosion visibly erupted on its surface. Silence came to Manx-232 a few seconds later. It was the silence of space, depressurising every house and every person.

One irony about this was that several thousand Humans had to die when just one Human misinterpreted the danger of his actions.

But the real irony of it all was that the aliens themselves traveled between many galaxies to see it happen to their home world.