Ok, new chapter, not the best. The ending might be bad 'cause I was on the phone as I wrote it. Oh well.

***

It was a lazy day out in space. No meteor showers to watch, or passing comets to marvel at. I set my ship on cruise control and leaned back to let it steer me along. Since getting my piloting license a few months ago, I had been free to cruise to galaxy in my ship as much as I liked. Of course I couldn't leave the Wicklean Galaxy, but I was fine with that. Until today that is.

I must have dozed off, because the next thing I knew, the navigation system was beeping and flashing blue. As I yawned a little, a screen below my feet came up to project a holographic image of the thing my ship's scanners had found. I blinked a few more times to clear away the fuzziness of sleep. It looked like an old solar rocket, set 372. They had been made years ago, on Earth. My fingers began to tremble slightly. From Earth! Could it be? I only dared hope.

I quickly spun my chair around, flipped some switches to stop the beeping and flashing, and grabbed the controls to the probes on the outside of the ship. With a few flicks of the wrist and a grab or two, I had secured the rocket and hauled it into the air compression chamber on board. My hands were shaking really badly by now as I watched the pressure gauge slowly rise to match the one for the rest of the ship. Once the gauges were the same, and the red light went off, I rushed into the room.

I fumbled slightly with the old model, trying to find a data file installed in it or even an info disk. Imagine my surprise when I spotted the roll of parchment attached to the side. I broke the seal and unrolled it carefully. The language wasn't in Universal; it was in Human. I took a few deep breaths to calm my racing heart, and read. I re-read it one more time (I wasn't very fluent in Human) and sat down in the chair. The room had begun to spin a little bit.

Earth! The most isolated planet in the known universe. They didn't used to be; at one time they always sent a representative to the intergalactic meetings and paid attention to the problems of the universe. Most other races shunned the Humans for their lack of efficiency in fuel consumption, and for their aggressive behavior, but I never found traces of such behavior. In fact, I was fascinated with the Earth-dwellers, (much too fascinated for my own good I was told). Not only were the Humans themselves interesting, their planet boasted some of the most diverse wildlife in the cosmos. They had things as large as trees called giraffes to things as small as a messenger drone called termites. And they were one of the few planets that still supported the wildlife known as plants. Just saying that word caused my mouth to quiver. Plants were a thing of the past.

I glanced back at the letter frowning. So this would explain why the humans had stopped coming to the meetings. The leaders had tried to contact them many times, but never got a response. Instead of traveling there, they had decreed Earth-traveling forbidden, and that world was forgotten by many. So they had been taken over by a species on their home planet. What would it be? I mused. *Maybe it's the chimps*I thought, chuckling slightly. How ironic that the humans would worry about the species most like them when the fact that the chimps were too much like humans was the reason they didn't take over. The chimps thought they already were in control. So what creatures could be intelligent enough to take over, but be so different from the humans that they sought to control them? Possibly something from the sea. I thought. But no time for guesses.

I quickly punched in the emergency code and waited for the vid-screen to connect me with someone. It did presently, and I was face-to-face with an angry guard. "What is it?" he grumbled. "We are in the middle of an intergalactic meeting. This had better be good." I smiled slightly.

"Tell the leaders that Svklei of the Yuttai has information about the emergency on Earth."

Sooner than a glikt can beat a wing, the faces of the leaders appeared on the screen. Some looked anxious and nervous. Some looked down-right angry, like the leader of the Splettz. He fixed me with an evil glare from his red eye as I bowed low. "What did you find out?!" he exploded. I carefully relayed the message from the letter to the leaders and showed them the rocket. There was silence from the group, and I was afraid to look up lest I anger the Splettz again. Finally Jvalk, my leader spoke up.

"Have you tried contacting Earth?"

His question started me. Was it a trick? "N-No sir." I stumbled. "It's forbidden. I know the rules." Jvalk smiled kindly, all four of his spinze glowing softly.

"I didn't assume you did Svklei." he said. "And I know you meant well by bringing this to our attention. But the humans know how to fight back. They would have contacted us for help long ago. If indeed they were under attack, our communication wires would have picked up the sounds of the intruders."

"Besides," put in the Splettz, "We have observed the Earth many times since the humans have stopped attending meetings. We see no abnormal activity from anything. If anything, perhaps the humans our hiding from intergalactic wrath." I bristled slightly, catching the hint of the Splettz's violent ideas. Jvalk noticed too.

"Please child, do not attempt any fool-hardy mission to Earth. That planet is still forbidden, and you would suffer great consequences, not to mention the idea of hostile humans. Thank you for the information."

As the screen darkened and sank back to the floor, I looked once more at the note in my hands. What if the leaders were wrong? What if the humans truly were in danger and had no way of reaching the outside universe? I looked at the letter one more time and back at my piloting license. It would get revoked if I played by the rules. But I wasn't one that always played by the rules. Steering my ship to the nearest porting hole, I revved up the engines and headed into deep space.