Contrian, Part III: The Discovery

Contrian is a serial science fiction series by Cole Ude ’25. Please click here to read Part I: “Problems and Mysteries,” and click here to read Part II: “Mineshafts and Clues.”

“Doc, I need to talk to you for a second.” Charlie approached me at the head of the table, where I was facing my team.

Things were on the verge of mutiny. We had locked ourselves into the camp, shut the Pit door so that the aliens couldn’t get into the main building, and began discussing what to do. However, the creatures still got into the Pit itself, disabling the HVAC again. However, even more stressful was the fact that we were no longer able to get a single message out to Earth Command. We could receive messages, but the creatures had disabled all outward sending equipment. 

The latest messages were getting angrier and angrier. They did not understand our predicament, and our having no way to tell them what it was, meant we were stuck in a bit of a vicious cycle. Some members of our crew, most notably Hal, thought we should go out and fight the aliens. Others, like Amy, agreed that that would be disastrous, since we had no way of knowing what they were capable of. I was on the “let’s wait and see side”, but I understood that we couldn’t hold siege here forever. I was trying to calm everyone down and get a sensible discussion going when Charlie made a request. 

Grateful for the break, I followed him out and heard the argument erupt behind us once again. 

“What’s going on?” I asked. “Where are you going?”

He opened the door of the camp. “Come with me. There’s something you need to see. I don’t think those creatures are as dangerous as we make them out to be.”

“Where are we going?”

“You’ll see.”

We hiked through the forest for a little while before coming to a clearing where a big, purplish rock sat in the middle. 


“Shush!” Charlie reprimanded. He went up to the rock and knocked on the smooth top surface.

Suddenly, the rock unfolded itself into a three-legged, low-sitting crablike shape. Five red eyes blinked open from the side. 

“Yikes!” I scrambled back and pulled out my shovel, intending to whack the creature and run for it. 

Charlie put his hand on my shoulder. “Calm down. It wants to talk to us, it scratched the place and time into the wall of the camp.”

“How is it going to talk to us?”

“With my mouth,” said a small but low voice. 

Surprised again, I turned to look at the creature. “But how do you know English?”

“Your friend gave me a tape of conversations. I listened and learned.”

“But…So you’re a super-intelligent species. Of course, you are.”

“Yes. We are. We call ourselves …well, the closest you’ll get with a human language is ‘Seekers’. We’ve monitored the ecosystem of Contrian and other habitable asteroids in our area for centuries. To see you show up with your fuel-burning spaceships and dirty mining equipment worried us to no end. But we remained calm. It was only once we detected dangerous levels of synthetic chemicals in the air and rivers of Contrian that we began to take action. And when you didn’t leave, even after we had gotten into your camp, we had to take a more drastic measure and use one of your mining explosives.”

Charlie interrupted. “Why did you set that off? If you are so peaceful—”

The Seeker interrupted. “It was an accident. We meant to blow it up just outside the camp, but we knocked it over in our flight and it ended up directed towards your building. Anyway, now you have spoken to us, the first new civilization to make contact with us for decades. You know what our request is. Leave. Our planet depends upon it. I won’t detain you any longer, now go and tell your team.”

The being scuttled off into the forest. 

“Wait!” I shouted. “Can you repair our communication equipment?”

The Seeker had disappeared from sight, but its voice came back to us. “It would be difficult without hands. You can go down and repair it anytime you wish.”

Charlie and I headed back to the camp in silence. When we got there, we found the door hanging open. 

Fearing the worst, we stepped inside. A Seeker was standing on the table, speaking to our teammates, who were sitting around it in various states of interest or fear. The creature glanced over at us and quickly finished up before edging between Charlie and I and leaving. There was a moment or two of silence. Then everyone erupted into conversation. 

Hal proposed that we try to find the Seeker colony and destroy it. Leah wanted to pack up and leave immediately. Amy seemed to be wavering on the edge of staying, but trying to avoid confrontation. With all the opinions swirling around, we put it to a vote. 

Three voted to confront the Seekers. Three voted to negotiate with them. And three voted to go back home. Charlie and I didn’t vote. 

The team argued late into the night. I wasn’t certain, but I thought I saw a Seeker peering into the camp from a window. As team members went to bed one by one, the argument died off. As I left the main room, I saw Charlie slip out the door with a flashlight, but I was too tired to give it any thought.