"Soon came the computer age of artificial intelligence, and as our technology grew so did our demands until, one day, our only limitation was the energy we used to drive our inventions. We needed a new, more sophisticated power source; and in time that came too.
"We developed an intelligent energy that was as self contained and mobile as a mortal. Although usually spherical, it could take any form, accept verbal instruction and adapt itself to energise any piece of equipment. When you needed power, you simply selected a new cell and activated it. With the point of a finger and a verbal instruction, it would obey, connect itself to the required piece of apparatus and energise it until, like an old battery, it became exhausted and died. It was perfect in every way ... but one. It was intelligent.
"Over time, the cells began to mimic our shape as they moved among us. It amused us and we called them Dancers because of the way they flitted through the air: a dancing figure of energy, but their beauty hid a darkness.
"Unbeknownst to us, the Dancers were learning from us: learning and evolving. They were becoming more than just intelligent; they were becoming sentient. We didn't know it but every time we took one and used its energy, we were effectively murdering it and yet, they said nothing. We did not know. We did not appreciate what the Dancers had become ... until it was too late, until the war began.
"The first battle did not last long. When you have never had any enemies and thus have no weapons, and when your enemy already surrounds you in your very homes as well as your workplaces, it was easy for them to kill us. In the space of a few hours, all the Helvetians in the cities were annihilated, and then those in the towns. Soon, all that was left were those in the small villages where new technology did not prevail, but the Dancers were not going to let them survive either.
"The Dancers were mobile and mimicked us in so many ways. They took on individuality. Now they were politicians, scientists, leaders and soldiers. They took the technology we had left in our cities and redeveloped it to use the old energy sources. Now they drove vehicles and carried weapons to engage us in hand-to-hand combat, but we had never fought anyone before. We had always been the masters in our universe so we had to learn new ways. We had to develop weapons to fight the Dancers. We too had to redevelop machines and resurrect old energy sources in order to survive, and that is the way it has been for eons now. The Helvetians and the Dancers fighting an endless war.
"Now, I have kept my side of the bargain, Creature. What about you? Tell me what you truly are."
I debated how much I should tell him, but soon realised I knew very little that would compromise either me or my crewmates.
"My name is Jenny Terran and I am Human. I have been snatched from my universe along with my shipmates. I don't know why but I intend to find out."
There wasn't much more I could say so I stopped talking, but Warrior Troy was waiting for more. His head was thrust forward and he scowled, waiting for my words.
"Is that it?" he finally asked with contained surprise.
"Yes. I'm sorry."
"But what of you? Tell me of your beginnings!" he demanded, so I did. I told him how I was found as a baby on board an abandoned alien vessel, and he listened in silence. He sat pensively as he mulled over my words.
"So it seems that the Dancers lost you."
"Yes. You are the Creature. You must be the Creature."
"Why must I be?"
"Because of your ability to cloak."
"What ability? I don't have an ability!"
"Then why can't I see you?"
I couldn't answer that.
"Tell me about the Creature," I asked.
"Ah! Now there's the thing. Was the Creature fact or fiction? Until this day, no one really knew."
"But now you do?"
"Yes, Creature, you were born here and then it seems that within days of your creation, you were lost."
"My name is Jenny or Jen, not Creature, but if I am this ... thing, how was I lost? I was just a baby."
The Helvetian shrugged.
"I do not know," he sighed. "I am just the enemy ... and you may call me Troy."
Well, at least we were on first name terms; that was something, but still my questions remained unanswered.
"But what was the Creature supposed to be?"
"I can only speculate."
"Throughout the war, we have been hunted by the Dancers and have found it almost impossible to find a place where they cannot find us. In general, we live in the deep wildernesses of our world with little technology so as to remain hidden, but still the Dancers would pursue us and slay us. In the end, we sought to hide ourselves in a more permanent way. We began to study stealth technology and after some time discovered that it was quite easy for us to mask ourselves from the Dancers."
"The same way you do."
"I don't know how I do it."
"No. I suspected not."
"What makes you say that?"
"Because I can see you now ... and now I can't. I suggest you try to master your technique."
"Wait a minute. Are you saying that the Dancers can't see you either?"
"That is correct."
"Then how come you are in here?"
"Because I got caught. Ah! And I can see you again! And now I can't." His tones rose and fell as he spoke. "I really would work on that if I were you."
"But I can see you all the time."
"Yes, apparently so," and he laughed heartily, throwing his head back. "Excuse the pun."
The cogs were turning frantically in my mind.
"If you think I mask myself from the Dancers the same way that you do, does that mean that you think I am more like a Helvetian than a Dancer?"
"I know that the Dancers are researching how we evade their detection. It is why I will die soon. They will take me, run their experiments and, ultimately, dissect me."
I pondered for another moment.
"But, if I'm Human, how can I have mastered this stealth thing?"
"I don't know but what if, somehow, you were created as a result of their research, either by design or by accident."
"Well, if that's true and they did lose me ..." My words trailed off as I realised an awful thought.
They had been looking for me. All those times that ships and crews had been disappearing had only been in the years since my discovery by Starfleet. Was that the reason why so many people had been snatched? More disturbing though: had all those people died because of me? But if that was so, how had my parents been in this realm to start with?
So many questions swimming around inside my head.
"How did they know where I had gone?"
"I don't know. I am just a simple warrior."
I sighed heavily. This was just too much to take in.
"And when they take people from my realm, what happens to them?"
"They are interrogated and then they die."
"Yes, we've had one or two bodies come back, and one or two live people too, but they don't survive long. Their minds ..."
"That will be the bleaching."
"Yes, the interrogation bleaches their minds. In order to find the information they require, they bleach out the unnecessary thoughts and memories until the only thing that is left is what they are looking for."
"In other words, they wipe their minds; and if they can't find what they are looking for?" but I knew the answer to that. Suddenly I realised the urgency in finding my crew.
"Have you seen any others like me—well, not like me, but in a uniform like this?"
"Today. It was a child. They were taking him for bleaching."
"Child? There are no children in our crew; no children on the Earhart at all in fact."
"I assumed it was a child. He was smaller than you," and he indicated with his hand how tall the person was. My mind toyed with the puzzle, turning it over and, suddenly, I realised! Both horror and fear filled me.
Luke! It could only be Luke! Oh god, no! They were going to destroy Luke!