Kayla stood poised on the rim of the Luna crater, scanning the bowl for anomalies.
The unfamiliar craft was almost hidden in the shadow under the ramparts. From the buckling on the stubby wing tip it must have been a rough landing.
Without hesitation she scrambled down the escarpment and headed for the ship. The long bounds felt painfully slow as she crossed the fine powdery surface. Her 190cm height and muscular build was an advantage here at least.
It was unlike any ship she’d seen. The surface glowed with a metallic green sheen and clouded glass bubbled in a semi-circle around the blunt nose. Three of the stubby wings extended at an angle halfway down the short cylindrical body. The damaged one had dragged against the stony ground near the rim of the crater.
Instinctively, she placed her hand on the oval pad forward of the wings. A woosh of sound heralded the opening of a panel easily large enough for someone her size. Kayla hesitated only a split second before fitting herself into the shallow compartment. Darkness enveloped her along with the hiss of air.
She barely had time to wonder if her impulsive action had been ill-considered when the inner door opened. She tumbled into a narrow corridor lined with cabinets. An airlock at the far end was only a step away and Kayla used another panel to trigger the opening.
Blinking at the brightness of what must be the pilot’s cockpit, Kayla stepped forward. It was hard to see detail, even with the sun visor on her helmet retracted.
“May we be meeting?”
The deep husky tone startled her and she spun around, knocking against one of the consoles. A large gloved hand steadied her.
“Do not alarm.”
He was beautiful. Her heart clashed against her ribs. And not human. So large he made her feel small, even in the bulky suit. He was humanoid, whatever that meant. Two arms, two legs. Beautifully muscled as befitted his large size. One head. Smooth and hairless with a central ridge of bone that extended from his nose over his forehead and splayed into three over the large skull.
He wore a close-fitting suit in a metallic green reminiscent of the coating on the ship’s hull but above that, his skin had a similar tint with an undertone of yellow. His eyes captured hers and she stared at them, hardly believing the vivid swirl of blue and green, again with that hint of yellow.
His deep rumble reverberated through her. “You are good?”
Kayla gasped as she registered his words. “You speak English?”
His wide mouth curved up. “Not so good. You have many transmissions.”
“That’s how you learned? Listening to our radio transmissions?”
The was an infinitesimal movement of his broad shoulders. “Some.”
“Where are you from?”
Again that wry lift at the corners of his mouth. “It is far.”
Kayla pulled off her helmet and glanced around at the cockpit, noting the two seats. “You have a co-pilot?”
“She is gone.”
His forehead drew together, wrinkling against the shallow ridge of bone. “I think…passed.”
“Passed away? You mean dead?”
A slow nod. “I think…yes.”
A female. Something tightened in her chest. “She was special to you?”
“I don’t think…”
Kayla searched for words. “Partner? Lover?”
Again that slow nod. “Love. Yes, I know that word. No, not love. So…partner?”
The tightness eased. How odd. He was a stranger. An ALIEN. “How long have you been alone?”
“Many cycles.” He gestured at the sky through the window bubbles. “It is far.”
There was an element of pain in those words that made her wonder. “Will you go home now?”
“Home. I cannot go home.” His liquid eyes flared with something dark. “I stay here perhaps?”
Kayla thought of the team back at the base. It was an international team. But an alien might stretch the friendship. “Is your ship repairable?”
“Perhaps.” The resigned expression on his face suggested otherwise. He touched the symbol on her sleeve. “And I am not to be welcome.”
“You come in peace?”
He glanced down his body. “In one piece. I think.”
Kayla dragged her gaze away from the snug fitting fabric outlining his magnificent body. “I mean…you don’t wish to harm us?”
His large hands spread to indicate the interior of the ship. “With what? Is nothing to harm.”
“And you don’t have anywhere else to go?”
He shook his head, his jaw tight.
“Perhaps you should come back to the base. We need to report what’s happened.” It hit her somewhere deep in her gut. He would be wanted down on earth. First Contact. Often talked about, but this was it. Not some invading alien race, but a single man in trouble. Vulnerable.
“You have many partner, lover at this base?”
“No one special. Work colleagues.” She tapped the symbol on her sleeve. “Scientists.”
“You also are alone?” His voice seemed deeper somehow, the eyes swirling gold.
Breath stalled in her throat. “Yes.” It was true. Men found her size intimidating. They might respect her work as a geologist, but they didn’t ask her out. She’d made friends in the team here in the last eight months, but no-one special. Ever.
He stepped closer. “We are alone together.”
For a moment she wondered if it was his language skills at fault. The warmth in those strange eyes told her otherwise. He found her attractive. An odd flutter began deep in her gut. She pointed at her badge. “I am…my name is Kayla.”
“Iya, Kayla. I am Gorish.” His large hand thumped the odd shaped symbol on his chest.
“You, me. Lovers?”
That flutter deepened to a heavy pulse low in her body. It was definitely appealing. “Perhaps friends first.”
“Friends. I like.”
“I think I would like it too.”
His thin lips curved up in a smile. “We are good?”
Warmth flooded her body, her heart thumping steadily and a little fast. “Yes. We are good.
“Those amazing eyes glowed “Together.”