Victor’s eyes darted from Tony’s statue-like stance to the small illuminated area inside the wall cavity. His brow furrowed, as much with scientific curiosity as concern for his friend.
“You’re quite sure, Tony?” Victor asked, “You can’t move at all?”
Tony grunted with exertion, but failed to alter his position. With a gasp of frustration he replied, “Not an inch. My mouth’s working and I can breathe okay. Small miracles!” He paused for a moment and then asked, “What’s it doing?”
Victor’s eyes didn’t waver from the wall as he answered calmly, “It doesn’t appear to be doing anything.”
“What is it? Some kind of radiation? A lifeform?”
“I don’t know, Tony. I just don’t know. It seems rather insubstantial.”
“Well whatever it’s doing to me doesn’t feel insubstantial, Victor! Look, you’d better get some more security personnel in here, and warn the Commander about the situation.”
At Tony’s words, the light patch in the wall cavity began to tremble back and forth.
“Actually Tony,” Victor replied with caution, “I don’t think that would be a wise idea. It, umm, doesn’t seem too keen on you communicating with anyone outside this room. I wonder why?”
“It certainly stopped me from reaching the Comms Post fast enough.”
“Yes. Hmm…” Victor pondered for a moment. “Tony, I’m going to try something. I need you to trust me. Will you do that?”
“You usually know what you’re doing.”
Victor suppressed a grin. “Alright then. I have a hunch that this, well this entity, doesn’t intend to harm us. But it does appear to be frightened. Trapping you like that appears to have been a fear response. If we’re going to get it to release you, it needs to know you’re not a threat.”
“I’m not a threat.”
Nothing happened, Tony remained where he was.
“You have to mean it, Tony. I know your job is security and you’re trained to see potential threats everywhere, but you have to put that aside for now. You have to sincerely believe that if it releases you that you won’t try to call for more security or alert anyone else. Then you and I will do whatever we can to help our nervous visitor here.”
Tony sighed. “Okay Victor. It’s worth a try.” Tony closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Moments passed. Victor maintained his focus on the point of light.
Then with a cry of relief Tony called out, “Victor, I can move my hand! Oh come on you little whatever-you-are! Get me out of this and I’ll help you do anything you like, as long as whatever that might be doesn’t put Alpha or its crew at risk!”
Slowly Tony felt his arm come free. Then his other arm and finally his legs and the rest of his body. He turned around and addressed the light source.
“Well, thanks! I thought I was going to be stuck like that forever! Victor, what do we do now?”
“I think we ought to try communicating with it.”
“You’re kidding! If it wanted to talk, it would have done that already!”
“That wasn’t quite what I had in mind. Evidently it has some telepathic or empathic abilities – that’s how it was able to sense your intentions. Perhaps if we think our questions? Something along the lines of ‘how can we help’, or ‘what do you need?'”
“That depends what happens next.” Victor replied with a smile.
“Great.” Tony said, with a touch of exasperation.
The two men closed their eyes and began to concentrate. Unseen by the pair, the light source began to flicker and dim slightly.
Suddenly their eyes snapped open at the exact same moment.
Tony exclaimed, “Did you get that?!”
Victor was beaming, “I certainly did! Not a message as such, more like a strong feeling – Freedom!”
“So it’s trapped and needs to get out! That’s why it’s been trying to attract your attention. It’s been putting the suggestion in your mind of something trapped in the wall, but only at night when you’re alone so as not to risk being attacked or misunderstood!”
“Right! And those impressions or suggestions started shortly after we passed the edge of that nebula, remember?”
“So whatever this is, it could have come from there! Alright Victor, how do we send it back home?”
Victor studied the equipment inside the wall cavity and then a broad grin spread across his face. “I believe our friend here has already solved that problem, Tony. It just needs a little helping hand to get started.”
Victor crossed to the wall and with a friendly nod to the point of light residing inside, he set to work unscrewing the junction box cover.
Tony peered over his shoulder, “Laser communications system?”
Tony drew a breath, “Oh Victor, that’s genius! We can transmit it back to the nebula by sending it inside laser communique!”
“And it can enter the system from here! Now all I need to do is calculate the transmission vector!”
The Professor rushed to his star charts and feverishly performed the necessary calculation.
He keyed in a sequence on the communications panel, then pressed the button to initiate transmission.
There was nothing to indicate that anything had happened. The only change in the room was that the light in the wall had vanished.
Tony walked over to Victor, who was standing with his eyes closed and asked, “How do we know if it worked?”
Victor opened his eyes, “Because if I’m not mistaken, I just had a sudden strong feeling of gratitude.”
Tony beamed and clapped Victor on the shoulder, “Fantastic, just fantastic!” He glanced at his watch and then exclaimed, “Say, look at the time! I’d better be on my way, got an early duty shift tomorrow!”
Victor smiled as he replied, “And I’ve got a theory to test; a theory that I expect to get the best night’s rest I’ve had in a week!”