5. What Now? (i)
But Sequillous had disappeared in a flash. She had had enough and she wanted Alan to think hard. So it seemed now, “Project Chocolate” on Earth and “Project Rectify” at Ladinga were at odds with one another.
Alan sat, deep in thought, mulling over every bit of the encounter, over and over again. He could not get it out of his mind. The visions of Sequillious were as clear as ever, his thoughts as muddied as ever.
“Would we collaborate with cockroaches?” he repeated to himself, still stunned by that line from Sequillious. Was she saying that cockroaches were to Earthlings what Earthlings were to Ladingans? “Wow”, Alan lay lifeless, as if all the air had been sucked out of him. Was he to be excited because he had received an absolutely clear signal from a species in space… a phenomenon that was a first in history? Or was he to be devastated that the encounter had been rather terrifying? It was far from the encounter he had envisaged – a placid form of life to be studied by intelligent Earthlings. This in fact reduced humans to insects in the eyes of the extraterrestrials. What now?
Alan thought through what Don might say when he would relate this to him. Or should he relate this – would Don be furious or do something foolish? The technology was working excellently. The cubipit – Antigua Helmet combination could detect life on the surface of other planets, with the right tweaks and adjustments. That was exhilarating! The Ladingans, however, were far too clever. They had built a hideout that could not be detected, not even by the advanced technology in the cubipit and Antigua Helmet. They sensed though, that movement on the surface of Ladinga could realistically be picked up. Sequillious had ventured out and made contact, but the rest of the Ladinga community was in hiding.