Jabrac felt the familiar nerves, the quivering deep within his cerebral antenna. Every mission brought the fear of the unknown. But with this fear came hope that they would finally find a host species whose home they could share. 

This time though, Jabrac’s fear was sharpened by memories. He had scouted this planet before. He had lived among its inhabitants, relished their interactions, savoured their emotions. He had hidden his despair when the climate had been deemed unsuitable and they had moved on. 

And now they had returned. Recent climatic changes meant they were again considering this planet. With a final deep breath Jabrac nodded to let his crew know he was ready to descend. The portal opened and he was ejected into the vast emptiness of space. He braced himself for the bone chilling cold. At least he was sure it would be bone chilling if he had a skeletal frame. Jabrac grinned, amused by his own humour. 

As Jabrac plummeted through the planet’s atmosphere he marvelled at its beauty where his colleagues marvelled at its promise. 

Jabrac landed in a small uninhabited area. He pressed a button on the protective suit he wore and it retracted into a small pocket. Jabrac felt the familiar tingling of the mobile adaptive screening kit (MASK) being activated. The MASK changed his appearance to blend in with the planet’s inhabitants. 

Jabrac headed towards the nearest town, ready to observe and interact. He tried to quieten his excitement. Two males approached and he prepared to offer one of the accepted greetings. They remained oblivious to his presence, looking down at the devices in their hands. Frowning, Jabrac kept walking into the town where many were gathered. All had their heads lowered, absorbed by their hand held screens. Jabrac adjusted the glasses he wore, scanning the nearby devices. The readout revealed the images and messages being input on the screens around him. Jabrac was confused at first and then realised they were communicating. 

Everywhere Jabrac travelled was the same. The spoken word had been lost somewhere in the folds of time. He felt a great sadness for these wonderful beings. These beings who were capable of such emotion, such creativity and beauty. 

Finally Jabrac was ready to return to his ship and report his findings. The climate had warmed and the environment was rich with resources. They could assimilate unnoticed among a species who had become so distracted. Jabrac did not feel the expected joy at his success. He felt the loss of the interaction he had craved.

He heard a sudden voice, shocking in its simplicity. “Are you lost?” Jabrac turned to see a small child smiling expectantly. 

“You spoke!” Jabrac exclaimed. 

“There are some of us who still do. I’ll show you.” 

As Jabrac followed the child he thought about the wonderful histories he had read. He remembered tales of resilience, of change and revolution and he felt hope. Hope that these earthlings could again find their voice.