A Single Step

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"Zef!" Lily Sloane Cochrane yelled from their back yard as she saw the small craft spiraling downwards, threatening their home. It whistled as it went by. She coughed, sending her frail body into spasms from the effort. The one-word yell had been too much effort for her.

He wasn't a spring chicken anymore in 2117, but Zefram Cochrane ran outside, shotgun in hand. He looked at the craft as the screen door slammed behind him and he felt, rather than saw, Lily's presence beside him. She was panting a little with the effort of walking. "That doesn't look Vulcan," she said. She moved slower those days, sick with cancer and fading fast.

"No, it, uh, it doesn't," he said. He leaned over her to protect her as the craft, which was vaguely diamond-shaped, crashed next to their garden.

The impact was loud as the ground shook a little, and it was smoldering, but it wasn't actively burning at least. He was about to run to investigate it - at least as fast as eighty-seven-year-old legs could go, but her imploring eyes held him back for the moment. "I should investigate," he said.

"We could call Solkar," she suggested. "He'd know what to do."

"It'll take too long," Zefram said. He looked at her dark eyes. "You look tired. You should rest. You need to."

"Nuh-uh," she replied, "we don't get an alien landing in the back yard without me getting to see."

"If it's dangerous, what do you expect me to do?"

"Listen, Old Man," she said, "neither of us can move that fast anymore. So don't give me anything about how you're gonna be my white knight or anything."

He was about to respond when there was a loud, alien screeching, squeaking sound, and it was coming from the direction of the wreck.

He began to walk over and she weakly followed him. He sighed - he didn't want her there. Lung cancer was giving her breathing impairment. Everything she did was slower and getting even slower, it seemed. But he couldn't argue with her. He could never argue with her.

They got to the crater that had been formed by the wreck. He pushed the bolt home on the shotgun. "Whoever you are," he yelled, trying to sound as menacing as possible, "I got me a shotgun here and both barrels are filled. And I am not afraid to use any of this equipment! I'll blow your fool head off!"  

Then he turned to her and, more quietly said, "If he's even got a head."

She laughed a little at that, and the laugh triggered a short coughing spell. "I'm all right," she assured him. "Zef, let's see what we got."

"All right," he said, "but if it's bad, Lily, you promise me you'll get back to the house and call on Solkar, all right? And the sheriff, too, I guess, although God knows what he could do."

"Let's us, let's think positively," Lily said, "Maybe it'll be like when the Vulcans got to Earth in '63. Maybe they'll be nice and stuff."

"That was fifty-four years ago. And you forgot those cybernetic guys - they weren't so nice. The Enterprise was a help, but they are long gone from here. It's just you and me, Sweets."

"Yep, we're a team. And I'm sorry I called ya old." Another coughing fit.

There was another ungodly loud screeching, squeaking sound. Zefram Cochrane re-shouldered his shotgun. "I'm comin' to getcha!" He rushed at the crater.

There was a rhombus-shaped hatch on the ship, and it seemed a bit bent. From within, someone or something was attempting to get it to open. But the sides were scraping something fierce. That was the screeching sound. "Should we help him, you think?" Lily asked.

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