THE BEN AGUILAR REPORT
This is my report regarding my stay with the Shivans. Please do note that I went with them in my own free will. I will try elaborate everything I have observed to the best of my recollection.
The moment I docked with the blue Bhaal command craft, I lost consciousness and when I came to, I was aboard a Garuda destroyer. Three Shivan crew members approached and assisted me. I was puzzled to hear their vocalization overlapped with human language only to find that the english audio came from the devices at the back of their thorax. They directed me into a small chamber with hundreds of tiny nozzle-like protrusion that lined the wall. The crew asked me to take my space suit and helmet off and strip all my under clothings. Surprisingly, the chamber was taylored for human environment, just the right atmospheric pressure and breathable air. The tiny nozzles sprayed some liquid chemicals all over me and formed a thin transparent layer that adhered to my skin when it dried. One of the techs informed me that the skin layer will protect my body from the ship's deadly ambient radiation, pressure differential and the toxicity of their air. The second skin was actually like an environment suit that can protect me even in the vaccum of space so they claimed. They use it for extra-vehicular activities. They gave me a pair of transparent goggles that sealed my eyes entirely, earplugs to protect my inner ear and also served as a hearing aid, and a breathing apparatus, a four-inch tank-like object, presumably contained oxygen, with a thin tube connected to it. At the other end of this tube is a breather with a clip that would cover my entire nose and my mouth. They also stick a small coin-shaped device on the side of my neck that emitted squeaks and squawks when I spoke and a fairly grammatically correct english audio when they talk, a translator.
They assigned me my living quarters that was taylored for me, free of radiation and clean air to breathe. But this room has objects that were remarkably human, a table and lamp, a chair, a soft bed, and a complete kitchen set with plates, spoons, knives and fork, a small refrigerator cabinet, frying pans and pots, and a range oven. Most importantly, I have gravity. I can walk freely in my room, though I was weightless anywhere else in the ship. They really don't dig in gravity, it's not a useful concept for them unlike us, we are masters of it. Now, the most intriguing feature is an appliance beside the refrigerator. It resembled the oven with a door in front but it has a screen that flashed pictures of meats, vegetables, fruits and even complete meals. Why do the Shivans have a sizable library of human food in their data banks? I tell you our huge quantum fabricators pale in comparison with this kitchen appliance. Our fabricators can only rearrange atoms and produce base materials of metals and plastic but this device can conjure very complex objects. I opted for a burger and some french fries. Amazing.
A day after, a Shivan crew directed me to a room filled with strange gadgets and hologram interfaces and screen monitors. In the center is a structure that nearly resembled a reclining chair, I was told to lay on it. The next thing happened, I was illuminated by a bluish light that came from above me. The monitors came to life and the holograms rendered my full anatomy. I was being scanned and it was non-invasive. I felt bad about myself in that moment because we dissected Shivans to study them and killed them in the process. What's worse is that they knew what we did, their 'doctors' explained to me that they don't do it like we do. I was ashamed.
Later, I met the ships's commander or "middle controller" according to my translator. In the next few days, he gave me a guided tour of his ship. He led me through many circular corridors, passage ways, and spherical rooms. But these compartments are unlike what I've seen in our captured Shivan crafts. The black metallic surfaces of the ribbed undulating walls are now of dark red plastic texture. Their control panels are different. I am familiar of their finger-sized illuminated holes in place of keypads. But now, they have hovering holographic glyphs to go with it. In fact, all their control interfaces are dominated by these glowing icons. We know the Shivans don't have hologram technology and I can't help but wonder, did they acquire our techniques and adopted to theirs? I mean, they already copied our battle strategies and maneuvers, my human room itself is evidence enough that they have good intel about us.
The Shivan commander showed me the engineering levels, support and logistics levels, the hangar bays, and the crew quarters---they have oblong capsules for beds. One thing I have observed is that their personnel moved easily and swiftly in a zero G environment, weightlessness doesn't seem to bother them. I, on the other hand, felt really awkward and embarrassed by my lumberings to keep my bearings, my companion was very patient to keep up with me. At last, the commander ushered me to the command bridge and introduced me to the crew. Then he said something that shocked me to the core of my bones and even doubted if my translator was saying it right. He told me that I will be commanding this Garuda destroyer. I just can't believe it.
The Shivans actually breathe three different types of atmospheres. They can breathe oxygen, carbon dioxide, and their native air, a mixture of hydrogen and helium 3 which is essentially nebular gasses. They also feed on radiation, absorbed through their skin. Hence, the toxic environment of their ship. However, breathing oxygen or carbon dioxide and without the sustenance of radiation will reduce their capability and mobility, they become sluggish and dumb, which is why our Shivan prisoners are almost catatonic and the reason for the swift and easy invasion of the oxygen-laiden planet of Shiva. Somehow, I don't believe that the planet was their home system.
By the way, Our researchers and scientists are partly wrong in their 'Hive Mind' theory about the Shivans. Not exactly. It is true that they are all telepathically connected to their supreme controller like the way I am connected to their prime controller, Draktar as a 'receptor,' the same way as Admiral Richter. But they also have a degree of individuality. Nevertheless, they are wholly dependent to their supreme controller even if they sometimes disagree with him... or her, I don't know. They are compelled to obey. They may have some personal opinion on matters but they just could not rebel. It is "programmed" into their nature. One Shivan officer said to me that many of their people who lost their supreme controller and joined their ranks were relieved when Grond was destroyed. He said they grew tired of being the destroyers for countless of years.
I had seen holovids of their phyisical appearances in our data archives but they are more frightening up close. Their bodies are covered with chitin that is oddly similar to ants though the shell covering is hard like a metal armor. The joints between their body segments are laced with fine hair that are very sensitive to changes in their surroundings. They use all of their five limbs for movement and manipulation. Their three hind limbs are perfectly suited to negotiate the cylindrical corridors while the two forelimbs mentained their orientation. In close examination, each of these limbs have some artificial "docks" surgically grafted into them which they attached some mechanisms. For the medical staff and tech crew members, they attach several tools and are adept in using them simultaneously. For the soldiers, beam weapons, sensors and sharp blades. For the command crew they have portable monitors and can operate multiple consoles at the same time.
In the ship's bridge, they don't have something to sit on or strap in. They do have many overhead handrails which I can confortably reach to settle myself. The Shivans use these ceiling bars to go about the room. And to stay in their post, their third upper hind "leg" is holding them in place. One of them informed me that they would install some cables on the floor which would be attached to my body in the command post. You know, they could have just given me a chair with seat belts. Different ideas indeed.
In my first day of active duty as a Shivan captain, they attached the cables to my waist and handed me a headband with minature blinking lights. The instant I wore it, I felt a sharp jolt in my skull. Suddenly, my head was filled with alien information and operational protocols and, strangely, I understood them all and it's like I have known them for a very long time. I immediately took it off in a quick apprehensive reflex. Then the knowledge was lost, I could not recall them. The entire bridge crew stared at me and made popping noises that, to my estimation, was some wierd kind of laughter. I wore the headband again. In a minute, two crew members attached a pair of semi-organic mechanical arms to my upper torso and I could control them by thinking it. Now, I have four arms. I no longer felt human, I was one of them. My peripheral vision was widened. I could clearly see my six monitors around me and manipulated all the console panels in one stroke. I could multi-task like a supercomputer and my thoughts were lightning fast.
And so I became the first human Shivan commander. The Garuda's former captain became my second in command. when I asked him how they got the details to make a burger. He replied they acquired a data crystal from a surrendering Terran admiral aboard a stranded vessel in the middle of a nebula some years ago.