Hours later the dark silence of ship's cabin was pierced by a loud, incessant wail.
Tigerwolf bolted straight up in the bunk. "What th' hell!!!..."
"It's the sensor alarm!", shouted Timgee. "It's found something!"
They clamored out of the bunk, stumbling over each other trying to get to the scanner display.
Tigerwolf slammed his fist against the alarm silence button. "Shut up already.", he screamed, as if the alarm would understand. It stopped.
"What is it?!?!?!?"
"Where's it coming from???"
"Is it real???"
They stared at the screen which occasionally flashed a dotted line pointing away from the ship's position. The indication was very intermittent at first, then it held steady.
"Hey look, yeah, it's real all right! It's coming from straight ahead...or maybe just over that way!", exclaimed Tigerwolf furiously waving his arm indicating a direction just to the right of their present course.
"Hmmm...not a modulated carrier, just a stream of pulses! But, it's not natural...there's patterns in it! Looks like a data stream of some sort! Somebody's sending something!!!!", Timgee said excitedly. "Quick, let's try to decode it!"
He spoke too late. Tigerwolf had already started working the computer trying to come up with a match that would decode the bit stream.
Anxious moments pass.
"I think I can start to see something in this mess!", said Tigerwolf. "There's lots of sub-messages, but some things just keep popping up the same. Look...there it goes again: 'A','L','T'... something... 'A','L','T'... something... something... 'A','L','T','.','F','A','N','.','F','U','R','R','Y'..."
"It says: 'ALT.FAN.FURRY'... over and over!!", he exclaimed.
"Yeah, but what *IS* it?", Timgee puzzled.
Tigerwolf shouted back, "I don't know, and right now I don't really care...it means *SOMEBODY* or *SOMETHING* is out there! That's all that matters!"