Read Episode VI: Beta Test Online

Authors: Ben Winston

Tags: #Science Fiction

Episode VI: Beta Test (15 page)

"If the Aracs know this, then why are they not attacking you already?" the small man asked.

The Admiral smiled sadly. "No one knows, but we are all glad that they're not. The longer they wait, the better off we'll all be. Your brethren in the Sol system are working very hard to correct this issue. There have also been a lot of upgrades and improvements to designs and systems in the last few months. No, the longer the Aracs take to attack, the better off we'll all be."

"I will admit, I am excited to see this new place and all the wonders I've heard taking place there. I'm just saddened by the loss of all of this. We've already lost so much because of the Veranorian Synod, I just don't want to lose any more." Hernilan looked up at the taller human. "I've heard from AI Natasha that there has been a breakthrough in Nano-science as well, is this true?"

The Admiral nodded. "I have heard the same, although I'm afraid I don't know many of the details. I do know that we will be getting new armor for our soldiers that will have that technology in it as not only an emergency medical system, but also to assist in repairs to the armor as well. There is a lot of excitement about it. I admit, as a commander, I will be more than happy if these new suits will save even one life."

Hernilan nodded his agreement. "Anything that will save lives is well worth the effort needed to create it. I look forward to meeting all of these remarkable people in Sol system. Have you gotten the time-line for the evacuation yet?"

"I have," the Admiral replied. "We should have the bulk of your equipment removed and sent out by the end of the month. Several more ships have been dispatched to carry your people and their households to the new planet; they should be arriving within the week. If we can stay on schedule, we should have everyone out of here in five or six weeks. It's a long jump to the new planet, but I'm told the crews will be making non-stop round trips until everything and everyone is safely evacuated."

"What if the Grand Hive attacks before then?" Hernilan asked.

"Then we will stuff as many of your people into every available ship we can and run. There is little else we can do yet. However, I have been told that several ships that have had upgrades will be joining us. While it is believed they will be greatly outnumbered, they should be able to hold off the enemy long enough for the rest of us to get away," the Admiral replied.

"I'm just very glad the Aracs here did not fall under the control of the Grand Hive when it went rogue," Hernilan replied. "That would have been a massacre."

The Admiral nodded. "Much like it was on Veranor. There were so many Aracs it was like the people were being overtaken by great waves of the beings. It was a very troubling sight to behold. I still have nightmares about it from time to time. We need to make sure that doesn't happen here.

"As for the queens not falling under the Grand Hive's control, our people believe that it's because the queens here were older and had a more stringent control system in place. According to the Veranorian records we retrieved, the hive on Galtar was established many years prior to the creation of the Grand Hive. It’s so old in fact, that we don't believe we could ever completely clean the infestation out. Which is another reason for abandoning the planet. Once we push the Aracs back we'll come back here and reclaim the planet."

"Won't it still be infested?" Hernilan asked.

"Probably, but we should be in a better position to deal with deep infestations like this. Many of our researchers are working on the issue right now. Most of them are searching for a chemical compound that will only effect the Aracs and leave the environment intact," the Admiral said.

Hernilan shook his head. "There is no such thing. Every compound in nature has some kind of effect on its environment. Don't get me wrong, I wish them all the luck in the universe, but I think they will be looking for a long time."

"Do you know anything of the agent the Synod ordered the queens here to be infected with?"

Hernilan looked up at the taller human in surprise. "You know of that? No, I don't know much about it except that the Synod sequestered themselves in the Halls of Wisdom afterwards and would not go anywhere near one of the Aracs. I think whatever it was they infected them with was just as lethal to the Veranorians as it was to the Aracs."

The Admiral was thoughtful for a moment. "I do have Veranorian troops with me. I'll make damn sure no one leaves their suit and that they all go through a full decon, but it might be too late for that; we've all had exposure to the atmosphere here. If it's contagious, then we're all infected."

"Perhaps it would be prudent to order full bio-screening of the fleet before we get anywhere else. If this is as bad as the Synod acted, we could kill the rest of the Veranorian race," Hernilan said.

"I think you might be right. Please excuse me while I issue the orders and contact High Command," the Admiral said. Hernilan nodded agreement. "I should probably get back to work myself Admiral. Thank you, and once again, welcome to Galtar."

––––––––

O
ffice of Lord Admiral Vance

Alliance Apollo Base

Selene, Earth's Moon

Sol System

––––––––

A
mbassador Gomez was present in the Admiral's office for a call from the Council. They requested the meeting in order to gather more information about the situation on Earth.

"Can we not simply isolate the seats of power in those, uh, countries that are refusing to listen to their people?" The Simonian Councilor asked.

Ambassador Gomez replied. "That wouldn't work I'm afraid. While in most cases, the government is located in the same city, someone else outside that city would simply assume command. I feel I should mention that in the case of the nation of China, we cannot get an accurate assessment of the people's opinion on this issue simply because most of them have no idea we even exist.

"China is the nation with the highest population, but most of that population is rural and does not have access to the planetary information network. Some of them do not even have electricity. These people do not constitute a planetary majority, but they are the majority for that nation. By and large they are simple people that would most likely not even understand this issue or what it would mean to them.

"There are pockets of people like that all over the world, but they are very much the minority. Most of the population of the planet is aware of the issue and understands it. Of those people, almost ninety percent favor accepting Core World status."

"Given that statistic and adding in the uninformed populations as either against or undecided, what is the percentage still in favor?" Councilor Alyessa asked.

"Adding in the silent section of the population as undecided, the statistics are seventy-seven percent in favor, nine percent against, and fourteen percent undecided," Sarah replied.

"So, the bottom line is just over a two-thirds majority in favor of Core World status," Councilor Ralston said. "Invading is still a hell of a big step to take. No matter how hard we try, there will still be people getting hurt and killed. I'm just not comfortable making that decision at this point."

The other Councilor from Earth, Olga Strasgaard, spoke. "Perhaps we should simply ask them? I understand that there is a section of the population we will not be able to reach, but we have the ability to speak directly to the majority of the people. We can use broadcast television as well as their internet and simply ask them directly if they want us to take this action on their behalf. In the same manner, we can speak to the members of the armed forces of the free nations like America and Canada. We can tell them that the people of their nations have asked for this, and remind them that in their oaths they have sworn to follow what their nation asks of them."

"That is not how I would interpret that oath, Councilor. I will grant that they have sworn to protect their people from all threats, foreign and domestic, but they have also sworn to follow the orders of those appointed over them. By definition, even with the backing of the people, this would be a considered a foreign threat," Vance replied. "They would have no choice but to stand against us in this. I don't like it, but I can well understand it."

"I think the point that everyone has missed is that not all that much needs to change. They would lose their military, but could keep a militia. The governments that exist now can remain in place if that is what the people want, but some of their laws would not be legal in the Alliance. I had already decided to try to explain this to them once again, but I doubt they will listen," Ambassador Gomez said. "Although I am frustrated with the intransigence of many of the governments, I do not favor invasion at this time, at least, not on a planetary scale. There are countries that will not give us a choice in the matter. North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, China and a few others will force the issue. It may take more time, but I believe the rest can be convinced without military intervention. I should mention that North Korea has already declared war on us, although they do not have any targets to direct that against."

"If I may suggest that we ask Lord Admiral Vance to work up a plan for the countries mentioned just now by the Ambassador, while we try to speak to the people through the media. We can offer them military assistance in as nonlethal a way as possible, but we should stress that there still may be casualties." Councilor Ralston suggested. "We should approve the communications node for the planet as well, that way, between the two AI, the people there will have a way to reach us in a more direct manner."

"Eleven billion replies may be a little much for even the AI to handle, Councilor. However, the node should be built anyway as Earth is a Core World. Whether they accept it or not, Earth is still a Core World of the Alliance. We need to begin to think of it as such." Councilor Strasgaard replied.

"I can agree with that, Councilor. So, the idea is for Lord Admiral Vance to plan a liberation of the more hard line nations of Earth that will continue to repress their people. At the same time, the Ambassador and her team will work up a public relations campaign to ask the people directly what their wishes are in this matter. Would anyone like to add to this before we vote?" Councilor Ralston asked. He was the moderator for this session.

When no one spoke, he put it to a vote and it passed unanimously. "Okay, the next item is approval for the communications and Air/Space Traffic Control services to be built for the Sol system. I would only add that a planetary AI installation plan should be added to the list to be implemented at a later date. All in favor?"

Again, it passed without opposition.

"I would ask that these services also be planned for installation in the new Shallan system of Centauri. That system will be populated very soon and the services will be needed," Councilor Alyessa added.

"Those services are already on the list of installations by the team we have in place, Councilor. The original plan was for the Galtar facilities to be relocated to Centauri. We would have to build a new ATC (Air/Space Traffic Control) module for that system, as the one at Galtar had been incorporated into the GMASS facility and cannot be relocated," Vance replied.

"Ah, I missed that in the report. Thank you Lord Admiral," Alyessa replied, smiling at him.

"Councilors, if I may ask, has there been any information about the possible contamination of the Galtar forces and people?" Vance asked. "Many of my people here are growing concerned."

Councilor Nori nodded to him. "Yes, Lord Admiral. Synod infected the queens with our version of meningitis. In other races, defeated this menace has been. To Veranorians still very deadly. Disease is only contagious if host is Arac or Veranorian. Transmission by physical contact only. Galtar Shallans and rescue forces are clear to return as no contamination has been detected. Concern there still is, but not reason for emergency measures at this time. All is well, much to your credit, and well appreciated is your concern for our peoples, my friend."

Vance smiled. "I will happily pass that information on. Thank you Councilors."

Councilor Ralston look at the Ambassador. "Olga and I will be available should you need us, Diane. Now, I think we've probably taken up enough of your time. Thank you for helping us with this decision. Altuis Denay my friends."

Both Diane and Vance stood, but it was Vance that spoke. "Altuis Tanae, Councilors. Be well."

––––––––

"It looks like we both have our work cut out for us, Lord Admiral," Diane said.

"That we do, Ambassador. I didn’t want to mention it in front of the Council, but we do have some friends in the U.S. military. Do you remember the hive assault we made in Canada?" Vance asked.

"That was before my time, but I do remember reading the report on it. Your people did really good work there," she said. "I do seem to remember you saying that the United States Marines sent there to stop you ended up helping you. Is that what you are talking about?"

Vance nodded. "A good share of those troops decided to remain here, as they would not have a very warm welcome once we healed them and returned them to their country. However, many of the non-wounded soldiers did return. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the Generals involved in that mess after it was all over with. He was the one that warned us about what was planned for the soldiers that had been wounded once they were returned. I think I might be able to call on him again."

"Dare I ask what was planned for the soldiers? It would have to be something pretty major for them to decide to remain here instead of returning to their families," Diane asked.

"They were going to be taken to a secret facility and basically dissected to see what we did to heal them. I believe 'Alien contamination' was what he called it. He sounded very upset with his superiors at the time, which is why he warned us. We have since tried to recruit the families and loved ones of the Marines that stayed with us. I'm told all of them are very happy with the change and would not wish to return," Vance said, smiling sadly. "Perhaps if I can reach General Givens and explain the situation to him, we can gain a better understanding of what we face down there, at least from the military that will be ordered to oppose us."

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