Authors: David Guenther
“With your technology why didn’t you return to Earth or try to communicate with Earth?"
“We were afraid of more evil aliens finding us. Besides, Earth was always at war, famine or drought. Crime was rampant in the cities. The major cities were cesspools of disease and violence. Man kept his fellow man as slaves. States fought states, nations fought nations. Why go to that? We have a beautiful world where we are safe and happy,” Sam explained smiling.
“Pilot to crew, ya’ll better strap in back there; I’m making my final approach,” The shuttle pilot ordered.
Scotty looked at Sam and asked, “Is that another sister?”
Sam playfully elbowed Scott in reply as she checked his lap belt for landing.
Dr. Grant Townsend stood in the back of the alien shuttle not knowing what to do next; this was his first trip off his home world of Dixie. The hatch he had come through closed on its own as a voice welcomed him onboard the Major Rogers.
“Welcome aboard the Major Rogers. The atmosphere is safe for you to remove your helmet and to make yourself comfortable. We will be aboard the Arizona Space Ship Beater in five minutes.” The voice put Grant at ease as he tried to figure out how to take the helmet off as he started to hyperventilate.
“If you press the large button under your chin then rotate the helmet so it is facing over your right shoulder it will come off,” Rogers advised after scanning the equipment and detecting that his passenger was anxious to remove the helmet.
Trying one more time, Grant pressed in the button and held it in as he turned the helmet to the right. A slight hiss was emitted as the seal of the helmet was broken as it was removed.
“Oh, thank God that damnable helmet is off. Hello, Hello?”
“Welcome aboard the Major Rogers again. May I have the privilege of your name please?"
“I am Dr. Grant Townsend from the city of New Richmond. I am a practitioner of medicine. I am sorry this is my first time in space so I am a little nervous.”
Maj. Rogers engaged the view screen so his passenger could see his planet from space as they got further away. The angle of the view changed as the view of the Arizona Space Ship Beater came into view as the shuttle closed in then entered the launch bay. Jimmy was waiting for the visitor as the hatch opened.
“Welcome onboard the Beater. I am Jimmy Brewster, crew chief. Can I help you out of your suit? Then I’ll take you to see the ship's Captain.”
Grant stared at the old man before him when he realized the old man had been talking to him. “My apologies sir, my mind was wandering. May I ask how old you are?
Jimmy laughed as he had to remember he still looked like a 92 year old man even if he was physically 25.
“Yes sir, you may ask, and you just did. I am 92 years old. Before you ask, on Earth life expectancy is around 100 or less. I’ve had great doctors that’s why I’m so spry for my age,” Jimmy explained jokingly as he removed the suit from the doctor. Both men started to feel nauseous at the same time.
“Sir, it looks like we have engaged our faster than light drive. I will take you to your cabin so you will not feel the side effects which can be very unpleasant. You can see the Captain after we drop back into normal space.”
“Does that mean, Jimmy, that my room is either shielded or that it has a stasis chamber until we get back into normal space?” Grant asked.
“The room acts as a stasis chamber sir. The sooner we get you there the sooner the pain goes away. It will take five days to get back to Earth. So please, follow me,” Jimmy urged.
After walking him to his berth Jimmy pointed out the Spartan amenities then suggested he lay down on the bunk. After Jimmy left the berth, Grant looked to see if he could see the stasis source in the berth as the entire room seemed to get a green hue and he closed his eyes. Jimmy notified the commander that the guest was put to bed and he was on his way as well as he fought the urge to puke.
Defense Command, Dixie
25 September 2128
Scotty was lead through a door and was surprised to see over a hundred people. Everyone was either in a dress uniform or in a suit. The expected hostility was nonexistent. Sam was still at his side but now was wearing a flight suit that did little to hide her form. Scotty was getting a buzz from all the attention. A speaker at the podium was wishing him welcome and at the next moment they were clapping as he found himself behind the podium.
“Cousins and distant cousins, I am not a politician and I have only been a soldier for a short while. I am going to speak to you as what I’ve been most of my life, a simple farmer. From that point of view, I would think you’d want to know what happened after you departed Earth. In 1865 the War Between the States ended. A short while later the entire country went to war again, as one, and healed itself from the pain of that war. A little while after that America was dragged into a World War where we made the difference and won that war to end all wars. Twenty some years later we once again entered into World War II. Nuclear weapons were used for the first time in war and again we won. After that there were always small wars we found ourselves getting into. Thirty some years ago our capital was attacked by a nuclear weapon. Our capital was destroyed as was the American way. The Constitution was suspended as was the Bill of Rights.
"Recently the American people arose and reinstalled a constitutional government. At the same time an alien space ship from Flem was found. We learned about your disappearance and of the coming invasion of earth. There was a government of planets called the League of Planets. The idea was that it would help avoid war and make it more possible to create prosperity by improving trade. The idea was a failure when the Planet Libra decided to test the resolve of the League of Planets conquering its neighbors. No one would come to one another’s aide. Now as I speak, there is a huge convoy headed for Earth that will pass by here soon. Its intent is to kidnap all the humans it can to fight as their cannon fodder. They sent an initial pair of ships that thought they would just scoop up Australia and do whatever they wanted. We had at that time two ships and a bunch of shuttles. We kicked their alien asses and captured both ships. Yesterday, we were just returning from a mission where we had to get supplies and once again kicked ass when our little ship and a few fighters destroyed two enemy ships. We will soon be in the fight for humanity itself. As our cousins, I beseech you to stay hidden. If we are destroyed you will be the last hope for the human race. I know I skipped over a few things for the last couple hundred years, so I brought a tablet with our history and scientific achievements. If it can provide you any help in your society all the more better.” Scotty almost tripped leaving the stage and the deathly quiet that soon turned to an enormous applause. From the back of the room the chant “Cousins, Cousins” soon the chant included the smashing of feet for emphasis on the last half of cousins. Two officers and a couple more well dressed gentlemen hustled Scotty to a side room.
“Sir, you have just plunged our planet into a war. I know it was not your intention but that is what you just did. There is a shame on our world for being wronged and never getting justice. We are like the maiden who was wronged and went into hiding so it would not happen again. Our society has grown in peace free of war. Now we will know devastation and hardship,” the General said to Scotty neither angry nor excited.
“Sir, the best advice I can give is stay out of the way. Hide your people underground. We can bring the technology to ensure you are safely hidden. I believe that is what we were doing here was to find a place to plant the seed of humanity if we were wiped out. Tell your people that so they can realize their society can be safe,” Scotty urged.
“Scotty we have over 300,000 people on our planet. We rule our planet by a constitution similar to yours, except long ago we let every man and woman vote. Something this major we will have a special election on whether to join Earth or not in this war. I’m sorry to say we will most likely join. For the next few days please keep a low profile while we decide what must be done. Have the flight officer that was escorting you be a guide to our world. See what there is to see and look over our defenses to see how we stand please.
Republic Assembly Hall, Planet Dirt
25 September 2128
“Then it is agreed we will send envoys to Earth to determine if trade and diplomatic relations will be mutually advantageous to our societies. As a good will gesture, we will inform them that the Libra Alliance fleet that had been headed for them is now being notified to turn around. We will warn them that a real Libra Alliance battle fleet is being assembled for punitive actions after their destruction of the Libra Patrol ship that had the crown prince of Libra as a junior officer onboard. We anticipate that fleet should be able to reach them in under two months. If the humans survive the encounter, I strongly support diplomatic relations. I further recommend that we warn the Libras that the destruction of civilian cities will not be tolerated, nor will weapons of mass destruction. Unless the humans use them first, then they are free to respond in kind. This brings this meeting to a close.” The speaker announced.
A pair of senators were overheard saying, “Screw all that. If they have the Flem technology for building class One AIs either defend them or conquer them ourselves." That evening a diplomatic ship departed for Earth using a FTL drive.
Libra General Assembly, Planet Libra
26 September 2128
“Then it is agreed we will suspend all offensive actions until we avenge the murder of Beloved Crown Prince Tuk. As retribution for their heinous attack, the humans will be charged with the cost of having to send a fleet to punish them. Then the humans shall be required to show atonement by providing soldiers as required until our wars are over. Once the fleet is assembled along with fast transport ships they will depart using their FTL drives for the entire trip. Punishment cannot come fast enough and we need the ships back here as soon as possible to complete the unification of our systems planets into our one central government. The Libra Alliance shall last Ten Thousand years!” The speaker left the podium as the audience cheered madly. On the sides of the hall agents of state security were monitoring to see who did not show appropriate enthusiasm. Numerous small groups congregated and debated whether they would risk sending their own high speed transports in order to capitalize on the attack on Earth.
Others in the room even more quietly talked about the fact that the humans had now destroyed or captured four main ships and were running around Libra Space with impunity. How would they fight when their backs were to the wall?
Arizona Space Ship Beater Near Earth Space
29 September 2128
As Beater dropped into normal space, the crew was surprised to see they were surrounded by a squadron of four ships. The Nike and Bia were on one side and on the other side the Cornucopia and the Phoenix were stationed.
Commander Johnson viewed the scenario and hailed the Arizona Space Ship Nike.
“Nike, Beater, we are willing to discuss terms for surrender but have a priority cargo for Earth and a diplomat from a friendly planet.”
“Welcome home Beater, proceed on with your mission. You just happened to drop in at the wrong place at the wrong time. Nike out.”
The Beater proceeded to the space port where they received instructions for immediate landing. Dozens of vehicles quickly surrounded the ship. Maintenance vehicles were filled with eager maintainers wanting to finally get a chance to work on the Beater. The first person to approach the ship was a customs agent. His first request for passports resulted in widespread snickering. His follow up questions about fruits and produce had the crew laughing out right. His final question of if there were any aliens onboard was answered when Short Blade entered the cabin.
“Mr. Customs agent, there is one alien onboard the ship that I know of,” Short Blade proceeded to say as the agent quickly stepped away from him. Short Blade proceeded to close the gap as he spoke. “The alien is from Dixie, but he is the diplomatic representative of the planet. Do you have the necessary forms to welcome him and accept his credentials? I would hate to see an interstellar incident be caused by your failure at protocol.”
The agent quickly retreated from the ship as the entire crew cheered on Short Blade for taking care of the self-important little official. The agent had no luck trying to convince any superior to take the hot potato from his hand until he reached a career bureaucrat. His instructions were simple and effective. He was to deputize the senior ranking Gray Panther in the vicinity and explain that it was their responsibility to monitor all intergalactic travels. Customs would only track international trips. Five minutes later he was pointed to the senior Gray Panther, who happened to be Dan Daniels, waiting to greet the returning crew. Dan avoided the opportunity to mess with the agent whose only wish in life at the moment was obviously to disappear. Dan simply accepted responsibility and let him disappear as he so wanted.
Walking up to the hatch, Dan was in an outstanding mood. The raw materials would last for years even at max building. The prospect of the Republic being an ally had advantages he was still trying to figure out. The bonus of finding humans that were even more technologically advanced than Earth left him with mixed feelings. Dan stepped aboard the Arizona Space Ship Beater for the first time as Commander Johnson and Captain Young waited just inside the passage way. Both men came to attention as Dan neared them.
“At ease, gentlemen. Outstanding job from what I gather. You successfully retrieved enough material for years worth of production. The potential with the Republic is mind staggering, there's so much potential there. To top it all off you found a colony of humans. I should send you out every week. Damn good job!”
Young felt uncomfortable with the praise and finally was able to speak, “Sir, we were just fortunate that everything came together as smoothly as it did. The Republic seems to have plans of their own for us and I have mixed feelings on that. I believe they betrayed us to the enemy when we were on Zia.”
“That seemed to work out ok though didn’t it. I think we should send you back and start making life uncomfortable for them until they start seeing the boogeyman behind every moon. What do you think of that idea Commander?” Dan inquired.
“Sir we should not risk a single ship like the Beater. We should go in strong and make them really decide to pull back forces to protect their areas. We should hit key areas of industry, ship building, munitions factories. Anything that provides support for war against us should be taken out,” Commander Johnson proposed.
“Sir, we do have one more thing for you if you can follow us,” Young said walking down the passageway. “Sir inside this berth is Dr. Grant Townsend ambassador from Dixie. We figured it would be easier to leave him in stasis then try to answer any difficult questions he may have for us. Should I open the hatch now?” Young asked.
“This should be interesting. Please open the hatch and let the ambassador out.” Grant was instantly alert after the stasis field was disengaged and he was conscious.
“Ambassador Townsend, welcome home to Earth. I am Dan Daniels of the Gray Panthers. If you would like to take your belongings, I will take you to a more appropriate location where we can talk.”
“Thank you, Mr. Daniels. Which government do you represent here on Earth?” Grant asked.
“Ambassador, you could say I represent the State of Arizona, but that would not be entirely true. That is part of what we need to talk about. You will see things are quite complicated here on Earth. I will take you back to our guest quarters and get you situated then we can get down to business. Please call me Dan; you will see I am not a very formal type of person.”
“That will work for me, Dan. Please call me, Grant. Excuse me please I just feel a little off and weak. Shall we go? I’m excited to see Earth and get out of this closet. No offense, Commander Johnson,” Grant explained.
“Ambassador, you may feel that way for a few days. Earth has a heavier gravity than Dixie. Since we landed the Beater has been open and we are breathing fresh air again. There might be contaminants in the air you are allergic to. I do agree with you it is nice to leave the Beater for more open spaces. Duty permitting I will be fishing by tomorrow on a big open ocean. Good day sir.” Commander Johnson disappeared down the passageway as Dan escorted Grant off the Beater.
Walking into the apartment Dan pointed out the amenities. “So Grant can I offer you a drink?” Dan asked as he opened a cabinet of mixed bottles.
“One of the few Earth crops we have is corn, we make a liquor from that we call Bourbon…”
“Say no more, Grant, we have the same thing, even the same name. How do you like it? Straight up, mixed with a little water, with ice, or soda?”
“I’ll take two fingers neat please, Dan.”
“Now that I have a drink in your hand let me give you a reason to drink. I’ll give you an abbreviated history lesson for the last three hundred years. Later you can access our computer systems and ask anything you want. After your people were kidnapped the south lost the war. Not long after America went through a few wars as a whole nation including two world wars. It still took a few hundred years for wounds to heal for some. Thirty some years ago one of our enemies used a nuclear weapon that destroyed our seat of power in Washington DC. The government that rose from the ashes did our enemies, work for them. Our federal government was almost totally rebuilt and refused to acknowledge the rights of the people. Our constitution was abandoned as the government protected the people by disarming the populace. After that, it was easy to stop freedom of speech and assembly. The government went amok trying to run everything and failing in all it did.
"Two years ago, the people once again rose up and took back their country with its freedoms and liberties. While the people rose; a Flem space ship was found. It has been kept secret and has been the reason for the recovery of America. Our economy and national defense has prospered. The person who found the ship refused to give it over to the government since he doesn’t trust any politician with that type of power. We learned that an alien race was coming to use humans for its cannon fodder in its wars. That’s when the Gray Panthers were created to coordinate the defense of Earth. So far we have captured two ships and destroyed two with only minor losses to ourselves. You ready for another drink?”
“Am I to assume you are the one who is playing God? You know what’s best to defend the world? Yes, I need another drink.”
“Grant, if any country becomes too strong they end up setting the way for war. I have been building fleets of space ships and no one is rattling their sabers to have another war here on Earth among ourselves. My worst nightmare is to save the world only to destroy it with another world war. I will help you get in touch with the president of the United States and the United Nations if you wish. Please use the computers to learn all you can. I have to leave you now, Ambassador. If you need anything at all just go ahead and ask Grub and he will get it for you. Good night.”
As Dan closed the door behind him Grant muttered, “What the hell is a Grub?”
Grub immediately replied to the question. “Ambassador Townsend, I am an artificial intelligence that has been tasked to provide any information or material you request."
“Oh lord, I do need a drink. I do not need anything from you at the moment, Grub, thank you.”
"If you need me just say 'Grub' and I will make myself available to you." Grub offered as he faded away.
Dan reviewed the reports from Captain Young and Commander Johnson and saw that Young had extended an invitation to the Republic and had given them a channel to communicate with Earth when their ship was in range. Dan asked Grub to distribute the information immediately to all ships and AIs. His last thought as he turned off his light was, “Are we opening ourselves up to another potential enemy?”
Grant initially found himself disgusted and fascinated as he watched the television while reviewing the last couple hundred years of Earth’s history; war, crime, injustice, poverty, famine, illness. Then he began to see that as it continued it was being fought. For all the evil there was good. Where a village was burned down, there were those trying to rebuild it. Where there were those who seemed to kill for pleasure, there were those willing to die to protect strangers. There were those who still dreamed, and others willing to make the dream a reality. Grant realized that Dan Daniels was not a power hungry tyrant but instead a man who was in reality walking a dangerous road.
Grant became less sanctimonious when he thought of his own world's history. Since the establishment of a government there was always the resolution to return to Earth and fight the aliens that had kidnapped them. Initially, the argument was there were too few to fight. Later it was assumed Earth must have already been conquered and not to risk disclosing their world to the aliens. The entire time there was a world wide draft in place so that Dixie could be defended and her 300,000 citizens. The Flem AI that had been left with the initial colony had no restrictions on either manufacturing or providing information. The first hundred years saw the assimilation of technology in every aspect of society. One of the biggest fears was that the AI would eventually fail. Everyone of every sex and color were required to learn a technology. Necessity eliminated ancient taboos and bigotry as individual achievement was celebrated and encouraged. Deep under their world there was also a mighty force. Hundreds of spaceships that could quickly be readied for war. The ships had been designed from the vast stores of information the AI had available on war ships that were in use by other species.