T H E P A R L O U R S C E N E
Written by Greg Kiss.
“The fact of the matter is, General, that Earth has been a target for an alien Base Station since their 1947 reconnaissance mission to New Mexico, and probably a great deal earlier.” The Chief of the General Staff gave Kiefs an appraising look whilst rubbing his chin. “You’ll be head of the Administration, and will take command of the project immediately.”
The project had been strictly ‘off the radar’ and had been in existence for around three months.
“I look forward to the challenge, sir,” replied Kiefs. He was relaxed, or at least as relaxed as he could be whilst simultaneously trying to show to subservience to Chilton, the Chief of the General Staff, and displaying his own dominating demeanour to Eric Cross, the Mission Commander who was also in attendance. “Maybe you can clarify, sir, the exact reason for the opening of this particular post? I have of course heard the rumours like the rest of the nation.”
“Very well Kiefs,” Chilton began reluctantly, removing his hand from his chin and revealing substantial stubble growth since his morning’s shave. “Dalrymple wasn’t equipped to take on the challenge. His mind began to wander and question the wider impact that the work might have. Eventually, his mental state deteriorated to the point that he was caught off guard by a tabloid journalist of all people! Luckily for us, it was mostly theological ramblings. Are you a religious man Kiefs?”
“Good. You might be predisposed to answer some of the questions that this sort of work is likely to provoke. Right, you must excuse me, I have a Cabinet meeting to attend. Cross will fill you in on the particulars. Thank you, gentlemen.”
“Thank you, sir.”
The two men travelled back to their headquarters across London and eventually settled themselves in Kiefs’ office. “Come on then Cross, fill me in and don’t spare the gory details.” Kiefs sat back and waited expectantly.
“Well, sir. The Chief mentioned the Roswell incident earlier. Interrogation of the traveller by the US extracted a certain amount of information regarding a potential alien base station being formed on Earth which, given time, might lead to the re-population of Earth. All of this is of course subject to the constraints of the alien planet, population growth, etc. There were in fact two further similar visits in the 1950’s during which more information was obtained.” Kiefs leaned forward, and no matter how much he tried to cover his look of sheer shock he didn’t manage it.
The Mission Commander continued, “In the 1954 landing we learned that in the alien society’s surveillance of Earth they had observed our growing mastery of nuclear weaponry. As a result, they told the humans that they would not be returning to the planet. There are two schools of thought on this matter, sir. One: The aliens felt that with our new weaponry capabilities they would be unable to overcome us by force. Two: Why bother to launch an attack when you can simply wait for humanity to destroy itself with an eventual nuclear war. I favour option two.”
Kiefs and Cross sat in silence for a few moments, with the General obviously deep in thought. “If we know that our enemy is simply waiting for us to eradicate ourselves,” said Kiefs eventually, “then how have you directed your surveillance work to date?”
“Our works have not been focussed on the aliens themselves. Following the crashing of Comet Shoemaker Levy 9 into Jupiter last year we found an increase in plasma sound waves in the solar system. Subsequent analysis of data from the impact led us to a possibility that some life form, an intelligence, a mist, who really knows? Well, it might have been released from the crash and we’ve been trying to communicate with it.” Cross stopped and looked away from his new General, fearing that Kiefs might not even humour him.
“What are we expecting the mist to tell us?” said Kiefs slowly and flatly, thinking suddenly that this might be career suicide, or worse; make him a laughing stock.
“Well given that The Shoemaker, as we’ve taken to calling this phenomena, has travelled extensively through the Universe for thousands, maybe even millions of years, we might be able to learn the whereabouts and technological capabilities of our enemy in case any global conflicts begin to escalate to nuclear levels.” Cross was blurting out the words with a sort of nervous excitement and barely had enough oxygen in him to complete his sentence.
Kiefs pondered his statement. “And has there been any progress to date?”
“Yes sir. We believe we are on the cusp of a breakthrough. The team has been inactive for five days due to the media attention and the change in command, sir. We are anxious to continue.” Cross had a look of wonder on his face like a child watching fireworks.
“Good,” Kiefs replied, placing both large palms on the table and pushing himself up from his seat. “We will start once you have introduced me to the technical team, and shown me the control room. I would very much like to learn from this being and no doubt my presence will demonstrate the strength of our team, and the importance of this mission.” He said the last sentence to himself as much as Cross.
The Shoemaker hovered above Io, the smallest of Jupiter’s Galilean Moons. It listened to everything in the Universe simultaneously; the solar winds, helium whispers, and the hundreds of millions of conversations on Earth, paying particular attention to Kiefs’ words.
I’ll teach you nothing, give you nothing and render you nothing, thought Earth’s new informant as it beheld a planet for which it had always held a great distaste and mistrust.