Authors: Jonathan Edward Feinstein
Tags: #Science Fiction/Fantasy
Copyright © 2010 by Jonathan E. Feinstein
In the Author’s Preface to
Cervantes states that while it took some considerable effort to write his history of the mad knight, he found nothing so difficult as writing the preface to the first volume. Believe me when I say I know how he felt! While some stories lend themselves toward these introductory remarks, others leave me wondering what I might possibly say. This is one of the latter sort, so I’ll just jump on in.
In the first book of this series,
An Accidental Alliance,
our heroes, a carefully selected group of specialists from the late Twenty-first Century, come out of stasis to find themselves in an exotic world, which just happens to be Earth. However, it is not the Earth they remember because it turned out two hundred fifty million years have passed. While they were “out of the loop” time, evolution and the collection of species all calling themselves “Humans” moved on, so while at first they thought they were alone in the world, they soon learned they shared Earth with two other sapient species and that their planet was a quarantined, backwater world.
In so-called “High concept” that synopsis doesn’t sound very original, but I would like to think that a story resides as much or more it its characters as in its plot outline. At the end of the last book, Earth had finally established itself as a free and independent world in the galaxy. So, what’s next? Read on.
June 22, 2010
“This is Tensa Tiswell in Sanatis and it’s a beautiful day for a parade!” the blond commentator announced. Behind her, in full view of the camera, the head of a parade floated though the watery streets of the
. “It’s been two weeks since our heroes returned from their victorious encounter with the Galactics, Dak,” she continued to an off-camera colleague, “and the entire Mer nation has been anxious to see them.”
“That’s right, Tensa,” Dak Harkiv’s voice agreed. “It was just two weeks ago that the spaceship
encountered and destroyed no less than three Galactic vessels and thereby won claim to the Moon and the rest of Sol System.”
“And there they are!” Tensa cut in as the camera zoomed in on one of the boats. “Parker Holman and his lovely wife, Iris Fain.”
“Parker Holman, as you know, Tensa,” Dak replied, “was captain of the
and Iris Fain was his weapons officer. Quite a team those two are!”
“Indeed, Dak,” Tensa nodded for the camera. “It seems strange that less than two years ago they and all the humans were still asleep inside their incredibly ancient base in Van Winkle Town, doesn’t it?”
“I must agree, Tensa,” Dak told her. “The Van Winkle Project was intended to send several thousands of our ancient and original ancestors into their own future to a time when they would be needed.”
“And lucky for us they did,” Tensa took over their verbal tag-team match. “The entire Mer nation and the Atackack too, for that matter, were held captive on Earth and bound here by the Covenant the Galactics once enforced on us, but then the humans woke up and started exploring this old world and eventually found us. In fact right there,” she pointed at the boat just behind the one carrying Park and Iris, “are Taodore and Marisea Waisau, the father and daughter who first encountered the humans. I understand Marisea was instrumental in
intended mission to repair one of the three high-orbit communications satellites that were launched from the base in Van Winkle Town. Isn’t she pretty today?”
“Any day, I’ll bet!” Dak laughed. “It will be the lucky Mer boy who gets to call her his girlfriend, although with Parker Holman as her
he’ll have to be braver than most to even approach her. Who are those Galactics in the boat with them, however?”
“That would be Captain Dannet Nrenth, son of the Lord of Dennsee. The people there all have green skin, or so he told me just prior to the parade,” Tensa replied. “You know, for a Galactic, he did not seem haughty or snobbish at all. He was quite polite and respectful, in fact, and seemed quite pleased to be here. The orange-skinned woman with the antennae sticking out of her bright red hair – she assures me that is her natural color, can you imagine? – sitting just behind Marisea, comes from the world of Tzantsa and her name is Sartena. Evidently they have no surnames on Tzantsa. Sartena was the navigator on
which was destroyed in space by
. She and the rest of the survivors were rescued by Captain Holman and his crew, of course.”
“Lucky for them,” Dak replied. “I must say the crew of
were remarkably forgiving, considering what happened on their first mission to repair that satellite.”
“Yes,” Tensa agreed readily. “The
barely survived its battle with
and was forced to make a crash landing deep in Kogack territory. It’s a wonder they all survived, Dak.”
“But a good thing for us all that they did,” Dak told her. “Now, for the first time in remembered history, the Mer nation no longer lives under the Covenant and we are free to leave the Earth if it suits us.”
“Always good to know, Dak,” Tensa laughed, “but I’m perfectly content to stay here. All my friends are on Earth, or are we supposed to call it Pangaea now?”
“Mine are here too,” Dak agreed, “but I believe Pangaea is the human name for the large continent. Our world is still Earth. And leaving our homes is not the important thing, just knowing we could if we wanted to is. What is this next float, Tensa?”
The parade continued on for another half an hour, but so far as the commentators were concerned, the stars of the show had already moved on.
“It’s been a month,” Parker pointed out to Arn one morning. “What the heck are they up to?” Park and the others had finally returned to Van Winkle Town after a whirlwind tour of the coastal cities of Pangaea to discover that absolutely nothing had changed during their absence. “We ought to have our own people on the Moon right now and yet they are still asking us to hold off? This is hardly negotiating in good faith.”
“This is hardly negotiating at all,” Arnsley Theoday, base commander and de facto mayor of Van Winkle Town, countered. “They’ve been yanking our chains ever since you started out on that good will tour.”
As they had so often in the past, Park and Arn met an hour after sunrise for coffee on top of the grass-covered hill over the original Van Winkle Base. From there they had a fine view of the growing town as they sat in the warm Pangaean sun.
“What are you and Terius planning to do about that?” Park asked. Terius was the Prime, the leader of the Mer Nation.
“I ought to send you and
up there with a cargo hold full of bombs,” Arn remarked sourly. “Knock a little sense into them.”
“A little extreme,” Park pointed out, “even if the Mer might approve.”
“They wouldn’t actually,” Arn admitted. “In spite of everything, the Mer are far more humane concerning the Galactics than we are. Terius didn’t realize I was joking when I said that same thing about bombs to him and he started lecturing me.”
“As jokes go,” Park pointed out, “it wasn’t really all that funny, especially since the average Mer really would like to bomb them even if their politicians would not. And we shouldn’t be in such a hurry to kill anyone either, you know. We won our battle. It’s time we worked a bit toward making friends up there.”
“I suppose,” Arn agreed reluctantly.
“You do know the Alliance of Confedertated Worlds, or Galactics as our Mer friends call them, have us outnumbered trillions to one, don’t you?” Park asked pointedly.
“Possibly by a lot more than that,” Arn nodded reluctantly. “Your friend Dannet says no one really knows for certain what the total population of the
“It’s a very large number,” Park replied. “Our number is very small in comparison. We don’t want to become such a problem that they want a permanent solution.”
Just then a thin, totally bald man approached them. Park recognized him as Maxwell Bains, the man Arn had chosen as his Administrative Deputy. It was a position Arn had originally thought to fill with Park, but somehow Parker Holman had slipped completely out of Arn’s chain of command and into one of his own. By the time Arn had noticed Park was effectively his equal, albeit with a far smaller number of people under him, it was too late. Park was in charge of Van Winkle’s exploratory mission and, by extension, the space program. Arn noted to himself that he might well have been able to draw Park and his people back under the more conventional organization of Van Winkle Base, but when it turned out Park had no desire to challenge Arn’s authority and, in fact, made a better partner than underling, Arn decided to let the situation lie. There was never any sense in attempting to fix something that worked.
“Sirs,” Bains greeted them respectfully causing Arn to consider that if Park ever called him “Sir,” it would probably be in sarcasm or anger. “We have a transmission from Lagina base on the Moon. It appears the official negotiator from the
Alliance has arrived.”
“And now they want us up there?” Arn asked.
“No sir,” Bains replied. “They are maintaining what we are not to enter Lunar space while everything is under negotiation.”
“Damn it!” Arn swore. “We own Luna. That is not under negotiation.”
“Sounds like we’re going to have to remind them of that,” Park pointed out.
“I knew we should have just gone in and occupied that base,” Arn grumbled.
“Do you have any idea how dangerous such an occupation could be?” Park argued. “The base is on an airless world. They could easily evacuate the entire base.”
“That’s what we want,” Arn retorted.
“I mean evacuate as in remove all the air from an area,” Park informed him. “If we were so foolish as to approach without spacesuits we’d be dead, but even in suits we’re vulnerable. Any little bullet or laser beam that punctures the suit would kill us, or they could collapse a ceiling on us. That would do the job too. Face it, Arn. Invasion in space is a last resort.”
“I suppose,” Arn admitted grudgingly. He turned back to Bains and asked, “So where do they want to meet us, Max? Here?”
“They are suggesting we meet in orbit,” Bains replied. “Two of our ships to dock with two of theirs.”
“Wouldn’t that be just as dangerous?” Arn turned back to Park.
“Pretty much,” Park agreed, “but if they are so willing to meet us half way, I suppose trust has to begin somewhere, and maybe by talking face-to-face we can get something accomplished.”
“What’s to debate here?” Arn asked. “We own the whole system by right of conquest if not prior occupation.”
“You can try that argument,” Park nodded, “but as Dennet told me, that prior occupation was two hundred and fifty million years ago. It isn’t likely to carry a lot of weight. However, I do agree that this whole treaty is taking much longer than it should. We own the system and promise not to shoot at any
Alliance ships so long as they pay up on the back rent for the moon base.”
“Putting that into diplomatic language is not quite so simple,” Arn replied, “and I’m no diplomat. I need Terius for that. Max, please get him on the line and start making the arrangements. I suppose we’re going up. Park,
is our only ship at the moment so I guess we’d better take her.”
was finished,” Park agreed, “but Veronica Sheetz is still working with the Mer builders on her. She keeps wanting to add to or improve the armaments.”
“Engineers,” Arn shook his head. “What’s wrong with the way
“Well, for one thing the phaser on
is twenty-percent more efficient,” Park responded, “even if it is still using visible light and not x-rays like the
Alliance weapons. Ronnie is working on an x-ray phaser, of course, but her main project is the stasis plating. If she can manage to adapt the stasis technology that kept us and our base inviolable for a quarter of a billion years to a ship it would be virtually indestructible.”
“Can’t argue against that,” Arn admitted, “but we need that ship flight worthy as it is more than we need indestructibility. Isn’t that magnetic field defense enough?”
Alliance plasma-casters it’s superb,” Park replied. “Dannet thinks Ronnie’s fields are better than anything his people have, but they don’t just have plasma-casters. It wouldn’t stop a phaser or a gravity cannon. It wouldn’t do much against a missile either.”