The year is 2467. The interstellar space ship Tereshkova performs research in a relatively quiet sector of space. There are no unusual natural events predicted. The civilizations in this sector have not developed interstellar capability so contact with them is forbidden. Ship Director Dick Nishizawa wanted to manage an interstellar craft so he could explore. Here he is just repeating the findings of previous interstellar mission.
Colonel Helmut Wang, the senior military member, is also in the Control Center.
Kavita Pattle is the only one of the three people in the Control Center that has a real job. She is studying information from close in probes so she can make her reports and conclusions. Her doctorate is in history and her doctorial thesis was on the late 20th century.
The Control Center has a panoramic screen which shows a field of stars. The screen highlights a star. The screen flashes “Light Plus signature detected.” The star is moved to the screen center and enlarged. It is a binary star system.
Dick asks. “Other known ships?”
The screen flashes, “No other known ships in this sector. Other known Light Plus capable civilizations unlikely to have ships in sector.”
Dick orders, “Helmut, Kavita, the conference room in 15 minutes.”
He also calls Dr. Otto Smik, the ship’s medical doctor, and Stanislaw (Stan) Lierde, the ship’s lead engineer, to attend as well.
In the conference room Helmut gives an overview of the situation:
A space ship reached a velocity above the speed of light. The craft maintained the light plus speed for 19 minutes and 34 seconds. The craft exceeded light speed from a point approximately 1 million kilometers from the only planet in this system that has complex organisms. The space ship traveled to a point near a dwarf planet at the opposite end of the system. Reconnaissance was last performed on this system 46 years ago. The sentient beings are humans and their technology roughly matched that of the mid-20th century.
Dick interrupts, “It took us 150 years to go from initial space flights to light plus capability. They did it in less than 50 years?”
“They have a more serious interest in space flight than we had at that stage of development.”
Kavita interjects, “Analysis of their audio and video traffic shows there have been no major conflicts since they entered the Industrial Age.”
Dick asks, “No wars?”
Helmut, “Conflicts of short duration, like the Middle Eastern conflicts of the Mid-20th century.”
Dick, “Seems they are good candidates to join with us.”
Helmut, “It is also an important candidate. There are 16 nearby star systems that have sentient life forms. The most advanced of these civilizations has Iron Age technology.”
Dick, “Good point Helmut. If they make contact with these civilizations and give them their technology they could dangerously disrupt the natural development of these other civilizations.”
Dr. Otto Smirk quips, “That’s an understatement.”
Helmut, “Exactly Doctor.”
Dick, “Stan, they probably had communications with their Light Plus ship. We’ll raise them on that frequency. Work out the language they used. Kavita, get the standard announcement message so Stan can translate and send it.”
Kavita, “Analysis of the communication traffic shows this was their first use of Light Plus.”
Dick is elated. His routine mission is now among the most historic space missions.
In the Control Center Kavita is in constant contact with the planet, Palchi. The Tereshkova travels at the velocity and in the flight path the Palchi requested.
Kavita, “Dick, the Palchi are asking for a catalogue of our laws.”
Helmut, “A curious request.”
Dick asks Helmut, “Can you speculate on why they would want them Helmut?”
“It would be best not to speculate.”
Dick, “Tell them we will give them a catalogue of our laws if they will send us a catalogue of theirs.”
Helmut, “May I ask why you agreed on the condition the Palchi reciprocated?”
“So far we have acceded to all their previous requests without conditions. Asking for reciprocity is a reasonable condition. I want to see if the Palchi can be reasonable.”
The Tereshkova is orbiting Palchi. Dick, Helmut, Otto, and Stan stand by a docking way waiting for the Palchi emissaries’ arrival. They have devices around their necks and on the sides of their heads so they can speak to and understand the Palchi.
The docking way hatch opens. A tall portly man steps in the Tereshkova. He is wearing a suit. He has a cylindrical device about 6 centimeters long extending from this left ear. He also has a device around his right ear. He gives a nervous smile.
“I am Chair Kam, Chair of the Global Counsel. This is Representative Grazby of Velikiy a legal expert.”
Representative Grazby is a short, thin woman. She is wearing a suit almost identical to Kam’s. Besides the cylindrical device on her left ear, which is identical to Kam’s, her only other accessory is a 3-pointed star broach below her left shoulder. She has short black hair and her facial features match classical East Asian looks. She has a blank expression on her face.
Chair Kam announces, “This is Representative Laita of Minhwa a linguistics expert.”
She is a tall voluptuous woman. Her revealing dress and numerous accessories are more appropriate for a cocktail party than a diplomatic meeting. She has light blue eyes. Her long platinum blonde hair has a horizontal red streak even with her cheeks. She has a gorgeous face and a broad toothed smile.
Laita gives an enthusiastic “Hello!” in the Earth Common Language.
Dick, “Hello, I am Dick Nishizawa, the Ship Director. This is Colonel Helmut Wang he is the ship’s senior military officer. This is Dr. Otto Smik, the ship’s medical doctor. This is Stanislaw Lierde, the ship’s lead engineer.”
Chair Kam nods, “We are all pleased to meet you. We are here as physical representations. The long devices in our ears are so the other members of the Global Counsel can hear what we hear and give us their input.”
There is a small amber light shinning in these ear devices. Kam made no mention of the other device in his ear.
Dick smiles, “On our planet we have a custom we call ‘shaking hands’ that we perform when meeting people. Dr. Smirk, would you help me demonstrate?”
Dick and Otto shake hands. Dick extends his hand to Kam. Chair Kam nods and shakes hands with Dick. Laita smiles and speaks in her native language, “What a charming custom.” She extends her hand to Dick and they shake hands. Kam and Laita exchange handshakes with Otto, Helmut, and Stan. Grazby doesn’t engage in the handshaking. Dick extends his hand to her and she shakes his hand. She shows no emotion.
Dick announces, “If you would come with us please we have a formal dinner prepared in your honor.”
Laita enthusiastically remarks, “What gracious hosts.”
Kam gives a reserved smile and a polite, “Thank you.”
Grazby shows no reaction.
Dick, Helmut, Otto, and Stan are eating with the Palchi emissaries.
Kam, “We are surprised you appear human. Our scientists have told us life forms from other planets wouldn’t look anything like us.”
Dick chuckles, “We are human. We are aware of about 500 planets with sentient beings. The sentient beings on these planets fall into one of 5 life forms. There are almost 100 planets with humans on them.”
Kam nods, “This is amazing. Yesterday we wondered if we were alone in the universe now we learn we are neither alone nor unique.”
Laita beams, “This is fantastic! This is truly fantastic! It is absolutely wonderful!”
Grazby shows no reaction.
It is because there are so many planets inhabited by sentient beings in various stages of development that Earth and some other planets have agreed upon some protocols. We make contact with societies when they develop light plus technology. We feel it is better to make contact this way rather than risk an unexpected meeting in space. In the case of new light plus capable planets it is also best we inform them of the dangers of contact with planets that haven’t reached light plus development.
Kam nods, “I see.”
Laita cheerfully asks, “Light Plus, is that what you call travel faster than the speed of light?”
Grazby curtly states, “Your purpose is to have us agree to abide by your protocols.”
Dick, “Yes, there are many advantages to agreeing to these protocols. We can help each other develop politically and socially.”
Grazby, “What if we choose not to agree to your protocols?”
No one is forced to accept the protocols. It is strongly recommended you do. Our protocols are designed to avoid causing pandemonium on non-Light Plus planets. If Palchi doesn’t agree to the protocols then we cannot aide with Palchi’s development in any way, including political, social, economic, or technological.
Laita, “The protocols about other planets, is there anything on our planet we would have to accept for aids in this development assistance?”
Helmut, “Your planet does not have a single government.”
Grazby, “We have a history of banding together when the need arises.”
Helmut, “A single world government is not mandatory. Some of your governments permit executions, even non-judicial executions, and have laws that limit the rights of the accused.”
Laita gives Grazby a smirk, “Yes, other governments are pressuring these governments to turn their back on archaic practices.”
Grazby takes a quick glance at Laita then turns to Helmut, “Non-judicial executions are only used when apprehension is impractical.”
Helmut, “By impractical do you mean inconvenient?”
Grazby, “If I meant inconvenient I would have said inconvenient.”
Dick grabs a flask from the table and gives a big smile. “This is called Sculpin. It is famous throughout our known universe.”
Grasby, “It is against your regulations.”
Dick, “Yes, one of the advantages of exploring space is you get to make connections.”
Grasby, “By drinking this Sculpin we would be participating in a crime.”
Laita lets out a short giggle, “Grasby, always the prosecutor.” Laita takes the flask and pours the Sculpin into her glass then takes a sip.
“I can see why it’s famous throughout the galaxy.” She flashes her eyes and a smile at Dick.
We should give you a tour of the ship. Since it’s a big ship we should split up. Otto you could give Chair Kam a tour. Helmut you show Representative Grasby around. I’ll give Representative Laita a walk around the ship. You can compare notes later.
Laita says with enthusiasm, “That is a marvelous idea.”
Kam nods approval, “It is a large ship.”
Dick walks down a corridor with Laita.
Laita explains, “Velikiy is full of people, like Grasby, who live by rigid rules and ideas. Most people on our world realize their ideas are outmoded.”
“You believe Velikiy would oppose accepting our protocols?”
“Yes, I’m sorry to say. They are very resistant to change. They no doubt chose Grasby because she is a staunch defender of these old-fashioned beliefs.”
“We had similar problems on our planet.”
Dick stops at a hatch and smiles. “This is the Director’s quarters.”
Laita smiles and takes the device from her ear. She twists the device and its amber light goes out.
Colonel Wang takes Grasby into the Engineering Section. Stan walks to them. Colonel Wang reintroduces, “Representative Grasby, you’ve met Stan Lierde, our ship’s lead engineer.”
Grasby still emotionless, “Pleased to see you in your work place Stan Lierde.”
Grasby scans the Engineering Section. “It is an impressive work section.”
Stan gives a broad smile, “Yes, it is Representative Grasby.”
In the background one engineer says to another, “Francium levels within tolerances.”
Grasby gives a curious look, “You use Francium?”
Stan quips, “This ship couldn’t exceed light speed without it.” Stan’s expression changes from happy to serious. He thinks he may have said too much. Grasby scans Stan and Colonel Wang’s faces.
“Francium is rare on our planet. To my knowledge we never found a use for it.”
Colonel Wang interjects, “Our protocols for dealing with other planets prohibit us from revealing technical details about our technology.”
“I will refrain from asking questions in this section.”
Dr. Smirk and Chair Kam are outside the Examination Room. Dr. Smirk explains, “There are sensors in this hatchway that will give us a diagnostic as we walk through it.”
Chair Kam smiles in surprise, “You can examine a patient just by having them walk through a hatchway?”
Dr. Smirk walks through the hatchway, “Yes, step through and I will demonstrate.”
Chair Kam gives a tentative nod and steps through the hatchway.
Dr. Smirk steps to a console and flips a switch. “You have hearing loss in your right ear.”
Kam points to his right ear, “You didn’t know this was a hearing aide?”
“Since you didn’t tell us I thought it would be rude of me to ask. The others in our welcoming committee probably felt the same way. I can fix your hearing loss, as well as your cholesterol buildup, and a number of other minor medical abnormalities.”
Kam gives an enthusiastic smile, “Amazing, you would be willing to do this for me?”
Dr. Smirk smiles, “Of course, I’m a doctor. Just lie down on the table and I’ll fix you right up.”
Colonel Wang and Grasby exit the exercise room. As they walk Colonel Wang inquires, “I am curious why you and the others were chosen as emissaries? Scientists would seem more suitable choices.”
“Scientists were considered. It was decided scientists may be too enamored with your technology.”
Colonel Wang isn’t sure what to make of Grasby’s answer.
“Colonel Wang, you traipse around the galaxy in an unarmed space ship?”
“This ship is armed.”
“When on this tour will you show me your weapons?”
“I was not planning to show you our weapons.”
“You are orbiting my world in an armed space ship that has technology far beyond that of my world.”
“I will now show you our ship’s weapons.”
Colonel Wang and Grasby are in the Offensive Weapons Section. There are two weapons officers in the section.
Colonel Wang explains, “The primary laser battery is capable of releasing energy bursts of 4 megawatts.”
“That is enough energy to destroy our largest cities.”
“That is why scientists would be better suited as emissaries. They would be less likely to have irrational apprehensions of our technology.”
“You consider my apprehension irrational?”
“We failed to mention our ship was armed because we didn’t want knowledge of our ship’s weapons to be construed as a threat.”
Grasby showed no emotion during the exchange. Grasby’s ability to control her emotions makes it difficult for him to gage how she is reacting to his answers.
Outside Dick’s quarters Laita’s face changes from giddy to serious.
“If you give us freedom to move about the ship, unescorted, that would negate any Velikiy arguments.”
“I see. I’ll take that under advisement.”
Laita smiles and takes out her ear device. She twists the device and its amber light goes on. She puts it in her ear. Dick walks down the corridor with Laita.
Dick is in a conference room with Colonel Wang, Dr. Smirk, Stan, and Kavita. Kavita gives a summary of what she learned from monitoring communications and from her ship to ship communications with the Palchi.
The people of Palchi are generally excited about our presence. There are some voices of opposition. The leaders range from enthusiastic to guardedly optimistic. Palchi’s geopolitical power is divided into almost 200 nation-states. These states are in a series of alliances with each other, called spheres. There are 5 spheres roughly divided by the planet’s 5 major continents. The leaders of Velikiy and those in their sphere are the most reserved in their statements. The Velikiy are the most technologically advanced, they achieved Light Plus capability. They are also the wealthiest. The Minhwais are the most populace sphere. Over half the people on the planet are within the Minhwa sphere. Their economic and technological capability is such they can make contributions to Palchi technical advances but overall at least a generation behind the Velikiy in significant scientific fields. At the other end of the scale is Madang. It is the most sparsely populated sphere. Its nations are impoverished and I’ve uncovered no evidence they have made a significant social or scientific accomplishment since the planet’s industrial age. Chair Kam is from Madang.
Dick nods, “I see, a great disparity between spheres.”
Stan interjects, “Similar to Earth at this stage of development.”
Colonel Wang adds:
Palchi has suffered some large asteroid strikes relatively recently. The last such strike occurred 104 years ago. It struck Madang. There was some advanced warning so many of the wealthier people of Madang moved to other continents, primarily Velikiy. Another large asteroid was on a collision course with Palchi. It would have struck the ocean near Velikiy. The Velikiy developed and used their technology to divert the asteroid.
Kavita adds, “This happened 23 years ago.”
Dr. Smirk, “Sounds like the old haves and have not situation. The planets change but not the circumstances.”
Stan wonders, “If Madang is in this ‘have not’ block then why did they put Kam in charge of their Global Counsel?”
The Global Counsel has no actual authority. It is similar to such global organizations in the 20th century. It is simply a place for diplomats from different nation-states to meet. The real authority comes from the dominant nation-state in each sphere. The two areas of conflict have been economic and security. The other spheres have been pressuring the Velikiy sphere to share more of their wealth and technological knowledge with other spheres. The Velikiy sphere has been demanding the other spheres give more urgency to dealing with violent crime. Nation-states in the Velikiy sphere have been the most frequent victims of mass casualty attacks. The Velikiy blames the Minhwa for not taking effective measures to prevent such attacks.
Dick, “Mass casualty attacks, do you mean terrorism?”
Colonel Wang, “Since the Palchi view motivations for crimes as irrelevant we do not know how many of these crimes would fit our definition of terrorism.”
Dick redirects, “What about the emissaries?”
Dr. Smirk, “Kam is very friendly. I repaired some ear damage and some other medical issues for him. I think I made a friend for life.” He holds up Kam’s hearing aid. “He gave me this for a souvenir. It’s what he had to use to make him hear clearly.”
Colonel Wang, “Grasby’s thinking is very analytical. She is intelligent, calculating, and devious.”
Dick, “She lied to you?”
“No, but she gave the opportunity for me to lie. She stated the Tereshkova was an unarmed ship. She apparently concluded we had weapons. Based on her previous speech patterns and subsequent statements I believe her statements and questions were tailored to put me on the defensive.”
Dr. Smirk smiles, “Did she succeed?”
Colonel Wang, “She did not reveal her conclusions.”
Dick, “Laita is enthusiastic about her planet having relations with us. She acknowledges there are some on Palchi that don’t want to make overdue social changes. She gave some helpful advice on how we can allay the fears of those who oppose further contact with us.”
Dr. Smirk, “I think it was obvious from our dinner reception Grasby and Laita don’t get along.”
Dick, “Two opposites and Kam in the middle, do you see the logic in a welcoming committee like that Helmut?”
Colonel Wang, “Grasby mentioned a concern that interest in our technology may interfere with their judgment. Grasby may have been chosen as a voice of opposition.”
Stan, “So she’s a ‘devil’s advocate’. From what I’ve learned from history people who are in opposition are usually ignored when decisions are made.”
Dick, “Point noted Stan. She seems to be in a stronger position than some outsider going against the tide.”
Kavita, “She is highly regarded in her sphere, and has successfully prosecuted over 1,000 capital cases.”
Dick gives a surprised look, “Her comments about the Sculpin. She believes in strict adherence to the law.”
Colonel Wang, “She, and others on her planet, may conclude if someone in your position is so cavalier about having contraband we may have a similar attitude about more serious regulations.”
Dr. Smirk, “There is a big difference between having some Sculpin and regulations that have a serious impact on planetary relations.”
Colonel Wang, “The Palchi might not think so.”
Dick, “Laita was quick to point out how Grasby overreacted.”
Dick, when Earth was in this stage of development there was often a personality clash between two types of women. There were those who believed to be treated as men’s equals they had to act like men. Other women believed they didn’t have to give up their femininity to be treated as men’s equals.
Dick, “This could just be a personality clash between two women?”
Kavita, “Personality clashes aren’t restricted to just women.”
Dick, “I stand corrected. It could be a personality clash between two people. I’ll give them freedom of the ship. Kavita, I’ll have everyone report to you when any of them leaves a section. I do want to keep track of where they go and what they say.”
Dick glances at Colonel Wang then adds, “I’ll also instruct everyone to strictly adhere to regulations.”
Dick, Colonel Wang, Dr. Smirk, and Stan are in a docking way. The Palchi ship docks with the Tereshkova as Stan monitors the docking operation. The docking way hatch opens and the docking hatch of the Palchi ship opens. Kam steps through the docking way hatch. He has an impressionist style painting. He hands the painting to Dick as he proclaims:
This time we come with gifts. Here is a painting by one of our most popular living artists. He painted it to mark your coming. It’s titled, ‘The Arrival’.
Dick isn’t impressed with the painting. Kam could have told him it was titled “Naked on the Beach” and he wouldn’t have known any different. Dick gives a grateful smile and a “Thank you.” He hands it to Colonel Wang who fakes an appreciative nod. Dick shakes hands with Kam.
Grazby steps through the docking way hatch. She holds a cylinder in her arms. She states in a matter-of-fact tone. “This is francium.” Stan takes the cylinder from her. Dick gives a confused, “Thank you.”
Laita steps through the docking way hatch. She is wearing red high heel, sling back sandals. She has a blue ribbon tied around her right ankle. She has a red mini-dress that has a bare back and left midriff. Around her waist is a black belt that holds up what looks like two black saddle bags on her sides. These “saddle bags” extend to her mid-thigh. She has on a mirror pendant with a silver color chain. She is wearing silver and gold necklaces of various lengths. She has on a blue bandanna. She has a big smile and is holding a case of bottles in her arms. Dick quickly moves to take it from her. She lets him take the case as she explains the gift to him:
Here is a case of the finest beverage on our planet. We call it “The Old One”. I’m sure your crew will enjoy it. It is something to compare with Sculpin.
Dick returns her smile, “Most generous. Welcome aboard, you are free to move about the ship and my crew will be happy to assist you in any way they can.”
Grazby walks past Dick and exits the docking way.
Dick is in his quarters. A ring announces someone requests entry. Dick says, “Enter” and the hatch slides open. Laita stands at the entrance with a small, white plastic, bottle in her hand.
“Care to toast good relations between our worlds?”
Dick smiles, “I am all for better interplanetary relations”
Dick takes two glasses and puts them on the table. Laita sits at the table and pours a drink for herself. Then she squeezes the bottle slightly as she pours a drink for Dick. The squeezing caused a clamshell like opening in a small bottle within the bottle. She takes her glass and waits for Dick to take his. Dick picks up his glass, “To good interplanetary relations.” Laita smiles, “To us.”
A lethargic Dick sits on his bed. His head is turned away from the table with two empty glasses and the empty bottle. Laita quickly takes an empty bottle out of one of her “saddle bags” and puts it on the table. She scoops up the original bottle and puts it in one of her “saddle bags”. She steps in front of Dick and looks at his eyes. She waves her hand by the side of his head. He just stares into her eyes. Laita gives a sly smile and speaks in a sensual voice. “Your primary laser battery is a marvelous piece of equipment. How would one fire the weapon?”
Dick speaks in a monotone drawl;
Flipping the switch marked ‘primary’ readies the primary laser. The target is selected. When the target is acquired, the target monitor goes to green. Pressing and holding the ‘confirm’ button on the console then touching the monitor causes the battery to fire.
“That is very interesting. How would someone select a stationary target on a planet being orbited?”
Dick steps into the examination room with the bottle. Dr. Smirk sees him and senses Dick has a concern. “What is it Dick?”
“Otto, can you analyze what was in this bottle?”
Dr. Smirk takes the bottle and sits it on a stand. He presses 3 buttons on the side of the stand.
“This is the drink the Palchi gave us.”
“Is there anything unusual in the drink?”
“Nothing unusual, it’s very similar to strong whiskeys we bottle on Earth. Why do you ask?”
“Laita brought this bottle to my quarters.”
Dr. Smirk chuckles, “This sounds interesting.”
“I think she drank me under the table. There seems to be a gap in my memory.”
Dr. Smirk restrains himself from laughing out loud. “Do you need something for a hangover?”
“No, I don’t have a hangover.”
“Well drinking something that is 50% pure grain alcohol and not having a hangover. You should consider yourself lucky.”
“It’s just I didn’t drink that much.”
“This stuff is potent enough that even a little is that much.”
Dr. Smirk turns serious. “You don’t suspect the Palachi of being up to something?”
“No, I guess too many encounters with civilizations that have ulterior motives.”
Dick sits in his chair in the Control Center. Kavita turns to him. “Dick, Representative Grazby is asking for permission to come to the Control Center.
Dick muses, “That’s odd. She didn’t strike me as one who would ask permission if she didn’t have to.”
Colonel Wang suggests, “It may be one of her tests. Response time could be a factor.”
Dick commands, “Tell her permission granted and her courtesy is appreciated.”
Kavita swipes a section of the console, “Permission granted and Ship Director Nishizawa appreciates your courtesy.”
Moments later a hatch opens and Grasby steps into the Control Center. Dick stands and walks towards Grazby. She raises one hand. “Please try to ignore my presence.”
Dick nods acknowledgement then returns to his chair. Grazby stands close to the entrance hatch and quietly scans the room.
Laita walks to the docking way hatch. A crew member is at the controls. Laita gives him a broad smile as she nears him. Laita makes a deliberate stomp which breaks off the heel of one of her sandals. She fakes a stumble. The crew member rushes to aide her. Laita pretends to regain her balance.
“Are you alright?”
“Oh yes, thank you.”
She limps to her broken heel and picks it up.
“I broke my heel.”
She points her heel at the crew member. A jet of purple gas shoots out of the heel. Laita covers her mouth as the crew member collapses. She stomps off the other heel and rushes to the console. She opens the docking way hatch. Six men, wearing clothes similar to Tereshkova crew clothes, rush through the hatch. Laita rushes to the incapacitated crew member. She takes off two of her necklaces and uses them to bind the crew member’s hands and feet. She uses her bandana to gag the crew member. The men rush down the corridor. Laita scoops up her heels and follows them.
In the Control Center Grazby stands watching as the crew monitors the Palchi ship docking and other routine activities. Kavita gives a surprised look.
“Dick, the docking is completed and the docking way hatch has opened but the assigned crewmember hasn’t reported the progress.
“Kavita, ask the crewmember to report.”
“I’ve been trying but no response.”
“Helmut, send some of your people to the docking way.”
Dick turns to Grazby. She looks confused. “Representative Grazby, what do you know about this?”
“I know nothing about any of this.”
Two military men rush to the docking way. One man rushes to the bound and gagged crew member and the other man calls in a report.
Laita and two of her men run to the hatch of the Offensive Weapons Section. Laita takes off her mirror pendant and sticks it to a bulkhead.
Two crewmembers are in the Offensive Weapons Section. The hatch opens and Laita’s men rush in and fire their weapons at the crewmembers. The weapons fire darts which are connected to wires. These darts tase the crewmembers then the tasers release the wires and load another dart. Laita rushes in. She has her remaining necklaces in her hands. She uses the necklaces and her ankle ribbon to bind and gag the crewmembers. As she does this she shouts instructions to her men to power up the laser. She takes the empty bottle from one of her ‘saddle bags’ and holds it out to one of her men.
“Take this they might mistake it for an explosive.”
The man has a small cylinder in his hand. He keeps hold of the cylinder and grabs the bottle’s neck with his thumb and index finger.
In the Control Center Colonel Wang reports, “My people found the crew member at the docking way unconscious.”
There are a series of red flashes. A computer-generated voice warns, “Ship’s primary weapons are charging.”
The hatch door opens and 4 of Laita’s men with their weapons drawn and small cylinders in their other hands rush into the Control Center.
An intruder commands, “Nobody move! We don’t intend to harm anyone on this ship.”
He glances at Grazby, “Except you.” He punches her in the mouth and Grazby falls unconscious to the deck.
A crewmember flinches towards Grazby but an intruder points his weapon at him and the crewmember chooses discretion.
Inside the Offensive Weapons Section Laita closes her eyes, raises her head, and smiles as she presses the part of the monitor screen marked “fire”. She opens her eyes and retargets the laser.
In the Control Center they hear the ship’s laser firing. The intruders smile. The presumed intruder leader asks, “Your ship’s weapon firing, correct?” He glances at the crewmember that earlier flinched towards Grazby. “You may revive her, but move slowly.” He turns his head towards Kavita. “Stations should be reporting the devastation. Put them on the screen. I want her to see this.” Kavita stands and defiantly states, “I will not.”
In the Engineering Section Stan frantically tries to contact the other sections.
“Control Center, what is going on? Come in Control Center.”
“Offensive Weapons Section, come in Offensive Weapons Section.”
He pauses for a moment, “Examination Room.”
Dr. Smirk and Kam are in the Examination room with the crew member who was unconscious in the docking way. The crew member is conscious and the diagnostic show he is well. Kam puts his hand to his earpiece and the blood rushes from his face. Stan’s voice comes over the intercom.
“This is Otto.”
Kam laments, “Kkot obliterated. A city of 8 million people destroyed.”
Stan explains, “Otto, I can’t contact the Control Center or the Offensive Weapons Section. Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
Kam interjects, “A ray from your ship destroyed a major city.”
Dr. Smirk screams, “Someone destroyed a city with our lasers!”
Stan yells out in the Engineering Section, “Cut off all power except life support and communications.”
“All military personnel arm up and proceed to the Offensive Weapons Section or the Control Center.”
Laita pants with anticipation. There is a lock on another city. Her smile broadens as she presses the part of the monitor screen marked “fire”.
Everyone in the Control Center hears the ship’s main laser firing. The Tereshkova powers down. The intruders reflexively look up. Dick bursts out of his chair. He runs and vaults over a railing, kicking down one of the intruders. Kavita grabs the weapon hand of the intruder nearest to her. The crew member helping Grazby rushes another intruder. The intruder wrestling with Kavita pushes her into her console. Colonel Wang delivers a sharp blow to the intruder’s neck and the intruder collapses. Dick punches the lead intruder, knocking him unconscious. The intruder wrestling with the other crew member fires his weapon. The crew member and the intruder shake then collapse. The remaining intruder retrieves his weapon but Dick punches him before the intruder is able to use it.
Dick, “Helmut, send your people to the Offensive Weapon Section.”
Grazby regains consciousness. She puts her hand to her earpiece. She puts on a brave face but her quivering body betrays she is distraught.
The Control Center hatch opens and some military personnel rush in. A military member asks, “Mr. Nishizawa, is everything under control?”
“Take these intruders into custody.”
Colonel Wang checks an intruder’s pulse. The crew member regains consciousness. He pulls a piece of metal that’s attached to a thin wire from his chest.
Colonel Wang proclaims, “This intruder is dead.”
Grazby shouts, “Be careful!” She changes to a deliberate tone, “Those are ‘silence sticks’ on the floor. They are designed to poke the holder with a lethal poison should the holder lose consciousness.”
There are two intruders outside the Offensive Weapons Section. Laita’s mirror pendant is stuck to the wall. The heel of Laita’s sandal is stuck to another wall at face level. Stan is with some military members. They have non-lethal electric shock weapons. The military team splits into 2 squads so they can approach the Offensive Weapons Section from 2 directions. Stan gives a hand signal acknowledging approval for the military to take action. An intruder sees the reflection of the squad Stan is with. The intruder hurls the bottle Laita gave him at the squad. Stan and the squad jump back. The other squad’s advance sets off the motion detector in Laita’s heel. Gas shoots out and incapacitates a squad member. The intruders fire their tasers and incapacitate 2 squad members. Return fire incapacitates the intruders. The squad rushes to the Offensive Weapons Section hatch and the intruders. A military member calls out, “This man is dead.” Another military member calls out, “This man is dead too.” Stan asks, “Any chance of a lethal charge?” A military member tells him, “None, if a weapon doesn’t pass a sanity check it would give a warning light and not discharge.”
In the Control Center Dick sternly asks Grazby, “What do you know about this?”
“Two of our cities have been reduced to ashes.”
“I mean the assault on my ship.”
“I am not involved in their actions if that is your question.” Grazby’s distraught look convinces Dick she is not involved in the assault.
Dick turns to Colonel Wang, “You and your people come with me.” Dick and the military people rush out of the Control Center.
Grazby’s look changes from distraught to determination as she takes deliberate steps walking out of the Control Center.
Outside the Offensive Weapons Section Stan works feverishly to override the lock on the hatch. The military members stand at the ready. Dick, Colonel Wang, and the other military members rush to join them.
Dick asks, “Stan, what’s happening?”
Two of them were outside the door. Our people are alright but two of them killed themselves. It was apparently some kind of ‘dead man’s stick’. They locked the hatch.
“How long will it take?”
“Just a few more seconds Dick. There she goes. Ready?”
Dick orders, “Now!”
The hatch opens Dick leads everyone inside the Offensive Weapons Section.
Inside the room Laita has her arms outstretched by her sides and parallel to the ground as a sign of submission. Two military members hold their weapons on Laita as the other military members check the room and untie the two Offensive Weapons Section crew members. Dick surprised and saddened asks, “Laita why?”
“This was to strike a blow for the oppressed.”
“Strike a blow for the oppressed? You killed millions of innocent people.”
The innocents are shields for the oppressors. The Velikiy have jealously guarded their technology and wealth instead of sharing it equally among all the people.
“This is not the way. You can’t seek justice by committing mass murder.”
Laita speaks in a soothing voice:
I did the nasty work, now all you have to do is demand the Velikiy submit. They will have no choice but to comply. We are not monsters. We did not seriously harm any of your crew. Equality, and the liberty it brings, is within your grasp.
Grazby, Dr. Smirk, and Kam enter the room a moment later. Grazby squares her eyes at Laita:
Educated, privileged, an excellent and significant job, still she joins the murder groups. She is still alive. It is a standard murder group tactic. The one best able to garner sympathy and articulate the groups’ supposed purpose stays alive to turn and recruit others.
Laita shoots back, “My relative privilege is no cause for me to ignore the plight of others.” Laita turns to Dick. “Remember what we spoke about, a free and equal planet. You can do this.”
Grazby commands, “Ship Director Nishizawa, you will immediately send her down to Velikiy.”
Laita states, “I wish to appeal to your planet.”
Dick, “I see.”
Grasby sternly, “Ship Director Dick Nishizawa, send her down to Velikiy. Now!
I have no choice. She has asked for an appeal to Earth. I have to bring her before one of our tribunals for a hearing. Our regulations are clear on this.
In one motion Grazby grabs the broach from her chest. She presses the broach which extends three needles from the points in the broach. She throws the broach and it strikes Laita in her left midriff. The needles slowly retract and the broach falls to the deck.
Laita takes a half step forward and staggers. Dick rushes to Laita and catches her before she falls. She looks deep into Dick’s eyes.
“You see they are barbarians. You can end their scourge. End their terror rule.”
Laita grabs Dick and gives him a passionate kiss. She dies in his arms.
Dick feels the anger welling up inside him. He gives Grazby a stern look. She returns his look with a stoic gaze.
Dick rushes towards her and stops one step in front of her. He barks out, “Get her off my ship.” Two military men take her out of the room.
Kam steps slowly and deliberately in front of Dick. Kam speaks in a slow deliberate voice:
Nishizawa, you will send these bodies and everything these criminals brought with them down to my planet without delay. Then you will take this ship and its crew out of this solar system. Your planet is not to attempt any contact with us unless we first contact your planet or one of its ships. This is a grand accommodation. By our laws this ship is a crime scene and all on board are criminal suspects in a mass murder investigation. Crew ranks or positions afford them no privileges or authority. Do you understand this Nishizawa?
Dick solemnly replies, “I understand and will comply.”
Dick sits in his chair in the Control Center. Kavita approaches him:
Kam gave a speech explaining why they sent us away. He said our, ‘Technology had developed beyond our ability to control it.’
Dick muses in a sad voice, “That sounds familiar.”
Colonel Wang approaches Dick. “Dick, we did everything right. It wasn’t our fault the situation ended badly.”
“Helmut, over 15 million people are dead. They did everything right and 15 million of their people are dead.”
Kavita interjects, “It was only 7 people. They made a decision not to have relations with us based on the actions of 7 people.”
Dick retorts, “They based their decision on 15 million people killed.”
© 2018 Robert Sacchi