An Arrow For an Olive Branch: A Sci-Fi Short Story, Part Three
The Galilean Moons of Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto
Summary of Chapters One and Two
In the previous chapter, The President of the United States learned about the appearance of two alien spacecraft in the Earth's solar system. Step by step he is pulling together a team of scientists who will advise him on how to proceed. So far, there has been no communication with the aliens. No aggressive actions have been made by either side.
Our Main character, Dr. Ruth Billings, returns in this chapter to become a member of the team of scientists advising President Golden.
An Arrow For an Olive Branch, Part Three
Ruth sat in the West Wing Lobby of the White House. She hadn't been back from her brush with the alien spacecraft on the moon for more than a few hours when the President, at the high recommendation of Dr. Richard Smith, had sent for her.
She recalled the life-altering decision she had made as a red-haired, gifted, grade school student surrounded on the playground by a gang led by the self-dubbed, Bruiser.
“You’re a loser, and your family’s a bunch of losers too.”
Ruth had cowered in shame and horror.
Your dad got fired....again. And you're living in your station wagon behind the old foundry. I know cause I peeked inside your car while you was all sleeping.”
Bruiser towered over her in the stance he always took when humiliating someone. He crossed his arms, spread his feet wide and looked down his nose.
Ruth stared at his dirty sneakers, planted firmly on the dry, grassless surface of the playground. She followed his legs up and stopped at that place she had heard was a boy’s most vulnerable spot. She was tall for her age, tall enough to do it and angry enough to try.
A moment later, Bruiser was squirming on the ground, crying real tears that left dark tracks on his dusty face.
Ruth strode from the playground, harboring a new determination that no bully would ever intimidate her again. It was a decision that would someday carry her to the White House to be an ad-hoc science advisor to the President in a time of world crisis.
Excited voices in the hallway pulled her back into the moment. People were on the move. Someone shouted instructions. Ruth leaned into the hall as a man hustled by and then turned back to face her.
"You! You're the scientist the President sent for."
"Yes, I've been...."
"In the Oval Office, now!"
Ruth chased after the uniformed man, and together they entered the office of the President's private Secretary who announced her arrival. But Ruth passed alone into the Oval Office to witness a surreal scene. President Golden stood behind his desk looking through the windows into the blue August sky. On the ground, armored personnel carriers poured onto the lawn. Security guards and soldiers with rifles crisscrossed the area.
"Dr. Ruth Billings." The President did not turn around. “Come over here with me and watch the making of history."
Ruth joined the powerful, handsome, single father of two, at the windows facing south and looked up at the sky.
"We received communication from the second spacecraft, a radio frequency image of the South Lawn. We believe that's where they want to meet. They were still orbiting Jupiter when they sent the photo about an hour ago. How long would it take us to get to Jupiter?"
"With the current position of the two planets, about fourteen months in the new Dragon V7."
"And if they use light speed to come here?"
There was a momentary pause. "Thirty-three minutes, Sir."
He dropped his eyes for the first time to look at her. "I'm impressed. I asked Dr. Smith to send me the smartest, quickest, gutsiest scientist he knew. I didn't mention attractive, but I'm glad he thought of that as well."
Ruth pointed to a military vehicle just entering the property from the west. “A Stryker Combat Vehicle.”
“Complete with a newly mounted 60-kilowatt laser, a 30mm cannon, a .105mm mobile gun system and an anti-tank guided missile. It will stay in the background unless it’s needed."
M1128 Mobile Gun System Stryker
The spacecraft descended silently, a miniature version of the larger spheres. Two Secret Service officers escorted Ruth and the President to the South Lawn where the object hovered inches above the ground. Senators and members of Congress gathered a hundred yards back. A company of Marines occupied the area between the spacecraft and where the President stood with Ruth at his side. Could the sphere possibly be a Trojan Horse? The tension grew with each passing second like an anchor cable straining in a rising gale.
"What will they look like?" The President stood tall, hands clasped behind his back.
"The natural laws governing the development of life are universal constants."
"Presumably, they will look like us."
The side of the ship opened with a slight whisper.
Soldiers readied their weapons.
L Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division
A young woman, who appeared in every way to be human, walked to the edge of the doorway. Her long black hair fell over the front of her shoulders. A white sleeveless dress followed the subtle curves of her petite form, covering her legs and feet. Though she was small, the tone and definition of her arms and shoulders were striking. She was holding a gold colored box about the right size for a softball.
"My name is Toshu from the planet Rhon, which you call Vicinus. I come as a mere facilitator." Her voice was soft, yet she spoke without hesitation. The woman tipped the box, and a transparent sphere rolled into her palm. A bare foot touched down onto the grass of the South Lawn of the White House, the first undeniable, intelligent alien life form to tread on Earth's terra firma. Her light, quick steps implied a confidence that was undeterred by her apparent vulnerability and carried her to the center of the circle formed by her ship and the soldiers. Toshu placed the orb on the grass and retraced her steps.
The crystal glowed like a lantern at first, then white light exploded outward, creating a dome of light twenty feet high and wide. A pale blue haze filled the space inside. A figure gradually materialized. Its head reached nearly to the top. The image was presented to invoke terror, but the Marines were professionals, the best of the best. They held their m4 carbines and their emotions in check.