Tag Archives: Verily Wrought

Announcing New Galactic Armed Forces Novels!

14 Nov

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We’re pleased to announce that not one, not two, not three, but FOUR new GAF novels are coming out in the winter of 2017!!

First, the LONG-awaited sequel to Dalton’s Daughter, the saga of Lieutenant Sasha Wheaton, is set to arrive in December of 2017. In it, you can read about Sasha’s troubled time in Galactic Armed Forces training camp and her eventual exile to the worst company in the Forces- Detach Detachment. Included in this edition are Sasha’s first-hand account of her trysts with transportation magnate Howard Donovan, as well as her encounter with one of the biggest Verily Wrought stalkers in the Galaxy!

Check out GAFmainframe.com all this winter for excerpts and content available only online, including the InQuotes magazine article that first broke the story of the Donovan/Wheaton fling.

Second, by popular demand, we have a novel featuring some of the long and storied history of the oldest android in the Galaxy, Nick Goodfrey. Long attached to the Wrought Family, Nick Goodfrey is the only being who served in both Corporation Wars, and was listed before his disappearance as the most Infamous in the Galaxy.

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In The Androsian Question, we find Nick standing before one of the most serious tribunals in the Galaxy, a Hearing-in-Council, defending his creation of a race of beings using prohibited technology. These events take place shortly before his disappearance and feature a young Verily Wrought- and now you can read the story not just from Verily’s childhood remembrances, but from Nick’s own perspective!

This story was chosen from a poll of GAF fans as the number one piece of backstory they would like filled in- read The Androsian Question in January 2018 to find out not just what was behind the Hearing-in-Council, the cure for MVD introduced on Miller’s Planet, but what exactly did happen to Nick Goodfrey… and if he still exists.

Third, we have The Arkellan Treaty,  a collaborative novel set in the GAF present. Captain Verily Wrought of Detach Detachment is sent with his soldiers to the dual planets in the Arkello system to avert an interplanetary war. In this novel we find out more about Galactic singing sensation Consin Arkadie, as well as more about the mysterious cloning guru Patrick Long. With segments contributed by Van Fleming, Will Norton, Leanne Caine, Mandi Millen, Jason Pere and more, this collaborative novel expands characters in the present day GAF timeline like Bev the Indorian, IUS Agent Aric Drakes and Galactic Prime Minister Quetzal Ferguson.

 

Last but certainly not least, we have a second installment in the history of Nick Goodfrey and Anore Wrought. Tales from Space: the Great Corporation War is an anthology of tales that fills in the nine hundred and fifty year timeline of the First Corporation War. Started by Old Earth corporations like Goodfrey Industries, Sinclair Corp and Hoshido Concern, this abominable millenium-long battle encompassed every quadrant of the Galaxy and nearly resulted in the expulsion of the human race from the Galactic Association of Globes and Asteroids.

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Included within are a variety of snapshots of life during the War, including:

  • how Victor Wrought traded Nick Goodfrey to Sinclair Corporation in exchange for his life
  • the making of the Pleiades androids that still inhabit their eponymous star systems today
  • the COMPLETE story of how the infamous “Dancing Robot” incident occurred in deep space, following one of the most bloody battles of the War
  • the eventual return of android Nick Goodfrey to the Wrought family, and the circumstances of the first bioweapon used on the head of a Corporation
  • the real story behind why Nick Goodfrey kidnapped every CEO of each warring Corporation and held them captive on Telamer V

Also included in this fabulous, illustrated anthology are the original images from news articles of the era, as well as magazine excerpts from Galaxy Today, InQuotes and Quasar.

Look for this title toward spring of 2018, available in paperback and collectible, full-color hardcover editions from StarkLight Press.

Check in later this week for excerpts from all these titles!

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The Maitre Wars

15 Mar

By Virginia Carraway Stark and Tony Stark

 

 

The Maitre invasion is officially listed as starting in 2023 when the presence of The Maitre on Old Earth was announced but the actual invasion started many, many years before that.

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The invasion was a subtle affair and while widely acknowledged amongst ‘certain’ divisions in the military, government and civil sectors it was publicly decried as a mass hoax that earth had made contact with extraterrestrials. As decades progressed, part through a planned campaign of ‘naturalization’ on the part of the Maitre, part the effort of dedicated researchers, people came to suspect they were not alone on the planet. In spite of the ridicule they received, this urban legend grew in the minds of the inhabitants of Old Earth.

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The highest levels of government in the mid to late twentieth century were thoroughly infiltrated by Maitre influence, which shortly thereafter produced poison fruit: sudden rushes of new technology.

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As decades progressed, Old Earth was subtly but irrevocably altered from its original development and twisted into a more Maitre-accessible form. Humans reacted to the new technologies in different ways, but ultimately, as layer upon layer of the tainted technology was added, all humans had to adapt to it in order to survive in society. What was not told to the humans of Old Earth was that all of the technology came at a price: It was crafted by the Maitre to alter the nature of humans themselves and be subtly addictive.

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By the time the technology had ‘progressed’ to the introduction of the touch screen and the ‘smart phone’, the populace flocked to the technology that subtly flickered and stimulated the brains, nervous centres and narcissism centres of the unwitting humans. The ‘technology flicker’ was nearly imperceptible even to those few who knew about it. It had a hypnagogic, sedating, inward-turning effect; coupled with the nature of what was displayed on the screens (manipulated by the Maitre-controlled military and media), the effect was devastating on human society.

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This suited the needs of the Maitre invaders nicely, as the bonds between human beings and the communities they formed were nearly impenetrable to their methods. In addition, the new screens were activated by human electrical signals, driving humans to crave the interaction with the touch screens. The minute chemical transfer enhanced the flickering stimulation that activated the pleasure centers of the brain and furthered the withdrawal of one human from another, in favour of the technological world.

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This technology was introduced into all aspects of life- it progressed to supercomputers and Artificial Intelligence. By the time the presence of the Maitre was introduced in 2023, humans had given over control of most of their vital systems such as transportation, communication and even education to Artificial Intelligence devices. All A.I. Was endowed with a kill switch that transferred the power of the technology directly to the Maitre. The result was devastating for humanity, in particular first world countries, who had managed to transition almost entirely to the tainted technology.

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It was discovered too late that Maitre feed off of emotion and pain, and that they are aggravated to the extreme, or perhaps physically harmed, by the bio-psychic energies entities emit when they are in harmony with each other and especially with their native environments. Maitre motives continue to be a bit of a mystery, even in the Thirty-first century. No one has been able to discern why they choose certain people and civilizations to live or die, or why they try to permute some in one way or another. In any case, the Maitre systematically set out to infiltrate certain cities and regions in North America first.

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Although swathes of North America were utterly decimated by the eventual Maitre invasion, it is widely speculated that the Maitre spared as much of North America as they did because the leaders were more willing to submit and play ball with the aliens, having been in been in close contact with the Maitre since the middle years of World War 2.

The middle Asian ‘Stans were obliterated as the Maitre, and they tried to move decisively against Russia. The Maitre seemed to have a particular grudge against Russia and it tried to destroy the entire nation. Many areas, particularly rural ones, were absolutely devastated. Russia had been an outspoken opponent of the Maitre even before their presence was revealed, and it had prepared certain military and civilian protections for the people of the Russian state. They had taken great pains to keep any kind of biological, technological or infrastructure out of their country that was in any way Maitre contaminated; they developed analagous versions with their own scientists in many cases.

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Several Russian communities including Moscow, Vladivostok and St. Petersburg were left mostly unscathed due to liberal use of conventional and psychic weapons and soldiers. In addition, Russia took most of its population and agriculture underground to large subterraneans complexes, where the business of Russia continued in remarkably unhindered form. Russia kept a population of military ‘citizens’ to populate their above ground cities, more as an act of surveillance and defiance than anything else. These ‘citizens’ were largely graduates of their grueling and effective psychic operations units and caused as many complications for the Maitre as they could. Russia was one of the countries that spoke out against the Maitre and revealed hints of the conspiracy prior to 2023; its above ground citizens spread continued anti-Maitre propaganda through conventional and psychic means well after the invasion began in earnest.

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Other areas that were brought low included most of Africa and all of Asia, China in particular being surprised by the devious devastation of the Maitre and their willingness to doublecross. The population and infrastructure in Europe was extremely culled and much of it was left in ruin to one degree or other with the exception of Belgium, which was left intact. The existence of an extensive subterranean interplanetary United Nations under Brussels left many surviving humans to suspect this as a reason the nation was spared.

Following the initial invasion, any resistance was severely punished on a personal and community level.

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With most of the weaponry and communications relying on the technology bestowed on earth by the Maitre most places were utterly defenceless and even had there own weaponry turned against them. The colonies on Mars, the Moon were remarkably unscathed as most of the technology they used was based on legitimate human discovery. The Venus colony had been infiltrated by Maitre-tainted technology and scientists and it rapidly became a human testing ground for psychic potential. The Maitre took over the Venus colony to try to reverse engineer the resistance that was coming not just from Russia but wild humans on the planet as well. In all three cases, communication and transportation were difficult between the colonies and Earth. The colonists on Chiron, Pluto’s moon, were conned into an alliance with the Maitre that aided the invading forces immensely, giving the aliens a base inside the solar system of Old Earth. (See The Colony of Chiron for more details).

With the Western world subdued into submission, the areas that were left standing continued life more or less as usual with the exception that they were now forced into a bizarre form of servitude to the Maitre. The humans were made to do ‘regular’ jobs, albeit for longer and for less money. Money, in fact, became a sham currency that was completely electronic and dependent upon compliance to the Maitre.

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Humans who were workers of all kinds were given allotted homes and food in return and experimentation and death for defiance, but that wasn’t the bizare part. The Maitre would summon people seemingly at random, much as people were formerly called for jury duty. They were taken on board invading ships or to ground bases taken over by the human military and forced to take part in elaborate tests that ranged from I.Q. Tests to elaborate, full sized mazes or other strange puzzles. They strained humans’ abilities to withstand various stimuli. They also forced humans into ethical dillemas. The most common example of this was forcing parents to choose between their children and make the parents kill the one child in order to save the other. There were endless variations of this; many families refused to make the choice and were summarily liquidated. In spite of these very publicized punishments, humans still continued to resist in sudden pockets.

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In the spring of 2031, a delegation from the GAGA was sent to Old Earth to attempt to aid the humans in their predicament. There was some argument amongst nations’ leaders. The lack of acceptance of aid immediately caused massive riots in any area where the leaders objected to the alliance for their own self-serving purposes. Many leaders were dragged into the streets by mobs and killed. New elections were held, sometimes by general acclaim following the ‘depositions’ of old leaders. Finally, Old Earth met the GAGA mandate that joining the union should be unanimous on a planet.

Shortly after the Earth was admitted into the GAGA, the GAF was deployed to chase the Maitre off the planet and eradicate their influence. The GAGA was run by the ancient but dying race of aliens known as Telamer who were impressed by the resistance the Earthlings had shown against the Maitre.

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They fast tracked Earth with extra help in rebuilding Old Earth according to human design, which usually tended toward a return to heritage buildings, classic architecture from different eras and extreme terraforming. The Telamer and the GAGA also helped extensively with the disposing of the debris and waste from power plants and other industrial concerns whose toxins had been left by the Maitre on purpose to destroy the surrounding area and any people who lived there. New technology was given to the Earthlings which departed from the GAGA norm of requiring payment up front for all technology. This was allowed under the Decimation Proclamation of the GAGA, made in response to invasions of all kinds.

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Soon all of Earth was free to rebuild and to terraform on their own the areas that had been decimated.

Old Earth was rebuilt within one hundred and fifty years. By 2180, Old Earth had its first “Freedom Festival”, a worldwide celebration of the work they had accomplished to rebuild their home. It resembled a week-long New Year’s Eve celebration in many ways. The old structures that still stood had been repaired, but many other cities were re-structured using GAGA technology, following various eras of architecture. Some cities were remade almost entirely in the GAGA manner. Soon the Earthlings were colonizing far from their own solar system and spread across the Galaxy.

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See References: Telamer, GAGA Transition, The Rebuilding of Old Earth and The Maitre and the Gaga: A Brief History of an Ancient War.

Susu Frid’s Egyptian Asteroid

23 Feb

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In this latest submission to our short story contest for GAF Mainframe, we see a behind-the-scenes snippet of Susu Frid and Private Puff’s adventures on Arkello 2. This story takes place in the middle of the action-packed events chronicled in The Arkellan Treaty, available later this year from StarkLight Press.

An excellent alien artifact piece written by Sharon Flood!

This story, along with all of our winning artifact entries, is eligible for inclusion in Tales from Space II, the second GAF Mainframe short story anthology. Congratulations, Sharon!

 

 

Private Susu Frid,

Personal Device Vid Journal

Arkellan Treaty Mission.

I’m trying out a new encryption here. It’s in the gendler language, in a version of what is called ‘pig Latin’ in Earth English. It’s complicated, but I’m sure it’ll hold up under scrutiny.

I picked up some very interesting artifacts on our mission on Arkello 2, to protect our fearless leader Prime Minister Ferguson while he was negotiating a peace treaty between the Quatrians and the Dynians. We were quartered at the High Hemen hotel where we were debriefed and sent off to gather information from the locals. After everyone split up in the lobby, I turned to Puff, who looked about as bored as I felt. I knew just what would perk us both up. I sidled over to her and put my arm through hers, and steered her toward the elevators.

“Let’s go back up to our room to get some gear. What say we go on a little adventure today?”

Puff looked at me like I was suggesting we go dog sledding in Alaska on Old Earth. She shook her head. She might have heard of some of my other adventures. Come to think of it, Dog Sledding might be fun, except dogs on earth keep trying to eat me. They think I’m some kind of animal. My fur gives off that type of scent, apparently. Since they don’t smell me as a predator, they think: dinner.

“Come on, it’ll be fun,” I said as we got on the elevator. She hung back a bit as we exited at our floor, and I headed for our room.

“We’re supposed to be out and about, chatting up the locals,” Puff replied.

“We can do that later. Have you ever done a space walk, or investigated an asteroid?” I asked.

“No … don’t you need special training for that?”

“Not necessarily. Out in the lobby they’re offering shuttle excursions to the asteroids for the tourists,” I explained.

“I thought the Dynians weren’t into technology.”

“They aren’t. The outfit running the trips are Terran entrepreneurs. The High Hemen owners are leasing them space with the hope that some Dynian locals might be interested in seeing their planet from space. It might make them more amenable to Quatrian technology,” I told her.

“I should think you got your fill of floating rocks by running the obstacle course on the way down here from the ship,” Puff complained on the way to our room.

When we got there I dug out my specialized space gear for use in zero gravity. Being as smart as we are, Gendlers figured out how to get around in space without specifically needing a whole ship to do so. A small shuttle and a tether line was generally sufficient.

“I scanned them from our shuttle. Among my other interests and degrees, space geology is one of them. I happened upon a small cache of very valuable minerals on one of the asteroids. I’m going to go find them,” I told her.

“I saw you over near the portal with some clunky looking object. Where do you come up with such odd little toys?” Puff asked.

“Sometimes I buy them, or invent them, or … um borrow them.” I could feel my face getting warm under the fur, but no one can ever tell. Best I not go into detail about my petty larceny. I don’t want Puff to be questioned as an accessory.

I rooted around till I found the rock collecting tools I had brought with me. I had seen that the minerals were gem stones, and they were fairly close to the surface, but underground, in a way. I thought they might be in a cave. I headed out the door with Puff right behind me.

“It looks like I’ll be staying in the shuttle, since I don’t have a space suit,” Puff commented.

“The excursion company has suits for human type bipeds. They had several on a wall. There’s bound to be one that fits you. I’ll make sure it’s airtight for your use,” I said.

By this time we were down in the lobby. Puff watched with interest as I pulled my credit marker out of a virtually invisible pouch near my abdomen, similar to a Terran kangaroo. Her staring irritated me.

“What? How else should I carry stuff? It’s not like I wear clothes with pockets.”

“You could wear clothes if you wanted to though, couldn’t you?” Puff asked.

“I suppose, but that would be like wearing a dress over a fur coat. I would look ridiculous, and besides, it would be too hot. You know that I wear specially fitted backpacks, holsters and vests for weaponry when we’re on duty in battle. All that is a form of clothing. I wear specialized clothing for space exploration,too. It’s air cooled. Now we have to get the same thing for you,” I said.

We rooted through the suits on the wall, and Puff found one that fit. I used the same test equipment I used on my own gear to make sure it was safe before we suited up. I paid for the two us before we got in the shuttle. The pilot made sure we paid first. It gave me an uneasy feeling that made me think of a line from an ancient song on Old Earth by Chris de Burgh : ‘Don’t pay the Ferryman till he gets you to the other side.’ It made me glad that we always had our PDs to call for help, in case the pilot just dumped us off on an asteroid and left us there.

We climbed into the shuttle and buckled in. I got my geological scanner ready. The pilot lifted off without ceremony. We soon left Arkello 2’s atmosphere, and headed out among the asteroids. I guided the pilot through the asteroid belt until we found the one with gem stones on it. I unbuckled my restraint, reached over the Terran pilot, and grabbed the ignition crystal. I had it out of the console and into a pocket of my space gear before he could even blink. His face turned stormy.

“What the … give that back!” the pilot yelled at me.

“No. You’ll get it back when we get back. Until then, you’re not going anywhere,” I yelled back.

I picked up the rest of my gear and climbed into the airlock. When Puff joined me, I opened the outer airtight door and stepped out onto the asteroid. I made sure that we were both securely tethered to the shuttle before I pulled my scanner out of the equipment satchel attached to the side of my suit. The thing was going crazy. We were close. The asteroid was mostly big rocks and deposits of obsidian, which is black translucent volcanic glass produced by the sudden cooling of molten lava. There were shards of it buried in the landscape all over Arkello 2. There were also obsidian deposits all over the asteroid belt caused by the destruction of Arkello 3. There were many volcano eruptions caused by the relentless bombardment of the planet by Maitre aliens generations ago.

My scanner led us right to a large mound of solid rock and rubble. I pulled out a pick ax, and gave Puff a collapsible shovel. We soon cleared away enough to reveal the entrance to a cave under the loose rocks. We illuminated our helmet lamps and set out on what was probably Puff’s very first spelunking adventure. It wasn’t new to me. I love gemstones and they generally hang out underground. I invented my handy dandy mineral scanner with some uh … ‘borrowed’ components from my university’s geology lab.

We were a good ways back in the cave when I noticed that the cave in front of us was luminescent. Something back there was reflecting off of our helmet lamps. I was so eager to see what was there, I took off towards it. My legs are spindly appendages, and they don’t move well in unaccustomed space gear. I can move with speed, but not with any kind of grace or accuracy. I tripped over rubble on the floor and went rolling down a slight incline like a big blue furry bowling ball. When a Gendler falls, or is hit in a frontal attack, our first instinct is to curl up like a Terran hedgehog or porcupine, without the spikes. I stopped short when I hit something solid, and knocked it over, which made something solid but smaller rain down on me. Luckily, Puff is very light on her feet, and very coordinated. She managed to catch whatever was falling on me, to prevent it from doing me or it serious harm.

When I finally got my feet untangled from my head, I sat up and watched Puff examining several statuettes. The thing that had stopped my fall was a stone altar of sorts. I pushed it back upright and began to put the fallen items on top of it. There were some crude hand made clay statuettes with the heads of cats, and the bodies of women. There was also a small reclining white alabaster cat, a small reclining jade cat, and a larger sitting jade cat which seemed to have a carved platform that it fit into on top of the altar. I returned it to its rightful place. There were several black obsidian cat statuettes and figurines of various sizes and positions. Some had the bodies of women. Some had gold amulets or necklaces. Some had emerald eyes. There was one black obsidian statuette with large emerald eyes, and a huge ruby amulet on its chest. It was the same size as the central jade cat figure on the altar. I carefully put it in a cloth lined collection pouch and put it in my biggest outside pocket.

Puff helped me put the undamaged ones on the altar to get a better look at them. We chose several of the gold and jewel adorned figures and pocketed them. When Puff reached for the big jade unadorned statue, I stopped her, and gave her a slightly smaller heavily bejeweled jade figure instead.

“Not that one. It stays here,” I said.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because that’s the ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet idol. It was worshiped here. This cave was a shrine to her when it was still part of Arkello 3. It’s older than all the rest, and might have come from Old Earth itself, thousands of years ago. The other figures were gifts and companion pieces to it. The obsidian cats were probably made by craftsmen on Arkello 3, because obsidian could be found easily anywhere on the planet. The jade and alabaster ones might have come from Earth, but they’re not nearly as old as the jade idol.”

“How did they get here?” Puff asked as she examined the statuettes.

“Probably a traveler that had visited Earth many eons ago brought the idol, the jades, the alabasters and maybe some Terran slaves here for trade. Arkello 3 had some impressive gold and gemstone deposits in shallow mines. Then as now, gold and jewels were always valuable currency to trade for fuel, supplies, wives, whatever. I expect that the kidnapped Terrans that were dropped here continued their worship in this cave in secret,” I said.

“Why are you leaving the idol here? I doubt if there are any of its worshipers left,” Puff pointed out.

“I know, but the goddess Bastet was the protector of women, children, and domestic cats who protected the home from snakes and vermin. She also protected against infectious diseases and evil spirits.”

“So?” Puff shrugged.

“So, this cave and its shrine still exists after the complete demolition of the rest of the planet. Perhaps in this one space in the galaxy, Bastet still has some power to protect Arkello 2 as this asteroid orbits the planet. After all, it not only survived the attacks that destroyed Arkello 3, it remained a paradise. Who’s to say Bastet didn’t keep it safe? Just in case she did, I’m leaving her here,” I decided.

Puff shrugged. We had already made ourselves reasonably wealthy with what we were taking away with us. The trick would be to keep it safe until we got back to the base. We left the cave and and set a small explosive device at the mouth of it. It was just big enough to completely bury the entrance, without destroying the cave. We returned to the shuttle to find the pilot fast asleep and snoring in his seat. I shook him awake, none to gently. Needless to say, he was not a happy camper.

“Huh? What … shit!” he blurted out while he was still trying to figure out what was going on.

“We’re re ready to leave now, but before we return to the surface, we’re going to make a side trip back to our martial space station. It won’t take long,” I informed him.

“Side trips cost extra,” he said.

“Of course they do.” I rolled my eyes, but since they’re on stalks, he probably missed the sarcasm.

When we got to the ship we went right to our quarters. I grabbed a small oblong box and we took it to the field behind the hotel.  I emptied all of my artifacts onto the ground beside me.

“I trust you, so I’m going to show you where I stash my … ummmm … collectables,” I said, lamely.

“My lips are sealed. I won’t tell anyone, I swear,” Puff made a locking motion at her mouth.

“Good. I brought Space Saver Pod with me. I bring it with me everywhere, because I never know when I’m going to end up on a rich planet where I might find some more … um … toys,” I blushed under my fur again.

At some point I was going to have to tell Puff that I’m a thief – a very smart educated thief, but a thief still the same. At some point she’ll have to defend her actions, simply for being associated with me. I entered the code to initiate the Niles Generator’s dematerialization cycle. The generator powered up quietly, there was a brief flash and we were standing in front of a shipping container locked with a biometric. Placing my hand on its pad, I said my name.  I took my hand away, and my hand print glowed. The front of the container opened up. I put my bejeweled cats inside in one of the display cases and locked it with a more traditional key. I turned to Puff, who was staring into the crate with huge, impressed eyes.

“Do you want your stuff in here until we get back to the base, or did you want to put it in the station’s main vault at the hotel, Puff?” I asked.

“You can put it all in here. It’ll be safe, and besides, I don’t want the quartermaster to know that I have something valuable enough to put in the vault. I don’t want anybody else to know, for that matter. These statuettes are worth a lot of credits just by themselves because they’re relics from Arkello 3, which no longer exists. That’s not even to mention all of the gold and jewels. I’ll leave it all with you,” Puff told me as she pushed all of her share of our findings against one of the bookshelves in the far corner of the crate. We exited and I closed the front of the Space Saver. I put my left hand on the biometric to lock it up again. It was a simple matter to power up the Niles Generator and send my storage container back into the side dimension where the tiny, oblong generator kept it when I wasn’t using it.

“Well, that’s taken care of. Let’s do what we’re told for once, and scope out the local bar for information,” I said.

“Okay. I’m right behind you,” Puff said as we headed down the street to the tavern.

An Incident in El Noor- Excerpt Part Three

5 Feb

A day in the life of the Leaders of the Galaxy is outlined here in this conclusion of Chapter One of the latest GAF Mainframe novel, An Incident in El Noor. The tensions between military necessity, intelligence acquisition and First Contact play themselves out before Quetzal and Gabrielle, in no way making it easier for them to decide how to proceed… but proceed they must, if the growing instability in the El Noor sector is to be kept from spilling into the rest of the Galaxy.

This conclusion of Chapter One is written by Tony Stark, copyright 2015.

 

There is always an ulterior motive- be it continued perception of the GAGA as an insurmountable force in the known universe, economic advantage or military gain. It is the duty of the IUS to point out to the President the vast, hitherto untapped cornucopia of alien technology that lies within the SAG-DEB galaxy… a cornucopia of advancement and improvement blocked from our grasp only by a few dissident El Noorian nationals whose minds have been withered by over-exposure to radiations from the Galactic collision.”

Perhaps,” Andrew suggested in careful, meditative tones, “scientists should examine the effect the technology being used by the El Noorians from the alien galaxy may have on natives of our own.” He raised his chin and looked down his long, sloped nose at the President. “Before we acquire said technologies for our own purposes.”

Tobias smiled thinly and leaned back in his chair. He had been expecting Pierce’s overcautious, seemingly reasonable xenophobia. There was a man who had been dealing with alien races for too long, King thought. He has the yips worse than ever.

GAGA and GAF telemetry and scientists, including astrophysicists from your own DFC, Andrew, have gathered reams of data showing the radiation and temporal-spatial deconstruction occurring at the leading edge of the Galactic Collision is more than enough to melt the brain of even the hardiest biological organism.”

And yet we still defer evacuating the El Noorian natives to a safer world far away from the churning maw of destruction,” Pierce remarked.

That’s beautiful, Andrew,” Marlene remarked, typing on her PD. “May I quote that?”

Of course, my dear,” Andrew smiled slightly and continued. “The GAGA keeps them there under a thin pretense of respect for their cultural heritage- a heritage that is only one hundred and twenty years old. We keep them there, allow them to make further and further forays into the confidences, both spatial and psychological, of the SAG-DEB natives, and ignore the fact our first explorers of this new world are effectively learning about smallpox from the blankets they receive- not just from the alien galaxy, but from the GAGA, as well.”

Magnificent!” Marlene cried.

Tobias clapped slowly, appreciatively. His eyes were veiled.

Emil Skoda raised his eyebrows and looked flabbergasted at his desk for a moment.

I can’t imagine that you’d be advocating we just run roughshod over these peoples’ rights, Andrew,” he said at length.

The precedent is there to move them summarily off the world and to a location of their choosing,” Quetzal reminded everyone. “We’ve evacuated other races, natives to planets, not just immigrants to an empty world, with less threat to their biological integrity than what the El Noorians face.”

Gabrielle tossed her hair. “We made that particular decision last year, friends. There’s no point in revisiting it now. The El Noorians were adamant about staying where their prophet Sammarrab put them, and we respected that.”

The fact the IUS already had several imbedded agents able to infiltrate the confidences of the SAG-DEB delegation to the El Noorians-” Andrew began.

Was, of course, a deciding factor in allowing these people to maintain their homeland,” Tobias interrupted. “It’s what we do, Andrew- maintain a hand in the most volatile regions of the Galaxy.” Tobias pushed his spectacles up on his nose. “And what is your suggestion now, now that war is at hand?”

Andrew blinked, took a deep sigh, and stated plainly: “Evacuation followed by a trained team of experts to make First Contact. Experts who will examine the many threats posed to the GAGA by not just alien biology and technology, but an entire alien Galaxy, as well.”

We could gear the public up for a feel-good, humanitarian rescue mission,” Quetzal suggested. “There’s no real reason to upset the apple cart by diving into an inter-GAGA conflict in a Galactic Collision Zone.”

Gabrielle raised her eyebrows and nodded.

Skoda slapped his desk with his hand. “We can’t just evac Hyperships full of crazed El Noorian refugees who have decided that it’s time the entire Galaxy followed their fundamentalist, racist, anti-GAGA claptrap!” He crossed his arms over his chest full of medals. “They’d spread their bullshit everywhere, and instead of one fire to fight on the edge of noplace, we’d all be fighting a peat fire for the rest of the GAGA’s defintely shortened lifespan.”

Gabrielle frowned, and nodded. “That is true,” she noted.

Quetzal turned in his chair to include the President in his view of the proceedings. Gabrielle had started to follow along with points… she was forming a narrative in her own head. This presaged a Decision. Quetzal looked forward to seeing what it might be- because he had absolutely no idea about what to do himself.

I can tell you, Ms. President,” Andrew determinedly said, “that our research shows definitively there are catastrophic health effects incurred by any mid-term exposure to what’s going on in that Galaxy.” He glanced fiercely up at Tobias.

As Mr. King has pointed out.”

Tobias nodded. “I agree that sending in any GAF forces will have a negative effect on public opinion as well as the health of the soldiers, Ms. President. That is why I advocate the following- a holding pattern of informed tension for the public while my agents attempt to diffuse the situation. If we fail, then we can consider a military contingent.”

Andrew snorted, and Emil Skoda piped up.

Oh, oh, just like you idiots diffused the Quilarian uprising, eh?” he asked, staring up at the holo image of Tobias.

King pushed his glasses up his nose and straightened his tie. “The conflict between the Quilarians and the GAF was too severe to be diffused, unfortunately. We did what we could.”

You mean you snuck in and abducted Quilarian children and copied their mothership’s computer database!” Emil shouted. “It was a fucking disaster, King, a disaster we had to clean up! Just so you could breed some Quilarians because they happen to be one giant stem cell.”

Actually, the Quilarian juvenile is more of a plethora of stem cells,” King couldn’t help but correct.

A cornucopia of them,” Andrew offered acerbically.

Yes, exactly,” King couldn’t help but like his old mentor. Damn but he was quick on the draw, King thought, and smiled.

I’m certain that the IUS would not have as its sole mandate the extraction of alien technology and biology,” Gabrielle asserted, looking at the upper left quadrant of the room where the Director of the IUS floated.

No, ma’am,” Tobias assured her. “We would first and foremost be there to diffuse the erroneous El Noorian sentiment against the GAGA, and ideally convince them to evacuate peaceably.”

Well they sure as hell aren’t coming crawling back into the Center of the Galaxy until they’ve all got their De-Nutjobification certificates,” Emil growled. “No peat fires. Period.”

Unfortunately,” Marlene interjected, “I’m not certain we can easily guarantee a re-education of GAGA mores and values in the evacuated populace. The DFC and GAGA MedCommand both seem to indicate that substantial damage has occurred to their biological information interfaces. It will take some recouperative efforts before we can begin to reliably re-indoctrinate the evacuees.”

Gabrielle nodded. “Excellent point,” she remarked.

I say, Nuke ’em,” Emil said. “There’s enough perfectly sane El Noorians in the rest of the GAGA who got the hell outta Dodge when they realized the Galactic collision was more than just pretty pictures in the sky. These people stayed not because they’re stubborn, but because their brains are melted, and now they’re blowing shit up because they’ve been had what brains are left washed up good by an invading alien force!”

Gabrielle nodded. “Provocative presentation of fact.”

What’s the timeline on evacuee rehabilitation?” Quetzal asked somebody.

Our extrapolations indicated eighteen months to three years before the ill effects of the Galactic Collision could be repaired,” Andrew glanced down at some old fashioned papers on his desk. “Assuming of course the effects could be reversed like regular radiation and HyperSpatial overexposure.” He managed to keep his gaze level as he added, “Of course, we haven’t been able to do any serious investigative testing with live cases.”

Gabrielle nodded. “Understandable lack of data,” she said.

Quetzal watched the President. Her remarks were speeding up. Time for a decision.

Gabrielle stood up, walked around to the front of her giant garnet of a desk. “Thank you all for your input,” she told them. “This is our strategy.”

She nodded at Tobias King. “Mr. King, you will send your best agents immediately to El Noor, if they are not already there, and instruct them to defuse the anti-GAGA sentiment as well as the fundamentalist developments in the culture. You will of course try to glean as much information about the technology and biology of the alien SAG-DEB culture as possible. You have four weeks to complete this objective.”

Tobias looked pleased, thinking he had won the day for the IUS until he heard the conclusion of the President’s orders. He opened his mouth to interject, but Gabrielle turned her eyes from him to Emil Skoda, her General.

You, sir, will send in your most photogenic units to the El Noorian sector to lead the evacuation of the GAGA natives to the planet. A secondary task for your troops will be diplomatic liasons, in case the IUS is able to establish basic relations with the aliens of the encroaching galaxy. You will come prepared for peaceful evacuation, but also for war… in the event that the IUS and GAF olive branches fail to quel the El Noorian uprising, we must unfortunately deal decisively with the threat to the peace of the GAGA. If all else fails, General, we will put down the rebellion completely.”

General Skoda’s face flashed a series of different emotions as he acclimatized to the winding directives he had been given. In the end, he understood that war was the final option, and that he had just been given the green light to put an end to this constant attack on his GAF forces. He sat back and smiled smugly. The rest would take care of itself- he was gonna blow shit up.

Marlene,” Gabrielle turned her attention to the GAGAPO chief. “I want you to begin to ease the Galaxy into the inevitability of war, but first play up the peacemakers of the GAF and the high optimism we all have that our own people as well as the aliens in the SAG-DEB galaxy will see reason and join us on our grand, Galactic adventure.”

Marlene typed furiously. “Understood, Ms. President.”

Gabrielle looked up finally at Andrew Pierce from the Department of First Contact.

Andrew, I know that you disapproved of the trajectory of the El Noorian natives from the start, and that we have perhaps underutilized the DFC as a resource in this obvious example of extra-terrestrial encounter.”

Andrew nodded, his long features remarkably soft. Whatever he may think of the decision, he understood the many particular hurdles the President of the Universe had to navigate in such a situation. He knew he was at one end of a spectrum of equally valid perspectives. In a Galaxy based off of enjoyment, comfort, consumption and quietude, prudent scientific discovery for its own sake was a very limited spectrum to possess.

I offer the DFC now an opportunity to accompany the first GAF forces to El Noor. You may deploy your team of exo-investigators before that point where the GAF attempts diplomacy and/ or military intervention of any kind. The IUS will try its hand while your people travel, but you may, if you wish, send your team in to gather the data on the alien galaxy first hand.”

Both Andrew and Tobias raised their eyebrows. A fit of fidgeting ensued from the head of the IUS, while Andrew leaned back again in his chair.

It was a remarkable gift, Andrew thought, for an old, largely forgotten agency. But even though it be a spinster, don’t just accept gifts out of hand. This opportunity comes at a grave cost, he warned himself, one that must be examined at length in privacy.

Out loud, Pierce said, “Thank you, Ms. President. I will take the matter up with my staff, and get back to you in the morning.”

Quetzal rose from his magnificent desk and clapped his hands together. He smiled broadly.

Well, that’s about it, then,” he announced. “Everybody got it? Spy, then fly, then pry, then peace, then fry. And try to look regretful about all the coming bloodshed all the while.”

The four briefing guests shifted in their seats as they took in the Prime Minister’s summation.

Good? Good. We’ll all meet up back here in Friday to see how it’s going,” Quetzal concluded. “Have a brilliant day!”

Nodding, Andrew Pierce waved his hand and his corner of the display darkened. Marlene did the same, leaving just Tobias King and the GAF General.

I don’t understand why we have to go through all this rigamarole of prepping the populace for conflict,” Skoda muttered, more to himself than to the dignitaries present. He was jotting notes on his PD and avidly clicking his summons roster on his desk. “This whole process would be much simpler if we just kept people ready to put down this kind of conflict in the GAGA at any time.”

But then we’d be leading a totally different universe, General,” Quetzal told him before he blacked out the remaining screens. “And none of us would want that, now- would we?”

An Incident in El Noor- Excerpt Part Two

2 Feb

In this second excerpt from An Incident in El Noor, the Prime Minister and President take on four of the most influential department heads of over the volatile El Noor question. As it turns out, there are four different views on how to handle an alien galaxy colliding with the GAGA’s very own…

Tune in later this week for the final installment of the briefing that sends Verily Wrought into the Galaxy’s most dangerous war zone- chapter one of the latest GAF Mainframe novel, written by Tony Stark, copyright 2015.

 

The giant holoscreen changed to a countdown. “Briefing will commence in five, four…”

“Shite,” Quetzal murmured. “Could be anyone. I hope it’s not that creepy IUS chief.”

“Probably will be,” the President murmured.

Quetzal looked down at the holodisplay on his PD. “Looks like three guests via holo today,” he advised the President. They exchanged a hollow-eyed look. “That’s not good,” he added.

Gabrielle shook her head. “It must be getting worse,” she whispered. “And fast, too.”

A giant explosion rocked the Awareness Room. Both dignitaries jumped in their seats.  The President gave out a small shriek. The Prime Minister let out a spirited curse.

“Timestamp, -minus 3 hours Telamer V time. Location, Morocco III. El Noorian terrorists detonate a chemical battery storage yard in North Casablanca. Fifty-seven killed, three hundred twelve injured. GAF losses: thirty eight. GAF casualties: one hundred and ninety nine. GAF assets destroyed: Twelve million, three hundred twenty two credits of equipment and supplies.”

Quetzal watched footage from a hover-drone as it circled the decimated yard. Over the past year, rebels from the El Noor Sector had targeted GAF assets in the entire quadrant. There had even been an attempt on the President’s life when she attended the Quadrant conference last month. Events like the carnage floating in front of Quetzal’s face had become commonplace in the Galaxy. Never the most peaceful place, the El Noorian rebels had set the entire Galaxy on edge. Racial and inter-species tensions had never been so high- not since humans had inherited the entire mess from the Telamer, anyway.

“This latest attack marks the six hundred thirtieth consecutive day of aggression by the El Noorian rebels. Demands made following the Morocco III explosion included the immediate withdrawal of all GAF forces in the El Noor sector and the complete capitulation of the GAGA to the SAG-DEB/El Noorian alliance,” the computerized voice narrated smoothly.

Quetzal slouched further in his seat and mouthed the words. Six hundred thirty days of demands, and it was all the same. Whoever, whatever these forces from the neighboring galaxy were, they were utterly powermad and totally barmy. Why they thought that an alliance of one single system’s most unstable members with a small population of extra-galactic citizens could bring the rest of the Milky Way to its knees was a terrifying giblet of insanity whose motives were  inscrutable to the Prime Minister of the Galaxy.

“In response, GAF forces have deployed double security units to each energy facility in Gamma Quadrant. This makes the energy sector the latest area of increased GAF presence- matching the transportation networks, HyperSpace lanes, manufacturing sector and GAGA Protected Relic areas in military protection.”

“So, pretty much everything,” Quetzal muttered.

From across the room, Gabrielle nodded ruefully. A productive Galaxy was a Galaxy that spent its credits freely across sectors. This could not happen if everything was under increased security pressure- let alone the lockdown state the El Noorians wanted to force her to create.

“At this point, surveys and Wroughtveillance indicate that GAGA citizens are generally accepting of the increased security presence across the Association,” the computer continued. “Eighty-five percent of feedback is positive, with ninety-one percent empathy favorable percentile amongst monitored conversations and media.”

Charts, graphs and telemetry flashed across the giant holo in day-glo colors. All the arrows and bars were pointing to the sky.

Quetzal raised an eyebrow. The telemetry was up from last week. Their media campaign and increased subliminals must be working to convince the populace of the necessity of these security-based evils.

“As of -15 minutes Telamer V time,” the computer continued, “GAF and local government forces have aborted two hundred and sixty seven Aggressive Actions in Progress, with twelve more AAIPs being monitored by the IUS as of this briefing. It is unknown at present which of these AAIPs may be suitable for further media presentation.”

The screen changed to a live-cam version of the corner of the Galaxy in question. The El Noor sector was jammed up against the neighboring Sag-DEB galaxy, as it had been since the first time humans were able to espy this area from Old Earth.  The collision was increasing its intensity as the centuries passed, and the mingling of the two galactic membranes looked like a livid bruise crafted out of blood and tempera paint against the blackness of the Universe.

Every time Quetzal saw pictures of the El Noor sector, his stomach lurched. There was something vile and penetrative about the encroachment of one galaxy on another, and from the angle of the footage, he could not help but think that this alien galaxy was the fearfully aggressive party.

“Today, IUS intelligence on El Noor, the main planet in the sector, report increased troop movement and asset re-allocation toward the western edge of the continent. Although footage is spotty due to latent electromagnetic interference, it is clear that El Noorian/SAGDEB forces have moved another two hundred kilometres closer to the GAF bases on El Noor.”

Surveillance footage from satellite showed dust clouds trailing eastward from a massive movement of dark objects on the desert sands of El Noor. Grainy, choppy, badly cut footage from agents on the ground showed images of the tanks and alien technology offered by the SAG-DEB residents to the El Noorians. The vehicles and weapons were being piled on hover transports in disparate fashion and moved out of the mud-brick walls of cities.

Quetzal had to look away from the raw footage. It was so much larger than life that its harried quality made him motion sick. He watched its reflection in the obsidian desk instead as the computer continued.

“Although no aggression has occurred, this is the single largest mobilization of troops and technology on El Noor since the preamble to the First El Noor conflict of 3488.”

The screen finished flashing images of the various AAIPs aborted across the Galaxy and returned to a paired logo of the GAF and GAGA.

“Today’s inter-agency briefing is designed to provide guidance to various GAGA agencies and the GAF regarding GAGA policy toward the following three points,” the computer continued.

In front of the two leaders, a holo display popped up. Bulleted points began to appear under the heading of ‘Today’s Briefing Objectives’.

“One- the establishment of a cohesive, multi-agency response to the troop mobilization in El Noor sector, with a focus on long-term strategic and media concerns.”

“Here we go,” Quetzal murmured.

Gabrielle nodded. “No peace for us,” she agreed.

“Two- the refinement of public media coverage and policy amongst GAGA agencies, with the drafting of an official, unified reaction to continued terrorist action.”

“Three- the final determination of an operating strategy regarding GAGA agencies toward the extragalactic SAG-DEB organisms and Galaxy, with appropriate media, GAGA and intelligence layers.”

Quetzal’s eyebrows raised. “Oh, so we’re just going to figure out what to do about the alien technology, culture and assets of an entire Galaxy. This morning.”

Gabrielle smiled ruefully. “You ate your Wheaties, I trust.”

Quetzal nodded. “In malt liquor form, yes.”

“Connecting to Agency Heads on Secure Frequencies,” a much more computerized voice announced. The screen at the far end of the room blinked and split itself into four. A different logo spun at a different rate in each quadrant. The effect was, in its way, as dizzying as the HeadCam footage from the IUS.

Quetzal watched the logo of the self-same agency spin in reflection on his desk. Beside it, the Department of First Contact’s logo, much less imposing and more upliftingly scientific, soothed the eye with its multi-species hands shaking against a classically NASA-oriented backdrop of stars. Beneath, the GAF HQ logo and the GAGA Press Office waited patiently for their respective heads to signal they were ready to join the conversation.

“Link established in four, three, two, one-”

The four screens lit up with giant holo versions of the Department Heads.

“Good morning, gentlemen and lady,” Gabrielle greeted the apparitions with a charming smile. Quetzal mirrored a quick greeting, flashing his own rogueish grin.

“Good morning,” four voices echoed.

“Who wants to go first this morning?” the President of the Universe asked. “I see we have some serious decisions to make today.”

The Chief of the GAGA Press Office interrupted the head of the IUS. Each monitor was arranged in the same orientation, so the IUS head glared down at his lower left while Marlene Schmidtt began.

“Before we begin in earnest,” she said in clipped German tones, “I would just like to remind the agencies involved that for nearly two years now, the growing conflict between El Noor and the GAGA has been managed almost entirely by the Press Office. Our mandate up until now has been to quell clamor for war, and to slowly but determinedly convince the citizenry that the GAF can handle easily any conflict that may arise. That whatever comes, it will not be a full-out war like the First El Noorian conflict of last century.”

Gabrielle nodded. She was fully behind this policy of anti-war, anti-fear yielding increased economic benefits through citizens’ emotional comfort testing high. She and Marlene were of like minds on many matters, and the President approved of the Press Chief’s tactics in guiding public sentiment.

General Emil Skoda, head of the Galactic Armed Forces, snorted ruefully and rolled his pale blue eyes with withering effect. The lower right corner of the Awareness Room screen was his, and was also home to the opposing viewpoint to the GAGAPO.

“If we determine today that an all out war or unavoidably public conflict is inevitable,” Marlene continued smoothly, “I need to remind everyone that the Press Office requires ninety Galactic days to satisfactorially one-eighty public opinion to acceptable levels. We also require at least three weeks to begin to instill completely different meme threads into the population.”

“It takes ninety-six hours to begin new idea memes, correct?” Quetzal asked.

Marlene nodded. “Correct, sir. A striking new development in the El Noor conflict story, such as military intervention, peacekeeping or unilateral strikes would take four Galactic days of sentiment softening before the actual event would be acceptably delivered.”

“So we need to kill at least four days of time before we announce any changes, and those changes need to be along a continuum of our existing narrative,” the Prime Minister clarified. It was his aim to minimize bickering amongst the polarized units in front of him today, and to ensure that the President’s driving ethos was maintained as largely as possible.

“Correct, sir,” Marlene replied.

“May I point out,” General Skoda boomed in irritated tones, “that, if we had been softening public sentiment toward war and conflict in general that we could move on these bastards within three weeks?”

“I believe, Emil,” said Andrew Pierce, head of the Department of First Contact, “that it will take over four weeks to deploy and move out the closest GAF units for reinforcement in El Noor. That would be plenty of time to slowly start to turn public opinion to a conflict there. By the time we amassed troop presence in El Noor, we could deliver a fabulous blitzkrieg of a war on the evening holos.”

“That was the logic behind the Center Theory, General,” Gabrielle reminded her military commander. The Center Theory had been Gabrielle’s leading innovation to GAGA policy- and the platform point that won her the support of the aging Telamer race.

Center Theory boiled down to the fact that over 80 percent of the Galaxy’s population lived within three weeks’ HyperSpace flight of GAF HQ. This meant that the bulk of conflicts could be

Center Theory took into account the time frame required to direct public sentiment toward accepting a conflict as well as the fact that over 85 percent of the Galaxy’s population lived in peace within the required three week window of public opinion softening. Gabrielle had successfully advocated for a pacifist baseline for Galactic Media subliminalization, wagering that the bulk of conflicts that would appear in the GAGA would be outside the three week radius for GAF deployment.

General Skoda winced at yet another successful application of President Gabrielle’s theory. His only retort being that taking worse care of the Galaxy was the only means of justifying his belief in constant threat preparedness made him shut his mouth with an audible snap that echoed around the Awareness Room.

From the diagonal corner, Andrew Pierce raised a white, arched eyebrow at the sound. He barely supressed a smug look.

“Thank you for the reminder, Ms. Schmidt,” the head of the GAGA’s intelligence and counter-threat unit said in even tones. Tobias King was a man on indeterminate middle age with thick glasses and a strangely alien look to his countenance, despite the fact that he was Old Earth born and bred. He had once been a student of Andrew Pierce’s, and the two had a strangely stilted distance between them that could only come from a protege taking up the torch of the master’s enemies.

“Back to the matter at hand, Ms. President,” King continued in a voice that was remarkably reedy and tinged with a New England accent, “the IUS has more than enough live evidence to warrant an organized offensive against the El Noorian/SAG-DEB rebellion. We all know that this is the thrust of this briefing.”

“Damn straight it is,” Skoda growled.

Pierce straightened his long neck and blinked his large eyes as though he had swallowed something that stuck in his throat, but said nothing.

“I might suggest that, as it will take a not insubstantial amount of resources and effort to swing the public to a supportive position for such a conflict, as well as a massive amount of resources to mobilize the GAF to such a remote region, we consider an alternative plan.”

“An alternative plan with alterior motives,” Pierce said evenly.

“Of course, Andrew,” King said, not entirely unkindly. His manner would have been completely compassionate if it had not been for the greedy gleam of covetous acquisition that burned in the back of his eyes like a coal.

That there, Quetzal thought to himself, is why Toby doesn’t have more friends in these parts.

An Incident in El Noor Excerpt

31 Jan

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of An Incident in El Noor, the latest GAF Mainframe novel, written by Tony Stark. We enter the action as the Prime Minister of the Galaxy prepares for the fateful briefing that leads to the deployment of Verily Wrought’s Detach Detachment to the most volatile, dangerous, torsioned portion of the Galaxy.

Tune in later this week for the second half of the fateful briefing, featuring Andrew Pierce from the OFC and Tobias King, the sinister head of the IUS.

Chapter One- copyright Tony Stark, 2015.

Quetzal Ferguson stared out the window.

He caught himself thinking that exact phrase, even thinking of himself in the third person.

Quetzal Ferguson stared out the window, he thought to himself. He was aware that there were innumerable cameras and holovids trained on this bulbous protrusion of the GAGA Headquarters as it orbited around Telamer V. This particular room in which he stared from the window was called the Awareness Room. It was a more subdued epithet than the Old Earth Situation Room, designed in humans’ extreme boredom to stimulate the panic centres of the brain.

Ah, for the days when we had to incite ourselves to panic, Quetzal thought. Now, we have a whole galaxy of terrifying crises to keep us busy 30/8.

He sighed, knowing the cameras would catch it. They were hiding behind the 500 km radius kept sterile of ships by the GAF- no one was allowed to enter the GAGA HQ space unless escorted by a dedicated detachment of GAF Jump Jets. 500 km was as close as the recorders for the Galaxy’s news media companies could get, but with their ultra-high fidelity lenses and such, Quetzal knew that the whole Galaxy would know if he picked his nose from here. He’d seen it happen on the evening news before, but today he didn’t feel like causing quite such a trite scandal as that.

Knowing he was nearly constantly watched by cameras, his every move dissected by pundits and celebrity watchers alike, had driven a tiny part of his brain mad. As the years of his tenure as Prime Minister of the Galaxy continued, Quetzal became aware that this miniscule part of himself had begun to narrate his life. He supposed that part of his brain was mad- either that, or he had become plugged in to the cosmic awareness of the Universe and was actually picking up on the Narration of All Things.

It could have been that. He had done an awful lot of peyote and mushrooms in his day.

High-fidelity,” Quetzal muttered to himself in his thick Scottish brogue. “What the hell was that? You’re supposed to be in the Thirty-first Century, not the bleeding sock hop era.”

He turned away from the vast window, which, while he was bothering to be current, was less a window and more a giant sphere of polyglass reinforced with inner and outer forcefield shields in multi-wavelength interference frequencies. The bulbous protrusion could implode, explode, disintegrate, melt, crack or become out of phase, and the two interference shields would not so much as let a gnat out of the Awareness Room- or once iota of space dust inside.

Yup, he thought, as he walked to the Prime Minister’s desk. They’ve got me knit up nice and tight.

He sat at the long, thick, immense obsidian-topped desk and idly polished a smear off its surface. Oh, but he loved the desk. It was a great desk. It was the kind of desk the second most powerful person in the Galaxy should have- it was the kind of desk the Prime Minister of the Galaxy deserved. It was fifteen feet by eight feet of solid fucking obsidian, jetted out from the real, original Mexico to this space station. It was six inches thick. It was the sort of thing Edward Kelley would have got really, really excited over- you could scry with it to see things the whole Galaxy across. It was the sort of desk his namesake Quetzalcoatl would have been proud to slap a couple virgins on and do some impromptu cardiectomies.

Quetzal ran his fingers over the edges of the beautiful desk. Not for the first time, he thought:

All it needs is a few good blood runnels…

Clicking, clacking across the ultra-steel floor, the President of the Universe entered the Awareness Room. The gait was the easy, brisk stride of an individual in complete command of themselves, and the scene.

You are missing the blood runnels again,” Gabrielle remarked compassionately as she approached. Her movement was a sinuous animal that drew the eye and ensured total submission.

Quetzal smiled sadly at her. “Yes,” he replied wistfully. “It’s that obvious, isn’t it.”

She nodded, moved around the giant obsidian masterpiece of a desk and kissed her Prime Minister on the top of his head.

Those days are gone, nino,” she cooed. “Now we are the peaceful ones. Spreading peace and… peace. Throughout the Galaxy.”

Quetzal looked up at her and smiled. From this angle, as will any other angle, the President of the Universe was a delight to behold.

Well, then,” he said, bucking himself out of his remarkably dark funk. “Let’s have our briefing and figure out how to spread peace this time.”

Gabrielle touseled Quetzal’s inky black hair and took her seat beside him at the President’s desk.

Beside was, of course, a broad description of her position. The President’s desk was, of course, more magnificent than the Prime Minister’s. Gabrielle’s desk was a massive, oval chunk of garnet from the Gamma Sector. Unlike the PM’s desk, the President’s hovered at desk height in neo-modernist minimalism- free from the fetters of the dark oak and black marble of the Prime Ministerial desk, and free also to reveal the President’s unbelievably sexy legs as she listened to her briefing.

Removing the acoutrements of her desktop had been the President’s own idea. One didn’t rise to the most powerful position in the GAGA without a General’s understanding of assets and how to best deploy them. A skillful re-crossing of the Presidential legs during heated summit meetings had, after all, ceased wars, ushered in peace treaties, and signed lucrative trade agreements. The Peaceful ones needed to use their assets even in the Awareness Room- especially there, for it was in this giant, sparse room that alien officials, GAF Generals, IUS officials and the other most powerful peoples in the Galaxy were relayed to convey the absolute Latest Events in the GAGA.

The incredibly realistic sound of the speaker system rattled the bones of the GAGA’s chief officials. The sound-on for the GAF debriefing began, and the logo for the military wing of the GAGA began to hover, many times larger than it need be, at the far end of the room. Faces and images beamed from all over the Galaxy would shortly engulf the thirty foot high room. As the logo continued to spin, the light entering the giant portal behind them faded as the polarity of the shields blocked out all light emitted. It was the only time in the Awareness Room the Quetzal knew he would not be filmed, and he let out an immense sigh of slouching relief.

I know,” Gabrielle looked over at him with commiseration. “I’ve had an exhausting week, too. This whole rebel thing is driving me crazy. Why do they think I have an opinion that will change the Galaxy when I am at my aquacise class?”

Quetzal chuckled. “No clue, my love. They had better get us some definitive information on the matter today- watching this giant screen gives me an eyeball ache.”

A computerized voice, very lifelike but still artificial, greeted the dignitaries.

Good morning, President Gabrielle, Prime Minister Ferguson,” the feminine voice declared.

It continued on, heedless of Quetzal’s flip-off and Gabrielle’s stern, amused glance.

This morning’s Awareness briefing comes to your from the IUS, and includes intelligence from the GAF and the DFC.”

Quetzal and Gabrielle looked at each other and each mouthed the words, ‘El Noor’. Smiling, they returned their attention to the disembodied voice in time to catch:

…will be joining you for a live conference call immediately following the briefing.”

Who’s splicing in?” Quetzal asked, large blue eyes panicked.

I don’t know! Gabrielle mouthed, raising her hands in question.

Dukh Project

13 Jan

 

Also known as The Spiriters, The Dukes of Doom

All of the aforementioned are pop culture references to an above top secret group said to abduct and study citizens of the GAGA who are subject to extreme psi-oriented alterations to their genetic code.

It has been long recognized on resource or toxin-heavy planets (like Sasha Wheaton’s homeworld of Dalton) that the pollutants cause mutation in the genetic stock of the inhabitants. Most of the alterations to the inhabitants are prohibitive to life. However, some are born with psionic, psychic and telekinetic abilities, as well as physical qualities, that are regarded as evolutions. When these beings are recognized by the beaureaucratic engines of the GAGA, they are often removed from their homes and spirited away by unmarked military personnel.

Tales of these Spiriters spread amongst the row houses, through transport chains and into the galactic consciousness. The urban legends vary considerably from planet to planet in the GAGA, but the general consensus is that the Spiriters remove the residents to a centralized location where they run horrible, invasive experiments on them to try to unlock and understand their psychic abilities.

Although there is absolutely no official record of the Spiriters in GAGA or GAF documentation, conspiracy researchers have found reference to something called The Dukh Project- named for the Old Earth Russian word, Spirit. As the historic Communist regime in Russia conducted in depth experimenteation on their own psychic populace, and was known to allow pollution to mutate their populace in order to examine its effects on their genes, the connection was made between this nearly unknown Project and the well-documented Spiriters.

The Russian word for Spirit’s similarity to the Old Earth aristocratic term, Duke, has resulted in slang designations of Dukes or Dukes of Doom for the people who take the altered citizens away. This catchy term has cemented the Spirters of the Dukh Project into the pop culture consciousness of the GAGA. Several songs, including one by Sinniq B, feature imagery from this phenomenon. A series of three movies featuring elements of the story was first a horror franchise, then a children’s cartoon series, named The Dukes of Doom. While popular in the Alpha Quadrant, it is prohibited for airplay in the more resource heavy Gamma Quadrant.

As to actual facts related to the Dukh Project, it is rumored that it is supervised ultimately by the President of the Universe, Gabrielle. The President has disavowed any knowledge of the project apart from the pop culture franchise and its associated legends. An intrepid researched known as Q.T. Langley uncovered a Telamer memo to the GAGA Executive Branch with the words Dukh Project contained in it, leading to wild supposition that the aging Telamer race is using its adopted human inheritors as guinea pigs to develop… something. What that something is, however, is open to as much speculation as the dubious existence of the Dukh Project itself.

-Tony Stark.