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Not Even Noticed
By (c) Vanessa Ravencroft
Nurlag felt content as he sank beneath the heated mud. Only his breathing nostrils remained above the surface. It was just like home in the sacred sulfur swamps of Naelfin-Go.
He thought to himself, It is good to be the First Nestling aboard a StarShip. Only he was privileged to take a mud bath whenever he wanted.
Just as he was almost completely relaxed and on the verge of sleep, the deck plates vibrated in the rhythmic oscillation of General Alarm.
He climbed out of the basin as fast as he could, dismissed cleaning and dressing with an angry grunt, but he took a moment to drape the cape of Command around his green-scaled shoulders before he made his way to the ship’s Control Center.
Jeflag, second in command, turned as he saw his Highness enter and curled his spiked tail in the appropriate honor position, and faced Nurlag.
The First Nestling scanned the readouts and displays with a fast gaze and then said, “Pray to your life-giving Egg protector that this alarm is warranted!”
Jeflag colored his throat skin white to signal utmost devotion and subordination, even though he felt purple with anger.
“Your Magnificence, the hasty, but of course completely tactically sound, retreat from the Battle at Harvan you ordered seems to have caused a significant miscalculation during our Trans-Dim Jump. We are in unknown space more than 200 Utrepon away from known space!”
Nurlag did not miss the hidden sarcasm and critique of this unworthy Hulam-mollusk. “And this is reason to disturb me and raise Alarm? Are you so incompetent? Simply reset the course and go back.”
“Your Magnificence. We are only one-half Utepron away from a seemingly insignificant and uncharted solar system that has three gas giants, perfectly suited to replenish the fleet’s fuel supply. I was about to order our fleet to enter that system and refuel because without it we might not be able to make it back with all units.”
“Again I fail to see a reason for you to raise alarm. I expect you are trained well enough to handle such a menial task yourself!”
Unable to ignore the bits of mud slowly sliding down the scaled skin of his superior, Jeflag said, “Your Magnificence, you will commend me for raising alarm! I ordered the standard survey when our sensors picked up this!”
He held a plastic sheet printout right before the yellow eyes of Nurlag.
The yellow eyes squinted and squinted again. “This cannot be true! Have the results been confirmed?”
“All ships with long-range scanners confirm that there is the largest deposit of ‘Three-hundred-Twelve’ on the third planet ever detected.”
Absentmindedly, Nurlag flicked a scale-cleaner maggot along with a glob of mud, off his right arm. “That much ‘THREE’ cannot be natural. Did we stumble upon a secret depot of the Panesi?”
“That is why I raised the alarm. They would never leave such a huge treasure unguarded!”
“Right you are! We better leave and inform the First Nestling-of-All, then return with a huge strike force.”
“That would be a wise course of action, however, we would have to leave two-thirds of our fleet behind as we are very low on fuel.”
With that much Three, Nurlag could buy anyone and anything. Raise his house to uncontestable importance and himself to the First-Nestling-of-All! “How many Panesi units have we scanned?”
“None!” responded the SIC.
“Is it a trap or did they hide it in this unimportant unexplored far-away-from-any-traffic-lanes system and deem it safe?”
“It might be so, your Magnificence. We cannot detect the slightest Trans Dim Energy activity anywhere.”
Nurlag commanded an impressive fleet. True he had lost four of his battleships and several Destroyers to the Panesi, but that did not mean they were helpless. “Send the Avrigar closer, but I don’t want the Commander of this ship to get too close, just close enough to observe and check that planet out.”
Seven hours later the Avrigar reported that the planet was occupied by beings that looked like Panesi but seemed to use primitive pre-astro technology. This report cemented Nurlag’s resolve to take all that THREE. He was now convinced that this was a remote Panesi colony with little protection, but the Panesi were cunning and caution was also warranted. So he ordered Fighter craft to be launched to do a close observation.
NORAD-Cheyenne Mountain Colorado
The Canadian specialist, stationed in front of the high-resolution computer screen that depicted the radar scanning results of the Northern Hemisphere, saw it first and went through the proper motions to raise alarm. “Two unidentified objects are closing on North American Airspace and they were fast and came from the general direction of Europe and Russia.”
The Cold War was officially over, but NORAD still watched the skies. Especially after the 9/11 terror attacks. The North Koreans, terrorist groups by the dozen and a host of unfriendly countries could launch some form of aerial attack at any time. Most of the military hardware of Russia was still there and pointed at the US and no one could say for sure who would have the finger on the button tomorrow. The NORAD alert was sent to the closest Air Force base and interceptors were scrambled.
Enivag forced his space fighter down into the atmosphere of the planet that seemed to have a lot of water. He was accompanied by four other fighter craft and signaled two of them to go around that globe the other way, so they could cover more ground and gather more intelligence.
Four F-22 Raptors screamed into the sky, kicking in their after-burners. All attempts to communicate with the two bogeys had failed so far and they were still on a direct course to Washington DC…
Captain James Scott, call-sign Wild Card had orders to shoot if the unidentified objects would not identify and continue their course. There would not be another 9/11 if he was in the air.
Enivag went lower and flew over a vast body of water towards a larger landmass. He hated water.
His sensors warned him of high energy search beams using an electro-magnetic spectrum system. He snorted into the voice pick up, “Seems these Paresi have not even Dim scanners! It’s going to be easy!”
Enivag was quite surprised as his scanners detected four fast flying machines, already close enough to see them. Computronic analysis explained that they were equipped with some sort of primitive, but quite effective, stealth measures.
At first, the native flying machines had no armament at all. Suddenly a compartment opened and chemically propelled projectiles accelerated with impressive speed. He laughed again. Primitive missiles against his highly sophisticated energy shields, what a joke! He didn’t even try to evade.
Enivag’s craft and his wingman exploded almost simultaneously as AIM-54 missiles penetrated the shields meant to deflect energy beams.
Commander Illuitsh dreamed of the old days when the Soviet Army was the pride of Mother Russia, feared and respected. He still hated the Americans who, with all their arrogance and decadence, brought the old system down without firing a shot. When his radar operators reported two fast flying high altitude objects not identified and not responding to any hails he suspected them to be American spy planes. This was still Russia and this was still spying! He would show them what he thought of that and ordered the craft shot down if they did not respond.
Illuitsh was elated and very proud of the flawless launch and result of his Antey-2500 surface-to-air missile battery as he watched two burning aircraft tumbling out of the sky. Two American Imperialistic spies had met their fate.
Nurlag was furious as he got the report. Four fighters had been lost. Yet no Multi Dim energies were recorded. No Paresi ships left the planet to search for more attackers. Something was very wrong with this blue planet.
The Avrigar hid behind a meteoroid awaiting further instructions from Nurlag. Losing four fighter craft and not detecting any high-energy weapons was very strange.
Lt. Highwater was excited, despite the long trip from Earth, first in the cargo hold of an Atlas rocket, then separated from the rocket and launched in a very small two-man craft towards Luna. Operation Space Force was much further along than the public knew.
He shook the hand of Captain Kyle Mason, the station commander. “I am so proud to be here, even though I can never tell my son I was on the moon.”
Mason smiled with a sad expression in his eyes. “That is the price we all pay. Let’s go to command and control. We are about to commence!”
Highwater raised his eyebrow. “Thor is ready? I thought we were months off!”
“Dr. Heinlein made the final adjustments and we are ready and expect the green light from CIC any time now.”
“I am not completely briefed. I was told the project is so secret that I would get the complete details only here.”
Dr. Heinlein showed unveiled pride as he said, “Originally developed by the National Ignition Facility and known as the Petawatt Laser because the prefix ‘peta’ refers to a quadrillion, Watt. Thor is composed of four such Petawatt Lasers. We are about to fire it against a small asteroid target. We hope to eventually have a system that can protect Earth from catastrophic event asteroids.”
Or vaporize entire cities with the sun-like heat of fusion bombs but without radiation, thought Highwater, but he didn’t say that aloud.
Hiding behind an asteroid was a time-tested tactic. The Captain of the Avrigar was as cunning and experienced as they came and he knew why his First Nestling wanted that planet.
He too saw the sensor read-outs and knew only too well how ambitious his First Nestling was. There was enough ‘THREE’ on that planet to buy the loyalty of every Admiral and Fleet commander; enough of this precious commodity to make everyone in this fleet a very rich Nestling. All indications pointed towards a primitive civilization, no spaceports, no multi dim activity. The sensors indicated that the ‘THREE’ was not located in one spot but spread all over the planet, in the open. Most planets had some ‘THREE,’ but maybe two to three flugs, just barely enough to fill a boot. Down there was enough to fill every cargo hold in their fleet to the brim and they would have to come back to get the rest!
Dr. Heinlein checked the read-outs one more time, fiddled with his PDA, tapping the screen with a little plastic stylus in a nervous frantic manner and returning to look at the readouts.
Then he shoved his glasses back up the bridge of his nose, took a deep breath, and nodded to the Commander. “We are at peak and ready to go!”
Commander Mason replaced the receiver he held in his hand and said aloud, “Green Light! Commence firing protocol; we have permission to fire Thor!”
With military precision and routines drilled many times before, the small crew inserted keys, read codes, punched buttons and repeated orders.
Almost fifty meters above them, inside a small crater, a sliding door opened. Fine moon dust glittered in the unshielded bright sunlight. A metallic contraption on an articulated arm rose to the surface and turned, slowly aiming at an invisible target in the perfectly black sky.
Mason barked, “Insert Fire Keys.”
Two specialists removed special keys from boxes they had previously unlocked and inserted them in special switch sockets. “Fire System Keys inserted,” came the reply.
“Rotate keys to position one. Commence Final Fire Countdown!”
“T-5, T-4 …”
A beam, invisible to the naked eye since all photons were directed and could not reach the eye, slammed with unimaginable force into the small frozen rock, vaporizing it almost instantaneously. The Avrigar ceased to exist at the same moment.
“How was this possible? How could they destroy the Avrigar?”
“We are still going over the data, Your Magnificence. It looks as if the primitives fired a directed energy weapon at the asteroid and our Destroyer. It was just a primitive laser, but I know of no species that ever developed anything of that magnitude. We cannot explain how they detected our ship without any scanning activity!”
“Primitive? You say a bunch of primitives destroyed one of my ships and killed Commander Hur?”
“Our scientists analyzed the gathered data we have so far and we concluded that these primitives have no contact with the Paresi and are not even aware of the ‘THREE’ on their planet. It is scattered all over!”
Nurlag’s barbed tail slashed across Jeflag’s face. “You impertinent Hulam-Mollusk. It is I who draws conclusions around here, not you or low-class scientists who could not claw their way out of a nest of one-year-olds. I will teach those primitives a lesson! They shall know my name and I will let only those live who become slaves to carry the ‘THREE’ into my cargo holds! I will feast on their flesh and evaporate their oceans.”
Nurlag no longer paid any attention to the bleeding SIC and commanded, “Signal the fleet. We will land on that red planet and prepare for full planetary assault!”
Professor Neugruber of the Max Planck institute stood on tip-toes behind his lectern as he addressed other physicists and scientists assembled before him, to appear a little taller and more important.
His English was heavily accented by his native German. “Vereehrte Kolleg … I mean Honorable Colleagues. I am here before you to announce our greatest breakthrough in Antimatter research. In association with our Swiss colleagues at CERN, we have developed a new Anti-Matter production process and we hope our new system will once and for all solve the growing energy needs of our planet with a virtually infinite energy source.”
He activated a projector casting a computer image onto a white surface behind him. The assembled scientists could see the little mouse pointer dashing aimlessly across the projection screen.
Neugruber found the correct desktop item and clicked it. A series of computer animations appeared and he continued. “To test our new system we had to deploy it in an environment somewhat similar to Earth but safely removed from it.”
One of the assembled scientists raised his hands. “Dr. Sikh here, University of New Delhi. I followed your research quite closely and I am very impressed by the progress, but my colleagues and I find it very dangerous too. This prototype could be more powerful than you perhaps anticipate. Due to the cascade effect that brings it into the Near Chaos environment.”
Neugruber smiled but it was a cold smile, he didn’t like to be interrupted; he continued without answering the question. “For this reason, we are testing the first Anti-Matter explosive device ever ignited by man. We are aware of the dangers, this is why we sent our system to Mars. We chose Mars over the moon due to environmental conditions. Venus’ atmosphere made any testing there impossible.
Nurlag’s Fleet had landed on a reddish planet, only one orbit removed from the blue occupied globe. Here he would set up refining equipment to generate fuel from local ice and make repairs and then he would attack those Primitives with the vengeance of an unleashed Mud Demon.
One of his subordinates reported. “First Nestling, I am receiving an energy signature consistent with the electromagnetic emissions coming from that blue planet.”
“What kind of energy?”
“It seems to be a message. A communication of sorts. I am running it through the linguistic analysis process.”
“Ah, they noticed us and want to discuss their surrender!”
“First Nestling! The translation is complete. It is a mathematical sequence!”
“Let me listen to it!”
It became silent in the Command room. Then a mechanical voice could be heard: Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven…”
Professor Neugruber did not know if he should be proud or hide behind his desk as the first test results came in. Someone said, “Dear Lord!” But most of the assembled scientists and press representatives stared silently at the screen behind Neugruber.
The scientist of India stood up and pointed his finger. “That device of yours ripped a hole the size of a continent into Mars!”
While the scientists argued, environmental groups protested and military planners already dreamed about Anti-matter bombs in their arsenals, no one noticed that Earth was almost invaded.
The First Nestling among All, never knew what happened to Nurlag’s fleet and suspected the Paresi.
Meanwhile unaware of all their Galactic Neighbors, on a little unimportant planet on the fringes of the Galaxy a race of aggressive primates continued to fight among each other.
Encyclopedia Galactica Supplement:
NORAD – North American Aerospace Defense Command
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is the bi-national United States and Canadian organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. Aerospace warning includes the monitoring of man-made objects in space, and the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, utilizing mutual support arrangements with other commands. Aerospace control includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of Canada and the United States.
The F-22 Raptor is a stealth fighter aircraft. It was originally envisioned as an air superiority fighter, but is equipped for ground attack, electronic attack and signals intelligence roles as well. It is widely considered the most advanced fighter currently in service.
Belongs to a series of Russian long-range surface-to-air missile systems by the Almaz Scientific Industrial Corporation all based on the initial S-300P version. It was developed as a system against aircraft and cruise missiles for the Soviet Anti-Air Defense branch of the military, but later variations were also developed to intercept ballistic missiles.
The National Ignition Facility, or NIF, is an ultra-high power laser research device currently under construction at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in Livermore, California. The device’s main roles will be exploration of inertial confinement fusion and, through these experiments, exploring the science/physics underlying nuclear weapons for the United States.
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