President Vivian Corliss knew what Bob Glover was talking
about; she and Bob had been rookies together before she went into politics.
There was no good outcome for today, only minimizing damage.
"I get that. The question now is how did they get it?
Where did our security fail?"
"We're looking into that. It's conceivable our
containment strategies suffered during continuing resolution and cutbacks ..."
"What else? Bob, there were some weapons ..."
"On it, Ma’am."
That had been yesterday's conversation. The ominous ships had
been hovering for 24 hours, but nothing else had happened. Negotiation attempts
were in progress.
"Dude, world's about to explode. You're gonna wish you
was still sleepin' it off." Trevor
opened bleary eyes to see Manny wiping the Jack off his mouth and setting the
bottle back down.
"The fuck you talking about, Man?" Trevor didn't
make a habit of passing out when he drank, but getting loaded made a lot of
sense to him after Jen walked out.
“Aliens, Trev. Space ships, hanging in the sky. I ain’t
Manny’s expression was dead serious and the guy was not in
the habit of bullshitting.
Trevor went outside. He cursed. That was his design.
A much more advanced version of his design, but the lines were
unmistakable; he was certain the technology was at least partly his as well.
Trevor Granger, former CEO of Trelyn Technologies, Aerospace
Innovention, now present-day farmhand, liked to think he had chosen his escape
from high pressure into simplicity, where he could explore his artistic side,
but the truth was mixed. The day the dark limo picked him up, taking him to
unnamed offices where high pressure tactics convinced him to sell his company
marked his true turning point.
How did his baby end up menacing this corn field?
"Situation?" The President got results with her
calm, terse mannerisms, and it was this that helped launch her into this
"We've marshalled National Guardsmen, sent a few Marine
birds to monitor, staged a few 'leaks' to the Press. Acting with caution, as
ordered. No one has stepped up yet. Intel is dry. Could be terrorists ..."
"Speculation without backup?" Disapproval dripped
in her voice. "People, we've had this for a full day. I need
Inwardly she thought, "Thank Dog I wasn't reading books
"Where are the industry experts?"
"All marshaled in the press room, ma'am."
She surveyed the major defense tech reps, scifi authors, filmmakers
assembled. It was difficult to get straight answers, but one had to start
somewhere. She listened with half an ear; she'd get the pertinent highlights
distilled later, at this point she needed buzz words. Press conference in an hour. Her personal
aide hovered, cards in hand, makeup people behind.
"And we can sprinkle a few oozing plastics," a noted film director was saying, "Green ichor for blood, the works. Goons
to keep the public away - conspiracy."
"Do it. But who's ready to talk about the
"I'm sure, Tu. I'm looking at the drawings and they're
so close to identical it," Trevor paused and listened to the voice of his
old friend and former employee interrupting. "Yes, I kept copies , do you
think I'd hand it all over and not keep…" He paused again as Tu spoke
urgently. "They'd only arrest me if I let anyone else know about it! I
don't give a crap about the terms, it was coercion anyway. We'd have been
billionaires! Fucking government!"
Trevor was pissed. He'd signed away his dream, and the
fuckers let it get away from them.
It was after the men in the clichéd dark suits departed, leaving Trevor a good deal wealthier but feeling slimy and used that others found and contacted him.
"I was revolutionizing energy," said one.
"Food production," said another.
Trevor's was a space-and-planetary capable craft. The sell-out ruined tore apart his soul. Drugs, booze, sex, nothing gave him back his will to live, yet he was caught in a limbo where he couldn't even kill himself. So he dumped everything he had, and hitched a ride on the back of a migrant farmhand truck. That had been 5 years ago.
The second, more alarming scenario involved a foreign
government implementing, and now posing a world-impacting threat.
Political pressures and diplomacy could work for this.
The third: a
variation of one or two, but the threat involved foreign terrorists.
This was the most alarming of all, because it was a wild card.
The missing scenario was unthinkable: the US?
The media were on a feeding frenzy. Every talking head on
network news, every talk show host and entertainer focused on the ships in the
sky. Every conspiracy whackjob had spun and respun tales, including a few that
were dangerously close to accurate – the agencies were handily keeping them in
the noise, leaking psychiatric reports, drug arrests, as needed.
Nobody, however, was panicking. No unexpected sabre rattling
from the local militias, no unusual runs on banks, ammunition shops or grocery
stores, The financial world was capitalizing on the frenzy, as it does.
The plan was working.
“Any progress?” Viv
pinched the bridge of her nose to relieve the headache that was returning, but
to no avail.
“Ma’am, the chatter has been confirmed, but our Negotiators
have not succeeded in getting an acknowledgement.” The senior attaché flipped through heavily
scribbled legal pad pages.
“What does that mean?”
“It is who we thought it was. They have not responded to our
attempt to open a dialogue.”
“What are our options?”
commander broke in, almost shouting it.
“What are our real options?”
“Ma’am, the commander is partially right, but not in the way
he means it.”
“Ma’am?” Quizzical looks from the assembled staff told her they could see she was not right.
Curious, she thought. This happened yesterday.
“He said ‘Nukes.’ Just what else would he mean?” her voice sounded distant to her ears as she spoke.
“Same as with the so-called invasion, Ma’am.”
“We fake it, in other words.” As before, the pain suddenly stopped.
“The government has
to be working it, Trev,” Tu Pham was also thinking that his former boss wouldn’t
be able to do much about it regardless. He no longer had standing in the
Defense community nor the tech community, given his recent career path as an
itinerant and ranting boozer.
Trevor’s voice dripped sarcasm, “is saying it’s little gray men. The government’s plan is to cover.. Standard.
“No, we have to find out who’s behind it and expose the fuck
Tu didn’t want to be here. But he owed his life to Trevor