Saturday, November 30, 2019

Source Variant: Class XI (Part XI)

For two hundred years, off and on, Saga!Two, Vearden!Three, and Saxon work to ensure that the Orothsew see foreigners as potential allies, rather than dangerous threats. They’re aided in this endeavor by a team of vonearthans, who were dispatched to Orolak for this very purpose. None of them knows who conscripted them for the mission; just that they were called to action for a chance to explore a new world hundreds of light years away. They fabricate a story about a third continent—even though the Orothsew have not yet encountered the second—and claim that this is where another species evolved. They arbitrarily call themselves the Clexa, and never appear in human form. An entirely new substrate is created that one of the operatives designed specifically to be a perfect amalgamation of an Orothsew, and a Gondilak. The idea is to prepare for the inevitable meeting of the two real species, and prevent them from ever warring with each other.
The three primaries show up every once in awhile, and make sure the rest of their new team is doing okay, and they always are. They modify their faces regularly so the Orothsew don’t realize they’re just the same few dozen people who never die. The Orothsew don’t get upset that the Clexa aren’t sharing their technology. If fact, they seem to believe in their own form of the Prime Directive from the Star Trek franchise. They want to develop on their own, because without struggle, they believe that the reward isn’t worth anything. Since this is all going so well, the vonearthans make plans to travel to the other side of the world to do the same thing for the Gondilak, but every attempt is sabotaged. They even try to fly over there in shuttles, but are always forced back. The powers that be have some interesting ideas about how this mission should be handled, and it apparently doesn’t involve reaching out to the other continent until some time later. When exactly that will be, no one knows for sure, but we’re likely talking centuries.
After just over four decades of absence, the primaries exit their portal door, and find themselves exactly two hundred years since this latest job began. A cursory glance at mission status reveals that the vonearthans disappeared eleven years ago, and have never returned. It would seem that the powers consider this chapter to be closed, and now it’s up to the only three humans on the planet right now to figure out what they should do next.
“According to your account, and my calculations,” Saxon begins, “this should be our last mission before the Orothsew cross the ocean.”
“Are you sure?” Vearden!Three asks.
“If we’ve returned to our regular two hundred year jump pattern, then yes, I believe we’ll catch up with the time Saga here, and the other version of you, first landed on this world.”
“Hm,” Saga!Two can only think to say.
Saxon continues, “while the Clexa didn’t give the Orothsew our technology, there’s no way to stop them from having ideas. Now they know what seafaring ships should look like, and they have the inkling to go explore.”
“Well, what else can we do?” Vearden!Three asks. “Either we’ve done all we can to prepare them, and today is our vacation, or we’ve not done enough, and we only have one more chance to stop the war.”
“Well, we could make another appearance,” Saxon suggests. Though the responsibility of pretending to be Clexa rested on the special team that showed up, the three of them used their McIver hats to do the same, though with far less diplomatic experience to back them up.
“Nah, I don’t want to do that,” Saga!Two says. “The other Clexa left, and whatever reason the Orothsew came up with to explain that, we shouldn’t confuse them with more interruptions. I think it’s time they start making their own decisions. We probably won’t be there when they meet the Gondilak, so let’s let them be.”
“So, you think we should do nothing?” Vearden!Three questions.
“Maybe your remark about this being our vacation was a joke,” Saga!Two begins, “but it doesn’t sound like a terrible idea to me.”
The other two don’t know what to say. A break is the last thing they would have thought someone like Saga would suggest. They don’t have much time to think about it before an alarm starts going off. Saxon rolls his chair over to the main computer to find out what is going on.
“What is it?” Saga!Two asks.
“Unauthorized entry,” Saxon replies. “Someone is coming through the quantum network, and unlike the vonearthans from before, this isn’t from the stellar neighborhood.”
“Where is it from?” Vearden!Three asks.
Saxon continues to look through the data. “All systems within fifty light years of Earth are considered to be part of the neighborhood. Project Stargate completely avoided all of these. The world that’s incoming is almost forty light years beyond the threshold, and was evidently one of the first discovered to have a high Terrestrial Habitability Similarity Index. Higher than here, actually. It’s at .993, which may be the highest we’ve ever encountered. Oh, shit.”
“What is it?”
“Shit!” Saxon exclaims again. “We gotta go!” He jumps out of his chair, and takes off towards the quantum surrogacy section.
The other two follow him. “Tell us what’s wrong! Who is coming through?”
“If we get there in time,” Saxon begins, “no one. We cannot let them through. The natives call their planet Worlon, and Earth designated it Loci Non Grata!”
“You mean like Utah?” Vearden!Three jokes.
“Yes, but worse!” They continue to run down the passageways. “I ran off before I could find out why, but Earth does not take that designation lightly.”
They reach the secret section. Saxon removes an energy weapon from yet another secret compartment, and begins to blast away all of the equipment, including the surrogate pods. He destroys everything. Saga!Two and Vearden!Three can’t be of much help right now, so they just watch until he feels he’s done.
“Explain,” Saga!Two orders.
Saxon removes an extra tablet from the shelf, and quickly connects it to the system. “Let me find out.” They wait for him to retrieve the necessary information, then listen to him recite it. “Worlon is Class XI LNG—that’s loci non grata, which is Latin for a place you don’t wanna go. I’ve never heard of Class XI because Class X is only theoretical. If ever needed, it would be reserved for hostile aliens who pose an immediate and nearly unstoppable threat to life in the entire galaxy. If Worlon is worse than that, then...I think that means they threaten the whole universe.”
“You’re confused,” a sinister voice comes from a dark corner.
Vearden!Three grabs the energy weapon that Saxon set on the table, and trains it on the invader. “Explain yourself, or die.”
“Class IX is for galactic threats.” An alien they’ve never seen before that kind of resembles a dragonfly comes out from the shadows. “Class X is for universal threats, though we’re still not sure there is any life beyond The Milky Way, so both nine and ten are theoretical.”
“Than what’s Class XI?” Saga!Two demands to know.
The alien grimaces. “The multiverse. We’re not sure if that exists either, but uh...” He loses his casual attitude, and becomes quite serious, “if it does, we’ll kill them too.”
“Why?” Saga!Two asks. “What’s your motivation?”
“There’s only so much room in heaven,” it says, as if it’s an accepted truth that she should already understand. “We’re not going to share it.”
“You start killing everyone,” Saxon argues, “you won’t have to worry about how much room there is in heaven. You won’t be going there.”
“Not yet, no,” it acts like it agrees. “Neither will you. Since you killed the rest of my strike team, I suppose all I can do now is give you a message.”
Saga!Two tenses up. “What message?”
“We’re coming. It might takes us awhile, since we have a lot of pit stops ahead of us, and you destroyed the quantum link, but we’ll get here eventually.”
Vearden!Three pulls the trigger, and sends a powerful enough blast towards the enemy that it flies apart into a million pieces. “Well, I would say that I did that on accident; that I didn’t realize how sensitive the trigger was, but the truth is that my finger was barely strong enough to squeeze it.”
“No.” Saxon carefully takes the gun from him. “You did the right thing. Now I know what our mission here is really all about.”
“Yes.” Saga!Two steps forward, and examines the bits of the Worlon creature. This was never about the war between the Orothsew and Gondilak.  “We’re here to stop them.”

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