David Graves, our humble anarchist had started his own company and built a dozen radio stations all over the eastern United States which broadcasted a constant stream of music and information to the ever increasing numbers of radio receivers across the country. This was a long term plan, it’s end result would be completely unknown. He had been doing this with donations and bank loans, I arranged that a considerable sum of capital from the I.E.C. was set aside for his efforts.
Boudicca was hired on as a consultant to the I.E.C. her technical knowledge was by her own admission, limited. However all this meant was that her knowledge was limited by Eutopian standards, by our standards she was a frigging genius. She was also much more generous with her knowledge than Becky. She gave me the pass-codes for her technology, this tech simply would not work without entering the correct combination of numbers or symbols.
As she moved around the factory floor it took a good long while until people would be able to continue working with her around. Whereas Becky had been totally introverted, Boudicca was positively delighted to show everyone how to show everyone how her people’s technology worked.
But that was not all she did, she started some good traditions at the factory. Like setting good safety standards, use of magnifying glasses during assembly and nose art.
One day I caught her painting a rather charismatic looking figure on the left side of the Lysander Spooner. It appeared to be a man with a long beard, throwing missiles as one might throw darts at Martian aircraft. I snuck up on her and watched her paint this for a few minutes. As she completed the fine details on a crashing Martian ship she asked. “So how long are you going to sit there and watch?”
“Dang, I used to think that I was pretty good at sneaking up on people.”
“You still are, but you forget I am not human, I can turn my senses up and down. Right now I can hear rivets being driven a quarter mile away, and see flecks of paint a few microns wide.”
“Fun, so what exactly are you doing to my bird?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think it would matter, it’s an old tradition back home to personalize ones property and I thought you might like this.”
“Well I must say its very nice, your skill is exquisite.”
“Being in an android body helps, back home I was considered to be a downright mediocre artist. I did not have the skill to be anything more than a hobbyist. But your art style is different here, it’s more to my liking, much less abstract.”
I reminisced for a moment about the art I had seen on Ceres, it had been unbelievably surreal. Sometimes I thought that a trick was being played on me whenever I saw their art, it often looked downright crazy. It seemed that the crazier it looked the more highly it was esteemed.
I went up to the still wet paint and asked, “is that supposed to be Spooner?”
“Yes, you never saw his face?”
“I have, but I am afraid someone has played a prank on you, that’s not Lysander Spooner, that’s Leonardo da Vinci.”
“Yeah, we can go talk to Graves if you like, but that is Da Vinci. My old company printed quite a few books with his image in it.”
She looked at the old face and apologized, “I’m sorry, I can repaint it, or not add a stabilizing compound. That way it will just burn off at high speeds.”
I replied, “no, leave it as is, I like it. If we were in the military I would probably have to have that removed. If you would like to add artwork to any other craft go ahead.”
She smiled and asked, “there’s one last thing about working here that I need to ask about. Your employees are allowed to take notes, books and products home?”
“No, not at all, we have been trying to maintain tight security here due to the risk of these technologies falling into the wrong hands. Never mind the problem of patent violations.”
“Then I suppose we have to talk about one of your employees, a man named Thompson. I think he was the guy who told me that this image was a drawing of Spooner. I noticed that he was taking small things home and I have been following him for around awhile to confirm my suspicions.”
“You have evidence?”
She tapped the side of her head, “everything’s recorded remember?”
I nodded, Eutopos may be a lovely society by earth standards, but it was not perfect. For some reason I was never able to figure out many of them were incredibly angry, capable of committing stunning acts of violence over small slights. The nonaggression principle may have been their ultimate law, but they did not always obey it. Also they did not seem to think it applied to insults. Additionally there was virtually no privacy, they often went about wearing goggles which plugged into their communication devices. Providing information about everything around them and recording everything that happened. In public, among Eutopian’s there could be no expectation of privacy, “if you want privacy go home and hang up a sign that says go away.” Was their general policy on privacy. Boudicca had 2 of these cameras functioning as her eyes, it sometimes unnerved me that Boudicca had recordings of the both of us in private moments. But she assured me that those recordings were for her personal use only.
Boudicca showed me the relevant information on the suspect employee. His name was Stan Thompson, he was a recent hire who we had brought on because of his above average ability with wiring, this was his end at the company. It was late in the day, he had gone home by now. Boudicca asked if this was a matter for the police and I replied, “no, there is no need to drag them into this. Lets just go over to his home, get the stolen stuff and tell him he is fired.”
Thompson lived in a very nice apartment building in Fredrick. on the 13th floor. As we rode the elevator up I commented to Boudicca, “13th floor, that’s foreboding.”
“Huh? what do you mean?”
“The number 13 is considered unlucky here.”
“Ah, local superstition, got it.”
The elevator dinged and we were on our floor.
I walked up to the door quietly, standing off to the side I knocked softly on his door. “Stan, it’s Ryan, we need to talk.”
The door exploded, bullets flew out like a swarm of angry bees. Both of us backed away and hit the ground until the bullets stopped. As soon as they did Boudicca growled ferociously and shouted. “Shoot at me? You are going to pay for that you piece of shit!”
She got up and kicked in his door with tremendous force, causing it to shatter. She activated her internal weapon, a small disintegrator in her arm and stomped into his apartment, I followed along behind her. Thompson was running out the back, Boudicca fired a blast of energy at him. He threw an explosive at us and she dove on me to shield me from the blast. It was not a large bomb, it was little more than a firecracker, but it was enough to slow us down.
Boudicca exploded off of me and started running after him again. We heard him running up the stairs up to the roof and leap a gap between his building and the nearest building over. The other building had an open patio area for someone’s penthouse which was about ten feet lower and five feet distant from the roof of Thompson’s building. I did not dare to leap that gap but Boudicca flew across it in one incredible jump.
Thompson had climbed down to the ground on a rope, which he had lit on fire making it useless to Boudicca. It would take too long to go down the stairs. It did not look like she could simply jump the distance to the ground without destroying her legs. I was still on the top of the other building. I asked, “Boudicca, can you hit him with your disintegrator?”
“No, he is in among too many people, wait, he stopped, he is bent over catching his breath.”
She walked over and tore the doorknob off of the entrance to the penthouse, there was a terrible breaking and wrenching noise and she came out with a toilet in her hands. My jaw dropped, I had no idea what she was doing. She was holding the toilet like a shot put. She swirled round and round, closer and closer to the edge of the roof and let go.
It sailed through the air in a gentle arc, a good long ways before it fell out of my sight. Boudicca was looking over the edge of the other roof, I couldn’t see so I ran over to get a better view of the street. There was a quiet shattering noise and she jumped up shouting, “yes! Connected! Right in his spine!”
I saw what happened, Thompson was lying dead in the street with shattered porcelain where his skull should have been. Blood and other fluids pooling around his body. There was a crowd rapidly growing around the corpse, it was a sickening image.
Boudicca leapt back to where I standing, I breathlessly muttered, “you, you killed him, you crushed him with a toilet!?”
“He tried to kill us, as far as I am concerned that forfeits his right to life!”
I staggered away and tried to clear my head, “the police are going to be here soon, we should look around his apartment before they get here.”
She nodded and we went back down the stairs.
In the apartment we found evidence of his involvement with agents of the Japanese government. He left letters from them scattered around the apartment, the place was filled to the brim with stolen notes, tools and a few small pieces of our technology. We gathered up the most sensitive pieces of information we could easily find, and anything in Teslas handwriting and got out of there as fast and discretely as we could. Walking nonchalantly as fast as we could in the opposite direction of the shattered corpse.
When we got back to the factory the only people there was the janitor and Tesla, working late as per usual. I handed him his notes back and told him that he needed to keep better track of his notes. He asked what was going on and I asked, “Boudicca, could you be so kind as to play us your recording of what happened?”
She got out her little tele-screen device and started playing back what had happened. I prefaced the recording for Tesla, then it got to the point where the 2 of us had gotten separated. Thompson had ran a short way from the other building, then stopped by a fruit stand to catch his breath. He looked back, smiled and waved and started walking away leisurely. A series of very complicated looking mathematical equations started to form on the screen. Then the screen showed her breaking in to some persons home, twisting off the water in their bathroom, then lifting out their toilet.
From there the recording showed this utterly insane act had actually been a carefully calculated strike. She had factored in every single aspect of the throw, but that did not mean that it still wasn’t an act of utter lunacy. After looking at this again I looked right in her eyes and stated, “my dear, please don’t ever do anything like that again!”
She made a twittering laugh, “sorry, I suppose I should have just shot him. But how often do you get the chance to destroy someone with a toilet? I had to do it, I just had to.”
I was quite horrified that my girlfriend thought so little of murdering a man. Tesla was utterly speechless, he wasn’t a man easily rendered speechless. He grabbed my arm and asked, “I know I just watched it, but i just can’t believe your girlfriend here got hit by a barrage of bullets, leapt between 2 buildings and murdered a man by hurling a 40 pound weight nearly a quarter mile.”
“Barrage of bullets? She wasn’t hit by a barrage of bullets.”
I looked over at her, she started touching her chest, I hadn’t noticed but she was looking a little lumpy. She started taking off her clothes, causing Tesla to shy away, she commented, “oh come on, I’m just a machine, I think you have some experience looking at machines!”
She took everything off revealing that she had several bullets in her. Tesla handed me a pair of needle nose pliers and I started pulling them out one by one. I dug 4 30 calibre shells out of her back, one out of her abdomen and 2 out of her neck, while Tesla studied the recording. The firecrackers that Thompson had thrown at us had been bullets from a Mauser automatic pistol. As I pulled them out a thick gel started to form in the wounds, I took a moment to look at this. She explained, “artificial healing for artificial skin. Works on a similar principle to normal skin, it just works a little slower.”
I replied, “it’s not just that, it’s…”
I know what you mean, you know how my people take pride in our bodies, we try to build everything according to the golden ratio. Even ourselves, do you know that there is a mask that you can put over the image of any attractive persons face and it will match up to the lines of their face?”
“No, I hadn’t heard of that.”
With the last bullet yanked out Boudicca put her clothes back on and said to Tesla. “Alright you prude, you can turn around now.”
He handed the tele-screen back to her and pointed out the moment that Thompson shot her. He must have reloaded his automatic with incredible speed. He commented, “so I suppose now the two of you are even.”
She looked up brightly, “he is right, I saved your life.”
I was feeling tired and wanted to get some rest, so all I said was, “can we throw out all this life debt stuff. I would happily save either of you from certain death at least a dozen more times, but no more than that!”
They both laughed at that and with that done Boudicca and I went home. She hooked herself into her charging cable and I conked out on the bed.
It wasn’t until about ten AM the next day that the police showed up. They were investigating a very suspicious incident which they couldn’t decide was an accident or a murder. It seemed that one of my employees had his entire top half of his body obliterated by a toilet that dozens of eyewitnesses had seen flying through the air like a cannonball.
The detectives had also found that he had been stealing from my company, selling secrets to several foreign governments and his buildings doorman had witnessed myself and a female who was, quote, “dressed like a harlot”. Going up to his apartment shortly before his death.
I explained as well as I could, “yes, I and my girlfriend went to his apartment to confront him about this. You should be able to find a Mauser handgun somewhere that he used to fire bullets at the both of us. He got away from us, and as to this toilet stuff, I haven’t the foggiest how, or why that would happen. To be frank officer I don’t believe you when you say that’s how he died.”
“It’s pretty obvious your company woirks wit some rather weird stuff mr Hammond. Some say you got a pack of wizards, or maybe Martians working for yous.”
“Oh come now officer, there have been some revelations of some pretty advanced technologies as of late but I haven’t heard of anything that could launch a toilet like a cannonball. If it did exist what would be the point of such a thing?”
“Well, I suppose yous have a point there.”
Boudicca came in the room, wearing nothing but underwear, very sheer underwear. She commented, “oh, I’m sorry dear, you didn’t say you had company over.”
While the detectives were temporarily stunned I stated, “this is my girlfriend, Betty, could you tell these policemen about when we confronted mr Thompson yesterday.”
I silently prayed that she had heard my conversation with the detectives.
She recited the events flawlessly, I don’t know what their reaction would have been if they had found out that she was an alien but I would be willing to wager that it wouldn’t have been pleasant. She even laughed about the toilet thing, “a quarter mile you say? Any thoughts on what could have launched a toilet a quarter mile? Was there a medieval catapult on the roof of that building?”
“No, no catty pult, but your stories line up, we will be keeping in contact though,”
I shook their hands as they left and said as they walked out my door, I forcefully stated, “I expect the return of every single bit of my companies property as soon as all this is concluded.”
The less talkative detective replied, “of course sir.”
After they walked off down the road I asked, “a medieval catapult?”
“Do you have any better idea as to how someone would launch something that heavy that far?”
I shook my head in the negative and asked, “I just don’t understand how you can be so cavalier with human life.”
She shrugged and replied, “isn’t it the law here that when someone commits murder they die?”
“Yes, but only after a fair trial.”
“Oh come on, where is the fun in that? Waiting months or years for some proxy to deal with the problem, no when something like this happens you have to deal with it directly and quickly. If I had not killed him he could have gone off and killed someone else.”
“I suppose you have a point there.”
Over the next week security measures were introduced, I preferred to think that most of the employees, especially the veterans were too honorable to commit acts of espionage. But the company was expanding so quickly that hiring on villains was probably inevitable.
About four days after the ugly death of Stan Thompson the factory got a shipment from Belgium, at my request Browning had continued work on his more conventional firearms designs and he had sent me a sampling of his latest project.
Flechette rifles were proving difficult to replicate with the technology at hand, disintegrators were still popular but I thought they were a bit too much for close combat. So Browning had designed and perfected a new type of gun, an automatic rifle. Chambered in 7MM Mauser caliber it was a big, solid chunk of machined steel and wood, heavy, much more complicated than a bolt action rifle, but still quite reliable. Several such designs had been attempted by various engineers, but no one had made one as simple and effective as Browning could.
We got a dozen of them in 2 crates I was oddly reassured by these guns. After all the horrible weapons I had seen these rifles were comfortably familiar, using good old gunpowder technology to drive a chunk of copper jacketed lead at reasonable velocities. These things probably wouldn’t tear a man in 2 or turn some poor bastard inside out like disintegrators and flechette rifles did. Or roast a person alive like a heat ray, for a moment I contemplated that even more horrifying weapons were probably in development somewhere, probably in this very complex. No, not probably, Tesla or some other engineer probably had a completed prototype of something that would give me nightmares for the rest of my life. Things that probably tortured the intended victim to death, I very nearly threw up at this thought.
I was getting ready to do a little target practice with one of these rifles when I looked up to see the Knapp descending to a landing. Harding was back from his long trip to Venus. The Knapp looked terrible, the paint was peeling, not like it did when it traveled at high speed in the atmosphere. More like the paint had been dissolved. Upon closer analysis the metal and glass had been damaged as well. The hatch opened up and Harding slowly exited from the ship. Followed by most of his crew, although he had lost one of them, an engineer named Fromish in an electrical accident. Fromish had been stored in a cargo container exposed to the vacuum of space, his body had been perfectly preserved, that was disturbing.
As he walked away from the ship Harding shouted, “hose down that ship! it’s coated with some indescribably fowl substances.”
I helped him away, he was quite weak, I asked if him and the crew had come down with a disease, he insisted strongly that the problem was chemical not biological.
After a couple of days the crew recovered, as the boss said the ship was covered in some fowl substance that sloughed off when hit with water. The Knapp was going to require months of careful repair, I asked Boudicca what her people knew about Venus and she frankly replied that Venus was a forbidden zone for her species. What little they knew about the place indicated that it was a place where sulfuric acid rained from the sky. That we had landed a ship on that planet had struck her as incredibly reckless.
So she went back to the Martian archive, by now she had much of it translated and what it explained was most curious. It talked about a series of expeditions to Venus that found an environment being transformed by a mysterious process. After the failure of the Martian invasion their meteor cars were seen crashing into Venus. This was concluded to be some kind of consolation prize for the Martians in the wake of their debacle on earth. However the Martian archive specifically explained that their scientists did not understand the nature of what was going on on the surface of the planet. The books described the planet as being alive, but not alive, whatever the hell that meant.
However the only source for this information was one report from a single expedition that had barely survived a mission to the planet thousands of years ago. Followed by many years of speculation and quite a few myths and weird tales about that planet.
The next day I went over to Harding’s house and asked what he saw. Rutherford normally spoke slowly and carefully, now he was speaking in a rapid, clipped tone, very odd.
“First off, I think we can assume that you didn’t make it all the way out to Jupiter?”
“You assume correctly.”
“So how was the ship damaged?”
“It was some strange Venusian phenomenon, it is going to take some time to explain.”
“Okay, let’s start from the beginning, we lost communications after a week, what happened?”
“The radio broke, a micro-meteor shower took out our external antenna. We had to land in order to effect repairs, when we entered orbit around Venus we sent down a sounding to sample the atmosphere and found that it was healthy. When we opened the hatch we started taking samples, there was bacteria, at least we thought they were bacteria, extremely persistent little beasts which live on that planet. This stuff consumes anything not alive in the environment and produced gases and other substances which allowed larger creatures to live on the planet.
There were no large creatures, no trees, no lizards, no bugs, no nothing. So we took off and started searching for anything to explain what was happening here. We found a couple of downed Martian meteor cars, the monsters inside had burst out and started their mining activities but they had evidently died of starvation.
Checking for any radio signals we found one, but it was broadcasting gibberish, it did not appear to be any kind of coherent language. So we traced the signal via radio direction finder to the North Pole of the planet. We flew up there and found a massive building, a building as big as all of the city of Washington. It was made of massive stones and covered in some incomprehensible language. When we landed and went inside we found that the stones of the building generated a soft light.”
He stopped and exhaled slowly, “we were really scared, nothing made sense how could this building exist on a planet without the ability to sustain a mouse. The lights of the building seemed to be signaling us to come further and further into the building, I and Franks went in leaving the rest of the crew to go back to the ship. We left a trail of paint splotches on the walls as we went deeper into the building. After what seemed like a days travel, but it was really only five hours we entered a massive chamber. It was incredible, it looked like it was entirely made of gold, platinum and steel. It was full of technologies the likes of which I have never seen before. The lights were directing us further and further in until we came to what appeared to be a control facility, the size of a large building all made of glass. A seam opened in the glass and a large clamshell door opened.”
I entered, I cautioned Franks to hang back, as soon as I went inside something hit me. Now at this point Franks and my stories split, as far as he saw I went into the glass building and then ascended through the glass to the top of the building. After about ten minutes I came back with an insane look in my eyes yelling about how I could see the entire universe and then passed out. But what really happened to me was quite a bit different.”
At first everything was just white, an insane blinding white, I thought I was dead, then I felt a presence and looked around. I was in a forest, it was beautiful, there were great birds flying through the trees. I looked behind me and there was a woman standing there, she was looking off in the distance, like she was completely unaware of my presence. I waved my hand in front of her face and she did not react, she just stood there completely motionless. She had the pronounced brow of a Neanderthal. She was wearing clothes like none I have ever seen, kind of like a multicolored suit. Then she looked at me right in the eye, god that was terrifying, I tried to scream but no sound came out. Then she said in clear English, “calm down! There is nothing to fear, wait a couple of minutes.”
I staggered back, almost tripping over into a creek, after a few moments she stated, ‘analysis completed. Greetings, I am an avatar of the computer system of this facility. This is the Venus terraforming project, your brain is unlike any that I have ever sampled before and is filled with memories which make no sense. This likely means that you are not a member of the Yonth race, there was a probability of 57 percent that this would happen. If this was to occur I am to play this message.”
Everything went all white again and I was back in the glass building, on the top floor. There was a man with a pronounced brow sitting at a desk which looked like it was cut from a solid ruby. He also had an exaggerated brow, he spoke. “Fine day to you, if you are watching this then the worst case scenario has probably happened. All life in the solar system was snuffed out and you are either an alien from beyond the realm illuminated by our sun or the next life form to develop in this region. In either case you are doubtless very curious about what all this is about.
This is the Venus terraforming project, started 20 years ago. It works by utilizing nano bots to consume and transform the chemicals that contaminate the surface of the planet into inert or fertile substances making the planet suitable for occupation by oxygen breathing, carbon-based life forms.
At least that was the plan, fifteen years in on this project the sun started flaring. This was worrying to the scientists of our race so a project was created to build observatories to understand the nature of the solar chaos. These observatories were placed on the four rocky planets closest to the sun and on moons of the gaseous planets, before these observatories were completed there was a massive energy wave which destroyed all technologies that were not buried deep underground and killed everyone with a massive dose of radiation.
I, a few dozen others this project only survived because our facility was built to withstand the toxic environment of this planet. We tried for years to get a signal back to Earth or one of the other colonies but there was no response. We tried to expand out from this facility but the nanites would have to work for another hundred years before we could live outside. We also did not have sufficient samples of plants or animals to create a healthy ecosystem.
He sighed and stated, “over the course of three years what few of us left faded, some committed suicide, others died from accidents. Finally it was down to myself and my wife, she was one of three women attached to this project. The other 2 died in a freak accident, my wife died of a heart attack leaving me alone.
I cannot continue, though I am probably the last member of my race I cannot withstand the sadness of continuing on completely alone in the universe. Whoever you are, you have now inherited this planet, and the legacy of the Yonth race. Do with it whatever you want, I would like to leave you with some profound wisdom, but I got nothing.”
Then he picked up what looked like a handheld weapon that looked like a pepper box revolver and pressed a button that ended the simulation. He faded from the desk and the woman reappeared. She asked, “so, what would you like to do next?”
I replied that I wanted to go back to my friend and the next thing I knew I was at Franks feet with a splitting headache. Franks was spooked, he was pointing his disintegrator right between my eyes. I told him that I was okay but as I looked around I could see that woman standing right behind Franks. I pointed at her, Franks looked behind him but he didn’t see anything. I screamed, loudly I shouted, ‘what’s going on, why can’t you see her!?!”
She calmly replied, “your brain has been reconfigured to see and hear me, your friend has not been altered.”
I was relaxed by that so I asked, “is there any food down here I’m incredibly hungry.”
She pointed me towards a stone construction I followed her inside and there was food inside which seemed reminiscent of a croissant. So I started asking questions.
The Venus terraforming project had been in effect for 20,000 years, it could have been completed a long time ago but there was the aforementioned lack of critters and plants to complete the project. The project was created by a civilization that emerged on earth 60,000 years ago. These people were what we call Neanderthals, they had developed advanced technology’s and settled the solar system long long ago. This explains why we found evidence of settlements on the moon and why the Martians bear such a biological resemblance to us. The evidence suggests that the Yonth colony on Mars was not wiped out but did suffer quite a bit of damage and reemerged isolated on Mars as a distinctive strain of the species.”
I was amazed by all this, “so let me get this straight, an eon ago Neanderthals built a spacefaring civilization which was wiped out by some kind of horrible disaster. Leaving the population on Mars to eventually evolve into an alien civilization and leaving the planet Venus ready for immediate human habitation?”
“The universe is full of weirdness.”
“Ah my dear Ryan, if you didn’t know that by now then you are hopeless.”
Suddenly Boudicca spoke up, she had been sitting there hammering away furiously on a typewriter she had made transcribing all this when she asked. “We had sent several probes to Venus and they had all been destroyed, we believed by sulfuric acid, how did your ship survive with so little damage?”
Harding chuckled and replied, “we almost didn’t, Franks and I did not know but the Knapp was being eaten by these particles while we were inside the complex. They only stopped eating when I went inside the glass tower and the device inside downloaded my memories, identifying us as friends not foes. The Martian meteor cars we had seen had come down in areas with relatively few nanites and had not been consumed simply because they contained living beings. But their machines had been incapacitated, rendered useless by the ravages of these particles. Their efforts to spread their red weed had been hastily checked by the tiny machines which had scrubbed the surface clean of that accursed plant.”
She looked back at what she had transcribed, “huh, that’s pretty wild, what else did you discover?”
He scratched the back of his head and replied, “well to be honest I was so freaked out by everything that had happened that I and Franks wanted to get back to the ship right away so we started walking but not before that woman that only I could see asked if there was anything else we wanted, I replied that all I wanted was for her to go away. We walked out of the complex and made a straight line back here.”
After another hour of clearing things up we had a good report on what had happened on Venus. This planet was a prize beyond calculation, we would have to approach this very carefully. A copy of this report was sent off to Pierce in New Zealand but we decided to keep other governments out of this for the moment.
This was getting to all be too much, the I.E.C. had grown fifty fold since its founding and besides the aforementioned European efforts there were several other companies that had been founded with the intent to explore space. Humanity was stampeding into the cosmos, Tesla was already working on further enhancements to his engines which might allow travel, not just between planets but between stars. That night I went outside and looked up at the heavens, I could not help but contemplate everything that had happened.
While I was staring out at the vastness of space over our launch facility after having talked with Harding. Boudicca silently walked up next to me, surprising me a bit. She asked if everything was alright, I replied that I was, just overwhelmed by everything that had happened. Also Rutherford was acting funny, he seemed distant. She replied, “yeah, I can see how all this might be too much, and you haven’t even seen the rest of what is out there. The ice moons, the distant comet belt, the rings of Saturn.”
“How do you people handle all this?”
“Oh, one must have a flexible mind, it also helps to have hobbies or other distractions to take ones mind off of things.”
Lecherously, I stated, “well I can think of one thing I can do to take my mind off all this.”
She chuckled and replied, “that sounds like fun, later though, they are coming.”
“The first landing of Eutopian tourists, their ship is in orbit right now and they are coming down on this position.”
“What? Why didn’t you say anything before?”
“I just got the signal now, they thought it would be funny to sneak up on us.”
I announced this to everyone else as Boudicca ran out onto the runway to signal for her people. This was going to be impressive, the Eutopian’s were coming down as fast as they could to evade Earths defenses. We all looked up for something that would be quite distinct in the nights sky.
And there it was, a roughly cone shaped object, still glowing from the heat of entering the atmosphere. Eutopian landing craft used an unusual way to navigate within the air of a planet. They deployed large rotors out of the top of the craft to create an autorotation effect to slow them down and allow maneuvering in the air.
This made a curious noise as the craft slowed down and then stopped in the air, hovering about 50 feet in front of Boudicca and 100 feet from the rest of us. Four short legs lowered and the craft landed smoothly. It took a little while for the rotors to finish spinning, when they did they folded back into the thing and its hatch opened up.
I looked behind me and saw that several people had their hands on disintegrator pistols, one was nervously holding an automatic rifle. This level of security was probably going to be mandatory for any future alien landings. Had they landed anywhere else on earth a fleet of electrical ships probably would have been deployed to annihilate their craft.
As the hatch opened a dozen androids dressed in innocuous clothing disembarked. Some were taking photos with their handheld cameras, a crude device by their standards, but still far more advanced than anything we could manufacture. Tesla walked up to them and addressed them in their own language, something about welcome to Earth and make yourselves comfortable. One of them walked right up to Tesla, looked him square in the eye and said, in clear but accented English, “I know this man, my brother tried to treat him back home, he has the worst case of obsessive compulsive disorder I have ever seen!”
Tesla was chastised by this and walked away, the Eutopian’s seemed a bit irritated by this rude behavior. After introductions we welcomed the aliens inside and started talking about what they were here for. By now the Eutopian’s had a vast knowledge of Earth, so much that there were thousands of them who wanted to come here to stay. They wanted to set up businesses and live here on earth, but not all of them would tolerate our outrageous political system.
When they said that I immediately stopped the conversation and asked, “what do you mean by that?”
“Millions of your people live in a state of oppression, forced to labor under slave masters. Having their hard earned property stolen by armed thugs. We intend to do something about that, within about a week we will be landing craft on every inhabited continent on this planet. They will be filled with all sorts of useful items to allow the freedom of your species. We will also be acting to prevent the expansion of your more militant activities in the solar system.”
“I asked, “excuse me, but didn’t you people try to do something like that on Mars, and it didn’t go very well?”
“The Martians were doomed, you people killed their civilization and they finished themselves off. Also we have learned some important lessons, we will be providing information as opposed to military assistance. We do not seek to take prisoners but liberate them. An all out war only serves to make things worse and this will not occur, but we will resist all aggressive actions and assist all who wish to live in peace.”
“Still, this sounds an awful lot like an invasion. If that is the case then we will not stand for this!”
“Then the question is not if you are going to let us, it’s how are you going to stop us?”
The next six years saw the appearance of the Eutopian traders, wanderers and warriors. The traders were businessmen who came to Earth mainly to exchange advanced technologies for resources. They would often sell their technology in separate areas of large department stores, open air markets, storefronts, etc. These little sections would always be at least ten times more crowded than neighboring businesses.
They would take in money for their technologies, then turn around and purchase huge amounts of raw metals, lumber, cloth, oil, later on food and even art. Sometimes they would buy really weird stuff like industrial wastes, inedible plants, coal tar and even chicken feathers in bulk. That must have made for an odd image when an absurdly handsome man or woman showed up at some hayseeds farm and offered to buy tons of what they considered to be garbage. Then the stuff was crammed into a drop pod and shipped back home on a freighter. The freighters would come back crammed with more technologies to sell and the cycle would continue.
The traders would sell anything from an electronic watch to incredibly advanced medical technologies to anyone willing to pay the relatively fair price. Sometimes they would even sell advanced weapons. They would never pay taxes, but were rarely punished for it because only the most idiotic government bureaucrat would cut off a supply of advanced technology. While also incurring the wrath of a being that was an incredibly powerful living weapon.
The traders did a lot of good work, what they considered to be free samples of their technology had transformative effects on culture which could not be quantified. One of the first things they did was establish a constellation of artificial satellites in orbit around the planet which allowed any sufficiently advanced computer to connect to their network. Facilitating ever more rapid global communication. Funnily enough when I asked Boudicca about this she said that these satellites were not for us but for their personal use. The concept not having a secure global communications network was absurd to them.
The wanderers were philosophers, tourists, eccentrics who wandered the planet. They blended in with the local environment as much as they could, with the exception of those with an aggressive philosophical bent. They would go to a town square and preach Eutopian philosophy until they got tired of it. Or night fell, or someone came to stop them by force, at which point they would run away.
Sometimes the wanderers would become warriors, the distinction was simple. A philosopher would preach his ideas and run away when challenged with violence. A warrior would beat the ever loving tar out of anyone who tried to get them to shut up by not asking politely. In almost all cases if someone asked politely a philosopher would cease speaking and go someplace else.
This was the so called rising, a campaign of mostly nonviolent resistance in colonial territories organized by the Eutopian’s. True to their word they dropped dozens, perhaps hundreds of their landing pods all over the planet. The pods would land, something would come out then the pod would takeoff again before any electrical ships could arrive to destroy them.
The most reports of landings occurred in Africa and Asia, pods would come down and then the locals would start behaving strangely. It would start with children acting critical to their parents, then employees would act surly to their employers. After awhile people would stop coming in to work altogether.
Fighting would start over property rights, as far as the rebellious were concerned they had complete ownership of their property. Taxes were no longer paid, bureaucrats were humiliated and incapacitated at every turn. New exotic types of weapons would start to show up, the most common being a rifle that the Eutopian’s the liberator. It was available as a pistol or a rifle, used caseless ammunition and could fire for an absurd amount of time before it ran dry. Derivatives of this weapon were considered to be toys on Eutopos, here they were better weapons than anything that most soldiers could dream of. The liberator became a fabled weapon, not just because of its power but because of the mysterious tests that Eutopian’s were said to administer to those who requested one. I was told that one did not buy a liberator, it was earned.
If it could be avoided weapons were not usually used in these incidents, criminals known to use liberators had a habit of vanishing mysteriously. The theme of most attacks on authority figures was usually some kind of comedy. After the twelfth incident I read about where a policeman had his head shaved, face painted like a clown and dumped, tied up mostly naked in a ditch I asked Boudicca what all this was about.
She replied, “an involuntary society is the cruelest joke in the universe, what we want is to make you people aware of that joke.”
The three pronged approach of fair trade, free flow of ideas and a willingness to fight alongside humanity engendered a great deal of goodwill towards the Eutopian’s. Not among the power elite of course, they considered them a deadly threat. But as time went by more and more people started to consider them to be a friend, as opposed to a mysterious alien or a dangerous invader.
I had little involvement in this, there were new ships to build, planets to colonize. The French especially were taking the lead in space, working on ever larger and larger ships and were rumored to be working on a Faustian bargain with several Eutopian corporations to facilitate a technology exchange that would allow them to build colossal ships. In time they started work on a massive shipyard in Marseille. But while the European efforts were aiming towards the moon and Mars we at the I.E.C. began efforts to explore and colonize the planet Venus.