A Serialized Novel
By Francisco Colber
Section 2, Chapter 1
Eventual destination was somewhere on the edge of our own spiral galaxy, a socially hostile planet named Earth by the inhabitants, many thousands of light years from Zzol. But as we neared the starry edge we spotted what appeared to be a row of starships dead ahead.
They were traveling in the same direction that we were: we had caught up to them. The primitive shape of their hulls gave them away as Post-industrial. The shape was key to properly assessing their technology prowess—more advanced races usually traveled in spherical craft and could only be detected whenever they accelerated or decelerated from subspace.
Typically these early space farers rose to prominence after their world was destroyed from industrial excess. Like the similar but more advanced Pre-utopians these searched the galaxy for their own version of paradise.
“Are they known to us?” I asked.
“It is hard to say—we must take a closer look.”
We remained unseen though well within range of their sensors. The ships were small, nine of them traveling in a row and in close proximity. After adjusting some setting on the back of my suit he urged me to follow him, “Ciia, do not speak, our thoughts alone will do.”
He entered the lead ship through its outer hull—his ability to dissolve into matter was evidently versatile. I followed, and purposed to do as he had instructed. We soon found ourselves in a long maintenance shaft. I saw how primitive their ship was as compared to the vessels I had been in.
Visible electromagnetic conduits and other circuitry would put them at risk of a catastrophic circuitry collapse if they entered the radiation beam of a neutron star; they would die without warning. After studying their control panels father stated confidently, “they are Briffian.”
“Briffian!” I could barely contain my excitement. Like Zzol the Briffian home world existed within a neighboring star cluster. According to our history they were the survivors of a space war with others in their region; that, according to our elders put them in a very different class of
“They are Roque Industrials, but they appear to be reforming: this voyage might be among their first journeys outside their cluster.”
Four humanoids walked passed us—unaware of our presence.
“The tall humanoid is a Delinian,” father explained, “a close ally.” Their mutual civilizations once ruled their neighbors with absolute control. They never considered invading Zzol because it did not have the advanced technologies they craved. Eventually an industrial collapse in each world propelled the alliance towards Post-industrial ideals—that is the level they appear to be in. The Briffians were considered the instigator of the war, the most violent of the two.”
“Violent? I was always taught that all space faring civilizations were peaceful.”
“Tragically the motivation for lasting peace comes after an industrial collapse. Such cataclysms are the sad but predictable outcomes of millennia of ecological and social neglect. They appear to be the survivors of an ultimate war of mass destruction: a war of total devastation.”
“How can intelligent civilizations self-destruct?”
“You are Zzolan, your people never experienced the Industrial phases: your legacy is incomplete. United to their Delinian hosts the delicate balance of social & ecologic reforms collapsed by the introduction of unlimited power; the sudden technological gains brought by the Delinians tipped the balance toward another era of despotism.
What to the Briffians was ‘salvation’ only prolonged both civilizations’ final agony. Yet, it appears to me, judging by the limited armaments onboard, that both civilizations are now stabilizing—if there is no interference they may reach Pre-utopian levels within the next thousand years.”
“What about the Directive? Could not that have prevented their suffering?” I asked.
“Unfortunately that notion is unknown to them.”
“Could not you, or the other Surrogates have taught them?”
“It is a vast galaxy within a vast universe,” he concluded. “Do not look at them directly Ciia!” urged father, “one of them is a Sympath—he will sense us.” One of the humanoids suddenly looked about the corridor and whispered something to his companion. The taller one, a Delinian officer, was oblivious. The two Briffians now kneeled and began to speak.
“We know you are here—speak to us!”
“What are we to do?” I asked.
“Be still—and try not to think!” father replied. The sole Delinian looked on curiously, “is it your prayer hour already?”
“Assure us that our journey will succeed, we have families on-board.”
The Delinian officer called the bridge on his armband controller, “corridor 56-b, requesting an Advisor.” The advisors were religious envoys with authorization from their home-world government. Their job is to engender cultural tolerance within the crew. The Sympath was now making eye contact. “This one is strongly intuitive,” father said.
“How can we deny him his reality?” I prodded.
“No, Ciia, we must not!”
“We implore you, reveal yourselves…” begged the Briffian officer.
“Such revelation would set in motion a chain of events contrary to our good intention, or its own good notion. Their beliefs do not encompass the totality of our reality. Even if to them we were angels of light, our revelations would open unwise doors within their theology: the consequences are unknown”.
The younger of the two began to cry. I looked at father, “Why is he crying?”
“We must leave now Ciia,” pleaded father.
“If we leave he will think the vision is false or displeasing,” I said.
“If we had left immediately this would not have happened, the longer we delay the more harm we create,” father was upset.
“But they are scientists … they will understand. How can any truth cause harm?” I implored him.
“They are religious devotees and you do not yet know the power of religion—we must do nothing!”
… to be continued