Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Chapter 50. Of the Galactic Marching Band

There were still twelve days to go before the first and biggest of the ceremonies, which was due on the last Saturday of October.

The Galactic embassy was a hive of activity. Parts of it were already in full use, housing and serving the many Galactics who had already arrived. Other parts were still being built. There were many Garut’nim busy assembling things. Even busier were a species called the Piantur. They looked like tall, purple penguins, and Michael told me they were the Galaxy’s top engineers – 18th in the rich-list.

Ramael and Hazael met us when we arrived. With them, I was surprised to see, were Cristina and Helen. “We didn’t want to go back to our old life in Amsterdam,” Cristina said. “So we stayed with Ramael and Hazael in the ’mobile. Now, we have taken jobs on the staff of the Embassy, and this is our home.”

Hazael gave us copies of the detailed plans for the twelve ceremonies, which he had put together based on my list. Looking at the plans, I noticed that the Galactic Marching Band was due to play a leading part. “That might be fun,” I said to Gabriel, “for those of us, who are musicians, to play in the band at the big ceremony.” “It can be organized, I think,” he said with a smile.

As it turned out, only Marie and I from the Team were musically inclined. Gabriel took us to meet Mostro of the Vivar, the captain of the band. He was from the planet Vivro-2, and his species’ own induction into the Galaxy had been famous – enough so, for Bart to have used it as one of the examples in his report on us.

Mostro was physically closer to human than any other Galactic I had yet met. In fact, if his skin colour had had a little more pink and a little less blue, he could have passed as a Scandinavian.

Now, there is almost no discrimination in the Galaxy. Beyond, of course, the obvious and rational discrimination; those who behave well are treated well, and those that behave badly are treated badly. But the Galactic Marching Band was an exception to this rule. To qualify, you had to have exactly two legs, at least one windpipe, and a certain degree of musical ability.

But all was not lost for musicians of other bodily configurations. For quadrupeds, for instance, there was the Galactic Trotting Band, which had been centre stage at the ceremonies for the Brjemych. And, for insect species, the Galactic Six-legged Harmony, and for spiders the Galactic Eightfold Way. Regrettably, species with odd numbers of legs, such as the Galant’I, had to be left out of the fun.

Marie and I both qualified on legs and windpipes. But musical ability? Mostro said to us, “I will audition you the day after tomorrow.” Michael took Marie back to her home to pick up her flute, while Gabriel organized the loan to me, from a local enthusiast, of an E flat bass tuba.

Galactic musical notation is, at first sight, very different from Earthly. But it follows almost exactly the same principles. So, it is not hard to learn; nor is it hard to transcribe between the two. And a march, after all, is a march, is a march.

The audition was a breeze. After I played a few bars to Mostro, he said, “That is good, but you could play louder.” I obliged. Of course, that was playing while sitting – marching is another matter. So, Marie and I had several days of tough practice ahead.

But I determined to do yet more. With the help of several Band members, I re-arranged for the Band “The Liberty Bell” and a march I myself had composed years before. And we translated them into Galactic notation, just in time for the Band to learn them. It was a hectic week’s work.

Lily, on the other hand, was interested less in the band than in the aerial display and fly-past which would conclude the ceremony. “I want to pilot in the display,” she said to Gabriel, in my hearing. “You and Michael will be on the podium, won’t you? So can I please borrow your ’mobile for the ceremony?”

Gabriel paused, then said, “We can do better than that. Othriel and his partner Mirandin will be with us on the podium, and their ’mobile is not so far planned to be used in the ceremonies. It is the smallest and easiest to pilot model we make. It is much the same size as an Earthly family car. It has only two passenger seats in the back.”

We went to meet Othriel and Mirandin. Their robes were a dark, lustrous green. Othriel was taller, and looked older, than any Seraph I had yet met. He told us that he had now completed his stint as Chief Seraph, and had been offered – and had accepted – the post of Galactic ambassador to Earth.

Mirandin, like Gavantchin, presented herself as female. She was quiet and soft-spoken, but she also laughed a lot. And it became clear how this partnership worked. Othriel dealt with matters mental, and Mirandin with matters physical, including piloting.

When Lily asked Mirandin if she could pilot her ’mobile in the display, she said, “Yes, of course, as long as you first satisfy me that you are a good enough pilot.” So, Mirandin took us to her mobile. I rode in the back. The leather seat had been much sat in; for Othriel was a back seat passenger. It was also soft, deep and luxurious.

Being near cities, we avoided interfering with Earthly air traffic by first going straight up like a lift, to a height of more than fifteen kilometres. Then we flew north and west, to near Churchill, Manitoba, where it was polar bear season. There were hundreds of the critters. And to think that politicians had tried to tell us that we were endangering them.

* * *

After Lily had passed her test with Mirandin, we went to see Bart Vorsprong, who had arrived a day or so before. He had another Tefla with him, whom he introduced as Benno Adam. “Benno is a field historian,” said Bart. “That means, he collects eye-witness accounts of historical events, and assembles them so his readers can understand the processes at work. He has come here to find out about your Awakening, so he can write a book about it.”

“I would like to talk to you, and to each of your Team,” said Benno. “To get your view of what happened.”

“I doubt that we the Team can be of much help,” I replied. “After all, we were on Perinent until just a few weeks ago.” “I understand,” said Benno. “But you have had a large-scale view of the Awakening. Your evidence will be of great value to me.”

I made an appointment for the day after the big ceremony.

* * *

It was Saturday. It was Washington DC. It was the end of October. It was early afternoon. It was cloudless and cold, not far above freezing. We, the Galactic Marching Band, assembled near the Capitol. Our uniforms were black and yellow, very bright and striking.

Normally, the band had 48 members, not counting Mostro – a 12x4 formation. With Marie and me as well, we had 50 – so Mostro had ordered 10x5. Marie with her flute was in the second rank on the right, and I with the tuba was in the middle of the back rank.

We set off, playing the Liberty Bell. There were thousands – no, hundreds of thousands – of people lining the Mall. They cheered.

There was no “security” presence. Nor any need for one; for Ramael was hovering his ’mobile just ahead of us and to our right. In any case, with so many good people around us, if anyone had tried to make trouble they would have been very quickly either shot or lynched.

I looked up at Ramael’s ’mobile during a few bars’ rest, and saw Cristina waving to me. She has the best seat in the house, I thought.

It was three kilometres down the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial, where Rrrela would welcome humans into the Galaxy. And it took a while. For, even not counting us humans, there were 20 different species among the players in the Galactic Marching Band, and all had to go at the pace of the slowest. Which was about three-quarters the pace of an Earthly marching band.

About half-way down, I turned the music, and my march was next. I had named it “The March Without a Name.” And I fondly remembered the Lewis Carroll-esque conversation I had had with Mostro…

“The march has no name?” he asked.

“No,” I replied. “The name of the march is ‘The March Without a Name.’”

“Ah, I see. So the march is called ‘Without a Name?’”

“No. The name of the march is called ‘Sine Nomine.’”

It went on for a while. Then Mostro cried, “So what is the march?”

In reply, I played the first four bars on the tuba…

We marched on, and came to the Memorial, ending with the Liberty Bell again. We pulled away a little to the right, and on our left there came up a parade of a hundred or so Earthly movers and shakers, who had followed us from the Capitol. More than half of them, I am proud to say, members of our first, second or third waves.

Rrrela Himself stood on the steps of the Memorial to welcome us into the Galaxy. He was flanked by Othriel and Mirandin. Behind him were Michael, Gabriel, Balzo, Bart Vorsprong, Tuglaydum and Tuglaydee, and ten of the Team – but not Lily and Hoong, who were completing final preparations for the display. Behind them, again, were several hundred other Galactics, including Olgal and Benno Adam.

Rrrela’s speech was not memorable. But what he said didn’t have to be memorable. The pictures told it all. Humans joining the Galactic fold at last. Peace, prosperity and justice beckoned.

Then came the display, led by Ramael, who suddenly took his ’mobile up, and looped it. Then the other Seraphimobiles arrived. There were about two dozen of them, and they performed a silent, complex looking dance above the heads of the crowd. Among them was Mirandin’s ’mobile, piloted by Lily and co-piloted by Hoong. Lily was doing a grand job; no casual observer could have told that one of the pilots wasn’t a Seraph.

And then, higher up and not so silent, came the interstellar ships. Four Toronur, three Piantur. Two roaring Garut’nim cargo pods.

And, last and loudest, Harv’I of the Elo’I.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Chapter 49. Of Our Return Journey

The next day, I had a mescap from Hazael. He reported that he had formally announced to the people of Earth that they had been accepted as Junior Galactics. He had announced, too, that there would be ceremonies and celebrations. They would begin once the several hundred Galactics who would attend, including many dignitaries, had had time to travel to Earth.

Hazael had a question for me. He wanted to be able to tell people in which cities and on what dates the ceremonies would take place. He knew what was normal in such cases; eight to sixteen ceremonies, in different cities of the planet, usually over twenty-five to thirty-five days. Plainly, the first and biggest ceremony would be in Washington. But no-one had given him a list of the rest. And he was well aware that some on Earth might feel a bit sour, if other people’s countries were awarded ceremonies, but theirs weren’t, without there being a clear reason why.

Normally, Hazael continued, this decision would be made by Bart Vorsprong, as project consultant. But Bart was away, travelling on a Naudar’I ship, and so not reachable. Hazael had tried Balzo, who had merely told him to ask me. So, if I could possibly..?

Actually, it didn’t take me long to work out a scheme. The members of the Team were from twelve different countries – if, as I did, you counted Hong Kong as separate from China. We had been selected, by Bart himself, to provide – among much else – wide geographical coverage. So, one ceremony in a major city in each of these countries would fit the bill. I decided, on a whim, to put the list – apart from Washington, which had to come first – in the same order in which we had been picked up. So the list of twelve I came out with was: Washington, London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Moscow, Sydney, Cape Town, Freetown, Delhi, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Beijing.

Maybe, I thought, I was being a bit tough on the South Americans, whose two planned Team members Gabriel had not managed to pick up. But on the other hand, it was the South Americans’ own fault, for firing the missiles that had delayed him.

* * *

I took the opportunity, provided by an unusually warm day for the time of year, to pay a final visit to Harv’I’s house. Harv’I was in a buoyant mood. He told me that, for his next project, he would base himself for a while on Earth. He planned to continue his father’s researches into what had happened to the Elo’I colony on Venus.

Harv’I told me that Hazael had negotiated long leases on several pieces of land in Virginia, in total a dozen or so square kilometres, to become a Galactic embassy and accommodation base. In this base, Galactic engineers would create environments for many different species. And, in particular, homes from home for those visiting species – such as Elo’I – who would not be comfortable if exposed directly to Earth conditions. Harv’I was now waiting only for them to build a house for him in the accommodation base.

Then there was the question of what to do with Kenny. It was not normal for pets to be accepted on Naudar’I ships. So, if Kenny travelled with us, he would have to be asleep for the whole voyage. Ray and Jenna eventually chose to have him Pushed back into the care of Paul and Melinda, who were now at home in Australia and – unlike most of the other trainees – had resumed their old lives.

The week and a half before we left Perinent were a time for looking back fondly. We had the final Friday ride – a repeat of Gabriel’s very first. And the last dinner, which, very conveniently, fell on a Sunday. Roast lamb, of course. Pulled from a different president’s store this time, in exchange for a case of Seraphim wine.

At that dinner, Gabriel told us that he had had exciting news. Rrrela Himself would be there at the ceremony, and would personally welcome us into the Galaxy! That was most unusual for a new Junior species.

“Who is Rrrela?” asked Ben. “The Galactic president? Or some kind of religious figure?”

“Not either, really,” Gabriel replied. “Rrrela is – you might say – the spirit of the Galaxy. In fact, some say that, in a sense, he is the Galaxy. After all, he owns most of it – everything that isn’t owned by anyone else. Which makes him No. 1 in the Galactic rich-list.”

Then, laughing, “I can see you’re confused. I know I’m not making myself at all clear here. But take it from me, Rrrela is a very powerful individual, in his own quiet way. He is indestructible, for one thing. And he’s a really nice guy.”

“Does he look like a big brown squirrel?” I asked.

Gabriel blinked. “Yes, he does. How did you know that?”

“I already met him,” I said. “When I took the train to Segment 24 to meet the Skobar. And I agree with you, he’s a really nice guy.”

* * *

We left on the Monday morning. While still on the ground, we were given a big dose of a very pleasant, slow acting sleep-gas, like the one we had taken for the Time of Storms. We were about half way out, when Michael took the ’mobile off and gave us, for the brief time until sleep overtook us, a ride to remember.

I woke next to Lily in a big, comfortable bed. The lights in the room were on, but the curtains were closed. As on the first ship, the room was recognizably a hotel room, and designed for Seraphim. But this hotel was clearly five-star. The furnishings were very plush, and everything was... just so. The one odd thing about the room was that it was long and thin, much thinner than normal for a hotel room.

We washed and dressed. Then we opened the curtains, to reveal picture windows, which looked out on a park-like landscape. And the landscape was moving slowly. Or – no, it wasn’t. Actually, we were moving. We were in a train!

We went out of the room, and found ourselves in a corridor. I saw Michael coming along the corridor from my right. “Welcome to the Naudar’Ient Express!” he said. “Or, to give it its proper name, the Naudar’I First Class Far Transport Vessel 4144-B. The dining room is to your left, two coaches along. Breakfast should just about be ready now.”

Good, I thought. I was hungry.

At breakfast, we learned more about the B-class ship we were in. While shaped like a cone, like the V-class in which we had travelled to Perinent, it was far, far smaller – only about forty kilometres long. And at the point where we were, a little above the middle, it was only twelve and a half kilometres around. It rotated about four times as fast as the other ship – one revolution every ninety seconds or so.

One reason, why the accommodation on Naudar’I first class ships took the form of trains, was to enable each group of passengers to choose a place in the ship where the gravity was exactly as they wanted it. Some liked to start at the gravity of the planet they had just left, and to move their train gradually towards the gravity of the planet they were going to. Others just picked whichever of the two was greater. We, for example, were now moving to park at the point where the gravity was the same as Earth’s. Aha, I thought, that is why I feel heavy today – I had got used to Perinent gravity, which was only ninety per cent of Earth’s.

A second reason for the trains was so that different groups of passengers could meet easily. When one group wanted to meet another, they simply agreed on a meeting point, and moved both their trains to that place. (There were many sidings at regular intervals along the track, some of which were reserved for trains to cross, and others provided places to park.)

We could, of course, get down from the train and go walking in any direction we chose. Though we had to be aware that the train might move off! Fortunately, it wasn’t common for the trains to move either very far at once, or very fast.

Michael and Gabriel’s ’mobile was stored in a hangar next to the tracks. On a ship this small, it was not permitted to fly a ’mobile inside. Instead, we had to take the ’mobile through the locks, and fly it outside the ship but within its envelope.

There was one thing I insisted we agreed on at that breakfast. From now, we would return ourselves to the Earthly day-cycle of 24 hours.

* * *

There were passengers on the ship for many destinations in the general direction of Earth, not only for Earth itself. But, as the journey went on, we met more and more individuals, who like us were headed for the celebrations on Earth.

Since Avoran was fairly close to Perinent, and not far away from the direction towards Earth, one of the first species we met were the Avor’I. A party from Avoran joined the ship a few Earth days after we did. Their train spent most of its time some way down-axis from ours, as the gravity on Avoran was fifteen per cent greater than on Earth. But it was easy to arrange a meeting. And so, at last, the Team met Balzo in person.

He was a very upright, tall, gnarled lizard with a light blue robe, a deep bass voice, a confident and direct manner, and a quick smile. He had with him also Olgal. She now wore a dark purple frill, which among Skobar was reserved for officers of the Company for Galactic Advancement, and was a badge of high status.

* * *

Balzo wanted to talk privately with me and Lily. So he came to our room.

He did not waste time. “I have a proposishun for u, Nil and Lily,” he said. “I have recently been promoted. I now have charge of all the Company does on Perinent. I am making a noo group to manage all the projects. I have already Lohman, and Odam has now jonned me. I have also Olgal and two Avor’I in my research group. Would u two like to jon my team?”

“What, specifically, would you want us to do?” I asked.

“I would like u both to spend about a third of ur time on Perinent,” Balzo replied. “To work with the local managers, project consultants and the candidate Teams. To monitor and check their progress, and to suggest what they might do for the better. For the rest of ur work, it is on our planet, Avoran. Nil, u can do the planning with Lohman and Odam. And Lily, I would like u to help in the research.”

Lily and I looked at each other. This sounded like an offer we would be dumb to refuse.

“Spondulix?” I asked Balzo. He looked confused, so I said “That is English for, ‘How much money?’”

“Oh, I see, which Galactic Scale,” he said. “Both ur posts will be well higher than the contracts u have now. I can confirm for u the numbers when we reach Earth.”

Lily and I looked at each other again. “Tap your right hand on the table, twice for yes, once for no,” I thought. She tapped twice.

“Very good,” I said to Balzo. “In principle, we accept your offer. There will be more details to agree. Let us discuss those when we reach Earth.”

* * *

Our time on the ship lasted twenty-five Earth days. At the end of it, we were again put under sleep-gas in the ’mobile. The next we knew, we were coming in for landing at the Galactic embassy in Virginia.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Chapter 48. Of Choosing a Gift

After Hazael reported that events on Earth had reached their tipping point, we on Perinent entered something of a no man’s land. The success of our project was now all but assured; and our Pulling workload was dropping steadily, as the need for us to interfere in what was happening on Earth became less and less. Yet, until the Board of the Galactic Association had formally adjudged humans as fit to be Junior Galactics, we had to stay on Perinent.

The following Monday, Balzo sent a mescap reporting that he and Bart Vorsprong had completed the formal proposal for our admission to the Galaxy. It was now being reviewed by the top management of the Company for Galactic Advancement, including Nansen Ault. Balzo expected it to go to the Board, and for them to decide, in three Perinent weeks or so.

But I, at least, was not allowed to be idle. In that same mescap, Balzo asked me to visit all the other camps on Perinent – and nominated Michael as my pilot. “Take a look,” Balzo said, “and report what u see at each camp. No preconcepshuns.”

Four of the five other camps were at much the same distance from Camp Two, a little over ten thousand kilometres. Camp Five, being directly opposite our own camp on the globe, was twice as far. But the ’mobile could reach even Camp Five in not much more than an hour. So, Michael and I planned five day trips, over a couple of weeks. In each case, Lily – as ever – came along for the ride. Other members of the Team came on some of the trips too, if only to get away from the Camp Two winter for a few hours.

I went back to Camp Four first. The candidates who had replaced the Brjemych were a lizard species, the Feh’in. Physically, they were not unlike the Skobar, if a little larger on average, and with unusually short tails for lizards. They were still settling in, and learning Pulling and Pushing. They had not yet started even to identify their trainees.

The Feh’in had as Helpers a young, enthusiastic couple of Avor’I. It was their first project with the Company, and they clearly meant to make it work. As local project manager they had a Toronur, Zherhat by name, who had come highly recommended by Odam, and who was obviously well organized. And Lohman, Balzo’s principal assistant, was in overall charge of the project from his base on Avoran.

Tuglayino and Tuglayono appeared relaxed among the Feh’in. The Cherubim, too, seemed content. But I was not totally convinced. It did all seem rather too good to be true. So, my report to Balzo on the new project at Camp Four was, “Too early to tell. Monitor closely.”

My visits to Camps One, Five and Six turned up little to worry about. The species at Camps One and Six were both plodding along steadily at their own pace. And those at Camp Five were in much the same situation as we had been after P-Day, two-thirds of a Perinent year before. The project was clearly going in the right direction, but they still had a lot of work to do.

The visit to the equatorial Camp Three was the most difficult, as this was the camp with facilities for amphibious and aquatic species. The candidate species here were metre long, carnivorous fish. Even with my new two-way translator, the best that Seraph industry could produce, I could find no way of directly communicating with them. (I certainly wasn’t going to go in the water!) I couldn’t even find out unambiguously what their species name was.

Their Helpers and teachers were a team of four amphibians, from a species called the Pelino’tqvam. While I could converse with them, the import of our conversations was never very clear. It was as if their thought processes moved, for the most part, at right angles to my own.

My report to Balzo on Camp Three was that we needed the help of experts on communicating with species such as the Pelino’tqvam, if we were to understand better how these projects were going.

* * *

It was three weeks later, on a Wednesday morning, that Gabriel came in to breakfast with a mescap in his hand and a beaming smile on his face. “Here it is,” he said, raising the mescap. “We have confirmation from the Board that you humans have been accepted as a Junior Galactic species.” There were cheers all round.

“This means,” continued Gabriel, “that we will leave for Earth in one to two weeks from now. But there is much more to be said.

“Firstly, the Board has accepted humans as a whole into Junior Galactic status. But they wish to reward those like yourselves, who have done so much good work, with more. So, the Board has conferred full Galactic citizenship on all of you the Team, on the trainees of your first and second waves, and on Cristina and Helen too. They will also confer full citizenship on those members of your third wave who deserve it; which individuals, will be decided during the ceremonies.”

“What does full Galactic citizenship mean to us, as opposed to Junior status?” asked Marie.

“It means,” replied Gabriel, “that you as individuals can go anywhere in the Galaxy, and do anything permitted for Galactics, on your own initiative and without any kind of supervision. It also means that you are no longer required to wear white on weekdays or on Naudar’I ships. White is the colour of novices, but you are no longer novices. You can wear your Sunday robe colours every day. You may be surprised how much difference this makes to how other Galactics will view you.”

“It sounds, then,” I said, “as though we have another procurement job to do.”

Gabriel nodded. “We will have enough of the right size and colour robes for the whole Team ready on Seraph by tomorrow. It will then be a matter of Pulling them and sorting them.

“Secondly,” Gabriel went on, “after the ceremonies on Earth are completed, the project, and your contracts on it, will be over. This means that you need to think about what you do next. You can stay on Earth if you want, or go wherever else in the Galaxy you wish.

“It also means that you will need to start supporting yourselves financially again. Since you left Earth, your Galactic bank accounts on Tener-3 have been building up. It is now time for you to learn how to use them. We have ordered a training course, which we expect to arrive by mescap tomorrow, and we will load it into the Pedia.

“Thirdly,” he continued, “it is traditional for a species, when they are accepted as Juniors, to be given a substantial gift from the Galaxy.

“In some cases, it is obvious what that gift should be. For example, when the Tefla were admitted as Juniors, their most urgent need was to be able to communicate easily with others in the Galaxy. So the Tefla were given translators adapted for their particular abilities. In the case of the Tuglay, their biggest need was mobility; so we gave them their transport boards. In your case, though, there doesn’t seem to be one gift you obviously need ahead of anything else. So, we would like your thoughts on the matter.”

“If the decision was up to me,” I said, “I’d probably go for something like large scale, cost-effective solar power. Perhaps collecting energy outside the Earth’s atmosphere, then beaming it to receiving points on Earth, from which it can be distributed to where it is wanted. We could develop that on our own, but it would probably take many decades. Using Galactic technology to speed up the process could give us a big benefit.”

“That is definitely a possibility,” said Gabriel, and several others agreed.

“How long do we have to make a decision?” I asked.

“A few weeks,” Gabriel replied. “It will be announced during the ceremonies on Earth. But bear in mind that all of us here will be in a Naudar’I ship, and so not contactable, after the next week or so.”

“I suggest,” I said, “that we ask Ramael and Hazael to take a poll among the trainees and the members of the third wave. We the Team will send our own votes to them before we leave Perinent, to start the ball rolling.

“Democracy, anyone?” I asked, with a grin.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Chapter 47. An Awakening - Part 2

The Personal Transition, in its turn, fed the Social. And here, we were greatly helped by a group of our first-wave trainees, who had had ample time for discussion and planning on their journey home from Perinent. This group formed a society, which they called the Galactic Movement, and whose purpose was to catalyze the social changes necessary for humans to join the Galaxy.

The Galactic Movement was open for membership to anyone worldwide, who was prepared to commit to behaving up to Galactic standards. The founders had written these standards down in a brief, clear document. Broadly, they were honesty; non-aggression; peacefulness except under attack, or defending others against attack; taking responsibility for your life and for the effects of your actions; striving to create wealth; respecting others as individuals; tolerating difference; treating others at least as well as they treat you; practising what you preach; and respecting the rights and freedoms of everyone who behaves well enough to deserve them.

Members were required, each month, to sign a confirmation that they remained committed to living up to Galactic standards. And there were public, honest and transparent mechanisms by which those, that were found to have lied about their commitment, could be expelled from membership.

The Galactic Movement, its founders made very clear, was not a political organization or party. Indeed, it was adamantly against all politics; all aggression, all thieving, all dishonesty. But, where appropriate, it would offer public support to, and provide volunteers to help, those members in good standing who chose to make themselves candidates for election to public – not political – office.

So, there were defections of a few savvy, and not too badly compromised, democratic politicians from their parties to the Galactic Movement – becoming ex-politicians in the process. The occasional prince or president, who had been infected with the Galactic bug, joined in too. More than half of the third wave members, along with many of the trainees from the first and second waves, became prominently committed to the Galactic way forward.

At first, the Galactic Movement and those it sponsored were ignored by the great majority of politicians, and by practically all the media. But it very quickly gained traction on the Internet, and even more by word of mouth. Soon, the official line was to laugh at it, and to make personal insults against its members. Not long after, it was smeared as evil and in the pay of Big Capitalism or Big Socialism, according to the preference of the smearer.

Then, briefly, politicians in many countries declared the Galactic Movement illegal, and harassed and criminalized its members. The EU and UN, too, got in on the act, trying to force national governments to shut down the Galactic Movement in their areas, and to bankrupt its supporters.

These attempts ceased suddenly, after Ramael one Saturday evening, having given twenty minutes’ warning, lifted one of the UN office buildings in New York off its foundations. Flew what was left of it, dangling from the ’mobile, slowly eastwards for a few hundred metres. And dunked it in the East River.

* * *

The Social Transition began in different ways in different places. But, once a government friendly to Galactic principles had been installed in a country, they took broadly the same steps in each case.

They repealed bad laws en masse. They ruthlessly pruned all unjust or intrusive laws from the statute books. They withdrew armies from conflicts around the world, and radically downsized them. They reduced the functions of government to their core – civil justice, criminal justice, and defence against aggression. They took down spy cameras, and closed communications interception centres.

They abrogated all commitments to the EU and UN. They sacked all government employees that failed to deliver a service people were voluntarily willing to pay for. They transferred control of services like schools and hospitals to the people who delivered those services. They freed universities to set their own fees, and to teach whatever they thought was best. They opened their borders without formalities to all members in good standing of the Galactic Movement.

They cut taxes enormously. They converted politicized “welfare” into honest insurance. They converted pensions into savings schemes. And they made sure that those, who had already paid for future expected benefits, did not lose their investments.

They stabilized their currencies, by ceasing to print money that did not represent wealth. They wound up the morally and financially bankrupt political state, in the same way as any other bankrupt entity. And they distributed its assets among its creditors.

They brought to justice those that, in the name of or in collusion with bad governments, had committed crimes against innocent people. And those, that had ordered, promoted or taken part in redistribution or confiscation of others’ fairly earned wealth, were made to compensate their victims.

Looking to the future, the new Galactic style governments committed to principles, which the founders of the Galactic Movement had laid down for the conduct of all human governments. Never again to make any individual pay more than their service was worth to that individual. Never to interfere without reasonable suspicion of real wrongdoing. Never to obstruct freedom of speech, opinion, religion, association or movement without good and provable reason. Never to violate anyone’s privacy without good and objective cause. Never unjustly to favour some over others. Never to lie to or to deceive the public. Never to obstruct honest business or trade. Never to allow officials rights or immunities denied to ordinary people.

* * *

The first countries to implement the Social Transition were, naturally, those in which members of the third wave were already in power. Soon they were joined by several democratic countries in which there was a conveniently timed election. For the effects of the Personal Transition were so strong, that no political party could compete in a fair election against the new independent leaders who were committed to Galactic principles.

The Social Transition spread to most of the rest of the world in just a few months. It happened in three main ways.

Plan Z was reserved for the difficult cases. Either a bad government received a little gentle persuasion of the military kind from Ramael, or we on Perinent pulled the worst of those in power to the Pit, or both. It wasn’t usually too long before the rest of the people got the message.

In Plan Y, democratic or supposedly democratic governments were brought down by scandals or by public demonstrations, and the way was then clear for a fresh election. In most cases, this produced a new government committed to Galactic principles. If not, we put them on the list for Plan Z.

The third way, Plan X, was like a domino effect, and happened particularly in Africa. Once a country had a Galactic style government, many people from neighbouring countries wanted to flock into it. But what the Galactic style government did, instead of having people moving across its borders, was to move its borders across the people. They admitted those who wished in the neighbouring countries into the Galactic Movement, and promised to defend them – with Ramael’s help if needed – if they were attacked by the local political government. These people became, in essence, Galactic colonists, while remaining in their own homes. Once there were enough of them in an area, the collapse of the old-style government in that area became inevitable.

* * *

The Personal and Social Transitions now, in their turn, fed the Economic. The more incentive good people had to be productive, the more productive they became. Without the dead weight of the politicals holding it down, the worldwide economy became truly sustainable – in the same way as a bush fire or a nuclear reaction is sustainable. And, in place of the politicals controlling us, we human beings began to take control of our world.

Good people started to receive, at last, the economic rewards they deserved. And that gave them the incentive to build on their talents, to develop their skills, to produce yet more. Success bred more success. Competence bred more competence. Prosperity bred more prosperity. Technology leaped forward. New, small companies flourished. A new generation of entrepreneurs began to bring their projects to fruition. Many became rich, as they deserved. And, by the miraculous phenomenon which economists call “trickle-down,” opportunities started to come even to the very poorest among good people. And so, their standard of living began to rise greatly – as they too deserved.

It got better. Now that people had incentives to be honest and dynamic instead of the opposite, many of the formerly lazy became dynamic. Many of the formerly dishonest became honest. As well as a big positive effect on the economy, there was, not surprisingly, a big improvement in the tone of societies, and so in the quality of life.

As to natural resources, we humans began at last to use them wisely. We stopped wasting them on wars and politics. We used them to benefit good people, not bad ones. We used them to help us gain access to more and more resources. We used finite resources wisely to get us towards the point where we wouldn’t need them any more, because by that time we would have developed better alternatives.

Meanwhile, the politicals were faced with a straightforward choice. If they wanted to survive, all they had to do was become human, behave up to human standards in future, and compensate those they had wronged. And where the compensations were financial, they had to include interest and 100 per cent damages.

But, unless and until the politicals reformed themselves and delivered the compensation they owed, good people didn’t waste time, resources or compassion on them. Those, that failed to become human, were frozen out of human civilization. And, far from being hailed as the superior species they had thought themselves to be while they were in power, they were derided as failures. Born with the potential to become human, but having failed to realize that potential.

If good people bothered to give them any attention, it was, perhaps, to spit on them. Or to bait them with words, such as “If you really believed carbon dioxide was a pollutant, why didn’t you stop breathing?” Or “If you really thought the world was overpopulated, why didn’t you kill yourself?” Or, for that little bit of extra special satisfaction, to give them a good kick in the goolies.

* * *

There was still much mopping up for us to do on Perinent. There were still politicians, bureaucrats and generals to be Pulled to the Pit from those places where the Social Transition was moving slowest. This went on for about 20 Perinent weeks, just over four Earth months.

Though we did have a break in the work. For we had now been on Perinent more than a local year, and the Time of Storms was again due, when we would be out of action for a week or more. As that time approached, we looked forward to our bed-rest, since we were all tired. Perhaps not surprisingly, for I and the rest of the Team had been working continuously at or near our peak for almost a Perinent year.

This year, the storms came almost a week later than they had the previous year – eleven Perinent weeks after the invasion, and seven after the departure of the last trainee. They lasted eleven days and nights.

In August, just five Earth months after the invasion, Hazael reported that human civilization had reached the tipping point towards going Galactic. For the Personal Transition was driving the Social, which drove the Economic, which in its turn fed back into the Personal. On our planet Earth, for the sixth time in Galactic history, a species was Awakening.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Chapter 47. An Awakening - Part 1

(Neil's note: Because this is the longest chapter in the book, I've divided into two parts. Here is the first).

The next problem we faced was that, because of unrest in some countries on Earth, we could not safely drop off the trainees for those countries. There were about a dozen of them left, besides Paul and Melinda, who had – gladly – agreed to be last out.

Not that these trainees as individuals were complaining. They spent their days riding round Earth in Ramael’s ’mobile, and their nights in five-star hotels. They were enjoying the best worldwide Grand Tour anyone had ever had.

Ramael concentrated on three things. First, dropping off the members of the third wave, and all the trainees he safely could. Second, regularly checking the well-being and progress of those he had previously dropped off. And third, touring the globe making sure people knew he was there.

Only once during this time did Ramael need to take violent action. A few days after the completion of the third wave, an Asian country – whose dictator we had Pulled to the Pit, but which had then been taken over by family members – threatened to attack one of its neighbours. Ramael went in and, in less than a minute, reduced three large government buildings in the capital to piles of sand. He did it without damaging their neighbours, even slightly. “Now you know more about what we can do if we need to,” Hazael broadcast. “Anyone that starts or threatens a war will be treated the same way, or more harshly.”

A week after the last trainees had left Perinent, Cristina and Helen elected to be Pushed back to Earth. “There is no-one here who needs our services any more,” said Helen, “but there are still several trainees in the ’mobile who could enjoy us.” That left in the hotel at Camp Two just Michael, Gabriel, the Team and Kenny.

To try to defuse the problems of unrest, those of us remaining on Perinent began to Pull leaders from each conflict. We usually Pulled them in pairs, one from each side. We let Harv’I, using knowledge John and Galina had collected and his ability to read minds, decide which side we should support. The loser then went in the Pit – along, shortly, with his lieutenants. The winner (usually the resistance leader) was fully briefed by Michael, Gabriel and myself, then Pushed back to the ’mobile. And soon dropped off – openly, and with a public promise of support if it should prove necessary – by Ramael and Hazael, who sometimes left a trainee with them as well.

And where tyrannies were still in place, even after we had Pulled the worst of the tyrants to the Pit, we went on a spree. We Pulled more and more of those in power in such countries to the Pit. And we again sent to Earth film of what was happening to them, although this time more geographically targeted.

* * *

You, dear reader, may be too young to remember the decades, which historians later called the Nasty Noughties and Terrible Teens. If so, lucky you; for it was a bad time.

The politicals – which description fitted not only politicians, but also politicized officials, media and educators, and those that promoted, supported or enforced their agendas – behaved as if they were a superior species to us humans. They set out to control us, to rule over us against our wills. They lobbied for, made and enforced bad laws. They made regulations to hem us in, and set traps to catch us out. And they treated us like herd animals, as if we were unable to make our own decisions or to act on our own initiative.

They spied on us with cameras everywhere. They recorded our phone calls, our e-mails and our use of the Internet. They demanded vast amounts of information about us, and stored it in insecure databases, which they regarded as a “single source of truth.” They routinely treated us as guilty until proven innocent. They took joy in ordering us around. They used every crisis as an excuse to expand their powers to harass us. They claimed privileges and immunities they denied to us, and evaded responsibility for the damage they caused us.

They polluted our mental atmosphere with lies and propaganda. They indoctrinated the young with their claptrap, calling it education. They promoted altruism, trying to fool us into subordinating our own interests to the interests of others, or of something they called “the community.” And they bombarded us with fear and guilt. Fear of terrorism, fear of overpopulation, fear of runaway global warming (or was it cooling?) because of our emissions of carbon dioxide, which they falsely claimed was a pollutant. And guilt for lots of things we did in our daily lives – like using energy and driving cars.

They accused us of damaging our environment. They told us that we had to make drastic changes to our lifestyles. They tried to make out that our civilization based on economic productivity and trade was not sustainable. They hated human industry and prosperity, individuality and independence. They hated deserved success, and those who earned it. They tried to imprison us in a mental atmosphere of ever shrinking horizons, of no way forward and no way out.

All this they fuelled with money which they took from us through taxation, that is to say, by fraud and threat of force. They made a big smokescreen about helping the poor and needy. But in fact, what they did was loot resources from the honest, productive and deserving, cream off a large portion for themselves and their politically connected cronies, and redistribute the rest, most of it to the dishonest, the lazy and the undeserving. This, of course, also bought them popularity with the recipients. So, societies became more and more corrupt, as the incentives grew and grew for individuals to behave dishonestly.

In some places, political governments simply ruled by force and fear. In others, a past history of relative freedom meant that they needed to be more subtle, and to try to enlist the support of sufficiently many of the people using propaganda, vague promises or shares in the loot. These politicals claimed that their system was democracy, and that it gave power to us the people. We had the vote, didn’t we?

But most of the candidates for office, that had any serious chance of winning, were politicals. And of the few decent people who did try to go into democratic politics, most were either corrupted or silenced by the political party system. They were intimidated into being loyal to whatever policies were dreamed up by the panjandrums currently in power in their party. So, even if an individual’s vote could have made a difference – which it never had, of course – there was no-one worth voting for.

And even if we could have voted someone decent into power at the national level, that wouldn’t have even started to solve the problem of bad policies imposed by the EU (European Union) or UN (United Nations). King Atrox would have smirked at the cleverness of it all.

* * *

But then, the Personal Transition began to kick in among human beings. Many people, at much the same time, woke up from the zombie state in which they had been held by the battering of lies and propaganda from the politicals and their media and “educators.” People started to think, Why should I put up with this claptrap any more? And they started to feel better about themselves.

It was as if, after decades of ever increasing madness and badness, some threshold had been reached, beyond which the political system could not hold together. It was as if, after a long, dark night, there had come a sudden, bright dawn. And people began to see clearly where they were, and what was around them.

Good people, who all their lives had been bombarded with false guilt by politicians, educators and media, snapped out of it. They no longer felt guilt for using energy, or failing to recycle, or because they were – falsely – accused of wasting natural resources, causing dangerous global warming or endangering species. They no longer felt guilt for being successful through their own efforts, or being prosperous, or looking after their own interests. They no longer felt guilt for spending their fairly earned wealth on the goods and services they wanted, and on the people who provided those goods and services.

They no longer felt guilt for driving cars, or flying in aeroplanes, or eating meat, or not eating enough fruit or veg, or drinking alcohol, or smoking. And they no longer accepted any guilt at all for anything they as individuals had no control over.

People came to understand that as long as they behaved up to basic human standards – such as honesty, peacefulness, responsibility and respect for others’ rights – they were not guilty of anything. And it didn’t matter what “laws” anyone made.

Instead, good people started to feel pride in their own achievements. They felt a renewed love of individuality, independence, economic productivity, progress and justice. They felt change for the better in the mental climate. They felt a new atmosphere of optimism, of expanding horizons, of confidence in themselves and in the future.

Very suddenly by historical standards, people stopped believing, or even being interested in, what they were told by the politicals and their media. They began to understand the frauds that had been committed against them. People fell out of love with politics, and with the political state. And they began strongly to react against its worst abuses. Against aggressive wars. Against violations of rights and liberties. Against lies, dishonesty and double standards by politicians, officials, celebrities and media. Against redistributory or confiscatory taxation.

Perhaps the strongest reaction was against the environmentalist or green agenda. At the end of the Nasty Noughties, the greens had almost succeeded in taking over the world with their humanity-hating agenda of destroying prosperity, stopping progress and ending individual freedom. Of course, they didn’t put it like that. They bleated about the environment, or polar bears, or “saving the planet” from climate change. But they put no value at all on us human beings, our nature and our rights and freedoms.

But, with the Personal Transition, people saw this agenda for what it was. They came to understand that the environment which we must preserve and cherish is the environment for human beings. That peace, prosperity and justice for human beings are far more important than polar bears or saving a few watts of energy. They saw that there was a way to a sustainable future, and it wasn’t the greens’ pipe-dream of using less and less resources. Instead, the way forward was to create more and more wealth.

And people felt a new kind of fellowship. They cared about the good people they dealt with in their daily lives. They cared about their customers and their suppliers. And they cared about those good people worldwide, who shared their basic human values like honesty and peacefulness. But, on the other side, people also came to understand that those that failed to make the effort to behave up to human standards were not their fellows.

There were other changes in people’s perceptions too. The idea, that people owed allegiance to some country or state, began to seem strange. The idea that governments had rights to stop people from passing across arbitrary lines, or to take a toll of goods passing across such lines, was seen as ridiculous. The idea that governments had a right to tell you who your friends and enemies were, was seen as crazy. For it was now obvious to everyone, that your friends are those who treat you well, and your enemies those that treat you badly.

And the idea that those who happened to live in a geographical area were owed compassion and support from others in that area, no matter how badly they behaved, began to seem even odder. Honest people started to think, why should I care about the dishonest? Peaceful people started to think, why should I care about the warlike? Dynamic people started to think, why should I care about the lazy? Those, who had been victims of bad political policies, started to think, why should I care about those that assaulted me?

Not that anyone was any less inclined to be charitable than before – as long as the recipients deserved it. But those that didn’t deserve charity – the lazy, the dishonest, the aggressive, the violent, the political – were shunned. And that was entirely their own fault.

At a higher level of thinking, people began to see politics for what it was – an outdated way of dealing with others, based on nothing better than violence, dishonesty and intimidation. They came to compare and contrast it with the way of dealing with others, which is natural to human beings – economics. A way based on being a value to others, and trading with them in an environment of peace, honesty and justice.

All along, so good people now understood, it had been the political way of doing things – their system – that had been unsustainable. There was nothing wrong with our way of doing things, the economic system, that couldn’t easily be solved given the will and a bit of effort.

People came to see political policies, designed to harm innocent people, as assaults against those innocent people. And to see those that promoted, supported or enforced such policies as criminals and worse, deserving nothing but contempt and loathing.

So, those that robbed good people through redistributory or confiscatory taxation, were seen as the thieves they were. Corrupt corporate bosses, that ran to government to get subsidies, or to bring harm to their competitors, were seen as the crooks they were. Those that ordered aggressive wars, were seen as the mass murderers they were. Police, soldiers and others, that behaved with brutality, were seen as the brutes they were.

Those that spied on innocent people were seen as the stalkers they were. Those that lobbied for bad laws were seen as the perverters of justice they were. Governments that oppressed, impoverished or aggressed against innocent people were seen as the criminal gangs they were. And those that promoted the “human activities cause catastrophic global warming” fraud – wanting, as they did, to destroy industrial civilization for the sake of nothing more than a pack of lies – were seen as the traitors to humanity that they were.

There grew also, in the minds of good people, a divide, a separation, from the politicals. Good people began to see the politicals as something different from themselves, as less than members of the human species. Neanderthals, some called them.

And there grew in the minds of good people a demand to bring the politicals to justice. All those that had taken an active part in politics deserved to be thoroughly investigated, scrutinized and judged as individuals. And those – whether politicians, lobbyists, bullying bureaucrats or officials, media, corrupt corporate bosses or other vested interests – that were found to have used political ruses to harm good people, or to profit at the expense of good people, deserved to be made to compensate their victims, and to be treated as the criminals they were. It was now their turn to feel fear and guilt.

But the most significant change of all was that people came to think of themselves, and those around them, as individuals. What mattered was not where people came from, or what colour their skin was, or even what religion they had been brought up in. What mattered was how each individual behaved. That, and only that.

One by one, the zombies awoke, and found that they were human.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Chapter 46. Of the Third Wave

I, too, was in the air. On the Friday evening ride, the same day Ramael had invaded Earth. Under Gavantchin’s piloting, the big old bus was dancing. Round and round it went, like a car on an Earthly waltzer. The acceleration back into my seat was luxuriously crushing, but there was plenty of movement in other directions, too. And, occasionally, the dance partners separated, doing turns or loops. Then, the force moved to mainly down into my seat, and became, if anything, more crushing.

This was all Lily’s fault. Michael and Gabriel had asked Gavantchin to pilot the ride, on what would be her last Friday on Perinent. She had accepted, and Lily – overhearing the conversation, as I had – had asked, “Will you take us for the dance?”

“One ’mobile cannot make a good dance,” replied Gavantchin. “It takes, as you say, two to tango.”

“But cannot Michael or Gabriel pilot your ’mobile in the dance?” asked Lily.

Michael said, with a smile, “I will take the fly up to dance with the bumblebee.” Gavantchin laughed.

And so, we got to experience the dance of the bumblebee.

* * *

Next day, Saturday, we began to Pull the third wave. Using three Pullers, Cees, Elise and Hoong, we aimed to bring about nine or ten individuals each day, six days a week. We would not work on Sundays.

We aimed to have all the day’s intake Pulled before 12 of the 22, so the latest arrivals would wake up before the 14. Once an individual had been Pulled, we took them on a hospital style trolley to the common room to recover, so allowing the Puller to start looking for the next. Ben was in charge in the common room, and a mix of people did the transport.

Once two or three were awake, we started a briefing to tell them what was going on. Michael, Gabriel and I together did the briefings, aiming to make them no longer than about half an hour. Next, we let each write a message to tell colleagues, friends or family to expect them back in a day or two. And Gabriel or I Pushed that message where they asked.

Then we allocated a Team member to each individual or pair, to take them to see the Punishment Pit and for a brief talk with Harv’I. Dede, Lily and Marie did most of the guiding, but in a few cases I chose to be tour guide myself. Following the visit, which lasted about two hours, we would return them to the common room.

Meanwhile, I decided who if anyone from among our trainees (whether from the first or second wave) we should pair with each member of the third wave. I tried to make sure that those from the second wave, who were scheduled to be Pushed back, had as much notice as possible of what was going to happen.

During the afternoon, I finalized my decisions on where we would Push each individual back to. Usually, this was Ramael’s ’mobile, but occasionally I would send someone directly back to their home.

Before the 17 of the 22 Perinent time, Michael, Gabriel and I gave those to be Pushed to Earth a final pep-talk. Then, at or just after the 17, Hazael sent me a mescap indicating that he was ready to receive. Sometimes he might do this from a safe place on the ground, other times from geostationary orbit. Paul and Melinda were always in the ’mobile at such a time, to take care of those we Pushed when they arrived. Sometimes there were other trainees in the ’mobile as well, other times not. It depended on the relation between Perinent time and Earth time.

I replied with the list of those we would Push to the ’mobile, the list of who should be dropped off with whom and where, and the time at which we would be ready to start. If all had gone well during the day, then we should be able to start within a few minutes. If not, it might be an hour or more before we were ready.

We generally used only one Pusher, either Cees or Elise, to send the members of the second and third waves to the ’mobile. Ramael would aim to take them to their destinations on, usually, the following Earth day. If someone was to be sent directly back home, I usually asked Hoong to do it.

Paul, Melinda and Hazael ensured that an area of seats near the back of the ’mobile was kept clear and with backs lowered, to be the target area to Push people into. They would move new arrivals into other seats as soon as they arrived. This avoided Cees or Elise having to spend time recalibrating the remote eye between Pushes.

After the final Push of the day, we exchanged mescaps with Hazael to confirm the tally was complete, and when we would next do the same exercise.

That was the plan. And to begin with, at least, it worked well. On the Saturday, the first day of the third wave, we Pulled and briefed nine. We sent them back to Earth together with three trainees from the second wave, and I nominated four trainees from the first wave to be dropped off with their sponsors too.

We had all had a very tiring week, so there was no demand to go on a journey on the Sunday. But that evening, we had a celebration to mark the imminent departure of the Brjemych, and to thank them for all they had done to help us. Many toasts were drunk, including much Hooch Juice.

* * *

The next day, Monday, I chose to act as tour guide for a member of the third wave. This individual had been prominent in the so-called opposition in his country for some years. He had just recently been elected into power, but he had not yet had power long enough to do much damage.

“You are a very lucky young man,” I said to him as we walked towards the Pit. “If you had come into power much earlier, you could easily have been one of those sentenced to the Pit you are about to see.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“You are a politician,” I replied. “But, in the Galaxy, there is no politics as it is practiced on Earth today. For today’s Earthly politics is the art of perverting law and justice, either to benefit vested interests, or to persecute those the rulers don’t like.

“If you had been in power for an extended period, you would surely before long have made bad laws to harm innocent people, and so gone seriously against Galactic law. That would have made you fit for the Pit.”

He considered this. “So, there is law in the Galaxy?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied, “there is law. But that law comes from the nature of civilized species. And it is discovered, not invented.

“In the Galaxy, the individual is central. A key part of the Galactic way is common-sense justice; the idea that, over the long run, each individual deserves to be treated as he or she treats others. And every Galactic individual, regardless of species or achievements, is equal before the law. Meaning, that what is right for one to do, is right for another to do in similar circumstances, and vice versa.

“So, Galactic law is quite a simple matter. It consists of prohibiting violent aggression, theft and fraud against Galactics or candidate species, a requirement to respect others as individuals, a requirement that individuals take responsibility for the effects of their actions, and a few provisions necessary to support those.”

He nodded slowly, but said nothing.

We came to the lift down, and he stepped in without a word. At the bottom, a Cherub met us. My companion seemed to have so little telepathic ability, that he didn’t even receive the Cherub’s thoughts – let alone mine.

We reached the punishment building, and were let inside. The shortage of food was starting to bite. There were fights all around. “These are some of your political soulmates,” I said. “Be thankful you are not among them.”

He was sick on the sandy floor, then I had to support him as the Cherub opened the door and he staggered back through the airlock.

My companion perked up a bit as we walked on towards Harv’I’s house. “You seem to think I am a bad person,” he said. “But what, exactly, have I done wrong?”

“You have been prominent in the ‘opposition’ to a criminal gang that masqueraded as a government,” I replied. “Yet you failed to oppose most of the bad things they did to people.

“You failed to oppose their policies of steadily increasing control over every aspect of people’s lives. You failed to berate them for treating human beings without respect or dignity. You failed to challenge them for treating people like objects to be exploited and taxed out of existence.

“You failed to do enough to defend freedom of speech and other civil liberties. You failed to oppose routine surveillance of everyone. You failed to oppose arbitrary police powers. You failed to oppose aggressive, immoral and unnecessary wars.

“You failed to oppose redistribution of wealth away from the people who fairly earned it. You failed to oppose a tax system that takes from the politically poor, and gives to the politically rich like bureaucrats and failed bankers.

“You failed to oppose the fraudulent accusation that, through emissions of carbon dioxide, we humans are causing catastrophic change in the global climate. You failed to oppose those whose agenda is to ration our use of energy, and to take away our right to travel by car or by air. Worse, you actively supported this fraud.

“Now that you have power – I will be fair to you – you are trying to stop, or even to reverse, a few of these bad things. But you are not doing nearly enough to end the harms that have been done to good people, and to bring compensation to the victims of those harms.”

“I am doing the best I can, within the limits of politics,” he said.

“Ah, politics,” I retorted. “Perhaps you should spend more time looking at how people see you and your damned politics. A lot of good people have become angry and disgusted with the entire corrupt system. Individuals like you, playing politics-as-usual, do nothing to help our alienation.”

“But I am only trying to make sure the government does its proper jobs,” he said. “Like defending people against terrorists.”

“Taking reasonable steps against terrorist criminals,” I said, “is one thing. Treating all of us as if we are potential terrorists, is quite another. As is allowing police or soldiers to act like terrorists. Do you understand the differences?” His reply made it plain that he did understand, but still wasn’t prepared to commit himself wholeheartedly to defending our freedoms.

“As to climate change,” he said a little later, “I know there are those – like you – who don’t believe that the crisis is real and caused by human activities. But surely you would agree that the potential damage from doing nothing is so big, that we ought to take action even if we aren’t absolutely sure? It’s called the precautionary principle.”

I snorted. “I know about the precautionary principle,” I said. “It’s philosophical junk. And I’ll tell you why. First, do you think I am responsible for the effects of my actions on others? Am I to be held responsible for any harmful effects of the carbon dioxide I cause to be emitted?” He nodded. “Yes, of course,” he said.

“So, if the problem is real, you think that I should pay towards solving it and compensating the victims, in proportion to the amount of my emissions?” He nodded again.

“Next, would you agree that the best scientific knowledge we have is not sufficient to make a clear-cut, objective decision? Which is why you want to use the precautionary principle, to force action now?” He seemed a bit confused, but eventually nodded again.

“So, even leaving aside the possibility that the climate change accusations are frauds and not genuine science, it could still be that the problem might turn out, in the end, not to have been real?”

“I suppose so.” Grudgingly.

“Right. Now, let’s consider this possibility; that the problem isn’t real, and never was real. In this case, you impose on me – against my will, and against everything that I know of the science – serious costs, financial, in lifestyle and in freedom, for which I get no benefit at all. Is that so?” Eventually, another nod. A reluctant one, it seemed.

“Do you think that, if the problem turns out not to have been real, you and others that pressured for these costs to be imposed on me should be made to compensate me?”

“Of course not,” he replied. “That’s one of the things government is for. Making difficult collective decisions.”

“There’s the problem,” I said. “In one breath, you hold me responsible for the alleged bad consequences of what I do. In the next breath, you deny your own responsibility for objective and serious damage that you cause me. I call that a foul. And if the accusations against me are fraudulent, it is a double foul.

“If you were held responsible for the effects of your decision, and made to compensate anyone you harmed if you got it wrong, you would be far less eager to use the precautionary principle. In fact, no-one in their right minds would use it. No costly action would ever be taken on any matter until the facts are settled beyond reasonable doubt.

“You may not realize it, but as a politician you are trying to use for your own benefit bad old doctrines called sovereign immunity and irresponsibility. ‘The king can do no wrong,’ and all that. You are trying to make out that politicians and other government agents may evade responsibility for their actions, while ordinary people may not. But those ideas are hundreds of years out of date. They have no place in democracy, let alone in a Galactic species. Wouldn’t the world be a far better place, if individuals in government were held responsible for their share of the bad effects of the policies they make and implement?”

My companion was spluttering, for I had challenged many of his core beliefs in only a few minutes. Fortunately, we were now approaching Harv’I’s house. “Change of subject,” I said. “You are about to meet Harv’I, our local project manager. If you are into religion, he will be of great interest to you. For his father, Jahw’I, crash-landed on Earth three thousand and some years ago, and was the first cause of what later became Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

We sat on the swinging sofa, and Harv’I came out from his house. Greetings were exchanged. Harv’I asked my companion to outline, in view of what he had learned today, the things he would do when he was returned to Earth. As he spoke, Harv’I and I carried on a telepathic conversation.

“How sound is his mind?” I sent. “Can he be trusted, or not?”

“Most of his mind is basically sound,” sent Harv’I. “But there are areas with knots in. For example, he is very worried about what you have just spoken to him about. He knows he ought to repudiate those bad policies. But he feels he cannot reverse his past support for them, and remain politically credible.”

“He has a lot of learning to do if he is to become Galactic, then,” I sent. “Can you do anything to untie some or all of the knots in his mind?”

“If you mean, am I capable of it,” sent Harv’I, “then the answer is Yes. There is enough good in his mind to give me something I can work with. But if you mean, is it right for me to do it, then it is not Galactically illegal or taboo, but it is unusual. We Elo’I do not normally let ourselves interfere so intimately in others’ minds, particularly because the consequences of a mistake would be terrible.”

“In this case, though,” I sent, “are you not repairing his mind? Are you not like a doctor operating on him? If the operation is successful, he will become a great value to our project, and history may well record him as a great man. If not, I don’t see how he will be any worse off than he is now.”

Harv’I took quite a long time to reply. That was very unusual. “I have noticed,” he sent in the end, “that all the individuals you have brought to me so far in your third wave have had knots in their minds. Whereas, only a few of your trainees have suffered from knots, and all of the Team have clear and sound minds.”

“Knots in the mind may be an effect of taking an active part in politics,” I sent. “Politics is very corrupting of the character, and maybe that effect would be directly visible to you.”

This time, Harv’I took even longer to reply. Eventually, “Very good,” he sent. “I see that there is a case for me, where I can, to act to smooth out a mental knot or two here, a kink or two there. I will begin with this man.”

There was a mental “zing!” that went past me, and the man next to me on the swinging sofa seemed to lose his place in what he was saying. Then, he said to Harv’I, “Oh! Thank you for that. My mind feels much clearer now.” Then, turning to me, “I now understand what you, and Michael, and Gabriel have been telling me since I arrived here. I will abandon my old, wrong, political views. And I’m with you and your project. I will do all in my power to bring the human race into the Galaxy.”

“Success?” I sent to Harv’I. “Bulls-eye,” he replied. “A St. Paul moment.”

* * *

As we walked back to the hotel round the north side of the Pit, I told my companion that I planned to allocate to him one of the trainees from the first wave, who was already on Earth. This individual – none other than my European parliamentary friend – had been trained in the Galactic way of doing things, and would keep him on the path towards it.

And I reminded him that, if he didn’t do properly the job he had taken on, I could always order him Pulled back here, either for further instructions, or in the worst case for punishment. But I hoped, in view of what had happened at Harv’I’s, that I would not need to use that sanction.

* * *

To Pull the third wave, and send back all the trainees to Earth, took twice as long as I had planned – four weeks. This was partly due to difficulty in finding some of them, and partly due to some additions I decided to make to the third-wave list.

On the Monday after the last trainees left, Michael took Tuglayino and Tuglayono back to the newly refurbished Camp Four. The following day, he took Tuglaydum and Tuglaydee, their job at Camp Two now done, to the docking station for their return to their home planet. They promised that they would join us on Earth for the celebrations when the project was finished.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Chapter 45. A Friendly Invasion

I did not personally experience what happened on Earth in the aftermath of P-Day. Instead, I later gathered accounts from Ramael and Hazael, and from the trainees. And I used the detailed journal which Melinda kept.

The first-wave trainees woke in Ramael and Hazael’s ’mobile. They could see Earth far below them. They were all a little bit stiff, having been asleep in the ’mobile for several days.

Ramael switched off the quiet-mode field, which had made the ’mobile invisible. He chose to approach from south to north over the South Atlantic, as this seemed the least obviously threatening area to come from. That done, he turned north-west, towards the nearest Earth had to a capital city – Washington, where it was a bright, cool Wednesday morning in March.

Ramael’s piloting on the way in was energetic. The passengers weren’t sure whether he was trying to evade missiles, to show off his piloting skills to the people of Earth, or to give them a good ride. Or, perhaps, all three.

Ramael had no trouble at all in evading the missiles sent to blow him out of the sky. They did, indeed, explode. But by the time they did, they were at least a million kilometres from Earth. The pilots that scrambled to intercept him suddenly found themselves a thousand kilometres or more away from where they had been a moment before.

Hazael turned a switch, and broadcast on a lot of radio frequencies at once. “That was not very kind of you. If anyone attacks us again, we will be forced to defend ourselves actively,” he said.

No-one took up the offer. And so, Ramael flew the ’mobile ostentatiously over Washington, and brought it in to land on the White House lawn.

The incumbent was away, having been Pulled to the Punishment Pit. It was easy to imagine the hordes of scurrying officials trying to work out what to do. But Hazael chose to make life simple for them.

“I’m from the Company for Galactic Advancement, and I’m here to help you,” he broadcast. “Will someone who has authority to speak for the people of this country please come out of that palace, and parley with us?”

After a short delay, two bureaucrats that had drawn the shortest straws came out. Hazael, in his pink robe, and two white-robed Americans from among the trainees, got out of the ’mobile.

“I,” said Hazael to the bureaucrats, “am Hazael of the Seraphim. And this gentleman and lady are two of your own. They have been trained in the Galactic way of doing things. We have brought them here so they can help the best of your leaders, and all good people on your planet, move Earth societies into the Galactic way of peace, prosperity and justice.

“I must warn you, do not do them any harm, or allow anyone else to harm them. Neither I nor my pilot would be at all pleased if anything bad happened to them. I am sure you already have some idea of what we can do if we need to. And my project managers also can punish wrongdoers most harshly, if they wish. Think about what happened recently to your president and his predecessor.

“Is that clear? Do you agree to protect this gentleman and lady, and to let them access your leaders and advise them?”

The bureaucrats hesitated. Did they believe Hazael and his friends really could do what they threatened? Eventually, “Yes, he can,” one of them murmured. The other nodded to Hazael.

“Good,” said Hazael. “Let us drink a toast to seal our agreement.”

Another white-robed trainee came out of the ’mobile, bearing a tray with five glasses of Seraphim red wine. He offered them to the two bureaucrats, then to Hazael and the two trainees. He went back inside.

Hazael raised his glass. “To humans as members of the Galaxy!” he said, and drained the glass. The two trainees repeated the toast and the action.

After a pause, “Who could say no?” said one of the bureaucrats. And they both drained their glasses.

Hazael bowed to the others, and re-entered the Seraphimobile. Ramael gave the warning cry of “Sit back,” and took it off. Straight up for fifty metres or so, then the nose lifted and the ’mobile powered upwards and to the east, turning, weaving and occasionally looping as it went.

“Show-off,” said Hazael to Ramael, who beamed.

* * *

In the first day’s work, 12 hours or so, they dropped off about a dozen of the fifty-nine first wave trainees in their own countries. Without subjecting its passengers to uncomfortable accelerations, the ’mobile could get from anywhere on Earth to anywhere else in a little over an hour. So they had time to visit Europe as well as the Americas.

On that first day, they used, as their targets, presidential palaces and similar haunts of ruling élites and their hangers-on. So, the ceremony was similar each time, although sometimes the trainees had to interpret. The only effect the repeated doses of wine seemed to have on Hazael, was that he became a little more verbose each time.

Ramael had told the trainees about the third wave. He explained that those being dropped off first were considered the most likely to remain safe, even without a third-wave member in their country. He told them that the later drop-offs – and those in the second wave – would often be accompanied by a sponsor from the third wave, who was likely to be close to, or even possibly in, power.

After a good day’s work, they returned to Washington for the night. A tycoon had radioed Hazael and offered rooms for the party in his five-star hotel. The trainees were glad, because they felt a strong need to stretch out in bed for a while.

The ’mobile simply landed on the roof of the hotel. The owner greeted the trainees cordially, and in return was offered a ride in the ’mobile the next day. Ramael and Hazael told him that they did not need to sleep, and so preferred to remain in the ’mobile. No-one from the government dared to bother them.

* * *

As the days unfolded, the trainees of the first wave were gradually unloaded. As time went on, the drop-offs became far less public. Though, whenever the ’mobile came flying low near a neighbourhood, there was no shortage of people coming out to see if it landed, and if it did, to mark where it landed and who came out.

Ramael had a list from me, of who he should look to drop off where and when. But he had full authority to make changes as needed. And trainees sometimes wanted to be dropped off somewhere I had not expected. This meant a fairly substantial admin task for someone in the ’mobile itself. Knowing that she was to be among the very last to be dropped off, Melinda had volunteered to be the one to keep track of what they had achieved, and what they still had to do.

The third wave of sponsors, and the second wave of trainees, were Pushed from Perinent into the ’mobile while it was at rest relative to the Earth, then taken to their drop-off points. Each night, those remaining took advantage of the Washington tycoon’s offer, or of one of a number of similar offers from hotel owners in other countries.

At least, that was the theory. But, as had happened with the Brjemych, there were some troubles. There was unrest in a number of countries, particularly in tropical South America, the Middle East and parts of Africa. And there were places, where even Pulling the main culprits to the Pit had not loosened the grip of tyrannical governments.

We had agreed that Ramael would not, initially, interfere unless the ’mobile was threatened or a full-scale war was about to be started. We would try first to deal with these problems from the Perinent end, by Pulling more bad individuals to the Pit, or potential leaders to be briefed and sent back. Only if that failed would we send Ramael in to assist one side or the other.

But otherwise, things went well. No-one made any attempt to attack the ’mobile, or anyone from it. And a swathe of the media, at last, started to tell the truth. John and Galina’s bombshell had had its effect. People knew instinctively that what was happening was so big, that it couldn’t be ignored, or hand-waved or politicked away.

Change for the better was in the air.