Chapter 1: Soldier Where Art Thou?
The white marble tombstone occupied the patch of grass, like a single tooth. On it were just four words, soldier where art thou? There were millions of monuments exactly like this one. One for every village, all across the globe. A testament to a profession no longer needed, on a world without war.
The tall green professor entered his lecture theater, and through a speaker he addressed his students. “Galactic warfare lesson forty two, the pacified population. I present the case study of the Spindleywick’s invasion of planet Earth. The planet had been under observation for some time. In fact the Draconix Empire had placed a communication cloaking net about the planet. But by chance, a Spindleywick scout ship found the net. Prompting a full invasion force by that civilization.
Although the Earth supported a lesser race, it didn’t seem to have even the most basic defense warning system. Not that they would have been much use against a Spindleywick death flotilla. So the battle fleet surrounded the planet, to defend their prize from surprise attacks off more advanced civilizations. You remember the Draconix Empire had an interest in the planet. Then the ground forces descended and pacified the locals. This proved surprisingly easy, and very few locals had to be shot. Before the commanders realized the population, far from mounting any resistance. Actually welcomed the troopers. While their fellow humans, lay dead at their feet.”
The lecturer paused after his introduction, and indicated the screen above him. Which had begun to shimmer. He continued, “We will first view an extract from the video diary of high lord Carbonetti, of the fifty-third Spindleywick battle fleet.” The screen showed a Spindleywick command room, of a D class battle cruiser. Various tentacled blue technicians were pouring over the flashing controls, as the ship approached the blue green planet.
One technician broke off from his desk and approached the high lord, resplendent in his jewel-encrusted uniform. “Sir I have a report on the Draconix net. It seems to be an ancient design, but it also is in very good repair. The Draconix Empire must have been monitoring this planet for eons.” High lord Carbonetti stirred in his commend chair, and let his underling be privy to his private musings. “So they were either waiting for this backward race to become worth invading. Or they expected them to destroy themselves, and make way for a more promising civilization to harvest. ” He fixed the technician with a steely glare, and then continued to bounce his speculations off the junior officer. “Well I think the time is ripe, after all while the Draconix is away the Spindleywick can collect the pay. Prepare for planetary attack.”
The screen went blank, and the lecturer paused for his students to finish making notes before he continued. “We will now view an extract from the archives of one commander Panchetta. The commander in charge of the occupation of where the locals called North America.” The screen sprang to life again and emblazed across it read the words, “Personal log of commander Panchetta, Subject, invasion of planet 327.3, locally known as Earth. Galactic star date 37652793384.271.” The scene was in the commander’s ready room, and a medical officer stood before his superior. “Sir, I have prepared a report on local physiognomy.” He shifted restlessly in the stare of such an impressive figure before him. “Go on man” Panchetta prompted. “All the locals seem to have a prosthetic attachment on their left fore arm.” He tried to indicate with his tentacles, but the anatomy of the Spindleywicks being somewhat different from Humans, made it a poor impression. So he continued verbally.
“It seems to be a device for controlling their emotional state. Which is why they remained passive during our initial wave of the occupation.” The commander leaned forward, intrigued by the medical officer’s report. “Can you get one in here? I’d like to question the beast personally. Are you sure the device is not dangerous?” “No sir, we examined the devices removed from dead Humans, and they seem to be of a medical nature only. It detects the level of certain chemicals in their blood stream, and the administers drugs to suit.” The Commander waved him away, and then the time on the film jumped to several hours later.
A man in a simple smock was led in between two Spindleywick troopers. A metallic device covered the whole of his forearm. It was not too cumbersome, but it was impossible not to notice it. “Ah Human, don’t worry I haven’t got you here for dissection.” The man blanched at these words, he was getting over excited at this. Then suddenly the device on his wrist intoned “levels of adrenalin too high, administering 50cc of Phenol Carbonate.” His expression immediately changed, he was a dullard once more.
The commander continued, “What is the purpose of your arm jewelry?” He waved a tentacle at the item. The man swallowed, as if unaccustomed to interrogation. “It is for the Uppers, so we don’t forget”, He blushed. “Forget what man?” pressed the commander. “The end of war sir” answered the figure, as he stood now trembling before commander Panchetta. “May I go sir, it’s curfew.” The man was visibly shaking now. “Oh I think in the present circumstances, you may stay up late” the commander chortled. But struggling between the two guards, the prisoner began foaming at the mouth. Within seconds he was slumped dead between them. “What a duce strange fellow” remarked the commander. Then turning to the medical officer he enquired, “What are these upper of which he spoke?”
“According to our research sir Uppers along with Downers, seem to be slang terms on this planet for drugs that keep their mood in a neutral state. They do seem to refer to them a lot. I think it may be how they have eliminated war.” The commander laughed. “Fools, did they think they were alone in the universe. And one day some one wouldn’t come down and get them. Mind you it’s lucky for us they did. Even luckier the Draconix didn’t get here first. So why did he sort of die when I wouldn’t let him go? They must take this curfew of theirs pretty seriously.”
The medical officer checked his notes. “I think it’s a function of the arm device sir. It obviously needs recharging with the drugs it administers and power. So if it is not plugged in at a set time, it may run out. They must have developed a curfew. If broken, the subject is administered Cyanide. It seems to be deadly to this species.” “You learn something new every day” chortled the commander, and the film ended.
The lecturer let the last of the studious note takers finish, before continuing. “It seems that the idyllic life the Humans had forced upon themselves, had backfired on them. And until the Spindleywicks arrived it had been an idyllic set up. Each toiled according to his will, in an entirely agrarian civilization. Every person was content due to his or her unusual use of drugs, and as we shall see they had even erased illness.
The lecturer indicated another film about to begin. The title read, “meeting between under lord Bolnogya and lieutenant Vastinu.” The two Spindleywicks sat in a site office. Through a window was a strip mine, with Humans toiling to dig out earth with hand tools. The lieutenant spoke first. “Sir, despite our best efforts, we seem to be unable to find any ore in the top layers of the planet’s surface. It’s as if they have been mined out long ago.” He superior looked none too plussed as he ruffled his papers. “And what’s this about you having problems with importing labor?” The underling showed embarrassment as only a Spindleywick could. “They seem to die if they can’t be returned to their assigned hut by curfew. We shipped a load in to help with this mine, and by the end of the day it was cyanide-ara for the lot of them. We wouldn’t even be able to export them as slaves. They wouldn’t last the journey.”
By now his superior was clutching at straws, for any positive news. “But we seem to be getting a good work load out of the ones already here. I didn’t see any of them in the medical station, when I did a tour of inspection.” The lieutenant clearly didn’t seem too happy with this supposedly good news. “The thing is sir, that if they become too injured to carry on working. Those dam wrist things finish them off, like it’s putting them down. It does the same with illness too. We had a few down with Beatazoid flu. I thought it would spread through the population, but no. The wrist devices detected the virulent nature of the disease, and euthanized the ones that had it before it had a chance to spread.” His commander signed. “It looks like these Humans are of little use, you can’t even torturer them for fun. Once they’ve endured so much, they just foam at the mouth and fall down dead. ”
The scene ended and the lecturer announce to his students, “there will be a short break, please be back in a quarter of an hour.” Then he headed for a side door. After the break the lecturer continued. “Finally one bright spark did have an idea how to handle the Humans. As is shown in this interview with sub lieutenant Pyrenees, and his commanding officer. It must have been mid summer, as both Spindleywick officers were sweating. “Sir, if we can get hold of humans young enough, surly they won’t have had time to get those dam arm bands fitted.” His tired looking commander shuffled some papers on his desk. “You’ve not been on the ground for long have you Pyrenees. Feel free to study the life cycle of these creatures, for all the good it will do you. As far as I can see, they’re born fully formed with the bracelets on.” Then he waved his subordinate away.
The film faded, and the follow up interview some little time later began. It was the same office, but now the fresh face sub lieutenant looked haggard too. “Sir, these Humans are just impossible. They seem to appear full size, with the armbands attached. It doesn’t help that they look so alike. Whenever we find one has turned up we set a guard, but then no more come until we have gone away. As you know torture does no good, they just up and die on us before we can get any useful information out of them. I tell you this planet with its lack of useful minerals, and the weird unusable population is just a waste of Spindleywick time and resources.”
The film faded, and all eyes fell once more on the lecturer. “Which is why high lord Carbonetti finally gave the order to eradicate all the humans.” There were a number of coughs among the audience, as students shuffled uneasily in their seats.