Forty Years later, Atlantic City
The atmosphere of the city was quite tense today, with many Kalalusian soldiers and vehicles standing guard in the streets. All public buildings were shut down after noon and everyone was expected to be in their houses by nightfall. This is very good news for the workers and students, who were very excited by this rare break. But for businesses and companies, half a day off could mean disaster.
The city had changed since forty years ago, when the Kalalusian Army invaded Earth without warning. They just seem to drop out of the sky all of a sudden and took over the entire planet in a matter of days, or as the Kalalusians themselves claimed. Now, after millions of years, the Earth finally had a new dominator, the Kalalusians. Atlantic City was one of the main battlefields in the short war. After humans surrendered, Kalalusians placed their main headquarters in the center of the city, as a mockery to the human civilization. During these years, most of the fancy malls and restaurants were forced to shut down, mainly because there were no costumers. They then turned the city into a mass factory and a construction pit, digging huge holes into the earth’s crust outside the city. The once “brilliant” city was now a working field. Almost every other city throughout the globe faced the same fate.
Kalalusians were strange about their reign. They neither massacred nor exiled the human civilization, which they often did to other planets and galaxies. Instead, they chose to enslave or more accurately, observe humans with great interest. However, the old human way of life was limited and Kalalusian culture was introduced. One of the biggest changes was probably that all forms of money were abandoned, for the Kalalusians only used food, clothing and shelter to pay the humans for their work. Kalalusians also arranged everyone’s jobs. Those with higher intelligence get better jobs indoors; those who were strong were sent to laboratories to become a test product of some sort of research; the rest, from age fifteen and up to do all the harsh and dangerous outdoor jobs that only the strongest were able to survive. This meant that a large amount of people, especially the old and sick were worked to death every day. And for the first time in the entire history of mankind, the rich and the powerful were working side-by-side with the other slave workers, doing dirty jobs they consider will foul their “noble” hands.
Kalalusians forbade humans to learn history, practice any religion or celebrate any traditional holiday. The Kalalusians also tried to ban the human culture from their daily lives. However, they found out that it was unnecessary, for humans themselves had already destroyed most of their tradition and culture before the Kalalusians took over. Even important holidays such as Christmas and New Year were just an excuse for holidays and an opportunity for business profits. Therefore, this made it easy for the Kalalusians to rule over mankind; they didn't have to reverse the concept of the humans which they had to do when conquering other civilizations.
Kalalusians didn’t introduce many of their traditions, mostly because they didn't really have a strong culture, either. History though, wasn’t tolerated. All history before the Kalalusian reign was erased and rewritten. This made many Earthians believe that they have lived under the Kalalusian rule from the beginning of time, especially the new generation. Humans were allowed to study their language, but the Kalalusian language was permitted at school and became the official language. Many humans still preferred the old language, though they also learned to speak Kalalusian. It wasn’t actually very hard and surprisingly, the Kalalusian language shared many similarities with the language on Earth.
Kalalusians split the human population into three levels, similar to their own hierarchy. The top level was the Intours. The middle level was the Paonor. The last level was the Sularver. This caused a lot of rivalry and hatred in the enslaved humanpopulation. By doing this, Kalalusians cleverly turned humans against each other, making it impossible for any signs of rebellion. Many humans, mostly from the top level of society, worked with the Kalalusians, acting either as spies or helped the Kalalusians in their mysterious research. They feared their own kind more than they fear the Kalalusians, knowing what their fate would be when humans one day regained freedom and sentenced them to treason. So, they relied greatly on the Kalalusians, even if it meant killing and torturing their own kind.
An unusual council was called by the Lord Governor of Earth, ambitious general Lukasa Notoee. All Kalalusian high officials and army generals were summoned to Atlantic City. Even the chief scientists and some Intours were asked to attend.This meeting was rumored to be held to decide the fate of the earth and was strictly ordered to be held in secret.
Outside the heavily guarded City Palace, a brilliant fifty story high skyscraper surrounded by dozens of thick metal walls, a man was waiting impatiently on the steps of the building. His name was Andrew Lanchaster, a forty-seven year old archaeological researcher. He was a very young and talented archaeologist, working for Professor Stephen Pateman, an infamous human collaborator who works with the Kalalusians on some top secret research. Archaeology was banned mainly because it related to history. Again, the field of archaeology wasn’t very popular in the human world before the invasion, as many considered it “a job that only wastes money.” Andrew was an orphan from the age three and was raised by his grandparents. Both of his parents were great archaeologist and scientist who died in an accident. Due to the influence of his parents, Andrew also showed great talent in both of the fields and was considered a genius only by the age of fourteen. He also had an older brother and sister, who were both killed during the invasion of the Kalalusians.Because of this, Andrew hates the Kalalusians the way a cat hates a mouse. Or, maybe the other way around.
Although his superior is a “traitor of humanity”, Andrew didn't consider himself as a collaborator. His job was mainly digging out treasures and weird objects from civilizations thousands of years ago. If he found anything interesting or rare, he'd hand it to the professor for further research. He doesn’t consider this working for the Kalalusians. It was just presenting ancient human relics to them and nothing else. In some way, it was no different than introducing the history of mankind. Obviously no one could sentence this as an act of treason. Sometimes, he even thought that the Kalalusians are more interested in human history than human themselves, which is a good thing. If the Kalalusians didn’t interfere with the human civilization, what is the past might have be destroyed by mankind and lost forever.
The reason he did this job was because he had a family at home and he wanted to give his family as much joy as possible in this gloomy world. The other reason was probably more important, for he loved what he was doing. He was preserving what is left of the human civilization which might be useful in the near future. He knows all the great stories, myths, legends and folklore. He was clear about the history of the Earth thousands of years ago and although he didn't have all of the knowledge, he was working very hard towards it. The Kalalusians recognized his strength and appointed him as one of the only archaeologist left on the planet. Andrew never figured out why, especially since the Kalalusians were an advanced scientific civilization who should shown no interest in old and ancient things. They didn't even value their own history, but this changed when the Kalalusians arrived on Earth. They appeared very eager to know Earth’s past.
Andrew didn't have much contact with the Kalalusians, mainly because the professor did the communication job. However, today he was called to this council unexpectedly along with Professor Pateman. For the first time in his life, he’d sit with all of the other Kalalusian officials who ruled them for almost forty years.
Andrew looked around nervously at the Kalalusian guards. He must have been the only human in this area and he felt very lonely. He took out his smartphone and wireless earphones with his shaking hand and carefully dialed the number, looking up at the guards once in a while.
“Yes, Professor, it’s me.” He said, looking up to the sky and trying to avoid eye contact with the masked guards. “I arrived twenty minutes ago. I was just wondering when are you going to arrive………In ten minutes? Okay, I’ll wait.” He hung up the phone tucking it carefully into his suit pocket. He began pacing cautiously up and down the steps, scratching his straight brown hair, praying that the professor would arrive sooner.
An ear-piercing sound travelled into his ears as the front gate of the wall opened. A big heavily armored vehicle known as the Technobiole rolled out of the gate and stopped in front of the building. It was followed by dozens of smaller Technobioles. Andrew withdrew back on the steps as Kalalusian guards rushed down, forming a straight line from the vehicle to the main entrance of the building. He watched in amazement as hundreds of well-dressed figure stepped out of the Technobioles. They all wore heavy metal masks that covered their entire face, just like all the other Kalalusians.
Andrew gasped in terror as he made out the Kalalusian walking in front of the line. It was Lukasa Notoee, the Lord Governor of Planet Earth. He was a veteran general and one of the main commanders of the attack on Earth forty years ago. His blood-thirsty personality meant the slaughter of millions of people. Therefore, he was the biggest enemy of humanity.
General Lukasa walked defiantly into the building. He was followed by many chiefs and generals whom Andrew did not recognize. Lukasa’s footsteps were heavy as if there was mercury on his feet and the sound echoed through the vast hallway. Andrew held his breath as the contingent passed him. He noticed that each of the Kalalusian officials wore different masks, with different expressions, colors and decoration. General Lukasa obviously had the most elegant mask. It had gems and rare stones studded all over the gold colored mask. He wore a black cape, that didn't exactly match with his mask. The symbol of the KIA was sealed on the center of the cape.
Just as they reached the door, General Lukasa suddenly swirled around and gazed at Andrew. His light green eyes reflected hatred and ambition from inside the mask. He took a few steps towards him, examining every part of his body from up to down. His hand gradually lowered to grasp his laser sword, hanging from his belt. Everything in the world around him seemed to stop as Andrew tried to back off. But he couldn’t. The sight of the General face to face made his blood ran cold.
“You are a human aren’t you?” The General spoke in English with a weird low tone.
“Yes….Yes Sir.” Andrew answered in Kalalusian. He knew what the General was up to. If he answered in English, the General would split him in half with his deadly laser sword.
General Lukasa narrowed his eyes, his hand off the laser sword. “What’s your name?” He still asked in English.
“My name is Andrew Lanchaster sir.” He replied nervously. “I am a faithful servant of the Kalalusian Empire.” He added.
“Are you?” The General paced a circle around him. The smell of his foul breath made Andrew want to vomit. All he could do was to close his eyes, hold his breath and wait for some sort of miracle to happen.
“Very well, I am looking forward to how you are going to serve the Empire.” General Lukasa finally spoke, this time in Kalalusian. He made a final circle around him and walked back to the door. This time went in for good.
Andrew remained at the spot, not daring to make a move while the contingent entered the building. Sweat soaked his body and his hands were still shaking. Visions of the different Kalalusian masks floated in his head; each with evil expressions and gruesome appearances. He was sure that these images would haunt him for the rest of his life.
Andrew nearly jumped as another hand landed on his shoulder. The hand was rough but it had great strength. Andrew’s eyes widened as he turned around, then gave a sign of relief when he saw a white-haired and a white-cloaked old man standing behind him. Following close behind was his private research team and his proud pupil, Brian Rohki.
“What’s wrong Andrew? You look like you are going to pass out.” The old man asked suspiciously.
“Thinking about another ‘epic’ archaeological discovery?” Brian sneered in an unfriendly tone. He was joined by the chorus of laughter by his fellow teammates.
“Yes, professor. I was going to pass out.” Andrew said, forcing a smile on his face and trying to control himself from jumping into another quarrel with Brian. In his opinion, aside from the fact that the professor was human, he was much creepier than any of the Kalalusians he had met, including General Lusaka. His team was just a bunch of snobs dressed up in a scientist costume. Especially that Brian, who always thought that he was always the smartest person around. More than once, Andrew wished he could wipe that smile off Brian's face.
“So what happened then? Your face is as white as my cloak.” Professor lightly adjusted his glasses and took a step closer to Andrew.
“I’ve just had a short conversation with General Lusaka and just---”
“It’s Lord Lusaka” Professor Pateman interrupted, gazing uncomfortably at Brian. “Always remember your manners. And what did he say to you?”
“Yes, Yes. Lord Lusaka said he expected me to serve the Kalalusian Empire with great effort. This is my first time seeing him, so I was really nervous.”
“That’s it?” Professor Pateman narrowed his eyes, fumbling the pockets of his white cloak. “That’s all he said to you?”
“Well, he asked me my name and if I am human. Expect that, then that’s all he said to me.”
“Hmm……This is interesting indeed.” The professor began twitching his curly white hair. That always made Andrew nervous.
“Lord Lusaka is going to demolish you!” Brian said, making a silly face. The seven members of the team giggled again. Andrew couldn’t help but roll his eyes. These "creatures" can never grow up.
Andrew gazed around, just in time to see a Kalalusian soldier running towards them. He stopped in front of them and saluted.
“Excuse me for interrupting the fun humans, but General Lusaka demands your present right now.” The soldier’s voice sound threatening.
Professor Pateman nodded and then followed the guard to the entrance. Andrew followed him closely with the others and as they walked through the dark hallway, the door behind them was heavily shut. It felt like they were marching to their graves.
“I am not having a good feeling about this council, Professor.” Andrew whispered as they made their way through the dark passage. “I assume that the fate of our race will be decided at this council and we have to make sure that it does not go wrong.”
“That’s none of your business Andrew. You should be more worried about yourself. The project I gave you three months ago showed no progress. That project was assigned directly from Lord Lusaka and I can tell you now, he is not happy with you.” Professor replied coolly.
Brian and the rest snickered at the back. Andrew closed his eyes. What professor said was true. He found no particular object at the digging site assigned to him and he knew he was in deep trouble. He didn’t even know if he could leave this building anymore. If Lord Lusaka wanted to, he could just order the guards to execute him on the spot. He already done this many times.
The guard in front of them stopped suddenly. Andrew, who is still absent-minded, didn’t notice it and bumped into the professor.
“Watch your foot Andrew.” Professor Pateman flashed him a disgusted look. Brian and the others giggled again.
“Yes….Yes sir! I mean, sorry sir!” Andrew apologized, his face bright red. As a matter of fact, he knew that Professor Pateman wasn’t in a good mood either. His scientific research also showed no achievement and the only thing that comforted him was that Brian, his gifted student completed the task Lord Lusaka assigned him. Now, at least they have something to talk about if questioned.
“Humans….” The guard in front of them spat out loud and pressed a button on the wall. An electric keyboard appeared and he began typing the code. Andrew’s heart began beating very fast. What kind of fate awaits him behind those walls?
A breeze of cool air poured out as the giant metal wall opened in front of them. A ray of white light filled the dark space as all of them shielded their eyes with their hands. Andrew held his breath as the guard stepped aside and signaled them to enter. The professor recovered quickly and stepped into the ray of light. So did Brian and the other team members. Andrew’s feet began trembling again. He did not want to go into the meeting room. In fact, he’d rather be in a factory been worked to death or in a laboratory being experimented on any form of weapons. The fear of how he would die was more unbearable than death itself.
The Kalalusian guard turned to him with a hard look. Then, without warning, he loaded his deadly laser gun and aimed at Andrew.
“Enter now, or you will never see light again.” The guard spoke, one word at a time. Although Andrew didn’t know what’s in there, but one thing is certain; if he didn’t go into the room, then the guard will kill him, on the spot.
With a deep breath, Andrew found some strength to pick up his lead-filled feet and stepped towards the beam of light. Better to die having the answer of the unknown than be destroyed in muddle. He closed his eyes and entered the beam of light.
When Andrew reopened his eyes again, he found himself in the middle of a large courtroom. It’s the same type of courtroom where humans once used it to bring justice upon the guilty. But now, the judge, who’s in the middle end of the room, was replaced by the Three Supreme Generals and the Three Supreme Officials of the Kalalusian Empire; the jury on both sides of the room was replaced by numbers of Kalalusians whom Andrew didn’t recognize. And finally, to the humans, who sat at the very bottom of the room; below all the other Kalalusians. Of course, sitting above the “judge”, in the highest seat, was Lord Lusaka.
Andrew felt a little dizzy. Even if he was guilty of not completing the task, the Kalalusians was in no need of bringing such a massive trial to sentence him. Normal human will never have the “honor” to be in one room with Lord Lusaka. Even Professor Pateman has only seen him once. Perhaps he was right from the start? That this secret council was gathered to discuss the fate of the human race?
A Kalalusian official showed Andrew to his seat, located at the very end of the human row. Andrew gave a sigh of relief. While Brian and the others wanted to be recognized by Lord Lusaka as soon as possible, Andrew wanted to stay away from him as far as possible. He can’t even pluck the courage to see his mask again.
The council started normally, having Kalalusian and human civil servants reporting their work. Andrew recognized Beto Stuart, one of the richest human being that walks this earth, who is sitting directly across him. His father, David Stuart once owned the biggest company in the human world, the Stuart Europa Company. The company had more than seven hundred thousand employees and its logo could be seen in every corners of the earth. When the Kalalusians invaded forty years ago, David Stuart supported the Earth Republican Army in the battle against the Kalalusian Imperial Army. However, he switched sides when Kalalusians promised not to destroy his empire and offered him even more wealth than any other nations of earth could give. After David Stuart died six years ago, his son Beto Stuart took in charge of the company. It still remained the biggest company on the earth, just as the Kalalusians promised. However, it became a puppet for the Kalalusian Empire. The Kalalusians gave them a huge amount of money, or resource each month and the company uses the resource to construct huge projects for their “employers”. In this way, most of the Earthians think that it was the Stuart Europa Company behind all of these research and constructions. This is another tactic of Lord Lusaka’s “turning humans against humans” strategy.
After about an hour of the reporting session, every human in the council is starting to get uneasy. If this secret council was held because Lord Lusaka wants to hear the reports of the civil servants, then he must have some other plans in his mind. And all this time, Andrew noticed that the Kalalusians today were also acting very unusual. Many of them whispered to each other, with their gaze drawn directly to the professor. Some even pointed and nodded at him. For Lord Lusaka, his sight never left the ceiling of the courtroom, as if everything has nothing to do with him. In fact, Andrew doubts he even moved during this hour at all.
A moment of silence overtook the room. Nothing could be heard except the tapping of Lord Lusaka’s finger. After another moment of awkward stillness, he looked down at the courtroom, stood up from his seat and walked down to the lower floor; his steps echoed swiftly in the vast room. Everyone’s gaze now turned to him; some with great fear like Andrew; others with great enthusiasm like Brian. Lord Lusaka walked slowly to the center of the room, looking at each and every one’s eyes as he passes them. He stopped a few steps away from Professor Pateman and Brian, who he didn’t even bother to take a glance. With a voice that is so low in temperature, he spoke for the first time during in the entire council.
“Now let’s discuss the achievements of the scientific researchers.” He spoke in Kalalusian. His voice was calm, but with vicious strength in it. He turned his back to the professor, who is now a bit trembling. Then, he flashed his head back, with anger behind his metal cold mask. “Professor Stephen Pateman, you have something to say don’t you?”
All humans in the room including Andrew held their breath. The Kalalusians though, showed a sign of gloat behind their masks.
“Y…..Yes sir. I do have something to say.” Professor Pateman rose from his seat and made a deep bow. “My most precious pupil Brian Rhoki here has made an extraordinary discovery that I am sure will benefit the Empire.”
Brian with a face of fawned smile also rose from his seat and bowed. “It is my honorable pleasure to serve the empire my lord. I have, like you assigned, discovered that---”
“I am talking about your project.” Lord Lusaka said to the professor, completely ignoring Brian. “The project I assigned you. Is there any signs of a breakthrough in the research?”
Professor Pateman began trembling terribly. He took out a handkerchief out of his shirt pocket and began wiping his forehead. Andrew never saw the renowned professor behaving like this and now felt quite very sorry for him.
“I am…..sorry my lord. I…..I failed to translate the scrolls you gave me.” He fixed his glasses, making a great effort to calm himself down.
“You didn’t have to translate the scrolls entirely.” Lord Lusaka’s voice suddenly changed to a very soft tone. “A few words translated will also do. You wouldn’t want to tell me that you haven’t translated a word aren’t you?”
The professor has calmed himself by now. “Not a single letter my lord.” Professor Pateman said leisurely.
There were sounds of gasps in the room. Kalalusians talked over themselves loudly and humans whispered to each other in total disarray.
“Silence!” Lord Lusaka’s eyes burned into professors. He began striding towards the professor; his hand grasping on the Laser Sword hanging from his belt. “You know the consequences of failure do you?” Lord Lusaka’s voice was now filled with uncontrollably fury. “It’s time you know the outcome of my wrath!”
Just as he was about to pull the sword from his belt, a hand stretched out and grabbed Lord Lusaka by his cape.
“Hey, you old bastard! Keep your dirty hands off the professor!” It was Andrew himself! Just a second ago he leaped from his seat to save the professor and he didn’t know why he did it. He hated the professor and his research team. But when time comes that Professor Pateman was about to be sliced apart, he didn’t have the time to think.
Everyone in the room was astonished this situation. Kalalusian guards rushed in from the side doors, their guns pointing at Andrew. Andrew turned to look at Lord Lusaka, whose eyes were also filled with surprise. Then as quick as ever, Lord Lusaka seized Andrew by the throat with his iron fist, clutching it hard. Andrew struggled frantically to breath, but the pain was too great to stand. Darkness is crawling in fast and the world he knew seemed to fade away…….
“Kill him! Kill him! Kill that traitor!” Brian’s voice sounded clearly in his ears. That bastard, Andrew thought. He deserves to die more than anyone else in the room.
And then, it was over. Lord Lusaka finally let go of his throat, throwing on the marble ground. As everything became clear in his eyes once more, he could make out Lord Lusaka turning towards Brian. Without another word, Lord Lusaka pulled out his Laser Sword with great speed and bought it over his head.
Brian moved back in total surprise with his mouth wide opened. But it was too late. Lord Lusaka bought down the sword down in less than a second, slicing Brian and the metal table apart; from top to bottom.
Blood was everywhere when Andrew got to his knees. A few Kalalusian guards ran forward and pulled the body away. Lord Lusaka didn’t even bother to wipe the blood off his fancy clothes and armor. Instead, he turned to Andrew again, this time, less menacing than before. His sword was already in his belt as he stepped towards Andrew. He stared down at him, his eyes as cold as ice.
“Get up human.” Lord Lusaka’s voice was calm once more.
Andrew managed to stand up. He clutched his throat with great pain and his eye closed. This is his first time to see a human been slaughtered like this. Even during the invasion forty years ago, he witnessed no such horrific sight.
“You have some guts human. Standing up for someone you hate and to someone you fear.” His eyes seem to be staring through Andrew, reading his thoughts.
“And as for you Professor Pateman, do you have anything else to say?” Lord Lusaka turned dramatically towards the professor.
“No…no sir.” Professor Pateman said, wiping the blood stain off his white cloak. “I just want to say that if you give me another chance I will---”
“Do you remember last month’s scientific meeting, professor?” Lord Lusaka interrupted.
“Yes…..Sir. I remember the meeting.”
“And what did you say about this project back then?”
“I said….uh…..give me another month….sir.”
“Indeed.” Lord Lusaka took off his cape, revealing his entire body, which was covered in metal. “And is this what you are going to say this time?”
Professor Pateman didn’t answer. Instead, he turned his gaze towards Andrew. He doesn’t seem grateful to him, but looked rather dazed.
“I hope you remember when I assigned this project, professor.” Lord Lusaka made a wave towards the guards. “It’s been for almost a year and you will pay for your failure.”
Two Kalalusian guards seized Professor Pateman by the arm and held him brutally down on the table. Professor Pateman did not resist. His eyes were still looking sluggishly at Andrew.
“You should be executed for this failure. But thinking that you had served the Empire without question these years, I can spare your miserable life.” Lord Lusaka pointed to the door. “You are now released from your oath to the Kalalusian Empire, but still remain a servant to it. Your job as the Head Professor of the Scientific Laboratory will be permanently removed and all of your titles and properties will be confiscated. You are now banished forever from the field of science. Go now and join all the other workers in the construction pit.”
Without further orders, the guards dragged the lifeless professor out of the courtroom. Professor Pateman stared at Andrew for one last time and just before he vanished through the door, he smiled.
“And as for you, Andrew Lanchaster…….” Lord Lusaka looked hard into Andrew’s eyes. The rest of the people in the room all drew their breath, waiting eagerly and nervously about Andrew’s sentence for resisting the wrath of Lord Lusaka.
“You will be promoted to take the place of Professor Pateman. You are now the head researcher of Colony Earth.” Lord Lusaka finished.
There were no claps, nor cheers in the room; only with absolute amazement. This is totally unexplainable. Someone who stood up against the authority of Lord Lusaka was not only spared, but is now promoted to a higher level. Someone who supported the wrath of Lord Lusaka, on the other hand, was sliced in half. Has Lord Lusaka lost his mind?
“We need people, with guts to serve the Empire. This is something you must all know and will understand someday.” Lord Lusaka walked towards Beto Stuart. “And you, my dearest Beto Stuart. You will do me the favor of supporting the new head professor with all of your effort, won’t you?”
“Yes sir. I will do whatever the Empire desires.” Beto replied immediately.
“Good, good.” Lord Lusaka said, heading back towards his seat. “I think this is enough for today. All fellow Kalalusians stay behind. Professor Lanchaster, you report to the Scientific Research Headquarters. The rest are free to go.”
“And…….” Lord Lusaka added, turning around to the humans with a distrusting gaze. “This council must be in absolute secret. All of you will know the punishment if one doesn’t know how to keep its mouth shut.”
With a final wave, Andrew and the other human beings exited the courthouse. The smell of blood was still fresh in the air…………