Ankara, Turkey; Secret Auxiliary Lab of the Department of Terrestrials.Friday; 7:57 AM…
“…Bloody hell, he’s tall,” the European Union’s Commission President, Dieter Brandt, said upon seeing a bi-pollex in person for his first time!His German accent was thick, but urbane…a voice that served him well as he worked his way up the Commission and elected to the EU’s commission-presidency by his early-fifties.“I’ve heard they’re around three times as big as we are, on average!”
“It’s a female, actually, Mr. President,” Dr. Greene corrected politely.The hipster American scientist—floppy hair and thick glasses identifying him—and his Department supervisor, one of the Department’s Dark Horses, walked next to President Brandt as he inspected three captured bi-pollex aliens that were housed within large rooms; reinforced glass serving as the main barrier.
As a result of recommendations from psychologists within another division, the Turkish auxiliary lab of the Department made sure to construct the holding cells where there were some privacy-areas for the bi-pollex, especially when they relieved themselves, was one area of controversy among some ranks within the Department (Lots of fish, not surprisingly, being the pollices’ main diet…apparently, being alien to Earth, fish-consumption did not adversely affect the bi-pollex!). Some agents and officials felt the pollex did not deserve the dignity of privacy, given the discovery of Earth’s major waters being poisoned by the pollex, according to Department ecologists.
The three bi-pollices before EU President Brandt and the two Department agents had been apprehended during a recent incursion into Turkish and European air-space when their small, scout-ship was shot down by the Romanian government, just outside of Constanta.It was speculated that the pollex were there since Constanta was one of the major cities that rested on the shores of the Black Sea…once again, the water connection with the bi-pollex!
“By now, Mr. President, the Department has a pretty extensive morphological profile on the pollex,” Dr. Greene informed.“In many ways they’re very similar to us, homo sapiens…like us, the male pollex are generally bigger than the female.”
President Brandt’s head whipped over to look at Dr. Greene and the young European woman standing next to him.“Even bigger than her?”
“Yes, Mr. President,” Dr. Greene said; jutting his chin in the direction of the two other pollex.“The others are male, but not much bigger…if you think of it in every day terms, Mr. President, not every human male is six-feet tall.It’s logical to expect another humanoid species to have variability among its member-citizens.”
President Brandt nodded his head with approval as he further considered the pollex before him in the darkened lab.He noted their hind feet; though subtle, when compared to, for example, a kangaroo with hind legs.It was odd to see such feet on a humanoid, even when they were alien!Indeed, the fact that the bi-pollex looked a lot like humans—just much bigger, with hind feet, and, of course, with a pair of thumbs on each hand—made the pollex alienness even more poignant.For, one would not relate with a fish species upon discovering it in an unexpected place.It would just be a fish—unexpected; but still a fish.But if one were to go to an expected family gathering and ran into a cousin with completely different physical features than one’s own—to the point one would wonder if said-cousin were even related to you, such impressions take on the true connotation of “alien.”
“They wear clothing…”The EU president leaned in closer toward the thick glass as he peered at one of the male bi-pollex.The male pollex, seated on the floor of the open cell, looked at President Brandt with very “human” eyes, though shaped a bit differently.
Dr. Greene deferred to his Department-assigned superior.The thirty-something woman, in formal business skirt and jacket—almost to the point of an ’80s business suit—responded.“Again, the Department’s many divisions and disciplines, Mr. President…upon our commandeering of the pollex in Romania, our allies in their government documented the pollex clothing to be very similar to humans’ spacesuit—”
“Yes,” President Brandt responded without taking his eyes off the pollex, “I’ve read all the reports filed by the Department…pretty amazing just how similar everything is about them, isn’t it?”
Dr. Greene and Agent Dark Horse glanced at one another; inquisitively.But they let President Brandt’s words stand alone.
He then suddenly turned to face the two agents.“Any progress on understanding the substance our friends, here, have been steadily poisoning our waters with?”
Again, Dr. Greene let the Dark Horse take this one.“Last I’ve heard, the Department’s Water Division has done an excellent job at ruling out what the substance is not—arsenic, mercury, botulinum…among the world’s most dangerous substance—”
“But it’s none of those,” President Brandt said with a hint of incredulity.
Agent Dark Horse made a shrugging gesture.“Well, Mr. President, they are alien!”She, then, made a deference tip toward Dr. Greene.“Folks from the Astronomical Division can tell you better than anyone…”
As if on cue, Dr. Greene came in.“Hydrogen, helium, and oxygen are the most abundant elements in the universe—that scientists know today.It doesn’t matter if they’re in the cup of coffee that we drink here on Earth or if they’re in some far-off galaxy!Those elements are the same in the universe…basically, Mr. President, this is true for all other elements.Mind you, their compositions may vary, but it’s kind of the Starbucks-at-every-corner, thing!”
The German gentleman laughed; the Dark Horse agent had heard Dr. Greene’s joke before and was a little less impressed!
“So,” Dr. Greene continued, “my question about the poisonous substance, Mr. President, is:Why can’t we even narrow down what the substance is the pollex are drugging our Earth with?”
“Along with it, affecting humans,” the EU commissioner-president added as he looked off into a corner; his mind absorbing their conversation.A thought occurred to him.
“The reports mentioned some changes to some people from the poisoning, but it doesn’t sound like they’re dying!Seems like some people exhibit changes in their bodies as if they were developing allergies to stimuli they’ve been exposed to for years but never developed until the pollex came to Earth!”
Dr. Greene and Agent Dark Horse looked at each other with knowing, wearied looks.
“This,” Agent Dark Horse finally said, “is where Dr. Greene and I part ways, Mr. President…is it that not enough time has passed before some humans finally expire from the exposure to the poisoning, or is it something else…?”
The president waited for either of them to finish.His head ticked between the two agents while his brow furrowed.“Something else, like what, Agents?”
“I think the bi-pollex are doing one, big experiment on humanity,” Dr. Greene finally stated.Predictably, both the president and the Dark Horse agent winced with impatience and disbelief.Dr. Greene continued.“Look, according to the Department’s Engineering Division the pollex are something like a hundred years more advanced than humans are, when it comes to space travel!Imagine if humans started flying in space in the 1850s instead of the 1950s!What I’m getting at is, if the bi-pollex wanted us dead, we would’ve been seeing news reports about human-genocide all over the Earth by now!They have the means to do it…so why haven’t they done so after these several years the Department has known about them?”
That sobered up the EU president and the Dark Horse agent!Indeed, it was a question, apparently, President Brandt had not thought of previously.He conceded this, visually, by making a questioning face and finally a nod.Brandt’s eyes, then, went back to the three bi-pollex in the transparent cells just yards away in the low-lit laboratory…all three were intently watching—listening?—to the humans!
Indeed, President Brandt, Agent Dark Horse, and even Dr. Greene all froze on the spot upon seeing this!The aliens’ eyes slowly slid to other parts of the lab…leaving the three humans with an uncertain feeling as they looked at one another!
Later, that night; Downtown Ankara, Turkey.Dr. Greene’s hotel room.7:45 PM…
“Uh, oh!”Dr. Greene’s smartphone was displaying its encrypted icon.Only the Department used that signal—and there were no scheduled contacts for that night after his meeting with the president of the European Commission and his Dark Horse supervisor-agent!
Before answering it, the young American scientist muted the English-language news broadcast he was watching on the hotel’s complimentary tv.“This is Dr. Gree—”
“Doctor, it’s the Dark Horse,” came the Department’s young superior agent in charge of Dr. Greene; her voice thick with an unknown Eastern European accent, since it was Department-policy for the various agents and their assigned Dark Horses not to get too chummy with each other!“We’ve got a situation at the lab, here in Ankara!”
Dr. Greene thought for a few seconds.“You mean the one we were in this morning?”
“One of the bi-pollex escaped, Doctor!Look, I know the Department sent you here for your experience with the pollices’ ship back in Santiago, but we really need that ol’ alien Hunter right now!You can be The Engineer later…I’m afraid we don’t have as much experience dealing with the bi-pollex like you all do in the Americas!”
“Of course,” he said without even thinking about the implications of his response!“We’ll talk about the details later, but I do need to know which way it went…I’m assuming toward the Black Sea coast?It’s a bit of a hike, even for the bi-pollex, but…”
There was a bit of a delay in Agent Dark Horse’s reply.“You would think that, given our history with the pollex.But from what I’m now being told, I guess this particular pollex is headed toward downtown!”
That was unusual, Dr. Greene thought to himself!“Ok…Agent Dark Horse, I’ll contact you and the office once I have a twenty on him—it!Or—”
“It’s the female bi-pollex,” the Dark Horse simply informed.
“Ok…please keep your contacts open.I’ll probably need you and your office’s help caging her!”Dr. Greene noticed an uncomfortable silence, as he was strapping on the last of his hunting gear.
“Dr. Greene, the Department has made it a policy of termination once any Terrestrial has escaped.Is that understood, Agent?No offense, but word has gotten around from your president about how you seem to prefer detention and maybe not up to the kill.”
Dr. Greene froze on the spot; his hand clutching his important duffle bag with many of his tools of the trade.“I understand—wait!Is that the real reason President Diaz put me in charge of this new pollex-tech division?To get me out of Hunting?”
Another pause from the Dark Horse.“We’ll talk later, Agent Greene…”
The two Department agents ended the call.Dr. Greene didn’t even bother to turn out the lights nor the television set to his hotel room.
Downtown Ankara.8:51 PM…
Dr. Greene fell back into his Hunting mode.Like he’d done for years for the Department, via the internet, Dr. Greene tuned into the city of Ankara’s police department radio broadcast to get insight into what events were going on in said-city.Even though Dr. Greene did not speak Turkish, using a translator-app on one of his devices was enough for the American to understand what was going on!
Utilizing a drive-share service, he drove around in a small Euro-sport car within the clustered hive of five-and-a-half-million for nearly three hours until he finally got a hit on Ankara’s police scanners!
After listening to the scanner and then reading his app’s translation from Turkish-to-English, Dr. Greene punched in the location on the drive-share car’s GPS and took off at a speed that would be considered highway-level back in America’s expansive highway networks!
While Dr. Greene dodged other cars on one of downtown Ankara’s streets, he made the encrypted call to Agent Dark Horse.
“Yes, Dr. Greene, we heard it on the police scanners as well…we’ll meet you at the Weavers’ Road area—whomever gets there first.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Dr. Greene said as he narrowly missed hitting pedestrians on bicycles!
By the time Dr. Greene arrived at one of the most popular tourist area of Ankara, there were already pedestrians scattering about; screams, cars screeching away, people on their phones calling the police…to Dr. Greene, it might as well had been any of the cities in the United States that he experienced over the years of Terrestrial hunting!
He had gotten to Weavers’ Road before Agent Dark Horse and her team.But that was alright with Dr. Greene.There were some assignments when he worked by himself and had captured one bi-pollex.So rather than wait for the Dark Horse supervisor, Dr. Greene haphazardly parked the drive-share car he was using and ran straight into the wave of pedestrians that were fleeing!There actually were some brave people—foreign tourists, most likely—that hung around and were livestreaming or recording the whole incident!Dr. Greene would have to worry about being exposed on social media later…
He found himself in a spacious, modern plaza with jet-pumped water fountains.Dr. Greene thought, at first, perhaps that was why the pollex had fled to that area of Ankara, given the water-connections with the alien species.But that was not logical.For between the auxiliary Department laboratory in Ankara—where the female pollex had escaped—and where he, currently, was there were several other locales in the city that also had fountains, pools, and other urban water-sources.So why would the female bi-pollex go through the trouble of breaking out of the Department’s lab in Ankara and race through the city’s downtown and one of its major shopping centers?
Police sirens were finally creeping up behind Dr. Greene.Like his hunting days in America, sometimes that was good; when law enforcement aided in the hunt.Sometimes it was a crowded field of humans with guns and loud, mobile machines that they drove around in that, in turn, scared the pollex and made them more dangerous!
In all the years Dr. Greene hunted Terrestrials, only three people were killed and two pollices—and of those two, one of them by Dr. Greene; during his early days of hunting Terrestrials.
There were a handful of assignments Dr. Greene worked on for the Department that had nothing to do with Extraterrestrials, but “Domestic Terrestrials.”Subjects that were alleged to had been Bigfoot a couple of times, a werewolf, and a few miscellaneous animals that, honestly, federal and local officials could not explain!
Along with the Ankara police, Agent Dark Horse and her small, classified team showed up just as Dr. Greene finally cornered the female bi-pollex.She was boxed in a congested corner of the mall area where there were no turn-offs and the buildings were too large to scale up; even for the fourteen-foot-tall pollex!
All of the Ankara police forces that showed up for the call and Agent Dark Horse’s team were behind Dr. Greene, as he slowly inched his way to the female pollex…but, unexpectantly, so was a huge crush of citizens and tourists—again, livestreaming the events or recording it on their smartphones!
It was official:this escaped bi-pollex had now gotten out of control!And for a master-Terrestrial Hunter, indeed, now The Engineer of the Department of Terrestrials, this was not good!
“Remember our conversation earlier, Agent,” the Dark Horse said over the crowd, behind Dr. Greene.Looming just ahead of him, the female bi-pollex panting from all the running as she looked at all the humans before her.She still had her spacesuit undergarments on.
After hearing the prompt from his Department superior, Dr. Greene raised his assembled assault rifle and quickly targeted the pollex—a collective gasp came from the pedestrians!
But over that sound came another that thundered…
It was the female bi-pollex!She had both hands held up at head-level; all for the world to see the alien species’ two-thumbed hands via the livestreaming going out to the world at that instant!
Literally silence among the horde of humans before the frightened alien!At that point, Dr. Greene did not care what his supervising agent would say or thought about him.The second he heard the female pollex plead for her life, he knew that he was done hunting any more Terrestrials.Foreign or Domestic!
The silent pedestrians were, now, exploding in various responses!From exclaimed disbelief at the alien’s broken-English, to a rising chant of “Stop!”It was becoming one of those social things that law enforcement agencies and clandestine agencies dreaded!And it was all being livestreamed from a growing crowd of sympathizers of the female pollex!
“Agent,” Agent Dark Horse yelled above the chants from the pedestrians while her small crew from the Department and the Ankara police department all looked on, their weapons drawn and targeting the alien; not sure what to do!For the Department of Terrestrials was one of those agencies that cooperating sovereign governments worked with at top, federal levels; similar to the United Nations or NATO, though the agency was a classified, American organism.Hence, while on the field, each Dark Horse agent was the head-principle of whatever enforcement situation was at that time.
It was a lot of pressure for the young, Eastern European woman, Agent Dark Horse…
Dr. Greene, in zipping-motion, unloaded his rifle, placed the bullets into one of his pockets, and dropped it onto the concrete; his hands raised up to match that of the pollex before him!The growing sea of pedestrians behind him, the Department agents, and the Ankara police, erupted into an affirming cry and applauses!
“Agent, I implore you to do your job!”
Dr. Greene quickly turned so he was facing Agent Dark Horse and everyone else.He, then, gestured for the horde to settle down…and they mostly did so.He raised his voice, so he could be heard by as many people as possible; making sure not to break with the Department policies and not address the Dark Horse by her code name, just as Dark Horse did when addressing Dr. Greene.
“I respect you, my supervising Agent.But I cannot in, good conscience, harm or kill this particular being, even if from another planet!The being is unarmed, the being is fleeing—not pursuing, and I have no direct evidence this particular being has poisoned Earth’s waters!And before you ask, Ma’am, I base this on the annexation of the United Nations Charter of the 116th plenary; codifying the human rights of individuals that are not citizens of the nation they happen to live in…key quote, Ma’am, individuals…”
Well that surprised Agent Dark Horse!Despite her personal flashy style, she was a no-nonsense agent and a rationalist.It was a quality in officials in government throughout the Western nations that was in short supply in such times.
And, moreover, Dr. Greene had a good point!
Just as Dr. Greene hoped for, and just as the Turkish government and the Department of Terrestrials had both feared, the livestreaming of “the Ankara Incident” on the internet went viral and a new social, political movement of protecting the bi-pollex aliens was born!With that said, most citizens had never even heard of the aliens scavenging within their respective societies—most of the bi-pollex were located in North, Central, and South America.So, with hopes of their own to combat the new ‘alien-movement,’ Traditionalist elements within various governments changed their respective, domestic policies about keeping their own versions of America’s Department of Terrestrials a secret!
Second Cold War, indeed!The once-clandestine agencies were being revealed by presidents, prime ministers, and even monarchs!The Traditionalists, also, had their own movement…not surprisingly, an inwardly, strident cause that quickly became a direct re-action to the alien-movement.It was a political movement as never seen before amongst humans, but at the same time, the social dynamics of it were very classic…
What did all this mean for Dr. Greene—The Engineer?Although political scientists and international law experts on the political tv circuits backed up what Dr. Greene did and said in the Ankara Incident, that meant nothing to the Traditionalist American political body.President Brenda Diaz stripped him of his job.
The Diaz administration could not imprison Dr. Greene since he did not break any laws.But, as the old Americana vernacular went, he’d never work in DC again!For after the situation with the escaped female bi-pollex dissipated and Dr. Greene was flown back to the States, he was held in detention at New York City’s LaGuardia airport as he came back from Europe, via London.Dr. Greene was certain his old and former friend—and now nemesis—had given the ok to humiliate him at LaGuardia’s airport terminals, as he was pushed off the passenger line and ordered to take off most of his clothes and wait for further instructions from the head of the Federal Aviation Administration to see what their lawyers and the good folks of the White House would say!
Ultimately, after three hours of waiting in his underwear, off to a corner while thousands passed by, the airport security team released one of the people that had quietly worked for them and his country for years within the Department of Terrestrials, and this was how he was treated.Because he dared to show and treat one extraterrestrial with the same amount of dignity as a human being.
Nine Months Later.“Claves” Bar; Downtown Havana, Cuba.Saturday.10:19 PM…
“…necesitas mas, Senior,” the burly bartender asked amicably from the bar; classic Latin American Jazz blaring from the establishment’s sound-system, competing against the laughter and loud conversations from the other patrons!
“Probably not a good idea, Marcel,” the young American finally said after considering his empty glass before him at the bar.He was clean-shaven and wore thick-rimmed glasses.He always showed up by himself and drank one or two beers and pretty much just sat at the bar; watching the news and the other customers.
He looked up at one of the mounted, grand television sets of the bar.It was turned to an international news channel.The American president was at some podium in Washington, DC.With her face stern, the news media’s graphics announcing some kind of new policy toward furthering the war against the bi-pollex aliens!
“Hola, Senior…you have time for a game of chess,” came a young woman’s voice to his side.European-accented, with an Eastern flair.When the American male turned to see who it was, she, really, had a small, portable chessboard with her—the game pieces in a small baggie.That is, except for the Knight-piece she held so predominately in her hand…indeed, it was that darker horse she chose to set next to the American as she gently slid the tiny board in between them.
The two gave lingering stares at one another; the ambient noises of the bar going on without them.
“It’s your move, Senior…”
Dr. Greene looked at his former boss, whom was dressed low-key by her standards!This was one of the classic, hidden games the Department of Terrestrials agents did with each other or people they had an interest in recruiting.Greene knew the game very well, though he was never particularly good at it himself.If he, literally, placed the black Knight anywhere on the chessboard, it meant he was back in the Game—the Department!If he chose not to place the dark horse-piece onto the board, said-Department agent would walk away; most likely the person of interest never to be contacted by the Department again!
Doctor Greene was a political animal.He could never turn it off, even when he tried.He stayed abreast of global politics in general; alien-politics in particular.He knew that the war against the bi-pollex President Brenda Diaz had waged for about a year, now, was not going as well and as fast as she would’ve liked.In several months’ time, the American citizens would go to the polls and elect a new president and scores of members of Congress—President Diaz must have been desperate to allow Dr. Greene back into the fold!Though Traditionalists within the American government did not appreciate Dr. Greene sympathetically helping the escaped female bi-pollex in Ankara almost a year ago and helped spark a new pro-alien-movement, the young, hipster scientist was very popular with the global citizenry!Apparently, President Diaz wanted some of that youth-vote for her re-election!
“You were right about the water situation,” the young European finally said; hoping he’d move the Knight-piece.Indeed, it seemed like Dr. Greene was the most interested in their one-sided conversation at that point!“Months after you were forced out, some ecologists in our auxiliary lab in Cape Town figured out what that substance was.Or, at least, the closest thing…look, you know me well enough that I’m no scientist!But the bottom line is, it seems the pollex were basically injecting various allergens into our water supplies to see how we—humans, I mean—would react and would render us defenseless.”
She shrugged as she looked off to a corner of the bar.“I guess the pollex were trying to see if they could conquer the human race on Earth by way of an alternative-weaponry—”
“So they wouldn’t have to bombard an ecosystem that they would want to utilize themselves, afterwards,” Dr. Greene came in; nodding to himself as he, too, contemplated the situation while his eyes drifted away.“Why lay down thousands of mousetraps when all you have to do is spay poisons in the house that would force the mice out of the house on their own—”
“Leaving the new owners to slip in and take over,” Agent Dark Horse interjected.“Minimal military expenditure, when you have a human population on the planet approaching eight billion!”
Dr. Greene and the agent somberly shook their heads at, both, the evilness of the plan—if true.But, also, the ingeniousness of it!
“I guess that’s why they’re the ones with the flying saucers, huh,” Dr. Greene quipped.She gave a playful, but repulsive look at his comment.He smiled and continued.“So, how are the world’s governments going to cleanse our waters from all that?If you ask me, since the pollex did it, it’ll probably require them to clean it for us!”
She sighed.“That’s where you come in, my friend…looks like you have a new title you can add to your, already, impressive resume:Ambassador!”
Dr. Greene flinched as he glared at Agent Dark Horse.“What the hell are you talking about?If you knew what I’ve been through since the Ankara Incident, you’d know it’s as far as it can get from being an ambassador!”
“The Department has recently gotten word from our Language Division that, it seems, some within the bi-pollex population liked what you did for that female pollex in Turkey, my friend!”
He merely stared at her.It was always funny for the agent to see how dumbfounded such an intelligent man could become!
“Scientists in the Language Division spied on and got some intercepts between several of their ships, and I guess the rough translation is, because of what you did, Dr. Greene, some of the bi-pollex are starting to have second thoughts of their approach to Earth!”
Now the young American’s face went from blank, to a slow smile!The agent continued.
“It’s not guaranteed, Dr. Greene, but it looks like you could most likely serve as Earth’s first ambassador to an alien species…”She looked at the black Knight-piece she had placed next to him.“That is, if you are willing to, Dr. Greene.”
He considered her.As in, Greene studied her facial features and expression to see if she could be lying.It was part of the training that all Department agents had to go through; even with all the high-tech, biometric tools government agencies had at their disposal!Plus, he remembered how his former friend, US President Diaz, had entrapped him into the so-called Engineering position—most likely to get him out of being a Terrestrial Hunter, since he had exhibited some discomfort with “neutralizing” them when they did not pose an immediate threat!
She patiently waited for Dr. Greene to respond as the Latin Jazz played on amid the bar’s laughs and loud conversations…