Chapter 1 - Selection
No light glimmered from the dark gray, smooth surface of the liner’s hull. Not a single sign of life, not a single discharge of energy emanated from the craft to draw attention to it. For all intents and purposes, the huge spacecraft filled with 100,000 Chrysallaman colonists might as well have been a lifeless asteroid. Untended and forgotten, in seventy years the fusion generators powering the stasis pods maintaining the life functions of the sleeping colonists would deplete their fuel and the CSF Rkksshaw would become truly lifeless. The Federal Organization for Response to Celestial Enemies, popularly known as F.O.R.C.E. to the people of Earth, was not about to let the Chrysallamans go untended and forgotten.
Chrysallamans are a warrior race of beings best described as man-sized, tail-less iguanas. As a result of their vocal chords and tongues being unsuited for verbal interaction, evolution had compensated by developing their ability to communicate telepathically. Over several thousands of years, the Chrysallamans learned to telepathically control the brains of other living beings. Using the ability to conquer the peoples of several planets, they turned the slave-like survivors into an organic food source.
Superior technology coupled with unmatched mind-control made victories easy. The Chrysallamans happened upon Earth, a very nice planet ideally suited for colonization populated by, and this is a direct quote from the logs of Hisspat Zeck, commander of the discovery expedition, a primitive, animalistic culture so physically and technologically inferior they truly deserved to be annihilated to make room for Chrysallamans.
Overconfidence breeds arrogance and complacency. When they began the attempted conquest of Earth, Chrysallaman military leaders discovered Humans didn’t like to be controlled.
As one of the lizards’ military commanders had opined, “The obstinance of Humans to any form of control, no matter how benevolent the control happens to be is unsettling. Humans don’t easily accept authority. In fact, the harsher the punishment for disobedience, the more unruly the blasted creatures become!”
The Chrysallaman invasion fleet had been composed of a combination of military and civilian populations. On the civilian side, 20,000,000 Chrysallamans, one-third of the population of Chrysalis, had been ferried to planet HG-281 in huge spaceships called mega-liners. Each of the 200 mega-liners held 100,000 colonists in stasis pods. The colonists were made up of a standardized mix of educators, factory workers, tradesmen, skilled craftsmen, farmers, doctors, religious leaders and all their family members. Every skill and person necessary for a self-sustaining New World colonization was included in the migration. In addition, a complete panoply of Chrysallaman animal and plant life had been included in the cargo.
On the military side, there had been 50 mother ships and 250 scout saucers all heavily armed and crewed by bloodthirsty soldiers. Earth Humans used a combination of reverse engineering of Chrysallaman technology, brilliant technological advances in power generation by Earth’s greatest scientist and genetic engineering to escape the planned genocide. Only one mother ship and five scout saucers survived the Human counterattack.
The Chriks, as they were referred to by Humans, had been defeated; however, the danger of an invasion by militaristic aliens armed with lightspeed capable spacecraft had been frightening. The Human military machine was determined not to be caught empty-handed again. The necessity of discovering the secret of lightspeed travel had been elevated to Worldwide Top Priority.
Seven days had passed since the operatives of FORCE had captured the mother ship, VrrSilliac Xur, and forced General Hisspat Zeck, the supreme military commander of the Chrysallamans, back into his stasis pod. General Tom Blunt, Commander in Chief of FORCE, had returned to Earth with Colonel Jason Stoneman, Major Amanda Kurstow and Colonel Alexander Fields, taking four of the five scout saucers docked in the mother ship with them. Following the pre-determined plan to recruit Chrysallaman civilians to provide specialized expertise and advice to Earth scientists, Whatsit, Colonel Douglas Jenson and Major Rebecca Mae Chang traveled in the VrrSilliac Xur to Jupiter to begin the selection process.
The mega-liners holding the Chrysallaman civilian colonists orbited Ganymede, the largest moon of the planet Jupiter. General Zeck had left the colonists in their deep sleep stasis pods to be re-animated after the conquest of Earth. Human world leaders had made the decision not to destroy the innocent colonists after the Chrik military was defeated. Genocide is not the choice of intelligent, compassionate beings. The colonists would be absorbed into Earth’s population over a period of years to ease the transition for both Humans and Chrysallamans into a combined society; however, gaining immediate scientific and technical knowledge and insight from native Chrysallamans appeared logical.
The VrrSilliac Xur floated near the port side access hatch of the Rkksshaw. Without some kind of reference for comparison, it’s impossible to grasp the gigantic size of the colony ship. To put its length of 3,281 feet in perspective, think of two and a half Empire State Buildings laid end to end. Height and width were 984 feet . . . a little over three football fields. There were 200 of the huge colony ships orbiting Ganymede, and lying end to end, the ships created a 130 mile long, dark gray snake.
The Rkksshaw access hatch was large enough to allow a mother ship to land completely inside the mega-liner. At the moment, the exterior clam shell hatchway was open and a spotlight from the mother ship illuminated the interior of a warehouse-sized hold and open deck. The bright light swept around the empty hold, revealing nothing except a broad, clear landing area.
The VrrSilliac Xur was saucer-shaped. Even though it was over two football fields in diameter and 164 feet thick, the battleship was small when compared to the Rkksshaw. Doug stared in amazement as Whatsit maneuvered it through the open hatch, extended the landing gear and settled upon the broad inboard deck.
“All systems to stand-by. Gravity-drive neutralized. Access hatch energized and closing. We are ready to debark,” Whatsit advised as he finished entering commands into the control console.
Whatsit was a native Chrysallaman. He dressed in his favorite outfit - - a dark green trench coat and brightly decorated sombrero tied under his chin by a leather draw cord. Whatsit had been 12 years old when he was captured in 1947 at Roswell, New Mexico. He was now 78 and vigorously healthy in mind and body.
Whatsit’s help and advice had been critical to the defeat of the murderous invasion. The United Nations had named him the Official Ambassador of the Human Race to the Chrysallaman Empire.
Watching the clam shell access hatch sliding closed; Doug frowned, “No alarms? No ‘please standby’ while we’re scanned for dangerous weapons or alien threats?”
Cocking his head and shrugging, Whatsit replied, “Why would the mighty, all powerful Chrysallamans entertain the ridiculous thought that repugnant, backwards, inferior and stupid animals such as your race of Humans would have the ability, let alone the audacity, of conquering the benevolent and superior rulers of the galaxy?”
“When you put it that way, I guess the answer is obvious.”
A soft whoosh signaled the opening of the control room door, and Becky Chang joined them. Becky was a vivacious, 5 foot 6 inch sprite with coal black hair worn in a complex twisting loop at the back of her head.
“So what’s the hold up?” she asked with characteristic impatience. “Surely out of twenty million Chrysallamans, you’ve found a few we can pull from stasis who won’t automatically try to kill us.”
“It’s an interesting problem,” Whatsit replied. “My search parameters for the selection were based upon the age, educational training and familial relationships of the sleepers.”
He typed a series of commands, and the view screen divided into two sections. The left hand section showed a digital representation of 200 mega-liners. The liner in the top left hand corner blinked ‘CSF Rkksshaw’. The right hand section displayed lists, colorful pie charts and bar graphs. Becky got the distinct impression she was watching a PowerPoint presentation in a corporate board room.
“Per normal guidelines, the lead mega-liner Rkksshaw within which we are now docked is filled with the most relevant scientific, engineering and technical people required during the initial phase of colonization. The lead mega-liner colonists are debarked on the new planet at least two years before the other colonists in order to study the new world and determine the best environment for a successful immigration.”
Tapping a control key, Whatsit caused the blinking icon representing the CSF Rkksshaw to expand in the left hand section of the screen.
“As an age parameter, I didn’t want anyone younger than 16 nor older than 70. Anyone younger wouldn’t have the needed age related development of physical and telepathic skills required for our return trip to Chrysalis. I was afraid anyone older than 70 might be stubbornly set in their ways as you Humans are fond of saying.”
Amused at the way the big alien lizard attached Human foibles to his Chrysallaman brethren, Becky asked, “So how many people did your age parameters cull from the available population?”
“Twenty thousand, give or take. Note the chart areas colored yellow depict the population rejected by the age limits.”
Becky nodded and watched a digital counter in the upper corner of the screen change from 100,000 to 80,256.
“Whatsit and I compared notes on what educational backgrounds we wanted to emphasize,” Doug added. “We both had the same ideas.”
“Yes, educational training needed focus on technical skills in high energy and gravitational physics, metallurgy, astronomy, chemistry, computer design, electrical engineering, spaceship design, stasis research . . . the root sciences and design expertise required to build superior spaceships.”
“We don’t need politicians, social scientists, pre-college teachers, entertainers or religious leaders until Earth is ready to begin mass immigration and integration of Chrysallamans into our society,” Doug added.
“Okay,” Becky replied. “Those educational requirements must have whittled your count down dramatically.”
“Yes,” Whatsit agreed. “Our count reduced by another seventy thousand. The light blue color in the charts indicates the population rejected.” Shaking his head, he added, “Even so, we had around ten thousand left to analyze.”
“It was the parameter on familial relationships that knocked off a big chunk of the remaining population,” Doug said as he tapped a command into the keyboard.
Whatsit explained, “Chrysallaman family relationships are similar to Humans with the same kind of love, loyalty, bloods thicker than water kind of stuff. As a result, the ideal candidate is single, divorced or widowed. The candidate shouldn’t be in a love relationship or have close family ties with others onboard. We don’t want our prime candidates being lonely and distracted by thoughts of awakening their loved ones. The candidates must be able to concentrate on the task of helping Humans expand their knowledge base.”
As Whatsit concluded his explanation, Doug updated the charts with the new information. Orange color appeared indicating the population rejected by the familial relationship criterion. The remaining count for analysis dropped to 25.
“You mean to tell me that out of 10,000 Chrysallamans, only 25 were single, divorced, widowed and not in a love relationship?” Becky exclaimed.
“Hey, Chrysallamans are lovers not fighters,” Whatsit replied with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Ha. Ha,” Becky replied as she rolled her eyes.
Doug liked the way her hair bounced when she was excited. He had forgotten to shield his telepathic meanderings, and Becky read every thought his unguarded brain transmitted.
Looking him up and down with an odd glimmer, Becky sent a telepathic stiletto, “I didn’t realize you were into pony tails, Colonel Jenson.”
Clamping down on his thoughts, Doug replied, “Pony tails?”
He did his best to change the subject, “Give me some details about the 25 candidates, Whatsit.”
Becky smiled as she enjoyed Doug’s chagrin.
“He’s cute when he’s caught off-guard,” she thought.
“They are all highly trained individuals in their respective sciences; however, one in particular stands out from the others. His name is Jamins GooYee, and he is the top Chrysallaman scientist in high energy physics,” Whatsit said.
“Well let’s get this show on the road,” Doug replied in a determined tone. “Wake ’em up so they can be introduced to their new best friends. I just hope they’re psychologically well adjusted. If I was put into sleep stasis by fellow Humans and waked up by a Chrysallaman leaning over my bed, I’m sure I would freak out.”
“I’ll prepare the candidates as best I can for their first encounter with you,” Whatsit replied with a wink. “Any of them who are unable to adjust to the reality of meeting the unconquered, evil Earthlings will have to be put back into stasis.”
Curling up the corner of his mouth in a mischievous smile, he continued, “We don’t have time for any of them to go through a 12-step program to cure an egotistical intolerance for lower lifeforms.”
“Are you trying to give Doug and me an inferiority complex?” Becky chuckled. “I don’t know about him, but you’re making me feel bad.”
Whatsit hummed the sad, small violin ditty as he turned to the control console and typed the entries necessary to begin deactivation of the stasis chambers holding the selected colonists.