3 of 5 | Chapter 15

 

“So, it turns out there is other life in the universe,” concluded Karen.

“Indeed, and yet, we can't figure out why they're not able to come here. Now there are a huge amount of questions. First of all, can we build a system of communication with them? Assuming, of course, that they reply to our message,” said Steersman.

“That's a hell of a shock for a Tuesday afternoon,” observed Karen.

“Yes, I know. If we are successful in establishing a communication link between aliens and humans, we will be posed with a series of tasks that have never ever been faced in the history of mankind. I'm sure there are hundreds of theories on how such a meeting should take place, but no one knows, no one has ever experienced it. Who knows what their habits are, their temperament, intentions, level of tolerance, biology and so on.”

“I think we should at least deal with this in theory. Prepare scenarios and action plans,” suggested Trenerry calmly.

“I agree. As we wait for a specific response to our message, we'll start a planning program. It could also be that the message we have received is a very old signal. It is also possible that they just sent it out, unprepared to receive a reply. It could be that they will see our answer, it'll scare them, and they'll change their minds. We don't know them, and they don't know us,” Steersman said.

“Jesus, what do you think they might look like? Are they more technologically advanced than us?” Karen posed, almost rhetorically.

“One thing is for sure, their transmission technology is more advanced, and their language is certainly more complex than ours. It's also possible that they have the capacity to observe us and know what we are and what we do,” explained the astronomer.

“So, maybe we should be afraid or even ashamed,” said Karen.

“As I said, there are a lot of questions, and we won't know all the answers any time soon. The complete picture will only become clear when we become familiar with them and they with us,” said Steersman, bringing them back to earth.

“Okay, so we really do have something to prepare for. Firstly for ourselves, and then for our entire species,” Karen said, refocusing.

“Yes, and what's more, we first have to tidy up our house before we invite the neighbors over for coffee,” quipped Steersman, smiling.

 

THUE

To the north of the PrEUST building, a special structure began to rise out of the frozen ground. It was symmetrical and regular compared to the usual forms in Excolopolis. It looked like two parallel cigar-like ellipses had been placed on top of three similar structures so that the intersections between the geometric shapes created the floor area of the building. Its unusual aspect and complete lack of windows would quickly fade into unremarkability, but it was the name placed atop the structure that really turned heads: THUE, Training Hub of Utter Execution.

Before they were pushed to give further explanation as to what was going on in the neighborhood of the university campus, a personal message was sent to many of the students via the internal PrEUST network. As the system detected the presence of the students on campus, it sent the daily news and information to their biocoms.

On that particular bright yet icy December morning, small groups of students were standing around discussing the rather cryptic recruitment message that had been sent with a special priority marking—along with the usual faculty and student notices. The message was marked ‘confidential’.

“Hey guys. What do you think this secret meeting is all about, then?” asked Jeff, rubbing his hands together as he arrived at their usual meeting place. Pat and Arch were sipping hot drinks on one of the heated benches that were dotted around the campus.

“Apparently some important notice arrived on some people's biocoms,” said Pat sourly, as she breathed in the cold air.

“We haven't received anything,” Arch said dryly. “Have you?”

“Haven't checked. I hardly had time to breathe this morning. We're working on the garden restoration, even at midnight. The irrigation system was destroyed, and the exterior lighting as well,” Jeff yawned.

“You guys got screwed by that fighter,” Pat shook her head.

“Yeah, dammit. The roof got nailed. We had to replace half of the structure. I keep telling Dad that it'd be easier to just rebuild the whole thing. And we have to do it the freezing cold,” moaned Jeff, indignantly.

“Here, hot coffee to warm you up, dude,” Arch handed him an ecofoam cup.

“Thanks.”

“Have a look at your biocom. The others wouldn't let us see what they got,” said Arch.

Jeff took the palm-sized device from his bag and hit the screen. A small ping sounded and the new messages filled the screen. At the top, there was a message highlighted in red.

“What the fuck is this?” he exclaimed, pointing at the icon.

“I can't believe you got that too!” gasped Arch.

Jeff began to read. “It says: ‘ASEC, in preparation for the future, is launching one of the most important technological and scientific programs ever undertaken in order to forestall events like those of November the 13th, and any further subsequent attacks, crimes against humanity and the environment. We will be launching highest level command training for future missions, campaigns and discovery expeditions on land, sea, air and space. We are offering the opportunity for talent, loyal and dedicated leadership candidates to participate in safeguarding our future. We are looking for a commitment to maintaining the spirit of peaceful development. Location: THUE’.”

“They have got to be shitting us …. What the hell is that supposed to mean? One of the most important technological and scientific programs ever. And what do they mean, in space?” exclaimed Arch.

“Why didn't we get the message too?” huffed Pat. “Don't they need women? What is this? The Middle Ages?” she ranted furiously.

“I'm sure it's not about that,” Jeff reassured her.

“You shouldn't be saying a word asshole, you got an invitation,” she said indignantly.

“This THUE place is right here next to the campus, isn't it?”

“Yep. It's not a very attractive tower block either. What do you think it is? A university or something?” wondered Arch.

“More than that, I'd say. They will be training ASEC enforcement commanders there. They will be the ones helping them build their new empire,” prophesied Pat, cynically.

“Are you cuckoo?” said Arch, rolling his eyes. “You're sulking because you didn't get the invitation?”

“It's probably because sometimes you're a bit hot headed,” Jeff added the final sting.

“I don't give a shit about this stupid soldier shit, I just don't understand why others don't get a chance,” she fumed.

“I'm sure other opportunities are there for other people, ones that will fit their abilities better,” said Arch soothingly.

“When's admission?” asked Pat.

“Tomorrow morning.”

 

First push

The next day, an air convoy arrived at the THUE center, from the ASEC. The building exterior was being clad with a special outer skin, and small aircrafts resembling Condor landed on the helipads. Steersman had assigned one of those to each of the directors. They were controlled and guided by a pre-programmed automated pilot system for the time being.

 

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CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
CHAPTER 4 | ATTACK
CHAPTER 5 | THE SOURCE
CHAPTER 6 | THE SCIENCE CENTER
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 9 | SECTOR TWO
CHAPTER 10 | THEY KNOW WE ARE HERE
CHAPTER 11 | GRAVITOR
CHAPTER 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH