Empire’s End Part 1 – Defending the Homeworld

Empire's End: Part 1 - Defending the Homeworld

The general sat on the command deck of the orbital defense station positioned in geosynchronous orbit over the central military command complex on the ground to facilitate fast, line-of-sight communications.  The station was the command hub for an array of defense platforms seeded around the planet in an intricate defense grid.  No matter what direction an enemy came from, they would be in the firing solution of more than thirty percent of the defense platform weapons.

The fleet was formed up in another defensive perimeter farther out from the planet, but the general was not in command of the fleet, only the planetary defense array.  The admiral of the fleet would be responsible for engaging the enemy initially.  He would only engage if the enemy came withing range of the defense grid.

The general looked at the display.  It showed a bright bloom of energy just outside the asteroid belt.  The energy bloom was a fleet of warships traveling at near light speeds.  As ships travel close to the speed of light, they give off massive amounts of nucleonic radiation, gamma and x-rays, and other assorted dangerous, high-energy particles.  This shows up on the sensors as a bright energy bloom.  When a fleet traveled at near light speeds in close proximity to each other, the energy blooms could sometimes merge into one massive energy bloom, like the one he was looking at now.  The calculations of the energy bloom on the screens now indicated that at least twelve thousand ships of varying sizes were inbound to the system.

And they were … decelerating.  Soon, they would drop out of near light speeds and the radiation would dissipate.  Then they would get their first good look at this fleet that they had been watching for so long.  The general thought back to when they first spotted the incoming ships.  He could remember it all like it was yesterday.

He was a small child, barely in primary school.  He had been in class about an hour when it happened.  The instructor was in the middle of explaining the finer points of a particularly complex mathematical concept when the speaker in the room came to life with the school administrator.

“Attention all faculty and staff.  Please turn on your monitors.  There is about to be an important message from the President.  All channels everywhere are being interrupted to simulcast this message.  Repeat, turn on your monitors and prepare for an urgent governmental message.”

 The general’s childhood-self sat up.  This was interesting.  There had never been a governmental announcement in his lifetime that required all channels to be coopted and to interrupt schools and places of business so that everyone could see it live. 

He had heard stories about important occasions that saw the schools turning on the monitors to let the children see it live.  About sixty years prior, they had safely sent a team to their moon and back.  Then, almost thirty years later, the schools again let the children watch a simulcast of another space launch.  Tragedy would strike that day as the rocket carrying the ship to orbit exploded on takeoff, killing the entire crew … live before their very eyes.  They stopped letting schools watch live events like that for a long time, but every school child was taught the history of their adventurers who braved the skies.  He had seen the pictures of the crew that went to the moon and the ones that died in the explosion all from the safety of his classrooms via the textbooks. 

It seemed like the only time in history that the whole world came to a halt was when it was related to space in some way.  He wondered what extraordinary news had precipitated today’s interruption.

The children all settled down as the instructor turned on the monitor located in the corner of the classroom near the ceiling.  A blue background appeared with the seal of the presidential office.  The instructor flipped through a dozen or so channels, and, indeed, it was on every one of them.  He seemed perplexed.  This unnerved the childhood general.  If the instructor didn’t even know what was happening, then it must have been serious.

After what seemed like an eternity, which in truth was only a few moments, the screen flickered and showed a lectern set up with the presidential seal in the background.  Someone could be seen coming from the left side of the monitor and walking up to the lectern.  She stepped up to the lectern and spoke to the crown and recording devices.

“Hello.  The president is about to come out and make an announcement, but first I want to prepare you.  For those physically in attendance, complete silence must be maintained.  The president is going to say some things that may elicit an emotional response.  If you do not think that you can maintain your composure, then please excuse yourself.  You can watch the announcement outside in the main concourse where we have set up monitors for you.” 

“This will be the single most important address that any leader in all of history has given.  We need decorum so that he can get through it all.  He is not unaffected by this news and needs to maintain his focus to get through it all.  And now, for those in attendance and those watching around the world, I give you the president.”

The general’s childhood-self watched intently as an old man walked slowly, deliberately up to the lectern.  The president was normally an energetic figure, youthful despite his old age.  To the general, it had always seemed that in past appearances, the president bounded with the vigor of a man one third his age.  That was not the case today.  Today, the general could see the age in the president.  He seemed haggard and disheveled.  He had never seen him like that.

The president finally made it to the lectern and paused.  He looked down at what, his notes, the ground?  The general could not tell what he was looking at, but his reluctance to say what he had come to say filled the general’s childhood heart with a sense of dread.  The president finally lifted his head and looked straight into the recording devices arrayed around him, particularly the one directly ahead.  The one that was simulcasting to the whole world.

“I would normally start an address by calling out to my fellow citizens, but this address is not just for us.  It is for the entire world.  I have been in contact with leaders of every nation.  We have collectively decided that this message needs to be given to everyone all at once.  I have been elected by the world leaders to bear the burden of that task, and so, here I am speaking to you all.  Regardless of nationality or variety, we are all one species today as I deliver this difficult message.”

He paused for a moment to gather himself and to allow everyone to process the gravity of what he had just said.  For the first time in history, every government on the planet stood in agreement on something.  It was truly a day for the historians, but the day was not over yet.

“A little over a year ago, one of our astronomers found something while mapping distance nebulas through a very powerful telescope high in the mountains.  It was a clear, cold night when he put in a new set of coordinates and began transitioning the telescope to map a new sector of the sky.  When he looked at the monitor, he could not make sense of what he was seeing.  He thought it was a software glitch. So, he looked directly through the optical aperture.  His own eyes confirmed what the monitor had already told him.”

The president took a moment to take a drink from a bottle that had been placed under the lectern.  His mouth had gone as dry as the dessert.  When he looked back up there was fear in his eyes.

“Many other scientists were called in from around the world.  After more than three months of analysis, a truly frightening conclusion was made.  What he discovered was a bright bloom of energy that can only come from objects traveling at near the speed of light.  Traveling at these speeds would theoretically produce massive amounts of high energy radiation and light up the night sky like another star had appeared.  What’s more is that we know that no naturally occurring phenomenon can travel at these speeds.”

He shifted his weight a little uncomfortably and continued.  “We finally have an answer to the question of whether we are alone in the universe.  There are objects under artificial power headed directly for our little planet, and they are slowing down.  My chief advisor on scientific matters had explained to me that reaching these speeds would take many years of our time to reach as well as many years of our time to slow down.”

“I say ‘our time’ because, according to the scientists, time is different for whoever is on those ships.  The closer you travel to the speed of light; the slower time is.  So, for every year that passes for us, only moments will pass for them.  This means that the original crew of those ships may have boarded their ships hundreds if not thousands of our years ago, but only a few years will have passed.   If they have any sort of cryogenic technology, then the trip may have only taken moments from their perspective.”

“Our scientists have determined that, at their current speed and rate of deceleration, it will take approximately sixty-three more years before they slow down enough for the high energy radiation bloom to dissipate.  This will put them a little under halfway between the edge of our system and our planet.  Until that time, it is impossible to communicate with them, or at least try.  There is too much interference for our signals to get through to them, so all we can do on that front is wait.”

He took a moment to steel himself for the next part.  The people of this world would not take this part well.  “This part that breaks my heart is that it appears that the intentions of these visitors are not benign.  After careful analysis of the type and amount of radiation, as well as visual inspection using newer more powerful telescopes, we have come to one unavoidable conclusion.  This is an invasion fleet.”

The people in the room gasped and began to murmur amongst themselves.  The one from earlier stepped to the front of the dais and reminded them of her earlier warning.  The president acknowledged her and continued.

“The analysis of the incoming fleets indicates that they are military in nature with a few appearing to be colony ships.  Furthermore, the type and amounts of particles being ejected from the energy bloom is indicative of a vast array of weapons up to and including nuclear.  In lay terms, they are armed to the teeth.  Further analysis of the gravitational lensing of light from behind the incoming ships gives us an idea of their mass.  For the number of ships that are coming to have that much mass, they must be equipped with heavy armor.”

He looked directly into the recording devices with an expression that communicated the seriousness.  “There can be no mistake about their intentions.  They have come here to colonize our planet … by force.”

At this statement, there was no further self-control amongst the people gathered before the president.  A bedlam of activity and shouting ensued.  AS promised, security forces began clearing them all out.  When the room was clear, the president continued.

“The leaders of every other nation and I have consulted.  We have sixty-three years until they arrive.  In that time, we have decided the following steps will be taken.  First, to stand united against these invaders, we will elect a planetary congress.  Every nation will be equally represented in proportion to their population.  Each nation will be free to maintain their cultural identity, but planetary law will soon take the place of all governance on the planet.  All over the world, people will elect their local, national, and planetary representatives, and a chancellor will be elected from among the planetary congress to serve as supreme commander of the planetary military.”

“Which brings me to my second point.  No single nation shall hold a military for their sole use.  All military will be incorporated into a planetary armed service corp.  We are one people now.  There will be no more fighting between nations.  All our efforts must be focused on defending our home world.”

“That brings me to the final point of the plan.  After studying the incoming ships, we have learned a lot about technology that, until now, was only theoretical.  The observations that we have made, and the analysis of their ships have given our scientists the knowledge they need to build ships and defensive   systems that will give us a fighting chance against the invaders.” 

“It won’t be easy.  Many sacrifices will need to be made for us to give our people the tools they need.  Factories will need to be converted or built.  An entirely new industry will have to be created specifically focused on orbital construction.  Nations all over the world will have to give up valuable resources used in the construction process for ships and weapons.” 

“And the cost to the people.  The cost to the people will be high.  Many citizens will be asked to work long hours for decades in harsh conditions so that we can meet the invaders with strength.  They will spend the better part of their lives preparing us for a future that they may not live to see.  There are six decades until the fleet arrives.  The horror of the war that will come will fall to our future children.  Some of the younger children watching this simulcast now will fight in that war.  They will be old by then.  They will be the commanders of our military forces or leaders in our government.  When the invaders get here, they will remember the day when they watched as I delivered a message that would change all of our destiny.”

The general remembered sitting in that room watching the monitors as the president finished his address.  There was some more about how the world would rise to meet the challenge and a few other cursory platitudes.  Then the president mentioned a new program designed to train the generation of commanders that would lead our forces against the invaders in sixty-three years.   The general sat in that classroom sixty-three years ago and made up his mind about exactly what he wanted to do.  He would join this program and learn everything he could to defend his home and his people.  If the invaders wanted to bring war to his home, he would show them what true war was.

The general brought his attention back to the present.  His monitor was flashing a message in bold lettering.  “Transition of fleet from near light speed imminent.”

This was the day that he had trained his whole life for.  His species had made more strides in the last sixty-three years than they could have thought possible.  From the building of the defensive platforms to the construction of the fleet, they had done what was thought impossible.  He stood ready to defend his home. 

Alarm klaxons sounded all throughout the station’s command center (and throughout the station itself).  A young officer brought her eyes up from her monitors.

“General, central command has brought the entire military to battle stations.  The energy bloom is dissipating.  They estimate communications will be possible in moments.”

“Very well Lieutenant.  Tune us into the fleet tactical frequency.  Let’s listen in to the conversation.”

“Yessir,” came the immediate reply.  “The fleet Admiral has opened a channel and awaiting a response from the enemy fleet.”

All the general could do was wait.  This was the Admiral’s show now.  Everything would hinge on how this conversation went.

The monitor crackled a bit and then came to life.  What he saw shocked him.  On the monitor was possibly the ugliest creature he had ever seen.  The “thing’ on the monitor was a full head shorter than him.  It had smooth skin and tufts of fur on the top of its head and on its face.  Everywhere else, it had smooth skin tinged pinkish.  The uniform it wore had several multi-colored decorations.  This was a creature that was good at war and wanted everyone to know. 

The creature began to speak, but the computer algorithms were having a hard time picking out the patterns in the speech.  It may take a bit to form a basis for a proper translation.  Bits and pieces of what the creature said were starting to be translated into something that he could understand. 

“General, we have translated a few things that they said.  You are not going to like this.”

“Go ahead Lieutenant.  Let’s have it.”

“Sir, the creature says that they claim this system in the name of their emperor.  They say that they will cleanse this world of its infestation of unholy demons and plant their banner upon our bones.  Infestation sir?”

“They mean us Lieutenant.  They mean us.”

“Sir, there is one more thing what we have translated.  We know what they call themselves now.”

“They call themselves … HUMAN.”

Leave a Comment