The Cat Is Out of the Bag
Woodford calls another urgent meeting: “There are not many places to hide a large spaceship close to Earth. The Moon is too far. We watched the comet closely when it passed the Moon anyhow. They could be relatively close. I think they are behind one of those large reflector balloons in geostationary orbit, if there is substance to the rumor reported from South Africa. John, how long will it take us to prepare a shuttle and arm it?”
General Stallman is caught off guard: “I do not know, General. We will ask the Space Administration. However, I doubt that a shuttle is suited for armed combat in space. The amount of fuel it can carry is limited, as is its ability to change course in orbit.”
“Well, find out what they can do and do not waste any time. Find out what we require and set the wheels in motion. I will approach the President for the necessary permission… and the cash.”
Woodford issues a number of different assignments and the meeting adjourns.
The sun is high when the two amateur astronomers wake up. Eddie and Helga returned home the night before to be able to get some of the work on the farm done.
In the lounge, over a cup of coffee, Rob begins planning: “We will have to involve the media and coverage will have to be as wide and as simultaneous as possible so that it can not be prevented.”
Erik nodded: “I have several high-placed contacts in America. I doubt that they will believe me though. I will then probably be labeled as another weirdo UFO enthusiast, and then Woodford will have his way with me. We are not exactly friends, especially after I tried to prevent his plans for attack.”
Rob sees Erik’s problem: “We will have to approach this systematically. We have to show some hard evidence to people with some clout. “
Erik thought for a moment: “I see you have a modem connected to your computer, so you have an internet connection? I’m sure I can get the managing director of a big news agency to come here. He is a personal friend, I have his e-mail address, and I think we have a lure that is tantalizing enough to get him over here pronto.”
Rob could hardly contain his joy: “Please do that immediately! My PC is at your disposal.”
Without further ado General Anstrom sends his e-mail:
Don, I have the scoop of the century for you if you act immediately. You will have to come to South Africa yourself, however, but the trip will be worth your while. Do not send someone else. I will meet you at Johannesburg airport when you arrive. Let me know what you decide ASAP. Time is of the essence, but keep it quiet; many lives are at stake, as well as the future of the world.
A tense half hour passes before the computer indicates that a message is received. It’s Don Hoffman, General Kelso Hoffman’s brother, to whom Erik sent his e-mail:
This will cost me time and money. It had better be as important as you suggest. I will arrive at Johannesburg airport in two days at 15 hundred hours.
Erik answered immediately, briefly and succinctly:
It is that important. You won’t be disappointed, I promise. I will meet you at the airport.
Erik laughs self-satisfied: “I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist a carrot like that.”
Rob sighs with relief: “We’ll use my car for the trip. A diplomatic vehicle might attract attention. You seem to be about my size… you must get out of that uniform and into civilian clothes.”
“You’re right. There are too many eyes watching. The rumor came to my attention through the CIA agent in Colesberg. We should leave before first light, and at least avoid being seen by him. “
Rob agrees: “All right, we will leave at four o’clock in the morning. Melody, please call Helga and ask her to bring her parents and in-laws to the farm. We will do the same. They must not be able to use them against us.”
They left early in the morning on the day of arrival as arranged. Along the way they eat at a diner and read the newspaper, in part to kill time so that they can arrive in Johannesburg more or less the same time as the plane and not have to encounter too many people at the airport. The newspapers were full of speculation about the lost satellites, and a report in a newspaper catches Erik’s attention: “It says here that the Pentagon is lobbying for funds to send a shuttle into space to look for the assumed aggressor. Woodford is not wasting any time, is he? “
“It will take sometime to prepare a shuttle.” Rob says, “By the time it is ready to launch, it will probably be too late anyhow.”
“It all depends on the date the next mission was scheduled to take place,” says Erik, “They might have one ready and waiting.”
“Yes, but Woodford will still have to arm it. That should delay them sufficiently. The shuttle has nowhere near the capability or maneuverability of their vehicles anyhow, and will be limited to sustained free fall orbits most of the time. I don’t know how Woodford thinks he can fight a battle in space with a vehicle that was not designed for extra orbital action. They need years of development work before they can realise that. The visitors are much better equipped, but would prefer to avoid having to take innocent lives.”
Rob feels the tension growing and wishes the aircraft would arrive earlier. They eventually arrive at Johannesburg airport and wait in the reception area restaurant. The plane lands on time and they move towards the passenger exit. The passengers start exiting the plane into the reception area and Erik raises his hand: “Don! Over here!”
A tall middle-aged man stops, waves and walks up to meet them, “Erik! I did not recognize you without the uniform. Have you resigned?”
Erik puts his hand : “No, but it’s a tantalizing thought. I’m just avoiding attention, especially from our people. I’ll tell you more about it in the car. This is Mr. Rob Arndt, a Karoo farmer and one of the reasons why you are here.”
Don and Rob shake hands: “I saw your name on the e-mail address. Aren’t you the guy who reported the comet’s strange behavior originally? I seem to remember the name.”
Rob smiles: “Quite right, but we can’t discuss it here, Don.”
Erik pats Don on the shoulder: “Isn’t he something? He seems to remember every newspaper article that has ever appeared.”
Don says, “That’s my job, and I have to be good at it.” On the way back he wants to know what’s going on, but Erik and Rob elude most of his questions.
Erik explains: “You’ll think we’re mad if we tell you everything. We’d rather show you so that you can convince yourself. Don’t worry, you did not come here for nothing. “
It is dark when they arrive back at the farm. Melody has dinner ready and when they finished eating they sit in the lounge. Rob places Brato’s small device on the table in the middle of the room: “First of all, we are going to show you some old archive material. It’s absolutely genuine, not fiction or staged, and you must regard it as such. Afterwards we will have more to tell you.”
Melody switches off the light and Rob turns on the device. The next few hours the story unfolds and leaves Don dumbfounded. When it finishes, he comments: “Fascinating, but how do I know it’s genuine and not fabricated?”
“Have a look at the instrument that projected the images. Have you ever seen anything like it? “Erik says.
“No, I must confess I have not, but technology is moving ahead so fast nowadays it’s difficult to keep up with all the developments.”
“Don, I have met these people and visited their spaceship. I assure you, all that u have seen is absolutely true.”
Like a typical journalist, Don drills them for all the information he can, although he has already decided that they were telling him the truth: “I don’t know Erik. I want to believe you, but it all seems so far fetched… it does however seem to fit recent events, like the breaking down of Hubble and the disappearance of the satellites. However, I assure you public response will be the same as mine. There have been just too many hoaxes in the past.”
Rob had expected that it would take more than that: “I was hoping to avoid this. Every time we do this, we run the risk of being detected, but it seems we have to call upon Brato for a visit. I assume you brought a video camera, Don?”
“I never go without one.”
Erik agrees with Rob’s decision: “Well, if Brato agrees to the visit, you will have some unique footage Don.”
Rob realizes they will have to contact Brato: “Melody, are the children in bed?”
“They’re playing cards in the boys’ room. I will call Ato.”
When Ato enters Erik explains: “This is one of our so-called aliens. He speaks a different language and is learning theirs from the couple’s children. We communicate with the spaceship captain through him.”
Rob explains the situation to Ato, who now speaks almost fluent Afrikaans: “I will tell Brato.” He takes his small device and contacts the ship.
Brato expected something to happen and this time there is no waiting. Ato says: “The man who came here could not believe what they told him, captain. Rob thinks you should meet him so he can be convinced.”
“Tell them I’ll be there shortly,” says Brato.
“Brato will be here in a little while,” relays Ato.
“Thanks Ato. You can now go play again.” Ato disappears into the room.
“Brato will visit us in a short while,” says Erik, addresing Don
“Who is Brato?” asks Don.
Erik smiles with satisfaction: “In a short while your misgivings will disappear. He is the senior captain on the spaceship.”
Don has mixed emotions and a feeling that something big is at hand. They step out onto the front porch.
“Have your camera ready,” says Erik.
“Don’t you worry, Erik. I’m ready,” says Don, smiling to himself.
“There it is again!”
Kimberley’s control tower senior rushes over to the controller: “Oh no! Pete said he’s fixed it! I will give him a talking to tomorrow! … And it’s always in the same place on the screen!”
The operator is not so sure: “I wonder, say it’s really something that is flying around out there.”
“Are you kidding me. A thing that can fly in from space, land and fly back again?… wait a minute… what if it’s the thing they were talking about in the newspaper the other day. Where was it again?”
“Colesberg district… and that’s where it is! Look!” The two look at each other, and a light goes on for them: “Poor Pete… and we blame him all the time!”
“What do we do now? We should probably tell someone.”
“Notify Johannesburg control and call Bloemfontein Air Traffic Control, maybe they saw something when we did.”
It’s a bright moonlit night. Only crickets disturb the silence.
Melody points to where a fast moving speck suddenly moves across the moon: “There he is!” A few minutes later the shiny, angular landing craft sets down gently at the gate.
Don is much more excited than he would admit. He notes dryly: “It doesn’t even kick up dust!”
Erik clearly gathered more technical information than the two farmers did with their trips to the ship: “Yes, apparently they use these mainly where there is a reasonable amount of gravity with a predictable direction or pull. They use an anti gravity drive for lift, and a more conventional reaction drive mainly for lateral motion. It saves a lot of fuel and is almost silent.”
The hatch opens and Brato appears. Don takes a photo of Brato with the craft in the background. He laughs: “You were right when you said he looks like Moses. Now I have to believe everything you said!”
Brato holds his hand over his eyes and Don switches off the camera light. Ato again helps with the introduction, but this time Brato hastily says: “I have brought as many of our people as I safely could. The more we land here, the greater the risk that we will be detected. I think we should bring as many as possible every time we make a landing here.”
“Brato says the more visits, the greater danger,” Ato informs them, “He has brought people.”
Rob is pleased: “I also thought he should bring his people here for their own safety. Melody, we will have to make room, there are quite a number of them. We will also have to think about food… I’ll have a few sheep slaughtered.”
“We can pitch the tent, and there is the shed. I will call Helga, they can help with accommodation,” says Melody.
Ato delivers the message: “Rob says the others are welcome as well. He will organize food and shelter.”
“Tell him we can not all come. Someone still has to man the ship… and then there are the eggs and sperm that is extremely important. We can not bring it down without refrigeration equipment and monitors and it is impossible to transport without these. It will have to wait for later. We can at least bring most of our people. Tell him he should not worry about food, we have brought plenty of our own.”
Ato does his best to convey Brato’s message, but he has to go to great lengths explaining the eggs and sperm and isn’t sure of the proper terminology.
Rob explains: “I told Brato to bring all of his people down for safety, but he has to leave a skeleton staff on board and apparently there is something very important on the ship that is not readily transportable.”
The laborers on the farm have gotten used to the landing craft’s frequent visits and most of their fears have disappeared by now. They stand at a distance and watch curiously. Rob notices them: “Ato, tell Brato they can come inside. We can take some of them to Eddie’s farm. Jerry, come here!”
Jerry is hesitant to approach: “Boss?”
“Get some of the other laborers to empty the barn and wipe the floor… and pitch the tent. We have many guests to make room for. “
“I’ll get them immediately Mr. Rob,” Jerry said, rushing off to gather the staff.
The people on board walk down the ramp, and stand together, embarrassed and unsure. Among them are also some green ones.
Don’s eyes widen: “Who are they? They look like those aliens that the UFO freaks insist exist… it seems they were right!”
Rob explains that which Ato tried to explain to him, “Apparently they’re genetically engineered sterile female clones, developed to be able to tolerate large accelerations. The green color is because their skin photosynthesizes to assist with controlling the air in the ship, and to save food. It is a fully symbiotic relationship and has survived for generations. They are all trained as pilots for the independent landing craft, the domestic and other units that are detachable from the ship and can fly in space on their own. The pilots use dark filters for their eyes, as they have ultraviolet illumination in their living quarters to activate their photosynthesis.”
Melody laughed: “Poor Moses. His name has come up quite a number of times these past few days.”
Rob beckons to Ato: “Ato, ask Brato to show Don the landing craft. We need him to see it so other people will believe we are telling the truth.”
“Captain, Rob asks that you show the landing craft to the new man. They need to have their own footage so others will believe them.”
Brato nods his consent and motions to Don to approach the landing craft. They disappear through the hatch while Brato speaks into his communication device. By the time the two of them appear again, all the craft bringing the Aryans have landed. Melody laughs between the work and organizing: “It’s starting to look like a huge party is about to happen here. It won’t be necessary to activate the electric fence tonight, I don’t think any thug would dare cause us any problems with this crowd here.”
The phone rings and Melody answers: “Melody, is your TV on? There is a report that Kimberley airport radar picked up a spacecraft that landed on your farm!”
“Oh damn Helga! Brato is here and many of his landing craft are landing, bringing his people down from the ship. Take a look outside, some of them are coming to your place as well. I hope it’s still ok with you?”
“That’s not the problem, but now the cat is out of the bag and into the chicken coop and you only see feathers flying!”
“I will tell the others. Kimberley is probably already reporting a major invasion!”
Melody ran outside to relay the message. Rob calls Brato and Ato: “They know you’re here. There was just a report on TV that they have spotted Brato’s landing craft on radar They will by now also know of the others. Can you defend yourself if need be?”
Ato carries the message to Brato who answers: “We can defend ourselves but prefer not to.”
Brato gives some instructions to his people and a few landing craft that have finished offloading take off immediately.
Rob approaches Don and Erik: “Don, we need your help urgently. Kimberley’s air traffic control radar has picked up the landings. We can expect a lot of attention soon. The media from all over the word is probably already on their way. Apparently the craft and the ship are equipped with something much like a very accurate targeting laser for pulverizing large objects in it’s path that they can use for defense. They would prefer not to have to use it if possible. Do you think you can get a message to your people to avert mishaps? My internet connection is at your disposal. In the meantime I will contact our local authorities by telephone.”
“I will get my people on the job immediately. I don’t need any more convincing. Just show me where.”
Erik took him by the arm: “I’ll show you. I also have some messages I need to send.”
They run into the house and get to work. Throughout the night messages fly back and forth over the Internet and telephone. Don connects his camera to the computer and transmits video to America.
The South African government, under pressure from the US embassy, immediately sends a squadron of Air Force jets on reconnaissance to Colesberg. The fact that they could muster enough pilots for the job is a miracle. Halfway there they come into contact with some of the landing craft, and true to their nature the New South African Air Force pilots scramble in all directions and eventually return to their base. They are even more upset when the craft follow them and fly low over them after they landed, sending them running for cover. Once inside the building they look to see the craft shooting up into the sky at an incredible speed, turning in spirals and then disappear from sight and off their radar screens. Their commander wisely decides to cancel their mission before someone gets hurt or dies. Needless to say, the next day they were all on strike, demanding safer working conditions.
The local broadcasting corporation has no choice but to interview Rob.
The sun rises and Rob notices that the landing craft are parked in a circle around the yard. He pulls open the tent flap and smiles: “They set up a perimeter, Melody.”
From far away on a road, over a hill the reflection of a car’s windshield can be seen in the morning sun: “It seems the press is here but they are too afraid to come forward.”
Inside the circle there is a lot of activity. Many of the newcomers slept in their landing craft. Melody, however, took in as many as possible into the house, Rob’s caravan, and the outside room. The busiest rooms are obviously the two bathrooms. The newcomers who slept in the landing craft are actually completely independent with their own facilities in their vessels.
Rob gets into his car and drives to where he saw the reflection . There he finds three excited newspaper reporters and a television reporter with his camera crew. He sticks his head out the car window: “Don’t you want to take a closer look, guys?”
“Is it safe?” asks one.
“If you behave yourselves and not unnecessarily harass the folk down there, it should be safe.”
They get into their vehicles and follow him. Upon arrival they take a quick look around and the camera team is particularly interested in the green ones. He gives them a brief overview of what is going on and asks, “I’m sure you will be interested in the ship’s archive material, right?”
The TV reporter could not believe it: “What? Are you kidding? Of course!”
“It’s a few hours long. How long do you think you can record?”
“The whole day if necessary!”
“Well, come inside. It’s a bit confusing and busy, but I think we’ll be all right.” Rob takes them to the lounge, giving the cameraman a chance to set up his camera, and leaves them to watch. Melody suggests making coffee but Rob stops her: “I don’t think they will be interested in coffee now. At least they will be off my back and will not be able to dismiss the story as nonsense.”
By the afternoon the story is world news and Woodford’s attack plans are destroyed. Literally hordes of media people and other curious people flock to the two farms. There are also a multitude of offers for accommodation for the visitors. They, however, insist on staying together as a unit on the farms.
The landing craft attract a lot of interest, especially when Brato and some of his people leave to relieve the team on the ship and a little later return with the new team, more newcomers and cargo. Rob looks around and a slight sigh escapes from his lips. Incredible to think that The Aryans have returned in his lifetime.