Action & Reaction
In the USA, with Woodford’s attack plans thwarted and admitting that he had overreacted to his bitter embarrassment, he is anything but happy. In fact, he was looking for a rabid dog to kick.
However, he is now involved in a new game. A senior executive of a major oil company visits him in his office: “General, do you realize that the USA is going to have to relinquish power to these newcomers? They are holding a pistol to your head with their ship in space, and our weapons systems are disabled on the ground due to lack of satellite control. What are you going to do about it?”
Woodford shifts uncomfortably in his chair: “It is receiving my fullest attention, believe me. No one on Earth wants that thing gone forever more than I do.”
“You have a general in South Africa who is acquainted with them, don’t you? What has he found out?”
The wrinkles on Woodford’s forehead extends to his balding hairline: “He claims that he can’t communicate with them since they don’t speak our language, and that we have to wait until they can. Also, they are learning Afrikaans, which Anstrom also doesn’t understand. He does have people there who can translate once the visitors have learnt their language, however.”
“General, we both know how you were appointed, your son’s position, how much we pay you for services rendered, and what will happen if your indiscretions are revealed. We also know that the spaceship must have technology aboard that is capable of generating enormous amounts of power for a very, very long time. We must get exclusive control of that technology. We think it’s high time for you to deliver and stop making excuses. The Masters in charge are getting impatient. Do you understand?”
Woodford frowns, irritated. The threat is only too clear and he would actually like to strangle the slick snake with his expensive clothes, arrogant attitude and lavender fragrance: “I will see to it personally. We have radar guided missiles that do not require satellite guidance. Don’t worry, I won’t shoot the damn thing down… not yet anyway. We don’t have a valid excuse to do so right now.”
“Good, I’m looking forward to our next meeting. In the mean time we’ll use our media to generate an excuse. The public is gullible enough to believe what we tell them, as you know well enough. See you soon.”
He leaves the office and Woodford curses under his breath. He meets with his generals again and this time he doesn’t beat around the bush: “Gentlemen, you must realize that the visitors spaceship is threatening the balance of power. We are told that it has enormous long range destructive capability. We do not have the targeting assistance or our satellites any longer, but we have to find a way to neutralize it. Any ideas will be welcome… yes, Barone, do you have something to say?”
“Yes general. Obviously the ship is virtually untouchable, if all we are told is true. According to our CIA man in Colesberg they have disembarked most of their people who are being settled on two adjacent farms in the district. It seems to me that we should engage these visitors on the ground… on the farms in South Africa where the ship will be unable to respond, and hold them hostage.”
“Yes, General Zitello?”
“General, we will not be able to attack directly. According to our ambassador they flew rings around the South African Air Force, and their landing craft, which we are told are also equipped with meteorite crunching capability, are positioned around their settlement. I propose that we infiltrate and get first hand information before we act. Perhaps a solution will present itself.”
Woodford likes this idea better, and a plan is slowly beginning to present itself to him: “You’re right, we do require more inside information. This meeting is adjourned gentlemen. General Zitello, come to my office please.”
Back in his office Woodford compliments Zitello: “I like your idea.”
Zitello is only too eager to expand on his idea: “We should send more CIA members to Colesberg to collect information and be ready to infiltrate the farms when the opportunity arises, as it must eventually. I think we should send a man and a woman as a supposed married couple to befriend the visitors or their hosts.”
Woodford is impatient. He is also tired of relying on others for information and action: “I agree. Contact the CIA and get that started. In the mean time I will go there personally and see for myself. They can hardly refuse a visit from the US Chief of Staff. I have a few things to clear up today, but I will leave for South Africa tomorrow and relieve General Anstrom myself.”
In the laundry room General Zitello complains to General Hoffman: “What does he think he is doing? Now he wants to go there himself… and claim all the glory.”
Kelso Hoffman, who was instructed to inform the media, calls his brother Don. Don has told him much of the new arrivals and their good intentions, and he doesn’t hesitate to tell him everything that Woodford just told him.
“The guy is a complete glory guzzler, and he has extreme tunnel vision,” he complains, “He fails to see the big picture… the knowledge, experience and advantage that these people have brought for our people and for our continued existence. In the light of all the conspiracies against us all these years, I don’t see how we can do without their help.”
Don does not allow the grass to grow under his feet, and immediately sends the news by e-mail to Rob. When Erik has been notified that he will be replaced, he immediately warns Rob that the US Army Chief of Staff was sent to replace him. Taking Rob along with him, they get into his car and Erik immediately serves his letter of resignation at the embassy and returns the official car.
Meanwhile Melody and Helga are becoming good friends with the other women now living on the farms. Melody notices that one by one they visit their medical unit, and that even those living on Eddie’s farm are regularly brought here. Today Helga also visits Melody and finds Anki, one of the ship’s women, in the kitchen, learning new recipes from her.
“Ask her why only some women go to the medical unit,” whispered Helga.
“What’s going on there, Anki? It seems to me almost all of you have visited the medical unit. Is something wrong? Do you have something going around? “She asks.
“There are frozen fertilized eggs of our people we have brought with us. We need to use them to expand our population. They will not last forever and we dare not lose them. All of our women not already pregnant, who are able to bear children, as well as those who already have children are inseminated with two eggs each,” says Anki, “We must begin the process as soon as possible… there are about five thousand eggs and just fifty women. That means a hundred children a year for fifty years to complete the project.”
Melody covers her mouth with her hand: “Are you all happy to bear someone else’s children? Are you being forced to do this?”
Anki laughs: “No, not at all! On the ship we could not have children as we wanted. Now we have the opportunity, and it’s really urgent. We have to use the eggs before they deteriorate or something happens to them. The genetic diversity of our people needs to be restored. That’s our mission. Our own children can wait until later. Do not worry, we keep good record of the children’s origins and other details for healthy marriages later.”
Helga grins: “Well, that certainly gives new meaning to the term ‘illegitimate births'”
Melody was relieved: “I was afraid you might be suffering from some or another disease. Here may be many germs against which you might not have any resistance.”
Anki smile: “We could not run the risk of having an epidemic on the ship. Our ancestors provided us with just enough exposure to all the diseases that were known to them in their time in order for us to build up healthy immune systems. Probably the same diseases as you now have on Earth… germs do not just die out or change. For the very dangerous and mutated ones we have special natural immunity enhancers.”
Melody looks at her appreciatively: “Your ancient civilization really thought far ahead.”
Helga agrees: “I’m happy to hear that you can introduce us to natural ways to enhance our immune systems instead of using vaccines and antibiotics! And I think in about nine month’s time there will be a lot of midwifing going on around here.”
Anki laughs: “Our women are all trained midwives, there is not much else to do while constrained on a ship, so we were more than happy to learn everything we could. We of course also had the advantage of thousands of years of experience on the ship.”
“Should you not perhaps advertise?” Asked Melody. “There are many families who want to have children and somehow can not. The more surrogate mothers, the faster you will use the eggs.”
Anki seems to like the idea, “I will ask Brato. Perhaps it’s a good idea because our goal is also to recover the lost genetic diversity of the Aryan people related to us on Earth.”
Melody also shares her idea with Rob, but he is not so sure: “How many of these children do you think will land up in worthy families? If we do such a thing, we will have to manage it very strictly. General Hoffman also warned us that there will probably be attempts to infiltrate us. Something like this would give them an opportunity. But it’s worth keeping in mind, we will just have to be very careful. The eggs were kept on the ship for thousands of years, something will not suddenly happen to them now unless someone willfully causes damage to them. I will discuss this with Brato, perhaps we can come up with a good plan together.”
Rob discusses General Woodford’s proposed visit to the others and they were unanimous that the general should not be allowed to take back strategic information to the US that can be against them.
Brato however, gives a very different twist to the issue: “This man is coming here to spy on us and to take over control. It’s a blatant aggressive act. According to the information in Rob’s books we already know who most of the leaders and organizations are behind the oppression of our people. We have so far acted peacefully and this man has no reason to act militarily against us. We must assume that it is the organization right at the top, the Kehillah, that is putting pressure on all their political and military puppets. It makes no sense to wage war and kill people for the sake of evil individuals’ desire for wealth and power. We should rather take action against the ones responsible themselves. I suggest that we arrest General Woodford, hold him up in the ship and thoroughly question him. We need to find out exactly how this organization is compiled and organized and all who are involved.”
The statement comes as a shock to Rob: “That’s a very drastic step, Brato. We will immediately be branded as aggressors and give them reason to act against us.”
“We can interrogate him and keep a recording. Erik can call his brother and he can again inform his government and his people. These people will not rest until they take everything from us for their own benefit, or the alternative to their power play is destroyed. I saw in Rob’s books how they behave. They are ruthless, and human life has little influence on their decisions or actions. They can moreover not stand against us if it comes down to war. It’s time we teach them that their reign here is over.” After back and forth arguments, the others agree to Brato’s proposal.
“Good,” said Rob, “then we have a plan. While we’re about to take drastic steps, I think we should shake the General’s confidence properly from the outset. We can surprise him where the farm road turns off from the main road, give him a small demonstration of your craft, and take him from there straight to the ship.”
Helga feigns a worried look: “Remember to waterproof the seat.” Everyone laughs. Brato gives her arm a hug: “You do have a gift to ease the tension.” Helga says seriously: “You think I’m making a joke! Do you know how close my big strong man, Eddie, came to having an accident on his trip?”
Rob could not resist the temptation: “Shame! Next time we’ll make sure he takes a nappy.”
Eddie is red in the face and mutters: “It was not that bad at all. It’s more dangerous to ride in a car with her!”
General Woodford arrives in Johannesburg two days later. At the Embassy he hears that General Anstrom resigned his commission. He wastes no time and asks the Ambassador to get Rob on the telephone for him immediately.
When Rob picks up the phone he hears the secretary’s American accent: “General Woodford, I presume.”
Woodford says disdainfully: “Yes Mister Arndt. I am General Woodford, the US armed forces Chief of Staff. I will be visiting you tomorrow at twelve hundred hours. I want to have a word with General Anstrom.”
Rob is quick with his reply: “I believe it’s Mister Anstrom now, but you are welcome to visit my humble abode. We will be waiting. Oh! One more thing. Please do not come by helicopter, we do not allow any flights over our airspace.”
Woodford turns red in the face, angry. Who do these Boers think they are? Do they not realize who they have to do with here? He replies curtly: “Very well. I look forward to meeting you. Goodbye Mister Arndt.” He sat down and pulls on his lapels: “Damn cheek!”
The next afternoon three diplomatic vehicle turn onto the farm road. They are less than a kilometer down the road when two landing craft block the road, one in front and one behind the convoy. The braking cars kick up a substantial dust cloud. From the front and rear vehicles three men get out, holding automatic rifles.
A loudspeaker bellows: “Put down your weapons, and get out of the vehicles. Move away from your vehicles, we don’t want any mishaps!” They hesitate and a plume of dust and stones are kicked up from the ground on both sides of the convoy and the men dive to the ground. At the front and rear the vehicle drivers get out fast. They and the other guys move away from their vehicles but keep their weapons ready. Woodford remains stubbornly seated in his car and mutters to his driver: “Damn Cheek! I will not be intimidated. I am the US Chief of Staff, after all!”
The speaker bellows again: “You gentlemen who are out of your vehicles, move behind the vehicle in the rear, and drop your weapons!” The men hastily move to the back. The next moment the vehicle in the front explodes in a huge ball of fire. The guards and drivers throw down their weapons in alarm and dive in amongst the Karoo bushes.
“We are waiting, General!” A pale General Woodford and his driver quickly get out of the car. One of his guards tries to get away unnoticed, but a huge plume of gravel, dust and a big smoking hole in the ground quickly changes his mind.
“General, remove your sidearm and approach the craft at the front… your driver too!”
This time Woodford doesn’t hesitate at all. He and his driver throw down their pistols and meekly walk forward. He tries to maintain his dignity and walks erect and awkwardly. The boarding hatch of the vessel opens, “Come aboard, General!” He is escorted in and the hatch closes behind him when Erik greets him cheerfully: “Good to see you again, General!”
“Anstrom! You are going to regret this!”
Erik points to one of the reclining seats, still smiling: “I doubt it Woodford. Please take a seat. You can watch the rest of the show from there.”
Woodford’s mouth falls open when he sees the green man in the subdued light at the control panel. He sits down, and startles as the arms on the chair lock him in.
“Driver, please join the gentlemen at the back!” It sounds again over the loudspeaker, and the driver hurries to join the other guards. Woodford’s confidence has already received a nasty blow, and now he is even more shocked when his own car also spectacularly explodes. He also watches the men dive to the ground in fear of their lives: “What do you think you’re doing?!”
“A small demonstration, General. The last two shots did not come from us down here, that came from our ship in orbit, and at considerably reduced power might I add.”
Woodford is in awe. Clearly the visitors are in possession of a weapon which no military on Earth has defense against. It is suddenly clear to him that he, and especially the dreaded order of authority who blackmailed him have already become powerless, even though they haven’t realized it yet. Oddly, he finds the idea not at all repulsive. His men are ordered to disarm and undress, as Woodford watches how they are taken, in their underwear, aboard another vessel. Two more landing craft appear. A large bearded man with long blond hair gathers the clothes and weapons, and the moment the hatch closes the remaining car explodes.
Erik sits in one of the other seats and Woodford feels as if a big hand is restraining him in his chair and his breathing is heavy. He sees the Earth rapidly growing smaller and groans: “Where are we going?”
“You have become an astronaut General. We are going to visit the spaceship you were looking for. Unfortunately you will not see it in it’s full glory, for half of it is on the ground already, but it’s still an impressive sight.”
They approach the communication balloon, acceleration ceases, and the vessel begins to brake.
Woodford exclaims, “I knew it! I told them they must be hiding behind one of the reflector balloons!”
Erik smiles: “We realized that you would guess where they are eventually.”
The ship begins to come into view, and the more it is revealed, the more Woodford’s eyes widen. He notes the large rear section where they are headed, the long spine with the larger front end and the shield. Erik explains: “The central spine is where the self-propelled, detachable accommodation and maintenance modules had been that are on the ground now. They are all spaceships in their own right.”
They sail silently through the reception hatch, and three other vessels join them. After gravity is recovered and the landing craft anchored, Woodford and his men are taken along the central corridor to two of the remaining units. A bearded man with long hair brings the clothes the men were forced to take off and they gratefully get dressed. Apart from having to control his nausea from the alternate acceleration and weightlessness, Woodford slowly begins to recover from the experience: “What are your intentions, Anstrom? You know you can’t get away with this. You can’t fight the entire US armed forces. You have now become a traitor!”
“That is all debatable, General. In the first place, I do not make the decisions. In the second place, you came to us with bad intentions whilst these people had only good intentions and the welfare of their folk in mind. Thirdly, these people occupy a commanding position with this ship where it is, your satellites are disabled, and they have a weapon you could not have ever dreamed of, and in the fourth place, you will tell us who is behind your decision to undermine these people and why, or your feet won’t touch Terra Firma ever again. As far as military capabilities are concerned, you have seen a small demonstration of the ship’s capability at considerably reduced power. It is designed to destroy very large objects moving at much, much higher velocities than any of the weapons that might be deployed against it. I wouldn’t have much faith any armed forces on earth’s chances against it. As far as treachery is concerned, what I am doing is for the good of my country and our people all over the world, instead of for the benefit of a greedy, power hungry establishment puppet like yourself. Perhaps you should take a very good, hard look at yourself when you mention treason.”
“Do you intend to kill us?”
“We are not murderers Woodford, unlike the people you work for. You will agree however, that this prison is much more secure than any of the high security prisons on Earth.”
The hopelessness of his situation is now clear to Woodford. He answers meekly: “Yes, I suppose it is. What happens now?”
“Now you and your guards are going to receive some instructions, and then I trust you will tell us why you co-operated with those scoundrels. Who are they, and how they operate?Your family will be terribly worried once they find out what has happened to you. If you co-operate you will not have to be here for long.”