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Bewildering Stories

Bill Kowaleski, Brighter Than the Stars


Brighter Than the Stars
Author: Bill Kowaleski
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Length: 292 pp.


Dr. Gerry Landis is a respected physicist, confident that he’s current in field. Then two students take him to the modest suburban home of Jeremiah Washington where he sees an amazing generator that powers the house using only water for fuel, a generator that could change the world.

When Gerry realizes that everything he knows, all the work he’s done is suddenly obsolete, he burns with the desire to learn how the amazing generator works. Gerry’s quest leads him to the planet Cygnus Prime where he and the two students, nerdy Keyshawn, and beautiful martial arts master Elka, go to study the science behind the generators. There they run up against an extremist group intent on driving outsiders from their planet.

The extremists kidnap Keyshawn and sabotage the generator in Jeremiah’s house, badly injuring him. Gerry, Elka, and their new alien allies now have no choice but to redirect their efforts to saving both Keyshawn and Jeremiah.

Brighter than the Stars is an interplanetary adventure full of the wonder of discovery and the danger and mystery of deeply alien cultures. While modern in theme and setting, it captures the positive spirit of Golden Age sci-fi.

Chapter 12

Grass-Feeder bounded over to the Ethnologist and Nurse when she saw them enter the grazing commons.

“Greetings my friends, how goes it with your aliens?”

“They are most strange,” the Ethnologist replied. “For one thing, they communicate in thousands of different ways. It is so ridiculous. I cannot imagine how they can meet any quotas if they spend all their time just trying to figure out what they’re saying to each other.”

Grass-Feeder tossed her head back and transmitted amusement. “My, that is silly. But tell me, Ethnologist, what are you feeding them?”

He became guarded, thought a moment, and then cautiously said, “That is not public information.”

“Hah! You are surely transporting animal flesh from their planet to your facility. How disgusting. You should know that Save Our Herds will put a stop to that. We have petitioned all major Cygnus Prime corporations to immediately ban the import of dead animal products through altverse tunnels.”

“I believe these Earthlings could live solely on plant products,” the Ethnologist countered. “This would not effect them. But I do believe that such an edict would drive all the Sirians and Arcturans from our world. That would completely destroy any chance of many companies and herds achieving their quotas. How could you do such a thing?”

“How could I NOT do such a thing! The First Enclosures protected us from predators. We swore they would never be allowed inside the fences. Then, when these aliens began coming in their tunnels, we forgot our principles. Soon, one of these species will begin snatching our children, taking them back to their world, and eating them.”

“Nonsense. We have tremendously effective weapons, the tunnels are tightly controlled. Your whole movement is based on paranoid, delusional fantasies!”

“You are the one with delusions, Ethnologist. The predators fascinate you, make you drop your guard, and then, one day, one of them will spring on you and tear your throat open. Be assured, they cannot change their nature.”

He’d had enough. “Have a very pleasant feed, Grass-Feeder, and all the best to your Save some Herds, or whatever you called it.” He wandered away, out of transmission range.

Nurse had kept her head down, hoping the conversation would not get too unpleasant, but now she felt she had to say something. “Why do you provoke him? You know he will not agree with your point of view.”

“I really believe I can convince him. If we can stop the actions of the ethnologists, who are really some of the worst offenders, we will come a long way to meeting our goals.”

“He tells me these Earthlings are amusing and pleasant, though a little slow-witted and strange. I don’t think they are anything to fear. In fact, he will take them on an outing to the Altverse Museum tomorrow so that they can learn more about us.”

Grass-Feeder’s eyestalks froze. “The Altverse Museum? Tomorrow?”

“Yes, you’ll see. Nothing bad will happen.”

“Oh, I’m quite sure of that,” Grass-Feeder replied, transmitting irony. “In fact, maybe something very good might happen!”

* * *

“Yes, tomorrow. They will have to return down the Hill of the First Stories.” Nature-Protector’s eyestalk pressed tightly into the blue-gray fur of a large Cygnian wearing a luminescent green belt. “We can give you half now, half when the mission is complete.”

The green-belted male hesitated. “The goal is unclear. How do we determine that the mission is complete?”

“Success is measured by an agreement to ban all predators.”

“This is not achievable. We must have the full amount up front or there is no mission.”

Nature-Protector pulled away, angry and frustrated. Green Band was a herd that had expressed full support for Save Our Herds many times. Why would they be so difficult now? But he had no alternative, and they knew it.

He passed his payment card to the green-belted thug, who grabbed it, transmitting thanks seasoned with just the slightest sense of disgust.

Copyright © 2015 by Bill Kowaleski

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