by Bill Kowaleski
Creative Destruction is a sequel to the novel Brighter Than the Stars, in which Earthlings meet technologically advanced space aliens. The Cygnians come only to do business, but their schemes to sell fusion-powered generators become contentious and competitive.
Many human and alien characters return from the previous novel, including Jim McDermott and his team, who try to reduce the risk of societal upheaval that the new technologies threaten. Meanwhile, many different groups are either plotting to steal the technical advances for their own purposes or trying to destroy it and drive the Cygnians off of Earth.
|Cast of Characters and Species||Table of Contents|
Chapter 26: At the Fights
“We will divide into two groups,” Nigel shouted to the thirty people standing at the hotel entrance. “Those who wish to enjoy an evening of fine dining plus an incredible magic show put on by the galactic masters of magic, the Eridaneans, please stand to my right. Those who wish to have an evening of forbidden pleasures, to see the outer limits of what Tertia has to offer, please stand to my left.”
Mr. Zhang dashed to the left without hesitation. He was soon joined by Senators Clayburn and Bourbonnais, then the Norwegian biologist, Magnus Solvag. Not surprisingly, Mary Steenman also joined them along with three others whom the Americans had not yet met. Everyone else stood to the right.
“What a conservative group we have here,” Bourbonnais said. “I’d’a thought the proportions would be the reverse.”
“I think perhaps some people are afraid of just what those outer limits might be,” Mr. Zhang suggested.
“Senator Bourbonnais,” shouted Josiah Bellamy from the other group, “Reconsider your decision. You are a man of God, are you not?”
“Look, Reverend Bellamy, I didn’t come to another planet to see a friggin’ magic show, no matter how good it is. I wanna see just what this planet has to offer, good or bad. I can take care’a my own soul.”
The more conservative group left with McDermott in one of the transports that looked like mobile homes. Nigel and Hrulkrul led the smaller, more adventurous group out the door and into the newly-built sector. While they walked, the three tourists that Senator Clayburn had not met introduced themselves. Sergei Tankian was a young man, no more than thirty, a bit shorter than Clayburn with very short black hair and an exotic face.
“I am Armenian,” he explained. “But my family is many generations in Soviet Union, now Russia. We live in Moscow. I am executive in Gazprom. We have great interest in this new form of energy, as you can imagine.”
“No doubt,” agreed Senator Clayburn. “I imagine that you, like Mr. Zhang here, are not pleased with the way this has played out.”
“Not at all. We are major producer of energy in world. Why are we not involved? This must be corrected.”
Another one of the people Clayburn had not met jumped in. “Yes, even in India, we are perplexed why the Americans and British were so secretive about this. Of course, we have long experience with the British, so we were not too surprised, but the Americans did very much disappoint us. Mr. Tankian, I am most sympathetic to your point of view.”
The lady from India introduced herself as Deepa Kholi, a representative of the Indian government’s Cultural Affairs office. Her colorful saffron sari covered a blocky, short body, and her dark-rimmed glasses and studious demeanor caused Senator Clayburn to wonder why she had chosen this group. He almost asked but thought better of it, instead turning to the imposing young muscular dark-skinned man on his left.
“Hello, I’m Senator Jack Clayburn from the United States, I don’t believe we’ve had the chance to meet.”
“Hello, sir. I am Olefami Babatunde, but most people call me Oli, with the long o. I am in the diplomatic service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Most pleased to meet you all. I wonder, where are we going first? Could someone please tell me?”
“Just a few blocks away is a venue created by the Arcturans,” Hrulkrul replied. “Brace yourself. They make quite a frightening first impression. Now, I have to ask you this: Do any of you have a strong dislike of violence? Because we have been invited to witness a short demonstration of their famous extreme fighting.”
Everyone indicated a desire to see the demonstration. Sergei caught the spirit of the group when he said, “We come here to see what the galaxy has to offer, not, as Senator says, to see magic show. I want to experience everything!”
And so they walked in the refreshingly cool evening through brightly lit streets lined with storefronts, all of them empty; not a human, Cygnian, Sirian, or any other species anywhere. The eerie emptiness reminded Jack Clayburn of something he’d seen on television long ago.
“There was an episode of the Twilight Zone I saw once where a young couple woke up in a very Midwestern, 1950’s town. They walked around and around but saw nobody. And then strange things started to happen. Things didn’t work right, a train took them nowhere—”
“Yes,” Deepa Kholi said eagerly, “I remember this episode so well. They had been captured by aliens and were in a kind of terrarium where the giant aliens could watch them, like pet turtles.”
“Yes! I’m surprised you saw it. Did you spend some time in the United States?”
“Oh, the Twilight Zone is famous all over the world. It is one of the great classics of television.”
Just then, Nigel stopped. “We’re almost there. OK, please, stay relaxed. I’m going to ask our host to introduce herself. She’s just around this corner.”
Nigel and Senator Bourbonnais were the first to turn the corner, and it was the Senator’s privilege to be the first of the party to see the approach of Gnasher-Leader. She strode confidently down the very center of the empty street, long black claws clicking, mouth partially open revealing sharp white canines at least six inches long and a pink tongue lolling lazily from her long snout, twice the length of an average wolf’s snout, black fur glistening in the harsh street lights.
Marshall Bourbonnais was not a man who frightened easily, but the sight of a giant black wolf walking confidently toward him aroused some of his most primitive brain circuits. He stopped mid-step, gasped, and looked at Nigel fearfully.
“Don’t worry, Senator, she’s my friend,” Nigel assured him.
Nonetheless, Senator Bourbonnais could walk no further and, as the others came around the corner, they also stopped. Gnasher-Leader never varied her pace until she had reached the group.
She spoke in hisses and growls that their translator chips turned into: “Welcome, Earthlings! I am delighted to meet you all! I am Gnasher-Leader. We will all get acquainted very soon but, for the moment, follow me to our Extreme Fighting Hall. I hope you will give your honest and candid thoughts about the commercial viability of the entertainment you will see this evening. We really need your feedback to determine whether further investment is warranted.”
“My god, she comes up as high as my chest!” exclaimed Oli. “In Africa we have wild dogs, hyenas, lions, but this one frightens me more than any of those.”
Gnasher-Leader turned her head to say, “You have nothing to fear from us here in your sector. But there are things you would need to understand about Arcturans before you could visit our sector. Even an Arcturan can meet a sudden death if he makes a social mistake, and this happens often. That is why we decided to open our hall here: much safer that way. Now please, follow me.”
She walked confidently, head high, a half block, then turned into a doorway over which hung a large neon sign depicting two Arcturan wolves, one’s neck in the jaws of the other, the vivid red of the sign creating an eerie light in the entryway. They crossed the threshold hesitantly, coming directly into an arena with hundreds of seats tiered downward toward a dimly-lit square stage that looked like a very large boxing ring.
The seats completely surrounded the stage, but instead of leading the tourists to the arena seats, Gnasher-Leader took them to a doorway that led up a small flight of stairs, into a private viewing box. The box featured about fifty very comfortable captain’s chairs that provided an unobstructed view of the stage. Behind the seats were tables where a large buffet awaited the guests.
“Just like a VIP booth at a Black Hawks game,” Clayburn offered to no one in particular. “So this is some kind of mixed martial arts I presume?”
Gnasher-Leader sidled over to him, her huge maw full of long gleaming teeth causing him to back away two steps. “I don’t think it’s much like any of your Earth sports, Senator. You see, each match is a fight to the death, though for this demonstration, the fighters will wear special covers over their teeth to ensure that they both survive.”
“Well, I just don’t think that people are going to want to see giant wolves fight to the death!” Clayburn said indignantly.
Oli Babatunde leaned over when he overheard the Senator’s comment. “Giant wolves fighting to the death? My, that sounds outstanding! Many people in Nigeria would be very happy to pay to see that!”
By now everyone wanted to join in. “Yes,” Sergei Tankian agreed, “Russian people love to watch good fighting. This is best idea I have heard in long time.”
“Senator, y’all have to admit, there’d be a whole passel o’ folks love to see such a thing,” Bourbonnais added. “Ya’ll’s liberal, tree-hugging, vegetarian base ain’t gonna like it too much, but, hey, they can ban that stuff in New York and San Francisco all they like!”
By now Senator Clayburn was desperate for an ally, so he turned to Mary Steenman. “What do you think of this wolf fighting idea?”
“Well, I’m just here to observe and report, Senator. Nothing more.”
“Excellent idea,” Gnasher-Leader said. She lifted a small device similar to a microphone from a ledge along the window of the box, revealing odd, black cylindrical fingers underneath her claws. “Let the entertainment begin!” she announced eagerly into the microphone.
Copyright © 2019 by Bill Kowaleski