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 28: A Revelation
Marshall Bourbonnais was not at all sure he’d awakened. He’d already pinched himself, curled his toes, and turned his head. It certainly seemed like he was conscious, but what was this half-horse, half-lion doing standing over him in a white smock that looked for all the world like a doctor’s hospital gown? And why was it talking?
“Earthling, can you hear me?”
“Uh, yes, I believe I can.” Now it was coming back to him. He was on another planet. This was an Eridanean. My god, his head hurt!
Then a human figure, a woman, also in a hospital gown, came into his field of vision. “Senator, I’m Doctor Melissa Jones, the on-call human doctor for your group. You’ve suffered a nasty fall, but you’re OK. The Eridaneans scanned your brain, and there’s no damage. Just going to hurt for a while, though they’re getting something shipped over for you to relieve that.”
He remembered now. The Cygnian mugger. What was that all about?
“Is Nigel around? I really need to talk to him,” said the Senator. “I need to find out why that Cygnian attacked me.”
“The wolf-creatures captured the other two,” said Dr. Jones. “I think they’re being interrogated now.”
“Nigel is leading the interrogation,” said the Eridanean doctor. “We had to get those two Cygnians away from the Arcturans before they were roasted and eaten. We should know soon why they attacked your party.”
Minutes later, the painkiller arrived. The Eridanean doctor asked, “Would you rather sleep or stay alert?”
“Well, I got nothing to do right now,” said Bourbonnais. “So maybe sleep.”
The doctor pulled a small inhaler from a plastic-like sack and handed it to the Senator.
“How is it y’all got medicine for humans?”
“It’s actually for Sirians, sir. But they’re genetically related to your species, so many of their medicines work and are safe for humans.”
“What exactly are you saying, ‘genetically related’?”
“Well, sir, the Sirians have been visiting your planet for millions of years. They’ve interbred with your species for at least a hundred thousand years.”
Before Bourbonnais could respond, a chime sounded from a small screen attached to the doctor’s neck.
“I have to go. Just insert it in your nose and breathe in.”
Bourbonnais considered the doctor’s words as he held the inhaler: Interbred for at least a hundred thousand years. Visited your planet for millions of years. He thought about the anti-alien movement that he’d been supporting, about the Alien Repatriation Act he’d co-sponsored, about all the venom and spin his party and its supporters had spread about the fearsome aliens waiting for the right moment to conquer and subjugate us all. Suddenly, he felt very, very foolish.
He sighed and put the inhaler to his nose. The pain disappeared in seconds and was replaced by a feeling of relaxed well-being. His eyelids grew heavy, and soon he was having pleasant dreams about little green men playing with a tribe of humans on a grassy African plain, surrounded by herds of zebra and eland.
* * *
He awoke slowly, this time quicker to remember where he was and what had happened. A hand shook his shoulder gently, and a familiar voice said, “Marshall, are you OK? Is the drug wearing off?”
He cleared his throat, opened his eyes, and saw the face of Jack Clayburn inches from him. “Jack! Let me get up here. I’m tired of lyin’ down.”
Bourbonnais pulled himself to a sitting position but, as he did, an Eridanean medic came into view. He or she, he still couldn’t tell them apart, quickly stepped over and placed an arm on his chest. “Do not attempt to stand, Earthling. The painkiller is not yet clear from your body. Do you wish the waking version now?”
“Uh, yeah, thanks.” After inhaling the drug, he looked around the room, crowded with not only Clayburn and the Eridanean medic, but also Nigel Thacker and a Cygnian who transmitted his identity as Ethnologist-Mark and who quickly pushed himself in front of Clayburn.
“Senator, my most sincere apologies from the citizens of Cygnus Prime for this unimaginable atrocity. The criminals are part of a rogue gang trying to stir up political trouble on our planet. They are an anti-alien group that wishes to stop my company from trading off-planet. Their goal is to drive all aliens off of Cygnus Prime, especially the carnivorous ones. They wished to harm your party so that you would fear all Cygnians.”
Clayburn chuckled. “Except for the carnivorous part, they sound like your blood brothers, Marshall.”
Bourbonnais shook his head, then directed his eyes to Mark. “I accept your apology, Ethnologist. We’ve got the same problem on Earth as y’all do, ’cept it’s more about fear of invasion than fear of being eaten.”
“It is as preposterous to think that Earthlings would eat us as it is to think that we would want to invade Earth, or even be able to do it,” said Mark.
Bourbonnais nodded his agreement then turned his head to Clayburn. “Jack, you might think that this incident convinced me that the Alien Repatriation Act is a good thing, but it’s done just the opposite. I realize now that the Cygnians fear us as much as we fear them. And there’s more. One of the Eridanean doctors told me somethin’. It’s so incredible I can hardly believe it at all.”
Clayburn said, “Something about the Sirians?”
“Yeah. So you know?”
“They’ve been on Earth since before we discovered how to make fire. They were there two, maybe three ice ages ago. Their DNA is in every one of us.”
“Right.” Bourbonnais shook his shaggy head. “Then what sense does the ARA make? How do we drive out all the aliens when they’re already a part of us?”
Nigel said, “Senator Bourbonnais, you could make a big difference right now. Return to Earth, tell your caucus everything you’ve learned here. Convince them they’ve made a mistake.”
“I’m gonna to do that. But we can’t just say, ‘Oops, we screwed up.’ Changing direction takes time, and not everybody is gonna believe me. We’ll go ahead and pass the ARA, but before we do, I intend to propose amendments that I’ll say improve it based on what I’ve learned here on Tertia. But those amendments will really tear its heart out.”
“Exactly what we’ve been thinking,” said Clayburn. “McDermott and I are already working on the wording of those amendments. But, Senator, while you were out, I got word that facts on the ground are changing with incredible speed. We’re going to return to a world different than the one we left.”
Copyright © 2019 by Bill Kowaleski