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 39: Martin Betrays the Conspirators
In the end, Martin and Jason decided to stay in the cabin for the entire rental term. Jason — or, rather Inkohatum, as Miles now called him — spent hours describing Sirius Prime, explaining the long history of Sirian contact with humans and his own activities in his more than fifty years on Earth.
The last evening, after Inkohatum had prepared yet another amazing meal and they’d finished two bottles of wine that they’d had to hike an hour each way to buy, the conversation turned to the Cygnians.
“How do your people get along with them?” asked Miles.
“Cygnians are easy to deal with. They live to meet their goals, to achieve their quotas. As long as you can make them think you’re helping them get that done, they’re your best friends.”
Miles had a thought. “What is this stuff about their building a factory in Africa? I saw it in some online version of the local paper, in Garbalony I think it was.”
Inkohatum broke into gales of loud laughter. He fell off the couch and rolled on the floor.
“What’s so funny?”
“Gabarone, Botswana. That’s the funniest mispronunciation I’ve heard in a long time!”
Miles flashed on Maria mocking him about the same thing, and he felt a twinge of anger. “OK, I’m not so good with African geography. So what?”
“Just funny, Miles, nothing more. We all have our quirks. I know you’re a smart guy. Don’t worry about it.”
“What about this factory?”
“They’re going to build lots of them: dozens, maybe hundreds. This one makes really cheap, really high-quality clothing. Others will make electric cars, implantable cell phones, medical devices, anti-gravity drives. It goes on and on. The whole world is going to change in just a few years.”
“God, my father was so smart to, as he put it, ‘hop on the train’.”
“Yeah, but if you ask me,” said Inkohatum. “Some of those old energy people aren’t going to go down without a fight. I think they may try to destroy those plants.”
Miles scratched his head. “You know, my dad just might have heard something about that.”
* * *
By noon the next day, they were back at the Martin compound with a cooler full of fish as a gift for James Martin. He opened it and looked inside approvingly.
“Wow! You guys were busy!”
Jason, as Miles carefully referred to him, produced a gallon Ziploc from his vest pocket. “And here, Mr. Martin, are some herbs I picked. These will not only make the fish taste the best you’ve ever had, they’ll also slow down the aging process.”
“Really! Thanks so much, Jason. I wish I could give you such a nice gift.”
“Well, Mr. Martin, you could,” said Jason. “I’d like to ask you a question and, if you can honestly answer it, that would more than repay me.”
“Sure, of course.”
“You’re friends with a lot of big-time oil, gas, and coal people. What are they planning to do? They’re losing; fusion is proliferating; the legal approach they tried is failing. What’s next, then? You bought a fusion power company, so you’re OK, but a lot of them are about to be left with a lot of worthless infrastructure.”
James Martin stood and walked to the expansive veranda that faced the deep green mountains. He waved his hand, indicating that they should follow. A cumulus cloud darkened the sun as he stepped outside.
“Better to talk out here. I’m just not sure what they’re up to. They could have planted listening devices in the house, for all I know. OK, how do I begin, or do I begin at all? They’ll kill me if this gets out.”
Miles felt a wave of shock. “Surely not, Dad! Not your friend Director Naïr, not—”
“Yes. Abdullah. All of them. They’re cornered. They feel like they’re making their last stand. But I don’t care. I’m almost seventy. I’ve lived a full life. What’s in it for me to keep their crazy plans to myself? And anyway, I did some checking on you, Jason. I think if I tell you this, it’ll get to the right people.”
“Checking?” said Jason.
Martin’s eyes scanned the mountainous horizon as he spoke. “I’ve always been able to read people. When we first met, I could see right away that you weren’t just some buddy of Miles. So I watched closely. I saw you two kiss in the study when you thought I’d gone upstairs. And I noticed that look in Miles’ eyes whenever you entered the room, Jason. There was love in that look.
“When you and I talked, well, I just had a feeling about you, that you weren’t just some random handsome guy. All that stuff about fishing — like you’d prepped to impress me, to throw me off the scent — that’s when I really got suspicious. I snapped you with a telephoto lens when you and Miles were walking out there along the edge of the woods, and then I circulated that photo, made some inquiries.”
The elder Martin turned and looked Jason hard in the eyes. “You work for a guy named McDermott. Am I right?”
“I’m impressed. Nobody’s ever been able to figure that out on his own before now.”
Martin smiled. “So if I tell you everything, the right people will soon know? Can you confirm?”
Jason nodded. “Yes, I can confirm.”
And then he told them.
Copyright © 2019 by Bill Kowaleski