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Area 6 : News & Views


The longest journey starts with a single step .....................................................ancient Chinese proverb


© James Clifford Banks 1998 (written when aged 14)

The fleet of galaxy class cruisers travelled swiftly through hyperspace on their journey to the tiny M-Way Galaxy near the far end of the Universe.

An apparently insignificant galaxy only 2700 billion billion trillion miles across, with only two thousand million stars. One galaxy out of over one hundred thousand galaxies so far charted - and their destination a tiny blue planet circling an insignificant star buried deep within the cloudy M-Way.

There were twelve cruisers in the fleet - the traditional number representing justice and fitting for the task that permeated the every thought of their leader, the self-styled Glaxibel the Avenger.

His fist smashed down on the desk console as the red fires of anger flowed through him and he pictured the tiny ice-blue ball of the planet its inhabitants called Earth, smashed to tiny smithereens.

Soon, oh so soon, he trusted. But not yet, not yet - there was much work to do and his responsibility to ensure that all their plans were well implemented and carried through to their final, awful conclusion.

Who would see this brief firework light up the sky, he wondered. No intelligent life had been charted in the vicinity of Earth, certainly no-one near enough to pick up the explosion visually.

And the mindless inhabitants of the blue ball? What would they know of it? A phrase filtered through his mind, "Here today, gone tomorrow" ..... Well, that was an adequate description for the Earth itself. And it seemed to be the basis of how these unthinking, uncaring terrestrials had lived out their lives up to the present. An obvious disregard for conservation, wiping out species after species, using up one resource after another - let alone the appalling actions which had called the impending retribution upon them .....

Glaxibel wrenched his thoughts away from the deep pit of desperation which seemed to permeate even the space/time boundaries of this bleak little planet. He had work to do, much to organise, his fleet of cruisers to bring into position so that the implementation of his plans could, finally, begin.

* * * * * * * * *

The twelve galaxy class cruisers positioned themselves strategically around the periphery of the tiny blue ball-planet - not equidistant but each selecting a position in proximity to a satellite closely linked with one of the major "powers" (or at any rate those in control of nuclear weaponry) around the planet. With consummate ease existing satellite communications were subtly over-ridden - still appearing to operate in the same way for the benefit of Earth-inhabitants but actually allowing the alien fleet direct access to the heart of the major computer-players across the planet.

Unobtrusive observation of the computer systems over the past 51 years had enabled the Alphalese to plan a mode of infiltration which would not trigger mass panics as had the intrusion of computer hackers in the past - the Earth boffins were simply unaware now that they had active "company".

All the over-rides were swiftly, subtly inserted - and all at the same moment in time. The telepathic inter-communication of the Alphalese was invaluable in this - there was an unerring cohesion of action on all twelve of the star cruisers and simply an infinitesimal "blip" on each Earth satellite-computer link which wasn't particularly noticeable anywhere, and over in less than a second. The scene was set, now - irrevocably.

Glaxibel settled back comfortably in his seat. He picked up unhurriedly on the inter-earth chatter of the satellites, these people who constantly monitored and spied on one another and yet seemed incapable of detecting the much greater audience which in turn tuned into them from time to time, whenever one of the many cruiser fleets passed by.

Such a strange, seemingly-introspective race. So preoccupied with their own concerns. How could they be so unaware of the larger picture? He shrugged. It wasn't going to matter one way or the other for very much longer.

* * * * * * * * *

Glaxibel laid his head back against the deep blue headrest of his softly-upholstered executive recliner. The pale milk-white skin of his forehead was deeply etched with the lines of the sorrow he carried deep within him, had carried with him for 51 long years now. Temporarily freed from the specific responsibilities of his mission, now that the satellite links were in place, and with twelve hours to wait until the final "moment of truth" he allowed his mind to wander yet again along well-trodden passageways of pain and unbelievable loss.

It had all begun so hopefully. In his role as commander of the outreach fleet he had been keeping a watchful eye on this planet called Earth and reporting back to the Council of Elders from time to time about the happenings and developments in this strange little planet full of destructive and yet curiously hopeful little beings called "humans". Not so dissimilar from the Alphalese in their physical appearance - bodies with arms and legs and heads, but oddly proportioned; such correspondingly-tiny heads which reflected the minor amount of brain power they actually used, but stronger and more well developed lower bodies which were used for more physical activity than the Alphalese were accustomed to. Glaxibel knew that the Aphalese had been similar to the Earth people in their earlier stages of development, but that the head-to-body ratio of his own race had changed considerably as they became more cerebral, more definably intelligent, had dispensed altogether with weaponry and had developed their inter-telepathic links. And then of course had taken on their peace-keeping role throughout a number of galaxies, expanding gradually through most of the known universe.

Which of course was what had led them to Earth, and specifically to that tiny place on it known as Roswell, which had been fundamental in the development of the atomic bomb known as "Fat Boy" which had wreaked such devastation on a place called Hiroshima some two or three years before the Roswell incident. The brief, hot-white atomic flash at Hiroshima; the whitish-grey mushroom cloud which followed; and the deadening of the land and the animals and the broken-spirited people who would carry the aftermath of the bomb through so many generations.

The Alphalese Council had ordered constant monitoring of the place called Roswell after the "Fat Boy" bomb and Glaxibel's whole family had been part of the monitoring crew along with several other cruisers of the peace-keeping fleet.

What unkind fate then was it that had decreed all the rest of his family members should have been on the one cruiser that crashed one night at Roswell in 1947? There had been nothing to indicate that night would be anything out of the ordinary - all the Alphalese on the star cruisers around Roswell had been soaking up the beauty of the interweaving colours of the sunset across the late-evening sky and were watching the cloak of darkness descend when with no warning there was a malfunction on the main power source of Cruiser Seven. Glaxibel hadn't been on that cruiser - star fleet commanders generally have a separate cruiser, he rationalised - but unfortunately he had been near enough to witness for himself exactly what happened in the aftermath of the crash.

Several of his family had "bought it" when the cruiser came down - but not all of them. Of the eight on board, three of his sisters and one brother perished in the crash - but his last and closest sister survived, along with his three other brothers.

His sister - Romara - was the only one unhurt, and almost straight away she came out of the cruiser to get help for Jomandor, Kelvor, Genjor. Out into the blackness of a bleak earth night suddenly lit up by searing white vehicle lights - and the appalling, almost immediate, low whistle of a bullet that came from somewhere beyond the lights and slammed jarringly into her fragile pale body.

Glaxibel shivered even in the warm comfort of the chair as he imaged again her pale hands held up in mute supplication as she implored her assailants for help for her, and her brothers - and experienced once more her telepathic pleas for help, even more than 50 years on. Her pain - and theirs, and his own - would echo down the centuries for ever, so much he knew from even elementary physics. Always the unthinkable reminder travelling down the corridors of time .....

The silent plea had met with no response other than a hail of bullets slamming into Romara's defenceless body and in less than two brief Earth-minutes her fragile life was extinguished.

And with her life departed some part of Glaxibel, watching the Roswell military site helplessly from his cruiser - some eternally-hopeful part of him extinguished in pain and anguish and a red fog of anger which threatened to blot out any part of him that hoped or cared or trusted or even wanted to live.

And it hadn't ended there. The callous Earth-people had dissected Romara's body-shell (had they no respect for anything? they did that even to their own people): they had then folded her arms on her approximately-reconstructed body and put her in a lead-lined coffin (presumably to minimise decay?) and buried her in the ground of their planet.

And worse had been to follow. Glaxibel's three brothers - the ones who had survived the crash - had been subjected to the most appalling experimentation, whilst fully conscious - unable to communicate verbally (and Earth-people seemingly unable to receive telepathic thoughtforms) their physical torment seemed somehow irrelevant to the callous scientists who ignored the universal symbol of hands pressed together and the entreaty of eyes pleading for compassion, and who continued to carry out so many pointless "experiments". Glaxibel had experienced the full weight of his brothers' suffering and torment - the burden of which so many Alphalese had helped to share, telepathically, but which somehow was still no less his - and in many ways his brothers' eventual deaths had been a blessed release, whilst dually hardening his resolve for vengeance ..... such infliction of suffering could surely not go unpunished.

He'd had a hard time of it with the Council. So many times the Council members had tried to talk to him of forgiveness and caring, and he'd felt like he was beating his head against a brick wall. They'd soaked him in healing colourand healing music in their chambers, and supported him with their minds, and tried to talk him through the pain - and he knew they had all felt something of the torment with him, and that they cared - but it wasn't enough, he knew thatsomehow his family's deaths at the hands of these Earth-people had to be avenged; somehow these Earth-people had to be taught a lesson, one they wouldn't forget.

It had taken a very long time, Glaxibel remembered, before he had been able to persuade the Council to let him lead a mission of vengeance to sort this out once and for all. But he'd won, they'd agreed: and now he was finally back here and it was really going to happen.

He sighed deeply. It had been a long wait, a very long wait. And now here he was, only about ten hours before the scores were finally settled.

He gazed intently at the blue-ish planet, swathed in parts of one side by the reddish-golds of sunset. Yes, there had been a sunset that night at Roswell. Echoes of the past, in lots of ways now. Curious how beautiful it could all look from a distance, he thought. And curious also how a planet which could be at times so beautiful, should be peopled by beings who spent most of their waking lives destroying things, and fighting with each other. "They've brought this on themselves", he murmured softly. "Brought it on themselves."

* * * * * * * * * *

The hours before dawn passed slowly. Glaxibel slept fitfully, here and there, snatching brief minutes of sleep as the light of the sun made its slow passage around the planet until the time it would re-awaken the town of Roswell.

Slowly, surely, the minutes ticked away. The time was approaching to spark the atomic war which would blow this tiny planet into oblivion.

The countdown, the build-up of tension, the moment of issuing the final computer command. "A life for a life" Glaxibel had come to believe - though he knew wiping out a whole planet was probably just a little over the top.

Part of him knew that somehow, maybe, this was wrong - there were vague stirrings in some long-ice-hardened heart region that this couldn't be wholly, totally, the right thing to do. Six billion human beings vulnerable to the touch of a computer button? Could his relatives be worth so much destruction?

As the dawn over Roswell approached, Glaxibel's resolve hardened. The pain of the past returned in full measure and again he smashed his fist down on the console. Briefly an image passed before his eyes, of a giant fist smashing the ice-blue ball of the Earth in revenge for all the wilful destruction unleashed already amongst Earth's inhabitants.

Glaxibel nodded silently to himself. Yes, that was how this all deserved to end. He reached out towards the button which would interlink with the systems in all twelve star cruisers and unleash via the satellites the computer-generated atomic war which would wipe this planet off the face of the universe for ever. For eternity. So be it.

Twelve. Eleven. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.

Glaxibel pressed the button. And a fraction of a second later - with a blinding flash - his galaxy class cruiser disintegrated.

* * * * * * * * *

The cold blue iceball within Glaxibel fused with the fire of his anger and merged into the swirling intermingling colours of healing as his bodymatter dispersed throughout space and time.

* * * * * * * * *

Vibrant aura colours permeated the chamber of the Alphalese review council meeting. Soft soul chimes intermingled with shimmering mandalas in unquestioning agreement.

Glaxibel had received their full judgement: in planning destruction he had unwittingly engineered his own, for this was against the altruistic principles of the Alphalese.

Glaxibel never knew he was unsuccessful: but his vengefulness inevitably met with its own reward. In the process he was healed and his brothers and sisters freed from Glaxibel's grief which had bound them to the lead-lined coffins on Earth in which their bodies lay with folded hands: returned to the freedom of the star spheres from which all originated and to which all, one day, return.

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