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 12: Disruption
“Senator Clayburn,” McDermott said forcefully, “surely you are aware that the Nuclear Regulatory Agency studied the design of the Upper Zion facility in detail and gave its unconditional approval. Surely you are aware, sir, that a delegation of Senators and Representatives traveled to Cygnus Prime and met with their Diplomatic Services, agreeing to detailed protocols for human-Cygnian interaction. Surely you are aware, sir, that U.S., French and Russian scientists have spent two years studying the Cygnians in detail, that—”
“Yes, yes, and yes, Mr. McDermott. You may have forgotten that I was one of the delegation that went to Cygnus Prime back when the agreement was signed, three years ago now, and a beautiful place it was. We saw them grazing in their herd commons and visited their city. We got heckled too, but they told us this was because they were afraid of us. Imagine that! Aliens that could probably blow us away in two seconds, afraid of us!”
“But, Senator,” Jason Wise protested, “their history is entirely peaceful. They have had some small inter-herd skirmishes, to be sure but, compared to humans, they are extreme pacifists.”
The Senator sighed, shifted in his chair, and turned toward the stunning wall of windows, featuring at that early afternoon hour a panorama of colorful boats full of Saturday sailors basking in the hot July sunshine. “My, I wish I was out there with them.”
He turned his head back to the conference table situated in a nook to the right of Nigel’s huge oak desk. “Yes, Mr. Wise, you and I know that the facility is safe; safer, in fact, than any fission reactor in the world and that the Cygnians pose no real threat to humans. But I am getting besieged by constituents that are scared to death and want me to vote for the Alien Repatriation Act.
“I promised you guys political cover, what with you being in my state and all, but the polls are two to one for this act. If I lose the next election, my successor will surely be no friend of yours. It’s this damn Aliens Out bunch. They’ve got all kinds of behind-the-scenes money paying for professional organizers and massive advertising. It’s all deeply hidden. If we could find out who’s backing them—”
“Got to be big oil,” said Jason.
“Let’s not go blaming my people again,” said Nigel Thacker. Nigel was the U.S. Country Manager for the giant British oil company that had renamed its American subsidiary Upper Zion Power Generation Company. But he was much more than just that. He was an Eridanean, surgically altered by the most skilled medical professionals in the Galactic League to look like a middle-aged, slightly overweight, doughy-faced man. His impeccable Oxford accent only made him more convincing.
“Yes, just exactly who are you accusing here?” McDermott retorted.
“I was thinking the Saudis, maybe even the coal companies,” said Jason. “Of course it isn’t Nigel’s company. Why would they undermine themselves? They’ve already made the commitment to fusion.”
“True,” said Nigel. “But that does, in fact, make all the other old energy companies more suspect. They could be envious of our advantageous position. It’s entirely possible.”
“Well, it’s all speculation until we get proof,” said McDermott. “It could hurt Aliens Out and the whole anti-fusion cause badly if we could prove that they were funded by energy companies. But the funding is as well-hidden as I’ve ever seen it.”
Jason stood and walked to the windows. “Truly a beautiful day, I can’t wait to get out to Oak Street Beach.” He was silent a minute, his eyes vacant as though lost in thought, then he turned to face the table. “Gentlemen, I believe it’s time I joined Aliens Out. I think I’m going to try and woo the beautiful Maria Schoenbrun.”
“Oh, my!” Senator Clayburn seemed quite shocked. “I doubt she even bathes. And her hair! It’s abominable.”
“There’s a guy I see her with at the press conferences every time. Looks out of place: way too good-looking, way too clean. I wonder who he is, how he fits in. Maybe I should woo him?”
McDermott laughed nervously. “Now, Jason, I don’t believe that the Senator is aware of your reputation—”
Clayburn smiled. “On the contrary, Jim, I know all about our Mr. Wise. If anyone can woo that guy, he can. At any rate, Jason, go for both and maybe you’ll succeed with one of them. It’s a good idea; the FBI has tried to infiltrate them, but the ploy was too obvious. Mr. Wise, with his incredible disguises and ability to adapt, might do it. It’s almost, what could I say, otherworldly, how good he is at those sorts of things.”
They all had a knowing laugh. “So you are aware, Senator, of Mr. Wise’s country of origin, so to speak?”
“More like planet of origin. Yes, Jim. I learned a lot on my Cygnus Prime tour. I wish we could share all of this with the general public but, judging by their reaction to meek, innocuous Andrew, I don’t see that as an option. It’s amazing really, that nothing was leaked earlier, what with over twenty politicians going to Cygnus Prime three years ago, and those NRC propeller heads talking to Cygnians about their reactors.”
“Think about it,” McDermott said. “If you told someone that you’d been to another planet, or that furry pandas with eyestalks were helping you evaluate a nuclear reactor—”
The Senator laughed. “You’re right. It really wasn’t that hard for them to keep it confidential.”
They all stood. “Good luck with your wooing, Jason,” said McDermott. “Shall we meet next Friday and get a progress report?”
“Only if it’s cloudy,” said Senator Clayburn, with a laugh.
Copyright © 2019 by Bill Kowaleski