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 14: African Plans
“Please, tell me again, where is Botswana?” Sociologist-Andrew was feeling confused and concerned. Could it possibly be true that his own company’s marketing people were undermining his mission? But Guard-Robert was sure that it was a Type 3 tunnel, exactly the kind that marketing and only marketing used. It could also be one of the Cygnian mineral companies, but very unlikely. They knew nothing about Earth.
Gerry explained where Botswana was and added, “I’ve looked into the mine that was within a few hundred meters of where the tunnel was activated. It’s a copper and nickel mine. Those definitely sound like minerals that would be useful to Galactic Fusion Generators.”
“Oh, yes. And those minerals are worth many times more on our planet than they are here on Earth. So they could choose to sell them or use them or both. I must investigate this situation at once, but it may not be easy. They know very well that we have a diplomatic agreement to phase in the introduction of fusion power on Earth, so they’re not just going to tell me they are ignoring that agreement. They’ll surely avoid a face-to-face meeting where I could determine whether they’re telling the truth. I’ll need to find out in more, shall we say, circumspect ways.”
“Andrew, this has the potential to create tremendous problems. It could make a complete mess of our plans. Humans do not understand how decentralized you Cygnians are. They’ll think it’s part of some sinister plot to ruin the world’s economy.”
Andrew said, “I am sure you are correct. We must find out as soon as possible what’s going on there. What is Executive Manager McDermott doing about that?”
“He’s asked the CIA to look into it, but they told him that they don’t have much presence down there. We’re in a tough spot, and the clock is ticking. It’s already been six days since Guard-Robert detected that tunnel usage.” Gerry paused. An idea had just popped into his head. “You know, Andrew, I’m a black man, I’ll bet I could go down there and snoop around a bit, maybe figure out what’s going on.”
“Oh, no!” Andrew exclaimed. “That is not a good idea. We need you here.”
“I’m not so sure about that. Others can handle most of my responsibilities, and maybe I could take Keyshawn along to help out. We could watch out for each other that way. I’m going to pass this by McDermott and see what he thinks.”
“I wish you would reconsider, Dr. Landis,” Andrew said. “I am fearful that you may not come back. I can make inquiries on the Cygnian side. Couldn’t we just try that first? Isn’t that a very dangerous part of your world?”
“We still need a briefing from the State Department, and I’ll pay Jason a visit and get some of his protection enhancements. We’ll be fine. We survived Tertia; we can survive Botswana!”
* * *
No human, not even any other Sirian could design and build disguises like Jason Wise. His creations were to masks and wigs what a stealth bomber was to a paper airplane. Early on he’d mastered the art of making artificial skin that could transmit feeling perfectly to the wearer, masks that could show every nuance of emotion.
More recently he’d moved beyond realistic to superhuman. He’d embedded a disabling gas into the arms of one of his creations for the rescue mission on Tertia. He’d built special leg enhancements that allowed him to run as fast as an antelope and jump just as high. He’d created a fully functional bodysuit that made him look, smell, and sound like a stunning female porn star, and he regularly enhanced the artificial skin he wore with highly effective pheromones that put anyone he set his sights on into a state of fawning infatuation. He loved special orders and so was delighted when Dr. Landis asked him to come to the Upper Zion facility to discuss his needs for the upcoming Botswana trip.
“I want something that will protect me from gunshots and allow me to get out of bad situations quickly,” Gerry began.
“Easily done, but there are tradeoffs you should be aware of,” warned Jason. “For one thing, you’re never really safe unless your face and neck are protected, as Dr. Garoulis found out on Tertia.”
Dr. Garoulis had been wearing Jason’s protective enhancements when he’d attacked a member of Green Band who had been holding Keyshawn hostage. Unfortunately, he’d removed the uncomfortable head and neck protection, and it had cost him his life.
“Yes, and I know how hot it can be down there, but I’ll wear it anyway.”
“I think I can create a miniature cooling system in the head area.” Jason paused a moment. “Yes, I know just how to do that.”
“Great! This will be for me and Keyshawn, Jason. I really appreciate your help here.”
Jason smiled. “You mean Keyshawn is going to Botswana without Elka? I can’t believe she would stay behind.”
“Hmm, I hadn’t thought of that,” said Gerry. “I’d better check into that further. Thanks for thinking of that.”
“How would you like something that’s really state of the art, Dr. Landis?” Jason said, whispering like a conspirator.
“Yeah, sure, what do you have in mind?”
“Well, ever since I saw how the Cygnians can determine whether someone is telling the truth, I’ve been working on a brain wave detector that can do that. Andrew has been testing it for me and he says I’ve got it down. Would you like to try it out?”
“That could really come in handy on this mission. I can just imagine all the lies I’m going to get told if I run into one of GFG’s generators down there.”
“Exactly. The agents selling them will not want to kill their golden goose or give someone else the chance to horn in on their territory. They’ll do everything possible to put you off the scent.”
Jason paused a moment, staring to his left, then said, “So, Dr. Landis, would you care for any, ahhh, sexual enhancements?”
“What do you mean, Jason?”
“I can add a little something to the skin that you can turn on when in the presence of anyone that you’ve got your eye on. She won’t be able to say no, I assure you.”
“Uh, I don’t know, Jason. You know, Botswana has one of the highest incidences of AIDS in the world...”
“Oh, good point. We’ve got to build in complete infectious disease immunity too. I would have thought of that eventually.”
Gerry was overwhelmed. There didn’t seem to be any problem that Jason couldn’t solve with his enhancements. “Well, I don’t think I’ll need that attraction feature, but check with Keyshawn and Elka to see which features they’d like.”
Sure. I should have these done in about two weeks.”
They had been meeting in a conference room on the public side of the Upper Zion firewall, a room with windows to the corridor, windows that darkened with the image of Jim McDermott. He opened the door, waved and asked, “May I interrupt a second?”
“Jim,” Gerry said, “good to see you, I was just leaving. Did you want to see me or Jason?”
“Jason, but good to see you, Gerry. Talk to you soon.”
Gerry headed down the corridor while McDermott closed the door and sat. “You mentioned that you’d discovered some interesting information about Aliens Out.”
“Oh yes, you’re going to love this. I’ll need your help getting the FBI on the scent. The Martin Coal Corporation is a major funding source for Aliens Out, in fact, a Senior VP, who just happens to be the son of the owner, is pulling the strings behind the scenes, telling Ms. Schoenbrun what to say, and probably sleeping with her, though he certainly isn’t liking it.”
“So that he can control her.”
“Yeah, he’s a really handsome, suave dude, let me tell you. He’s got her totally hooked. It’s easy to read it in her face.”
“Excellent work. I won’t ask how you did it.”
“Just old-fashioned police work, no sex involved, so far.”
“What do you mean by ‘so far’?”
“It seems our suave young dude visits gay bars when he’s not servicing his lady fair. I saw some evidence in his car.”
“Tread lightly right now,” McDermott said. “We’ve got to keep these groups off balance, keep them honest, but I’ve got to be careful. It’s a free country, and they can advocate for throwing out the Cygnians if they want to. We just want the public to know who’s funding them, that they’ve got an ulterior motive.”
“Understood, Jim; we Sirians would never hesitate to manipulate public opinion if that was in our best interests, just like these coal people are doing. And I totally understand why they’re doing this. They see it as a matter of survival.”
McDermott nodded. “Maybe we’ve made a mistake, Wise. Maybe we should have brought them into the process. I wonder, it might not be too late to do that.”
“How would you cut them in? UZPG already has an exclusive on the first twenty fusion sites.”
“It can be done. It would be ugly, but it can be done. I suggest we stop right there for now.”
Jason stared intently into McDermott’s eyes trying to find a clue to what he meant, but all he saw was steely resolve. There was an awkward silence, then McDermott barked, “OK, did you learn anything else?”
“No, you’ve got the high-level.”
McDermott stared into space, his eyes darting. Jason had learned never to interrupt him when he went into one of those trances. After more than two minutes, McDermott jerked his head and looked into Jason’s eyes.
“OK, thanks. Now here are your going-forward orders. I want you to do your best to disrupt that relationship. Once Maria Schoenbrun loses her handler, she’s going to go off into the weeds in a hurry. That’ll be our chance to take the offensive.”
“What will you do then?”
“Leave that up to me. This operation is strictly need-to-know from here on.”
Copyright © 2019 by Bill Kowaleski