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 23: Mark Gets the Police on Board
“Ethnologist, welcome to Tertia. What is your preference?” asked Police-Commander. “We can graze on one of the usual grasses, or if you would like, I have some Blue Mountains redgrain here for this special occasion.”
Ethnologist-Mark transmitted excitement and pleasure. “Oh yes, Blue Mountains redgrain. There is nothing better than that!”
They stood in the peaceful grazing domain of the Tertian Cygnian sector. Night had already fallen, and the twin Tertian moons, only a few degrees apart and nearly overhead at that hour, cast sharp double shadows. They were both smaller than Earth’s moon, but they reflected the brilliant light of Epsilon Eridani with their very high albedo, creating a moonlight twice as bright as any ever seen on Earth.
“For such a special customer, who offers us a contract at one hundred and twenty-five percent of the usual charge, there is nothing we wouldn’t provide.” The Police-Commander turned and beckoned with an eyestalk, leading Mark to a covered feeding area where two silver troughs of redgrain awaited them. They guzzled the grain greedily, not communicating until it was gone.
“My, that was an ethereal experience!” the Ethnologist transmitted along with contentment and gratitude. “I trust then that you have read the contract and all is acceptable for you.”
“Yes of course. Such thoroughness, such detailed quotas, goals, and specific standards. I take great pleasure in just reading a document like that! You have told us exactly how many officers to deploy, where to deploy them, when to start, when to finish, what our objectives are...” He trailed off. “But of course you know that already.”
“Yes, I wrote it. There is a clause that allows you flexibility, but that is only if the situation is not as presented in the Assumptions section.”
“Yes, understood, and that is standard.” The Police-Commander circled once around the Ethnologist, gathering his thoughts. “But of course, you are a clever fellow, and you know what a difficult situation you have created for me. The Cygnian community here on Tertia is very worldly. We understand that the galaxy is populated primarily by intelligent predator species, that we are a distinct minority, but I think that makes us all the more paranoid and defensive. Your company brings the flesh of animals to our planet to feed your predator guests. Surely you can understand how repugnant that is to most of us.”
“Yes, Police-Commander, and I know where you are heading. Your force is heavily infiltrated by Green Band is it not?”
“Not infiltrated. They seek employment like members of any other herd and, if they meet the qualification, I must hire them. They are with us completely out in the open.”
“Yet they form a cohort that may act on its own goals, not the goals of the force...”
The Police-Commander rose to his hind legs and pushed against Mark with one front paw. “How dare you say that members of my force would do anything other than obey orders and work to meet our goals! This is a serious slander against any Cygnian. What proof do you have of this?”
“Please, Police-Commander, do not become alarmed. I wanted only to see how you reacted to that statement. I am encouraged. You clearly have your priorities straight.”
The Police-Commander dropped back to all fours. “I see what you are doing. You are reading into my mind to determine my intentions concerning this contract. I’m sure you saw that if I sign, I will ensure it is carried out.”
“Yes, I saw that. You are an honorable Cygnian. But I am curious: how will you ensure that all members of the force comply with this contract?”
“It’s very simple. We’ll present it to the two districts involved at the beginning of their shift. They’ll get specific orders, they’ll be told that they must put aside their Green Band affiliations, and their Captains will ask each one, eyestalk to eyestalk, whether they intend to follow orders.”
“Excellent. There is no way they could deceive their Captains in that situation. So, do you intend to sign?”
The Police-Commander transmitted a grab-bag of emotions: wry humor, irony, admiration at Mark’s cleverness, resignation. “Yes of course. You know I have no choice. Your company would be in my superior’s office within five minutes if I refused. But I will tell you something: I would sign it anyway. I pride myself on keeping the peace here. It’s my job, and all Cygnians can feel no greater fulfillment than a job well done.”
“Yes, I understand you completely. And I feel that same pride at this moment also.”
Mark handed him the pen, and they performed the signing ceremony. The Police-Commander’s paw shook with the unfamiliarity of the act, and he concentrated intensely as he made his marks on the paper. Signing contracts was the only action that still required the use of writing in Cygnian culture.
After the signing, after the papers had been sealed and locked in the police safe, the Police-Commander turned to Ethnologist-Mark. “I said you were a clever fellow, but you don’t have a background in law enforcement, so of course you may not have realized that the contract left certain things out.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s quite specific about protecting the Earthlings, about ensuring that the ceremony go forward on time, but it says nothing about peaceful demonstration of dissent, it says nothing about Green Band ensuring that this group feel very unwelcome.”
It was Mark’s turn to transmit resignation. “You are wrong, I thought of those things; I am an Ethnologist after all. There’s no way a police force can really prevent them. The humans need to know that Cygnian culture is no more welcoming of them than they are of us. It’s better to get these feelings out in the open, expressed, and then move on from there.”
The Police-Commander agreed, adding, “Yes, real change is always three steps forward, two steps back. At least you hope it’s only two steps back.”
The Ethnologist offered, “Or to put it another way: Revolution, reaction, resolution.”
Copyright © 2019 by Bill Kowaleski