Foreign Embassy – Science Fiction
Nearly every science fiction writer has placed spacecraft into their stories. And many of us have written arrival stories, in which aliens of some sort arrive on the Earth, either as wise and benevolent elders or bug-eyed-monsters bent on mayhem. Those stories always seem to have the scientist types who save the day with a bit of techno-bable about undiscovered elements and some help from the lady scientist with film star good looks.
So, when I set out to write such a story, my contrary nature refused to provide flying saucers and ray guns. Instead, it supplied a fifty story flying office building filled with some funny looking but nice umm…people. Luckily, my subconscious mind took pity and allowed me one movie star, for which I’m thankful, because I always fall in love with my heroine.
One of the fun things about being a misty—a writer who allows the plot elements to come to them out of the mists rather than through detailed plot layout and scene construction—is that you get to act the scene in your mind as you prepare to write it, experiencing everything the character does, as the character does. That makes for an exciting writing experience because you’re constrained to think as the character thinks, and do that in real-time as the story is experienced. It’s exciting, and it has a major advantage over such an adventure in the real world, where some of the things I have my characters do would leave me very dead. If there’s no way to save myself in a given situation but to throw a rock, I have the luxury of going back and giving the character a reason to place a large rock within reaching distance before the danger appears. What that means is that as the author I have one secret weapon my characters can absolutely depend on: dumb luck. The only proviso is that you have to write the story so the reader buys into the idea that they deserve that luck.
Fifteen-year-old Ron Gibson was there with his Scout troop, on the day the Talperno ship dropped out of the clouds and set up shop on the grass by the Washington Monument. In fact, they very nearly landed on Ron and his fellow Scouts as their ship, a fifty story concrete office building, touched down. Stunned, but raised on a diet of science-fiction and adventure movies, the boys marched through the front door and became the first humans to meet the Talperno.
The Talperno seem friendly, and talkative, and they integrated quickly into human society. They’re more than happy to share their culture and political viewpoint, but will tell the human scientists nothing about their gravity technology—the heart of their superiority—insisting that it’s humanity’s job to progress on their own as a kind of entrance exam for membership into the galactic community.
A decade later, the Talperno have integrated themselves into human society, and one sees them everywhere.
Ron has become a writer, and is researching a book on the visitors. His quest for data leads him to southern Florida, and to beautiful Patricia Scott, whose xenophobic father may have discovered the chilling secret of what the Talperno really have in mind for humanity. Now all Ron has to do is gather the evidence needed to convince the government that things are not as they seem. But in order to do that he needs to survive, and that doesn’t seem terribly likely.
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Read an excerpt:
The Talperno came in over the pole, dropped straight down to a height of seven-thousand feet, then flew a line down the center of the Atlantic Ocean. They clearly showed on every missile-warning and defensive screen on the face of the planet but they were moving slowly enough and were on a course that they triggered no attack by the military.
God alone knows how long they hung there above us—out of reach of our detection systems and studying us before coming down into the atmosphere. When they finally did come in, though, they knew exactly what they were doing. They were cruising along at a high enough altitude to be seen on every radar set pointed in their direction. And believe me, there were plenty of those.
When they finally reached the equator they stopped, and just hung there, waiting. For what, no one could say, but there were plenty of people and a nice assortment of hardware headed in for a look at what had come visiting. Satellites cameras were hastily diverted from programmed paths, and almost anyone who had aircraft capable of reaching the area launched them.
“Okay, Mother, we have the target in sight. It’s big, whatever it is, and there appears to be nothing holding the damn thing up.” Mel Kominsky squinted through the fighter’s canopy as he tried to make out visual details on the object, still several miles away. “No wings, no visible engine structure, and no exhaust plume that I can make out.” He glanced at his display panel before adding, “The camera view isn’t much better.” Other then acknowledgement of his transmission there was no response from the carrier.
Now that they were within striking range Mel signaled his wingmates to reduce speed, and reminded them to be sure not to make their weapon systems active. Whatever it was that had come visiting could probably detect the targeting radar and might not think of painting them with a targeting beam as a friendly thing to do. He also altered course a bit so as to pass close, but not so close to be thought a threat.
Studying the thing from a half-mile distance wasn’t much of a difference, so far as understanding what he was looking at. That meant he needed to get closer, an idea that brought mixed feelings. Curiosity and orders from the carrier dictated he take the next step, but mental images from a host of late-night horror movies urged him to power-up his weapons. But that was out of the question, and probably futile, in any case. The beings in the ship he was now circling could apparently ignore the effects of gravity, and not worry about the cost of the fuel required to do that. And were he to shoot at the damn thing he hadn’t a clue as to what he might target.
I’m in control of the best weapons system we have, but powered up or inactive, I might as well be unarmed…damn.
The urge to just wait a bit, and let the ship make the next move was at war with curiosity in his mind, but that mattered little. The top brass on the carrier were in charge, and they said to move in, so, reflecting that nothing is impossible to the man who doesn’t have to do the work Mel pushed his doubts aside and said, “Okay guys, they don’t seem to mind being circled at this distance, so do some sightseeing from here, while I ease in for a closer look.” Trusting the other pilots to hold station, Mel switched to the Carrier’s com channel. The odds said that whatever he might say would be on loudspeaker through the ship, and if it wasn’t being heard throughout the world, too, it was being recorded for rebroadcast. It appeared that whatever he said, for good or evil, would go down in the history books.
“Okay,” he said, as he banked toward the visitors, reducing speed to little more than enough to remain airborne. “You can see it on camera view, but I’ll give my own impressions as I close with the ship.”
“Do that, Snowbird, and remember that we can only see what’s in the field of the gun-camera.” Then dropping formality he added, “And Captain? Good luck. There’s no one on board who wouldn’t change places with you, but still, be careful.”
“Roger that, and thanks.” Closer now, he took a steadying breath and eased into a closing spiral around the thing to get a view from all directions. It was big—far bigger then anything Earth’s engineers had ever gotten into the air.
But people were waiting and it was time to stop dithering, so he said, “Okay, from what I can tell the ship’s outer shell isn’t constructed of metal, it has more of a…well, a masonry look, like weathered granite, though that might simply be the effect of collisions with micrometeorites, over a long period of time.” Now within a few thousand feet he turned almost directly toward the ship, to bring it into his camera view for a moment, then resumed course as he continued his slow spiral inward, dropping a bit to verify that the bottom surface matched the side in appearance.
“It’s hovering with its long axis perpendicular to the sea, as you probably saw, and I’d guess the length at about a thousand feet. I can’t see any visible engines, and the fuselage—if you can call it that—instead of being cylindrical or oval appears to be cubic, other then that one long dimension, maybe one-hundred feet on a side.”
“Are those ports lining the walls? The view wasn’t clear.” That was a new voice, someone of a much higher rank, Mel suspected.
“Yes. They appear to be…well, windows, and— Holy shit!” For the moment Mel was speechless.
“Say again, Snowbird. What were you reacting to?”
Mel banked heavily, pulling back on the stick and goosing the throttle for enough power to keep from falling out of the sky. For a moment he was pointing directly toward the ship, engines screaming, virtually hanging motionless in the air, before he swung around and resumed his course around the ship. The primary result was a video of the ship for the benefit of those viewing the feed from his gun-camera. The secondary was that he now held a position closer to the ship, one that placed him only a football field’s distance from the visitors. He hadn’t mistaken what he was seeing, and he devoutly hoped the people watching the view from his camera saw what he was seeing, but in case they missed it he said, “Those are windows, all right, and there are people watching me from some of them. They’re waving, but… Well, they either have some sort of artificial gravity in that ship or those people prefer to walk on their walls rather then the floor, because every one of them is sideways to my axis of flight.
“Snowbird, what’s your fuel status? We show you as about ready to head home.”
“Roger, the guys are taking turns playing tourist, and as soon as the last one does a flyby we’ll have to head in… Unless you want to send a fill-up?”
That brought a chuckle, and, “Refuel you? No chance of that. Anyone who can wangle a seat is suited up and pacing by their ride. Your relief is already in the air, and should be arriving about the time you leave.”
That was a disappointment, but wasn’t unexpected. He suspected that he’d already had the fifteen minutes of fame everyone is supposed to be entitled to.
Reluctantly, Mel keyed the com channel. “Okay Guys, Mama says we have to head home, so form up on me and lock in.” When that was completed Mel took a last look at the ship, then turned his plane’s nose toward the carrier and keyed in the course instructions. It was five minutes later, and Mel was reviewing what he would say at the debriefing when a voice from the carrier broke brought him back into the world.
“Say Snowbird, have you looked at your readouts lately?” In truth, he hadn’t. Busy with his musings he had the plane locked on course and flying itself. Now, a glance showed that while five aircraft left the carrier on his trip out, on the trip home there were now six.
“Well I’ll be damned.”
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You can buy a copy on the Double Dragon Website.