N'Comboto squatted just outside the range of the late African afternoon sun as it crept lower over his shoulder, the light slowly cutting into the cool shade at his feet cast by his smock draped over his spear. He put finger to brow and looked out into the glare on the plain. The whole of the tribal grazing ground was filled with odd shaped, dusty lumps barely rising from the dusty, dry field. He shifted under the cover of the tan cloth that shielded the sun, and adjusted it how it hung from the butt of his short spear. Off to his left, under the scant shade of a desiccated pile of sticks, his brother-in-law snored like a cow farting. N'Comboto grinned. He looked at the depth of the shadow. “Not long now”, he thought, and returned to sharpening the glinting steel edge of his short spear. He shifted his knee and glanced down at the device he had received months ago when the M'sai had volunteered for war. His old ankle was so thin that he wrapped the band around twice. His wife had lovingly sewn it in place. He could see that the flashing light on the screen was much bigger now. N'Comboto tapped his sharpening stone five times against the blade of his spear. The clinking noise carried across the plain in the gathering stillness as night, and the moon rose. The sharp clink was picked up and repeated by others of his tribe, and those men of the other tribes who also camped on M'sai land, waiting.
“We are as many as the stalks of couch grass across the sands of the earth.” N'Comboto thought, a satisfaction deep in his thin bones. He returned to slowly stroking his blade and, as his father had taught him for just such idle moments, perfecting his patience.
Antonio turned as he closed the door to his restaurant. His gym bag, weighted with his heavy jujitsu gi and two short swords, slid along the ridges in the glass door urging a soft sigh from the cloth. Antonio hesitated, hearing, in the accidental noise, the long suffering sigh his late wife Honoria would employ as preface to each of her many, life long, cautions. He kept walking, lest his sons, and other relatives take hesitation as an invitation to try yet again to talk him out of going. Down the stairs, turn left, remembering the way that Honoria would wake him in the morning, that long sigh leading her words like many familiar dogs on a leash. “Tony, time to get moving, the restruants' waiting, and don't hurt yourself today. Let Julio do the liftng...that's why we hired him.” She would say, or some variant nearly every day of their long life together.
“No dear”, he said to the chilling bricks in the early diffused starlight of a late Fall evening in Rome, “I won't get hurt.”, waving to the near-giant Georgio, and his constant companion, Rufalo as they crossed the street with their clothing and weapon bags to meet him.
“Tony!” Georgio shouted from the crowd, “ did you get them?” His words jumping from his huge chest like sticks from a bass drum.
Antonio raised his forearm, thickly muscled from over five decades baking every day, holding the small plastic sack. As the vibrant shade of international safety green rose up over his shoulders, the crowd around him fell silent, and slightly parted, the hundreds of people previously hurrying, now standing mute, and slightly distant. Even the cars on the cobbles seem to suddenly be wearing silent slippers for tires.
Taken aback, Antonio stopped before the intersection. Georgio and Rufalo, hurrying as fast as Rufalo's bad knee would permit, stepped up from the street to join him. Unselfconsciously, Georgio bent down, his bones creaking audibly in the near silence on the street, and wrapped his arms around Antonio, momentarily covering him from view. Rufalo, lagging behind, and slightly more restrained, proffered a large toothy smile, and twitched his head toward the top of the hill.
Antonio wrestled free from Georgio's hug and the three old men started the long walk up the hill past the old soccer stadium, hastily converted to a re-education center for the bankers and other minions after the Renaissance event shook the planet. They were walking to the Athletic Center and their transport. Even acknowledging that he was an emotional old man still did not dampen his pride that the people of the whole planet had chosen an Italian word to name the pan-global experience of 2011/2012.
As they walked, the crowd parted, and in closing in their wake the three friends, silent themselves, could hear faint whispers and small weepy sobs weighing down their long shadows in the street lights...
“wish I was old...”
“best of luck...”
“get one for me!”
Gladys hurriedly rolled her way out of the bedroom and down the hall in a rushing gather of towels, washcloth, and clothes. She slammed through the bathroom door, nearly spilling herself into the bathtub in her haste. “Damn that clock!” she said as towels flew to racks, pajamas were torn off, and water sent gushing into the tub.
“Damn!” Gladys said as she glanced at the clock in the living room quietly shouting the time at her. She was just not used to getting up at too-dark-thirty in the morning, and it showed. “Damn!” she said again to the almost still, chilling air. She slugged back a swallow of coffee while sort of flinging a can of food at Mr. Kerr the cat who stood by his bowl blinking in the unusual hour of the morning. “MeeeeeYO?” , he protested.
Gladys settled into the little niche that was her desk just as the lights started blinking on the Tanaka-Wiedner Global Heart Shield (MFG 2014) machine that had been installed last week by those lovely boys from the community center after she had completed her training.
The youngsters at the community center, as well as the just-too-young boys who had installed the complicated Heart Shield device with its many coils and tubes and that strange vat of green goo that had to have its own tubing out the loo window to the ground, had been ever so respectful of her. Not like before. Now was different. This was earned respect, and it felt good, so while they fiddled with dragging wires and unpacking boxes, Gladys regaled them with her stories of 'being an Occupier'.
“Yep lads,” she had said, slowly backing out of the way of the green goo vat as they filled it, “Was there that whole terrible winter of '11. Then after the City fell to Occupy in February of '12, Mr. Kerr and I moved on to join up with Occupy Earth at the Evil Castle. Now that was a battle. The 'toffs in City were cakes compared to the mercenaries at the Moat.”
“Miss Gladys?” asked one of the lads, “was that where you were...”
“yes. That was where the mercbastards shot me with them 'rubber bullets'.” Gladys grimaced at the tug in her flesh the memory drew out. “Now, me? I never felt the rubber, just the bullet.” she said. “But I saved my old carcass then, and look, still of use to the Renaissance...eh? boys...still of use.”
She smiled at the memory. They were good lads, the community center boys. And they had set up her gear just as she wanted. At first they had her sitting facing the door, but when she realized, they were kind enough to move it all the way to the back bedroom so that she would be able to look out into her garden while on duty. And Mr. Kerr could go out to hunt moths.
Gladys shook her head to free herself of the reverie, and drawing herself back to the now of this morning, and running late, she quickly hit buttons and switches while lifting breasts and wrapping the contact tapes around her torso as instructed. When the tapes were snugged in place, she took a deep breath, glanced at Mr. Kerr the cat sleepily eating breakfast, and hit the ACKnowledge button. She exhaled and almost immediately felt her empty stomach rebelling. Gladys was able to just lean over the trashcan before puking. Good lads. Right where it was needed.
Feeling better after the tension left with the remnants of last nights' late dinner, Gladys took a small sip of water while watching the communications panel on the Heart Shield. “Well, Mr. Kerr” she said as the cat jumped into her lap, “we're going to war today”. She said with some satisfaction, “ and it doesn't matter that one of us is in a wheel chair”. She felt like puking again.
Brandon, fell out of his bunk when the klaxon rang the two hour warning. He landed on his feet, the soft soled boots making only a soft rustling sound on the faintly warm steel of the deck. He had been dressed, laying ready in his bunk for hours during the last of the sleep cycle. Brandon jumped into the space between the bunks and saw that most of his mates had also slept in their flight suits.
Sleepy nods, and attempts at restrained grins gave way to quick greetings as the forty-two young men rapidly packed their small flight bags and loped off toward the mess.
Brandon was hardly into the hall when he felt himself yanked out of the stream by his shoulder. The culprit was Captain Jones, the flight communications taskmaster. “Skilling. Come with me.” Jones said, striding back down the corridor against the flow of men heading toward breakfast.
“Aye, Sir!” Brandon said, following in Jones' broad wake, his crew mate looking at him quizzically.
“I need a pilot.” Captain Jones shouted back over his shoulder in the din. “You volunteered!”
“Aye?! Sir!” Brandon replied as they whipped off into a side corridor and he almost collided into the Captain's broad backside as he suddenly stopped and turned in empty space.
Lowering his voice, Captain Jones squinted through his glasses at Brandon's perplexed face, and said “ You were chosen for your yoga training.” He stared intently at Brandon. “Do you understand what I am saying?”
Brandon tried to swallow, and speak. It did not work. He nodded instead. It must have meant that one of the old men pilots had died. His mind was racing faster than he could have thought possible. It meant he would be there! when it happened! It meant he would be in on it! And, sobering up as his brain ran headlong into the thought, it meant he would have to be shielded! At his age!??! Could he do it!??!
As if reading his mind, Captain Jones said, “I know you have been cloaked before. You were successful in training. I have seen the outputs. I trust your ability to do this. The question is if you trust my judgment of your skill. I know you can do this, but you must also know this, or you must refuse the assignment. There can be NO DOUBT. Do you understand me?”
“Aye, sir, I understand.”
“I have other candidates, but you are my first choice.” Jones said, pulling a list up on his com unit. “I don't want an answer now. I have already alerted the others that they may be needed. No man should have to make this sort of decision on an empty stomach so you go have breakfast with your crew and contact me in 30 ticks with your answer. Jones smiled, reached out his hand and took Brandon's shoulder, “No one other than us knows of this, and no one ever will learn of it from me if you decide to stay with your unit. You are part of a team. It is honorable to choose to stay and fight with them.” With that, Captain Jones spun around and headed down the corridor at his customary near run.
Brandon took a slow, stunned step into the hall, and was swept along toward the main mess hall. His mind reeling, his feet flopping, the only thing keeping him vertical in and in motion was the press of the crowd that pulled him along in the current until he was swept into the main mess hall of the ship. His mind still numb, yet somehow frantically active, trying to replay every word of the conversation with Jones, Brandon some how found himself in the Sirius table cluster on the far side of the mess hall. His eyes adjusted to the odd light permanently a part of the central core of the ship where the mess hall occupied a quarter of the total floor space. In the tens of thousands of men and women all wearing the same uniforms, he spotted his crew after a moment as he was able to focus his whirling thoughts into some small semblance of cohesion.
Stumbling, as though mildly drunk, Brandon went through the line and reached the table as his crew mates were just starting to finish. He looked down at the assembled foods on his plate and said, “ I can't eat this.”
“Sure you can”, replied Gregory, “just use a fork and try for your mouth this time.” His crew laughed, though nervously, as they all scanned his face.
“No.” Brandon, his jaw tightening, and the skin on his face tingling, he said, realizing in his heart that he had just decided. Or had he known all along. No doubt. Standing, he look at his crew, and said, “No, I can't eat this. Jones needs a pilot.” His blue eyes searched those of the young men around the table. They all knew. Brandon left the table, carried his tray back to recycle, then re-joined the line at the kitchen. He stuck his wrist band into the reader, stated his name to the computer, and said, “Cloaked Pilot” when queried about his task assignment. A tray was delivered with an entirely different selection of foods.
Brandon returned to his crew's table. As he sat, they rose, as though a single individual. They saluted. Brandon rose, returned the salute. One by one, his crew mates filed past, shaking his hand, or hugging him, until, forty-one human-to-human contacts later, Brandon was alone at the long table. Tears quietly dripping into his food, Brandon ate his breakfast, in a bubble of total silence, in spite of tens of thousands of people around him preparing as if the life of the species depended on their individual actions. As he chewed, Brandon worked his mental exercises, slowly, deliberately, feeling each process as completely as possible, he reached inward. In just over an hour, he will begin the most important, and trying day of his young life. Fitting that it might probably be his last.
Brandon chewed slowly, working his consciousness down/up into his lungs, headed towards his heart. “Soon it will start”, he thought, “ but now, time enough to practice.”
Luke Tanaka left the building in a dead run through the open door as some of his students held open the heavy glass double doors. “Good luck Professor!” He heard yelled at his back as his feet pounded down the long stairs and then the longer driveway toward the waiting car. The students waved and cheered, which Luke finally noticed as he flung himself into the car and slammed the door, motioning the driver to go.
As the car sped down the long drive toward the highway to Brasilia and the pickup, the professor found himself suddenly enveloped by a young woman's arms and perfume as she reached over the back seat to buckle him into the car.
“Seat belt, Professor You are too valuable to lose to Enrico's driving. Or morning rush hour.” Sonja said firmly. As if to put manifestation to her words, Enrico was forced to swerve in the heavy, and erratic traffic, and then to suddenly accelerate to jump their car ahead of a pending collision. It was always this way as the city woke up.
“Yes”, replied Luke, gripping the dashboard, “ so the military keeps telling me.”.
“Enrico”, said Luke. “Get us there. Fast is ok, but alive is better.”
“Si, doctore!” replied Enrico, the sweat dripping from his cap. “The traffic is hell today.”
Luke looked out the window of the speeding car at the chaos of rush hour as the city woke, and tens of millions made their days begin. This day of all days, Luke thought as Enrico wove their heavy SUV through the narrow, packed streets. Just as they had made the relative open road of the highway to Brasilia, Enrico swung the vehicle quickly off the road after spotting a soldier standing next to a large military transport. They stopped the car just behind the armored transport, the SUV stopping only inches from the rear of the large truck. Luke stirred as Sonja gathered his computer. Enrico opened the trunk for the soldiers that had quickly and silently surrounded their car. Within seconds Luke and his entourage were ensconced in the large, armored transport, and the soldiers behind them quickly fanned out across the highway as they waved the transport onto the road amidst the sounds of screeching brakes and irate drivers.
The convoy of military vehicles surrounding the armored transport carrying Luke Tanaka continued down the highway as his truck peeled off onto a hastily made cut-off road leading off into the jungle. It slowed rapidly as its weight was suddenly on the thinner surface of the new roadway. Reduced to a mere washing machine effect for the inhabitants, the transport lumbered adeptly up and down the road for several kilometers before slowing again, this time to a stop outside a gate surrounding a large compound of temporary office trailers that in turn were surrounding a large, glass dome structure off some distance from the gate.
The transport was quickly and silently checked by people at the gate holding menacing looking tubes of an unfamiliar design only two years ago, but now, known through out the planet as “lizard dicks”. Originally invented by a Frenchmen, and named 'dix' (pronounced deess) for the 'count of ten' formula at the core of the technology, the weapons and their quickly linguistically corrupted name, had become ubiquitously known around the planet. Luke felt oddly at peace every time he saw 'lizard dicks' in public. A pacifist until the Awakening in 2011 and the subsequent Truth Broadcasts, Luke nonetheless felt a kinship with every person so armed, though he did not carry one himself. Thinking about it, Luke suddenly realized that his position as inventor of the Global Heart Shield probably would let him request one of the still hard to get weapons. Then the next thought made him noticeably shudder, causing one of the searchers to say, “it's all correct, Professor No need to worry here. We are through.” Luke nodded, unable to explain that his involuntary jerk was due to the thought, that, given his age, and skills, he had qualified for the Assault Group, and had not, until just this moment, realized it. Not that he could have gone in any event. The very skills that qualified him were those that kept him here in Brazil. But, he had to acknowledge, it was nice to be at the center of the action here, if he could not be out there.
Once past the gates and the lizard dick armed security, the few kilometers to the central dome past quickly. The transport, unlike other vehicles, was allowed to drive next to the main doorway, and back up. The rear doors opened and Luke, entourage, and gear were rapidly moved inside the cool, air conditioned, multiple storied, dome that enclosed the broad, undulating pool of shiny green goo.
An earnest young man in a gleaming white lab coat came running up the tiled inclined lobby toward Luke and his party. “ Ah, Professor'. You have arrived.” His teeth gleamed in the intense mixture of lights arranged around the goo pool.
“Yes, Paulo.” Luke replied leading everyone into the control and ignition center. “We have retrieved the other commutator. So we will be ready in a few moments. Has Jay checked in? Did they correct their pressure problems?”
“Si, Professor'. Pro-counsel Weidner's group has the pressure at Mount Shasta exactly centerline. He reports that he is 'ready, steady, and set to go.'. Paulo replied, reading from the clipboard notes to be sure that he had the language exactly as stated to him. As he had learned, words had immense power to these alchemists, and one missed could lead to disaster.
Sonja ran up to Luke, quietly whispering in his ear. Luke listened, then turned to Paulo. “We go to Live Heart in twenty-five minutes.” He said, a very deeply satisfied look settling across his face.
Moving swiftly for his age, Luke led Sonja and Paulo through the maze of gear in the ignition center that housed the large green activation switch for the Global Heart Shield. As the trio approached the raised dais, the whole room went silent except for the deep and low hum of the pumps in the green goo room. Reaching the switch, the three simply stood there. After a moment's silence, Luke said, “Funny, I thought, somehow, that we would have something more, I don't know...serious, than our little light switch.” They all looked at the small green switch protruding from the metal surface with a single word painted on the metal at the opposite end of where the lever was currently. The word had said “on”, but that had been painted over by an unknown member of the staff to “om”. It fit and had been allowed to remain.
Turning, Luke faced the assembled staff in the control and ignition room. “My apologies for my poor words on this most exalted of days.” He began, surprised to find himself suddenly giving a speech. “I was present at the Occupation of the Capitol in my country. We willing suffered that our children might live free of the stench that had come over our beloved planet. Many here did also suffer and fight in their lands. All of us share grief for those who did not make it through the Struggles to see the Renaissance. May their next lives bring peace and growth.” Luke stopped. Weeping too much to continue, he waited for it to pass. All too common an occurrence these days, those in the room held their positions, many also quietly weeping.
“There is not much more that needs to be said,” Luke continued. “except an old man's urging to harmonize with the effort and to do our absolute best today, that we may bring honor to all humanity. It is too little to say that I love you all but that is truer today than any day in the long years of this effort.” Luke bowed, “ with respect,” he said loudly to the room, “ and for Kiki-san, and Fukashima”, in a smaller voice to Sonja and Paulo as he took their hands in his to move the small green switch to the “OM” position, “ let us begin...”.
Turning back to face the room, Luke wiped his eyes, tightened his jaw, and shouted at the limit of his voice, “KIYA! MASA KATSU!”. The assembled humanity in the room, jumped up yelling. In the noise, Luke smiled at Paulo. “ Tell Jay that we are begun, and he is free to initiate Global Heart Shield.” Striding from the platform, Luke yelled “to work! To work everyone!”.
N'Comboto startled, realizing that he had been caught unaware by the approach of the very very large triangular craft. It had made no noise at all, and he had become aware of it only as it slowly began blocking the light from the stars as it floated down towards the small beacon that had been set up in the middle of the plain as a sign of their presence.
N'Comboto and the ten thousand men, scattered, each to his own small tent, across the plain watched in wonder as the giant, silent, black, triangular craft slowly floated out of the dark night sky to settle a man's height from the grasses on the plain. A wide ramp slowly lowered, exposing nearly the complete interior as it dropped. The huge, well lit space was crowed with people. Mostly old men in strange clothing, much of which N'Comboto recognized as battle gear.
What had seemed to be a small black lump in the middle of the ramp resolved itself into a short man in black clothing riding the edge as the side lowered to the ground. He hopped off and walked a few feet into the plain. He held a small, lighted device into the air and then shouted many incomprehensible guttural sounds that made the wailing of baboons seem polite. The device brightened, and then N'Comboto heard, in a voice that sounded as though made of very loud, and aggressive water, “ my name is Cooper. I am loadmaster for this vessel. With respect, all those who wish to fight should come with me now.” When the machine completed, the man, Loadmaster Cooper looked out into the seemingly empty plain, shrugged his shoulders, and started to go back up the ramp when N'Comboto, as leader of his family, rapped his blade with its sharpening stone, and unwound himself to his impressive height as his 'tent' transformed itself into his war tunic.
“I am N'Comboto, a senior warrior of the M'sai. We are here Cooper, Loadmaster.” N'Comboto waved his short spear across the plain, seemingly invoking it to spew forth old men with spears by the thousands from the hillocks. “We are as many as the grasses, they are as few as lions. We shall have victory!” He said as his 'family' of old men with sharp knives warily walked into the light shining from the open, cavernous craft.
Brandon guided the huge TR3DD triangular hyperdimensional vehicle carefully down to the top of the designated hill in Rome. It was tricky 'flying' these antigravity craft in the dense atmosphere in what the pilots called the 'fabric' referring to space-time, than in the hyperdimensional realm where one need not worry about bashing into buildings and people. He was a very good pilot, and being young had a very good intuitive feel for the nuances of the machine. Still though, he had never piloted in 'daylight', uncloaked, and in the open view of civilians before. He found it a bit unnerving. Or perhaps it was seeing the ruins of the vatican and the torn apart hillside where the last of the occulted reptiles had made their stand less than two years past. Brandon could not be sure, but as he piloted over the gleaming tiles, and now extensively over-growing with bio-intensive food crop gardens, he thought he saw smoke wisping up in the very early morning light from deep in the former underground papal archives. That did not seem right. It was recent, less than two years past, that Brandon and the rest of his creche and crew mates had watched in fascination on their videos as the planet below their feet was seemingly being boiled in strife and riot. The Occupy Earth movement had taken them completely by surprise in both the intensity, and speed of its progression. Within mere weeks their entire universe view was shattered as their cycle counter parts below (Pluto in Scorpio generation) on the surface actually reshaped completely the power structure and destiny of the planet. It had been recent, but still...the fires he vividly remembered should have been put out by now.
Brandon focused his attention and set his craft down on the magnetic field pad projected from the bottom by the field force controllers. It was the first time in his 25 years that he had 'touched' the earth. It felt decidedly odd, even if the touch was through the controllers for the ship and the 'feet' were magnetic. Still, he could say it now....he had touched Earth. Well, he thought wryly, “I can say it IF I live to say it!”.
Almost immediately after Brandon had lowered the ramp on his ship, it was filled with the smells of old brick, bright garlic, sharp basil, and breads. He had almost expected the smell gasoline or other petroleum pollution, but that, it seemed, faded faster than the smoldering fires in the ruins of the battles.
It, the liberation of the 'Tesla technology', was what had permitted the planetary abandonment of petroleum fuels in such a short time. This had started to produce what the agricultural paradise of modern cities, Rome. In spite of the climate shifts and the forming ice age, Rome had remodeled itself on Cuban principles and now produced more foods than it consumed. All the lush greenery had made it difficult for Brandon to find a way to suitably lower his craft to his designated rendezvous. As it was, he felt sure that a gardener on his left aft corner would be pissed when he lifted off. Brandon was not concerned about the impact of crushed squash on his ship, as the skin was magnetic field after all, completely stain free.
As Brandon jockeyed the ship in small movements down to the top of the Athletic Center at the top of the hill, Antonio, Georgio, and Rufalo, along with thirty nine other old men, all in their gi's, stood chatting in the stair way leading to the roof. They had had their briefing, been issued their equipment, and waited for the arrival of their transport discussing tomatoes, and sauce recipes, and who's bread was better, and other really important stuff.
Walking onto Brandon's ship, carrying both his weapons and his unnoticed cloud of garlic and basil, Antonio and his dojo mates were quickly absorbed into the thousands of old men in gi's in the warm belly of the humming ship. As he had actually listened at his briefing two weeks earlier, Antonio finished suiting up early. Working his way through the crowd, carefully avoiding swords and sharps in infinite variety, he found a steel staircase leading up, and took it to the short corridors leading to the command center.
Brandon was surprised to find the door to the cockpit flung open and an all enveloping cloud of fresh garlic and sharp basil instanly penetrate all the volume of the small space. He turned to see Antonio looking in quizzically.
“You pilot?” He found himself asked. “Yes. Si.” Brandon replied.
“Good.” responded Antonio. “ I wanted to see you. Just to make sure.” He grinned.
Forming two large circles around his eyes with his fingers, Antonio said, “ you know, just to be sure you are not space alien.”
“No.” Said Brandon, grinning, “ not a space alien.” After a second, and surprised at himself, Brandon said, “ you smell good.”.
Antonio laughed. “I should, I am a chef!”. With that he light slapped Brandon across the cheek. “Say, you are just a kid? What is that? We are told all the pilots are old farts like me.”
“Your assigned pilot had health problems.” Brandon said, as he continued to twitch his hands slightly in steering their ship from Rome to Hilo, Hawaii. “ I am his replacement. Do not worry. I am a good pilot.”
“Am not worried, kid. I was just surprised. I am sure you are very good. Probably better than the guy you replaced.” Antonio watched everything in fascination as the cockpit crew flew them across the Atlantic in mere moments. “ Incredible!” He exclaimed. “Just incredible! If only my wife could see me know!”. Antonio grinned in spite of his stomach acting queasy as the scene outside the window rushed by so fast. “Where are we headed now?” he asked.
“Hawaii.” Brandon said. “we have to lift from a hyperdimensional point, and Hawaii is at 19.45 degrees. And we are supposed to pick up a shipment of new weapons at coordinates on the eastern side of the big island.”
“Si, the latest lizard dicks. I was told. Some real kick ass dicks they say.” Antonio gritted his teeth.”Well, boy, I leave you to your work. May universe preserve us all.” Antonio slapped his hands on Brandon's shoulders, and for a brief moment, Brandon knew what a pizza felt as it was kneaded.
Turning to leave, Antonio asked, “ Say, are you Shielded?”. He pulled aside his gi to reveal the straps and the thin, pulsing green stripe of goo in the thin fabric of his harness.
“Whose your guardian?” Antonio asked?
Brandon looked down at his harness, lifted up the tag at the bottom of his ribs and read, “ Gladys Pool, London”.
Antonio replied. “Mine is Shina, a woman in Mongolia.” He shook his head at the wonderment, “ imagine that, these women hold our hearts in their hearts tonight, and if we die, they die, and we will likely never see their faces, or hear their voices.” He shook his head, clearing a tear. Antonio suddenly jerked Brandon around, “you are younger than my youngest son. I used to pray to saint Anthony, my namesake. Now I know better, but tonight, I shall ask universe to favor us all. Even you who are not chefs, and cannot bake.” With that he kissed the very startled Brandon on both cheeks and departed, leaving behind the smell of ancient bricks and fresh baked pasta.
The strategy was to have cloaked craft lift off from hyperdimensionally active points on oblique angles of declination to the underlying vertices and to proceed to an orbit ahead of the rotation of the moon. These craft, their occupants life force signatures 'grounded' by the alchemical science of the green goo, upon reaching orbit, went 'dark' and merely waited. Some had previously expelled millions of 'pods' into orbit ahead of their own position, such that a rain of pod encased people settled in on the moon over several hours that night. At the arranged time, the pods separated and low pressured suited old men lumbered across the lunar landscape toward predesignated targets.
The lizards never saw it coming. The Tanaka-Weidner grounding effect worked perfectly. While the metallic pods and pressure suits did show on the magnetometers, the shielding kept the life-force signatures from the lizards' indicators, thus their supposition was that it was merely another magnetically noisy day on the creaky old interstellar colonization ship that is the Moon. When the hatch on dome #33 was opened, the lizard first through the door had a very difficult time reconciling the vision that was the final one to pass its eyes as N'Comboto, wrapped in a pressure suit, but still looking every bit the M'sai warrior, shoved a short spear through it's suit, and throat.
The lizard's blue-green blood gushed out as N'Comboto withdrew his blade, and pushed the lizard over with his foot. It lay dying, blood welling up in its mouth-sack, and spewing out onto the moonscape, it's eyes wide open, staring out through the face plate as figure after figure silently passed by into the now open hatch. The lizard twitched, and its last thought flickered across its consciousness. 'Human.'
clif high, October 2, 2011, in the beginning of the year of Assertion, copyright reserved to author. Permission granted to translate and repost in toto, with attribution.