A FEW COMMENTS by D.DaBinett.
A New Beginning, is a Sime~Gen Science Fiction story, in four parts:
Part l – A New Beginning
Part 2 – One Step Forward
Part 3 – Grasp the Nettle
Part 4 – To Thine Own Self Be True.
A New Beginning is alternate universe – but runs parallel with Jacqueline’s universe in most respects.
The only differences are minor e.g.: for the purposes of my story various tests to determine whether a baby is Sime or Gen in the womb have been developed, but NONE is a 100% foolproof. Whereas in Jacqueline’s universe, Laneff Farris, has already perfected a simple chemical test to do this.
Some people who are familiar with Jacqueline’s Universe may well spot other small anomalies, but there are not very many, and where these occur, it is usually for a purpose.
Consider that history has been altered from Laneff's time onwards, especially in the realm of biochemical discoveries and thus also in the entire history of the discovery and implementation of the interstellar drives. As a result, galactic politics and humanity's place in the galaxy has been altered.
One final comment. I am toying with the idea of writing Part 5. (The bones of the story have already been drafted). After all in Part 4 Vidal meets Jason’s family. It only seems fair that in Part 5, the table should be turned, and Jason should meet Vidal’s! I am quite happy to continue writing, but the final decision will ultimately rest with reader response.
You may request Part 5 by filling in this response-form.
GRASP THE NETTLE by D DaBinett
(Part Three of A New Beginning).
The Tarlexian-Vey, a slave on his own home world sat down. The elderly human sitting behind the desk acknowledged him with a brief nod, then switched on the universal translator, before he began to speak. ‘We are agreed then?’
‘Yes, we are agreed. I am also in a position to inform you, that we have appropriated a Ship, and it will arrive on time.’
‘Good. But remember, the humans from Earth will be here by then on their fact finding mission. Therefore, the Ship must arrive on the last day of the month, at the exact time indicated.’ The human picked up a scribe and studied it for a moment before he continued. ‘There will be three of us waiting at the co-ordinates you have been given. We will have the device with us.’
‘Understood.’ The Vey’s hooded eyes never left the human’s face.
‘There will be many eyewitnesses present, all of whom will swear, that it was the humans from Earth who abducted us.’
‘I do not see why this subterfuge is necessary.’
The human sighed as he looked out at the darkening landscape beyond the window. He had already explained everything three times to various Vey, did they never communicate with each other?
‘It is necessary, because not all Sanctuairians would agree with what we are doing. Only half of our Government are aware of the plan, and possibly a third of our other officials. Once the scheme has been brought to fruition of course, things will be different, because the others will then be faced with a fait accompli.’ He shrugged his narrow shoulders expressively. ‘For the time being it is best that they believe that only off-worlders are involved.’ The human paused. ‘As soon as we arrive on Apollyon we will assemble the device, and I can assure you that all three of us have the necessary expertise to do that.’
‘Your primitive detection systems will no doubt be able to track the vessel that brings these humans from Earth to Sanctuaire, once it has arrived in orbit?’ The Tarlexian-Vey enquired, and the older man nodded his head in agreement. ‘That being so, they will doubtless also detect our ship, when we enter orbit. Will your people not realise at once, that it is not the Earthmen who have carried out the abduction?’
‘We’re one step ahead of you. Only men loyal to our cause will be on duty that night. Everything has been taken care of I assure you. Remember, we have been planning this for over a decade. The arrival of the humans from Earth is fortuitous indeed, a bonus we did not expect, for it will help to divert attention from your people. A lucky omen for all of us.’
The Vey nodded, as Human and alien eyes met for a moment in total understanding before they looked away again, and both stood up. ‘You will soon be free of your yoke.’ The human promised.
‘And you of your dissidents.’ A flicker, of what might perhaps be interpreted as a smile, touched the alien’s face, as he uttered the words.
‘Exactly.’ The Human placed both hands over his heart in the Sanctuairian manner, and bowed to his visitor, before he was escorted out.
Vidal stopped the turbolift and turned to study his partner’s angry face. ‘Sam would not have asked us to come back from vacation unless it was extremely important.’ He said quietly for a second time.
‘That’s the point Vidal, he asked us to come back. You didn’t have to agree. I was just starting to enjoy that ski-ing competition. He could just as easily have asked Tim and Frazer or even Liz and Martin they’re all non-operative at the moment. You know that.’ His eyes flared green fire at his partner.
Vidal sighed. ‘I realise that. However, Sam did ask for us first. Doesn’t that tell you something?’ He pleaded.
‘Yes. It tells me you’re an idiot to have agreed, and I might add, without asking me first!’
‘All right, I’m sorry I didn’t consult you before I responded to his call.’ Vidal retorted quietly. ‘However, surely you can also see that Sam must consider that we, are the best team for the assignment that has come up?’
‘Maybe,’ the Gen agreed grudgingly at last. ‘But let’s find out first before you start crowing, okay?’
Jason was surprised to find that Sam Betjeman was not in his own office. The one they were ushered into was both small and pokey. The Rensime noticed the Gen’s surprise and grinned wryly.
‘No I haven’t been demoted, mine is being redecorated,’ he explained shortly. ‘I shall be glad when it’s finished and I can return. This room faces North and has no view.’ He gestured towards the window with a tentacle.
‘What’s so important that we had to come back off vacation?’ Vidal demanded as soon as they were seated.
‘The TIS no less, have approached us with a problem.’
‘Terran Intelligence? What the shen do they want?’
Betjeman glanced across at Jason. ‘Helma Vestii requested you by name. It appears you made quite an impression on her even if you did only carry out one assignment for them. She also asked for the TIB’s most sensitive Channel – and that means you Vidal.’
‘Why do I get the feeling that neither Vidal nor I are going to like this?’ Jason murmured softly.
‘If you will stop interrupting I will explain everything, and you can answer that question yourself.’ The Sime retorted curtly and Vidal frowned at his partner, who sat back in his chair falling silent.
The Channel was also zlinning his boss and realised at once that it was his turnover day. The midway time in a Sime’s cycle, when the selyn his body stored reached its peak, and began its downward curve towards need. Most Simes suffered at this time. With this in mind Vidal immediately began to work the fields to make the ambient more comfortable for the Rensime.
‘Thank you.’ Sam leaned forward his elbows resting on the polished wood of the desk, his fingers steepled, his tentacles sheathed.
‘It appears that one of the TIS ships - the Venture - was doing a routine sweep of the Byzantine System.’
‘Isn’t that System due for colonisation shortly?’ Vidal asked.
‘Exactly. The fifth planet. However as I was saying.’
‘Sorry.’ Vidal grinned ruefully.
‘As I was saying.’ Sam glanced at both men zlinning them to see if they were going to interrupt him yet again, and then went on. ‘And yes, before you ask, I agree with you Vidal. We shall probably never know the real reason that the TIS sent the Venture out there. However, it was while they were doing their supposed routine sweep of the System that they picked up a signal, that should not have been there.’ His tentacles emerged from their sheaths to pick up a paperweight and juggle it back and forth as he went on. ‘The Captain tracked it to its source, which turned out to be a planet in the very next System. God knows how the Planet Settlers missed it, there’ll be ructions when it does get out, that’s for sure. But at the moment it’s very much under wraps.’ He paused. ‘Trin?’
They both nodded their thanks and Vidal spoke first. ‘Were the natives friendly?’ He asked lightly.
‘Extremely, since they were human, and of Terran origin.’
‘You’re joking!’ Both men had spoken together, and Vidal went on, not waiting for Sam to reply.
‘What are they, Distect?’
‘No, far from it.’ Sam spooned the tea leaves into the pot as he waited for the water to boil before he continued. ‘From what Helma Vestii tells me, and if the inhabitants themselves are to be believed, their ancestors left Earth at the very beginning of the Eugenics War when the first mutant monsters appeared. Their words not mine.’
‘Mutant monsters?’ Jason asked in surprise.
‘Simes.’ Betjeman answered flatly.
‘Oh.’ He frowned slightly. ‘What Eugenics War? I know some historians have suggested there might have been one, but I’ve always assumed that as there’s no definite proof either way, it was just speculation.’
‘Well, if what we are being told is true, then it would seem that this is the first real evidence we have, that there was indeed such a War. As you know, one of the many theories espoused by some academics over the centuries on how Simes and Gens originated, has been that the scientists of the time began to tamper with the human gene.’ Vidal said thoughtfully. ‘And of course, mankind being what it is, they pushed the boundaries too far, and something went dreadfully wrong. I suppose it’s as good a theory as any other, in the circumstances. Which of course is why it’s almost impossible to get finance for certain types of gene research even today – mud sticks.’
‘I’ve read about that. You know when you think about it, Mother Nature tolerates a great deal, but she always kicks back in the end, and punishes us for our arrogance.’ Jason observed tonelessly.
‘I had no idea you were a philosopher Jason.’ Sam stated as he handed the steaming glasses of trin to the two partners.
‘Aren’t we all? Everyone seeks knowledge of one sort or another, even if it’s only how best to do a job of work.’ He stared down into the light brown steaming liquid. ‘Besides my people are farmers, have been for generations. We’ve learned to respect Mother Nature. When you work the land you have to live with her caprice and vagaries all the time – if nothing else, it teaches you respect.’
‘So what do they want Jason and I for?’ The Channel asked the important question.
‘Well for the first time the TIS and the TIB are going to work together as equal partners on this one. First and foremost, we’ve got to find out exactly what we’ve found on this planet.’
‘Called?’ Vidal demanded.
‘The inhabitants call it "Sanctuaire".’
‘French.’ Jason stated at once. ‘ Meaning sanctuary. An apt name, if they did indeed leave Earth to avoid the chaos.’
‘I agree. Now, as I said before, Helma Vestii and I both concur, that we have to find out exactly what we’re dealing with here before we – if we - decide to make it general knowledge. There are any number of questions to be answered. Can either of you imagine what would happen if say, the followers of the Church of Purity for example, decide for religious reasons, that they want to go and settle on Sanctuaire? And that’s only one scenario!’ Sam sighed, and suddenly looked old.
‘How do the Simes and Gens get along on the planet?’ Jason queried.
‘They don’t.’ Sam said softly. ‘And that is the nub of the matter gentleman. There are no Simes.’
‘What!?’ Vidal’s eyebrows rose in surprise. ‘But doesn’t that mean.’ He stopped in confusion.
‘Yes. It could mean that they’re descended from the ancients.’
‘Shen!’ Jason’s green eyes moved from one Sime to the other trying to assess their feelings about this undoubted revelation.
‘Which is why they want you to tag along Vidal. The TIS have no Simes working for them, and consequently no one capable of assessing if they really are ancients as we understand it. If they are, do they produce selyn or not? I think you can both see where the problem lies. If they are indeed descended from refugees who left Earth just before the time of chaos and either produce no selyn at all, or only enough for their own personal use, then we can never let either Simes or indeed Gens from Earth visit the planet.’ He sipped the hot trin, and stared in silence into the middle distance.
‘Agreed. There are lots of splinter groups, religious and otherwise, not counting the odd balls, who would consider it the answer to a prayer, to find a planet where the humans never give birth to a child who may be Sime.’ Vidal stated, ‘and the fools would never stop to consider that they themselves cannot claim the same thing. Indeed their very presence on the planet, with the likelihood of inter-relationships, could very probably change that around, in a few generations.’
‘Then again we may be dealing with a different picture altogether.’ Jason murmured thoughtfully. Then went on, aware that he had the two Simes undivided attention. ‘Let us assume that they are the same as us, but have a policy, possibly planet wide for all we know, calling for the extermination of all Simes.’
‘True, but for that to be really successful they would have to have devised some way of telling a pre-sime, prior to changeover. Which to be honest seems extremely unlikely, considering the fact that we’ve been trying to do just that for centuries without any great success.’ Vidal stated, for they all knew that most of the tests so far devised, had ultimately proved to be far from a hundred per cent accurate.
‘No Vidal. That’s not true.’ Jason butted in and went on quickly as two sets of dark eyes rested on him once more. ‘After the time of chaos we spent centuries fighting and squabbling over borders, and each other! There was no time for any real research into whether a child would ultimately be Sime or Gen.
‘On our side it was easier to just shoot them down. And your lot weren’t really bothered as long as they had a kill each month! All right I’ll qualify that - not till the householdings came along, but even then, real change took centuries. Research, if done at all, was very fragmented. They had other worries on their minds.
‘Now today, if we are honest, no one except the crackpots really cares one way or the other about whether a baby will turn out to be Sime or Gen. After all, Space travel and alien cultures are far more interesting, and profitable.’ Jason grinned at Vidal’s pained expression. ‘Well it’s true.’ He argued, looking across at the Controller.
Sam nodded. ‘I concede your idea has some merit. We mustn’t rule anything out, not till we have far more information. Which going back to my original point, is why we have to find out exactly what we are dealing with. Helma Vestii is of like mind. As I said we’re pulling together on this one, and I do want full co-operation from both of you.’ He drained his glass as he zlinned his two agents again, studying them carefully for their reaction. Satisfied, he smiled briefly, ‘you’ll meet the rest of the team from the TIS tomorrow morning.’
‘It’s strange that these Sanctuairians have never come back here to Earth to see how things are.’ Jason mused thoughtfully.
‘Not really.’ Sam replied. ‘Apparently there were only two ships that actually managed to leave Earth. You have to remember that space travel when compared with today, was only in its infancy, and what an achievement it must have been. Remember, the very fabric of Society would have been breaking down all around them.
‘Both ships travelled together and arrived together, and then went into orbit around Sanctuaire. Unfortunately they then lost contact with each other. Finally one vessel crash-landed on the planet with only 200 survivors. In the beginning they had to scavenge everything from that ship, just to make it through the first few years.
‘Decades later, when they began to explore the surface of the planet, they found the remains of the other ship on another continent. It too had crash-landed, but everyone on board had been killed instantly.
‘Over time they lost, not only the technology, but all interest in space travel. All their efforts went into surviving and building their new home world. It took many centuries to even begin to achieve the civilisation that they now enjoy. Of course, now that we have visited them, their interest in space technology could be re-ignited. Especially when they consider the possibility of inter-planetary trade. And if that happens, well we could simply give them the technology of course, but first we must decide if it would be wise for us to do so.’
‘Our common ancestors.’ Jason murmured. ‘You know, I’ve been wondering. If after all these centuries they are still talking about - "mutant monsters" - how are they going to react when they see Vidal?’ And with a wide grin he wriggled his fingers, pretending to imitate tentacles, as children were prone to do.
Sam interrupted quickly. ‘Sorry but I forgot to mention that the Sanctuairians have already stipulated that all members of the fact finding mission must be Gen. Initially they have refused entry to any Sime. Although they are of course aware that if full diplomatic and trade facilities are to be opened between our two planets, then this attitude of theirs must be overcome.’ Sam stated. ‘In the meantime Vidal, you’ll have to be Gen. Sorry about that.’
‘Shen it, I hate that spray skin.’ Vidal muttered.
‘By the way, what is the cover story we’re going to use?’ Jason asked.
‘The truth, as far as it goes. You are all on a fact finding mission, first to get as much information about the planet and the people as you can, mainly by asking questions and collecting data, and second to try and answer all their queries too. They’re expecting this, in fact it was they who suggested it.’ Betjeman replied at once. ‘And you Vidal must find out all you can about these Gens. Because once we open negotiations with them, both diplomatic and trade, we don’t want to find any surprises that we aren’t fully aware of, and aren’t expecting.’
The Diligent was a small research vessel with a working crew of just fourteen. It had been decided that the vessel would enter a high orbit about Sanctuaire with the crew remaining on board, and only the four agents going down to the planet’s surface in the shuttle.
Some way into the journey, the warning bell sounded again for the third and last time throughout the ship. Slowly Jason stood up, and walked across to stare out at the panoramic scene before him.
The long narrow, rear viewing lounge, ran from one side of the ship to the other, and at any other time would have been crowded with crew members talking and relaxing. At the moment they were all either at their duty stations, or in their quarters asleep. It was after all the middle of ship’s night, and only passengers like him, had the luxury of ignoring the hour, and enjoying the view.
His hands clenched together as he glanced up at the chronometer, subconsciously counting off the seconds. Suddenly the scene before him shimmered, and every atom in his body was momentarily wrenched apart, only to reassemble instantly, with a silent but bone jarring crunch!
The terrifying feeling finished as quickly as it started, and had probably not lasted more than a thousandth of a second. The last thing he felt, as always, was the unpleasant sensation of his teeth settling back into their sockets.
Shen but he hated the jump into hyper-space! Although he knew that ships had to make such jumps if they were to reach their destination quickly, across the vastness of space. Most people he realised felt nothing at all. If they did, it amounted to little more than just a slight tingling on the skin. Less than one in a million felt something extra, and it appeared that he was one of those. As Mike would say, "it’s the luck of the Devere’s, what do you expect brother?" Jason smiled ironically, as the familiar voice echoed in his head.
Yet even the so called "space experts" confessed they had no idea at all why only a few people were effected by the phenomenon, let alone how they could stop it.
He shook himself angrily and stared out once more at the slightly different picture that now lay before him. The stars had shifted only fractionally as the jump took the ship from one point to another in the Galaxy.
He had already endured two such jumps on this trip, and he knew that thankfully the one he had just suffered, was the last before they arrived at their destination.
Shortly after they had left the Solar System behind (for they were not allowed to jump whilst within Solar space), the Captain had instructed the Sime Astrogator to initiate the first jump. It was then that Jason had realised that he was definitely one of the unlucky ones that he had read about.
He had not told Vidal of his discovery, for his Sime partner was far too over protective already. It would only give him one more thing to fuss about. Logically after all, there was nothing the Sime could do to alter matters, so why upset him? It was also the reason why he had taken refuge here in the viewing lounge, because apart from engineering and the astrogation station, it had the best Sime insulation in the ship.
Jason sighed softly. It seemed a strange anomaly that his partner, like all Simes, was blessed with psychospatial orientation - the inbuilt ability to know exactly where he was in relation to his position in the Universe, at any given time - should be unaffected by the jump into hyper space. When reason said that he should be. Whereas he, an ordinary Gen with no such innate ability, was affected in such a strange and inexplicable way. It just didn’t make sense.
He considered the matter for a few seconds more, and then shrugged and dismissed the question from his mind As far as he was aware it had no answer, and as so few people were affected by the anomaly probably never would. For neither the Government nor the private sector, would consider the funding of long term research as financially viable, when such a small number of travellers would benefit from it. Put more simply – where was the profit?
Vidal and he had been partners now for three years. It had been hard going for the first two years, as they each had to adjust to the other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. But they had finally managed to map out a working relationship that suited them both. It was not ideal, but it did work for them, and that was all that mattered.
Glancing up at the chronometer again he noted the time, before he finally made his way back to their quarters.
Jason had been surprised when he met the two TIS agents for the first time. They were a male and female team, Paul Demetrious and Vicky Scott.
Demetrious was as tall as Vidal but with blonde hair and grey eyes. His demeanor appeared to be haughty and not very friendly. He had broad shoulders and narrow hips, and Jason had no doubt that to feminine eyes at least, he would be considered quite attractive.
Vicky Scott was a well-built, extremely good looking black woman who was taller than any of them, but did not appear to let the fact daunt her. Her hair was short and cut in a cap over her head, with a fringe, which emphasized her large dark brown eyes.
As soon as they were alone together Vidal had asked what he thought of the couple. ‘I’m not sure. She seems to be okay but I have my doubts about him. Don’t ask me why.’ He grinned. ‘I saw you zlinning them – what do you think?’
‘I tend to agree with your assessment. There’s some sort of problem there. I can’t lay a tentacle on what it is, but I’m not happy about it. It could spell trouble for all of us if they’re not fully committed. We shall have to keep a close eye on both of them. Diplomacy is the key word in this assignment I just hope they understand that.’ He ran his fingers and tentacles through his black hair. ‘Shen it, as if we haven’t got enough problems ahead of us, without trouble amongst our own team.’
‘We don’t know how long they’ve been working together. Remember how we used to be? Perhaps it’s a purely personal thing. Let’s hope they’re both professional enough not to allow it to interfere with their work.’ Jason said, not sure who he was trying to reassure the most, Vidal or himself.
‘Agreed. By the way Ms Scott gave me a copy of the report that The Venture’s Captain made about Sanctuaire.’
All four humans had decided for the duration of this assignment to use the Genlan forms of address. Especially as they wished to keep the fact that Vidal was a Channel secret, at least during their initial stay on the planet. Which meant that the use of Hajene and Sosu would undoubtedly cause awkward questions, that it would be far better, if they did not have to answer.
‘Did you learn anything new from the report?’ Jason enquired as he added an extra spoonful of chocolate to his drink.
‘Yes, he goes into quite a lot of detail regarding their culture and society. Captain van Tacx seems to be quite an astute observer of human behaviour. Much of what he says could prove to be very useful. I said to Vicky Scott that I think it would be wise if we treat the Sanctuairians the same as we would a new alien race we had only just come into contact with, taking absolutely nothing for granted. She agrees. I suggest therefore, that you read van Tacx’ Report.’
‘Mm – If you say so.’ Jason said without enthusiasm, and placed the glass of trin onto the table beside the channel. ‘Be careful it’s hot.’ He murmured and then grinned broadly, as he realised he had uttered the words, that Vidal always said automatically, to him.
The Sime lifted his glass in a brief salute, ‘touché.’
Less than a day later the four agents stood on the bridge and watched as the Diligent was manoeuvred into orbit around Sanctuaire. In the last few hours the two agents from the TIS had had their fields taken down by the Astrogator, who was apparently a relation of Vidal’s, and Jason had given transfer to Vidal, preparatory to starting their mission.
‘The people down on the planet are only at the level we ourselves were at say, a century or more ago. Consequently they use an antiquated system of communication – by our standards at least.’ Captain Zackary a tall broad shouldered Gen with a neat beard, informed them, as they waited for the planet to answer the message he had just sent.
‘Reply coming through Captain.’
‘Put it on audio.’
A blast of static assaulted their ears before the words became clear…this is Sanctuaire. Your message received. We have cleared an area for your shuttle to land and shall expect you in four hours our time. Co-ordinates will follow this transmission… ‘That’s the lot Captain, helm has the co-ordinates.’ The Rensime officer called.
‘Right,’ the Captain looked across at his four passengers. ‘I suggest you get aboard the shuttle. We’ll be feeding the necessary information into the computer straight away. You will need to begin your descent down to the planet at 12.06 ships time. I shall expect to hear from you as soon as you land, and then at regular intervals thereafter. Good luck.’
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