THE QUALITY OF MERCY Tom Mazanec 1979 Advanced technology was sweeping the world. The mammaloids had introduced technology roughly equivalent to mid-21st Century in the 17 years since the Second Chance had arrived at Earth orbit, and medical technology equivalent to late-22nd Century. But social change was following in the wake of those technologies. The dictatorships that had clamped down on the Muslim World after the depopulations of Arabia and Iran toppled, and the Muslims united in the Muslim Alliance and declared a jihad aginst the mammaloids who had destroyed the Kaaba. And a mammaloid armadillo who had campaigned on mercy and become the president of the Second Chance, faces a crisis with a new election only one year away. ****************************************************************************************** "The Second Chance is just a bunch of Cowboys treating us as Indians. They intend to control our society and culture and make the Earth into a human reservation." said the human guest. "What do you say to that, Cheela?" "We are here to bring you the advantages of civilization. When we arrived here, humans with a darker skin color had access to a third rate infrastructure, compared to humans with a lighter skin color. There is still discrimination against such humans. And that is in the most equality valuing nation on this planet. But in the Second Chance the head of government was a human when we got here. He was replaced in a democratic election by a honey badger, who in turn was replaced by an armadillo...and no one up there thinks that that is strange." replied the echidna, "What about the barrier you put around the Muslim Alliance nations this morning? Is that not bigotry against religious Muslims?" asked the host. "The Muslim Alliance declared war on the Second Chance and our settlements on Mars and in space. We consider war to be a very serious matter, not the subject of a game. If a nation or coalition of nations declares war, it will suffer the consequences. Sinta is giving the Alliance a chance to surrender...Jastur would have simply killed over a hundred million humans at one blow. The barrier reflects electromagnetic radiation, and allows such radiation to pass out from inside it. The territory of the Alliance is in darkness of the sun, but their artificial lights still work. It will, however, gradually get colder inside the barrier. We are using heating beams to warm the air coming downwind out of the barriers, so the climate outside is not affected. But inside it will decrease to antarctic levels, if the Alliance does not -" "The people of Earth have a right to freedom of religion! You are threatening to freeze millions of people because of their religion!" "Mr. Stephenson, there is no right to religion. Freedom of worship is a privilege, not a right. Most of the people uptime in the original timeline did not have it, as religion is considered a matter of choice, unlike gender or species or age. If you choose a religion which declares war against a superior nation, you must be willing to accept the consequences." "How does your President Sinta claim to belong to a Mercy party, if he is willing to endanger so many lives, Cheela?" "As I said, he has not summarily executed them, as his predecessor would have. They will have several days before the temperature in their part of the world goes below zero Celsius." "Professor Stephenson, what do you propose President Hurley should do about the situation between the Second Chance and the Muslim Alliance? "America has always stood for Freedom of Worship. The President and Congress should join with our fellow humans in the Alliance and declare war on these invaders, while we still have a world to defend!" "If this is done, the United States will be placed in a barrier, or subjected to any one of dozens of other forms of warfare whose methods are not even known to your precontact science." "IS THAT A THREAT?" shouted Prof. Stephenson, rising out of his chair. "It is simply a statement of fact. We are a millennium beyond you in technology. A war between us would not be a contest." "So you intend to keep us trapped on Earth, while you fill the universe with beasts, birds and bugs turned into people?" "You have access to everything within Earth's Hill Sphere, including the Moon...we will not make use of it ourselves. If you wish to emigrate to our Mars when it is terraformed, or to the many space colonies we are constructing, you will be welcome to, provided you follow our laws." "And with that, I am afraid it is time to take a break for commercial intromission." said the host. ******************************************************************************************* Howard Chang-Smith welcomed the reporter. "How do you like being on Earth, Mr. Change- Smith?" ""It is strange to see an open sky. Living in a O'Neill cylinder, you just see the ground curve up around you and above you, like a map over your head. And it is hard to get used to the higher gravity. Most O'Neill cylinders keep their gravity lower, to ease back strain and allow them to be built larger. It is tricky getting used to things falling faster and to weighing more." "You have lived your entire life in space?" "Yes. My parents came from Earth, from America and China, but I was born in a cylinder only 127 years before the Second Chance departed 3006." "I understand that the mammaloids prohibited human space travel. How did your parents get off Earth?" "The Return was in the 28th Century. The mammaloids did prohibit human space travel for centuries, but they returned to Earth and tried to resore the ecology with preserved species from their colonies. That was only about one percent of the species that existed on Earth before the Burning, but it helped. Also, mammaloids were colonizing stars within four or five parsecs of Sol, and some of those may have been so anti-human as a result of our history with them that they would be willing to turn those stars into Nicholl-Dyson beams, as had the mammaloids done Sol, and vaporize Earth. The returned mammaloids felt guilty for Mad Meega's million cobalt bomb attack and wished to help us and preserve humanity, so some were finally allowed into their colonies. I was the seventh son, and twelth child, born off-Earth." "How did the mammaloids get along with humans when they returned to Earth?" "At first their human friendship wore thin. They had a different culture, one formed in the Koŝmaro, the Koŝmarego, and the long struggle to civilize the Solar System. As an example, you say how do you tell if a politician is lying...his lips are moving. In mammaloid culture, a politician caught in a single lie is finished forever...he or she will never get elected again. Or how often do you see a TV interviewer interrupt a guest on The Right View or The Progressive News? That would mark a mammaloid as a spoiled brat. At first the mammaloids were a minority on Earth, but they soon were almost a majority, as billions came to the planet. And they were more technologically advanced. The underground refugia of Earth had a conservative attitude toward experimentation compared to the mammaloids. This was especially true in IQ enhancing biotechniques. The mammaloids had higher IQs than Earth humans by this time. Not that they were wiser...they have as many self-destructive habits and quarreling beliefs as 1979 Earth, but they are far better in problem solving." "What was it like, on the cylinder, for humans when you were growing up?" "Well, there was considerable suspicion. I had some IQ enhancement, but not as much as most of the mammaloids. Normally, on the cylinder I grew up on, the mammaloid children were kept at home for six years, then sent to a one-species grade school for six years, then a multi -species high school for six yars, then college till two Master degrees, in hard and soft science, then work. I had a small grade school, only a score of children mixed by the old schoolhouse. And a lot of home-schooling. But in high school I was sometimes called 'homo' and bullied." "You are gay? A homosexual?" "The mammaloids use the genus name by itself to reprimand an inferior or insult an equal. The human genus is Homo. And they don't have laws against speciest literature...they actually value freedom of speech more than most Americans. I remember one VR scenario series "Harry the human" which had a idiotic, self-centered human without hair...including eyebrows and eyelashes. I suppose it was about like being a negro American when we came in 1962." "How do you feel about the so-called Mercy Party's trying to freeze the Muslim Alliance to death?" "Well, Sinta is trying to freeze them into submission...if he wanted to kill them, they would all be dead in a minute. You can't declare war on us and expect us to ignore it...the first administration tried that and got voted out. There has not been a significant war in our solar system since the early 24th centuries of peace, because any national entity that initiated a war was destroyed by the solar Nicholl-Dyson beam, controlled from Mars. I know people are freezing to death in the Muslim world, but that is the fault of their governments. We will not allow war declaration against us again. The norms that govern our society will not allow it." "But you were asking for war with the Muslim people by destroying the Kaaba." "That was a demonstration designed to spare life. It did not succeed, obviously." "What do the Beneists of theSecond Chance and its colonies think about the war?" "Beneists are pacifists...they are opposed to the war. But most of the mammaloid population of the solar system now, as what it was when we left, are Theists or Agnostics, and are in favor of teaching you that declaring war has consequences." "How do you think the war will end?" "The Muslims will sue for peace or freeze in the dark." ****************************************************************************************** Cheela met with the blogger, a practitioner of a new vocation. "What do you wish to learn from me?" "What is your specific function here on Earth?" "My name is Cheela-846-Tachyglossus. My ur-species was Tachyglossus aculeatus, whence my genus nomen. I am supervising the uplift of the genus Zaglossus, the long beaked echidnas. In the original timeline, this genus became extinct before genetic uplift techniques were developed. This will add another species of echidna to the altered timeline." "Will you raise them up to be Beneists?" "I am an agnostic...notice I do not wear a religious emblem, no sapphire. They will be free to chose their memeplex, though I have no doubt that Beneists will try to proselytize them." "I understand that a large proportion of Beneists, especially Star Beneists, commit suicide in despair of following the requirements of the religion. If the Beneist God is so strict and unforgiving, how can they call themselves 'Beneists'?" "Well, in the late 21st Century, the alternative religions were worse, if anything. Christianity was ambivalent at best during the Koŝmaro, and the Koŝmarego was a fundamentalist evangelical phenomenon. There were a number of mammaloids at the time who followed Malism, which used an emerald as its symbol and claimed origin by Mark Twain, and held that the Creator is a sadist. Dualism was another popular memeplex, which used rubies as symbol and considered Jesus and Satan as equal gods playing a wargame with humans and mammaloids. But Beneism won out." "Are there no mammaloid Christians in your original time?" "Statistics are hard with a hundred thousand million space colonies, but there may be nearly as many Christian mammaloids as there are Beneist ones. But Catholics and almost all Protestants consider both genetic engineering and time travel to be sinful, so none of them came with the Second Chance." "On another topic, people are suffering in the Middle East and North Africa. The temperatures are down well below freezing, and millions of refugees have begun to leave the areas you have enclosed in the mirror zone. How long are you going to keep them in darkness and freezing cold?" "Until their governments surrender and allow a political reconstruction such that people of all species have civil rights. It is up to them how long this will take." "Why are there so few humans proportionally in your future, something like a millionth of a percent. Do you intend such a future for us?" "Basically, we just had more children than you did. After the Koŝmarego, we did so deliberatelly. We encouraged groups to emigrate into the asteroid belt and colonize random suitable asteroids, and grow as fast as possible. In the 22nd Century, we increased our population approximately a thousand-fold. But even afterwards we just tended to grow at maybe three or four percent a year, where humans populations grew less than a percent a year. Most of you have no comprehension of geometric growth, even if you hear the parable of the folded sheet or the lily pad. As for this timeline, we intend to uplift thousands of species in addition to our own, both mammalian and non-mammalian, and we plan to try to keep the populations roughly equivalent. In a millennium, we should have a solar system with trillions of each species, hopefully Homo sapiens as well as Tachyglossus sapiens." "Well, that is something I hope for." ******************************************************************************************* Muhammed gazed up at the blue sky. It had been the longest time since he had seen a blue sky. For many days, weeks even, it had been dark and black...not a speck of light to be seen above, although artificial lights still worked. But the lights could not fight the horrible cold. It burned and ate at his body like a demon, like one of the demons who had come from out of Time to destroy the Holy Kaaba. They had put the darkness over the lands of the faithful, and the cold had grown to the point his urine would freeze before it hit the ground. Finally, his mother and father gathered all the cloth they could find and huddled with him, trying to keep him warm with their bodies. Then the sun appeared again, and the Cold slowly weakened, and the radio said that the Alliance had finally surrendered to the demons, that the beast men would send soulless automatons to govern the land of the Faithful. The radio said millions had frozen to death, millions of Martyrs for Allah, as indeed had his parents, but that finally the Faithful had to surrender, so that the True Faith could survive. Muhammed swore by the Beard of the Prophet he was named after, peace be upon him, that he would slay many of the demons from out of time, and avenge the deaths of his parents.