THE GATHERING STORM
In 1962 they came to Earth from the year 3006, on a
missionary expedition to save the past from itself and bring
the light of their civilization to their ancestors. They
were idealistic, and intended no harm, but only good. Yet,
the misapplication of an obscure law very nearly brought the
United States and the time travelers to blows, in a war that
would have been the end of America. Narrowly averted as this
cataclysm was, it radicalized some aboard the giant timeship
and energized what had been a minor party of hardliners into
a significant force. As the years went by, resentment among
the conservative religions and ideologies of Earth to the
uptimers stoked the fires of that movement, until in 1968,
it wins a narrow victory in the timeship's election. And
now, war draws near once more, this time, with many of the
nations of the planet...
Note: This is a sequel to my story "Temporal Aid Mission"
From the Huntley-Brinkley Report Monday April 29, 1968
"Welcome to NBC News. This is Chet Huntley in New York,
with Meeptik-807-Mustela. David Brinkley is ill with the
flu. Meeptik, I hope you will have some positive view on
yesterday's election result on the Second Chance."
"I am afraid that I will have little positive to say, Mr.
Huntley For half a decade I have been trying to warn your
world of what it was doing by expressing speciesist
sentiments in public, especially America and the Muslim
nations. In the original timeline, a radicalization began in
Iran in 1979 and spread to the other Muslim nations by 2013.
It was a significant step in the road to the OTL's World War
Three that began that year, along with the Chinese attempt
to take Taiwan. And that war, of course, lead to our
creation. In the New Timeline, you had the Wahhabi
Revolution in Saudi Arabia in 1964, when the religious
leaders of Saudi Arabia marginalized the Monarchy and
declared a jihad against mammaloids. In the OTL America put
the Theocracy in power with the 31st Amendment in 2096 and
with the election of President Gordon, starting the
Kosmarego. In the NTL you have the Image of God Church
practically trying to duplicate the Theocracy. This has led
to yesterday's election of the Justice Party on the Second
Chance. And when they assume control in 29 days, you will be
living in a very different world."
"What difference will we really have? You did quite a bit
of change to this country, this world, when you burned the
Hole in the Moon. Riots broke out in a number of cities,
when amateur astronomers noted the existence of the Second
Chance and coupled that with the Hole. 42 people in this
nation alone died. Many hundreds, probably thousands, of
millions of dollars damage. The stock market lost half its
value in a week. It took us three years to crawl out of the
recession. And all because one government employee killed
"Mr. Huntley, how would your nation respond if it sent an
ambassador to West Germany and he was put to death by the
government, because he was a Jew?"
"Isn't that a little extreme, Meeptik? The Nazi regime
still sends shivers down the spines of millions."
"I am 689 years old. I had grandparents who were survivors
in the Martian Civil War theater of the Protocol War. That
war was fought and won by mammaloids who wanted to prevent
the extermination of Homo sapiens. Killing T'charik sent
shivers down our spines."
"Very well. But how would your ship have handled the
situation if the Justice Party had been in control?"
"There would have been 180 million dead Americans."
"I have been sugarcoating it until now, afraid to stir up
more anti-mammaloid agitation on this planet. We watch this
planet, and what happens here affects politics on the Second
Chance. But now I have to make you understand what is at
"If you had killed every American, every other nation on
this planet would have risen up against you!"
"Then there would be 3 billion dead humans."
"You would commit genocide on this scale? What kind of
people are you?"
"Mr. Huntley, when your government employee killed
T'charik, we threatened to neutralize your military and turn
our assistance to your planet over to the Soviet Union. In
essence, for what would have been an abomination by our
lights if your government had purposefully done it, as well
as a declaration of war, you would merely have lost the Cold
War. The Justice Party, in the election before our arrival,
gained less than 2% of the vote. In the election six years
later, they won 36.7%. In the runoff, they polled 51.2%. Why
did your country allow the Image of God Church to
propagandize its views?"
"We have freedom of religion and freedom of speech, that's
"Such freedoms have consequences. We do not allow religions
to preach speciesism against either humans or mammaloids. If
they do, they are imprisoned until they cease. We do not
tolerate killing a person because of their species, or
advocating the same."
"But you threaten to kill us because of our species!"
"No. Because of your behavior. I opposed the Justice Party.
But they, like the other parties, agree in not tolerating
genocide. It is merely the method of opposition we are in
"Don't you think it is hypocritical for you to oppose
genocide by threatening to kill millions?"
"Is it hypocritical to execute a murderer?"
"So what do you think will happen now?"
"The Justice Party takes power 30 days after the election.
will take all the planet under their policy. First, the
leaders of Saudi Arabia will have to rescind the
jihad...this will not be tolerated."
"And if they don't?"
"Allah help them."
Chontor-1352-Herpestes and his son Layson-631 entered the
house as the owner opened the door. "Come in" said Peter
Layson ran over to the bookshelf by the wall. "Great! paper
books! Do you have the Serpent Slayer series in paper?"
"No, but I read it at the library. Is it historically
"Sure! If we had come back to three centuries later we
could have met Hisban!"
"Layson, Hisban is a fictional character."
"Oh yeah...I forgot."
"Actually, the details are quite historically accurate
until the end. Tseetur-87-Herpestes was a veteran of the
war, as well as being the same species as us. He did have
Hisban be present at every major event in a war that spanned
a planet and twelve years, which is rather implausible. Then
he had Hisban win a Martyr's Star at the end of the last
book. There were only 14 Martyr's Stars won in a war that
killed 90% of the planet's population...5 by Exterminators
and 9 by the Quilt of Life. That is what made the series so
controversial...the Martyr's Star is sacred. If enough of
the body remains to be buried, the fallen hero is it be
buried only with the Martyr's Star...no other medal is
worthy to be along with it. If Tseetur had been descended
from a social species of mongoose like Suricata or Helogale
he never would have made that mistake. He even joked about
having Hisban earn a second Martyr's Star!"
"Was he joking? Hisban could have won a second Martyr's
Star." asked Layson.
"Son, to win a Martyr's Star you have to die in battle, in
a manner which drastically impacts the enemy. You can't win
another medal after you are dead."
"Oh. Still, I bet Hisban could have done it. Hisban can do
anything!" Layson siad, and turned back to the bookshelf.
Chontor sighed. "I feel pathetic...jealous of a fictional
"He'll get over it when he grows up a little more. I was
quite fascinated by the background of the series...I myself
was in the Army in Korea-"
"Hisban was a marine!"
"Son, do not say or refer to Hisban again as long as we are
"Ahhh...anyway, what are more important, army or marines?"
"What is more important to you, your tail or your penis?"
"Stop! I do not want to hear the answer to that...one way
or another!" said Chontor.
"Do you think that there is going to be a war?"
"In three weeks Jastur-6871-Mellivora will be the President
of the Second Chance. I do not know the English of his
species, but his ur-species is very aggressive. We purposely
chose humans for our President and Vice-president when we
arrived here, but everything which has happened has made a
mammaloid president possible...and now an actuality."
"You mongooses are pretty aggressive yourself...using
cobras for dental floss. I know you are different from
T'charik...bipedal and much bigger. But you are descended
from the same species."
"Not quite. T'charik was descended from H. edwardsi and I
am descended from H. javanicus auropunctatus, besides me
being intended as a tool-user and T'charik's ancestors being
intended to survive on Earth hidden among the wildlife."
"It was the fault of the Image of God Church that the
Justice Party came to power. I wouldn't blame you for
joining the Justice Party, after the Imagists killed your
wife and baby daughter."
"The Justice Party are extremists and are willing to kill
millions to 'civilise' your people. I am a doctor, sworn to
preserve life. I could never join them. Also, it was as much
the Wahabi Revolution as the Image of God that radicalized
our population. "
"And they are only minorities of our religious people!"
"And then President Sigmundson put all mammaloids on earth
under threat of execution for diplomatic malfeasance for
breaking any law. He was trying to prevent another
diplomatic incident, but when that Vulpes...fox, I believe,
was fined for just trying a marihuana
cigarette...tetrahydrocannibol is a nasal spray on the
Second Chance...and then recalled and executed by Potassium
-40 trigger, that made a bad situation worse."
"It is a...projection...which causes all the potassium-40
nuclei in the body to decay at once. The body explodes like
a sack of TNT. It is how we burned the Hole in the Moon...we
used a Uranium-238 trigger on a uranium deposit."
"Anyway, how is your work coming along?"
"Quite well. Most of the population of America, and much of
the population of Japan and Europe, have access to our
medical services. Someday your whole world will have such
medicine, and then humans will be able to come to the Second
Chance and back to the Earth."
"Do we really have to wait till then?"
"The pathogens used in the Mammaloid War, the Second
Genocide War, were designed to be slatewipers...to
annihilate Homo sapiens. If there is even a chance in a
million of taking those microscopic monsters to Earth before
we can cure you all, we cannot risk it."
"Well, I'm glad I could host you and your son to dinner
tonight. You have done much to help relations between our
"So have you. I only wish it were enough to stop the
Justice Party from coming to power."
Meeptik-807-Mustela walked and Heepar-844-Crocuta limped
across the stage and sat down next to Johnny Carson. Carson
introduced them and "your outfits".
Meeptik said "We always thought your clothes were
peculiar...flat and bland. Of course, you do not have the
technology to design clothes like our kaleidoscope fashion."
"How do you like our world?"
"It is beautiful. I was just to your Yellowstone National
Park last week. It is a crime that my ancestor 'Mad Meega'
fired a gigaton penetrator antimatter device into it to
trigger a supereruption during the Mammaloid War." said
"Of course, a member of your species would commit such a
crime." added Meeptik.
"Don't forget, the Beheader was a ferret like you,
Meeptik." replied Heepar.
"The Beheader?" asked Carson.
"A serial killer from Mars. He kidnapped, tortured and
killed his victims, then cut off their heads with a
vibroblade and deposited the body out in the desert, keeping
the head. He finally kidnapped a Didelphis...an opossum...a
16 year old who feigned dying of fear and, when the Beheader
came at him with the vibroblade, grabbed the vibroblade and
decapitated the Beheader. But Jack the Ripper was
human...and so was Hitler" added Meeptik, turning to Heepar.
"Your medical technology is so fantastic. Why are you
limping, Heepar?" asked Carson.
"My cylinder is one species, spotted hyena. When the
colonizing population left the Moon, there was
an...unfortunate cultural...event. When it was over, the
females ruled in a dictatorial matriarchy. Females were
people, males were property. My mother had certain genetic
engineering done on me to improve my memory. This would be
illegal for a daughter, but perfectly fine for a son. It
worked so well that I cannot forget anything. Also, if I
hear...incorrect information, it grates. When I was a child,
I did not know to refrain from correcting females. I
corrected one once and she threw me down a stairwell,
breaking my leg. She would have been imprisoned for assault
if I were female, but all she had to do was pay my mother a
small fine for vandalism."
"But hasn't it healed yet?" asked Carson.
"It healed many years ago. But what I remember is real to
me. I can constrict my pupils in the dark by remembering
bright light. I remember the pain of the break, and I feel
it as real."
"Can't you just ignore it?"
"Sit in a room for five minutes and do NOT think of a brown
elephant. It was to escape that society that I convinced my
mother to sell me to the Second Chance, and fortunately they
"You talk like you were a slave."
"Yes, that is what males were. Their owners can kill them
"How did you come to be aboard the Second Chance, Meeptik?"
"I was 16 and in a boarding school on Mars. The headmaster
was a martinet, and I decided to play a prank on him. I
brewed up some explosive in the chemistry lab to hide in the
plumbing under his room's toilet, so it would go off when he
flushed it. I made too much, and also accidentally dropped
it, and it went off. I was badly injured...had to go into a
crysalis machine. I was expelled, of course...my father paid
off the damages and also, frankly, some bribes to keep me
from prosecution. But things were never the same. He never
forgave me, spoke to me only to give curt orders. Disowned
me when I made my majority at 35. On my hundredth birthday I
called and asked him if he would ever forgive me. He said
'No'. So I knew what it is like to need a second chance, and
that is why I signed up."
"What are your goals here...you personally?" asked Carson.
"We are aiding your country in manufacturing the technology
developed in the original timeline by Quantergy in the
2020s...perfect solar panels and compressed electron
batteries. This was the technology that broke your addiction
to petroleum, which was depleted and nearly exhausted by
that time. CEBs will make electric vehicles feasible...and
laser pistols, too. Of course, like all on the Second
Chance, we are also trying to have an Earth that is not a
pitted, poisoned cinder over a war between species...which
is why we speak in public like this. But we are very worried
about Jastur-6871-Mellivora. When he takes power next week,
he will change our methodology toward Earth and Humanity.
Now, if I commit the most trivial crime here, I am subject
to the death penalty back aboard the ship for endangering
relations. Next week, this will cease. Now, we simply stay
out of Muslim nations except Turkey, the only one to
renounce the declared Jihad. Next week, Jastur will demand
an immediate termination of the Jihad. If this is not done,
he will take drastic action, even war." said Meeptik.
"And he can get away with this? You have a council and a
court on the Second Chance, can't they keep this Jastur in
"Your America is very much like my Mars, with a right to
privacy and a division of government into balancing
branches. The Second Chance, although the size of a city, is
actually a ship, with a president who is actually a captain
and who has much more power than your president, and
Orwellian surveillance of its population. Mars values its
culture...this is how the Beheader managed to escape capture
for so long. But 99.9999% of the population of the uptime
solar system was composed of mammaloids who lived in the
hundreds of thousands of millions of city-sized cylinders
made of dismantled Venus, cooled by neutrino emission. They
live without the liberty which you Americans and we Martians
sometimes take for granted." said Meeptik.
"Would Jastur really kill millions of humans? Your people
seem so civilized." said Carson.
"Jastur is a ratel mammaloid. We consider xenophobia and
speciesism the Ultimate Evil, yet we have to acknowledge
that each of our personalities are colored by our nature. I
have to watch my temper, a Lutra...an otter...has a harder
time doing something which is not fun, and so forth. Jastur
is more volatile and assertive than most mammaloids. Also,
he is not human. We purposely picked a president and vice-
president who were human when we came here, so we could
better interact with you. But Jastur is not human. Although
we look on all of us as people, it will still be a little
easier for Jastur to kill millions of humans than millions
of honey badger mammaloids." said Heepar.
"Well, we will just have to see, I guess." said Carson, as
he shook his head.
Jastur had assumed office twenty-four hours ago, and had
delivered a message to every loudspeaker in Saudi Arabia,
giving that nation one day to retract the Jihad against the
uptimers, or "appropriate measures" would be taken. Since
then, nothing but diatribes from the sandy kingdom against
the Second Chance and all her passengers had been heard.
"What do you think of that phrase, Chontor?" asked Walter
Cronkite, as he watched the final seconds tick down to zero
on the clock at the bottom of the screen.
"'Appropriate measures' is a code phrase for some very
dramatic but non-lethal action taken against a nation.
Perhaps the placing of a layer of mesobots in the
stratosphere above the Kingdom to obscure the sun, or such.
It can mean almost anything, limited only by not being
direct cause of death. Our technology and imagination on
such measures is almost unlimited."
"Direct cause of death? So no one is going to die, as we
"Someone may die indirectly, such as in an automobile
accident if they blot out the sun, for example. And if the
Jihad is not called off after this demonstration, Jastur
will surely do something a lot more damaging. He is showing
more restraint than I expected, to tell you the truth."
"What about the other Muslim nations?" asked Cronkite.
"They have not expliciely declared a Jihad themselves, but
many have assisted in the terrorist acts the Saudi Kingdom
has waged against uptimer clinics and other facilities
worldwide. Fortunately, your nation, and the others with
such facilities, have acted to arrest and prosecute the
agents of such terrorism, as well as those of the Image of
God Church that I am all too familiar with." replied
"Yes, President Kennedy has made it clear that terrorism
will not be tolerated in this country."
"In the original timeline, America had a massive terrorist
attack in 2001, as you know. It killed some three thousand
people. None of the attacks in this timeline have been so
major yet, but the Muslims in our timeline did not get along
well with modernity. They will like futurity in this
timeline even less, I expect."
"How do you think-" began Cronkite when "We interrupt this
broadcast to bring you a special bulletin. The broadcast of
the speech at the Kaaba by Grand Mufti Ali al-Atani against
the visitors from the future has been cut off. We now show
you the clip of that speech."
The Arab religious leader was shown, speaking and
gesticulating, with the Kaaba in the background. Suddenly, a
shaft of glowing, glittering light began shining down upon
the cubical building. The top began to sparkle and glow, and
then a haze of smoke began to form over it. al-Atani
continued his harangue for a moment, then the screen seemed
to sway and he stopped, looking behind him. The Kaaba seemed
to be in flames, the crowd around it in a state of confusion
and panic. Then the scene went out and the screen was blank
for an instant, to return to Chontor and Cronkite.
"What on Earth is happening?" asked Cronkite.
"That looks like a terawatt laser. In a brief time it will
reduce the Kaaba to slag. If the crowds move away in order
they should not be hurt."
"They are destroying the Kaaba!? The whole Muslim world
will be up in arms! You have just escalated the war!"
"That makes no sense. This is obviously intended to
convince the Saudis that war is futile, without
unnecessarily taking any human life."
"The Kaaba is sacred! The millions of Muslims will be
enraged. You've triggered an explosion of hatred. Don't you
realize what a Holy Site like the Kaaba means?"
"I am an agnostic, though I have known Beneists, Christian
and other religionists. I have never known any Muslims. But
surely even a Holy site is not as precious as a person's
life, a human or mammaloid."
"They will not think so! And what of the crowds? Thousands
could be trampled, if you are so concerned about human
"That may be so. It is unfortunate if it occurs. But there
are five million people in Saudi Arabia. Jastur could easily
kill all of them by any of a dozen methods. I half expected
him to do so...war is considered total in our civilization,
so it is too terrible to contemplate. We have not had a war
for seven centuries, thanks to this Balance of Terror."
"Walter, we are getting more transmission over our Arabian
feed. Apparently every frequency in the peninsula is showing
the same thing." said a voice.
The screen changed to a blunt, black face with a white
top...the face of Jastur. "The Kaaba has been destroyed. The
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has an additional twenty-four hours
to revoke its Jihad against us of the Second Chance. If this
is not done, extreme measures will be taken. All who are not
in accord with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Jihad are urged
to leave the country before the expiration of this deadline,
if the Jihad is not to be revoked."
The message began repeating in a loop. After the third
repitition began, the view cut back to Cronkite and Chontor.
"'Extreme measures'...what does that mean?" asked Cronkite.
"It will mean over 5 million dead humans." replied Chontar.
John F. Kennedy sat behind his desk in the Oval Office
watching the screen of the broadcast from Riyadh with Dean
Rusk, Meeptik and an Arabic interpreter. "The announcer is
still declaring the mammaloids from the Second Chance to be
demons. He is still calling on all the Faithful to slay the
demonic mammaloids for the destruction of the Kaaba."
"How long do we have now?" asked Kennedy.
"Only three minutes, Mr. President." answered Meeptik.
"Is it realistic that the Second Chance would kill 5
million people because of the policies of their government?
They caused suffering in this country after the unfortunate
killing of your first ambassador, but they have been very
respectful of actual human life for the last six years."
Dean said to Meeptik.
"As of yesterday, 123 mammaloids had been killed by Muslim
assassins, and 17 by members of the Image of God Church.
Your country has placed the Imagist killers behind bars, but
Saudi Arabia has praised the Muslim killers, and the other
Muslim counties aside from Turkey say nothing. The people of
Saudi Arabia have allowed their government to do this, and
will have to pay the price for this."
"But the Arabs are not free, as we are. They would risk
their lives to oppose the theocracy in that country."
"The world will have to learn that my people will no longer
tolerate the killing. The mammaloids were almost annihilated
in the Koshmarego, and six million of them died. A lifetime
later twelve thousand million humans, over half the human
population, died in their own Koshmarego. If five million
humans die to teach you that tolerating genocide means
death, then the Justice Party considers that a small price."
Just then the screen went blank. "What happend, Meeptik?"
asked the President.
"I suspect that a trigger field for Potassium-40 decay was
used. From what I know of Jastur, he would prefer a more
dramatic method of military intervention. That is why he
used a terawatt laser instead of disassembler nanobots to
destroy the Kaaba. Essentially, every rock, plant and animal
containing potassium has exploded. It is used as a means of
execution in our society...it is both humane....the victim
does not have time to suffer...and dramatic as a deterrent."
"Could he have used nuclear weapons?" asked Rusk.
"Of course he could have, but he would not have. As
militant as Jastur is, he does not want to involve non-
hostile countries. Fallout from nukes would contaminate the
"I must point out that riots are breaking out across the
Muslim world over the Kaaba's destruction. It is quite
possible that the entire Muslim world will be overtly at war
with your ship soon." said Rusk.
"Then the entire Muslim world will die. Jastur and the
Justice Party will be quite capable and willing to kill
hundreds of million of people to civilize this planet."
"Isn't that rather ironic a statement?" pointed out
"It is also ironic to execute a murderer, but your nation
did this until 1965, and in the original timeline did so
throughout its history. In fact, it is lucky, perhaps, that
you have abolished capital punishment, since the first
Imagist killers were not sentenced to death. Jastur could
consider that discrimination against mammaloids and have
forced you to execute them, too."
"You cannot force this country to execute someone."
"I frankly don't know what Jastur is going to do, but he
would consider himself justified to force you to execute
mammaloid killers if you did execute human killers. Things
are going to be different between America and the Second
Chance...between every nation and the Second Chance. You
will probably have to take more measures to stop the meme of
speciesism from being propagated by such organizations as
the Image of God Church, for example."
"We have freedom of speech and religion in this country,
Meeptik." said Kennedy.
"I hope you will be able to keep that, it is different from
the Second Chance and almost all of the cylinders of the
Solar System in the original timeline, though my native Mars
also had freedom of speech and religion. I will soon return
to the Second Chance and try to moderate the policy of its
new government, but there is little I can do until the next
election in 1974. Until then you will be living in a very
different world, and you will have to live with a Second
Chance that is not going to continue to bend over to
accomadate your culture while gradually trying to evolve it.
We expected that giving you the advantages of our technology
would enable you to overcome your xenophobia peacefully. Now
we will try it by force."
"I am glad I cannot run for reelection in November." said
the president, shaking his head.
Three days later, the government of Iran fell in
revolution. The Revolutionary government promptly declared
war on the Second Chance. Jastur replied by giving Iran
twenty-four hours to repeal the declaration of war.
Thousands fled, crossing the border, but the Revolutionary
Government refused to back down. At the expiration of the
deadline, 26 million people died when every potassim-40
nucleus in their body decayed. The other Muslim governents
employed draconian methods to supress the riots, massacring
scores of thousands. Slowly, over the following days, the
riots were smothered. But the world would never be the same.
DRIZZLE DRAZZLE DRUZZLE DROME
TIME FOR THIS ONE TO COME HOME