THE GATHERING STORM Tom Mazanec Prologue 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 one mongoose." "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." "'re exaggerating." "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 stake." "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 why!" "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 disagreement of." "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 Gordon. 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 accurate?" "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 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 character." "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 here." "Ahhh...anyway, what are more important, army or marines?" "What is more important to you, your tail or your penis?" asked Peter. "Stop! I do not want to hear the answer to 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, 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." "Potassium-40 trigger?" "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 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 species." "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 Heepar. "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 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 purchased me." "You talk like you were a slave." "Yes, that is what males were. Their owners can kill them with impunity." "How did you come to be aboard the Second Chance, Meeptik?" asked Carson. "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 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 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 line?" "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 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 feared?" "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 Chontor. "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 life." "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 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 world." "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 Kennedy. "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. __________________