TEMPORAL AID MISSION Tom Mazanec This story is a work of fiction. Major historical characters, such as President Kennedy and Carl Sagan, are features. In addition, minor historical characters in Minnesota such as Harry Pinkham and Lloyd Hackl are used for authenticity. They are given their full names and are based on their depictions in the book The Duluth Mongoose by Jack Denton Scott. Totally fictional 1962 characters such as "General Smith", "Musical Mike" and Pinkham's assistant "John" are invented by me and are not intended to reflect any actual person. All actions by historical characters in my altered history are my own imagination and do not necessarily reflect how the characters would have actually behaved. ********************************************** It began in the Third World War against the Chinese-Muslim Coalition. Devolved from the War on Terror and the Oil Wars, the war saw countless Black Projects used on both sides. One of the American projects was the attempt to create human-animal hybrids to serve as optimized, expendable troops. The project succeeded, but not in time to be used in the war. Instead, the mammaloids were eventually sold as military surplus, and Megacorps used the technique to provide sapient, tool-using "pets" for the population. Slavery had made a comeback. At the close of the 21st Century, America repented of its creation and, under a theocratic government, waged a Crusade to exterminate the mammaloids. Led by the mammaloid population of a lunar base, the mammaloids won the war with space weapons such as the Tesla Cannon and graser array that only were fireable in vacuum. The Human War, or the First Genocide War, killed nearly all the mammaloids and shattered the United States like a Ming vase. The few mammaloid survivors concentrated on holding humanity down. Relations deteriorated, and finally, in the 2160s the Mammaloid War, or the Second Genocide War, killed three-fifths of the Human Race and turned the green and verdant continents of Earth brown and barren. The war had seen the disassembly of Mercury into an ultimate Doomsday Weapon, and another uneasy peace settled in. The mammaloid population grew itself at a breakneck speed, doubling every decade, until it rivaled the surviving human population in the mid-23rd Century. The mammaloids were divided whether to use bionanotech chrysalis machines to transform Homo Sapiens into mammaloids, or to simply confine the species to Earth until their population exceeded mankinds by a orders of magnitude, neutralizing the threat by sheer weight of numbers. The controllers of the Doomsday Device favored allowing the species to survive, and finally, in frustration, the other party began dropping antimat bombs to dig humanity out of its underground havens. The Doomsday Device was used against these, and so the Protocol War,or the Third Genocide War, raged for a generation. The Doomdsay Device proved conclusive, and mankind was spared. In the 24th Century memetic engineering allowed the pruning of neural pathways, curing the struldbrugism that limited lifespans to a quarter of a millennium. Also, the Korikov-Chartik Theory opened the posssiblity of opening a wormhole back into time and creating an alternate timeline. Since the traveling ship would simply disappear from the original timeline, this was considered to have no practical application. Science and technology stagnated for the centuries, while Terroids, human and mammaloid, filled the solar system and began colonizing the planetoids of nearby stars. But the turning of a year ending in 999 to one ending in 000 tends to bring out utopian ideas, and an overlooked body in Sol's Oort cloud was converted into the Second Chance and sent back in time to the Twentieth Century to prevent the Genocide Wars. *********************************************************** President Sigmundson gazed out the viewscreen, moving it around with his laser pointer till he liked the position. The stars looked the same as they did before Transition, but the surrounding wormholer was gone, showing that they were now in an alternate past...hopefully in the first years of the Twentieth Century. The theory and equipment had been prepared as carefully as possible, but experiments, by the nature of the universe, could not give back results to the experimenter. The President was human, a concession to the time they had entered, but anyone landing on Earth would have to be a mammaloid, as a precaution against the nanobots used in the Second Genocide War against humanity. The population of the time-worldship had been sterized of the inorganic viruses, but this would make an extra firebreak against contaminating Old Earth. "Has the computer determined our exact ime yet?" asked Sigmundon. The room replied "Processing...date corresponds to March 5, 1961." That was bad. They had prepared for a discrpancy of a few years around the 1905 target date, and had a plan of action prepared which involved contact with the British Empire, but this threw everyting into the recycler. They were in the early stages of the Age of Insanity. Briefly Sigmundson considered building another wormholer out of resourses in the Oort cloud and going back again. But they had created an alternate timeline already, and the separation wavefron was expanding at lightspeed and would reach Earth in about a year. Those people would become separate individuals, and would be requiring help to get out of the Age of Insanity. Much historical data had been lost and confused in the Age of Insanity, but Sigmundson knew enough to realize that this would be an especially bad time for quantum uncertainty to trigger a Butterfly Effect. In about seven months after the wavefront reached Earth, the US and USSR would teeter on the brink of nuclear war. The war would be a pinprick compared to what the Second and Third Genocide Wars would have done to Mother Earth, but they would still be bad. If they went full speed ahead, they could reach Earth in about 13 months startime, 7 months shiptime. It would use up most of the antimatter fuel for the field effect drive, but they could reach Earth in April 1962 and do something. Now all they had to do was decide what to do. *********************************************************** The Council took its time debating the decision of which course to proceed under. Sigmundson had the authority, under the special terms of this mission, to make a decision, but he was really at a loss as to what to do. All his preparation was for a unipolar world still in temporary peace, not for a bipolar one on the edge of a Third World War. The idea was to use London as a conduit for uptimer technology and, through that, culture. Then the planet could enter into the Golden Age, along with the Solar System and other solar systems, without the cost of a planet reduced to a cinder. There were three obvious choices. One was Moscow, another was Washington, and the third was the UN in New York. The culture of the Golden Age was intermediate between that of America and Russia in terms of liberty...it tried to be as libertatian as possible, but in a world totally dependent on advanced technology for survival, where a single individual could trigger the death of a arcology or worldship, the notion of privacy was a quaint memory. Russia had the advantage that the citizens would likely not chafe under the restrictions that have to be a part of any society based on nanotech, but the disadvantage that its basic governing philosophy was not just archaic, but fundamentally wrong. America had the advantage of having, in principle, values very similar to that of the Golden Age (even if it did not always follow said principles), but the disadvantage that not only might the citizens resent increased control (necessary anyway) even with the ability to "watch the watchers", but the fact that less than a couple pre-nanojuve lifetimes in the future the nation would morph into the horror of the theocratic government of the First Genocide War. This did not bode well for its ability to deal with a multi-species civilization. The UN had the advantage of ostensibly being a world organization, but historical records indicated that it was little more than a polite debating and sometimes-aid siociety. The debate went on with study of the surviving records of the time, with fairly evenly divided opinions. The Council could only act in an advisory capacity on this particular worldship, but Sigmundson wanted all the advice he could get. A small mistake could be particularly damaging at this time, and while the worldship itself would be invulnerable, they would have difficulty stopping all the bombers and missiles from singeing the planet if they should bungle this into a war. Finally, the arguments of T'charik prevailed. The tiny neoherpestes, little larger than an ichneumon, pointed out that the UN was not capable of dealing with such a large situation, and anyway excluded a quarter of the planet's population in the third most poweful nation. Providing aid to Moscow would anger Washington and perhaps provoke the war they feared. Moscow would be a better adversary in such a war, as their arsenals were much smaller and likely to be handleable by the Second Chance . America was over a century from its xenophobic disgrace, and judging by the fact that one of the few TV shows of the decade still remembered featured a starship with an alien first mate, would probably actually be less xenophobic than its rather paranoid Communist rival. The sun, blueshifted into an actinic blaze by the decelerating but still racing worldship, was beginning to show a disk when Sigmundson made his decision. T'charik was offered the position of Ambassador to the United States, and happily accepted. He would be the smallest ambassador in history. The neospecies were seeded on Earth prior to the Second Genocide War to carry on the spark of intelligence if both human and humanoid mammaloids should perish. The only one to just survive the deteriorating ecology until the Return, neoherpestis was also the smallest of all the neogenera as well. His braincase was enlargened, altering his profile even with a nose derived from H. naso, his pelt was derived from the auropunctatus variety of H. javanicus, and his prehensile forepaws here modified raccoon paws. He needed yearly memetic engineering starting after only two or three decades of life, his tiny but capable brain being unable to hold more memories. His diplomatic shuttle would proceed to Washington as soon as the terms of the Protocols were communicated to the Federal Government on every FM channel on the old FM band. ******************************************************* Music Mike was tired of the jamming. Every day, his Washington DC FM station was jammed by a long message about "protocols", "mammaloids", "wormholes" and other such gibberish. And the FCC did not seem intent or able to do anything about it. The radio pirate was hogging the entire spectrum, making it impossible for the new FM stations to be heard for nearly a third of the day. The message kept asking for a reply, and Mike decided to provide one. He composed a message in the legalese the pirate was using, inviting the "ambassador" to Washington. He sent it out over the airwaves as soon as the message ended its daily repitition. Maybe THAT would shut the jerk up already. On board the Second Chance President Sigmundson smiled. At last, after nearly a week, he had gotten an official reply to his request to open diplomatic relations with America. Now T'charik could board the diplomatic shuttle and begin his mission. He entered the shuttle and put his collar voder in the forward compartment. T'charik hated wearing the thing, and hated even more the thought of it being implanted into his throat. He limited his implants to the compuer "second brain" in his chest cavity (which everyone had) and the medical transponder in his abdominal cavity (required for his diplomatic mission...his health had to be monitored, as executing an ambassador was how war was declared under the Protocols - an ambassador was assigned to keep the peace, if he failed he would be the first to die). The translator in the shuttle's computer would handle his chittering and chirupping. The shuttle began it's descent, and a few hours later he was circling Andrews Air Force Base, asking clearance to land on all frequencies. The scanner located some random signals, then finally a demand from the base that he identify himself. He did so on that frequency, but the base just kept demanding his identification over and over. Why couldn't they give him clearance? The tiny amount of antimatter in the shuttle would last awhile, but not forever. If they were not repeatedly demanding his ID he would just land at the base instead of circling interminably. General Smith was not having a good day. It was his first day as Commander of the base, following the death of his predecessor in an automobile accident, and now some bizarre aircraft was circling his base at near Mach 1 and replying to demands for identification with nonsensical replies about "Ambassador T'charik" and requesting landing permission. The craft was none he had ever seen or heard of, and was flying in a way that no jet he had ever concieved of was doing. It was circling so fast that it was on its side, doubtless to handle the G forces. And it had appeared out of nowhere, decelerating with a sonic boom from beyond radar range in a matter of seconds. What's more, it had flown in straight down. Any such aircraft could be a potential threat to the base and the Capital. Perhaps this was a test? A remote controlled drone, testing new technology and, at the same time, testing his ability to defend the base? He gave the order "Shoot it down!" T'charik's radar detected the oncoming jet. FINALLY, they were giving him an escort so he could land. He leveled out and slowed down to meet the jet. A tiny blip appeard off the jet and swiftly approached the shuttle. What were they - BARAMM!! went the shuttle as the Sidewinder missile struck and destroyed it. The crew pod of the shuttle was thrown clear, and the utilty fog protected T'charik from more than a bad stun. The emergency jets activated and the pod began its landing procedure. But the guidance computer was damaged, the pod began a 45 degree ascent toward the northwest and by the time T'charik recovered, the chemical fuel of the pod was exhausted and the pod had become an unguided missile which would land...hard...wherever it would land. The utility fog would protect him but he was soon in for another hard stun. He encircled himself in the crash cocoon for extra protection, and waited. The pod would go maybe a 1000 kilometers, perhaps more or less. He would just have to see. Minutes later, the pod impacted a large granite bolder near the tip of Lake Superior. T'charick opened the cocoon and looked at the damage. To his horror, he saw that the front of the pod had been staved in; the forward compartment completely crushed. He had expected to come down in soil or water, not solid rock. Fortunately...no, UNFORTUNATELY his voder collar had been smahed in two. With the shuttle's translator gone and now his voder, he was a mongoose on the outskirts of Duluth with no more ability to speak with the natives than if he had been a "normal" mongoose. The first thing he had to do, he decided, was to get the heck out of here. The Air Force must have considered him to be a Russian test pilot or something...apparently the United States was more paranoid at this point in time than the fragmentary records indicated. But then why had they replied to the radio messages? Anyway, it was only the grace of God that he had not been killed, thus starting a war right then and there. He would try to find someone who would understand that he was trying to communicate, and then move up the ladder of the chain of command from there. T'charik ran out the crumpled gash in the front of the pod and went off in search of habitation. The transponder implant was letting the Second Chance know that he was still alive, and his location...President Sigmundson would get in touch with someone if he had to send a nandroid down with a neural link to himself to do it. But get out before the military arrives and kills him first. He ran through the forest he had landed in. It was larger than any of the parks that were sprinkled on the inside surface of the Second Chance and subtly more "natural" looking. There was a greater variety of plants, and smells which were totally unfamiliar. He finally reached a line of houses. In back of one a man and woman were sitting in summer wear on folding chairs, and enjoying the view. T'charik went up to them and began trying to pantomime the predicament he had found himself in. "Oh, look at that crazy animal, George." said the woman. "Is it sick or something? Look how it is acting!" "It looks like a giant weasel...but it is acting like no animal I have ever heard of before. Like it is doing tricks or something." T'charik picked up a pebble and began trying to scratch a few letters on the cement patio, but the stone left no trace. "Maybe it is someone's pet...although it would have to be an awfully exotic pet. I've never seen anything like it, and it is acting like something out of a circus." "Maybe we should send it to the pound?" asked the woman as T'charik lay down at her feet. "No, this is no cat or dog, even if it seems tame. Maybe the zoo would be better." T'charik bristled for a moment at this suggestion, then smoothed down. Yes, maybe the zoo would be safer...and he would be more likely to be seen by someone who would at least understand that his antics were intelligent. "Oh, look! It's almost as if he understood! Yes, we will try the zoo." LLoyd Hackl, director of the Duluth Zoo, accepted the gift of the strange animal. First of all he had something of a hard time figuring out just what the heck it was. He could tell by the teeth that it was a carnivore, but a process of elimination with his reference books was necessary to reduce the choices down to an ichneumon Herpestes ichneumon or a gold spotted mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus. The characteristic coat, with its sprinkling of gold specks, indicated the latter but its size indicated the former. Hackl finally decided that the specimen must be an over large gold spotted mongoose, sort of the animal equivalent of a circus giant. The profile seemed all wrong, too...maybe he would have to get a more experienced authority to confirm his classification for him. In the meantime, Hackl could have a mongoose and would be able to put it on display for the zoo and maybe someone would claim it as a pet. The zoo could not purchase the animal without authorization from the directors, but they could hold it for awhile as it was not being sold to them. Hackl asked what they should name the critter. John Mealy, one of his employees, suggested Mr. Magoo..."like the cartoon character. Rhymes with zoo. It's perfect!" 'Mr. Magoo', aka T'charik, was placed in a large cage one side heavily wired so the zoogoers could see him, with a smaller house-like box labled with his new name, near the preparation room. All the staff and visitors fell in love with the mongoose and his antics. And T'charik grew increasingly frustrated by his inability to communicate and Sigmundson's failure to intervene. ************************************************ Sigmundson was well aware that T'charik was in the Duluth zoo. His transponder pinpointed him to within a fraction of a meter, and nanoprobes, disguised as local insects, were observing T'charik closely. Thousands more nanoprobes were dropping in the wee hours of the morning all over the United states, invisibly small to the radar systems of the time (if only they had arrived in 1905...). They were picking up radio and TV stations and observing daily life, sending their transmissions by SHF to a relay in Clarke orbit over the United States. Sigmundson had acted hastily in sending T'charik on down, and despite growing pressure from the Council he was determined to thouroughly research the United States before he acted again. Teams of historians scoured the results of the nanoprobing and tried to comp-simulate various reactions to an overt First Contact (or Second Contact, to be precise). T'charik would not need memetic engineering for several months at least, and Sigmundson would use as much time as he could to work out the proper course of action. T'charik was safe in the zoo, and later on things would be going smoothly. The people on Earth had finally noticed the 30X150 kilometer craft orbiting in the Moon's L5 position. They were describing it as an asteroid fallen into orbit around Earth. This was nonsense, as the astronomers should soon realize...especially when they looked back over their photographic plates and failed to see the Polaris bright "asteroid" moving into view along a normal orbit. Indeed, Sigmundson was surprised (but grateful) that it had taken them this long to notice the Second Chance. It seemed the government and people thought their radio transmissions were some private individual in Washington trying to blanket the FM band with his own equipment, while the "reply" had been a station announcer broadcasting his own response. Sigmundson was determined not to make such a blunder again...this one almost cost him impeachment and his life if convicted. ************************************************* On the first Wednesday of the month following T'charik's arrival occurred the monthly meeting of the Arrowhead Zoological Society, which sponsored the zoo and ran its business. Also attending this meeting were some reporters looking for some animal "human interest" stories. Society president Dr. Pershing Hofslund, suggested Hackl tell them about the mongoose, which he happily did. A few days latter a picture of Hackl holding the mongoose and a story ran in the morning News and Tribune and the evening Herald. Reading these stories, among other residents of Duluth, was Clarence L. Bingham, Assistant Collector of U. S. Customs, who called Customs Marine Officer Donald Grimwood and informed him that a mongoose was in the United States in violation of U. S. Code, Title 18, Paragraph 42. Grimwood then informed Harry W. Nash, Director of the Duluth Department of Parks and Recreation and ordered him to report the violation to Floyd Davis in Minneapolis, the Regional Supervisor of Mamagement and Enforcement of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, who would order it destroyed. Nash sent in a plea for 'Mr. Magoo's' life, saying it was a single animal who could not possibly reproduce, be kept closely watched and was an asset to the community. The reply read "Reference is made to the acquisition of a mongoose by the Duluth Zoo. We are sorry to advise you that there is no way in which we can authorize you to keep the animal. Federal regulations prohibit the import or possession of this animal in the United States. We are requesting U. S. Game Management Agent Harry Pinkham to take charge of this animal, have it humanely killed by gas chamber or otherwise, and to transport the body intact to the Regional Office in Minneapolis for disposal. We would like to have some photos taken of the animal before it is killed." Hackl vowed to fight this sentence. He leaked the story to the papers and soon, people were lined up at Mayor George D. Johnson's office. They demanded that something be done. The mayor and city attorney Harry Weinberg promised to do everything they could, but would not break the law to do so. Newspapers across the nation carried the story. And nanoprobes gazed up at newpapers in Duluth in their stands and narrowcast the headlines to Second Chance. And so President Sigmundson learned of the thread by which war and peace hung by. Two small shuttles left the worldship and streaked towards Earth. Each held a globe of silvery metal, rippling like mercury. One was aimed at Duluth, and would be neural linked to Linpao Chang, the Vice President of the Second Chance . The other was aimed at Washington DC and would be neural linked to President Sigmundson. When they arrived, they would assume the form of their "hosts" and intervene in the course of events. Meanwhile, Harry Pinkham's schedule was favorable for him to reach Duluth. Across time and space, another Mr. Magoo's life was spared by an unfavorable schedule for a very, very similar Harry Pinkham, which allowed time for Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall to to intervene. But here and now, Pinkham arrived at the zoo before Linpao Chang's nandroid avatar. Harry was dismayed by the near mob in front of 'Magoo's' cage, as he arrived with a still pleading Hackl by his side. He had a gun...would he have to brandish it, much less use it? He also had a hypodermic needle for the mongoose...the "or otherwise" in his instructions and far more convienient than hauling around a gas chamber or using some vet's. He, his assistant and Hackl worked his way through the crowd to enter the cage and picked up the sleeping mongoose, exhausted by yet another day of pantomiming a message, ANY message, to the uncomprehending people outside. "Do you have the photographs?' asked Pinkham. "No, I am not going to co-operate with this travesty any more than I am legally forced to." replied Hackl. Travesty? What travesty wondered a half-awake Neoherpestes sapiens . And what is this guy in the cage, a vet? "We better do it in your office, away from this crowd." said Pinkham and the now crying Hackl led him through the protesting crowd and into his office. "This law makes no sense...Mr Magoo holds no threat to this country. He has no mate, he can't reproduce...why does the government have to kill him?" "The law is -" Pinkham yelped as the mongoose bit him and streaked off into an adjoining room. T'charik heard the door slam behind him. He was in a room full of filing cabinets and he jumped into the open drawer at the bottom of one of them. Fortunately there were only a few dust lined file folders. but still he was barely able to wedge his body into it. He pushed with his paws and succeeded in closing the drawer. "I'll go in, John. Make sure he doesn't escape." he heard. T'charik was rolled up into a ball, concentrating on staying still in the dusty drawer. Pinkham opened the door a crack, squeezed in and quickly shut it behind him. Then he began thouroughly searching for the mongoose. He grew more and more frustrated as he failed to find him, when suddenly he heard a Cheee! and the sound of crumpling paper coming from one of the filing cabinets. He opend the drawer and plunged the needle in pushing the plunger hard. T'charik felt a coldness like a Bose-Einstein condensate and just had time for one last thought, wondering how Sigmundson would destroy America. Then he was dead. Pinkham took T'charik's body out and hollered at Hackl "You are in serious trouble, mister. Hiding that animal makes you subject to prosecution -" Now Hackl was mad. "What do you mean hiding? I took you to him, it's not my fault you dropped him. Frankly, I'm glad now that he bit you -" "THERE WAS NO WAY THAT ANIMAL COULD HAVE GOTTEN INTO A CLOSED CABINET DRAWER WITHOUT HELP! tHERE WAS NO ONE ELSE IN THERE, IT HAD TO BE YOU -" "I WAS IN HERE THE WHOLE TIME. IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO HAVE HIDDEN HIM IN THERE!" "NOW LISTEN HERE -" Pinkham blinked a couple times. "You're right...it is impossible. How did -" "I imagine T'charik did it himself." said an oriental looking man in the room. "Who are you? Who is T'charik? And how did you get in here?" demanded Pinkham. "I am Linpao Chang. T'charik is the neoherpestid you refer to as Mr. Magoo. I got in by flowing under the door. I will now take possession of T'charik". The strange man extended his hand. His arm seemed to dissolve into quicksilver and extended impossibly long to reach the body of T'charik, which he took from Pinkham's now unresisting fingers. All three humans present in the room had their jaws hanging nearly to their chests. Chang's "hand" flowed and enveloped T'charik for a few moments. "T'charik is dead. If I were president instead of vice president, your cities would soon be in flames." The phone rang and Hackl walked out like a zombie to answer it. "They say it is the White House. They have ordered me not to turn over Mr. Magoo." "I will inform my counterpart that Kennedy is too late." Chang morphed into a silvery manikin for a long minute, Pinkham and his assitant stared and Hackl listened to the phone. Then he came back into the room. "They say we're to be taken into custody at the White House." "I suggest you co-operate" said Chang as he reappeard on the manikin. ************************************************ Kennedy looked at the blond haired "man" in the Oval Office. His Secret Service bodyguard had emptied his gun into the ...thing...when it had appeared before him, flowing like water under the door and rising up like some grotesque plant. Gunshots outside the office indicated that other Secret Service guards had attempted the same thing. Silvery ripples had spread out across the chest of the whatever it was, but had done no other apparent damage. The person then identified himself as President Sigmundson of the space-time ship Second Chance and basically ordered Kennedy to stop the execution of a mongoose in Duluth, as illogical as that sounded. The visitor had to change shape, flowing around the Oval Office, before Kennedy would believe that something weird was happening. It took another minute or two to be convinced that his demand that the mongoose be spared was in earnest. Kennedy picked up the phone and connected to the Duluth Zoo, as the stranger ordered. The voice on the other end identified himself as Hackl, the zoo director. He sounded like he was in some state of shock. For some seconds Sigmundson went all silver, then reappeared on the entity he was represented on. "T'charik is dead. Bring anyone responsible for his death here as soon as possible." Kennedy shook his head and spoke into the phone "You and the men who killed that bird or whatever it was are to be brought into protective custody here at the White House immediately. We will arrange your transport by limosine and jet at once" Kennedy hung up the phone and turned to the nandroid. "What are you? A space alien?" "No, Mr. President. A time traveler. Perhaps it would be better if we used some unofficial liaison for interaction. My...blunders...have already placed your nation in peril. An 'under the table' means of communication would be more...safe, since we would not be on record, and each can have communications filtered through an intermediary contemporary with our own time. I have already selected a historian as mine. May I suggest a young exobiologist and astronomer who seems to have had an unusually broad and pliant mind for your time. We named the second planet of Tau Ceti after him...his name is Carl Sagan. Our records indicate he is currently working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory." ****************************************** Dr.Sagan was rather more than surprised when a limosine appeared at the Jet Propulsion Lab and a couple official looking men came in and requested (quite firmly) his presence in said limosine, where he would be taken to the nearest airport and a chartered jet would transport him to Washington DC at once. He soon became excited. He was a very cautious man, but the giant asteroid in Earth orbit could not be explained conventionally. And there were those bizarre radio messages in the Washington area. Maybe he had the privilege of living at the time when humanity would be invited to join Galactic Civilization! His mind whirled with the possibilities during the long trip, and both a too long and a too short time later he was in the Oval Office, facing a very worried looking Kennedy. "Mr. President, have we been contacted by extraterrestrials?' Sagan whispered. "No. Our visitors are both far less and far more alien than you can possible imagine. OK, he is here." A flow of liquid metal appeared from behind the president's desk and rose to take on the form of...a humanoid raccoon. "Greetings, Dr. Sagan. I am Orpheus Korum 6546 Procyon. And I am from what you would call the early 31st Century." ********************************************** Sigundson had given the President 96 hours to demonstratte that the killing of T'charik was not the government's doing or his worldship and the United States would be at war. Then he asked Sagan, Kennedy. and Korum to accompany him outside. The Secret Service men moved to follow, and he allowed it. They walked through the doors of the White House and out into the deepening twilight. "Watch the Moon" said Sigmundson simply, and flashed silver for a couple seconds. The crescent moon was low in the western sky. For an interminable moment nothing happened. Then a blue-white point appeared between the horns so bright it seemed to have a scintillating dot-like disk. The ground behind them showed stark, razor-edged shadows. Gradually the blue faded and was replaced by yellow. The yellow dot expanded slowly, merging into orange as it did so. Afer a minute a disk nearly a quarter of the moon's size was glowing red next to the moon. The shadows had faded away. "The hole is the size of Rhode Island and as deep as the Grand Canyon." Sigmundson told the stuned men. "Come inside...I believe Sagan and Korum have much to speak about, and have only 95 hours and 42 minutes to do it." ********************************************* The following evening the young exobiologist asked the guard of the office he was in with Korum to escort him to the President. The guard spoke in a walky-talky for permission, then said "Come along." Kennedy looked very worried and Sagan looked very exhausted. "Do you know what is going on out there?" exclaimed the President. "The cover story is that a giant meteor hit the moon and created the new crater. People are worried about a third asteroid or meteor striking the Earth. Radio talk hosts like Long John Nebel are fielding theories of everything from flying saucers from Mars to a Soviet secret super-weapon. The country is on the verge of panic. Civil disturbances have broken out in several cities already. The lid is barely holding on! The official comment is that the White House is 'studying the situation' and that I will address the nation in two days. What will I tell them?" "Mr. President, what it looks like you are going to have to tell them is that we have been contacted by time-travelers from the year 3006, that some of them are genetically modified human-animal hybrids or genetically uplifted intelligent quadruped animals, that one such animal came down to Earth as an ambassador, that his shuttle was shot out of the sky by a USAF general, that the ambassador survived the crash but was killed by a Federal Agent acting against your specific orders, and that both the general and the agent will be extradited to the timeship, that they will be placed on trial...the general for War Mongering and the agent for Genocide, and that they will be executed at once if found guilty. And they will have to be found guilty if we are to worm our way out of this." "General Smith acted without my orders, and technically he failed to follow strict procedure by neglecting to warn the UFO that it would be destroyed before he destroyed it. He is a military man, and I could see ordering him to lay his life down for his country. But Pinkham is a civilian who was doing his job correctly...it is not his fault that my reprieve came a few minutes too late. And where do you get War Mongering...and Genocide for cryin out loud! Pinkham is no Hitler!" "Actually, by their laws Hitler did not commit Genocide." "What? Then what did he commit? Jay Walking?" "He committed Mass Murder. Genocide under their Protocols...which they hold sacred, by the way...is the killing of one or more members of a sapient species different from your own because said member or members are of their species. Number is only needed to be one or more. The killer does not have to recognize the sapience of the victim. War Mongering is an attack by a military person or government employee against an ambassador, since governments go to war...which has not happened for more than six centuries of their time...by killing the ambassador of the opposing country." "What kind of Medieval bullshit is that? Why would they declare war in such a barbaric fashion?" "Under their Protocols, an ambassador is a hostage to peace. His job is to preserve the peace between his native and host countries. If he fails, he knows he will be the first to die." "If they are time-travelers, why can't they just go back and fix things?" "In a planetary sense, that is what they are trying to do. I have seen 3D images of Earth in their time. It looks like Death Valley...like the surface of the moon. The land is vast slagheaps, lakes of fused green glass, pits of calcined ash...even rats are an endangered species there...and they are the only things left on land larger than insects. And they say it was even worse centuries ago, before they began trying to restore it. All this from a series of genocidal...by their definition...wars in the early part of the coming millennium. But the Protocols were designed to put an end to these wars. And we have...inadvertantly, true...gone against their Protocols. To let T'charik's death go unpunished would make a mockery of all they hold dear." "But if they go back..." "They will create a third timeline, altered from both the original timeline and the first altered timeline. But T'charik will still have been killed in this one, and they cannot let that simply pass." "Altered timeline...you mean imaginary ones? Ones that don't exist?" "We are in an altered timeline. I can tell you when you would have died if the Second Chance had not arrived...in November of 1963, felled by an assassin's bullet. I would have died in 1996 of a disease I have never even heard of before. Be we...us...may die tomorrow or live to be a hundred." "You have spoken with my alternate number on the ship? And why do they call him a President instead of a Captain?" "They call him President because that is what he is...elected by a Council of all the species aboard, in turn elected by the members of their species. The ship has half the land area of Massachusetts and a population of nearly three million. And I have spoken with him on several occassions, and he was very...adamant. All he would say is 'You have H hours and M minutes left'. Korum seemed to understand our position better, but even he does not ...grok is the word they use...it at all. Korum, in fact, was the one who convinced the Council to make the President and Vice President be humans." "Grok?" "I long understood how city lights could interfere with star observing. I could calculate how far away lit up dust in the air could be seen and blot out faint celestial features...the formula is quite basic. But once I drove out of town into the outback to do some observing...and drove, and drove, and drove. Finally I got to the site. It was pristine...except for the lights of the town, still lighting the sky near the horizon. That was when I REALLY understood the problem...when I 'grokked' it. Korun told me how his parents...he is one of the oldest people on the ship...made him have a baculum and be more like his raccoon ancestors. A penis bone is not convienient for a biped, and as soon as he reached his majority...which is 35 in their culture...he had it removed. That was half a millennium ago." Kennedy took a deep breath and shook his head. "How did they manage to kill this...Tikchik or whatever? My Secret Service men shot their president and didn't make a scratch. And why didn't they use a human ambassador?' "They did not shoot their president. They shot a nandroid...a sort of amoeboid gelatinous robot...actually billions of microscopic robots massed together...which presented the appearance of their president or whoever is 'broadcasting' to it. They could no more hurt him then an assassin could kill you by shooting your image on a TV screen. And they did not send a human because they will not send a human to this planet until our medical technology is able to deal with the...germs is not the right word, but it will have to do...that were used against humanity in the Genocide Wars. They are sure that these 'germs' are extinct, or at least not aboard their ship, but this provides an extra layer of protection. They do not want to take chances with something that could kill 3 billion people." "But they don't mind panicking half the planet?" Sagan's cleared his throat. He was getting hoarse...he had obviously done a lot of talking in the past day. "This was intended to impose their standards of Civilization on the world and do so without turning Earth into a burned out cinder doing it. Thus they could have an 'advanced' society and culture. while keeping Mother Earth a garden world doing it. But it got screwed up." "So they just come in and tell us what to do?" "Now you know how the natives felt when the missionaries arrived with their Bibles and guns." "And why send a mongoose if they knew that they are illegal in this country?" "They did not know this. The wars killed huge swaths of the population...20 billion all together...and surviving populations only saved what was most important. Korum wrote his Dissertation on the Thesis that Sherlock Holmes was a historical, not fictional character. This was a minority but serious school of thought. He was quite disappointed to find out that he was wrong. I know how he felt, by the way...they have probed twenty planets with oceans and continents and found them all sterile, including the one that bears my name, observed thousands more and seen no signs of life, and have detected no radio signals equivalent to 1962 Earth out to over half the Hubble Radius. It seems we are alone. Anyway, they scanned all their databases for the Lacey Act and came up with only '1900 Lacey Act passed' in a chronology of significant events in the history of conservation. That's all they know...that it had something to do with conservation in 1900. Of the 180 million Americans I doubt if more than 180 thousand know that mongooses are prohibited here." "Can't they understand that we don't get along with each other, much less other species?' "Understanding that others may not hold your values is often the hardest thing to do. They thought they could just rescue us from our folly. But they have made an iron-clad set of rules which governs EVERYBODY, genetically engineered themselves to 'edit' out tendencies to xenophobia and increase those to xenophilia, and done the same with their adult brains. Bigotry is not even wrong to them. It is not like saying '2 + 2 = 5', it is like saying '2 + 2 = purple'. They think that we are literally insane...they call our time 'The Age of Insanity' and they came here to cure us." "Why did they pick a mongoose if they have so many other species to choose from?" "Because T'charik led the debate for the Second Chance to ally with America. That was his reward." "How are we going to get out of this? Pinkham, at least, is completely innocent. I have no intention of turning him over." "Then we will be at war with the Second Chance. I know enough to know that our missiles cannot reach more than a fraction of the distance, and it will be years before they can. When the deadline expires, Sigmundson will destroy one of the largest cities in the country at random. He will continue doing this daily until you surrender or he runs out of cities." "What about a pro forma surrender? I just say I surrendered and let him save face. Then we go on as if nothing has happened." "The minimum requirements for a surrendered nation under the Protocols is withdrawal home of all the out of nation's military forces and equipment. In addition, they will have to replace America with the second leading nation of the Earth...which is Russia. All our efforts to contain Communism, all the money and blood, will have been in vain. The Kremlin will have won the Cold War." Keneddy dropped his head in his hands. ********************************************** Another one of the precious days had passed. Kennedy, Sagan and Korum's avatar were in the Oval Office as Pinkham, his assistant and Hackl were escorted in. They were told to be quiet, as Sagan gave a lecture describing the situation that the United States had found itself in. Their faces grew pale as the words rolled on. "But I was just doing my job!" protested Pinkham. "Like at Nuremberg?" snapped Sagan. Then he looked down at the floor and blushed. "Sorry, that was a cheap shot. I haven't had much sleep in the last couple of days." "Neither have I." Kennedy looked like he had aged years in the last few days. "Look, I've gone over this every way I can. I don't see that I have much choice but to turn you over, Pinkham. Thousands of Americans have died in the war against Communism already. Korum says even more would have died in the ...original future. All this will be in vain if I don't turn you over. I'm going to have to say that you acted against my explicit orders." "But that is not true, Mr. President. I did not receive the orders until after I had already killed this...mongoose or alien or whatever." "We have to maintain the legal fiction that you did. We have to pretend that the government had nothing to do with this." "But why me, sir?" "Because you are the one who actually did it. We could implicate your superiors as well, but that would just put more people on death row. I would even go, but as Head of Government that would implicate the government and we would just be back in a state of war." "Can't they make an exception to these...Protocols? Can't their president suspend them in my case?" Sagan spoke. "There is a short science fiction story, "The Cold Equations" it was called. A shuttle has a supply of desperately needed serum for a colony planet. But a little girl stows away aboard, and her added mass means the shuttle does not have enough fuel to land without crashing. The cold equations of physics mean that she has to be thrust out the airlock if the shuttle is to land and save the colony. She has to die for them. Physics has no exceptions. The Protocols were designed to have no exceptions." "The law is designed to protect our wildlife. Don't they have laws to protect their wildlife? Can't they understand that?" "There is no wildlife left for them to protect. The poles and mountaintops are tropical deserts, the temperate zones saunas, the equator a broiler oven. Earth is dying in their time. They have thousands of mile high machines on the planet trying to cleanse the air and stop the planet from becoming another hell like Venus...which is worse than even I imagined. It's finally beginning to work but...well, Worrying about introducing mongooses in their era has the absurdity of complaining about snowflakes on your glasses while an avalanche is bearing down on you." "And what do you expect me to do when I get there?" "You will waive the right to examination under truth detection technology. You will acknowledge that you killed T'charik because he was a mongoose species, albeit a sapient one, in direct defiance of the President's express order." "Which is a lie. I had not received the order at that time." "That is why you are to waive your right to examination under truth detection technology. You will then be immediately taken and put to death in the same fashion in which you killed T'charik." Pinkham had the sudden thought he was glad he chose a needle. As bad as lethal injection was, a gas chamber seemed worse. But this still seemed absurd. "What if I use this 'truth detection technology'and tell the truth?" "Then your life will be spared. Since you were acting for the government at the time, you will be taken as a prisoner of war. Your life as such will likely be more luxurious than it ever was here on Earth...their technology is very advanced. But America will be at war with them." "We will lose." added Kennedy. "Since there is nothing I can do to them, I will have no choice but to surrended at once. They will choose the U.S.S.R. as their allies. Your friends and family will live in a Communist world. "If they are so powerful, why are they so afraid of us, if they can burn a hole through the moon?" "They are not afraid of us" whispered Sagan. "They are afraid of themselves. The Protocols were to protect sapient species, humanity in particular, from annihilation." "He wasn't communicating. We loved him, but he just acted like a rather strange animal." said Hackl. "He would do silly antics like the triangle dance, then get mad when people laughed at it." "Triangle dance?" "He would move his food and water dishes across the enclosure. Then he would walk in a triangle from his little house to the water dish to the food dish and back...three steps, then four, then five, every time." "Pythagoras" sighed Sagan. "What?" "Never mind." The world would probably know soon enough...the President was to give his speech tomorrow, and surely someone in the crowd who had seen T'charik would remember his high school geometry and figure it out. You just don't expect to see a zoo animal demonstrate a theorum. "He had a voder...a talking device, and clothing, and other items, in the forward compartment of his escape pod. but they were destroyed in the crash...heck, HE was nearly destroyed. There are humanoid animals in the Second Chance who can speak with an accent, though even they use voders often to ease communications. But T'charik's species was the last quadruped one left. There were a few on the slopes of the Himalayas rescued before Earth got too bad." "I should have realized something was wrong when I found him hiding in the filing cabinet. Animals just don't do that on their own. If he hadn't sneezed I never would have thought to look there." "Sneezed?" muttered Kennedy. "But am I to be the scapegoat for this?" "There are plenty of people who are responsible. President Sigmundson, who is avoiding the death penalty for gross malfeasance only because THEY have to maintain the legal fiction as well, General Smith, who has already agreed to be extradited as well to the Second Chance to stand trial and be executed for war mongering, T'charik for not keeping his damn voder on his damn neck, even Kennedy for having trouble believing this for a few minutes and giving you time to kill the ambassador. But at the very least, both you and Smith will have to lay down your lives if the Free World is to remain free. And your reputation will have to be destroyed...you will have to falsely be branded a traitor." "I...see..." Pinkham seemed numb. "I can and will extradite you to the Second Chance" said Kennedy. "But only you can make this work. You have to accept full blame for the death of T'charik. If you do, you die and your reputation is destroyed, but we have a chance to make this a better world. If you don't, you will live, but America will be reduced to a second rate nation in a world under the hammer and sickle. Do you understand this?" "Yes, Mr. President." "Do you agree to co-operate?" "...I...yes, Mr. President." ********************************************* At Arlington Air Force Base, Mr. Harry Pinkham, an American hero, walked toward the bullet shaped craft which already held General Smith and which would take the both of them to the Second Chance. America had just won the Cold War. This story is a work of fiction. Major historical characters, such as President Kennedy and Carl Sagan, are features. In addition, minor historical characters in Minnesota such as Harry Pinkham and Lloyd Hackl are used for authenticity. They are given their full names and are based on their depictions in the book The Duluth Mongoose by Jack Denton Scott. Totally fictional 1962 characters such as "General Smith", "Musical Mike" and Pinkham's assistant "John" are invented by me and are not intended to reflect any actual person. All actions by historical characters in my altered history are my own imagination and do not necessarily reflect how the characters would have actually behaved.