Crossing a Threshold
Amun carried her to the transporter. Her face was creased with pain, her hands pressed against her rib cage. Peering into her mind, he could feel what she felt. She didn’t know about the attack. Hovering bots waited at the entrance to the medical bay. “Please stand back,” one of the bots ordered him, as he placed her on a floating platform. Other wounded Tayamni were arriving. A male whose environmental suit had been blasted off, his naked body torn and broken, was brought in directly behind them.
“Take this male to the embalming chambers,” the medical bot ordered. Another female arrived on a hovering stretcher.
“How many did we lose?” Amun asked.
The bot closest to him replied, “So far, 58.” More bots were arriving. Amun saw two Tayamni medical officers, busily shouting orders. The medical bay was filled to capacity.
“Set up in the hallway,” the chief medical officer ordered.
Earlier, as Batresh lost consciousness, the Elders ordered all Tayamni to come to the Lunar base. Having decrypted communications, the Potacas waited at positions between the Earth and Moon. Potacas ships and weapons, newly enhanced, monitored Tayamni vessels lifting off the planet. As Batresh’s people sped towards Luna, the attack began.
The Potacas strategy was to attack with their new weapons, metallic cones. Then, going in for the kill, they attacked with blaster weapons. An atomic weapon detonated near a cluster of Tayamni ships lifting off from the Soviet Union, destroying five vessels.
Along with Amun, 16 Tayamni vessels launched a counter attack from the Lunar base. Although improved, the enemies’ weapons were still no match for prepared Tayamni. When the Potacas realized their technology was overwhelmed, they retreated. Eight Potacas vessels, in total, were destroyed.
As the effects of the biological weapon subsided, Batresh felt more alert. Medical bots directed healing beams of energy towards her rib cage, healing broken bones and lacerations. She sat up, more aware of her surroundings. Around her, she felt curiosity and questions from others in the medical bay. She looked around. Wounded Tayamni lay on platforms all around her. Why so many? What happened?
“Your space is needed, please leave the medical bay,” the bot nearest her commanded. She didn’t remember Amun bringing her. Swinging her legs around, she saw more wounded and dying. Two surviving Potacas were treated on stretchers on the far side of the room. She tried to orient herself. A bot took her hand to guide her. She reached the hallway, and saw more platforms. Beds lined the curving hallway as far as she could see in both directions. She gasped, bringing her hand to her mouth. Then, she felt Amun’s presence. She turned around, and saw him walking towards her.
She had not seen him for weeks. She stood on tip toes to put her arms around his shoulders. He held her closely, burying his face in her neck. They inhaled each other’s scents. He kissed her neck and moved his mouth to a position near her ear. “Come,” he whispered. “I will show you what happened.” He took her hand and lowered her back to the floor.
She could feel the power of his affection. Looking up at his face, burned deeply brown by the sun, unshaven, with cropped hair, she was happy to be close to him. She could feel him exploring her recent memories. He began to send images. She saw alerts he and other Elders received at the Lunar base. She saw footage of Tayamni ships under attack. She saw Amun’s fingers flying over hieroglyphic shapes on the console of the ship as he flew to rescue her. She saw her body, torn by belts holding her against the seat of the ship.
They exited into an open cavern at the lowest level of the base. She smelled flowers from Mussara, and felt coolness from a waterfall. They walked towards the center of the vault. Just now, she noticed that Amun wore the protective clothing of those who worked under dangerous conditions, an environmental suit. The gold and silver pectoral resting on his shoulders and chest contained technology that enhanced natural capabilities. In front of them, a woman wearing a hijab turned to acknowledge them. They stood there, linked with telepathic connections.
A woman humans would have called middle-aged, wearing a Soviet military uniform, ascended to a platform at the center of the cavern. Making no attempt to discipline her thoughts, people standing near the platform felt bit of sentences and blurred images radiating from her. She was tired, stressed, excoriated by the Potacas attack she just witnessed. She was, Lamma, of the House of Uanna. In the midst of aggressive plots and schemes from various levels of the Soviet military leadership, she ascended to the position of Matriarch of the entire Terran mission.
“Beloved Tayamni,” she began, looking out at those gathered before her. Hiding her feelings was impossible. She was exhausted.
She spoke aloud slowly, clearly, punctuating consonants crisply, “We have fallen prey to military deception.” She paused, looking down at the platform, and then out again at the people standing around her. She felt them, their feelings, their confusion and fear, their shock at her use of the term, “military deception.” With eyes narrowed, her lips tightened against her teeth, she continued, “We have monitored Potacas communications since the rise of the heretic.” Not needing to explain that she referred to the ancient Pharaoh Akhenaten, she continued, “Until yesterday, we were confident they could not, in turn, monitor us.
“After intercepting a disturbing Potacas message, we summoned all Elders at the Terran mission. They claimed to have broken our encryption codes.” She stopped again. Another woman stepped up to give her a cup of water. She continued, “They know us well enough to know what we would do. They knew we would summon you here to facilitate communication of this information directly. They knew we would not risk strategic messages being intercepted.”
She took a drink of water and looked at the entrance to the cavern. More Tayamni were arriving. She swallowed hard, and kept on, “They were waiting for us.” She paused, cleared her throat, and began again, “They were waiting. It is unknown whether they actually decrypted our messages. But, they waited, hidden, monitoring our routes. They employed an enhanced biological weapon. The organisms released by the cones, feed on electrical energy.” She looked around at the assembly as thoughts and questions, telepathic communications flew undirected around the room. “Yes, this is a major advancement.”
She looked out, wondering who of those assembled here would now assume military roles. She continued, “They disabled our shields. Then, when we were completely vulnerable, they used old fashioned blasters to tear our ships apart. Over one hundred of us are dead so far, more are wounded. Some of our ships crashed to the Lunar surface.”
People were speaking aloud, murmuring. A woman standing in front, gasped, covering her mouth. The Matriarch continued, “There were already too few of us, and we have lost many today,” she sighed, looking at a palm tree growing against the cavern wall. She took another sip from the cup, and looked directly at the woman standing in front of her. “Humanity is more vulnerable than at any time since the eruptions at Lake Toba.
“Until we are certain, all communications will be direct. We will not send transmissions over airwaves until this is resolved. You were summoned here to receive this information.
“You are concerned at my use of the word, military,” again, she looked down. She focused on the texture of platform floor. She looked back up, and into Batresh’s face. Recognizing her, a smile crept onto her lips, then disappeared. She continued, “I used the word intentionally. We were at war, millennia ago with them.” She cleared her throat and took another sip of water. “Now, our ancient foe, the Tlalocs have allied with the Potacas, improving their technology to lethal effectiveness.”
There were audible gasps from the people around her.
She continued, “The timeline has changed. The probability of failure at First Contact has risen dramatically.” She began to speak with little feeling. She was spent emotionally, simply relaying facts, like a computer reading out numbers. “Some of you received hints of this potential. The year 2032, the year when First Contact with an interdimensional race will mean the end of humanity.”
Sighing again, she pushed on, “War is inconsistent with the Moral Code. We are taught from infancy to respect all life. The Code, based on the Principals of Ma’at, compels us to protect living creatures.” She looked over their heads to the ceiling in the distance. Then, she began reciting phrases from the Moral Code, “We do not pollute the land nor the waters necessary for life. We do not abuse the innocent with harsh words...”
Batresh began to be afraid the Matriarch would collapse. Her voice was uneven, hoarse. But, after the recitation, she continued, “The Hierarchy of Protection tells us that the most vulnerable must be the most protected. Human life, being most vulnerable, is at the top of the hierarchy.
“As we conduct this war, we must ask ourselves whether the action we take is to save human lives. We cannot act out in anger or retribution. To do this goes against everything we are. We can harm our enemies ONLY if it will save human lives.
“To that end, we are sending diplomats to the Kataru,” she sighed with resignation, having previously opposed joining any alliance that might require them to fight battles that had nothing to do with them. She continued, “At last we will join a military alliance.” She paused, allowing them to take in the enormity of her words. She began again, “We will join the Alliance of Genetically Compatible beings in the Orion Spur. Elder Kirashi will lead this effort.” She looked aside towards their lead diplomat, Kirashi, standing at the front of the group. “We are reaching out to find allies. We cannot fight these combined forces alone.
“Today,” she explained, “Our old enemy attempted to attach seedlings.” She was breathless, as if she could not draw enough air to speak. Yet, she continued, “…greatly enhanced seedlings to Batresh.” She sent images of Batresh as she was passing into unconsciousness on her ship.
“The Potacas have crossed a threshold,” she continued, “for the first time in our history, they attacked our ships outright.”
Among the telepathic voices swirling around them, was one asking about the Tlalocs. The Matriarch responded, “They are reptilian.” She sent ancient images of enemy motherships, high above the planet. These were events some Tayamni believed to be ancient myths. They saw Bronze Age cities attacked with advanced weaponry, humans dying from radiation poisoning and fire. They saw a badly damaged Tayamni space station, falling out of orbit, listing towards the planet.
She continued explaining, speaking aloud, “Then, suddenly, without explanation, the Tlalocs disappeared. They vanished.” She looked at a young African woman standing a few rows back. “At the time when they were most triumphant, they simply disappeared.” This made no sense. There was no logical reason why the Tlalocs would disappear in the midst of triumph. It was the reason why most Tayamni believed those stories to be laced with mythology.
“The Tlalocs are motivated by religion, an intolerant monotheism that does not accept the validity of other cultures. They are highly organized, militaristic, and ruled by a central authority.” She paused, looked towards her left at newly arrived people, then continued, “Their original goal was to take the Terran system and colonize it, taking the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th planets for their own in the Orion Spur. They are Patriarchal, all appearing to be male.”
A jumble of telepathic voices and images crowded into Batresh’s mind, making clear thought impossible.
The Matriarch spoke again, “The Potacas are planning to help the Tlalocs colonize this system.” She turned further around, revealing her strong face in profile. “And, of course,” she continued, “that would mean wars and death on a large scale.” She swallowed, and looked out at them with desperation. “It will mean that First Contact, the event we have been preparing humanity to face, will end in catastrophe.”
The timeline, long established, predicted the arrival of a species, an all-powerful, God-like species, beings of energy and light, at the Terran system. During First Contact, the God-like race will evaluate humanity’s prospects for peaceful coexistence with other races. If humans were found to engage in hateful practices, war, torture, and discrimination, they would be erased, wiped out. It would be as if they never existed.
The Matriarch continued, “Some of you who are young, may not comprehend the nature of changes in the timeline. At the Jovian Temporal-Portal, workers use technology to look into the future and the past. Viewings can be inconsistent. Small events can result in dramatic changes and large, all consuming events may have little impact. What is predicted today, may vanish tomorrow. Timelines constantly change in small ways. But, what we have seen recently is a dramatic shift, and has remained steady. We are beginning to have confidence in this permanent change. And, we must thwart it.
“You will receive enhancements to protect from the upgraded biological weapons you call beasts. Your weapons and ships are being strengthened. We are examining debris from destroyed Potacas vessels. Please come to this station to report any developments. We must protect communications.”