Face to face
I have been summoned: in the night Gabrielle’s voice instructed me to be at her place in the morning, and I was told, politely but firmly, to go on my own. I tell Sarah, and we talk briefly about what we could expect. Sarah thinks it might have to do with the offer, that of parthenogenesis. The Coven may have realised the human females won’t give up their males that easily (“I’ll tell them to go and clone themselves!” was Jane’s reaction, the more remarkable since my sister’s tendencies are well known). So “they” may want to appraise me of an alternative plan says my wife. I am skeptical, for I believe now that “they” are indeed all powerful: why should they care about what we think? Sarah thinks that I am giving up the fight too early, the Coven wants something, and we are not sure what. Their objective is evidently not mere destruction: they have a goal, and we need to find out what that is.
So I set off just after dawn, and an hour later I am walking the narrow street, deserted at this time. The chill of the morning air seems sharper here and I walk faster until I reach the long wall and the small door. The door is unlocked and as I cross the threshold it shuts closed behind me. “Come in Julian” says Gabrielle’s voice and I slowly reach the end of the corridor. Gabrielle and another person stand in the room I know so well, in front of the bay window. It takes me a few seconds to recognise Elga. Gabrielle signals me to take a seat on the sofa near the chimney. As on the first time I came to this house a wood fire burns brightly, projecting an eery light in the room. The two women are sitting in front of me, their backs to the window. Elga looks now much different from the attractive creature Sarah and I met several months back. Her long black hair is wrapped in a complicated bun, held by a deep blue metallic ring. But her clothes… She wears a grey suit reminiscent of the spartan Mao-Tse-Tung tunique, but well cut, buttoned up to her chin, which fits her athletic body well.
I am waiting for one of them to speak, and remain silent. We observe each other for long minutes. Then Gabrielle addresses me, in a slow voice intended to convince.
“Thank you for joining us at such short notice Julian. We have to share with you, and through you with your friends if you judge it wise, of a decision the Coven took a few hours – that is for you a few weeks – ago.” Gabrielle pauses and I look at Elga, who is not smiling but, rather, looking at her companion as if in deep reflection.
“The Coven has now realised the inanity of suggesting a violent solution to what we see as your predicament, and to the risks this may present to us in the future. Equally we understand how unpractical it would be to impose a ban on your ways to reproduce yourselves…” I am waiting for what is, inevitably, going to follow, but I am wrong, have been wrong all the time.
“Elga is going to explain what we are going to do, as you know she represents the Coven here, you could say, she’s in charge of this sector of your galaxy on our behalf…”
Elga then speaks, and her voice conveys immense authority, and a slight veil of impatience.
“You know that Gabrielle and I have had some difficulties in convincing many of our own about the value of giving you and your species time to evolve further. In part our problem is due to your use of atomics, and the continuous violence which appears to characterise the way you attempt – and fail – to resolve conflicts.” I am aware of Elga’s eyes firmly fixed on me, of her beautiful face showing nothing but an implacable resolution. “We have considered many ways we could intervene without destroying you. In truth, for many of us, the survival of your beautiful planet is far more important than yours, as a species. However we have concluded that attempting one without the other may prove costly, for you, and for us.” Elga pauses, and I am thinking of the meteorite in the skies of Russia. “So, we have come to this conclusion, unanimously: we have to intervene directly in your affairs, neutralising some of the fatal moves some of your governments may be tempted to make, in one word, practise what you would call a ‘humanitarian mission’ – with a difference, we have the means of obliterating any resistance.” We are silent, I am listening to the fire, reliving our previous meetings, and Gabrielle finally speaks:
“We have 100% coverage of all of mankind’s present conflict areas and strategic sites. As you have probably guessed we have spent the past few years developing an extensive – shall we say – spy network of a fine mesh of which your science cannot conceive. Suffice to say that the same mesh can be used to destroy weaponry of any size and power, from long range missiles down to a single hand gun. “
Elga smiles and adds, suddenly back to a more congenial stance: “We knew you would understand Julian. Now, what we want you to do, is to explain the situation to your friends. Melissa has been informed and she will help you prepare the drafts.”
I am waiting, the drafts of what? Elga resumes, now smiling broadly: “You are going to write to the ten or so top newspapers in your world, explaining the situation in your own words. You should know now, that people are going to take what you say seriously.”