tagSci-Fi & FantasyOffspring Ch. 042

Offspring Ch. 042

byTalemaster©

After the first two pages it became obvious that this was no ordinary diary. No diarist starts off with a short autobiography for a start. Colonel Emerson had evidently meant it to be a record for posterity.

At the time of the Torgon invasion Emerson was forty-six years old, married with two teenage children and head of police in Dorivar, which turned out to be the city Feng and I had visited. At the time of his birth the Darnaqs were already doomed. No offspring had been born for decades and the end was in sight. The Darnaq population of around a billion had dwindled to around ten million by then, huge tracts in the cities were empty, infrastructure was breaking up, supply problems arose. When it became obvious that the cities could no longer be maintained, one city after another was closed down and the survivors, human Faerie and Darnaq moved to Dorivar. By the time Emerson was in his twenties there were less than a million Darnaqs left, all elderly by now. In addition there were about two million Faeries and around fifty thousand humans. More than half the Faeries were working the farms surrounding Dorivar and along the rivers where they grew human type food, mainly grain.

Emerson had joined the police force by then. Originally the police had only few human officers, the vast majority being Darnaqs as the Faeries were unsuitable for such duties. By now the police force was exclusively staffed by humans, the surviving Darnaqs being too old or infirm. Ten years later there were no Darnaqs left.

Emerson was in his thirties now. He had quickly risen through the ranks in spite of being a rather controversial figure. The controversy arose because he was one of a group of people who publicly advocated that the demise of the Darnaqs was a prelude to an invasion by hostile aliens and not a natural tragedy as was generally believed.

This theory gained some credibility over the years as scientists claimed that the virus could not possibly have evolved on the planet. By analysing the initial spread of the disease they also stated that the simultaneous outbreak of the epidemic all over the planet could not be attributed to a natural event. The logical conclusion was that the planet was under attack.

Emerson had been advocating for a long time that preparation for an invasion was necessary and prudent. The police force had never been armed with more than batons. Crime was rare and their main duties were traffic control and crowd control at big public events, attending accidents, sorting out squabbles between neighbours and so forth. Emerson wanted to increase the size of the police force and have them armed. He also proposed to create arms caches and storage of provisions in specially constructed underground facilities that could accommodate a large number of people, if necessary.

There was no shortage of resources. Just about any commodity imaginable was lying around somewhere unused. There were also miles of disused underground railway tunnels that could be modified into bomb proof shelters with comparatively little effort. In addition there were thousands of Faeries who had moved to Dorivar and had little to do because the Darnaqs they had served no longer existed.

In spite of the fact that most people still considered an invasion unlikely Emerson's ideas found resonance. There were two main reasons. There was a growing group who thought that perhaps being prepared for invasion wasn't a bad idea. Better safe than sorry, they reasoned. By far the largest group believed that having a huge idle population was unwanted in the extreme and that Emerson's plan put these people to work on something that arguably was important and desirable. It would have a positive effect on society, whether the fears were justified or not.

Emerson was promoted to Colonel and made head of police with the mandate to implement his plans. He was thirty-five.

Colonel Emerson wasted no time. There had never been a war on the planet. The Darnaqs were a laid back, peace loving bunch and although personal fights occurred at times, organised violent confrontations between groups were unknown. The Faeries were so placid they never bickered, even amongst themselves. The only knowledge of war and warfare came from Captain Harkon's records.

Being an ardent admirer of Harkon and being somewhat familiar with human history he appointed a committee to go through Harkon's library and records to find as many references to warfare and especially guerilla warfare as they could find. He knew that only guerilla warfare against an invader had any chance at all if a confrontation became necessary.

He trebled the size of the police force and started training them in guerilla tactics. Captain Harkon's weapons had been locked up for a long time on the old man's orders. Emerson opened the vault and started copying them in one of the idle engineering works. He produced rifles, handguns and grenades and trained his people in their use. He also trained special groups in the production of bombs. The Darnaqs had been producing explosives for use in quarries and mines for a long time. These facilities were reopened and put into production.

Meanwhile work on the railway tunnels had started.

***

When the Torgons finally arrived Colonel Emerson was as ready as he ever would get. Where the term Torgon had come from no one could say with certainty. Some said it was the Faerie word for shit, but the Faeries denied that this was so. It didn't matter, that's what they were called.

Emerson held his horses and evacuated as many of his people and Faeries as he could into the underground facilities and awaited developments. Many were unwilling to go, thinking they could come to some arrangement with the invaders. It was not to be.

The Torgons could speak Darnaq. They had evidently studied the language to be able to boss the Faeries around. And boss them around they did. They put them to work in the most cruel fashion. When the Faeries did not understand what they wanted, instead of clarifying the situation they cut their wings off, dragged them in chains through the streets, ripped the clothes off their bodies, impaled them, roasted them alive over an open fire and consumed them when they were cooked.

In spite of these atrocities there were still humans who believed they could arrange some sort of deal. They put a delegation together who approached the building they thought accommodated the Torgon headquarters.

The Torgons panicked. They had evidently not expected another sentient species on the planet and opened fire on the newcomers without enquiring what they had to say. All humans were killed.

To Colonel Emerson this was tantamount to a declaration of war. He decided to teach them a lesson. The building where the murders had occurred was a forty story waterfront building. It had once been an upmarket hotel. The Torgon elite seemed to have made its home there, judging by the amount of activity around the place. The icing on the cake was the main sewage line that ran past the building only thirty yards away. It would not be too difficult to dig a tunnel from the sewer to the basement of the hotel, pack it with explosives and send the whole structure to kingdom come.

The Torgons worked in ten day cycles. On the tenth day they had what appeared to be a rest day. That is when they had their Faerie roasting parties on the terrace of the hotel. On the day before the event they set up fifty braziers and filled them with charcoal in preparation for the feast. Torgons came from everywhere to partake in the festivities. On these days the place was crowded.

The Colonel decided to hit on feast day. It didn't take long to dig the tunnel and on the eve of the Torgon feast they breached the wall to the basement and spent all night stacking their explosives. Emerson wanted to make a statement and used far more than was necessary to bring the building down.

He waited until lunchtime, the height of the festival, to set off his charge. Watching from a safe distance, even Emerson was amazed at the destruction they had wrought.

When the explosion went off the entire forty story building went three hundred feet into the air as if shot from a cannon. For a fraction of a second it just hung in mid air, turned slightly and went crashing down to earth, killing thousands of Torgons in seconds. Gas and water mains burst, a huge area around the crater where the building had been was in flames and looked as if a meteor had hit it.

"It looks like we've made our point," said Emerson dryly when the dust settled. "Now we've got to tell these arseholes what we want and what we are prepared to do if they don't come to the party."

He was addressing about three hundred of his followers in on of their bunkers.

"I want you to catch me three or four of the blighters and bring them to me. If possible, don't kill anyone when you capture them. I want to send them to their high command with a message, so don't damage them too badly. Andreas, grab your platoon and get moving. Try to get someone with a bit of standing in their community. You have fifteen hours."

"Sir."

Less than six hours later Andreas and his men turned up with three prisoners. The larger one of the three, presumably the male, was dressed in what seemed to be an elaborate uniform.

***

Colonel Emerson describes the encounter in his diary:

It was the first time I had a close up look at a Torgon. Though covered in fine green scales, the head of the creature reminded me of the head of a pig I had seen in one of Captain Harkon's books. It was only the long pig like snout with its tusks that gave that impression, the rest was quite different. There were four eyes, one upper and one lower pair situated above the snout about four inches apart. The creature seemed to be using only one pair at a time, the lower pair being closed when the upper pair was looking and vice versa. The alternating use of the eyes for no discernible reason made me feel uneasy. There were no ears I could make out. The Torgon had two arms and hands with three fingers and and two opposing thumbs, also covered with fine green scales. Loose fitting clothing hid the rest of the creature from view. The Torgon was angry.

"Animal," he yelled at me in Darnaq, "you will immediately release us or I will have you all killed."

Andreas stepped in.

"You will not talk to our Colonel like this, Arsehole," he yelled, "is that understood?"

To emphasise his point Andreas hit the Torgon as hard as he could on the tip of the snout with the flat of his hand.

The Torgon froze. He just stood there and after a small pause started shaking like a leaf. I could not make out if the creature was shaking with rage or fear.

Andreas hit him again and yelled: "I asked if that is understood. I will keep hitting you until I get an answer and you behave yourself in front of our leader."

"Don't hit me again," the Torgon whined, "I will do as you say."

"Well, this cunt is as yellow as they come," commented Andreas. "I wonder if they are all like that."

I addressed the Torgons in Darnaq:

"I am Colonel Justin Emerson. I am the elected leader of the humans here.

"You have killed a number of my people without reason. They came unarmed to you to talk, but you attacked them without enquiring what they had to say. This act was a declaration of war. In retaliation I have destroyed one of your buildings, causing thousands of casualties as well as widespread destruction of property.

"Any attack on my people will be swiftly followed by retaliation. We will show no mercy and take no prisoners.

"The Faeries have been good and loyal servants to us for nearly two centuries. Any criminal acts against them will invite retaliation as if it were an attack on us.

"You will as of now stop the following atrocities: Killing of Faeries, cutting their wings off, impaling and roasting them, consuming their flesh and beating them with hands or implements.

"In addition you will provide enough food and accommodate them in decent dwellings.

"From now on we will only communicate with you or receive communication from you in our language. We will not speak to you ever again in the language of our friends whom you have wiped out in a cowardly attack. Get the Faeries to teach you our language or use them as interpreters.

"We will only negotiate a truce when all the above conditions have been met. In the meantime we will kill as many of you as we can."

I handed the Torgon a document where it stated the above in Darnaq and Federation Intergalactic and instructed him to take it to his leaders. I also handed him a photograph of myself so his superiors could see who they were dealing with.

***

If the Torgons took any notice at all of Colonel Emersons conditions at that time is not known. The atrocities continued unabated. Emerson hit the invaders wherever he could. He staged dozens of hit and run attacks with few casualties on his side. His impact on the Torgons was devastating. Thousands died. This went on for some four months. Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the atrocities stopped. Colonel Emerson held his attacks.

The Faeries saw the Torgons as evil. They only did what they were forced to do and remained loyal to the humans throughout. Just how loyal they had been Emerson found out when the Torgons sent a delegation of Faeries to him to negotiate a truce. The Torgons, suspecting the Faeries knew more about the humans than they admitted to tried everything to get information. They offered incentives and resorted to torture and killing when that didn't work. The Faeries played dumb. In the end the Torgons decided the Faeries simply weren't bright enough to have noticed or remembered much.

"I was utterly astounded," writes Emerson in his diary, "when I realised how the Faeries had strung the Torgons along in spite of the many sacrifices they were forced to make.

"The best part, however, was when I found out that, unbeknownst to the Torgons, the Faeries had picked up their language and were fluent in it.

"We had known for a long time that the Faeries have a real talent for picking up languages. According to Captain Harkon they were proficient in Federation Intergalactic long before the Darnaqs were able to hold a simple conversation. No one had taught them.

"The Faeries filled us in on the real situation in the Torgon camp. The invaders spoke freely amongst themselves because they thought no one could understand what they were saying. To my surprise it wasn't my attacks that was forcing them to the negotiating table.

"According to the faeries the Torgons had brought a sickness to the planet that had wiped out the Darnaqs. They actually bragged about it. Then they realised that the sickness had changed and was affecting them very badly. They knew that if they could not come up with a cure very soon they were doomed. They needed help."

Colonel Emerson went on to explain that the Torgons, going through Darnaq archives, discovered the humans had been the technological and scientific elite on the planet and weren't part of the indigenous population. Captain Harkon and his successors had never made a secret of where they had come from and that they were stranded with no way to return home. It was all recorded somewhere. That's how the Torgons found out about the Federation and a technologically advanced civilisation that rivalled their own.

The Torgon proposal was simple. They would guarantee that what the humans had called atrocities would stop and that there would be no further attacks against human or Faerie. In exchange they demanded that the humans would submit to Torgon authority and work for them as directed.

Emerson answered with a counter proposal. He would stop all attacks if the Torgons would allow the humans and one hundred thousand Faeries to settle on Teridor Island. The island would become an autonomous zone without Torgon presence where humans and Faerie could build heir own society in peace.

I took this to be the Madagascar size island where I had detected a lot of activity.

The Torgons rejected his proposal outright.

Emerson played hard to get. For the next two years an uneasy armistice hung over the planet only sporadically interrupted by Torgon attempts at a permanent solution. In the meantime the Torgons had found out that apart from being unable to breed the disease was cutting down their life expectancy dramatically. Time was running out for them. The Faeries kept Emerson informed of the desperation in the Torgon camp.

Colonel Emerson decided to take he initiative. He informed the Torgon leadership in their own language that he was fully aware of their predicament. He repeated his demand for an autonomous zone. In exchange he offered to re-open the academy on Tiaran Square where human and Torgon scientists could work together in a spirit of cooperation to find solutions to the problems confronting the Torgon nation.

There was pandemonium in a hurriedly convened assembly where the human proposals were discussed. Many held that giving in to the demands of an inferior species was tantamount to losing face and an insult to the Torgon concept of honour. For a while it looked as if they would win the debate.

The turning point came when Taq-Vau-Tan, the Dean of the scientific community, addressed the meeting.

"A scientist finds knowledge where it is to be found," he said. "Many of the diseases who were killing our people would still be with us if our scientists had thought it dishonourable or beneath them to examine putrefying bodies or piles of faeces. Many scientists have lost their lives, their health and their sanity in pursuit of knowledge that was ultimately beneficial to our society. Many sacrifices were made for the greater good.

"From what I have read the same holds true for human scientists.

"The problems confronting us cannot be solved by political means. Only science and intensive research has a chance to provide a cure. I believe I speak for the entire scientific community when I say that I would rather take the advice of a human scientist than a Torgon politician when it comes to finding a solution to our ills.

"Give them what they ask for and let us work together. What else is there that can give us hope?"

There was still much discussion and disagreement, but in the end common sense won. Emerson's proposals were accepted.

Emerson was smart. Without delay he opened up the academy and staffed it with his best scientists as a gesture of goodwill. Taq-Vau-Tan was delighted and put his best people in. The academy became a world of its own. For the next year academics were teaching academics. Both sides by now were proficient in Torgon and Federation Intergalacic. Humans were studying Torgon mathematics and technology, the Torgons were learning human sciences. At the end of the year they held a conference.

By now it had become clear that they did not have the resources required to solve the problems confronting them. Torgon engineers were perhaps the best in the universe. No project was too big for them. In some of the other sciences they were woefully behind. The humans reasoned if they could enlist the help of the Federation they might be able to acquire what they needed. Human technology here was two hundred years behind the Federation. There was no telling what might have been developed in the meantime. given their resources. They decided to make contact.

It was easier said than done. The Torgons had hyperspace transceivers of a primitive kind, not capable of crossing a thousand light years of space. Captain Harkon's transceiver was far more sophisticated, but not powerful enough. It had not been switched on in two hundred years but was still in excellent condition since it had been kept in a sealed cabin on Harkon's ship filled with an inert gas to stop deterioration. Captain Harkon, thinking one day it might be needed, had made provisions.

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