Peers Ch. 03byjjcole©
Jordan resumed, "OK, now about the catastrophe. If you search your mind on the subject of astronomy you will come to the information about a star some call Nemesis. Some think it is our sun's binary twin but it is not. Our star has no companion because the other stars in the nebular nursery pulled them too far apart to remain in gravitational contact with each other; they are three of the rare single stars, our sun was one of triplets.
By the way one of those stars is the home star of the Kindred, the newest peoples in the Federation. You will find remarkable similarities between them and us; we likely share the same seeds of life.
Our sun travels around the galaxy at a slower speed than most and we spend a lot of time out of our arm of the galaxy. The reason we do is because our star does not travel a horizontal path but moves like a swimmer doing the butterfly stroke or a dolphin at play. During our orbit around the galaxy we spend most the time somewhat above or below the galactic plane and behind our galactic spiral arm
Every five hundred million years or so the front of our galactic arm catches up to us. If we are above or below the galactic plane little harm is done, if we are in line with the plane nothing will happen most of the time because space is mostly, uhm, space. Sorry."
The peer gave him a disapproving glare then smiled and praised his command of language.
"Thank you. Be that as it may there are times that catastrophes do happen. That has happened four times since the birth of life on Earth. There have been major extinctions on those occasions.
Even rarer is what is about to happen. Our suns real Nemesis is ahead of us, it is moving even more slowly than we are for the same reasons we are but was not born until our sun was a billion years old. It is a smaller somewhat orange star that has four planets orbiting it now.
Its vertical span is greater than ours, which puts their forward motion slower than ours.
The odds of the two being in the same place at the same time are, if you will pardon the expression, astronomical."
He received the groans and giggles of admiration he was seeking from some of the peers with that line and the frown from Mom he had expected.
"Oh, two for two. Excellent," Dad said.
The peer now understood why several Monty Python skits were in their memory. All suddenly had Eric Idle's song about the Universe running through their minds.
Dad seemed to know that and paused long enough for all to get it out of their heads then continued. "We are going to catch that star in six years. The first time it happened the two planetary systems almost wiped each other out, the systems clobbered each other. Uranus had to reform, one of their planets crashed into Earth and the debris formed our moon. Venus was hit so hard that its rotation was nearly stopped.
Our sun took two planets from the other system, Triton and Titan, and they took one of ours. That planet has life on it and as of now has no name. One of you will discover it but will not announce the discovery for reasons you will learn later.
That crash was over three billion years ago.
There is no chance the planetary systems will interact directly this time. Planets will not collide.
We have gone past each other peacefully every time since then.
That will not be the case on this occasion.
The inner and outer Oort Clouds of both systems will be subjected to strong gravitational waves meaning both systems will be bombarded with comets and asteroids. The planet with life orbiting the other star will suffer a forty percent extinction rate but the higher plant-like forms will survive. There are no higher animal forms on the planet yet.
Their Protectors will only monitor it.
We are moving towards each other at a high speed, we are going down as they are moving up. Their vertical speed is faster than ours so their outer limits will push our outer limits hard.
The gravitational waves will affect many comets and asteroids in the two belts and their orbits will be disrupted.
Some of those changes in the orbits of asteroid, comets, and planetoids will put them in the path of the Earth's orbit. Many are bigger than the ones that ended the dinosaur age. At least three of those will impact Earth.
However, the sun, Jupiter and Saturn will absorb most of the heavy blows.
However some like the planetoid Charon will be hurled into the inner solar system and will likely brush or maybe impact Venus. Several large ice balls will head our way and Pluto's satellite Hydra is likely to hit our moon and Pluto itself will spiral into Mars.
It is possible that Titan may join Jupiter's moons and replace Io, which will be hurled into Jupiter. It appears less possible but well above a zero chance both Saturn and Uranus will merge with Jupiter. It is also possible that the other star will capture Neptune.
All of those scenarios will take hundreds or thousands of years to play out, if at all. There are many other non-zero possibilities for both systems."
Dad paused the narrative to allow the animation to catch up. The peer had some inner resistance to seeing it as future events but soon all did.
"We do not know how the bombardment will affect the life on Europa and Ganymede but extinctions are likely. Jupiter's mass will increase substantially and boost its levels of heat radiation but not enough to begin fusion. Still its habitable moons will benefit from that.
The Earth will be on the far side of the sun and Jupiter for the biggest bombardment but the barrages will come from a bit below the galactic plane, we will get hit hard.
Most of that will come a bit over a year after the first and smaller barrage. That first barrage will come in just over two years from now. Gravitational disruptions have already started. Soon some astronomers will be wondering what Pluto is doing starting with our own astronomer.
Jordan nodded at Marc when he said that then nodded at Hu before saying; "Marc and Hu will find the star within three months and will announce their findings in just six months.
The world leaders will understand the peril a few months after that. They will have two years to build shelters but many will delay any action for more than a year.
By then they will know about us."
"That will allow many people to survive. Why do we need a shelter?" Mauro asked.
"Good question. The first bombardment will kill about a billion people, an enormous number but will still leave billions alive if not well. It will be in the Gulf of Mexico just like in the last great extinction. After weeks of smaller but damaging impacts that will spawn some tremendous storms a somewhat large asteroid will plunge into deep water near the coast of Texas nine months before the barrage of year two.
That shock wave will flatten everything from Mexico to Florida to Cuba. The resulting ocean wave will climb over a hundred meters on all shores around it. The wave will reach Dallas, Shreveport, Jackson, and Birmingham. All of Florida and all of Quintana Roo will be overrun. Every coastal city from Houston to New Orleans, Miami and Havana will vanish. Tsunamis of more than ten meters will occur around the world. The Earths weather will become even more chaotic."
The animation on the screen was matching his description, which made the peer uneasy.
"The second barrage two years later will kill four to six billion within three months. Those impacts will produce waves into the Earths crust down to the mantle. Hundreds of volcanoes will erupt. The atmosphere and hydrosphere will be affected and megastorms will be common."
The animation showed many large impacts over the planet and many gigantic volcanoes erupting. It showed California from Baja to San Francisco break into an archipelago of islands and drift away from the erupting volcanoes. They saw North Africa split in half. They saw gigantic earthquakes reshape the surface of the Earth.
"Nothing living outside shelters would survive another year. Even then many of the shelters will fail and many will have had food and water problems. Disease will spread. Many people will kill each other in the panic and despair. The worst of human behavior will become common.
Still there will be a billion left although in deplorable conditions; perhaps another hundred million will perish within a year.
The third barrage will include just the three large asteroids and a few dozen accompanying ones. Most of the people they would have killed will already be dead but we expect many million will perish.
But they are not the only ones coming. One very large comet nearly as big as Pluto will be pulled into an eccentric orbit as it passes Jupiter and that orbit will be further altered as it makes a pass around the sun resulting in it impacting our South Pole.
It will be a hard glancing blow and the resulting sudden vaporization and melt down of both ice masses will change the planets history for the next half a billion years.
The people of Earth will see the end of life as we know it coming for well over a year. Marc will discover the comet too.
That collision will give birth to a second but smaller moon for Earth and may tilt the planet a couple of degrees extending the tropical zones. It may alter the rotation and revolution of the planet depending on the exact angle of impact.
Most of the remaining life on Earth will perish within three months after the comet's impact. Most of the remainder of that will succumb within that next year without our help.
It will be two years before anyone will see the sun again; by then the planet will once again be a giant ball of ice.
It will snow over the entire planet for two years. At first the snows will be black and poisonous from the volcanic ejecta. After that precipitation has cleared the skies the snow will be usable for water and the atmosphere will be breathable.
The last of the great volcanic eruptions will occur a year after that. Those volcanoes will be mostly under the ice and produce little dust and ash but lots of magma/lava. Among the first of those will be Loihi, the volcano rising now east of the Hawaiian Islands. It may be the first to break through the ice. Krakatau may be the second. Volcanoes west of Europe and Africa and some in what was Central America will also erupt as well as some in New Zealand.
Either way there will be pockets of oceans again soon after. A few weeks later we will learn who the survivors are, besides us."
There was a deep silence in the room as the peers watched planet Earth disappear under a cloud of black snow. Most of the men had stoic expressions on their faces. Some of the men and most of the women were fighting back tears. Natalia, Claudia, Mizuki and Moesha were openly weeping.
Strangely Carmen was smiling at them, she nodded yes to someone.
"Our children?" Mizuki asked.
"All will survive.
A million people worldwide may also survive in shelters the governments will set up. Another hundred thousand or more may survive in shelters set up by large corporations and wealthy individuals. If they are alive a year after the comet their only worry would be supplies. We will be able to take supplies to them.
For some racial groups you may be the last survivor."
There were no questions for a while until someone quietly asked, "How are we going to survive?"
"The Protectors began to build our arks a few years ago and they are now mostly completed. They will be ready in about nine months. It took over twenty years to build them and one is the largest single project ever built by the members of the Federation in a planet not their own.
We will have enough supplies for fifty years and the equipment to begin rebuilding Earth."
Natalia asked, "Are we going into space?"
"No, answered Dad, "We are going under the sea."
"An island. It is in the middle of the Pacific half way between Loihi and Krakatau. Our sponsors have slowly merged five small islands into one not so small. From space it will look like a four-sided star. We will move in when everyone is watching a small comet impact the moon. Debris from the collision will give the Earth a ring like Saturn's and captivate everyone's eye.
That comet is connected to the encounter but months will go by before anyone admits it was. It is headed for a path between the Earth and the moon but some of your children will guide the ice ball as a magician distracts an audience away from the trick.
Our island will be unnoticed before the impact and be unseen afterwards. The debris itself will affect all electronic surveillance around the world, all satellites will fail. It will be months before any are replaced so our ark will be completed and populated before anyone notices.
However the ark is not that small at all; it has room for the four forest types on the planet and the animals that inhabit them. It can also house more than forty thousand of us permanently.
Several large cruise ships with our citizens and several large cargo ships will converge on the island within hours of the moon event.
The other six shelters will only hold a thousand people. Those will be buried even to the top of the dome. There will be and ecological duplicate of the environment in which they will be placed.
Once all are populated we will then announce our independent status and ask the countries of the world to welcome our ambassadors. They will welcome us thinking we are quaint.
They will begin to take us seriously when the twenty of you visit them and advise the nations of the situation. You will give them a copy of this animation and provide them with blueprints on where and how to build shelters.
They will eventually accept the truth of the event but not the outcome. Some will try to hold you captive but you will already be home.
Some may threaten us but eventually realize they need to build shelters for their best people quickly.
Still we expect many will not take action until it is too late.
We expect several attempts to change the path of the larger asteroids of the first and second bombardments. The panic will set in when people realize that the attempts were futile and in fact extended the damaged areas.
No attempts will be made at diverting the last three asteroids; all of the weapons would have been expended by then, some of them on each other.
Our shelters will be enclosed within a clear soft shell that can be lowered and raised. It will take about six hours to do either so whoever is in charge of that will need to have up to the second information at all times."
He continued, "We will be able to generate enough light to keep the plants alive and enough fresh water to keep the rivers and lakes full and enough oxygen to keep us alive on our dark planet for ten years if necessary."
The video showed what many would think of as an Eden.
"The main shelter will remain above the sea until just before the three large asteroids impact the Pacific. Our shield will be completely up when the sea washes over us and keeps us submerged for about three months then will have the shield lowered until the comet impacts Antarctica.
The shell will remain up until the skies clear and the air is breathable.
"It is called Cel; note it is pronounced as if it begins with a "ch", it is the Etruscan word for this planet. It is possible some of you will call yourselves cellists."
That silly remark brightened up the mood just enough for Dad to pause.
Hu said, "I'm already a cellist. Am I going to be a Cellist cellist?"
"Yes you are and can say so proudly, or not," Jordan said.
Dad gratefully nodded at Hu for taking the bait before continuing. Claudia and Natalia slapped Hu's shoulder and Moesha and Mizuki gave him threatening glares. Marc, Carlos and Jim rolled their eyes but were smiling. Labiba and Akira were giggling.
Everyone else seemed to be confused.
Carmen and Jordan were smiling. Someone around them gasped. That small act separated the peer from each other.
Jordan continued, "Moving right along, when Cel is ready each of you and your assistants will be the first there. You will have completed your first jobs by then. We will then oversee the placement of our fellow citizens and all the cargo.
Four couples will be housed on Cel. Six couples will each govern your own shelter."
The peer saw an animation of a domed city enclosing an environment with a plaza in the center surrounded by restaurants and shops. Living quarters were past the rim on the rigid shell in ten separate sections. Working areas were below the surface area and storage was below that. There was one area with agricultural equipment.
"All seven shelters should be self-sufficient within a year of the return of the normal climates. We hope that will be two years after the comet but can subsist for ten years after that impact.
"Will we be governing ourselves?"
"Not at first. The Akkad Emperor is our Emperor. It is he that decided to save humanity. You will have a King and Queen, Carmen and I are your king and Queen at will be so for ten years then the Protectors, Mom and I will choose the first three sets of candidates and all of you and your children will vote for your new leaders. No campaigning is allowed nor necessary, you already know each other well and will have a good feel about whom to choose by then. Carmen and I and the new king and queen will then nominate three couples to be king and queen for the following ten years and so on.
Carmen and I will withdraw from the next process and the present and past king and queens will do all the nominations from then on.
You may serve more than once as king and queen but not consecutively. You may decline to be nominated if you wish.
In the meantime each of you will hold the rank of Duke and Duchess. Four of you will rule your own section of Cel and the rest of the couples will rule their own shelter. After one year you may promote some of your citizens to whatever level of royalty you wish except duke, only the king and queen can do that.
Your children however will be Dukes and Duchesses.
The Protectors decided that titles would be better for the first hundred years. It will also keep you peers and your children in charge for that time. After a hundred years everyone will become an empowered citizen and the titles will become positions eligible for election to anyone although the nomination process will remain. By then all our citizens will have a measure of your DNA which is why you men will need to impregnate as many women as possible for a time. I am positive your wives will not only understand but will aid you on that task."
"Why were just seven arks built?" Rapa asked a few seconds later.
"Because we were stunned by the inability of humans to reproduce under our planet's conditions. We had just enough time to build one large one and six smaller ones."
The speaker was a tall thin humanoid wearing a robe that was difficult for their audience to see. It had apparently been standing behind Mom and Dad all along but no one noticed until the hood over his head vanished. It looked vaguely like the aliens depicted in the area 51 movies but taller and with grayish/orange skin.
Mom said, "Children, say hello to Grandpa."
"Hi Grandpa," all cheerfully said.
They sensed a smile but saw no mouth. In fact they did not see a mouth when he spoke.
Mom saw the bit of confusion and said, "All of you know nine languages, not six. He speaks with very high-pitched sound waves like dolphins and bats. They emanate from a thin layer of skin on his forehead. We are the only people that can hear and understand the sounds.
If you are wondering why you knew he smiled run back your mental picture and concentrated on his eyes.
Ellis and I had to undergo a procedure so we could hear them but you had it done in your DNA."