tagSci-Fi & FantasySmoke & Mirrors

Smoke & Mirrors

byKrenna Smart©

It was to be the greatest magic trick ever performed. Greater even than the Allies deception about the Normandy landing during world II. The plan was to evacuate a large portion of the planet's population under the very eyes of the rest of the world.

Hiding in plain sight with smoke and mirrors was how it was to be executed. The big question was who would get to go and who would stay?

After the crash at Roswell the Interplanetary Commission secretly reclassified Earth. The re-classification was spurred by the combination of the increased intensity of the sun and the overpopulation of the earth which threatened mankind with extinction. The IC had been watching and studying the developing race for millennia, but had a strictly hands-off policy until pilot error and failed instrumentation cause unplanned first contact. That's when the shit hit the fan. Despite all their efforts at suppressing and erasing the event the damn stubborn humans kept coming up with story after story about aliens. And so the IC decided, against its better judgment, to lend a hand.

The time table was way out of kilter because the exponential increase in pollution caused by the rise in fossil fuel usage worsened the effects of the suns increased intensity. The whole planet couldn't be evacuated. Thus came mankind's first test. The space race.

The Crammerians were selected to make new first contact. They were closest to the humans genetically. Their telepathic abilities were the most compatible and they were the ones who crashed.

Bradrid Fevermore, a scientist from the Lassiter Zenith Group was chosen as primary spokesperson. He was regarded as the premier ecobiologist throughout the six galaxies and had the added advantage of decades as an alpha grade interplanetary mediator. Moreover, he was the only one with such credentials that had the ability to look humanoid. Having been selected for the job there was one thing he requested – autonomy to pick his team. That brought a stop to most of the back room political fancy footwork which had been going on ever since the decision was made to intervene. Two years had been lost before Bradrid was selected. Bradrid had his team together in six weeks. Livermeron Aldus was Bradrid's chief of state who would handle the military aspects of the project. Aldus was to form the best strike team contrived in the history of the Interplanetary Council. He would be responsible for evacuation plans and overall security. Merlina Hastorium was the most prescient of the council members. She would work closely with Bradrid in formulating the backdrop of the evacuation scheme – the smoke and mirrors department. Dimiter Randabout was basically a high level social worker who would put together a team to handle to rejectees – the people left behind. She would work closely with Leonora Mironaoane the spiritual advisor. Bradrid had a hard time coming up with a candidate to deal with accounting and bureaucracy. This was a most critical assignment. It required someone with finesse and not a whole lot of ego. Dealing with human bureaucracy on at least three continents was going to be the biggest nightmare in the history of the universe. He lost weeks of sleep making lists of possibilities and discarding them. Finally he had a brainstorm. He hated to bring her out of retirement but she was the best. He bit the bullet so to speak and made the vid-call which was so long over due.

"Hello, Mom. It's Brad. How would you like a new job?" His mother, the graceful, stately Winsong Fevermore was delighted to have been chosen.

"It's about time," she said. "Merlina called me weeks ago saying she was anxious to start working with me." Brad had to laugh.

"So why didn't you call and let me know?"

"It had to be your decision. Otherwise things might go askew. You had to come to realize I was best for the job just like everyone else you picked. What if it was learned you consulted a psychic to select your appointees, one of whom was your mother. You'd lose all credibility."

"Right, as always" Brad said with a shrug of his shoulders and a rueful grin.

The team had their first meeting the following day. Assignments were made and after three days locked in the meeting room with no sleep and only protein supplements for meals the team selected humans to approach with their plan.

There was no getting around the fact the three heads of state of the Super Powers had to be brought on board – Kennedy, Kruchef and Mao. They also brought in Ghandi, the Dali Llama and Mandela. They haggled over bringing in the Pope but finally decided it would be a mistake of galactic proportions to exclude him. There would be big trouble if the cover story was compromised and the Pope wasn't part of the plan. Howard Hughes became the international financial advisor and the news team, Huntley-Brinkley was selected to work on the media spin.

They agonized over whether to clue in the British, Australian and the Japanese but decided none of them had the financial resources to join the space race and they already had too many strong egos to deal with.

One thing was clear. The entire planet couldn't be evacuated. Some hard decisions had to be made. First to the moon had first choice as to who ended up on the voyage out. It took two years and any number of meetings to hammer out the terms of the contest

The race was on.

Each country was given the same alien technology and had to unlock its secrets by working backwards. In the early days of the project the race was neck and neck. Spying and subterfuge was rampant. Who could retain memories and who would be wiped? There were no alien swear words pronounceable enough to translate or consensus of gods to call upon to describe what went on both among and between the Alien Commission members and the Human Commission.

One of the side effects of the Roswell Crash and the subsequent declassification of earth was cross breeding. A new race was born. One with both telepathic and innate empathic skills. The young empaths were rather like furless cats. They looked human enough but go near one with anything but kind, loving, nurturing thoughts and all hell would break loose. So it was decided the empaths would stay with their human families and be raised as humans. It was an irritating problem keeping the IC concealed from the general public during the maturation.

And there was another problem. The IC represented most, but not all of the nearby sentient creatures. There were others whose plans for humanity were darker and not so ethical.

Why everything converged above earth's skies when it did is a question which philosophers will have millennia to ponder

At the same time the Crammerians were waiting for their empaths to mature to help with the vast problems presented by planetary evacuation, the lawless Chrysalians had used stealth and subterfuge and created a mutant version of their fliers.

The Chrysalian invasion of earth was more an infiltration than an occupation.

It came from the far side of the galaxy by beings who were trying to save themselves from extinction. Much later on, after they were recognized, people on earth came to call them the fairy folk for lack of a better name.

Their lifespan in human term was beyond imagination for they had three stages of life. They were egg born but looked almost human at birth. As they matured they were cared for by their second generation family members, the fliers, during a stage of life development similar to humans. This was their larval stage

In their larval stage which lasted about 50 years they worked, played, and formed a life partnership. When it was time to merge one partner would become the host and the other, the pupa. During that period the melding took place. After two years as an incubus a new creature emerged – the flyer. It had the memories of both "parents" imprinted in its memory banks and their new maturation period was similar to the life span of the humans they had watched for so long. When they were young they were cared for by mature larval family members. At around age seventy or so they would mate, spawn and die.

But they were dying out. More and more male flyers were opting not to mate. Why should they? They had everything they wanted and a damn good life. It was only the tired and desperate who needed to mate.

So the scientist set about to find a new host... After decades of experimentation on various life forms the Chrysalians finally found a way of implanting their incubi into human females without detection. Stage one of the invasion began. Only women with AB negative blood were receptive so the pool of selectees was limited. Slowly, stealthily they impregnated the selected females with chrysali. Then they stood by to watch and wait.

The pupae were tiny and the women were unaware of the misbegotten seed they were carrying. For the most part they were left alone and live their lives. There were regular check ups but the women's memories were wiped as they were at the time of implantation.

By the time the incubi was mature it lived in synchronicity with its host. It was a subtle process of assimilation. The host never knew as she went about her daily business of living that she wasn't exactly acting with free will.

The incubus for the most part was a kind and gentle ruler.

But now the flyers had another problem. They were irretrievably drawn to the mother/hosts with an acute; if not devastating desire to encompass the female, bond with her, share time together before the birth. It was forbidden. Rearchagee – the ruling class flyers had made it clear. That was the price they paid for their unwillingness to live by tradition and mate as nature and the Goddess intended

And the earthlings – for lack of a better name – were really caught between a rock and a hard place. The A-B babes were just coming into their own – learning to fly to the great puzzlement of most of the rest of the world community. The poor empaths were mostly running around with their heads wrapped in aluminum foil trying not to feel and hear the emotions and thoughts of what was a very trouble mess of races and beings. A very doomed mess of races and beings to be more accurate.

So of course something had to be done. It was Bradrid from the Lassiter Zenith who put it on the table during the annual Universal Counsel meeting. Faction one wanted to pull out entirely. They wanted to call the entire corner of the galaxy a no fly zone. "Just like a Fuiuking turtle", Chamrlery sneered in my ear when Globulous Endocreme squeezed itself back into its tube having had his say. "Wouldn't stick his neck out if it were his own damn family slime being scrapped off the planet by a huge single edged blade." I had to laugh. Cham had a way of cutting through the dreck and making the horrible ridiculous. "Shh,' Cham nudged me again. Bradrid's got the podium. Boy, I'd like to lick him behind his ears, just so". She started to purr at the thought. Cham was a lot like felines on earth but more so having highly evolved hunting instinct, sentience and sensuality.

Bradrid was pointing out the Chrysalians weren't part of the council and Goddess help the earth beings if we pulled out and left what was left of the planet to the Chrys. "And," he continued in his cool, level manner, "what if the new fliers and the empaths are sexually compatible?" Does anyone have an answer to that question? His voice sliced through the gabble at the table like a samurai sword through butter. Can you imagine the kind of children they'd breed? They'd be fucking unstoppable.

We created this problem by letting the damned Medicos diddle around with the genetics without knowing what they were up against. We have a responsibility to those empaths down there. They're our children. And we'll deal with the fledgling fliers too. This is the first chance we've had to actually work with the stubborn Chrysalians. We should jump at it not away from it." Brad paused for effect.

With earth going the way it is, there's very little time left for a safe, civilized evacuation. The upper mantle is already badly compromised by all their damned oil drilling. Islands are disappearing and their politicians spin it as a bad day at the beach. Chunks of the continents are beginning to fall into the sea. They call it a mud slide. And the Middle East is about to turn into one big sink hole of oil. That will last the 'lings about five years. The Africans are too busy dying from the plague and killing each other off for a decent days' meal to notice the shape their land is in. The continent will be almost empty of human life before the real environmental shit hits the fan. India and China will probably nuke each other at the first real sign of trouble. The Europeans are scared out of their wits but are keeping a stiff upper lip while they jockey for position and dig in for the next ice age. The Australians are like lemmings with their heads in the sand. And goddess help the Americans who've brought this all to a head when we might have had eighty extra years if things had gone right.

So now we have to decide who goes and who stays and how to conduct a peaceful evacuation and spin it so the ones slated to be left behind don't go postal and start killing the ones with a ticket to ride. And while this planning is going on" he paused for effect and to get his emotions under control. He glared down the length of the table. And you've got to stop flying around pretending you're blimps and weather balloons on some insane holiday. The 'lings are primitive but they're not stupid. They're certainly going to know something's up when the first of the fliers start trying out their wings.

Brad ran out of steam so he stopped talking and relinquished the podium. There was dead silence in the hall for a moment. I couldn't help myself. I stood up and started to clap. First slowly, quietly, then louder and louder. The noise echoed along the hallway. Brad stood and peered through the murky lighting to see who he'd so impressed with his speech. It was just me. Of course he couldn't really see me. I was actually only there in my astral form and, Goddess help me, I was a spy. Charm had zapped back to my bedroom the second I stood up. I was transfixed. This had never happened to me before. I willed myself back to my room but something in Brad's manner made it impossible for me to go.

I quickly morphed a fitting gown for the occasion. I'd been wrapped in my blanket. You see, I'd strayed into the meeting room during one of my astral exercises. Usually I'm naked so you either have to know I'm there to see me or you have to really look. Once spotted it's harder to melt away. But I'd never been pinned down like this. I was almost corporal.

Brad looked at me long and hard. I glared back at him not wanting him to know how frightened I was. "You liked my speech?" He asked in a silvery voice.

"Very much," I said archly. I held my head high.

"Just who exactly are you?" he wanted to know. "These chambers are private. I don't think you were on the list. Are you a new councilor I'm not aware of?"

"Uh. Not exactly."

"Then tell me, please," he reached for my shoulder as if to give it a shake. I side stepped him but not fast enough. His hand passed through my collar bone. "Ah, he said with a relieved grin. You're a dreamer. But I still don't know how you got in." Then his face darkened. "Who sent you? You couldn't have gotten through the security lazars without help."

"No one sent me, I swear. I'm just a traveler. If I blink I'll be back in bed. Watch." I blinked and willed myself out of there but it was no use. Some how I was trapped. Oh, I thought to myself. If was Charm who got us in. Charm was a feline made almost entirely of static electricity. She slipped through a vortex in my room one night and we became friends and fellow travelers. But that's another story. But without Charm to zap the lazar net my astral ass was trapped.

I squirmed and tried again to Vanish. No such luck.

"Merlina Bradrid yelled. "We have an intruder. Get up here." Bradrid could be awfully imperious I thought through my fear.

Merlina flashed in so fast my head spun. "Who are you, girl,' she said with a hard look. "And how in hell did you get in here?"

You're probably wondering by now how I understood their language. It's a talent I've had since birth. I somehow always know how people feel and when they speak their language makes sense to me. I discovered it when my mom hired a Vietnamese woman to clean the house and baby sit. A was about two years old. The funny little woman was delighted when she realized I understood everything she said even though I couldn't talk to her. She helped me develop my talent and warned me to keep it a secret. She thought the government would come and take me away if I let on I understood every language on the planet. She was probably a bit paranoid but I was too young to sort things out so I did what she said. I often wondered if there were others like me but I was too timid to reach out with my mind to look for connections.

I was a pretty lonely kid. I always understood how everyone around me felt but I didn't know how to reach out. Whenever a connection was made it was so intense it frightened whoever my playmate was. Or if not, the parents thought there was something unnatural about how much joy I brought into a house. I was never asked back.

I guess I'm one of the empaths Bradrid was talking about. Finally things were starting to make sense.

As I made the connection Merlina was staring at me like I was from Jupiter. I was standing transfixed to the floor ignoring her questions.

"Well, speak up," she said angrily. "Who are you and what are we going to do with you?"

"I'm nobody," I said quietly. I'm Lucinda – or rather this is my astral body so I'm part of Lucinda. The rest is back home in bed with my cat, Cham. This is amazing." I started to babbly my tale but Merlina wasn't in the mood to listen to the prattling of a teenager. I sent out a mental scream to Cham who popped in static fur raised, eyes whirling. Cham's a champion cat.

"Get us out of here now," I mind spoke her. And ZAP we were almost home. But then there was this huge drag on us and back we were in the IC Chamber looking at two infuriated councilors. We were caught in an astral net as sticky as any earthly spider web.

"Goddamnit" I said. "How did you do that? My body's gonna be in…."

"Your body will be just fine," Merlina said with ice in her voice. Stop twitching and start talking.

"Look what you got us into," Cham spat to me with a mental barb.

"Me?" It was you that jimmied the lazar field." I replied.

"But you had to sneak in and take a peek. I was ready to go home and nap," Cham said arch

"Will you two children please stop 'pathing each other," Bradrid yelled.

Cham and I shut down our link and had the grace to look at him with guilty eyes.

"So Ms. Lucinda Nobody." What do you have to say for yourself?" Bradrid asked with cool fire in his voice.

"I thought it was all a dream."

"All," he said with fire in his aquamarine eyes. "Just how much did you hear? How long have you peen spying on us?"

"Oh," I said tremulously, "Not too long. Just two or three…"

"Hour?" Merlina filled in hopefully.

"Weeks," I said in a small voice.

"Bradrid gritted his teeth. He looked like he was ready to explode. "You've been in here every night sing the beginning of the council session, haven't you?"

"Yessir," I replied. "Guilty as charged." Then I straitened my back and went on the offensive. "But it's not my fault," I said angrily. Your minds were broadcasting so loud…"

"We have dampers, damn it. How did you get past the dampers?"

"It all started when I met up with Cham, my cat," I started to explain. I [pointed at my feline friend who was a basketball sized ball of static electricity at this point. She was so scared the lost the ability to maintain even a fraction of her felinity.

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