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Countdown to Armageddon
by Richard L. Provencher
10/18/2010 / Short Stories
"As Speaker, it is my esteem to present to all those in attendance within this Great Room, oh honoured members of the Grand Council of Mars."
The audience of 257,381 was tabulated precisely through recorders installed in each triangular pad of comfort, called pilos. All listened rapturously.
The Speaker wore a long velvet robe similar to each Council member. It had a thin, white trim with the Royal emblem of Ursus on the right side of his chest, a U crossed through with a lightning bolt.
All members voted in by the assembly belonged to the Royal House and common practice was to simply allow the garment to hang over one's left shoulder.
Walking to the center of the large assembly allowed the Speaker to display his odd lurching style, as if having difficulty across the flat surface. But it was the normal gait of a Martian being.
He was less than two meters tall, lanky; his face pale, voice soft, non-threatening, nor demanding. It was simply the custom, in a non-violent society eager to thrust aside any vestiges of war memories and the devastation brought upon them, almost three centuries ago.
And now parading in single file, seven Grand Council members entered on a wide lazer beam of green, across a path guiding them to individual platforms. First in line was Rock'si meaning Wisdom, then Platuna for Truth, Orsa for Honor, H'tun meant Strength, Mech was Helper, Sa for Worker, and Totia for Chosen.
In combination they represented the dictated conduct of Martian resolve and was meant to be a heritage of acceptance for generations to follow.
Over a century ago, Martian society adopted the efficiency of single names since all were united in spirit and desire. None of the seven knew the personage or background of each other, so no one could use their position of authority in a personal way.
These seven lived separately in their individual hausa or dwelling, dedicated to a life of serving the greater number. At their disposal were the magnificent libraries and musical scores of Martian artisans.
Each had Personal Aides trained in secretarial duties, preparing meals and as an added indication of their positions of authority, a companion for conversation. Coupling was prohibited.
Not only was it considered a bestial approach to propagation, but beneath the dignity of a true Ursus. Besides, what better Waifs could be born than those created in the laboratories of the Wadeen.
Everyone among the gathering had worthiness with proper standing, and all eagerly attended each monthly presentation. They knew their seven representative voices would listen to questions of concern. Their responses would be in wise counsel for citizens of this Federation.
Now everyone stood, rising up from his or her leg-crossed sitting positions throughout the spacious auditorium. Ornate pilos were left strewn about, their triangular shapes blending wisps of color floating in the misty air.
And all crossed wrists signified the Bondage, which led to massive wars, decimating their population. Hundreds of millions of fallen Warriors were but dust on the dust filled plains. And this act of remembrance acknowledged the pain.
Then after the rendition of "Freedom Mars," all leaped in the air as an act of Overcoming. Then the assembly waited anxiously for all seven Grand Council Members to relax on their own pilos, which now began to rotate on a circular platform in the center of the gathering.
The Grand Dias hummed with placid sounds, a combination of peacefulness, along with the sweet scent of roses. It was most necessary create an impact sufficient to subdue any hostile thoughts. Nothing was left to chance thus ensuring everyone heard every detail of the proceedings without interruption.
This honored occasion was held in the shadow of Phobos and Deimos, rotating above.
"It is my esteem to be allowed to speak forth!" a raspy voice suddenly boomed. There was no mistaking Kraw, holding the authority of Military Field Commander; defender of Martian Colony. His craggy features came alive under the light probes, lighting up scar-burns on his face as his speaker platform caused him to rise in the air for all to see and attune to his words of delivery.
He was among the tallest, and as his custom in events of importance such as this wore his full military uniform. His Bulk Pack although weightless, rode high on his back, and the blue uniform along with helmet and Ray Glasses showed him to be an imposing figure.
Missing items of attire were side armaments all defenders of Mars once wore, since their military was to be armed only if aggressors threatened their way of life. And his role during these placid times developed into one of an overseeing and protective force rather than an aggressive one. However, he did have plans of a sinister nature.
"I bring forth my report, however brief it may be. As you know I am not one to prattle on since I leave it to the Philosopher, whom I am certain will follow my own presentation, since he desires to continually enunciate the glory of our history. However, I am concerned for the present, my capable self, being responsible to and for all citizens. I share these details from my latest excursion. Our fleet of observer craft returned before any cyclonic storm hurled its fury"
"There he goes, on and on under the guise of an efficient use in precise statesmanship. He is nothing more than a fop. And mesmerized by his own importance." A pause, then further words from the Philosopher, as he spoke quietly to his constant companion, Se'all, a shorter figure of about one and a half meters tall.
Se'all was much different from other citizens with his chestnut mane curling from head to halfway down his back. And he was amused about how often Philosopher told those nearby, "You must not touch me, for I have the disposition of a very sensitive man."
"Why must we endure what there is not to endure?" Se'all said through thought patterns to his good friend, Philosopher.
"I am so pleased you await my statements, my mite friend of no pretensions," responded the Philosopher. He was official adviser to the Grand Council and waited patiently for his opportunity to speak. "Sometime soon the buffoon will desist with rhetoric," Philosopher added.
Se'all only smiled. He looked up at the taller man, splendid in his royal robes, a sign of the important station he held in the Grand Council. For none other had such wisdom since the Seven relied on him for a multitude of thoughtful ideas, even if he did speak in riddles at times.
Besides, it was his honor that Se'all be considered like a son and to have access to all Grand Council conversations, since only Philosopher was allowed entry to their private domains.
"and round about Sirius, we encountered a strange sighting, unlike earlier satellites from planet Earth," continued Kraw in a rambling discourse from the previous month's travails.
"Thankfully, it is not a landing craft, for if it were thus, we should be quite fearful. Remember those days of caution when craft from earth-beings began to invade our territory seeking knowledge. Ha. I believe it was for the desired colonization now in its planning stages.
"First they sent rovers named Spirit and Opportunity. Words of conquest led to a sampling of the integrity of our fair planet. From our knowledge, these earth-beings are indeed fearsome, unlike the acquired gentleness of our own citizens. And their trustworthiness is at risk. Must we once again raise up arms in combat? Yes, I will defend. Nay, I will become the aggressor, should the will of our esteemed gathering desire it so."
Shouts of "NO MORE WAR!!" sounded loud and most clearly across the heads of all in attendance. "NO MORE WAR!!" again rose emphatically, especially from elders who knew dire consequences arose from armed conflict. Memories shuddered through their beings as they recalled videos of fleets encountering all manner of weapons used, even into the outer reaches of space.
"That is why, as your Commander," Kraw's voice droned on. "I have full authority to utilize the fleets of Mars to defend, encounter and possibly destroy any intrusion into our territorial space. As you are aware the assault of our airspace began with the simplest of methods. First came earthly probes in 1969, followed by Lunar Landings, then observer satellites right up to Galileo which they themselves savaged, a true masterpiece of their technology.
"It decries their wastefulness and complete disregard for whatever does not suit their needs. We know of these things since our careful observation of their development for a millennium of time. And now behold what awaits us"
With a sweep of his arm he motioned for the monitor to begin and a low humming began. As the entire roof of the gigantic auditorium lit up, a screen showing the composition of the universe came into view. Within the auditorium dials flickered, and the screen quickly passed from collections of star designs, to galaxies until it centered on one particular planet, unknowing it was the central figure in the minds of those living so far away.
"Behold!" Kraw shouted, "The seedling of Dr. Troy Walters from ancient days is part of the team preparing to embark on a journey to our beloved planet. The name of this pup is, Dr. Scott Walters, known to his peers as S-W, since he apparently is seen as an earthling heading off in two directions at once."
On cue an image of earth showed up on the huge screen, and for the first time most became familiar with a blue-eyed, brown-haired earth being. Little did they know at the time, he represented the greatest threat to their way of life, since the awesome wars, which relegated their population to a pocketful of survivors, when once their population numbered in the hundreds of millions.
No one heard Kraw's quiet mutter, as he ended his pronouncements; "And I'll decide when force is required."
Indeed there was renewed interest from earth, in Mars, the red planet. Its debated canals, and acceptance of oceans existing there were helpful in planning for the day when earth's population became overcrowded. The planet may eventually be a destination for Earth's developing needs.
Right now it was an oddity for anyone to consider traveling there. Unless of course you happened to be an archeologist interested in discovering untold secrets. Such a person was Dr. Scott Walters, who had taken to heart illogical stories circulating about the mysterious manner of his ancestor's death.
"FINALLY!" the windbag has completed his ramblings, Philosopher exclaimed too loudly. "Oh me," he said to his companion Se'all, aware he had disturbed the concentration of those seated nearby. "Now is my desire to remind all, of our place among the stars, sacred, never ending. Oh, my mute friend, I wish above all else to counter Kraw's hints of conflict."
Then Philosopher stood to thunderous applause, as he prepared to give his rebuttal, for he was a favorite among the Martians. Striding triumphantly across an impressive laser beam of green, his favorite color, he turned to face the assembly, Se'all by his side.
The anguish of a new Martian thrust with far-reaching consequences had now been set in motion.
(c) Richard L. Provencher 2010
Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.
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