Hi everyone! I was toying around with the idea of making this into a book if I could but for now it's complete. Please go easy on me for typos or punctuation errors, as I whipped this up in around 3 hours using notepad. I went over it a couple times to check for errors and to tweak things a bit here and there but I'm far from perfect. Let me know what you guys think! All comments and criticism welcome! This is my first story written just for fun in over fifteen years, so I hope I'm not too rusty.
Grandpa always said "Earth was handed to 'em on a silver platter." More accurately, the people who ran the world just caved in to fear or greed. Both, if you ask me. Paper-thin morals. Opinions to the contrary were 'noted'. I mean, we have always been divided as a people but when the Union came our universe grew a whole lot bigger and we were suddenly Earthlings, human-beings, and They were not. Stubborn and militaristic, some of us wanted to resist for plenty of reasons, our leaders be damned. 'Course that's when They told us a demonstration was in order. Had been watching us for a very long time and figured more of us would believe a threat than a miracle.
Sorry, should introduce myself. Name's Shaun Astor Bennings. Need to remind myself from time to time, since at my job I'm just called Bennings, "huumon" or worse, Ben. That's definitely not how my damn badge reads. I'll never understand why people shorten something already so simple. Hard to resist giving such people a roll of the eyes. Actually, they train us to not do that since some off-worlders take it to mean anything from random muscle failure to a sign of open hostility. Hell, I've been told Gignians see it as a mating ritual and let me tell you, I've no desire to date a walking shrub. Don't care if it has fourty eyes. Doubt we'd even be compatible, but I've heard they swing all sorts of ways. I'm probably the most dull fifty-seven year-old you'll ever meet. Grandpa keeps telling me to do something with my life since it's already a quarter over.
Speaking of which, you should meet my Grandpa, theres a hoot. Guy's going on two hundred won't hesitate to remove trespassers from his farm with force. Sometimes when he gets drunk he tells me stories about how he used to be able to "shoot first and ask questions never" but hes gotta be content now with chasing them off with an antique Louisville Sluggar. Beats me why he gave his club a name but I don't pry as hes prone to beat the "ornery" out of family members, whatever that is. I just smile and nod. And run fast. All the guys I grew up with got into cool jobs like working on star ships, researching Union tech, diplomatic missions to other worlds and such. Me, I'm stuck here. Alone. Can't settle down. Wish I could go explore somewhere, find myself a vaguely humanoid creature and start a family, genetic compatability withstanding. I tell ya, I see so many people walk, slither, glide and otherwise make their way to and from star ships on a daily basis that I don't think humans do it for me anymore. Grandpa calls it "alien fever", but I could never figure out half of what he says. Any time I ask him what he means he reaches for his club and I shut the hell up. Parents went offworld some fourty five years ago. In a coffin. Yeah, lucky me. Not bitter or anything.
Ahem, anyway, I work at Stellar Out here in Sector #371. According to Grandpa it used to be something called "North America." I don't get it, personally. North of what? Mexico? Shouldn't it have been called North Mexico? Or failing that, shouldn't Mexico have been called South America? But what would that have made South America? South-south America? Eh forget it, I know most of us did as soon as we learned it in history lessons. It's numbers now, much less confusing. So, here at Stellar Out we are more or less glorified airport security. Well that isn't quite fair since we have an important role: make sure you don't bring more liquid on board star ships than what you can swish in your mouth. I'm kidding of course, your allowed to bring twice that. Weapons and things like that are pretty much a thing of the past. Can't tell that to offworlders though. Everyone's heard of how "barberic" the "savage" human beings are, so visitors feel they should carry protection. Nothing's more fun than spending all day telling something ten feet tall with enough claws and muscle mass to rip trees in half that they shouldn't fear for their safety and no "big scary huumon" is going to murder them. Oh wait, there is something more fun. Not having to do this crap for a living. Totally not bitter.
Putting asside the blunt force trauma I call a job and the waste of time I call a life, let me get back on track with my little story. I know your all just dying to get this class over with so you can go party, drink and have a tumble or two with some complete stranger. Freakin' university students. You know, I'm only here because it's an outreach program from Stellar Out and it gets me the hell out of the terminal for a few precious days a month, with pay to boot. That's none of your business though, what is your business is to shut up and listen. I'm not some stupid recording or bi-net terminal that'll repeat this crap at the press of a button. Real flesh and blood. Hell, I bet none of you kids are even older then thirty-five. Welcome to the real freakin' world, population: shut the hell up and listen. So right, where was I? Huh. Oh, right. Demonstration.
"Like some kind of crazy movie", Grandpa had called it. Seems They made a big impression, hi-jacking all internet and telivision broadcasts for a month to show a handfull of empty islands in the Pacific being vaporised from space by a beam of light. 'Course there were people who denied the whole thing out of shock or ignorance, but those voices thinned out fast when the ships sat in our orbit, for the whole world to see. A transmission in numerous languages came and told us to assemble in a month's time at our UN summit and prepare for a discussion with Them. Oh and something about armed forces greeting their delegates instead of world leaders would result in one or more continents being turned into ashes. No pressure.
Grandpa would snort and give a half-hearted laugh whenever he recounted how it was the only time in our history every nation made sure to "Sit quietly in their expensive chairs and only speak when spoken to." Origionally it was going to be behind closed doors but They said to bring cameras and show this to all the people being represented. They sent twelve delagates, who were varied in size and shape, from tall and thin with blue skin to short and stout with red scales. They all dressed themselves in purple robes covering simple clothes. Said it was more for the leader's sense of decency then theirs. They told us they wern't some kind of divine retribution or invaders come to wipe us out or enslave us. Quite to the contrary, they were protecting the universe from humanity and protecting us from ourselves. Something about mankind coming of age and beings aware of us across the galaxy arguing over letting us wipe ourselves out with endless and escalating wars or doing it for us before we figured out deep space travel and our primitave notion of manifest destiny brought us in conflict with others. Funny how in the past, human ownership laws were pretty much all the good crap belongs to whoever has the biggest or loudist stick.
The delagates, who refered to themselves as 'The Twelve' represented a galactic Union of worlds, a comittee that believed with proper intervention and guidence Humanity could be brought peacefully into the fold or at least corrected of our barberic ways and left in peace. Grandpa just called them the "dirty dozen", but wouldn't tell me why. Just said it was before my time. Anyway, we'd no longer be permitted to engage in war and in case anyone had any doubts, They defined 'war' as creating suffering for ourselves or any Union visitors, delagates or otherwise. So, by following this directive we'd be allowed to rule ourselves and pretty much stay unharmed. If we could get our act together and last through a probationary period, that was. We'd be declared a satalite world in the Union, observed and defended against any outside invaders. They called worlds like these Loyalty-04. They said our efforts would be rewarded, because being a part of the Union, even a lowely Loyalty-04 world, meant those who wanted it could leave Earth and visit around Union teritory freely. Well, if any passing ships decided to visit us and wanted passengers that is, or we figured out how to leave on our own.
Though the offer to explore the galaxy sounded nice to some of us, it was what came next that really sealed the deal. Seems that if a Loyalty-04 people want to they can gradually rise through the ranks of Union consideration, going from 4 up to 1. With each rise came shared technoligy and secrets from other worlds. Cures to our sufferings, conveniences that our minds could hardly comprehend. Sickness, hunger, handicaps, all a thing of the past. While they noted no living being could or should be immortal for the sake of sanity and extreme overpopulation, we could easily double or even triple our lifespans. Imagine, without that kind of stuff, you guys would be almost middle age and I'd be on my way out. Dunno how your average student had time to learn quantim physics or transdimension space theory in the past, let alone the run-down of a a couple hundred worlds' culture or history.
So, when questions were permitted, one leader nervously commented that They had mentioned "outside invaders" and asked what They meant. The Twelve were nothing if not blunt about our situation and said that despite the heavy-handed dealings with Earth, normally other worlds developed their own ways of deep space travel and found Them first. They had learned the hard way that there were exceptions to who should and shouldn't be approached when several previous worlds declined their invitations and developed weapons on par or even above those the best minds in the Union had. Given our warring history, Earth was not to be allowed to be another of those worlds. It was pretty common for worlds not wanting to share their breakthroughs but that wasn't how the Union did things. Such was their option but they wouldn't be allowed to engage in interstellar war or otherwise endanger the galaxy. Of course, humans are living proof that if you tell some people they can't do something they try to do it anyway, behind your back when possible. They reminded us again that our whole planet and it's communications were being observed, as they would be all through probation, if we chose that route. Another leader asked if that was even possible. They replied they were quite able to do that, thank you very much. Shut the hell up. Nah, I added that last part. They were actually pretty polite for invaders who said they wern't invaders. We come in peace, shoot to kill.
Anyway, simplier, if questionably usefull, things were asked: How many worlds existed in the galaxy? Numerous. How many worlds were a part of the Union? Numerous. How did They know our language? Carefull observation. How did they observe us? Easily. How long did they observe us? Long enough. Would they elaborate? No. According to Grandpa, some frustrated leader started griping, demanding to know why They would tell us so much about what was going on but nothing else. They said anything not directly related to the "deal" was none of our business unless we joined the Union, even then we would have to earn it. "Call it incentive", one of The Twelve had famously said. What a prick.
Given the option between being dead and being lorded over, some of the leaders said our proud nations would rather die than surrender. They quit griping like that by asking if their pride was worth the sacrifice not only seven billion human lives but everything mankind had ever hoped, dreamed or fought for. Plenty was considered that day, but historically it was remembered as a triumph for mankind. Well, most of us feel that way anyway. It's not like there's anything we can do to change the past right? Yeah yeah, smart-asses, I know some of you have Ms. Flaxx's new class on theoretical time travel mechanics next. Fine set of feelers on that one. Can't get over the poison stingers in her hands though. Don't care if she does wear gloves all the time, no thank you. Yeah, class dismissed. Get the hell out of my sight before I regret wasting my breath for the last hour. Oh, damn. Too late.
And there you have it. Loyalty-01 was an idea that came to me a while ago but I never knew what to write or how to make it interesting. The character of Shaun was inspired by a friend of mine who works at TSA (transport securit administration), doing airport security. It came to me when I was halfway through this so I went back and added him in and ran over things to make this story look like a bitter man teaching a lesson by recounting a story which was half-learned from school and half told by his grandfather. To clarify on Shaun's age, yes he's in his 50s but as mentioned in the story, humans live to be over 200 by his time. They don't really grow up slower, merely stay in their prime much longer then normal and pretty much die when the body has finally had enough.
Oh and a small note on punctuation within quotation marks, seems in the USA (where I'm from), it's considered proper to place periods and commas within them in a sentence, where in most other places it's proper to place them outside. What can I say, most of us don't use the metric system and we drive on the right side of the road to boot.
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Overall not bad. It certainly feels like a long speech, which feels in character since Shaun seems to be giving his life story to a bunch of students in somewhat of a diatribe. There's a few issues with punctuation (run on sentences, commas instead of periods, etc), but the idea seems pretty interesting.