Monday, January 29, 2018

I: Prologue

Alice, Dr Kelley and I remained the last to stand next to the freshly closed grave of Alice's father Alistair. Poor old Alistair Veers, among the best people I have ever met, had ― as is already widely known ― lost his life few days earlier in a brief but disastrous Scarpine's assault on our base. This was, of course, a devastating blow to both our morale and our knowledge. Even if he had written all his thoughts down prior to his unexpected death, we had lost a brilliant brain nevertheless.

Alice was broken, still unable to cope with what had happened ― and believing that, by having extracted Alistair's knowledge in his dying moments, Scarpine actually dealt as devastating blow to our rebellious cause as it did to her person. As we had learned in those few days since, a portion of rebels agreed with her, while others were less pessimistic and convinced this would one day turn out to have been just a setback in our war - or better said, in our resistance - against the Scarpine.

Dr Kelley, for some perhaps unsurprisingly, remained rather stoic. He was shaken to an extent, admittedly, but I had a feeling he thought that the need to keep us all together and continue no matter what happens, and lead us cool-headedly in those crises, were of the topmost priority. And despite feeling for Alice and mourning the loss of my colleague from the glorious days at Blue Mega, somewhere deep inside I felt he was right.

The view was tranquil, and would almost have qualified as a pretty one in this suffering world, were it not for a grave in front of us. Some two minutes of walk from us, in a small yet well defendable underground complex, members of the resistance were still unpacking what would be our temporary base. There was no point in remaining exposed at our original location after the Scarpine's attack. At least, our damage-limiting strategy of having a secret "B" site always ready for any eventuality had now proven itself useful.

Dr Kelley subtly tapped my shoulder and motioned me to follow him. He slowly paced away to a nearby tree, leaving Alice silently crouching in front of her father's grave.

"We need to talk, Morgan," he began in his typical concentrated, focused manner. "I've been thinking a lot about this all, not just Ali's death, but the wider picture. He was a fantastic man, and I feel for Alice, but our cause, clearly, must remain greater than any one man's life."

I nodded.

"It is painful to admit, but we have got to face it, Morgan ― we're fighting a losing battle. We may win a gunfight or repel Scarpine's attacks, even damage their infrastructure from time to time, but then, they can just keep depleting our resources and pushing waves after waves of their military forces until we all die out. The only reason why they haven't done so already may be that we are, after all, just a minor world in their grand scheme, unworthy of their deep attention. Or they are happy to play a waiting game, which they have almost no chance of losing."

"So, if we are ever going to win this war, it will not be by just fighting harder and harder, hoping the Scarpine would be driven out someday. For heaven's sake, it is an interstellar supercivilization we are up against, whose resources we can, for all intents and purposes, consider infinite. I admit, we could perhaps hope to turn out not being worth the trouble and thus make the Scarpine abandon their activities on the Earth, but the fact is that they seem stubborn enough in every goal they pursue. I wouldn't bet on it, anyhow."

"Fair point," I replied. "So what are you aiming at?"

"I think we will need to change our approach. Using weapons, we can at best keep defending ourself, but winning against such a massive force will require something else. I am not yet sure exactly what, but I have an idea that may be worth pursuing, and I need to discuss it with you."

"I'm listening, Doctor."



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