It was morning in Kladconia, a province of Rotor, the second planet of the Aksonian system. As thousands of skyjets flew the 'roads' in the sky every minute, it was apparent that something special was occurring. It seemed as if hundreds of thousands of citizens were going to see something that they wouldn't even get out of their skyjet to see, because none were even slowing down! Only 60 miles away, just over the horizon even from this high up, was the greatest enterprise ever undertaken by the Rotorians.
The Rotorian Federation of Akson-Space Division (RFASD) was preparing to launch the first vehicle to ever leave the planet. Its official name was the RFASD-0001, but it was often called the "Big One." It is a considerable challenge for engineers to suspend a rocket in mid-air fifty miles above the surface, but it was eventually accomplished, as anyone who passed it could see. The Big One was over 100 meters high and 25 meters wide, with a large tapered point at the top. The rocket was made of titanium-tungsten-beryllium composite with an easily visible lump where the nuclear drive was located. If this failed, it would disgrace the entire newly formed Space Division. Launching was scheduled to commence in one week, once all the systems were tested and all safety precautions were in place.
It was all going perfectly until T minus 4 days, 9 hours, 5 minutes, 37 seconds (4:00 PM). The test of the stabilization gyros was underway. Suddenly, only a few seconds into the examination, the lights started to blink on the main suspension controls. Only a few seconds afterward, a large explosion resounded through the entire control station. This was not a good portent. Almost instantly, a RFA science and investigation crew was called in from the facilities nearby. It was obvious as they reached the launch area what had happened. A huge explosion had blown up a large portion of the main computer's circuitry, which disabled the suspension fields, letting the rocket fall at the mercy of gravity to the surface. A dark and gloomy expression spread across their faces. They were all thinking the same word: "SABOTEUR!"
Five thousand miles away, it was 3:58 PM in the Space Division's Presidential Headquarters. The President knew everything that was going on with the launch in real-time. So far, he was confident that this would be the triumph of the Division. Not a single test had shown that anything could fail, and no equipment problems had arisen since the beginning of the project, and nothing was expected to go wrong. He was proved wrong in two minutes, at 4:00 PM, when the news of the disaster reached him.
Back at the launch facility, the investigation team had discovered that the only place the bomb could have been placed to cause such extensive damage was in the secondary access conduit. No one could have gotten there without passing at least fifty "life detectors," which identified large-scale ATP hydrolysis, a function critical to all higher forms of Rotorian life. None of the detectors had been triggered. However, after the catastrophe, a lowly engineer named Bernard came up with the first bit of real evidence.
As Bernard entered the room, he became very anxious. The sight of a whole investigation crew looking at him was quite nerve-racking. Fortunately, he was up to the challenge. "I have evidence, that I, unwittingly procured in the act of trying to spy on my fellow workers-" began Bernard, "and I am willing to reveal it to you. I had brought a miniature video camera and placed it in a crevice in the wall in the main access conduit, which connects with the secondary access conduit on the other side of the computer system. However, the camera was far enough away from the blast to survive. The only way to reach the blast site was via that passage, so I have brought in the recording."
Everyone was stunned. It was pure coincidence that the camera was in the right conduit at the right time. Finally, after a complete minute of discussion, everyone became silent as the tape was popped into the projector. The tape was rewound until 3:10, the last time that the corridor was used. The teams that use the corridors would have found a bomb then. The tape played for 15 minutes. Suddenly, at 3:25:47:82, something flashed across the screen. Bernard backed up frame by frame, until they spotted the thing that would change the history of Rotor, and possibly the entire galaxy, forever.
It was definitely not Rotorian, explaining why the "life detectors" weren't triggered. Although it was blurred, Bernard was able to make out a few features. It looked somewhat like a Rotorian, but it seemed to have a tail. Also, the computer clocked its speed at over 100 kilometers an hour. The head of the security team, Sona, stood up. "We must send this is to the RFSA immediately. This is a major security threat, and I don't think we have an answer to this one." She sent in all the sensor readings and the video recording via a secure cable linkup. To make sure no one got a hold of this information, she used the advanced 1024-bit cycling encryption pattern.
At the RFSA, everyone was worried. An explosion had destroyed the largest project ever undertaken by any country in the history of Rotor. It had cost so much money to complete it that five hundred million skycars could have been bought with the money. Unexpectedly, all the panels in the room flashed and came up with one simple symbol: W. Omega. The president of the RFSA entered the room. It was the first, and hopefully only time that the Omega Edict would have to be implemented. It stated that if any non-Rotorian life form was found associated with any type of major federal crime like this one, a worldwide security alert must be issued, and action must be taken.
After looking at sensor readings from the period before the explosion, the Agency declared a worldwide security red-alert. All military personnel, spies, and computers were diverted from anti-terrorism to searching for any information they could uncover about the affair. It wouldn't be long before the media noticed this.
They have discovered us. That is obvious. Why are you repeating your earlier statements? Do you think that I am growing senile? That is not my intent. They have done more. Their government has declared a worldwide security alert. We must act now. How do you suppose we do so without destroying their entire social system? However, if we do nothing, they will not only implement space travel but they may discover how to destroy us. We must create a "taboo" on space travel in their minds. It is also imperative that we resolve the situation so that they abandon any thought of us. The taboo can come later. First, we must turn this bombing into a local terrorist act and "show" that the agent that was caught on film was just an unrelated hoax. Agreed. They must not know any more than they already do. Dialogue saved to data disk 172.297.367. All data in area 2.3 will be sent to Data Pod 54.287.41 under designation "Sol System-3rd Planet"
News Station: ZTZ News
Title: Destruction at Rocket Launch Site Related to Terrorist Actions?
Report:Five video cameras left at the launch site by ZTZ news only a day before the explosion recorded a long gray object hitting the computer structure only milliseconds before the explosion. The missile came from the direction of Virtonia, one of the two main rogue states on all of Rotor. They have been known in the past to harbor and even fund terrorist groups. The faction they appear to be funding now is the "Fichlot Believers," who are religious fanatics who oppose most science and all space travel, stating that it is sacrilege and against God's will. This hypothesis is being investigated.
It is working. They have "discovered" our fake evidence. However, this "taboo" of yours may be hard to implement, unless the entire planet is forced into religious fanaticism. My circuits are analyzing the problem. However, it is complicated, especially with a planet of somewhat random but still considerably intelligent creatures. I will contact you on the output tomorrow, but is still speculation.
News Station: ZTZ News
Title: Terrorist Evidence a Fake?
Report:It appears that the evidence acquired yesterday by our news crew may be a fake. Film from the same period taken from most of the cameras all matched, but a few security cameras on the rocket itself did not show the missile, even though it was easily large enough to be seen. Further analysis revealed that although on the film showing the gray projectile the missile did not impact the structure, the damage shows that the bomb must have actually detonated inside the structure. Because of the magnitude of this attack, Virtonia denied their involvement. This evidence has finally proved that their implication is unlikely.
I am beginning to get annoyed at these beings' intelligence. Without any idea of what truly happened, they figured out that our cover-up was a deception. We must find a way around this. I have interrupted my circuits to work on this problem. However, I agree. This has become an embarrassment to our division. We cannot even deceive one of the races of lesser intelligence in the galaxy! Before we are fired, we must devise a Plan B.
Captain's Log, Skyship RFAAD-51224
Log Entry: Today our ship has encountered something strange while transporting fuel for our new rocket. On the regular transport duties, we discovered a large hole in the desert oozing a strange type of biomass. We sent a wireless probe down to investigate. As soon as the biomass touched it, it corroded and crumbled. In response, we will now fire heavy lasers on the target and record the effects.
Captain's Emergency Log, Skyship RFAAD-51224
Log Entry: When our laser hit the biomass, the material energized and jumped up the laser's path to hit our ship! It has penetrated our shields! It is piercing our hull! ALL HANDS ABANDON SHIP! I REPEAT! ALL HANDS ABANDON SH-
Back at the rocket site, the computer began reporting on this strange incident. "We just received an emergency transmission from the RFAAD-51224 'Nevay'. Its captain reported a 'large hole in the desert oozing biomass'. It is imperative that we investigate this. It may relate to this recent catastrophe." Yonda Tanoe, the Head of Security, entered the room. "You might not believe this, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our missile defense system just detected five anomalies in orbit around our planet. They appear to be vessels using some type of cloaking technology. In addition, any probe that we send disappears before it reaches them." Fortunately-
Grangor, a member of the committee appeared onscreen. Excitedly, he said, "I think that I have discovered something about their attacks. They all appear to be directed at technologies relating to space travel. It can't just be a coincidence that they attacked our ship that was carrying rocket fuel, out of the thousands out there. If we stopped all research and testing on rockets and destroyed the ones we have already built, they may stop and leave, thinking that they have succeeded." Yonda pressed the 'Microphone On" button. "This is an interesting idea. I will test it and order our research facilities and rockets dismantled temporarily. If attacks stop for a year after that, we will stop altogether. However, we must still move forward in science. I do not know how this will be done. Remember, space IS the final frontier." The next day, the dismantling of all RFASD facilities commenced. Suddenly, the attacks stopped.
Interesting. They have stopped by themselves. It is possible that our attacks have discouraged them and the government stopped the research. However, I think that this was too easy. This is the first species that has stopped without a fight. I am still suspicious. I do not know how they could have discovered us, if they did. I agree. This is quite an accomplishment. I am expecting a promotion when we arrive home. Don't worry. They have no chance against us. If this planet ever causes trouble again, we won't be the ones taking care of it. We will have too high a rank to be assigned to a menial task like that.
Captain's Log, Starship Teleportive, RFA-00001-A
Log Entry: The bombs materialized right over the monitoring stations! We were right on target. Looks like our little friends here got every one of our teeny presents, exactly in the right spot. Also, the fake monitoring signal is now online, streaming from our new satellites. The aliens never knew, and will never know what hit them! Were not going to let anyone interfere with our conquest of space.
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