Project contact, chapter 7

Howard made a final call to Svoboda. He told him not to leave the building, not even through the back doors even if that seemed like a safe route. He reassured him and told him that everything would be all right. He warned him and admitted that they would soon hear shoots, but he lied to him about everything else: about their odds, about the bleakness of their situation, and everything else. And the old man believed Howard, probably because he was desperate to believe him.

The moaning coming from the enfolding shutters grew into a shrill rattle. With a sudden yank, the security shutters were ripped off from their foundations by the truck, which peeled away a good distance, followed by a rain of plaster and chunks of stone. The double doors stood there upright, comically detached from their surrounding torn-off wall.

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Project Contact, chapter 6

Howard knew there was no time to lose. The assailants outside weren’t going to let them a few moments to mourn, breath, or pull themselves together, but he found himself unable to muster the energy to rally the people around him, or even himself, out of their glum stupor. He tried to latch on a plan, a course of action to spur everybody, but his thoughts were constantly interrupted and diverted by the faces and names of the men and women down below.

Some of the scientists were starting to stir, or were trying to call those in the lab, to no avail; others were curled against the walls, looking nowhere in particular. Svoboda was talking to someone on the phone, in Dutch, and two junior scientists were sitting down a desolate and silent Wickerman. The cops, although still shocked by their friend’s treason, looked level-headed enough, so Howard focused on them.

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Project Contact, chapter 5

Temporarily halting the assailant’s first attack brought a double-edged respite to the men and women inside the compound, one Howard knew could be their doom if they just hunkered down there. The quick reaction and bravery of that local cop had given them a few extra minutes, and he wasn’t going to squander them. He shouted to remind everybody of his previous order and herded the frightened workers and the beleaguered policemen toward the main elevator.

Howard knew they were outnumbered and most likely outgunned too. On his side, he had Oliver, the desk guard, who carried a gun he probably had never used before, and a few cops (those carried rifles, so at least he had that.) Monica, the underground lab guard, was down below and he needed her there to make sure the scientists were all right —and, for more personal reasons, out of harm’s way. On the enemy side, they were facing against a military-grade truck and a convoy of men armed with semiautomatic weapons. He was sure he had seen three pick-up trucks, but there could have been more. He assumed that, at the very least, they would have to stand against a dozen men, perhaps even twenty.

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Project Contact, chapter 4

Constantin Howard began to holler orders as he flipped through the menus and sub-menus of his tablet. He was activating his audio broadcasting privileges, but nobody else had seen the visual feed of the incoming attackers, so the people around looked at him as if he were a hobo who had suddenly started yelling about the end of the world.

“There’s a terrorist convoy coming this way!” He shouted. “Everybody to the lab elevator now!”

He didn’t know what they were. Terrorist or something else, but the word worked and their previous passive confusion gave way to a hurried but well-drilled flight towards the bowels of the building. Both  Wickerman and Svoboda signaled to him but he waved them off, telling them to go with everybody else. He switched on the compound-wide broadcast system and began talking in the most relaxed tone of voice he managed to muster. As he talked, he ran to the policemen posted outside, who were even more oblivious of the approaching threat.

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Project Contact, Chapter 3

Hysterical complains and calls for extra protection coming from any other person would have been ignored, but if Jonah Wickerman asked for something, the local government obliged. WYPL, his laboratory twenty kilometers south of Paramaribo, had cost close to 30% of the small South-American nation’s GDP, and most of its 138 highly-paid scientists, contractors, and workers lived on the capital. So if the old man didn’t like how the streets were arranged, what timezone the country was in, or felt that he was being shadowed by Chinese clone secret agents, the government would nod and provide whatever he needed.

Wickerman’s occasional lording over Suriname and his own lab also meant that he had grown used to an autocratic style of leadership. He rarely consulted anything with anybody, even when the things being decided clearly fell outside the scope of his expertise.

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Project Contact, chapter 2

Quote chapter.


 

“It is a dangerous mistake to search for analogies to the current extraterrestrial event in the usual platitudes of pre-industrial colonization and exploration. We are not savage natives nor the extraterrestrial (slightly less savage) colonizers. For all their differences, they were essentially the same, humans, and to a non-human observer, they would look like differently-dressed human primitives doing primitive human things. What’s more, many of those colonized territories eventually became powerful (superpowerful in one case) nations.

No, the correct comparison cannot be found by looking back at the history of human-to-human interactions. Perhaps a more accurate comparison would be the encroaching, displacement, and eventual extinction of the Pleistocene Megafauna by the widely more intelligent, tool-making humans. Of course, in this analogy, we are the animals.”

From the anonymous text that precipitated the Henosis Schim in 2132, a few months after First Contact.

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Project Contact, chapter 1

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have some ideas for a science fiction setting. I’m still not ready to send space marines out there jumping across asteroid fields with nuclear-powered jetpacks while they blast alien ships, so I’ll start with a more down-to-Earth prequel of sorts. I don’t know what title to use so I’ll use the generic label Project Contact because it fits thematically. The “chapter” in the title is a bit misleading since this is too short to be a chapter. If I continue writing these, and if this ends up being a book, it will have hundreds.


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