Intelligence from Mars

Copyright 2013, John Manimas Medeiros


            They were not in the target valley, but near it.  They had traveled more than fifty million miles to their destination, and it was as interesting and as important as their planned destination.  They were on Mars, in a valley, a land formation that had been subject to erosion.  But what surprised Stannard was that he was receiving telepathic communications. 

            Come outside, the thoughts said, and bring two companions as witnesses.

            Witnesses to what?  His mind asked, and his question thought was promptly answered.

            Witnesses to the information we have for you.  The law that you must obey.

            “Get ready to go outside,” Stannard said to the two crew members nearby, Sharpov and Sandford.

            Stannard made his statement like it was an order, although he did not actually have authority over the other crew members.  He could act with authority in an emergency, but no emergency was apparent.  He was not the captain, but he was the mission historian.  His primary duty was to accurately record everything that occurred during the mission.  He believed that was why he was receiving the psychic communication.  Whoever was speaking to him directly by thought knew his role, knew that he was the one whose duty was to record every event that occurred during the mission.

            “What’s going on?” Sandford asked.

            Stannard replied, directly from the telepathic message he was receiving at that very moment:  You will see a vehicle outside momentarily.

            And it did appear.  It looked like a giant flying saucer with ski runners attached to its bottom.  The ski runners had wheels built into them that appeared to spin slowly but with no visible power source.

            Stannard said, “They want to talk to us.”

            Other than that, both Stannard and the other two behaved as automatons, as though being controlled by an outside force.  They were being controlled in part by an outside force, a mind-control wave beam.  These are allowed to pacify or direct simple physical actions, but it is forbidden by interplanetary law to use mind-control for any other purpose.  They proceeded quietly to put on their protective suits, and the other crew members were too busy to notice the implementation of a new plan of action.

            The captain noticed the alien saucer and the three suited crew members walking toward it.  He did not panic.  He sent a question to Stannard.

            “Stannard, what’s happening?  What are you doing?”

            “I have received a communication from this alien authority.  It has requested a conference.  Refusal is not an option.”

            “Proceed,” replied Captain Brooker.  “Include my consultation as necessary.  Have they given any order or issued a threat?”

            “No threats at this time,” Stannard explained, “But I have received a distinct impression that we are about to be told what to do – and what not to do.”

            Sending an immediate message to Earth was not possible for several hours, due to the position of the base satellite circling Mars above.  The captain waited for further information from Stannard.

            The alien telepathic voice spoke in a firm but authoritative tone.  No doubt or flexibility of interpretation was conveyed to Recording Officer Stannard:

            You must prepare to leave as soon as possible.  The law does not allow you to colonize or visit planets other than your home planet Earth.  There is no basis for discussion of or modification of this policy at this time.  You must obey this interplanetary policy, which has the power of law.  Disobedience or even signs of resistance will be met with lethal force. 


            “It’s telling us we have to leave,” Stannard said.  “We are not even going to be allowed to explore and conduct research.  It is saying flatly that we cannot visit or colonize Mars.  We are forbidden.  We have to stay on Earth and only on Earth.”

            “Fuck that,” Sharpov said.  “Who are they to tell us what we can do and cannot do!”

            A fizzing sound issued from the ship and a faintly visible wave beam issued from the outer edge directly to Sharpov, into Sharpov, and he dropped slowly as though fainting, but then the others realized his life signals had stopped suddenly and he sank slowly after he was already dead because of the structure of his suit.  There was not panic in the usual sense, but a kind of paralysis and controlled terror.  Instantly, everyone knew the seriousness of the situation.

            We regret that a demonstration of lethal force was required, but we have been ordered to compel you to leave and take our information regarding the law back to your planet.  Do this promptly, now, or we must remove you and your artifacts without further delay.

            Stannard spoke to the Captain:  “You can see that we are not being offered any choice here.  We have to leave.  Our mission plan allows for an immediate return but presents a great risk of insufficient fuel and water.  I fear that any attempt to initiate a negotiation will result in more losses.  Your advice, Captain?”

            “Ask for an explanation – politely,” Captain Brooker said, with a tremor in his voice.

            “Sir…  or Madam, my Captain has expressed his concern that we must deliver this message but without an explanation.  May we please have the courtesy of an explanation as to why we are confined to Earth.  I mean no further delay, or offense.  In our civilization, the law is supported by logical arguments, and we hope this is the case with your law also.”

            The voice actually communicated a pause to Stannard, and then a brief but logical explanation, expressed in part in rhetorical questions:  Have you not noticed that you are always at war with one another?  That you all profess religion or ethics and a commitment to justice while killing innocent persons by the millions, allowing millions to starve to death, making people your enemies for trivial reasons and submitting them to painful tortures rather than simply killing them the way a scientist kills a mouse?

            The message continued but only Stannard heard it all.  The surviving witness, Sandford only heard the telepathic statement that interplanetary law prohibited humans from leaving Earth to colonize or visit any other planet.  The Captain ordered the crew to begin the preparations to return to the base satellite and then disembark on the return trip to Earth.  The crew proceeded without protest.  The presence of overwhelming force was palpable.  It was understood that Stannard apparently was in possession of an additional explanation for this occurrence, and the prohibition of humans outside of Earth, but they all assumed they would hear about that soon enough.

            As the United Nations Ship Australia accelerated away from Mars on its trajectory that they hoped would be completed before they ran out of water, the conflict began.

            Sanford asked, “How do we know that this is from them and not from Stannard?” 

            The Captain asked Stannard, “What did you say to them?  Have you reported everything that you said to them?”

            Stannard said, “Let me transmit now, now that we can, the full message from the alien ship to the Earth.  You can decide for yourself what we can do about it.”

            Another crew member, the chief navigator spoke in anger and fear, “We should not let him send the message.  He is aborting the mission.  We do not have any proof of anything other than the death of one of our crew, which could have been triggered by a bad decision by Recorder Stannard.”

            Stannard looked at the Captain. 

            “What they, or it, said, is extremely important.  Our duty is to send the message as soon as possible in case our return trip fails.  Earth must hear about this alleged interplanetary law.”

            The Captain stared into Stannard’s eyes, then said, “Send the message now.”

            Stannard accessed the transmitter to send the message, which they all knew would use up energy they might need to complete their return trip.

            “This is Recorder Michael Stannard of the United Nations Ship Australia.  We are returning to Earth pre-maturely due to an encounter with an overwhelming alien presence that has announced to us that according to interplanetary law, humans of Earth are not allowed to visit or colonize any other planet.  The reason for this prohibition is their description of our origin.  Approximately two million years ago Earth was designated as a planet to be used for permanent exile of criminal species.  Earth has been since then and still is a planetary prison.  We are all descended from individuals who were found to be criminal by virtue of genetic heritage.  This is why we are constantly at war and why we have destroyed the ecology of Earth in a manner that is deemed criminal behavior according to galactic law.  For the indefinite future, we are allowed to live on Earth but are not allowed to leave the surface of the Earth or the Moon for any exploratory purpose.  We are free on Earth but otherwise we are serving a sentence of indefinite duration because we are a criminal species.  This is the message that I was told to deliver to Earth as soon as possible or this ship and its crew would be destroyed.  Therefore, consistent with mission rules, I had to deliver this message regardless of whether or not I or anyone else believes it to be true or real.  Further, the last statement that I heard from the authority, but which I am not certain I heard correctly, was:  You have no right to be angry.  There are other galaxies where your kind are not allowed to live.”

            This was the intelligence shared with the crew of the United Nations Ship Siberia, which was described worldwide as the first human expedition to Mars, when in fact it was the third.


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