June 2023 Archives

I announced myself to Helene and she invited me into her studio. She was working on a voice project for someone else that day; she put it aside and sat with me. "The first question I have to ask, Grace, is how territorial you are about the dog business?"

"If it would get me the people I need to help Earth, I'd sell the dog farm tomorrow. I can make more running cargo around the Empire than I can in the dog business, and be home every night."

"Well, perhaps you ought to do precisely that. My husband has a pair of older size two capital ships that really aren't economical any longer. They've been sitting in a holding yard for years. You should be able to put Interstitials in, maybe even pay an on-board cargo handler. Agree to rent space in the hold to anyone who wants. Class two capital ships have external racks for nine small cruiser auxiliaries, as well as internal space for smaller craft. Inoperants can make sublight runs within the system on impellers. If you simply hold your fees to something the consortium can pay, that would solve most of the problems."

"That seems like it might have merit, but the real point is to get strong Guardians who can fight demons. My satellite has found a jopas, two spraxos, and several nephraim, none of which I'm confident of facing alone."

"Not all operants are Vector pilots, let alone Interstitial pilots."
"I know, Helene, but how many will be interested in Earth?"

"All you can do is ask."

True. Without the Empire behind it, this whole thing was purely voluntary. On the other hand, I didn't have to choose by the method of taking the first eight people - or eighty - who ask. I could explicitly reserve slots for operants willing to fight major demons. Class two capital ships might have been small by the standards of current commerce, but they were over three hundred fifty meters in radius - nearly one hundred million cubic meters of which was cargo capacity. By comparison, the largest cargo ships on Earth are around seven to eight hundred thousand cubic meters. I wasn't certain every stray dog and cat on Earth would fill a hundred million cubic meters. On the other hand, with an internal system for moving stasis boxes, it would make it easy for dog people to bring back a stasis box at a time, and each participant could have boxes and hold volumes marked for their individual use. "Is anyone likely to volunteer just for a demon hunt?"

"I'd say it's likely. There's a lot of bad feeling towards demons over their part in the Interregnum. If I wasn't raising two small children, I might volunteer myself."

That was a shock. Helene was the embodiment of a dignified lady artist. Then I remembered Anara telling me how she used to have two other children, and I realized I didn't know how many other close friends and family she might have lost. Figure every Imperial citizen old enough to have lived through the Interregnum was a good candidate to volunteer, and that included a large proportion of the strongest as well as all of the most experienced Guardians. For the first time, I really understood that learning about history second-hand was a poor substitute for the experience of those who lived through it. "What if I were to simply upload my satellite log?"

"You might have to promote it a bit, and add a location. Perhaps you might have to promise transportation. But the response that would surprise me the least is veterans of the era start recruiting on their own. Everyone lost people they cared about. I was extraordinarily lucky in that I, my husband, and four of my six children survived. By comparison the Baryan lost twenty out of twentytwo adult members and all of their children and spouses, the M'Dorna lost fourteen out of fifteen adults and all their children and spouses, and depending upon your interpretation, ten or eleven of the Great Houses were completely exterminated. The Council actually had a survival rate greater than the Imperial population at large. More than half of all Imperial planets were completely destroyed or sterilized, none kept even half their old population alive. Nobody got through the Interregnum unscathed, and the demons were the enabling factor. Most survivors of the Interregnum don't think we've done anything like even the scales yet. Many will drop anything they can to give them a chance at demons."

Copyright 2013 Dan Melson. All Rights Reserved.

This is most of the rest of what I have so far. As I said, this was an idea that wouldn't let go until I wrote some of it.

The first piece is here

It took more than a day for the first response to reach them. The distance was to blame for three hours of it, but the rest was government dithering. Even so, all they did was ask for more verification. "Please detail survivors name, rank, and family den."

The human embassy promptly sent the requested information, adding, "They are not prisoners, and we are not asking anything in return for them. We will gladly repatriate them at the place and time of your choosing, regardless of further welcome."

It was another day before the Embassy received another set of instructions: Deposit the survivors in the biggest crater on the far side of the outer moon, a small lifeless body perhaps two isquare in diameter. Leave them enough air for a day, and the Morelli would send a ship for them.

"Looks like they're concerned about contamination," Tess told the four Morelli, "We've been asked to drop you on your planet's outer moon. Sergeant Mitrisa has inquired about a flight path, but she can't get a response for at least another two hours thirty."

At that moment, Ambassador Deel Konosh entered the room, along with Xenologist Tamana. I'm sorry, he sent to Tessa and the four aliens, Our experience in contact situations leads us to believe that in situations like this, the odds are that your government regards you as an embarrassment to be disposed of. We can offer you two other choices. We can set you down in a thinly inhabited zone of your main planet, or any other colony of yours, or we can take you to a human exile planet, as we don't permit non-humans within the main part of the Empire, in which case you will at least still have every chance to live out your lives.

"WHAT? They'd simply kill their own people?" Tessa screamed, shocked.

I kept telling you you didn't understand, Tamana explained via datalink, Different species have different responses, but the responses of governments, at least governments not governed by M'Don's Equations, are far more consistent. If they were willing to receive us, they might ask about cross-species diseases, rare as those are. But we had our Morelli guests checked for likely cross contaminants and they haven't caught anything from the people they've been exposed to, and nobody has caught anything from them. We don't worry about it because of our healers, but most alien species have more limited responses. But if that was their worry, we'd work out a quarantine protocol, and they'd agree to accept our embassy.

If they simply wanted their people back but weren't willing to accept the embassy, they'd have us bring them to a base somewhere, or make rendezvous with one of their spacecraft, Ambassador DeelKonosh continued, Instead, they're having us drop the inconvenient survivors away from any other installation, where they can be disposed of with maximum ease.

"Would the Empire do something like that?" she asked, incredulous.

The Ambassador shrugged, I'm not familiar with that ever having been done, but it the situation required it, yes. I can't think of one, as our Viceroys are not subject to the same political constraints as most of those governments we encounter. Political embarrassment is not a threat to us. But our understanding is that the Morelli are governed by a class oligarchy, similar to many Earth nations

Suddenly, Tess knew the Ambassador was right. Heartbreakingly correct. Political embarrassment was everything. Earth governments - even the alleged democracies - relied upon inconvenient facts being buried. She suddenly understood that was a near universal truth among governments.

"I have to try," Motafo declared, "I'm an officer of the Community forces. It is my duty to report what I have seen."

"Can't report anything if you're dead, sir." That was Grido Cosur. His rank was the rough equivalent to a Chief Petty Officer in an Earthly navy. "On the other hand, we'd be hunted the rest of our lives, and none of us here is exactly a rural medisti to survive in situations like that."

"So what do we do?" Tammo Sajopil wanted to know, "This is the Community. We take care of each other. The commander's aunt is a Councilor. Wouldn't she would want to help us?"

"Commander Hashot was a political appointee," Cosur replied, "What do you think his aunt's peers would have to say about Hashot getting the ship destroyed?"

"Why would they even look for us if they think we're dead?" That was Tammo Bojoka, the final survivor of Dominion. Like the other three, he'd been in the ship's Engineering Department. But he was a finagler, the sort who was always looking for a way that came out a little bit better for him. "What do you think they're going to do, order another crew that they don't want to know what happened to come in and shoot us and report the number of bodies?"

Cosur replied, "No, if the human is right, they'll order them to bomb the spot. A big bomb, to make certain they destroy whatever threat the politicians invent. Big enough to obliterate the evidence."

"The rest of you could try to disappear," Motafo suggested, "If they do what they said, you can always step forward later."

Copyright 2023 Dan Melson. All Rights Reserved

Rediscovery: An Overview

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Rediscovery was the series first of my books published. I've learned a bit more subtlety since then, but nowhere else do you find as much background for the Empire of Humanity. It is told through the viewpoint of Graciela Juarez ('Grace'), an Earth native from Riverside California in the United States. When we meet her, she's a 28 year old part-time college student and full time employee of a chemical company. She's an American of Mexican ancestry; her grandparents were the immigrants but her family is still Mexican culturally.

The series begins with The Man From Empire. The basic background is this: Instead of an Earth human falling through the metaphorical rabbit-hole, someone comes through the other side to Earth to start if all off.

Humanity is widespread through the universe. It comes from having experienced at least three major disasters that produced massive numbers of refugees in any ship that could escape. One of them was pre-history, well before any surviving records, and all we know about it is the fact it happened. We don't even know that it was only a single occurrence. The second was somewhere between ten and eleven thousand Earth years before the Empire, when the then-current Human Confederation fell to the C'Tangi. The final episode was the Ston Rebellion and Interregnum, taking place from roughly 3000 Earth years ago to roughly 2000 Earth years ago.

The Empire's most salient feature is a group of powerful psychics, once known as 'mindlords', currently called 'operants' or 'Guardians'. After more than a hundred thousand years of the Empire, the original few are now about fifteen percent of the Imperial population. They have no advantages in law, but have massive advantages in ability. The one who arrives on Earth, Osh Scimtar (aka ScOsh) is from this group.
He explains that he's chasing the perpetrators of a terrorist attack at home, who are presumed to be remnants of the Ston Rebellion. He and Grace discover and frustrate the Stons and an unexpected addition.

In the second novel, A Guardian From Earth, Grace is given the opportunity to visit the Empire and learn to use her newfound abilities as only a people who have applied the scientific method to them for a hundred thousand years can teach. But when she comes home for a visit, she discovers all is not well on Earth. There are still opponents of humanity she and ScOsh did not deal with the first time. With the aid of one ally and some advanced Imperial technology, she deals with the threat.

In the third novel, Empire and Earth, Earth is unraveling politically, a result of removing the manipulators who had been controlling Earth for so long. The Empire has no desire to step in; far easier to wait until it all falls apart and pick up the pieces. But Grace doesn't want it to fall apart at all, and sets herself to the task with a will.

The first three novels are a 'tight' trilogy; there is a break of only a few seconds between The Man From Empire and A Guardian from Earth, overnight between A Guardian From Earth and Empire and Earth. The final novel of this series, Working The Trenches, takes place several years afterwards, detailing Grace and her husband Asto's enlistment into Planetary Surface Forces and their induction and experience in the Merlon's Eyes, an intelligence gathering unit focused on the Empire's potential adversaries.

The first three novels were written at once, from the same basic idea; Working The Trenches was a follow-on from asking 'what do they do next?' It is available as individual novels, or a consolidated single book.

Rediscovery is available both in e-book and paperback from Amazon or any of the Books2Read retailers and library services. Finally, it's also available in universal .pdf format on Gumroad (individual novels only)

This is a side project, a new story idea that wouldn't let go until I wrote some of it. Set in the Empire of Humanity, roughly thirty-five Earth years after the events of Empire and Earth. To give you a time-line comparison, Grace is less than halfway through her time in the Planetary Surface Forces prior to the beginning of The Invention Of Motherhood, Joe and Asina are about two years into building Windhome Bay in Building The People

UPDATE: The next piece is now posted here


The ship was poised, ready for the final transition into the Morelli system. Ambassador DeelKonosh cautioned Sergeant Mitrisa over the com, "This is a unrequested embassy, not an assault. Put us on the outskirts of their system, well off the plane of the ecliptic. I want to talk to them."

"Yes, ang." The viewscreen returned to the exterior star field.

"Excited?" Tess asked her charge.

The datalink translated. Motafo tossed his head, the dominant culture's code for yes. "It will be good to feel the earth of home," he said in his own language. Tamana, the embassy's xenologist and Tess's superior and instructor, said nothing.

Tess listened to the translation in her datalink. It would have been nice to be operant, like the Ambassador or ship's commander, but the datalink served well enough. Motavo's species had evolved from hexapedal porcinoids, live-bearing burrowing omnivores. Endothermic, tusked, hairy, mammaloids, but not mammals. They lacked mammary glands to nurse; instead the young were fed pre-chewed roots, tubers, grubs, and small prey.

"It was generous of your people to rescue us and return us home."

"Not generous. Self-interest." If there was one thing the Ambassador had been definite about, it was not to allow any illusions about altruism of the Empire. "Our Ambassador says we'd rather talk than shoot, next time our vessels encounter one another."

"Nonetheless, it was our commander who shot first. Your people found our survivors and rescued us, and now we are almost home."

It had been a wild week since the Empire had come seeking a contract at the University of St. Petersburg, the only accredited program on Earth or anywhere in the Instance. First, she'd been introduced to Howwiise, who'd been part of the crew of the Patrol Cruiser Grunthus Mountain. Howwise had been a Squad Private who'd happened to be a Guardian, therefore capable of telepathy and generating a translation program but not a trained xenologist. After giving Tess access to the translation program, Howwise had simply been ordered to return to her ship, leaving Tess in sole charge of Motafo and three other survivors of the Morelli vessel Grunthus Mountain had destroyed. Then this morning, she'd been ordered onto Hamthar Four, a size three embassy vessel, based upon the military Giant-class. She'd balked until directed to a clause of the contract she hadn't really read in the excitement as it represented a chance she'd never expected to have until much later, wherein she'd agreed to accompany an Embassy vessel to the homeworld of her contracted aliens.

Earth's University of St. Petersburg, where she'd been a graduate student, was a wild hybrid compromise between Earth universities and Imperial methods of instruction. Some subjects Earth theories had been so at variance with the Empire's hard experience that assimilating the knowledge required more than an instructional program - it required interaction with a human instructor who had experience dealing with aliens to drive out Earth's pious ignorance. Tessa understood that such experience was rare enough in the Empire as a whole that she was assured of a job in the Empire upon achieving a six rating. She'd earned her four rating already, and of those Professor Tamana had recommended, she'd been the first to accept the offer of a Xenological Liason job. Meanwhile Professor Tamana herself and her Imperial colleagues had been studying Earth's history and culture and how they'd been manipulated for a couple Earth centuries by a group of failed Imperial rebels they called stons.

Professor Tamana was along for the first year of the embassy; an experienced xenologist to provide the bones by which the Empire could deal with the Morelli. Tess was under no illusions she'd be promoted when the Professor returned to Earth; the year simply gave the Empire more time to find a qualified replacement. Earth was still the far fringe of the Empire, thirty-five years after becoming part of it, and Imperial Viceroys had many demands upon their time. Tess also understood Ambassador DeelKonosh himself was not completely unqualified, and he was also a Guardian. But she was the Liason, charged with direct interaction with the rescued group, would be a focal point for cultural and personal experience with the Morelli, and would have more than sufficient chance to burnish her credentials towards being the xenologist on a future contact.

Blink! The starfield changed. There was now one orangish star brighter than all the others. According to the datalink, they were now on the fringes of the Morelli home system, an hour thirty out from the star at its center. Converting that to Earth measure, the result came back 2 billion, 754 million Earth kilometers.

"Send the pulse," Ambassador DeelKonosh ordered, before turning to Tess, "Inform our guest it's time for his script," the Ambassador prompted. It was Tess' understanding that the pulse described was a powerful radio pulse, designed for getting attention but not to do damage.

There was a pre-arranged text Motafo was to read for his people. Tess pointed to the copy Motavo had written himself longhand in his own people's script, and tossed her head in the 'yes' gesture.

Motavo understood. "Greetings from the Empire of Humanity to the Community of the Morelli. This is Tenfo Motafo, late of the Starship Dominion on a mission to the star Costamo. We discovered another species there before us. Our commander attacked the aliens, and our ship was destroyed in response. I and three others are the survivors of Dominion's crew, and the Empire of Humanity has offered to return us to Morelli as a good faith gesture that there need be no war between us. This ship also bears an ambassador from the Empire in the hopes of avoiding future conflict. The Empire hopes you will receive this embassy in the spirit in which it is offered. I have been tasked to tell you that the ship will follow instructions to return we who survived and depart or remain, as you decide. Respond on this frequency. Tenfo Motafo out."

"Put it on loop," Ambassador DeelKonosh ordered, "Let me know when there's a response." Radio might be slow, but it was what the Morelli had, and the Empire understood the technology.

Copyright 2023 Dan Melson. All Rights Reserved.


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Empire and Earth
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Working The Trenches
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Rediscovery 4 novel set
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Preparing The Ground
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Building the People
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Setting The Board

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Moving The Pieces

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The Invention of Motherhood
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This page is an archive of entries from June 2023 listed from newest to oldest.

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