After the fact, of course, we all wanted to know where the Black Star had come from.
And also how it could have evaded detection by every single space probe in the sector before emerging like a battleship emerging from a fog bank to hover dirtectly over the capital of both Earth and the Earther Alliance, Pueblo, Colorado.
It did so at an orbit the President’s physicists told her was flat out impossible for an object of its mass and shape.
“I have told your department many times that none of you are to ever, EVER tell me that something which is happened is impossible. ” snapped the President in her “schoolmarm cracking the whip” tone.
“Why not? ” said an unwise advisor near the back of the throng.
“Because if it was impossible, it wouldn’t be bloody happening! ” said the President.
Cowed silence. None of the Science Council knew what to do now. The President was famous for her almost total sangfroid and to see her snappish and irritable was, to all present, an entirely unprecedented event.
Normally, all one had to do to stay in Her Grace’s good graces was to be able to think on your feet and have all your facts marshalled and ready to be delivered.
But, they collectively allowed, one supposed that having a massive object the size of Mercury materialize without warning directly above the city where you lived would strain the nerves of even the steeliest of leaders.
And not just any object, but one that defied all attempts to understand it. The mass detectors clearly indicated that the object was incredibly dense and, at the same time, no more substatial than a puff of smoke. It was completely nonflective – completely black – and yet, some forms of radiation were passing through it like it wasn’t there. Even its shape defied comprehension, for to look at it was to feel onself begin to go insane due to the complex and tortured surface topographies.
At the same time, another person might look at it and see a simple sphere, or a complex pyramid, or nearly any other mathmatically definable form/
And above all, it radiated a profound sense of evil. The Earther state polled people to ask what they were feeling and the most popular answer by far was “dread”. Everyone with even level 1 sentience was huddling together, waiting for doomsday to come.
In the future, historians would wonder how it had done this. There was no record of any form of radiation or effect emanating from the Black Star that could account for this effect or its totality. There were no rebel idealist groups claiming that the Black Star meant that our Space Brothers had arrived and would lead us unto science fiction slavation. Nor were there any religious zealots claiming that the End Times had come and we would all be punished for our wickedness.
The seventeen billion residents of Earth all had the exact same emotional reaction and the exact same feeling about what was to come.
Down to the very last being.
it was as if this terrifying object imposed a certain pattern of thought about itself upon the minds of all on Earth with overwhelming force, and that heavy imprint kept people from being able to think rationally about the Black Star while it was there.
The outburst seemed to have helped the President regain her composure.
She walked smartly up to her command console – the famous Iron Pedestal – and checked her dozens of readouts. No change.
“I trust we are still broadcasting our welcoming message to the Object, Doctor Sukarno? ” she asked without looking back at her Science Council.
A startled Doctor Sukarno was pushed to the front of the pack. “Uh, I, uh…. ”
“YES, Doctor Sukarno? ” said the President, with ice in her tone.
Doctor Sukarno struggled to control himself. Nothing in his child in the back alleys of Bogor had prepared him for this.
With great visible effort, he calmed himself down enough to say “yes”.
“And I take it there has been no response? ” said the President.
“None whatsoever, Your Grace. ” said Doctor Sukarno. See, she’s not so scary, he thought to himself. “Every form of signal we know of either passes right through it or is completely absorbed. Which is impos…. I mean…. for which we have no explanation within the confines of known science. ”
“Hmmm. Excellent. Good Work, Doctor Sukarno. ” said the President. ” I take it that includes multi-phasic gravity wave transmission? ”
“Yes, President. ” said Doctor Sukarno.
“Damn. Still, good job, Doctor Sukarno. You are dismissed. ” said the President.
The mob of scientists parted to allow a very sweaty and grateful Doctor Sukarno to be reabsorbed into the flock.
The President’s brow wrinkled from the depth of her thought. In her salad days, when she was an illegal backalley scientist for hire. she’d dreamed of a time when she would be face to face with the truly inexplicable. Something that truly made no sense at all – the perfect scientific mystery.
She’d gotten goosebumps from the sheer exhiliration of the thought.
But it was a lot different when the fate of at least 17 billion beings was in your hands.
“LeClarc, as luck with your mass disperment analysis? ” said the President.
“No. ” said Doctor LeClark.
“So no shadows, no dead spots, no-
he President was interrupted by a sound she could hear in her head but suspected did not exist outside it. It was a sound similar to what you heard when you turned on a high powered amplifier.
It amplified the silence.
Then a great dark voice, superficially civilized but with great menace in the undertones. began to speak.
“Pitiful creatures of this minor planet. ” it said in a voice that seemed to be coming from every surface all at once. “We are the Primaries, and from this point o, you will serve us. Whatever pathetic scratchings in the dirt you have called your lives have ceased to be and you will now do what we want you to, think what we tell you to think, and be what we want you to be, ”
“If we want you to thrive, you will thrive. If we want you to suffer, you will suffer. And if we want you to die, YOU WILL DIE. ”
All over the world, people were asking themselves if this was real or some kind of colossal hoax. People wanted to believe it was a hoax, but could not come up with how it was being done or, more importantly, how one could fake an object so big it was easily seen with the naked eye, even though it was in orbit.
“Not so fast, Black Star! ” said a bright and shining voice. “As the duly appointed chief of this sector and all the Star Marines in it, I order you to cease assimilation of this planet immediately and retreat to this sector’s Neutral Zone for arbitration. ”
“You have no power here, Sun Pony!” thundered Black Star. “Oh yes, I would recognize that voice anywhere. Well you are too late. I have filed all the forms. I have gotten approval from all the necessary committee. I have observed all the formalities. ”
“All but one! ” said Sun Pony. “CONSENT! You know as well as I do that Article 5 of Section 10 of the Tran-Sentient Convention states that no planet with sentient residents may be conquered, engulfed, assimilated, overthrown, subverted, or culturally dominated without the majoroity consent of its sentient population. ”
“Ah, but subsection C of that part of the convention specifically states that its restrictions apply to Stage 2 or higher planets,”said Black Star, “and this one doesn’t even have a global government! Therefore, that restriction does not apply here!”
“Really? ” said Sun Pony. There was a brief, heated exchange about research departments spoken in showy whispers, then : “Ah, but they DO have a world government. It is called the United Nations and I am assured that every one of their countries is part of it!”
“Are its decisions binding? ” said Black Star.
“Kind of. ” said Sun Pony.
“In other words, no. And does it have own armed forces? ” said Black Star.
“Sort of? ” said Sun Pony.
“Also a no, then. ” said Black Star. “And does this supposed world government provide any useful function on a global level?”
“In a way….” Another whispered conversation. “Wait… it actually does! It cooardinates disaster relief, immunization campaigns, international scientific endevours, AND provides peacekeeping support all over the planet!”
“What is this…. peacekeeping of which your speak? ” asked Black Star.
“it’s when an army gets in between two other armies to keep the other two armies from fighting each other. ” said Sun Pony.
“Disgusting. ” said Black Star.
“Nevertheless, if a planet has one of the three qualifying properties of Stage 2 development, it cannot be assimilated until a third party arbitrator has determined whether the planet is in the “pre-qualifying” phase of development or not!” said Star Pony. “Therefore, get your grubby tentacles off this planet or face the full power of my Star Marines, you overinflated gob of SPACE AMBERGRIS!”
Around the world, people cheered, then Googled ambergris on their cell phones, then a great cry of “EWWWWW!” rocked the Earth.
“Or…. we could put it to a vote. ” said Dark Star.
“Say what now? ” said Star Pony.
“You heard me. “said Black Star. “Consent is decided via vote, not arbitration. If a vote shows consent, no arbitration is needed. So we call…. for a vote. ”
“Shit. ” said Sun Pony. “Well… okay. But you have to give us time to organize the vote. You also need to give the sentients time to debate the prospect. ”
“Very well. ” said Black Star. “May I say something first? ”
“Very well. ” said Sun Pony.
“People of Earth…. a vote for self-preservation is a vote against humanity.” said Black Star. ” Aren’t you tired of these fatcat space governments taxing you to death and telling you what to do? Vote for assimilation, and show those dirty weirder Earth-huggers that you can’t be pushed around by them ANY LONGER. Also, think of all the liberals annibhilation will kill. Make Earth Great Again! Your rebuttal, Sun Pony?”
“Um. ” said Sun Pony. “Vote no on annihilation because then you won’t…. be annihilated. Vote no because that is the only way you get to live free ans not be the playthings of sadistic space blobs. ”
“Who cares about that?” said Black Star, interrupting. “Why should our rotten and ungrateful grandchildren get to live when we don’t? Maybe some good old fashioned assimiliation and annhiliation will teach them to respect their elders!”
“Do we even need to debate this? Black Star wants to digest and destroy your planet! And before that, they will torture you for their own amusement and enslave you just because, and I apologize for the frankness,. but just because… they get off on it. ”
“Lies!” screamed Black Star. “I never said that! You can’t prove I said that! But that’s typical of you traitorous liberals, isn’t it? Twisting people’s words around to use them again them? Oh, and just where is your planet of origin. Sun Pony? ”
“I’m from the planet Squaspababa, why? ” said Sun Pony.
“So you’re not even FROM Earth and yet you claim to know what’s best for everyone on Earth? ” said Black Star. “You people think you know everything, don’t you? ”
“I know people usually don’t want to be enslaved, tortured, assimilated, and destroyed!”
“Oh yeah? Where’s your proof? Show me the study that says that!” said Black Star.
“You don’t need a study to-” said Sun Pony.
“Oh, how TYPICAL. ” said Black Star. “When the studies agree with their agenda, they say ‘We have to do this because this study says so! But then when it suits them, they say you don’t even NEED a study!”
Then both parties fell silent and a calm neutral female voice said “This might take a while, so I am taking over. Ignore those idiots. It’s really very simple. The real question is going to be on whether or not Black Star should be disconnected from power and destroyed. So if you do not want the Earth and everyone on it – even celebrities – to be destroyed, wait until you are asked “Should the Primaries be disconnected’, then vote YES for disconnection. ”
Then the world fell silent.
And the debates began.