Somewhere in space (two centuries later) . . .
"Lord sssSigor!" A hunchback reptile slithers. "All our troopsss have left Planet Zia."
"Excsssellent!" Replies Sigor in the same slithering tone. "Oncssse our troopsss are on board thisss asssteroid, move usss out of the range of thisss slimy two-face planet! Who knowsss what thisss planet isss going to do to usss nexssst."
"Yesss, me Lord! But where will we go?" Asks the hunchback as if he is humbly without a clue.
"Anywhere there isss a planet sssuitable for usss, of courssse!" Sigor cries in his low slithering voice.
The hunchback moves toward a terminal screen made of reptile leather. Its growing radiation brightens his wrinkled leather face to bright yellow. "Ahhh, Planet Earthsss, me Lord?"
"Planet Earthsss?" Sigor repeated puzzling.
"Yesss, me Lord!" The hunchback gesters wildly with his left hand, pointing it out the forward viewport, at a star. "The planet in that sssolar sssyssstem. Remember . . . we were ssscheduled to arrive there two csssenturiesss ago. But the imcompetent Lord Dexssstro insssisssted that we sssettle here firssst."
Sigor does remember. Lord Dextro is the one who caused all this misery now. He has made history. It is him who picked this isolated planet two centuries ago. Back then, Sigor was still a child. All he remember is his parents' promise of a wonderful paradise. And paradise it was, until they found that genociding the natives destroys the ecological system on the planet. This destruction turned everything into mud and turned the planet into a vast mush-land. (See the Collector's Item short story for detail description of Planet Zia.)
"Yesss, I guessss that would be our nexssst choicssse." Sigor puts his arms around his back, his left hand holding his right wrist. "sssSet a course for the Earthsss sssolar sssyssstem. I will be resssting in my private quarter if you need me, Vigor."
Sigor turns and resigns through the hatch of the bridge, misses a grin pertruding from the hunchback's face.
Mars Base 3
Solar System Monitoring Facility
"Sir, a large unidentified asteroid have just appeared on screen moving toward the asteroid belt." Says Tammy while keeping her eyes on the object tracking screen (OTS).
"Hhmmmm, is that unusual?" The commander asks casually without even moving his eyes from the daily paper he is reading. Any space derbris could have caused such an reading. And they get so many each day. He flips to the next page and continues speaking. "It could have been a large piece of war-torn scrap metal. Why don't you have one of our routine scouts identify it?"
"Why, yes, sir, it is extremely unusual." Tammy turns her upper, slender body around, places her right arm on the back of her chair, and looks at the commander. Even though she is young, and has only been working at the base for a little over a year, she feels that the commander needs to consider the importance in her report, now. Annoyed by the way her commander casually waved-off her report, she beats down the annoyance within her and tries to speak causally. "This asteroid is bigger than any asteroid we have registered in the computer. And it doesn't send a Global Astronomy Association ID signal. It is about 1200 miles in diameter. Our astronomers would have detected this asteroid decades ago with a telescope and their bare-naked eyes."
Everyone in the control center, who heard her, turns around to watch them. It is not the dialogue which attracted them, but the information that Tammy reported. The commander raises his right eye-brow while moving his eyes from his paper to Tammy. He despise the way Tammy rebuked, but he has to admit that such circumstance is unusual.
The commander turns his head and speaks to a tall, hefty man. The communication officer, standing next to the viewport, is in his forties and has served the commander for many years. "Contact the generals on Earth Base 1 and relay the information to them. Meanwhile, contact the Mars Base 2 and have them send two squadrens of scouts on transports to intercept the unidentified object."
The communication officer answers with a nod, starts to walk toward Tammy's station. Although his specific field is communication, he is a quiet man. "Earth Base 1. Communication Officer Dwright Burns of Mars Base 3 speaking. We have an unidentified object on our screen. We will be relaying the information to you now." He speaks into the telecommunication headset on his head while watching Tammy's screen, hunching a little to see the screen clearly.
The commander watches him, and admires his personality. Dwright is always able to communicate so efficiently and concisely, without a hint of bias. Yet, he is so quiet. The commander smiles because Dwright has served well.
"Mars Base 2. Communication Officer Dwright Burns of Mars Base 3 speaking. Commander LeMan requests two squadrens of scouts on transports to intercept the unidentified object on our screen. We are sending you the information now."
Outside the asteroid belt . . .
In a dark quiet corridor, distant foot step ring out like loud audiable clicks. The curved side of the corridor is made out of dull brown lizard skin. At one time, it could have been polished to shine, but now it is just dull. The corridor is lit by a round yellow glowing spot about every five feet down the corridor. The lights are about eight feet off the ground.
As the clicks become louder, a little shadow appears down the corridor. Soon, as the shadow moves closer, it morphs into a figure, and the figure turns into a humanoid. The humanoid is about seven feet tall, and five feet wide, covered with reptile skin from head to feet. At seven feet high, Sigor is considered tall by Ferriton standards. Upon entering the bridge, Sigor immediately sees Vigor turn around from the viewport.
"Ah, me Lord!" Vigor greets his lord with a huge smile, after the hatch to the bridge closes. Sigor winces as he notices that Vigor's hunchback is worse whenever Vigor is excited. "You are jussst in time. We have jussst came out of warp ssspace, clossse to the ring of asssteroidsss that orbits between the fifthsss and the sixthsss planet of thisss sssolar sssyssstem. Earthsss is the third planet."
"Yesss, I felt the sssubtle turbulencssse when we unwarped ourssselvesss." Sigor replied unhappily. "But why are we by these planetsss? Our dessstination is Earthsss."
"Oh, definitely, me Lord. But after our evacuation from Planet Zia, we were forcsssed to jettissson our rock troopsss to make room for our csssitizsssensss. Now, we do not have a sssingle troop available. It would be unwissse to try to take control now. Plusss, the Earthssslingsss have advanced considerably sssincssse the lassst time we were here. I have ordered out ssship to ssstop by thisss asssteroid ring to replenisssh our factory with resourcesss to build rock troopsss.
"Currently, we only have enough vacancy for around three hundred rock troopsss of our sssizssse. We will be able to build fifty per hour. Our ssstorage ssspacsssesss are already filled with our csssitizsssensss. We need to sssecure planet Earthsss quickly, and unload some passsengersss. Otherwise, we may not be able to repel hostile actionsss."
Sigor walks past Vigor, around his leather seat and sits down. With his right elbow on the seat rest, he rubs his chin with his right hand. His left hand hangs limply over his left leg, without anything better to do. Vigor's eyes follow his lord smoothly. He follows Sigor to his seat. Awaiting patiently, he knows better than disturbing his lord's train of thoughts.
Sigor removes his right hand from his chin, looks at Vigor straight in the eyes, and says, "Vigor, let'sss unload our cssitizsssensss onto Earthsss right now! Without the earthssslingsss' knowing, of course."
"Yes, Lord sssSigor, that isss a very good idea." Vigor complements his lord, even though he has already planned to do that. Therefore, I am going to consssult the Ferriansss the condition of the solar system and plan the best way to do that without the earthssslingsss' knowing. But we have lossst communication with the Ferriansss for almost two centuries. I hope they ssstill remember that we are their massstersss."
Looking out the viewport, Lord Sigor states with a tone of irony, "Excsssellent, Vigor. I sssee that you have already planned out everythsssing."
"Pleassse do not be alarmed, me Lord. I am only acting in our best interessst." Vigor speaks with a grin.
"Yesss, of courssse you are."