The Binary Planet

A Science Fiction Adventure by Altimexis

Disclaimer: This story is purely fictional and any resemblance of characters to real individuals is purely coincidental and unintentional. Some characters may be gay and underage, and at times engage in homosexual acts. Obviously anyone uncomfortable with this should not be reading the story, and the reader assumes responsibility for the legality of reading this type of story where they live. The implication that Malaysia may execute homosexuals at some time in the future is based on current events in Uganda and is not meant in any way to be a slight against the current citizens of Malaysia. The author retains full copyright and permission must be obtained prior to duplication of the story in any form.
About this Story: Great care has been taken to portray only that which is theoretically possible. Loran is a fictitious planet with a year that is 161.6 Earth days in length, or 44% as long as an Earth Year. A Martian year is 687 Earth days long, or 88% longer than an Earth year, and 4.25 times longer than a Loran year. A day on Loran is 23 hours, 47 minutes and thirteen seconds long, and on Mars it is 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds in length. Gravity on Loran is 67% of that on Earth and on Mars it is 38% that on Earth, which is 57% of that on Loran. Atmospheric pressure on Loran is 36% that of Earth, but the oxygen concentration is nearly three times greater, yielding a nearly identical partial pressure of oxygen. On Mars the atmospheric pressure is just 1% that on Earth, which is 2.8% of that on Loran, and the Martian atmosphere is virtually devoid of oxygen.

Part 3 - Discovery

It was during one of my 'topside' journeys one day that I happened upon a very strange contraption indeed. Up until then I'd been very careful to plot the positions of the Earth satellites to make sure I wouldn't be detected, but I'd obviously somehow managed to miss noticing the landing of a new space probe on the surface of Mars. I was out on a routine task of adding more capacity to the photovoltaic array when this robotic entity appeared from behind a rock, seemingly from out of nowhere.

The thing stopped dead in its tracks when it sensed my presence, undoubtedly using some sort of motion detector. Remembering Sankar's words, I was tempted to destroy it to prevent it from sending any knowledge of my existence back to Earth, but then I realized I was already too late. As I stood there, I noticed that a camera of some sort was literally scanning me from head to toe while an antenna array moved very slowly as it scanned the sky, undoubtedly uploading images of me to its mother ship in orbit around Mars. In just over an hour, pictures of me would arrive on Earth and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it.

Standing there in my environmental suit, which consisted of a pressurized helmet and a form-fitting elastic garment that left little to the imagination, I said, "Shit!" to myself aloud - an Earth word I'd found myself using a lot of late. From its vantage point, the robot could also see the photovoltaic array and, hence, the jig was up. With little else to do, I continued my task while the robot continued to observe me, and I thought about what I was going to do.

As I worked in near silence, watching the robot watch me, I asked myself, 'What would Sankar or Warskin have done?' They were so mature and so logical about everything, but nothing they had taught me, prepared me to make this kind of decision on my own. If I were to follow Sankar's last instructions, I should destroy all evidence of my existence and then kill myself before the Earthlings had a chance to visit Mars.

The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that would accomplish nothing. Not only would I fail in the mission but, even if I destroyed every trace of Loran and Cerenean technology, it was too late to prevent contamination of Earth history. With all I'd learned about human culture, I knew that once they had concrete proof of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life, they would not rest until they made first contact. With that came the inevitable danger they would attract the attention of the Cereneans, just as we had. If I did destroy myself and all evidence of our technology, I'd be removing the one hope for humanity to survive a Cerenean attack.

There was another factor, too. Simply put, I didn't want to die. In Earth years I was just fifteen years old - a teenager as they put it. My life was just beginning.

After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that there really was only one option - to be proactive as Sankar would have put it - and to make first contact with Earth. Earth might not be under imminent threat of an attack by the Cereneans, but if I did nothing I'd be condemning humanity to being enslaved by them.

Back safely in my living quarters under the surface of Mars, I prepared to make true first contact with the citizens of Earth. To do so, I'd transmit my image and voice to our spaceship, which I'd parked in a solar orbit about five light-seconds away. This was just far enough from Mars to avoid detection by Earth's Martian probes yet close enough to avoid drawing attention in its own right. Keeping the same orbit as Mars but offset by a very slight distance, it would appear to be nothing more than an artifact to observers on Earth.

From the spaceship, I could make use of the on board deep space antenna array to focus my transmission to the same ground-based radio antennae that Earth scientists were using for their communications with their Mars probes. I planned to use the same video format and compression algorithms that they used for their own terrestrial transmissions - what they called television - using the dominant format employed in the north portion of what they called their western hemisphere. I chose this because the probe seemed to have originated from a land called America, located in that region.

America was not the most peaceful country on Earth - in fact they were the most advanced military power - but they were a democracy and seemed to harbor a strong sense of individual freedom and personal rights. The land known as Europe was very similar, but not nearly as well organized as America. The land known as China was also powerful, but not nearly as advanced from a military standpoint as America or Europe, and their government was riddled with corruption. I feared the Chinese would try to take advantage of a Cerenean attack, but by the time they realized the Cereneans would never accept any form of negotiated partnership, it would be too late.

With all of this in mind, I began recording a message for transmission to Earth, sticking to a script I devised while working on the photovoltaic array so as to avoid any misunderstandings. I spoke slowly and carefully in English, a language I now spoke as easily as my own.

"Dear citizens of Earth," I began, "you have undoubtedly received transmissions from your Martian space probe, revealing my existence. I did not intend for you to discover me and your sighting of me on the surface of Mars was completely unintentional. I was merely on the surface, working on augmenting the photovoltaic array that provides the power to sustain my life.

"My name is Lansley and I am alone on Mars and on a mission of peace. Many years ago, my parents and I left our home world of Loran, which has been under enemy occupation since before I was born by a species called the Cereneans. The Cereneans wasted little time in exploiting our natural resources and enslaving my people. Schools were closed and children as young as three Earth years old were enslaved along with the entire adult population.

"It was in response to the incredible hardship and the destruction of our native culture that my parents decided to join the resistance movement and, as a part of that movement, we left our world in search of a place where we might establish a secret Loran outpost from which we might someday mount a counterattack.

"Unfortunately, our spaceship was heavily damaged during our escape, substantially limiting our range of travel. One of my parents, Warskin, died as a result of injuries sustained during our escape. When we set course for Earth, we did not realize that it was inhabited. Sentient life is incredibly rare and, to our knowledge, there are only four other advanced civilizations in our region of space.

"Once we discovered that Earth actually did harbor intelligent life, we changed our plans and decided to establish a temporary colony on the planet you call Mars. We did not wish to contaminate your history with our technology and we especially did not want to take a chance on the Cereneans following us to your planet. Our plan was to repair our spaceship and to use a photovoltaic array and the raw materials present on Mars to generate fuel for us to leave your system and continue our journey in search of a suitable Loran base.

"About two years ago, however, our photovoltaic array was heavily damaged in a sand storm and we no longer had sufficient power to sustain both my remaining parent, Sankar, and myself."

Starting to tear up - an emotional trait we shared with humans, I continued.

"Realizing that we might both die, Sankar decided to take his own life so that his only child might live. It has been a very lonely, long Martian year since I became an orphan.

"I have spent much of my time on Mars since then maintaining the hydroponics bay, repairing the spaceship and photovoltaic array, and making preparations to leave here eventually. Even in the best of circumstances however, assuming no more serious damage from sand storms or other phenomena, it will take me at least another thirty Earth years before I am ready to leave. Still, our mission is critical to the survival of the Loran civilization and I will continue to pursue it until I take my last breath.

"The one and only thing that takes precedence over my mission is the safety of your planet. Should my activities ever put you in danger, I will end my existence without hesitation. My greatest fear, however, is just the opposite . . . that without my help you will ultimately be found by the Cereneans in much the same way that we found you, and the Cereneans will waste no time in subjugating the people of Earth.

"I have spent nearly all of my free time on Mars studying your culture and with what I have learned, I feel a close kinship with the people of Earth. You have your faults to be sure . . . your burning of fossil fuels will wreak havoc on your climate in the near future, and the failure to peacefully resolve differences among your cultures has led to a senseless waste of lives and diversion of resources in the conduct of war . . . something Loran overcame centuries ago. Still, the good in your society far outweighs the bad. You are a people with great potential . . . a people with whom the Lorans could have been friends had it not been for our subjugation by the Cereneans.

"Ironically, your ongoing military development leaves you in much better shape than Loran when it comes to fighting the Cereneans. We did not even have the weapons capabilities you have, in spite of our much more advanced technology overall. Still, you would be no match for the Cereneans should they wage an all-out assault, as is their style. You would quickly be overcome. Complacency is not an option, as the Cereneans will come . . . it's only a matter of when.

"I am unwilling to sit idly by and watch you lose valuable time in making preparations to weather a Cerenean attack. To that end I am willing to share all I know about Loran and Cerenean technology, but only if you are willing to set aside your antagonism toward one another and work together to make defensive preparations. I cannot and will not allow our technology to be used for you to wage war on each other.

"I would therefore like to begin an immediate dialog with the leaders of Earth, the purpose of which will be to put an end to war, the coordination of defensive efforts against the Cereneans and the transfer of technology. The leaders I have chosen with which to begin this dialog are the Secretary General of the United Nations, the President of the United States, the President of the European Union, the President of the Russian Federation, the Premier of China, and the Prime Minister of Japan.

"I realize there are other important world leaders who will untimately need to be involved, but we need to start somewhere and these are the leaders who are best positioned to meet my demands and to allocate the resources necessary to begin defensive preparations.

"Obviously, it will not be possible to meet in person as I still lack a functioning spaceship, you have no long-range capability for manned space flight, and the distance between Earth and Mars precludes real-time communications. We will therefore have to communicate through transmissions such as this one.

"Please do not attempt to come to Mars to physically abduct me. I will destroy myself and all evidence of our technology before I will allow myself to be taken by force. I wish to help you, but only if you are willing to help yourselves. I may be just a child, but I am carrying an enormous responsibility in representing my people and what I believe would be their wishes.

"Thank you, and I look forward to receiving the first communication from your leaders."

After playing the recording back to make sure I'd made no mistakes, I sent it as a transmission to Earth. Now it was just a matter of time.

It's amazing how slowly time passes when you're waiting for something. The hours after I sent the transmission seemed endless and yet I knew I could not realistically expect to receive a response for at least a few days, if not longer. When the first week passed with no response, however, I began to be concerned that my transmission had never arrived or had been garbled in some way. I therefore sent the transmission again, but reasoned that it was far more likely that Earth's leaders were discussing my offer. After all, asking them to set aside their differences and put an end to war was asking a lot of people who were used to not trusting one another.

After more than a month had passed and I was preparing to send the transmission a fifth time, I finally received a response. It was from the Secretary General of the United Nations, sent from a transmitter on the continent known as Australia.

"Dear Lansley," he began, "As you can imagine, the discovery of your existence was quite a shock to the scientists studying the transmissions from their latest Martian probe. However, even more surprising was your transmission to the leaders of Earth. Not only did we discover that we are not alone but that there are at least four other civilizations nearby, and that one of them is openly hostile and a major threat to Earth.

"If you have been studying our culture, you know that we are naturally skeptical, particularly since deception is one of the most potent weapons we use against each other. We have therefore chosen to proceed with extreme caution, particularly since we have no way of knowing that your request for us to lay down our arms is not a trick to get our defenses out of the way in advance of an attack.

"Our Martian robotic probe has been studying your solar array and our satellites have been thoroughly examining the Martian surface, and we can find no other evidence of your presence on Mars. We have managed to locate your ship in its concurrent orbit of the sun with Mars and, from all appearances, it seems to be dormant. We are therefore inclined to believe you, but we can't take chances. You are going to need to prove your good intentions before we can agree to your terms.

"To that end we have two requests of you. Firstly, we would like you to put your spacecraft into a Martian orbit. In that way we will be able to use our satellites to more closely examine it and determine that it is not hostile. Secondly, we would like for you to show us the location of your base on Mars and for you to record and send us data on its physical layout. If you do these two things, we will be willing to enter into good faith negotiations with you on the terms of our cooperation.

"Thank you, and I hope you will understand our caution."

The Secretary General's requests left me with quite a dilemma. In honoring them I would be making myself much more vulnerable - so much so that I could never defend myself against an attack from Earth. On the other hand if I failed to honor the requests and the people of Earth refused to cooperate with me, it would essentially doom them to Cerenean enslavement. I did not believe they were trying to deceive me any more than I was trying to deceive them. The fact that the transmission did not emanate from one of the major military powers was a sign of a concerted effort to make contact. I had to take them at face value.

So it was with trepidation that I brought my spaceship into a Martian orbit so that it could be observed, and I recorded detailed video of the inside of my base on Mars, revealing everything from the size of the hydroponics bay to the shape of my toilet, which was remarkably similar to the ones they use on Earth. I then added a message of my own indicating my willingness to cooperate within reason, and I sent the recording and my message as a transmission to Earth.

This time it only took five days for me to get a response. Once again, it was from the Secretary General, and the transmission emanated from Australia.

"Dear Lansley,

"Thank you very much for your cooperation. Our scientists have been having a field day with the videos you sent of the interior of your base on Mars. It is quite impressive.

"Our military people are quite concerned, however, about your space vehicle. It appears to have offensive weapons capabilities and our scientists believe it is sufficiently space-worthy to make the journey to Earth. We would actually like to invite you to come to Earth so that we could more easily negotiate the terms of our cooperation, but we're afraid you might use your vehicle to attack us.

"Until we can resolve these issues to our mutual satisfaction, we are unable to proceed. Do consider this, however. Should you come to Earth, you will potentially have many friends here. It must be terribly lonely where you are. The base you have built may have seemed rather large at first but, when you consider that there is nowhere else to go, it must seem horribly small by now.

"Please think about our offer and of a satisfactory way to deal with your offensive weapons.

"Thank You."

The transmission really hit home. I had more than 1200 square meters of living space in my Martian base, although much of that was taken up by the hydroponics bay, and that space seemed more and more claustrophobic by the day. There was no doubt about it - I was lonely. I would have loved nothing more than to leave this barren rock called Mars to live among the people of Earth but if I did that, I would have nothing with which to negotiate other than the very knowledge I proposed to give them. As long as I remained on Mars, I was out of their grasp, giving me a significantly stronger leverage. Once they had me, who knew what they'd do to me to extract my knowledge.

I therefore resolved to wait them out. I would negotiate in good faith from Mars, and we would find a way to deal with the so-called offensive weapons on my ship. These were Cerenean weapons, of course, and without them we would have never been able to escape, but the Earthlings had no way of knowing I would never use those weapons against them. We had to find a way to trust each other.

During this short period of silence, however, something happened that spurred me into action. One evening my scan for a Cerenean attack fleet revealed an immense Cerenean signature at the farthest reaches of the event horizon. There was a massive armada on its way, decelerating rapidly from near-light velocity. FUCK! They must have tracked our ship here! Perhaps they even sent a probe to follow us and send data back to Cerenea. What I most feared had come true - we'd led the Cereneans to Earth! I wasn't sure how, given the time it would have taken for a transmission from Earth to reach Loran, let alone Cerenea, but somehow they'd found us.

Based on their distance and rate of deceleration, they would reach earth in about four months. That left almost no time to prepare but, if there were to be any hope, we needed to act immediately. As skeptical as Earthlings were, however, would they even believe me? I had technology that allowed me to barely detect the Cerenean threat at this point. Earth would never be able to detect it, even with their best space-based radio telescopes. They simply had to believe me - even if it meant sharing technology with them I wasn't yet prepared to share. And I had to go to Earth, no matter the risk to me.

With my decision made, I set about preparing to dismantle my base on Mars, leaving it behind forever, and I prepared one more transmission to Earth.

"Dear citizens of Earth," I began, "I have some grave news for you. Ever since my arrival on Mars, I have been monitoring space for any sign of the Cereneans. Although we were very careful to avoid detection, there was always the possibility that they might have tracked us and monitored our presence in your solar system.

"A short while ago I detected the signature of a massive Cerenean invasion fleet headed this way. The signals I have detected are at the very farthest distance at which I can detect them, and incredibly faint. What's worse is that the fleet is decelerating from near the speed of light, and that means they are not far behind the signal, which traveled through space at only a slightly faster speed than that at which they are moving. Fortunately, it will take them time to decelerate from relativistic speeds, which gives us a little time to prepare, but not much.

"Although the Cereneans appear to still be nearly two light years away, they are far closer. Based on our past experience with the maximum gravitational forces they can endure, it will take them just over four months to reach Earth. Even devoting the entire resources of your planet to buliding a defensive capability to match their offensive one may not be enough. It is imperative that you immediately cease and desist all internal conflicts and dedicate your full effort to preparing for the arrival of the Cereneans. If you fail to do so, they will subjugate your people, just as they did ours.

"I realize that you are probably skeptical about the truth of the information I bring you and I cannot blame you for being so. I only wish we had been more cautious when we ventured beyond our star system. We were too trusting and you are right to be careful. Caution in this case, however, will leave your population at the mercy of the Cerenean slave masters. You must not delay.

"I am including with this transmission the full and unaltered data that I have collected on the approach of the Cerenean fleet. Unfortunately, with your current technology, you do not have the ability to verify its accuracy. I am therefore also transmitting details on how to fabricate microwave detectors and amplifiers that, when built, will have an order of magnitude greater sensitivity than your current best. I have also included details on how to retrofit your existing land-based radio telescopes so they, too, will be able to detect the Cerenean threat. I implore you . . . do not use this technology against each other. Use it together to verify the Cerenean presence and to prepare to defend yourselves.

"In the meantime, with the arrival of the Cereneans so imminent, it would be unwise for me to remain here. Furthermore, you need my help to deploy Loran and Cerenean technology on Earth. Please do not fear me. I am coming to assist you. I will not use my weapons against you. Although you do not acknowledge their existence, I have detected the presence of space-based weapons in orbit around Earth. As a show of good faith, I will park my spacecraft in close proximity to one of your nuclear devices. If you feel I am a threat, although it would be disastrous to your own future, you may destroy me quickly.

"Further, do not fear a biological threat as it is physically impossible for Lorans to transmit disease to humans and vice versa. Our DNA base pair sequences do not even encode the same amino acids. However, because of the possibility of Loran microorganisms expanding unchecked into a living environment in which they face no natural predators, as a matter of routine, we purge all traces of microorganisms from our systems before embarking into space. Instead, we synthesize enzymatic solutions to replace the functions of our natural symbiotic microorganisms. If you wish, however, you may thoroughly examine me before I set foot on Earth to verify that I harbor no stowaway organisms.

"Unfortunately there is no time to dismantle my base on Mars and transfer all salvageable components to my spaceship. It will take me two days of making non-stop trips in my shuttlecraft to upload the plants from my hydroponics bay to my ship, and then I'll be on my way. As yet I do not have the fuel for continuous propulsion, so I anticipate making the journey in just under two of your weeks. I will be in regular contact with you as I make my preparations. I hope and pray you will make the right decision and cooperate fully."

Even before I heard back from Earth, I made my preparations to leave Mars without delay. With a large Cerenean fleet on the way, I could not stay where I was. I would have been a sitting duck. I wasn't sure where I would go if the earthlings did not accept my help. I lacked the fuel to leave the Earth's solar system and, as such, could at best hope to play a game of cat and mouse with the Cereneans, going into hiding whenever and wherever I could.

Fortunately it did not come to that. It took them less than a week to implement my retrofit of a series of radio telescopes and verify my findings. I had expected it to take them twice that long or more. Before I was even halfway to Earth, the major Earth governments and the UN General Assembly had implemented a planet-wide cease-fire and had signed an agreement of full cooperation in countering the Cerenean threat.

The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David of Hope in editing this story this story and Alastair in proofreading it, as well as the support of Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Nifty for hosting it. This story was written as part of the 2010 Gay Authors Summer Anthology.


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