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 4 - Earthbound

When I arrived in Earth orbit, I was indeed greeted by a space shuttle with medical scientists on board who wasted no time in examining me. I think they were more curious than anything, but they did collect a large number of specimens - of my blood, my urine, my feces, my skin and even my tears. About the only thing they didn't collect was a specimen of my ejaculated oocytic fluid, and that was probably only because they did not know I could produce it. When I explained that I would need to bring plants with me from the hydroponics bay for my food, they also collected specimens from there as well.

I was kept in quarantine on board my own spaceship in Earth orbit for three seemingly endless days while the Earth scientists analyzed the specimens that had been collected and determined that there was indeed no biological threat. With no time to waste, every day spent waiting was precious time lost that could have been used to build Earth's defenses. Finally, I was cleared to visit Earth!

My shuttlecraft was intercepted by a couple of military aircraft as soon as I entered the lower atmosphere. I was guided to a military base I would later learn was known as Fort Hamilton. It was located near a very long and beautiful suspension bridge. The moment I opened the air lock, I was assaulted by a smell. It reminded me of the smell of a forest fire - a smell from my early childhood that I would never forget - but much less potent. I then remembered that this was a pre-fusion society that still relied heavily on the combustion of fossil fuels for energy generation.

I was greeted by the base commander and the mayor of New York City, and I noticed that people had an interesting smell, too. They smelled somewhat sweet, yet pungent. Still, it wasn't an unpleasant smell at all. I had to wonder how I smelled to them. There was little time to ponder such things, however, as I was immediately loaded onto something called a helicopter. The use of rotating propellers to provide vertical lift was almost laughable, but without the use of micro-fusion reactors, this was probably their state-of-the-art.

Because I was tied to my hydroponics bay for nourishment, I could only visit for a day or two at most until a suitable 'farm' could be constructed for me on Earth. My first visit was to New York City, one of the largest cities on the planet. That was where the United Nations was located and I would be addressing the Security Council, as well as meeting with a number of world leaders including the Presidents of the United States, Russia, Turkey, France, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa, the Premier of China, the Chancellor of Germany, and the Prime Ministers of Japan, India, the United Kingdom and Australia. If all went well, I would return a few days later to address the General Assembly and to hold a press conference. It would be at that point that my existence and knowledge of the Cerenean threat would be made public.

One thing I had to admit was that New York City was beautiful - probably as beautiful as anything I remembered from my early childhood on Loran. The city was built entirely on a series of islands and surrounded by water. It was easy to see why the city was built there - it was part of a phenomenal natural harbor. Before the advent of air travel or even motorized travel, New York must undoubtedly have been one of the largest centers of trade on the planet. It probably still was.

Several bridges crossed what I would later learn was called the East River and were as graceful as any I'd seen. The buildings of the city were magnificent - not as tall as the tallest buildings on Loran, but impressive by anyone's standard.

As a mode of transport the helicopter may not have been efficient, but it was certainly fast and we landed just a few minutes later on a pad that jutted out into the East River. The UN, which I recognized from videos I'd watched back on Mars, was visible just a short distance away. I couldn't believe that after all those years of studying Earth culture, I was actually here.

The meeting with the Security Council went smoothly and I had a solid two hours to explain the full nature of the threat and pertinent aspects of what it was like to live under Cerenean rule. The members of the council asked many questions, and I answered them as best I could. We touched briefly on what it would take to mount an effective defense and I think everyone in the room was shocked by the magnitude of the resources that would be needed.

My parents used to tell me what politicians used to be like on Loran before the time of the Cereneans, but I'd never had any previous exposure to politicians or politics. The world leaders with whom I met during my brief stay in New York fit the descriptions my parents gave me perfectly. Every last one of them played a game with me, trying to impress me with their importance. It was evident, however, that they all feared me. In a sense they had reason to - I was a threat to their power. At the moment I held more power than all of them combined.

There was one thing the Russian president asked me about that threw me completely off guard. He asked me about the possibility of using biological weapons against the Cereneans. I had never heard of biological weapons before and I didn't have an inkling as to what he meant. He then explained a little about one of the darker times in Earth history, which was surprisingly recent, in which the major powers tried to develop poisons and diseases to unleash against their enemies. In fact, early versions of these weapons were used during their two world wars. Unbelievably, these weapons were ultimately abandoned, not so much for ethical reasons, but because there was no way to use them effectively against an enemy without harming ones own troops.

The Russian President pointed out, however, that biological weapons did have an advantage in use against the Cereneans. Because Cerenean DNA used a different base pair coding of amino acids than either Earth or Loran DNA, it should be possible to develop a disease targeted at the Cereneans to which humans and Lorans would be immune. As horrific as the idea of a biological approach seemed to me, I couldn't help but be intrigued. The Cereneans were ruthless. Was it not justified to wipe them off the face of the Earth and the face of Loran?

I returned to my spaceship the next day feeling hopeful but recognizing the daunting nature of the task that lay ahead. I also could not get the idea of developing a biological weapon out of my mind. Nevertheless, I did not mention it when I returned to New York a few days later to address the General Assembly. I didn't want the citizens of Earth to think they could get away with anything less than a complete dedication of the entire planet's resources to their defense. While in New York, I also gave a news conference, during which I talked about the scope of the resources that would be needed to defend the Earth successfully against the Cereneans.

With little time to waste, I quickly negotiated with world leaders on an immediate plan of action. Although I didn't wish to favor any one country over another, nor did the leaders who feared I might favor their enemy, the United States of America had the most advanced military research labs on Earth, bar none. Everyone agreed on that fact and that it would be best for me to work with military scientists in the U.S., although the Russians did try to convince me their facilities were just as good. In the end I negotiated an agreement among the leading military powers that all knowledge would be shared equally, and that I would have full control over doing so.

It was thus that I came to live in California. It was thus that I came to live with Steve.

The bottom line was that I needed to live in a secure, controlled environment. I needed a place that was remote, easily guarded and that had lots of land on which to set up my hydroponics bay. Eventually it might be possible that I could eat Earth food, but for the time being it was necessary to assume everything humans ate might be poisonous to me. Testing human food for Loran compatibility would take time, and time was something precious and in short supply.

The logical place for me to work on my weapons research was at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the San Francisco Bay area. San Francisco was absolutely beautiful - even more so than New York. It didn't have as many tall buildings as New York and it was a fraction of the size, but the physical beauty of the bay, the mountains and the ocean was as beautiful as anything I'd seen on Loran.

The only problem was that San Francisco sat directly on a major fault line. It didn't take me long to figure that out and I learned that the city had indeed been completely destroyed more than a century before. On Loran we avoided building in spots that were so geologically active - not that there were that many - regardless of their aesthetic qualities. Even with the most robust structural designs, a major earthquake would kill hundreds, if not thousands. The people of Earth apparently had no such reservations. On the other hand, so much of their planet was geologically active that perhaps they felt they had no choice. They certainly seemed to enjoy living on the edge and were either willing to take a chance on senseless loss of life, or they were just in denial.

The laboratory where I worked was in a somewhat more stable part of the state, in the midst of a desert. Because we didn't want to draw attention to my presence, I moved into the home of Dr. Albert Johnston, the lead scientist assigned to the Earth defense project. Personally I couldn't imagine choosing a career that involved designing weapons to kill millions, but Dr. Johnston, or Albert as he asked me to call him, felt very strongly that the weapons he helped to design served as an important deterrent to those who might otherwise harm those he loved. Having seen what the Cereneans did to Loran, I quickly came to appreciate his point of view.

Albert had a very large 'ranch-style' house on several acres of land about thirty kilometers from the laboratory. In order to accommodate my nutritional needs, a hydroponics facility was built on his land, but it was made to look like a traditional greenhouse so no one might suspect its true purpose. Not obvious from the outside was that the inside environment was hermetically sealed. The entire facility was completed in under two days.

Albert lived with his wife, Allison, and their son, Steve. It still was a bit strange to see sexual dimorphism in humans, but to them the lack of dimorphism would have seemed strange. In fact, the nature of our sexuality was something I did not plan to explain until it became necessary. The less unlike them they thought I was, the better.

Steve was fourteen Earth years old and what they called a freshman in high school. He was only about four months younger than I was. From the moment I met him I was drawn to Steve, but I really didn't understand why. After all, he looked so human. He had long blond hair on his head and he had a 'button nose', right in the center of his face. His eyes had vivid blue irises, surrounded by white sclera and his skin was a deep, dark tan in color.

By contrast, I had what most humans would call fur running from the top of my head to the lower part of my back. It was what humans would have called a rusty color, slightly darker than a color of hair I'd seen on some humans that they called 'red', and about a centimeter in length. I had no nose - my olfactory organs were located in my auditory canals, which protruded on top of my head and through which I breathed as well. My skin was a very pale greenish, bluish grey and my irises were a dark magenta, surrounded by black sclera.

When I shook hands with Steve, however, there was definitely a magical feeling that passed between us. For all the differences in our appearance, I was amazed at how similar his skin felt to my own. It was smooth, warm and very slightly moist. I loved the way he smelled, too. He had that sweet-pungent smell that all humans seemed to have but it was different, too. His smell was unique - there was something else to it that exuded a raw sexuality. Indeed, I was surprised that his smell aroused me. He later told me that he wore something called cologne, made from plant extracts, but even without his cologne his smell was alluring. Eventually he would admit to the same feelings about me.

During the day Steve went to school while I went with Albert to the Lawrence Livermore Lab. I taught Albert and his colleagues everything I knew about Loran and Cerenean technology and showed them how Cerenean weapons functioned. We worked on a strategy for the rapid fabrication and deployment of defensive weapons that could counter the Cerenean threat, but it quickly became apparent that Earth lacked the facilities to build the energy and particle beam weapons used by the Cerenians. We would therefore have to rely on 'kinetic weapons' - missiles powered by fusion-based propulsion systems. We could probably fabricate a limited number of antimatter warheads, but far too few to be of much use.

Even making use of Earth's entire manufacturing capacity, the weapons needed to counter the Cerenean threat could not be fully deployed until several months after the Cereneans had arrived. We spent days trying to work out means of boosting production capacity, but it just wouldn't be possible without the investment of additional resources from outside the Earth - resources that would not be forthcoming.

Reluctantly, I brought up the idea of using biological weapons.

"The problem as I see it," I explained, "is that, even though it should be rather straightforward to synthesize a virus to kill Cereneans without harming humans or Lorans, we would need some way to deploy it to their entire invasion force very quickly. Otherwise, as soon as they realize what is happening, we can be sure they will quarantine those who are ill and make use of environmental suits as a protection against acquiring the virus. Unless we can cripple their entire force quickly, they'll stop the virus dead in its tracks and continue with the invasion."

"We need to get an infectious diseases expert in on this," Albert replied to my suggestion. "Perhaps a better strategy than a fast-acting virus is just the opposite. If we could develop a virus that is highly contagious among them, but that has a very long incubation period, they won't even realize they've been infected until the virus has spread extensively throughout their invasion force."

"That's an interesting idea," I agreed. "I see how that could work."

"My concern," Albert continued, "is that, assuming you don't have any real Cerenean viruses with you, we would need to be able to synthesize the virus completely from scratch and, without Cerenean life forms in which to grow the virus, there would be no way to mass produce it."

Taken aback, I asked, "Why would you need to 'grow' the virus? Viruses are not life forms in and of themselves. They are chemical constructs and as such can be manufactured in quantity using traditional means."

Clearing his throat, Albert said, "Perhaps to you it's easy to manufacture a virus, but we don't have that capability."

"Then I shall have to give it to you," I replied.

"And how do you plan to design a Cerenean virus?" he asked.

"I have all the information you'd ever want to know on Cerenean physiology on board my spaceship. It is a Cerenean ship, after all. All disease-producing Cerenean viruses are also in the database. We should be able to combine known DNA sequences from existing viruses to achieve the result we want."

"Excellent," Albert stated. "I'll get a virologist working with you on this while we simultaneously develop our defensive weapons. It looks like we're going to need both strategies."

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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