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|Brighter than the Stars|
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Author: Bill Kowaleski
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Dr. Gerry Landis is a respected physicist, confident that he’s current in field. Then two students take him to the modest suburban home of Jeremiah Washington where he sees an amazing generator that powers the house using only water for fuel, a generator that could change the world. When Gerry realizes that everything he knows, all the work he’s done is suddenly obsolete, he burns with the desire to learn how the amazing generator works. Gerry’s quest leads him to the planet Cygnus Prime where he and the two students, nerdy Keyshawn, and beautiful martial arts master Elka, go to study the science behind the generators. There they run up against an extremist group intent on driving outsiders from their planet. The extremists kidnap Keyshawn and sabotage the generator in Jeremiah’s house, badly injuring him. Gerry, Elka, and their new alien allies now have no choice but to redirect their efforts to saving both Keyshawn and Jeremiah. Brighter than the Stars is an interplanetary adventure full of the wonder of discovery and the danger and mystery of deeply alien cultures. While modern in theme and setting, it captures the positive spirit of Golden Age sci-fi.
“I am assigned to work with a new species from an unknown planet.” The Ethnologist nuzzled his eyestalk into her dark brown fur so the calves could not pick up their conversation.
“Will it be dangerous?” she asked, sending along uncertainty and small-fear.
“They are predators, but my studies of their transmissions indicate that they can control themselves, that most of them do not do any killing. I will work with them at the GFG training center. It is thought they will be here in less than a fiveday.”
“Then you can return home in the evenings.” She sent relief. “Shall we graze at the herd commons tonight?”
“Yes, let’s take the females’ tunnel instead of the transport. It is a cold evening and the skyways will be very busy.”
The tunnel led directly from their home to a field just ten minutes’ walk away. As they joined the larger channeling tunnels, they met many members of their herd. The group grew larger, and they were soon in a thick throng. They put their heads down, following the crowd in front of them, reverting to the instinctive behavior that gave them an indescribably deep satisfaction. The tunnel slowly ascended to a bright opening and the herd spread out on the lush grazing commons, theirs since before the First Stories, since the times of the First Fences.
The Ethnologist’s mate led him to their clanspace where they saw her closest friend, Grass-Feeder, her rich brown fur glistening in the low sunlight. The calves rushed toward their area, bounding on two legs in anticipation of seeing their friends.
“What perfect sunlight we have, Nurse,” Grass-Feeder transmitted with feelings of contentment and pleasure. “The grass is so sweet when the sun burns the snow off. And it must have been treated with the special nitrogen nutrient mix today.”
“How wonderful!” Nurse replied. She chewed a few minutes. “My mate is assigned to bring a new species from an unknown planet to our world. It is very exciting!”
Grass-Feeder turned her eyestalks to the Ethnologist and transmitted concern and disapproval. “I suppose they’re predators, they always are.”
“Not always,” the Ethnologist hurriedly replied. “The Actinites are grazers.”
“The only other true vegetarians in the League!” sniffed Grass-Feeder. “Tell me the truth, they are predators, aren’t they?”
“Yes, I cannot deny it, but they do not seem too fearsome. They are not like Arcturans.”
“Small consolation. Our planet has wandered so far from the principles of the herd. We used to keep predators outside the enclosures. Now we welcome them into our companies, we share quotas with them. Who knows, next we may be accepting them into our herds. It is too much!”
Just then a blue-gray-furred male approached. “Welcome, Nature-Protector, mate of Grass-Feeder,” said the Ethnologist.
“A most pleasant evening, my friends,” he replied.
Grass-Feeder turned her eyestalks to him and said, “The Ethnologist will bring a new predator to our planet, my mate. He claims they are harmless.”
Nature-Protector’s pleasant demeanor vanished into outrage. “No! How could you! Why would you do this?”
“They have metals we need, and there is a tremendous market on their planet for our products. It is a perfect situation.”
“You must reconsider this, Ethnologist. Why bring these dangerous creatures inside our enclosures? Think about it.”
“You of all herdmembers should understand our company’s quotas, Nature-Protector.”
“Yes, we both work for the same company, Ethnologist, but my goals are only to ensure the protection of the environment wherever our products are sold. I care nothing about sales quotas.”
“But those are the higher goals of our company!”
“Higher goals? And what would those be? Wouldn’t the highest goals of all be to protect our culture, to honor our past, to ensure our safety?” Nature-Protector transmitted strong group solidarity feelings to reinforce his thoughts.
The Ethnologist had had enough. He knew his clan disapproved of his contacts with predator species but he loved nothing more than learning about new worlds and new creatures. There was an unbounded universe above them, and all his clan could do was lower their heads and prattle about the past. He wandered out of transmission range, allowing them to continue their unpleasant discussion.
When she saw that he had moved far enough away, Grass-Feeder moved close to Nurse, placing an eyestalk on her head. “We have formed a group that will work to repel the predators from our world. We plan to educate all the herds and even take direct action against the foreign predators.”
Nurse was shocked. “What do you mean by direct action?”
“We will encourage them to leave.” Grass-Feeder put a heavy emphasis on ‘encourage’. “You should join us, we meet just before grazing time, each firstday.”
Nature-Protector nodded in supportive approval.
“My mate works with these creatures. He has never been harmed and finds them interesting. He would lose his work if your crusade were to prevail. So no, I won’t join you.” She made sure that she sent her clan mates the strong-anger and upset that she felt.
“Very well, but our cause is just, and our movement grows daily. Don’t take us lightly.”
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