Chapter 32

Crop Circles

“Uh, Sarge? You gotta see this!”
“See what, O'Brien?”
“We're getting radio signals from Earth! It's a really strange modulation pattern, but it's coming from Earth!”
“What? Are you sure it's coming from Earth? I can't believe the Earthians developed radio. I thought they had an anti-technological civilization? Move over, Private, let me look.”
Sargent Zales had a good long look at O'Brien's screen, fiddled with a few controls, and was as surprised as the private was. “Hold down the fort, O'Brien, I think the Lieutenant should have a look at this.”
“Sure thing, Sarge.” O'Brien said. He was uneasy – first the entire southern hemisphere of Mars irradiated to lifelessness, and now these strange signals were coming from Earth. The signals were obviously artificial, but he couldn't decipher them.
“Galaxy be but this is weird,” he said aloud to nobody in particular, because nobody in particular was there, Zales having gone to see Maris.
The Lieutenant was thinking that since Defense Command Headquarters was in the south, his own boss was now head of the entire remaining Martian military. He needed to recruit somehow, and promotions for the surviving troops were in order. He was to meet with Gorn later in the day to talk about the recruiting and promoting. He hadn't had time to see a newscast to find out what President Hoo had to say about the situation.
Meanwhile, the controls back on Earth had their own problems. They were holding a meeting in the church about some spooky, probably evilly demonic activity around their farms.
“You saw the circles, Reverend, what do you make of it?” Muldoon asked.
“Probably just kids... you know how teenagers are,” Reverend Smith replied. “Remember the cows that got tipped over last year and you thought it was demonic, when it turned out that the kids next door were just doing a bit of old-fashioned cow tipping and confessed their sin?”
“But how would they make these circles?”
“I don't know,” the Reverend replied, “but as long as nobody is harmed, I really don't think we need to worry about it. If it was just kids, they'll confess and repent. If it's evil we'll know soon enough.”
“But this is scary, Reverend!” Muldoon said.
“Trust the Lord, Jonah. He knows what's best. Hasn't he always protected us? Where's your faith, man?”
Muldoon blushed. “You're right, of course, John. I'm being foolish.”
A half kilometer beneath them held a different meeting.
“The Martians haven't answered,” Rula said. “I think we should send a nobotic probe to Mars and see if they're still there. The first probe is on its way to Venus now.”
Gumal wondered about the circles their craft caused in the vegetation. “What about the controls? Won't this make them wonder?”
“Let 'em wonder,” said Rula.
“Give me that stratodoober,” said Rority.
“I ought to give it to the controls, those stiff necked assholes!” Gumal said.
On the other side of the sun, General Washington had blood in his eyes and death on his mind... and a happy heart, rare indeed for a Venusian. The deaths of billions on Venus' southern hemisphere, where the old leadership had been and where all the unrest came from, and the death of Mars if they were responsible. And they were.
Even if they weren't.
“But General, how could the Martians have developed the technology to do such a thing?” his second in command asked. “Even though they have far better technology and researchers than we do?
“That was a super weapon they loosed on us! They can kill half a planet! How could we fight anyone so powerful?” Ford was thinking that they should open communications with Mars and start peace talks, maybe even establish trade, but he knew Washington would kill him for even suggesting it.
“You forget, General Ford, that when we took over Venus we were far outmatched technologically by the previous regime. And I have a plan to wipe out the Martian menace once and for all, like I told you before.”
“But sir, again... may I ask how?”
“We're going to throw rocks at them.”
“Throw rocks at them, sir?”
“Yes, Ford, rocks. Big rocks. Mountain sized rocks. Extinction event sized rocks.”
“Wow,” Ford replied, “you're going to have to go an awful long way to find any rocks that big. After all, they used up almost the entire asteroid belt, plus Deimos and Phobos, plus every other big rock they could find this side of Saturn when they terraformed Mars. Almost all of the asteroid belt and a large part of Saturn's rings are already on Mars from their terraforming days.”
“That and most of our carbon,” Washington said. “The damned idiots that ran things before we took over gave it to them. But there are plenty of rocks still left around Saturn,” Washington responded. “We have craft on the way already. It's a matter of Venus' survival!”
“Sir,” general Ford said plaintively, “Don't you think we should make sure the Martians are behind it?”
“Certainly not. The populace is scared and angry and all riled up and we need a scapegoat, a visible enemy. People want revenge. So the Martians are responsible whether or not they're responsible.
“We're running out of room here on Venus,” he added, “and we're taking Mars. We need it. And Earth afterward.”
He apparently and very conveniently forgot that every-one in the southern hemisphere was dead. Washington wasn't content to own a single world, he wanted the entire solar system.
He was annoyed that the troops he'd sent to establish a base on the Earth seemed to have just vanished.
It was ironic that the Amish were worrying about the peaceful “devils” underground when the real threat was two hundred million kilometers away.
A week later, Rula had some bad news for everyone. “We received signals from Venus, and they were hard to decipher, but we did it. We have some big problems. It looks like they may be getting ready to wage war with Mars.”
“Did we get signals from Mars?” Gumal asked.
“Yes, but they weren't aimed at us. They have spacecraft at Lagrange points and the signals were aimed at them. We don't know why they wouldn't answer us, but we think it may be that they're not as technologically developed as we are and simply can't understand us. We're trying again. We need to warn the Martians.”
“Why?” asked Gumal. “We haven't had contact with them for at least a million years. They're surely a completely different species by now.”
“Because of what we heard from intercepted Venusian signals. They plan to exterminate the Martians and take over Mars, and we'll surely be next. We need to contact the Martians and see if we can help. Venus is certainly not going to be friendly, but the Martians may be if we give them a reason to.”
“Where's Rority?” Gumal asked.
“He's working with linguists to try and craft a message the Martians will understand. Meanwhile, we have probes around Venus, and we think the Venusians don't have the technology to detect them.
“You think things were dire when the supernova hit, it's going to get much worse. Gentlemen and ladies, it's interplanetary war and it's not going to be pretty.”



Chapter 31
Chapter 33

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