Note: This was a fairly recent attempt at jump-starting my desire to write. The story was born out of my exasperation at seeing nations hellbent on subjugating each other, seemingly for such fleeting reasons as money, oil and power. This story was an attempt to answer the question of: what would it take for the nations to finally work together?

The prose is a little better than in the Millenium Wars storyline, but it is still incomplete and an early draft. If you find it ahem, enjoyable (God forbid ;-), send me a note, and I'll see if I can get off my lazy rear, and finish off the rest of this short story. (Ahhh, the human ego. Yes, I admit. I am weak.)

NightFall

The Premise

A boy discovers that a meteor that has landed on earth is a spaceship from a dead civilization. The aliens who had sent the spaceship, had meant it to be a warning of an alien race that was headed towards Earth, destroying inhabited worlds and taking them as their own. The aliens who had sent the warning, calculated that the Earth had approximately 75 years before the evil aliens arrived on Earth. The only way around was to take the cities underground, and remove any trace of the human habitations that pockmarked the Earth. But convincing world leaders, not to mention the general populace of such a radical idea would be difficult, if not impossible. The clock is ticking. In 75 years, the human race would either pass under the radar of the evil aliens and fight back, or be extinguished forever. And with each passing day, the deadline loomed closer.

T-1 years: AD 2080

Clouds billowing in cerulean blue skies. A wind sweeping across the steppes, the grass moving as a wave. A large rock smooth with age, was the only thing breaking the otherwise uneventful horizon. In the distance, mountains in a purple haze, capped with beautiful snow peaks. A sleek silver shape quietly glides into view, and comes to a stop near the rock. For long seconds, the shape remained still, as if part of a tableau. And then, as quietly as it came it lowered itself to the ground.

Against the beauty of the hills and the skies, the silver shape seemed out of place. Hard to believe that hardly a few decades ago, such shapes were common place in the skies above, thundering over the clouds, and beyond the mountains. Other such shapes would whiz all over the landscape, in perfectly ordered lines, going from one distant metropolis to another. Now it was rare to see such machines above ground. It was as if humanity had perished, a victim of its own doing, its ceaseless demand for "more! better! faster!" finally having placed the final nail in its collective coffin.

I sighed, and looked around. It wasn't that I missed the noise, the constant stream of traffic going back and forth, the beautiful, sleek airliners in the sky, the sounds of life as a city rose from its slumber for yet another day of work. Well, yes, to a certain extent I did. Despite having spent the last several years above ground, it wasn't easy to get used to the quiet, the lack of human contact. Sure I could fire up the videophone, and talk to someone. But it wasn't the same as actually being with that person. Funny thing about growing old though. I was starting to enjoy the general quietude around me. In a few years, I would pass on, and others would take my place. Perhaps someday, in the distant future, this place would once again be populated by vehicles, and ships and airliners, and cities, and noise, all those things that remind us that there is life on this planet. But not for the forseeable future. Not if humanity were to survive. No, not just survive, but grow, and live and expand to the stars above.

Mankind had gone underground. Paradoxically, it was this very action, that would one day allow our children and grand-children and the future of our race to walk among the stars. Just a few months ago, deep space radar had finally indicated within Alpha Centauri's orbit, the faint tell tale signs that could only be the exhaust from an armada of ships. Thousands of ships. Perhaps hundreds of thousands. In a year, perhaps a little longer, they would be in our Solar System. And then orbiting Earth. In a few months, they would move on, finding only the ancient vestiges of a long departed civilization. A civilization seemingly wiped out in its prime by its obsession with primtive and crude atomic weapons. Pity, they would think (the irony). They might leave a few probes behind for research (another irony). Eventually these too would leave. Then mankind would have to make its next crucial decision: stay on this world, and escape the fate that had befallen so many star systems before us. Or venture into the galaxy and beyond, form alliances and risk bringing war to our world. Either way, the alien threat would be purged, only more permanently with the latter.

And what would we do once we were free of the alien menace? Despite the terrible danger approaching us, there was still only an uneasy and tenacious peace between the nations of Earth. What would happen once the danger had passed? Would wars once again ravage this world? Would we carry our allegiances and travel to the stars and beyond, only to take our burden with us, infecting those worlds that we touched? Or would mankind finally realize the futility of unending wars, and greed and avarice, and finally--finally!--experience a true peace, one punctuated by amazement at the beauty that is our Universe?

Questions that did not concern me too much. I doubted very much I would be around long enough to see them answered. Nor did I mind. In the course of a human lifetime, I had seen things once thought impossible. I had seen cities go underground where they continued to thrive quite well, and watched as the planet rapidly took back the land and the sea, as if (and perhaps indeed) understanding the urgency of the situation that lay ahead. I had seen a concern for the environment far unlike anything the world had seen before. Strange how being forced to fight for your very survival can bring out the best in people. A few of us remained above ground, to listen to and track the network of satellites, sensors and probes that scanned the stars, listening for something that we wished would never arrive. Hard to believe that children were being born, who had never seen the sun. The real sun.

T-75 years: AD 2005

It all started off so innocuously. As a student at a non-descript university, I had ...

To be continued