Waking Gods Page 29



[Door closing]



FILE NO. 1543


Location: EDC Headquarters, New York, NY

—They’re back.

—Themis has returned?

—No. The aliens are back. Look.

—How long have they been here?

—Twenty minutes.



—London? I wonder why they would choose to land in the same city twice.

—They chose to land in the exact same spot. Unless I’m reading this wrong, it’s within ten feet from where they appeared a year ago.

—The robot looks different—

—Yes. They don’t mass-produce these things. Each seems to have its own…personality. This one glows orange, for one thing. Here’s a picture from last year. Look at the chest armor. It’s a lot smoother. There are fewer carvings. The helmet is slightly different, the forehead. Look at its face. The one from a year ago had sharp traits, a really severe look. This one looks younger, a bit androgynous. It’s almost grinning. We’re calling this one Hyperion.

—Perhaps they sent a less menacing figure after our last encounter ended in violence.

—I don’t think so. It’s 237 feet tall—a foot taller than the last one—and it’s standing in the middle of the dirt field the last one left behind. There’s nothing not menacing about it.

—Is this a live feed?

—Yes. Why?

—I am wondering what those tiny white lights are.

—All around it, I know. I asked myself that same question. There weren’t as many five minutes ago.

—Can you zoom in?

—No, that’s not our satellite.

—We should try television. It has been there long enough for the press to arrive.

—It’s the middle of the night in London.

—People must be aware of its presence. It stands in the one place in the city that is not full of lights. It must be visible for miles, like a lighthouse.

—There. It’s on CNN. It’s a lot more impressive from the ground.

—I do not see any lights around it.

—That must have been taken with a cellphone. I’ll try other channels. There has to be some real footage somewhere—

—Stop. There.

—Wh…They’re people! People holding candles. There must be a thousand of them. This is so—


—I was gonna say stupid.

—The last time the aliens were in London, we sent the army to greet them.

—We didn’t send the army to attack them.

—Whatever the reason, the military got involved and we all know how it ended. These people are trying candles and peace signs. Instead of following their most basic instinct and running away, they are trying to make peace with an alien species. I find it extremely courageous.

—I don’t doubt their courage, but there’s a good reason we have these basic instincts you speak of. This is desperate. It’s futile. These people will die.

—I will grant you that this is a desperate act, but it could work. Perhaps all it takes is for these beings to see that we are capable of more than what we have shown them during our last encounter.

—Do you really think it’ll work?

—I am not overly optimistic about the outcome of this spontaneous endeavor…but I could be wrong. Look at them closely. Some of them are still in their pajamas. They rushed out of their homes to show an alien race we do not want a war.

—I’m looking. I hadn’t noticed the pajamas. I was more focused on the fact that many of them brought their children with them. Look. There’s a baby. He’s not courageous, he just has stupid, irresponsible parents. I’m sorry. I don’t find that inspiring.

—I must say, I am surprised by your reaction. I thought you of all people would be inclined to join them.

—Because I’m suicidal or because I’m losing my mind? Either way, if that’s what you think of me, that should tell you this is a horrible idea.

—Unfortunately, I do not see a better course of action at the moment.

—We can send Themis. It worked once before.

—We do not have Themis. We do not know whether she has been destroyed, or if she even is on this planet, so I should not have to work hard to convince you that sending her is not an option at the moment. Knowing that, would it not be wiser to try to avoid a conflict altogether?

—I’m not sure that’s possible after what happened the last time.

—Maybe not, but we have got to try. Whom would you rather send to make peace if not these irresponsible people? I do not think the army is an option.

—It’s not.

—Then who? At this moment, a group of ill-advised people with candles is probably our best hope for a peaceful resolution. I believe it is our only hope until Themis is found. I am also worried about the young ones, but one could argue that having children present helps make our message…unambiguous.

—I see your point.

—Thank you.

—Don’t thank me! I still disagree with you. I think this is a bad way to die. It’s pointless. I just don’t have anything better to offer. In any case, what I think doesn’t matter much right now, since these people are there, with their children. I don’t think candles will help, but it’s not like we can send the army to evacuate them. For what it’s worth, I sincerely hope it works.

—I do too, but I urge you to help us prepare for what comes next if the robot obliterates these families.

—You don’t think I’m trying?


—Seriously. I don’t think I should be alive, but don’t you think I wanna find a way to make things better? Don’t you think I wanna save these people? Kara, Vincent, you, everybody? I’m trying. I’m trying really hard.

—I know you a—

—I don’t know how! I just…I don’t know how to fix this. I’m not smart enough.

—If you allow me to complete a sentence, I will tell you that I never doubted your willingness to help. Moreover, I am absolutely convinced you can, even if you do not share that conviction.

—Why? What makes you think I can do anything?

—Without you, we would not have discovered a giant hand in the Black Hills. We would not have thought to create an argon compound to locate the rest of the pieces. For that matter, we might never have looked for other pieces had you not been so utterly convinced there was an entire body to be found. Without you, we would not have had Themis a year ago. She probably saved millions of people when she defeated that robot.

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