Chronicles of the Interregnum

ENDGAME

The data broadcast by the Resistance caused widespread rioting on the Laputa.  Fearing the collapse of their efforts on Earth, the Reticulans and Laputans launched a series of attacks on the terrestrial settlements with the aim of wiping out the population of Earth once and for all.  The Resistance promptly retaliated by broadcasting the long suppressed truth about Royal Consort Ictovera.  The scandal of Ictovera’s web of deceit further destabilised the Laputan society, but it failed to slow the attacks.

The Resistance commandos were doing their best to stem the tide, but the cyborgs and Reticulans were too numerous and Resistance casualties were mounting.  A failed air raid on Camp Maldonia resulted in the loss of all the Resistance fighters.  Over ten thousand people were being killed each month.

The breakthrough came in the fourth month of the fighting.  A group of commandos had managed to flank the cyborgs attacking a settlement in Brazil, and although they had been beaten off, they had managed to capture one of the telepathic cyborgs.  She was taken to Dale, where John decided to try to convince her of the truth of the war.

“Even though I’ve taken my torc off, you cannot escape even if you take over my mind, so you may as well listen to what I have to say.  For a start, the Reticulans only think they control the Biomass.  In reality, it’s the other way round and they’ve been the dupes for over a century.  As are your people.”

“You‘re lying.”

“Look into my mind.  You know that here and now, I cannot lie to you even if I wanted to.  If you don’t listen to me, the Biomass will destroy the last remnants of humanity and then go on to conquer the galaxy.  If you listen, then maybe we all have a chance to survive.”

“Go on.”

“Our scientists and Dreamers think they’ve finally worked out the big picture with the Biomass, and it’s far worse than we thought back in 2005.  The Biomass originally evolved into a single sentient mind on a planet hundreds of light years away.  It became aware of extraterrestrial life after a Reticulan survey ship explored the planet.  Planetmind took over the minds of the crew, and she learned the secrets of interstellar travel and the Qports from the Reticulans.  One of the Reticulan males went through the hormone storm, allowing Planetmind to establish a breeding population.

“Planetmind used these Reticulans to gather information on the genetic structure of the inhabitants of many worlds, including Earth.  It used this information to create the deadly spores of the Fall.  By the 16th century, Planetmind had also worked out how to create interstellar neural connections which would enable a conquered world to become part of a greater Planetmind instead of becoming a rival intelligence.  Planetmind used its minions to abduct people from various worlds to build and crew the massive invasion fleets.  Humans and Reticulans were popular choices because we were perceived as being advanced enough to be useful labourers, but not advanced enough to be a threat to Planetmind.  The Reticulans who carried out all those abductions in the 19th and 20th centuries, and invaded Earth, were in fact abductees and the descendants of abductees themselves.  And today there are probably more humans on Planetmind’s homeworld than in our entire solar system.”

“But why would so many people choose to serve the force that had abducted them?”

“Because Planetmind messes with the minds of its victims.  It changes the way you perceive reality so you think that serving its cause is the right thing to do.  That’s why our Reticulans think they control it and why your people helped them defeat the fleet sent by the rest of their people to liberate humanity.  Have you never wondered why you and the other cyborg telepaths were permanently stationed in Camp Maldonia even though some of the ordinary cyborgs are present in the space settlements?  Planetmind needs your skills, but it can’t alter your minds without ruining your ability.  And if you were allowed on the space settlements, you would eventually realise that the Reticulans and Laputans have had their minds altered.  The only solution was to keep you and the implant factories on Earth.”

“If what you say is true, how do you know your own mind hasn’t been altered?”

“I can prove it to you.  We found a way to travel to a distant solar system without using a Qport.  Look at the recordings we took.”  John showed Shu the recordings they had taken in the alien factory and images of the strange creatures that had attacked them.  “When your people and the Reticulans realised what we had managed, they started the current war.  They are trying to exterminate the remaining humans on Earth once and for all.”

“You’re wrong; we’re only attacking the settlements involved with the rebels.”

“I understand that you want to believe that, but it’s simply not true.  Dale is the only terrestrial community that has attacked you since the armistice of 2005, and that was only after you launched two unprovoked attacks on us and introduced the mandrakes in clear breach of the terms of the 2005 treaty.  It was the people of Dale under my leadership who fought and defeated you in the Insurgency.  Nobody else has the ability to hurt you.  Most communities are looking to us to defend them from your aggression.  Maybe 50,000 people have been murdered in the last four months of fighting, and that includes over a thousand dead in New York, even though its inhabitants have always supported you.”

“But you launched an air raid on New York in the Insurgency.”

“True.  We bombed the cultists to stop them from raiding the Americans.  Before we did that, they were handing prisoners over to the Reticulans for biological experiments.”

“I can see that you’re telling the truth.  But what can I do?”

“Simple, we’re planning to return you and the other cyborgs we’ve captured in the recent fighting.  We’re going to make it look like a goodwill attempt in the hope of ending the fighting.  When you return to Tasmania, tell the other cyborg telepaths what I have told you.  Then tell the ordinary cyborgs as we know that they rely on the telepaths to lead them.  Once you’ve done all that, you can launch a rebellion.  The Reticulans and Laputans use you as cannon fodder to do the real fighting for them.”

“It’ll take a few days for me to make the arrangements for your release, so in the meantime I suggest you read this.”  John handed Shu a battered copy of Gullivers Travels.  “You might be interested to read about the original Laputans.  They’re more like your people than you realise.”

The Aurora left for Camp Maldonia as soon as safe passage through enemy airspace had been negotiated.  On board were Shu Tang, the four cyborg prisoners and eight commandos as well as the pilot and co-pilot.  The flight went smoothly until the Aurora was flying above the Australian Alps when its scanners reported a flight of enemy fighters on an intercept course.  The co-pilot broadcast the pre-agreed recognition signal, but the fighters remained on their course and then opened fire on the Aurora.

As the pilot did his best to evade the shots, the co-pilot continued to broadcast the recognition signal and demanded that the fighters break off their attack.  Shu looked into the minds of the fighter pilots and tried to get them to decide to attack each other instead.  With horror, she realised that the attack was deliberate.  “They’ve betrayed the ceasefire.  They want us dead!”

Despite the best efforts of the pilot, it was not long before the Aurora was severely damaged.  “Prepare for a crash landing,” shouted the pilot.  “Here we go!”  The impact threw Shu forward from her seat.  She felt something inside her snap as she hit the bulkhead a moment before somebody barrelled into her.  Then the ship hit a rock, causing it to flip over.

After the crash, Shu heard some shouting, but she didn’t really take it in.  She couldn’t feel her legs and it hurt to breathe.  She felt tired and she wanted to close her eyes, but there were things she needed to do first.  There were six other survivors including two cyborgs, one of whom was nursing a broken arm.  She called Corporal Falling over.  He looked frightened at the realisation that he was in charge.

“Corporal, the attack was deliberate.  They wanted to kill us because they were frightened of what I might have learned in my time living among you.  Get the other survivors to take the emergency survival packs and get as far away as you can before they examine the crash site.”

“Can you walk?  We’ll get you out of here.”

“I’m dying.  My back is broken and so are my ribs.”  She started coughing up blood and nearly passed out from the pain.  “Internal bleeding as well.  You can’t do anything for me, get away while you can.”  Shu entered the corporal’s mind to overcome his reluctance to abandon her.  The corporal and the other survivors left barely two minutes later, hopefully they would be able to avoid the detachment of Storm Marines that would soon be looking for them.

This close to Camp Maldonia, Shu was able to feel the thoughts of the other telepathic cyborgs providing she concentrated.  No outsiders knew that they could communicate telepathically over hundreds of miles.  She soon felt the comforting presence of the other voices in her mind.

*What has happened?*

*Am dying.  All have been betrayed for fifty years.  Reticulans and Laputans are controlled by Biomass.  Always have been.  Killed us to suppress truth.  Join rebels or humanity will die.*  Shu felt the growing anger of her friends through the link.  One continued to ‘speak’ while the others dulled her pain.

*It is all right now.  We will rebel.  Other cyborgs will follow.*

*Six survivors hiding in area.  Save them.*

*We will.  Rest now.*

*Thank you.*  Now the truth was out, the people around Shu wouldn’t have died in vain.  She could finally close her eyes.

The telepathic cyborgs were quick to spread the message that Shu had died to bring them.  Camp Maldonia was under the control of the rebelling cyborgs within an hour.  Nearly a quarter of the combined fleet, including twelve of the new attack cruisers, were captured on the ground.  The other cyborgs stationed Earthside joined the rebellion in the next few hours.  They even succeeded in locating and rescuing the crash survivors.

In a panicked response to the rebellion, the Laputan government ordered the massacre of all the cyborgs in the space settlement.  Some of the cyborgs got wind of the plan from a Resistance operative and managed to arm themselves, resulting in a six hour firefight in which over five hundred Storm marines and secret police officers were killed before the cyborgs were defeated.

The Laputan government had relied upon the cyborgs to do most of its fighting since the 2020s.  Their rebellion finally gave the Underground the chance to begin the final uprising against Laputan rule.


EPILOGUE – DECEMBER 2053

On a distant world lit by the sullen light of a red dwarf, Planetmind reviewed the current situation of the conquest of the galaxy.  

The last few decades had seen the conquest and assimilation of thousands of worlds.  Trillions of sentient minds representing thousands of species and their knowledge had been absorbed into the Biomass, even the most advanced civilisations in the galaxy were fleeing before her sporeships and new worlds were falling to her every day.  If a mind was too alien to be absorbed, it was simply exterminated as no rival could be permitted to exist.

However, the situation with the humans of Earth was vexing as nobody else had managed to inflict any real defeat on Planetmind’s forces.  She had no idea how after the sporefall on their world, a handful of broken survivors had rallied and defeated her, and she suspected they had something to do with the security breach at the factory on the First World.  She had originally concluded that there was no possibility of the humans being able to offer any significant resistance.  It was important for her to find out how they had managed to resist her power before they told other races how they had done it.

As for the Reticulans, it had once seemed like a good idea to make use of an internal Reticulan factional dispute to further her aims.  Their love of power had made their minds easy to manipulate.  However they had proved to be too incompetent to prevent the humans from rallying and interfering with the project in the aftermath of the invasion.  

The Reticulans were clearly only fit to provide untrained slave labour and cannon fodder; she had plenty of that after rounding up the survivors of the conquest of Zeta Reticulum and its main colonies in 2029.  The surviving Reticulans were building and manning large numbers of escort ships in her cause after having their perception of reality altered.  Reticulan factory workers were working themselves to death in their patriotic zeal to serve the very cause they believed they were opposing.

Planetmind decided to find out more about how they had resisted her before she destroyed them as this was an intriguing puzzle.  She decided to send an expedition force comprised of the subject races that had proved themselves to be the most useful at science and warfare.

The Reticulans in the Lagado would have to be destroyed however, as Planetmind could not afford for the knowledge their Queens had about her to fall into enemy hands.  She opened up a rift in the human system, felt the Reticulans with her mind and then she struck.

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