Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Xenophobia - Chapter 11

    The next ten cycles were a maelstrom of activity. The council met at least once a cycle, if not two or three. Darrian was even required to attend several Consortium meetings over that same time period. Everything was concerning the humans' attempt to colonize Mars.
    While the news of their upcoming attempt definitely made ripples, the main reason for the constant deliberation had more to do with the speed that humans seemed to operate at. Every cycle brought several new challenges. Something new to review and discuss.
    Recruiting for the colonization begun. Political arguments rallied regarding planetary ownership. A competition among geographic "nations" broke out regarding who would be the first to reach the planet. Tensions rose between those nations and even threatened war. Several interplanetary vessels were destroyed by what was believed to be sabotage.
    Despite all the setbacks and changes, the colony ships launched at the very end of the tenth cycle. There were two ships; both from different geographic "nations". One from a location known as "China". The other from the "United States".
    Juag-e never showed up to a single meeting during that time. 

    "Where is he?" the old judge demanded of Jin'thun at the beginning of the second cycle.
    Jin'thun gave the old judge a withering glare before responding.
    "Do I look like a Tulguck?"
    "You two are always together." interjected Darrian before the old judge could respond.
    "Politically." agreed Jin'thun with a threatening growl. "The same can be said of him and Yool, yet I don't see you turning a sharpened tongue towards him."
    "Hey. Don't drag me into this." retorted Yool.
    "The fact remains," continued the judge, "We just went through an entire cycle without so much as a notification as to his whereabouts. Juag-e needs to take this council seriously."
    "Who could?" snapped Jin'thun. "Particularly when you can't seem to tell me apart from an entirely different species."
    "It's jus..." began Cherryl.
    "It's just what?!" demanded Jin'thun. "I am not an ambassador from Tulguck. I'm a Gorderian and you'll be wise to remember that."
    "Calm yourself, Jin'thun. They meant no disrespect." said A'alan't 32.
    "Of course they did. Because we dare have a different opinion from their own." he said, turning his rage on the little Bivvie. "It's the same reason Ferris likes to call Juag-e, Yool, and I the Trifecta."
    "That's right." he snarled, turning towards Ferris. "You're not as quiet or as funny as you think you are Merrenian. But what can you expect from a rodent in a robot?"
    "Jin'thun!" yelled the old judge.
    "What?" he responded in a low, threatening tone.
    "This is a council meeting. If you can't control you're temper and follow the rules of etiquette you will be removed from this council."
    "Would those be the same rules of etiquette that dictate interspecies relations, specifically on the matter of respect, tolerance, and mutual agreement? Or perhaps you're referring to the subsection that dictates what a council lead is to do in the absence of a species ambassador?"
    The judge had no response and no other counselor dared the Gorderian's fury.
    "Before you yell at me about my breach in etiquette, consider your own. I am not Juag-e's keeper and I will not be put on the spot for his absence." growled Jin'thun. "If you want to know where he is, contact his embassy. That's yours and his problem. Not. Mine."
    Despite the fact that Jin'thun was clearly still fuming, he settled back into his place at the table. The room was silent for several moments as no one knew what to say. Finally, the old judge stepped up.
    "I apologize for my inconsideration, ambassador." said the old judge in a soft tone.
    "Damn right, you are. Now, we've got a job to do. Let's get to it."
    And they did.

    Despite the fact that Darrian was sure the old judge would have contacted the Tulguck embassy immediately after the debacle with Jin'thun, no one heard anything regarding Juag-e for a good while. He didn't return nor was a replacement Tulguck arranged to take his spot. His place at the table remained empty.
    It stayed that way until the evening of the twelfth cycle.
    "Just when I thought we were done with meetings for a while." grumbled Ferris.
    "I thought so too." agreed Darrian as they settled into place.
    "There can't possibly be something else going on." Ferris complained towards the old judge. "The human ships aren't supposed to arrive on Mars for another six or seven cycles."
    "Did something happen?" asked Illiquina with a hint of concern. "Was there an accident? More sabotage?"
    "No accident." confirmed the old judge. "But, to be frank, we have a problem."
    "And what is that?"
    "The Tulguck Armada has been mobilized and they have declared hostile intent against the humans."


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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Clean Up - Journal

Hello Lovelies,

As you may have noticed, I've been gone for the last day as I've been in the process of cleaning up the site a little. The main thing that I've been focusing on is getting the Xenophobia stories set and looking clean. You can now flip through each chapter manually for an easy reading experience. We also now have a full title page dedicated to Xenophobia as well.

My intent is to clean up a few more things and, time permitting, I will hopefully begin work on Chapter 11 tonight. If it's not completed by tonight, I assure you that it will be out come tomorrow. Can't go a few days with having more, haha.

I hope everyone is well and I promise that more is soon to come.

- RB

Xenophobia Title Page

When people picture Aliens, they imagine monsters. Creatures. Other worldly things
with voracious appetites and powers and technologies that far surpass our own. But what
if we were the monsters in our eyes. Violent and bloodthirsty with capabilities they could
never imagine. How would they react to these monsters from Earth?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Rider

    Amanda put away her keys as she walked away from the darkened shop front. Her neck hurt. Her head hurt. Her back hurt. Everything hurt. Since Tomas had called out that afternoon, she had been at the shop open to close without backup.
    After thirteen hours on her feet, all she could think of was getting home. She wanted a warm bath and a soft bed.
    Looking out over the empty parking lot, she groaned loudly. In the rush of the day, she had completely forgotten to call for a ride to get home. With her car in the shop for the next week, her boyfriend had dropped her off in the morning, but with him working the evening shift there was no way he could come grab her now.
    Flipping through her phone, she curled up on the sidewalk for a moment and sent a barrage of text messages to the few friends she thought might be willing to pick her up.
    She'd just have to wait and see if anyone got back to her.
    Curled up on the curb outside of the shop, she watched as a fine mist slowly rolled over the parking lot. It started at the edge of the darkened forest and billowed out like a slow rolling wave that settled over the black asphalt. With it came a wet cold that left her teeth chattering in the dark of the moonless night.
    Come on...somebody get back to me.
    Ten minutes had passed when she decided to try to start calling over texting. First her sister. No answer. Then her friend Bethany. Straight to voicemail. Her roommate Joseph? No answer and a full voicemail box.
    Desperate, she dialed her boyfriend. All the while, she watched as the mist ever slowly thickened into fog that drifted about her in the darkness.
    "Sorry, hon." Cory said apologetically over the phone. "There's no way I can get there. One of the server's went down and we're doing everything we can to get it back up. I don't think I'm even going  to take a lunch."
    "It's ok, sweetie." Amanda said with a sigh. "At this point, I guess I'll just walk home."
    "Be careful." he said.
    "I will. It's only two miles away. I've done it before, it's just spooky at night."
    "I know. Just please be safe, baby." said Cory with that soft croon in his voice.
    "I will." she said again. "I love you."
    "I love you too."
    Amanda put away her phone and stood up, looking at the darkened road. It was also being slowly covered by that thick hanging fog that drifted off the forest's edge. Every now and again a car would drive by, but it was already getting so late that the roadways were quickly becoming abandoned.
     Ignoring the many complaints of her throbbing feet, she stepped onto the side of the road and headed homeward bound.
    As she walked, she pulled out her headphones and started to plug them in when she reconsidered. With the woods on one side and the roadway on the other; drifting, nightmarish thoughts of monsters coming out of the woods plagued her mind. The harder she watched the passing treeline, the more she imagined a giant werewolf or a horrible creature waiting in the fog to jump out at her. If she listened to music, she might not hear it coming.
    Stop being a pussy. she thought to herself before popping in her earbuds.
    The music helped ease the walk and drew her attention away from the pounding in her feet. It drew her attention away from the silent, darkened roadway and the eerie quiet that perpetuated the heavy fog.
    Despite this, she continued to watch the treeline. Sure, the night might have been playing tricks on her mind, but there was no harm in keeping a lookout...
    Had she seen something in there?
    Was something moving back behind that bush there?
    A flicker of movement caught her eye and she stopped cold on the side of the road. A shadow seemed to play across the underbrush and a branch flicked up and down.
    What was that?
    The bush rattled more and she saw a flash of something large and black that disappeared back behind a big tree.
    Instinctively she backed away from the treeline. Her eyes searched for the answer. Hunted for whatever it was she had seen. Was it a monster? A beast of some kind? No. It was just a shadow from...lights?
    Fully in the road, her back to it, the car swerved at the last second in a desperate attempt to avoid the young lady standing in the street. Amanda felt a sharp pain in her back as she flew forward towards the roadway.

    When she awoke, the road was cold and hard under her hands and her head and back hurt more than ever.
    Slowly pushing herself up, Amanda found that she was again alone in the road. No lights. No monsters in the bushes. Just skid marks in the street to indicate where the driver had tried to stop.
    That son of a bitch hit me and ran...
    Settling on the side of the road, she pulled out her phone to try and call the police. To her dismay, however, the phone was heavily cracked and refused to turn on.
    It must have been damaged in the accident.
    Tearing the back off her phone, she stared at the electronic components. The battery seemed in tact and nothing looked all that bad except for the screen. If she had known anything about electronics, maybe she could have done something more. For now, she simply sighed and closed it up again. She'd have to give it to Cory later.
    Clip clop clip clop.
    The sound echoed down the roadway.
    Clip clop clip clop.
    It got louder. Amanda could see nothing through the dense fog.
    Clip clop clip clop.
    Out of the fog, a thin, old man with jet black her and a heavy black overcoat appeared in the middle of the road. He rode atop the back of a tall, white horse.
    Amanda stared in disbelief. The closest farm she knew about was on the outskirts of town, a good few miles away, AND it was the middle of the night.
   "You alright, ma'am?" the man asked with a look of concern.
   "Yea, I..." she stopped herself. Who the hell was this guy? "I'm fine." 
   "You don't look it. You're bleeding." he said with a point towards her forehead.
    Amanda gingerly touched her head and her fingers came back red.  
    "What happened?" he asked with his brow furrowed.
    "I...I was in an accident."
    The old man nodded thoughtfully.
    "You're alone." He said. It was a statement, not a question.
    Amanda considered lying but simply agreed. Sitting on the side of the foggy street in the middle of the night, it was clear no one was with her.
    "I was walking home from work." she said shakily. "I just live about a mile up the road."
    "Alright. Come on." he said, patting the horse's read-end. "Hop on up and I'll get you where you're going."
    "I...are you serious?"
    "Would you rather walk?"
    "Don't take this the wrong way, but I have no idea who you are."
    "Fair enough." he said with another nod. "But it'd be wrong of me to leave you out here wandering the road."
    As if on cue, a chill ran up her spine. Looking around, the darkened roadway with its heavy, cold fog and the woods on either side suddenly felt a lot more foreboding than before.
    "At least let me walk with me until you get where you're going. It would be wrong for me to leave you out here." he said.
    Why should I trust you? Where are you from? Why are you out here so late?
    She had to wonder if she had a concussion. Maybe the car did more damage then she thought. Despite the hundreds of questions flooding her mind, all that could come out of her mouth was...
    The old man smiled in return.
    Amanda stood up, dusted herself off, and walked up to the man on the horse. Getting closer, she noticed now that the horse wasn't actually white, but appeared almost a pale green. A trick of the light?
    "Would you like to pet him?" the man asked.
    Despite her reservations, Amanda smiled and nodded. The horse nickered happily as she ran a hand down his soft neck and through his flowing mane.
    "Let's get going." he said and, side by side, they headed down the road.

    The next morning Cory cried harder than he could ever remember doing.
    "She asked me to drive her home." he said between sobs. "B-b-but... I was so busy. I just...I didn't think...I couldn't..."
    "It's ok." said the officer. "Please. If you need anything, don't hesitate to contact us."
    "I'm so sorry." said the older man sitting across from Cory. "It was so foggy... I didn't see her. I couldn't see her. I have no idea why she was in the middle of the road."
    "No one's blaming you, Bert." said the officer.
    "N-no." was all Cory could muster.
    "The ambulance did all they could." continued the officer. "Tried to resuscitate her for twenty minutes right there in the middle of the street. She was already gone when she arrived...I'm so sorry..."
    Clutching the shattered remains of Amanda's cellphone, all Cory could do was cry harder.

"And lo, upon a hill I saw a pale horse, and a pale rider upon it.
The name of the horse was Pestilence. And the name of the rider was Death."


(Hello lovelies, I know that today was a break from my regular stream of Xenophobia, but I do hope you enjoyed. Today, I had the pleasure of visiting the Guillermo Del Toro exhibit at LACMA art museum in Los Angeles. As you might have guessed, something I saw got under my skin and the result was this simple little piece. I do hope you enjoyed it.)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Xenophobia - Chapter 10

    “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS ABOUT?!” bellowed Juag-e as he stormed through the council doors.
    Most of the counselors who had already gathered for the message briefing were too surprised to respond. A’alan’t 32, however, had no such issue.
    “If you read the message,” she said in her normal quiet, cool tone. “You’d know it was regarding humans attempting to colonize Mars.”
    “Of course I read the message!” snapped Juag-e, his eyes wide and his teeth bared. “How in the hell are they already attempting to colonize another planet?!”
    A’alan’t 32 simply shrugged and settled at her place at the table. Darrian thought this only made Juag-e more upset. He watched the little Tulguck’s scales actively hackle and his eyes follow A’alan’t 32 threateningly.
    “I’ll remind you,” said the old judge warningly, “we will not have this manner of disrespect in a council meeting.”
    Juag-e glowered at the robot for a minute, seemingly debating if he should pursue the matter further. The old judge matched his gaze. Neither looked away for several tense moments.
    Finally, Juag-e gave up.
    Juag-e was still hackled, but he houghed loudly and made his way to his place at the table where he buried his face in his datapad. Nothing else was said as the remainder of the counselors made their way into the room.
    A moment later, they were all settled in.
    “Can someone explain how we are having this meeting right now?” demanded Cagool.
    “Well, first we came into a room…” started Ferris.
    “No!” Juag-e shouted, cutting off what was sure to be an incredibly sarcastic explanation. “Now is not the time for that! It’s been a total of twenty-nine cycles since the humans launched their first Mars-bound craft. TWENTY-NINE!”
    “Right.” Agreed Cagool. “How are they talking about colonization already?Did I miss a rotation or two?”
    “You’ve missed nothing.” Confirmed the old judge.
    Cherryl cleared her throat before standing up next to the judge.
    “C-correct.” She said with a little nod. “The humans have already decided to try their hands at colonization.”
    “But they’ve only been to the planet a few times…” said Ugul in confusion.
    “Twice, actually.” Agreed Cherryl.
    “And their technology… It’s so…primitive.”
    “You’re not wrong.” She said as she started typing something on her datapad.
    “I’m sensing a ‘but’.” Said Darrian.
    “But, if any species…” started Cherryl before she was suddenly cut off by Illiquina.
    “But if any species was suicidal enough to try it, it would seem to be humans.” Illiquina said coolly.
    The old judge flashed her a warning glance.
    “I mean it in the most complementary way.” She said with a playful tone to the judge.
    “Right.” Said Cherryl, starting again. “With that said…”
    She didn’t get to say more before she was cut off again. This time, it was by Jin’thun.
    “Is that what it’s come down to then? We’re complementing these monsters?” he growled.
    “Jin’thun!” gasped Cherryl.
    “What?” he snapped at her obvious discomfort. “Have I been the only one listening to what’s been said? This is just another obvious facet of this species’ deficiencies.”
    “For trying to colonize Mars?” inquired Darrian with just a hint of disgust.
    “For trying to do it almost as soon as they’ve touched Mars dirt! It’s reckless abandon!”
    “Or perhaps it’s simply fervor.” Said Ugul. “Excitement.”
    “Fervor?!” snapped Juag-e. “Jin’thun is right! Is it considered fervor when a virus is contagious? When it hops from host to host as fast as possible without care for who or what harm it does.”
    “Now hold on.” Said Illiquina.
    “No! We said that this species reminded us of a plague early on and it seems that the similarities just keep coming.”
    “Why are we even bothering with these meetings?” He demanded. “All we do is talk. It hasn’t even been a twentieth of a rotation and this species has already attempted and succeeded at interplanetary travel. Now they’re attempting to colonize just as quickly! All while they are so violent that they literally slaughter each other in droves back on their home planet!”
    “How long do you give them before these monsters are on a door step? Before they achieve deep space flight and bring their violence to us?!”
    Even the old judge was left speechless as they watched Juag-e’s explosion. Jin’thun had been mad but it was clear that Juag-e was furious. No one knew how to respond to the outburst.
    “Go ahead.” Juag-e growled, his scales standing on end. “Keep talking. That’s all we’ve ever done about the humans. See how good that does you when they come knocking down your door.”
    With that, Juag-e stormed back out of the council room. Jin’thun seemed to consider for a moment and then quickly followed after the Tulguck. Expectantly, the remaining counselors glanced at Cagool.
    “Don’t look at me.” He said in his usual stand-offish nature. “That was all them.”
    The remainder of the meeting was tense but proved less eventful than the beginning. The council reviewed the spacecraft and number of humans who were traveling on what the humans openly called a ‘one way trip to Mars’. They discussed the likelihood of survival and what the trip might mean for human technologies. One constant question revolved around if they would find any remains from the Guillae population that had been there before.
    No one dared talk about what Juag-e’s outburst might mean for Consortium or the human population. They didn’t want to think about it, but the fear of what to come hung thick in the room. It followed Darrian back to his office and wouldn’t leave his thoughts for several cycles.


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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Xenophobia - Chapter 9

    The next couple dozen or so cycles passed quickly. The council met a few times regarding the human’s excursion to Mars during that time. There was always a little fervor and disagreement, particularly from the “Trifecta” as some of the counselors had started to call Cagool, Juag-e, and Jin’thun, but nothing ever got out of hand. The old judge always managed to rope them back in.
    Instead, the majority of time was spent reviewing data from the analytics team and arranging deep-space signals to keep unwary travelers out of the quarantine zone. It was monotonous sometimes but needed to be done.
    Falling right in line with Harris’s message, the human interplanetary vehicle launched at the tail end of the sixth cycle.  Six passengers were on a course for the nearest planet with the trip expecting to take something in the range of six to ten cycles.
    Reviewing the specs that the analytics team sent back proved entertaining in a way. The craft was dirty in comparison to most space craft, being little more than a series of controlled explosives that helped escape the atmosphere; but Darrian couldn’t help but admire it. The humans demonstrated a nearly suicidal determination for exploration when only twenty cycles before they seemed to have no interest in even leaving their own orbit.
    Additionally, while the council waited for the spacecraft to complete its journey, there was a scattering of other reports that trickled in. These reports were not directly related to space travel, but rather the state of the planet.
    Darrian could never decide if they made him hopeful or fearful for the future of the human species.
    The reports tended to be on both sides of the spectrum. On the one end, there were a number of wars and conflicts taking place across the planet at any given time. Violent actions were so constant amongst the inhabitants that there were a number of special categories; the two primary of which were “assault” and “murder”. Life was damaged or extinguished at a terrifyingly constant rate.
   Yet, on the other end of the spectrum, there were a large number of humans that displayed a much more civilized manner. For every war that broke out, there were humans that resisted the call of violence. Some protested while others fought to defend the innocents caught in the crossfire. Others attempted to garner legislation to their favor while still more actively rescued and healed rather than harmed.
    Most simply did not act on the baser need for violent action. Instead, they went about their time trying to better themselves and their communities using the infrastructure of support that civilization could grant.
    Darrian couldn’t help but feel respect these people.
    The more meetings he attended and the more data he reviewed, the more he started to notice a number of interesting trends.
    The first was that the number of overly violent humans was actually lower than previously thought. Only something in the range of ten to fifteen percent seemed to have a predisposal towards overt violence. These numbers were drastically lower than the initial meetings might have suggested.
    Instead, one of the major problems seemed to be that those individuals predisposed towards violence always seemed to find their way into positions of power and leadership. An otherwise placid population was forced towards violence through the will of a select few.
    Perhaps it was a side effect of the combative tendencies that these violent individuals ended up in positions of power. Or perhaps the humans’ current governmental systems simply favored an archaic need for bloodshed. No one in the council could really agree.
    “Maybe if more humans worked to correct their problems versus just standing by as atrocities happen, they could move forward as a species.” Jin’thun growled during the discussion.
    Darrian couldn’t help but agree. The more he studied the population, the more he realized that most problems were fed more by global indifference than anything else.
    Another pattern that he noticed was that a lot of the global issues seemed to have geographic correlation. Similar to how violence was perpetrated by a select percentage of humans, certain localized populations seemed more inclined than others towards violent and self-destructive tendencies. These populations were often the same ones that contributed to war conflicts and global crisis around the planet in comparison to other locations.
    There had been some arguments over it, but no one could understand how it worked. For whatever reason, specific ‘countries’ as they called themselves seemed to believe they were better than the rest of the global population. It was like they believed that they were the only ones that mattered despite the only difference being their geographic location on the planet.
    These moralistic dilemmas preoccupied most of the council meetings for more than a few cycles. It was taxing because the council had no real power to act upon a quarantined species and so most time was spent just debating with no real endpoint.  They were just arguing over atrocities.
    It made Darrian a little thankful when he found a new priority message flashing on his datapad.
    “Humans are attempting to colonize Mars.”


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Xenophobia - Chapter 8

    “What can we do?” asked Ugul with a look of some distress.
    Before the judge had a chance to answer, Darrian cut in.
    “More to the point, should we do anything about it at all?” he inquired, looking from face to face at the table.
    “What do you mean by that?” shot back Juag-e.
    “Well, the Consortium voted on quarantine. Unless I misunderstood the meaning of the word, doesn’t that mean we shouldn’t be interacting with them ever?”
    “He’s right.” Added Ferris quickly. “I thought that’s the whole reason for the analytics team. To keep an eye on them but not interfere.”
    Juag-e was actively bristling but didn’t say anything in response. However he didn’t need to. Jin’thun, the Gorderian at his side who had been silent for the entire meeting, snapped back at Ferris.
    “We were keeping an eye on them because we don’t know what those oxygen-breathers will do if they achieve deep space flight.” Growled Jin’thun.
    “You’re completely correct.” agreed the old judge with a small nod. “But to Ferris’s point, that does not necessarily require our intervention.”
    “How can you say that?!” barked Juag-e. “How can you really expect we should just sit here and do nothing?!”
    There was no response. Not right away. Darrian was conflicted. On the one hand, quarantine meant letting them be and if they presented an active threat to the galactic community revisiting the topic with the Consortium. On the other, he couldn’t argue that the idea of the humans achieving interplanetary travel was disconcerting.
    “This isn’t a war-room.” A’alan’t 32 stated with a quiet fierceness.
    Juag-e and Jin’thun both looked like they were going to explode at their fellow counselor when the old judge snapped.
    “ENOUGH!” he bellowed.
    “When I asked what we were going to do about them,” he stated in a low tone, “I clearly need to define what the purpose of these analytics review meetings will entail.”
    “As has been made abundantly clear, this species is quarantined. That means there will be no interaction with them from any Consortium species,” he continued, throwing a threateningly glance towards Juag-e and Jin’thun. “With the exception of the analytics team. Instead, your purpose will be to review any priority message to determine whether it readily presents a danger to the galactic community.”
    “If it does, we need to gather the information and present it to the Consortium. If it does not, than we will not interfere. Or have you forgotten the briefing you were given when you were granted this position?”
    For a few moments, no one dared do anything more than glance at each other. Most of the counselors looked surprised and maybe even a little embarrassed. Darrian certainly felt ashamed to have had the old judge snap so harshly. Cagool, Juag-e, and Jin’thun, however, all wore similar expressions of annoyance and distaste.
    “Fine.” Growled Jin’thun finally. “Then what do you want from us?”
    “I want you to do your jobs.” Responded the old judge with a cold tone. “You will review all of the analytics data that has been forwarded to us from team on Earth and determine if this mission to Mars is any potential threat to the galactic community.”
    A moment later, a number of files appeared on Darrian’s datapad.
    “Review. Discuss. Decide.” Said the old judge. “And unless they are threat, maintain the quarantine.”
   Darrian and a few of the other counselors started opening their respective files and queuing up data. Illiquina was already in the process of throwing up a recording of the human’s reusable rocket tests for the Mars excursions.
    “It’s not like we’d have time to do anything anyway.” Grumbled Cagool a little too loudly. “Three to six cycles…”
    “Good thing that’s not your problem.” Responded Ferris snidely.
    A few dirty glances were exchanged, but luckily it ended there. The next while was spent pouring over the data that the analytics team had sent them. Everything from technologic assets and likelihood of success to obvious motivations for the Mars missions and what humans might do while they were there.
    In the end, despite three counselors arguing vehemently against it, it was concluded that the humans’ trip to their neighboring planet was no threat.
    By the next cycle, warnings were sent through deep space channels to warn away any and all crafts or individuals that might be in the vicinity of Mars or in the path from Mars to Earth. By the time the Mars missions were gone, even exploratory science teams were light-rotations away.
    The council could rest easy that the humans would not encounter anyone in their travels.


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