Chapter Eight: The end comes

 

<<<In the trenches>>>

It now Year Nine and the new ship is now about 4/5ths completed.

Myrtle is on her show talking. The screen behind her shows a store front on Earth for recruiting humans to go on the new Mother Ship. It is empty of candidates.

Myrtle says, "It seems curious that while the Mirondian starship recruiting drive is in full gear now, the number of recruits seems low... at least as best anyone can determine in these troubled times.

"The Mirondians say they are looking for a fifty thousand Solar System people to man their ships, both of them, but the best Earth sources have been able to determine only ten thousand have been recruited.

"Here is Miro-Robert to comment on this."

Miro-Robert shows up on the big screen. He doesn't seem worried. He says, "We have done our studies of the Solar System situation. We are confident that the recruiting situation will change dramatically over the next year, and that we will have our people by Year Ten."

"Thank you, Miro-Robert."

Miro-Robert signs off. He is replaced on the big screen by stock videos of protesters being cracked down upon.

Myrtle says, "In Earth news, the violence of the Year of Coups is continuing to taper off. Order is being restored in most places."

Meanwhile, back at the Show Room asteroid, it is negotiating time. A group of military officers from Earth are ushered into the meeting room. They are lead by General Douglas, an officer in his 40's with recent spectacular successes in the crackdown phase.

In the meeting room waiting for them are Miro-Sam, Miro-Alex and Miro-Bob.

Miro-Sam greets them, "General Douglas, congratulations on your military’s success at restoring order in your nation."

Douglas says, "Thank you. It has not been easy."

Miro-Sam says, "And it is... if I may say... still a delicate situation, is it not?"

Douglas is not happy to hear this prying. "There is still much discontent, but we have a lid on it."

Miro-Alex says, "You have put many people in prision, right?"

Douglas says, "Only trouble makers... but, I admit, there have been many of those."

Miro-Bob says, "General Douglas, we have invited you here because we may be able to help you restore tranquility much faster and more reliably."

Douglas says, "What do you have in mind?"

Miro-Bob says, "You need an outlet... a 'safety valve' for all the discontent that has built up over the last decade. I am going to propose one for you."

Douglas says, "And it is..."

Miro-Bob says, "Have your discontented people become colonists on our ship. Empty your prisons into our ship’s hold."

Douglas thinks about this, then smiles, "Yes. That will solve a lot of social unrest problems."

Miro-Alex says, "And to further help you solve your unrest issues, we will pay you handsomely for those you send."

Douglas smiles more when he hears this, "I think we will come to a mutually
beneficial arrangement. Yes, indeed."

<<<*>>>

Zeb and Jason are meeting at the transport terminal again. Jason has just dropped some big news. Zeb is wide-eyed.

Zeb says, "You’re doing what!"

Jason says, "Yup. I’m going on the Mother Ship. I’m going to be a colonist."

"I admit it, you could not have surprised me more, Jason. What’s your thinking behind this?"

"I can see it: Earth is going to hell in a hand-basket. I’ve tried, but I can’t do anything to stop it. Soo, I may as well try to make a better world somewhere else. And the only way to get somewhere else is on board one of those Mirondian ships.

"So... I signed up. I’m headed for training now."

"Wow! ...Well good luck at it. Let me know if I can help out."

"I will."

They get up, shake hands, and go their separate ways.

<<<*>>>

It is now Year Ten. At the Mother Ship Asteroid and city complex much of the hustle and bustle has stopped. The building of the new mother ship is complete. There are two ships here now -- the old and the new Mirondian Mother Ships. The old mother ship has moved from Neptune orbit to the asteroid so some final exchanging between the two ships can be quickly done.

They both fire up and start their journeys to other stars. ...This would seem like the end, but there is one more twist to be told about.

Myrtle is talking on her show, "The Mirondian mother ships are now headed out of the solar system. Their holds are filled with Mirodian and human colonists.

"But that is not the last of the surprises this Mirondian Interlude has brought to the Solar System."

The view behind Oprah changes. It now shows a futuristic city in a thick jungle.

"About five thousand of the MSE’s have decided to stay in the Solar System, and they decided to stay on Earth!

"In another flashy display of blip-in-action, just two weeks before mother ships departure, the Earth-loving MSE’s set up a colony in the center of the Amazon forest.

"How much the world has changed in just ten years! If the Mirondians had attempted this when they first landed, the whole Solar System would have fought them off tooth-and-nail. But so many other strange things have happened that now it seems like just one more strangeness. There has been some protesting, but no violence.

"It is just another strangeness of the time."

<<<The Big Picture>>>

On the surface, Year Nine did not look a lot different from Year Eight. The anarchy continued as people with crazier and crazier ideas got their chance to try running governments. The increased craziness brought increased violence, and historians have called this period a civil war. But underneath it all, confused people were steadily getting less confused. In some places, people had worked out how to live in this new world, and they were throwing out the kooks. In their places were coming stern disciplinarians who were restoring order. The biggest problem with these new disciplinarians was that some were as crazy underneath as the kooks they were cracking down on, and they wanted glory as well as order. These leaders at first brought serious large-scale fighting to the civil war and large-scale pogroms to the local communities.

In the case of their slow-starting recruiting drive, the "ace-in-the-hole" that the Mirondians seemed to be counting on showed up in late in Year Eight and it continued on into Year Nine. The civil wars being fought in various communities were being "won" by one side or the other. As the wars ended, the winners found themselves with a lot of prisoners, a lot of government debt, and a lot of discontented community members -- they were not happy with who won. They also found themselves meeting with Mirondian representatives who were ready, willing and able to help them solve their discontented people problems with a "special recruiting drive". Those leaders who "played ball" with the Mirondians found themselves with a lot fewer trouble makers, and a lot of relief to their fiscal problems. Leaders were offered a plan, but many people-on-the-street were just as discontented -- even those who were on the "winning" side of the crackdowns. Those previously forlorn looking store front recruiting centers also got very active.

And that is how the Mirondians filled their ships on schedule.

At the beginning of Year Ten, the two Mirondians ships departed, on schedule. The old one was large, the new one was huge, and the Mirondians were very proud of both -- the trading with the Solar System had gone very well. There were Mirondians crewing both, and both had a mix of older MSE's and newer Solar System people ready to become colonists in distant star systems.

There was one surprise wrinkle at departure time. Given the chaos, and the new wealth of the Mirondians and MSE's, perhaps it was inevitable, but when it happened it was a surprise to the Earth people. About five thousand MSE's decided to stay in the Solar System, and they decided to stay on Earth!

The two weeks after Amazon Colony was established were filled with celebrations and farewells. Then with little additional fanfare, the ships engaged their drives and began their departure from the Solar System. Earth's first contact with an alien civilization had drawn to a close.