(Author’s note)… I really do think that if you give this, the fourth novel in my action/humor science fictions series: ‘The Otherwhere Chronicles’ a chance, you might find yourself wanting to know what happened in the first three books… available over there—> in my sidebar—> just to learn how that other me got himself into this predicament involving hundreds of alien species, an invasion from another dimension, huge fleets of space ships, yet another me from that other dimension, and all the rest of what is going on right now.
But I am totally okay with it if you want to just follow along, wondering who all these people are, and how they got there, and why they are doing what they are doing.
Arthur turned back to the other Arthur. Then he changed his mind and spun back to face the corner where he knew the bug was hovering. “Gup, I need you and the Qualm over here.” He had already shown his team how to use the captured remote units.
As the two new figures were transporting and the Reavers were gathering up the Keelar’s weapons, Arthur turned back once again to his alter ego. “You are going to help me whether you want to or not,” he declared to the longer-haired version of himself. “Because I have a tech expert and a Qualm that can read minds, so if you lie to me, I will know it.”
Now, flanked by his crack interrogation team, Arthur began snapping questions at the other Arthur. “How many Keelar are on this ship?”
The other Arthur had never even heard of a Qualm. He decided to test the waters. “There are five hundred of them.”
“He lies,” moaned the gauzy Qualm, seemingly offended that the human would do so.
The Arthur in the snappy black uniform looked put out. He tried again anyway. “There are…”
“He lies,” wailed the Qualm, not waiting for the answer.
At that moment, Number One the robot began to speak. Strangely, he spoke in the voice of the Warlord, and Arthur realized that the Warlord was using the spy craft’s communication system to send directly through the robot, making a very secure communications channel. “Arthur,” said the robot, “we will be entering Earth’s solar system in ten minutes.”
And just like that, in a panic over running out of time, Arthur came up with a more direct solution to his problem. “I said you were going to help us whether you wanted to or not,” he told his other self. To the robot he said, “Warlord, can you hear me?”
“Yes, Sir,” came the reply.
“I need the projector I showed you. The small one. Give it to one of the Reavers, along with another of the transport remotes. And send Ooox with him.” Arthur was excited by his new plan and immediately began to put it in motion. As soon as the Reaver delivered the small device that Izalie had used to befuddle him when they first met, Arthur put it to use. He followed Tarlek Da’s instructions, pointing one end at the duplicate Arthur. A green web of bright lines of light shot out of the mechanism and scanned up and down over the grand admiral. Arthur circled the other Arthur just to be sure he scanned him from all angles. Then he clipped the device to his belt and pushed a button.
There were gasps of astonishment from around the bridge. There were now two grand admirals, facing each other, as if some one had placed a mirror in front of the original. The fake grand admiral smirked at his counterpart.
“Gup,” said the counterfeit grand admiral, “can you patch me through to the whole fleet? I want them to be able to see me.”
Gup glanced around at the different consoles, and then walked over to stand in front of one of them. He studied it for a moment then said, “No problem, Sir.”
“Ooox,” Arthur said to the mammoth Xxo, “I want you to make sure the real grand admiral doesn’t try to interrupt my little speech.”
The big Xxo gave a growling sound and propelled himself closer to the human in question. He moved behind him and wrapped multiple lower and upper tentacles around the other Arthur until he looked like a puffy green mummy. Arthur watched as one tentacle tip slithered over the familiar mouth, but Oox left the eyes uncovered. Arthur grinned facetiously into them. “Last chance, dude,” he said, “Once I go on the air, you are going to become very unpopular.”
The other Arthur mumbled something into the tough, fibrous tentacle. Arthur signaled the Xxo to release his mouth. “There are twenty Keelar on this ship,” the second Arthur said. “You got all of them. Two other ships have twenty-Keelar contingents.”
“Ah, the two sub-command vessels on the outer flanks, I presume?” Arthur asked.
The not-quite-an-imposter looked startled, and then tried to nod.
“Have one of your people show Gup how to access the blueprints or diagrams or whatever of those two ships,” Arthur commanded. Two minutes later Arthur knew where all the Keelar were. He beamed robots Number Two and Number Three onto the enemy ships that contained Keelars, placing the robots in corridors outside of the cabins occupied by the Keelar soldiers. Then Arthur simply ordered the robots to enter the Keelar’s quarters and deploy electro-nets until the Keelar were ready to surrender.
“Coming up on the edge of the system, Arthur,” said Number One using the Warlord’s voice.
Arthur turned back to his other self. “What is the name of this ship?” he asked reasonably.
“The Keelar don’t name their ships,” came the reply. “We just call it the command ship. The sub-command ships are called one and two.”
“Are there any transport machines on any of these ships?” Arthur wanted to know.
“No way,” responded the tentacle-wrapped Arthur.
The Qualm believed him.
“Wrap him up, Ooox,” said Arthur, then he turned back to Gup. “Okay, let me talk to the fleet. But make it a low-power broadcast or a secure comm. I don’t want anyone else to hear this.”
Gup consulted briefly with the enemy crewman, then gave Arthur the ‘thumbs up’ and pushed a button.
Arthur looked up to where Gup had shown him the camera was mounted and began to speak. “Grand Admiral Blacke to all first wave units. We are breaking off this attack. All units are to hold formation and begin slowing in concert with the command ship. The three Keelar contingents have been taken into custody. All units respond immediately.”
While Arthur tried to get his revolution underway, Gup studied the makeup of the fleet; vessel types, weaponry, personnel, and anything else he could locate in the computer memories. He was not at all impressed by what he saw, other than the sheer number of ships. There were three thousand of them just in this wave of the attack. Gup turned to another panel and began reducing the ship’s speed.
A very large screen below the camera Arthur was using flickered to life. The picture on it was broken into a mosaic of tiny squares each containing a human face. Each face was talking, yelling and shouting angry questions. The question Arthur heard repeated most was; “What about our families?” Arthur suddenly realized that tricking these people into fighting was unfair. He had to convince them. He stepped out of the camera’s view and hit the button on the holographic projector, reverting to his true form.
Gup took the opportunity to tell Arthur that the fleet was following his orders and dropping their speed. He also took time to mention that the fleet had now entered Earth’s solar system.
Arthur took a deep breath and stepped back in front of the camera. There were shocked gasps of consternation and quite a bit more yelling. Once again there was a predominant theme running through this chatter. “No, I’m not dead,” Arthur snapped, “sorry to disappoint you. Now shut up and listen to me. The Doraimee has used you all as fools. He knows we have strong forces converging on you right at this very moment.” A little exaggeration, but Arthur felt comfortable with it.
“But the main thing is,” Arthur went on, “that win or lose, live or die, you and your families will still be slaves of a vicious psychopath. The only way to free them, to free everybody, is to kick Fahh’s ass. And we are going to kick that freaky little football right out of our lives.”
Now, for a change, the myriad little faces were absolutely silent. So much, Arthur thought, for my career as a rabble rouser.