(Author’s note)… I don’t really mind that no one is reading this, or leaving any comments. I am mostly doing it so that I can finish the editing process on this, the fourth book in the action/humor science fiction series: The Otherwhere Chronicles.
That being said, a little feedback would be nice. I mean, Arthur… not me, the one… (Yes, I know there are now two me’s from those other two dimensions, but I mean the one who is the hero in all the books)… has managed to not only stop the leading fleet of the enemy invasion from the other dimension, but he even got them to change sides. All without anyone being killed. And he just makes it all up as he goes along. Not bad for a lazy, sarcastic, old guy, who shirks responsibility and never asked to be put in charge of the defense of an entire universe. No, he isn’t like any of the classic heroes of literature. He isn’t Frodo or Conan, Iron Man or Superman. I suppose you might say that he is a little like Winston Churchill… in the sense that he is over 50, not in the best shape, and never gives up. I don’t think the world needs another King Arthur. I think they need this Arthur.
After a few moments of silence, the collage of little faces began speaking, but to each other, not to Arthur. The conversation seemed to be split evenly, with half the captains asking hopeful questions like, “do you think we could do it?” and “do we even stand a chance?” The other comments were more along the lines of; “they will slaughter the human race if we try it,” or “we don’t stand a chance against the Black Fleet.”
One of the captured crewmen turned uncomfortably to Arthur and told him, “You have to understand, Sir, that we have been occupied by the Keelar since 2011. That’s fourteen years of having our spirits crushed. We got pounded pretty hard when they took Earth. They dropped small asteroids and bombs on us from orbit. We didn’t even have a single ship to fight back with. And since then, any sign of rebellion has been crushed without mercy.”
Arthur smiled sympathetically at the man. He decided there was only one way to swing support in his favor. He shouted at the camera until the captains ceased their chatter. “I am not asking you to abandon your families,” he told them. “I am giving you a chance to set them all free. We are going to combine our fleets and take the fight to your dimension. We will protect your Earth and take it back from the Black Empire. Everyone hates Fahh. They will all join us once they see he can be beaten.”
The little heads continued their arguments. Arthur threw in one last plea. “Come on, people, did the Americans believe they could beat the English in our revolution? Did the British think they could really hold out against Hitler? Good can triumph over evil if all the good people rise up.” He realized that he might be going out on a rather slender limb here. Maybe there was no revolution or Adolf Hitler in their reality. But somehow, he began to reach them. He had broken through the fear to the anger they held inside. And the hope, let us not forget the hope.
‘Can we do it?’ became ‘what if we really could do it?’ which morphed into ‘maybe we should give it a try.’ Arthur watched the little faces on the screen in rapt fascination. It was like some bizarre game show. Hollywood Squares of the stars – literally. Public opinion was swinging his way as the captains psyched each other up. Sometimes one of the little faces in the little squares would swell as one captain or another leaned in closer to his screen to see who he was talking to.
But at last there were voices yelling, “we are with you!” and “death to Fahh!” Arthur even could have sworn he heard a “Long live Arthur Blacke.” He felt an unexpected flood of pride shoot through him, but it was tinged with dread. He was taking on an awesome burden. He didn’t want to let these people or their families down.
“Gup,” Arthur said quietly, “get me a secure channel to Captain Browne on the Obama.” Gup didn’t bother to answer, but the screen flicked from many little heads to one large one. “Hello, Captain, are you glad to see me?” Arthur asked innocently.
Captain Browne’s face lit up in a very nice smile. “I was very relieved to learn that you were still amongst the living,” the Captain admitted.
“Well, you are amongst the minority in that opinion, it sometimes seems to me,” Arthur replied with a laugh. “Captain, the first wave of the invasion force has decided to join the good guys. The fleet is crewed by humans, and was led by another me. Does that make any sense?”
“Yes, Sir, Admiral, I had a long talk with Captain Hulls,” said the Captain.
“Very well, Captain,” said Arthur primly, please contact the Xxo fleet and have them rendezvous with our new allies at our present location. Then head this way yourself with all the speed you have. I want to put all our ships together. We are taking the fight to the enemy.” Arthur was about to sign off when he remembered something. “By the way, Captain, did I ever mention that I like monkeys?”
“I am very relieved to hear it, Admiral,” replied the Captain happily. “We are on our way. Signing off.” The screen switched back to the tiny talking heads.
“All right, people, are you with me?” Arthur shouted, to be met with a chorus of ferocious yells and heart-swelling cheers. “Let me talk to my sub-commanders. You will get your new orders just as soon as we are joined by our two other fleets. Then we are heading back to the gate. Fahh is going to be sorry he ever messed with us.” The little heads began to disappear while two squares got progressively bigger as the screen had room to increase the display. And then there were just two big heads.
Arthur glanced over at his tentacle-enshrined near twin. “What do you say, dude? Are you with us or not?”
“Uh huh,” said the grand admiral through the tentacle tip. Arthur waved for Ooox to release the man, who walked over to join him.
“I hope like hell you know what you’re doing,” said the admiral who had just lost his entire fleet without firing a single shot.
“How could you, of all people, ever doubt me?” Arthur asked with an annoying amount of innocent sincerity. He turned back to the two faces on the screen. One face was that of an intense dark haired man, forty or so years of age. The other was an attractive blond haired woman with a surfer’s tan. Her age was impossible to determine.
“And you are?” Arthur prompted.
“Sub-commander Judy Shafter,” said the woman.
“Joey Scarfone,” said the man, pronouncing his last name as ‘scarphoney’. “I sure hope you know what you are doing,” the sub-commander went on to say.
“Right, I get it, it’s risky,” Arthur retorted. “But if you think you are ever going to get a better shot at getting rid of the Black Empire, you are sadly mistaken.” The captain lapsed into grim silence.
“I have grandchildren back on our Earth,” said Captain Shafter. That took Arthur by surprise. She sure didn’t look old enough for that.
But he had an answer ready. “That’s why we are going back through the gate as soon as our other units link up with us.”
“Yes,” Captain Shafter replied in a very dry voice. “The ‘strong forces’ you were going to beat us with. We have them on our screens now. There seems to be only about three hundred ships all told. We outnumbered you ten to one.”
“Right,” said Arthur with a smile. “And now you are on our side and nobody got hurt. So you ought to see how good I really am.”
It was hard for either sub-commander to argue with those facts. They signed off to await his orders.
Damn, Arthur thought fervently to himself, I hope I really do know what I’m doing.