(Author’s note)… I love the Keelar… the little, football-shaped, football-sized, evil aliens that are leading the invasion of this Arthur’s universe from that other dimension. They were fun to create. A not-very-smart race that took over a whole dimension, mostly just because there were so many of them… and wait until you find out why they began their galactic conquest.
Also, I have a little sketch of a Keelar that I drew when I was writing this part of the story. It might be fun to add some color in Photoshop. What do you think. Here is the picture as I drew it…
Well there you go, as some Arthur’s like to say. That is how the brand-new Supreme Allied Commander went from commanding a fleet of 300 ships to controlling a force of nearly 5,000 ships in a handful of hours, and all without the loss of a single life. I know it is hard to believe, but as they say, truth is stranger than fiction. And we all know it really did happen, (or really will happen, depending on where and when you are reading this). Of course, Arthur did still have a few obstacles to overcome. Like the 28,300 ships of the second wave, now stuck beyond the gate. Not to mention the 300,000 or more Keelar ships that were there somewhere too.
But he had promised the humans of the first wave that he would protect their Earth from reprisals, and that meant going through the gate. So, he had to figure out how to do that, and hopefully not get his forces slaughtered when they started going through. He decided to start by securing the newly captured ships.
First, he sent word for all ships to cease their sham battle and rendezvous at the gate at all possible speed. While he waited, he ordered the surrendered alien squadrons to form a tight cluster and shut down their main engines. As his other ships arrived he put one thousand of the human first wave ships to guarding the mass of new prisoners, forming them into an inward-pointed globe around the shut-down vessels.
Then, Arthur took the Qualm and transported to the other spy ship. While Arthur and the Qualm questioned the two still-conscious Keelar, Gup rummaged through the spy ship’s memory banks and systems. It didn’t take very long for Arthur to get the Keelar to talk, between the Qualm’s unerring ability to sense a lie and the fact that they were positively terrified of Number Two and his electro-nets. They were more than happy to spill their guts. The main problem turned out to be the fact that common soldiers of the Black Empire didn’t speak English. Arthur overcame this obstacle by beaming over to the Obama and borrowing a universal translator.
Then he had a very enlightening conversation with Frak and Lim, as it turned out the two Keelar were named.
“Oh yes, we tell you about the hole in the sky,” squealed Frak, glancing nervously at Number Two. “You just keep metal man away from us.”
“We not know much,” proclaimed Lim. “We not science brain people.” Evidently the translator was having a little difficulty cobbling together the Keelar way of speaking.
“You mean you are not scientists?” asked Arthur.
“Of course no,” answered Frak. “No Keelar have science brains. We build things, make things. But the Doraimee, he have science brain slaves.”
Arthur found this fascinating. The Keelar were a little like the ancient Romans. They invented things now and again, but what they did really well was improving on ideas created by earlier peoples. That and engineering. “So,” Arthur continued thoughtfully, “Fahh captured a race of scientists?”
“Yes, yes,” Lim chortled. “They make smart stuff. Lots of smart stuff. They make those,” he said, pointing at the transport machine where it crouched in the rear of the cabin. “They also make these little ships screenless.”
“Screenless?” Arthur asked, stumped at last.
“Not being on screens of other ships,” clarified Lim. “They make those,” he continued, pointing at a large box mounted on a bulkhead nearby.
Gup glanced around from the pilot’s seat where he sat studying the ship’s systems. “I think that is the source of the spy ship’s stealth cloaking. I have been meaning to study it when I have any free time.”
“Tell me about the science brain people,” Arthur demanded of his two little hostages.
“Oh yes, we fight hard to beat them, not too many long ago. Good for us there were not many of them. They smart, smart peoples. Bad weapons. We lose many ships. It was bad to fight the Proteks.”
“The Proteks, that is the name of the race of scientists?” Arthur wanted to know.
“Yes, Proteks very smart,” Lim told Arthur. “They make many things for us now. But not many of them left now. They figure out how to use hole in the sky.”
The hole in the sky was obviously the gate, Arthur had already deduced. Now he was getting somewhere.
Gup interrupted the conversation at that point. “Admiral, we are getting a communication from the other side of the gate, I believe. What should I do?”
Arthur told him just to ignore the incoming messages for now. “We will just let them stew in their own juices for a while,” was the way he worded it. He turned back to his prisoners. “You have been relaying all the communications back through the, uh, hole in the sky, right?”
“Yes, is only way to talk through hole,” said Frak. “You have to have the go away machine to make screen-talk through hole.”
The ‘go away machine’ must be the transporter, Arthur decided. “Gup, are you getting all this?”
“Yes indeed, Sir,” said the tech guru. “I have already figured that out from going through the ship’s memory. I know you need two spy ships to use the gate for anything. I just haven’t figured out how they sent the first ship into our dimension yet.”
Lim had an answer to this question, more or less. “It was all not on purpose. The Doraimee order the Proteks to study the dead big sky hole thing. They fly around and inside in these little ships. Some science brain notice that equipment on ships at either end not able to talk to each other. They try to beam-send something and it not come back. They not know where thing go. It is big mystery.”
Arthur quickly filled Gup in on the story of the gate being the body of a giant Flying Pickle.
Gup pondered this and added his own thoughts. “It is said the Shann, the Giant Flying Pickles as you call them, can travel through the dimensions at will. I had always heard that they never die, but if one did, I assume that the shell may still be, in some way, attached to other realities. Somehow the transport machines interact with this matrix. But there is nothing in this ship’s memory to let me know how all this works, or how to make it work.”
“Oh, I show you how it work,” bleated Frak proudly. “I am control panel operator.”
Arthur felt both stunned and hopeful in equal measure. “And what is your job?” he casually asked Lim.
“Communication operator,” said the Keelar loftily. “I have many buttons to push, and a screen to look at.”
Arthur noticed that the two Keelar had small triangles of red paint scattered on their chests. He asked about these.
“Yes, triangles for specialists, dots for troop leaders, sideways stripes for captain, up and down stripes for fleet commander,” explained Frak.
Arthur examined the prisoners critically. “You two were hiding when the robots came, weren’t you?” It was much more of a statement than it was a question.
“We not fighters. We operators,” said Lim reasonably.
Gup broke in again. “They are becoming quite agitated on the other side of the gate, Admiral. They want to know what is going on right now.”
“Put it on the screen, but don’t let them see us,” requested Arthur.
A very angry Keelar operator was staring reproachfully out of the screen. “Answer me, Lim, you lazy booble beast,” hissed the frantic operator. “We are both going to be boiled in brac oil.” The translator on Arthur’s wrist was doing its job.
“So, they know all about your fleets being beaten, right? And that I am still alive?” Arthur pressed Lim.
“Everything come to me. I push button. Thing is recorded and sent through hole. I am good operator,” Lim boasted.
“Tell him you want to start sending damaged ships back through the hole,” Arthur said to Lim while indicating the Keelar on the screen.
Lim looked horrified. “No ways I can do this thing. Only captain could even suggest to do such a things. Hole only work one way at a time. No other ships come through. They get very angry.” When he mentioned his captain, he gestured to a sleeping Keelar laying like a jelly-filled balloon nearby. Arthur noticed the horizontal stripes of red on the football-sized, shaped, and colored being.
“Guess what, you just got promoted,” Arthur told his prisoner. “Tell them your ship was hit and the captain is dead.”
“You got to keep us forever, I do that,” said Lim firmly. “I never go back to the Doraimee.”
So much for loyalty to the Emperor, thought Arthur snidely.