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Time and space were ultimately man-made concepts with little meaning except in terms of what happened within them. The waiting period hardly came as a surprise in a place where form and matter did not even exist. Duncan was very excited to have witnessed the first visit of an alien species.
“You are most welcome”, he said. “We wish for peaceful co-existence. Please speak slowly if possible, your English is translating quite well when you do not hurry. We fear that there are others who are not of us who have been in contact, trying to deceive you. We will try to be as open as possible.”
“Indeed that is true…” said the alien slowly. It seemed to be trying to wrap its head around some silent, unobserved fact.
“I think that their wish is to provoke a conflict between human and Narhulan, a conflict which they would win to their gain. We must be cautious.”
“We concur with your wish. That does not change the nature of our problem, the destructive nature of humanity. We must agree upon the steps necessary to change this.”
Duncan considered this suggestion. “In time, yes, and very soon. But first, we must consider the matter of your other friends, I fear that they will soon react once they become aware of what has taken place here.”
“They are very powerful, yes. What measures do you propose? It is within our means to destroy them, if you so wish.”
Duncan was somewhat worried at this idea. “I do not think that meaningless retribution will help any of us, but we must prepare our defences. Another thing, we must make clear that mankind’s issues are being resolved through intelligent negotiation. This will counter our enemies’s plans against us.”
“You have mediums within which information is broadcast. We can make a message there, but it will be critical of your species. Would you like this to be done?” said the Narhulan.
“Please, give me a moment to consult with my colleagues”, said Duncan. This might be the beginning of a plan. “Well, what do you think? The Narhulans want to send out a message, I think this will prove helpful, but the masters of deception will be angered and may well attack us, and very soon. Should we go ahead anyway?”
There was a short discussion amongst the assembled staff, then a conclusion was reached. “We cannot see any alternative at the moment. Perhaps this act will clear away some of the confusion. We think that this talk should go ahead.”
“Very well then”, replied Duncan. He turned back to the Narhulan representative. “We will enable you to make a broadcast using our transmission equipment. This will form a part of our actions. As another part of our actions, I suggest the freeing of all prisoners held in false confinement, along with a measure of support to enable all local citizens to cope with their daily living. I suspect that the politicians will be upset by this as this is not really one of their priorities, but I beleive that they number amongst the masters of illusion which we seek to counter.”
“As has been agreed, this is what we shall do”, said the Narhulan. The assembled group turned to examine their monitors, which were broadcasting a local television signal. As they watched, the Narhulan replaced this image and began to speak, telling of the terrible damage which mankind had inflicted upon itself and the environment. It was a stirring message.
One of the staff spoke to Duncan. “How do you think the masters of illusion will react to this? They are not going to be pleased, to say the least.”
“I suspect they will carry out a number of measures, so we must remain vigilant. They will surely try to shut down our broadcast, so we will have to be ready for that. I suspect armed forces of some kind will be waiting near the city and will commence an attack, so our forces must be ready. I suspect double agents within the city, ready to commit sabotage, shutting down equipment or perhaps bombs.” Duncan turned to the Narhulan once again. “There must be hostile forces within or close to the city. Could you perhaps scan for them, maybe transport them far away from us to a safe distance where they can do no harm? I think that we should be ready with a protective screen for the coty, perhaps using the power of forcefield generation.”
“This seems a wise decision human. We shall act at once” said the alien.
As they stood there, a strange light flickered over them all and then sped outwards. The Narhulans were conducting a thorough scan, Duncan expected a result to turn up suddenly at any moment.
“Alert security”, said Duncan to the staff. “We must be ready for anything.”