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Ted and Rand's Excellent Adventure

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Universe will never be the same...

Submitted: January 20, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 20, 2015



It took an unbelievable number of coincidences to create the circumstances that led to Ted Cruz and Rand Paul saving humanity from the alien invaders.  Even Ted can’t explain why he offered a ride to Rand on his private jet.  They were rivals, both running for president, both needing to get to Iowa.  Ted says that if Rand’s jet hadn’t had mechanical problems, and he hadn’t offered Rand the ride, there’s no way he could have dealt with the aliens by himself.

And what is the likelihood that the engines on Ted’s jet would choke on a flock of geese and force the pilot to make a desperate choice, to attempt a landing on a narrow road winding through a deep valley?  There was only a tiny stretch that was straight enough to land on, but not enough room to stop.  When the plane plowed into the trees, the impact killed the two pilots. Ted had broken ribs, Rand got a concussion, both men limped out of the wreck covered with cuts and bruises.

Another coincidence was that the valley where they crashed was the only place on Earth where the alien mind control device would not work properly.  Out of 7 billion humans on the planet, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul were the only two that weren’t fitted with an alien mind control collar that day.

The aliens were already wrapping things up by the time Ted and Rand made their way back to civilization.  The intruders had done this before, on many planets.  The natives were collared, once everything was loaded back to the ship, they would depart.  They had no idea how much the oversight of the two men was about to cost them.

The alien race had been so successful, for so long, they had gotten sloppy.  Earlier in their history, when they conquered a planet, the invading army would occupy the planet for many years, however long it took to filter out the resistance and get the natives assimilated.  But they grew impatient, sometimes legions of highly trained warriors would spend their entire lives functioning as prison guards. 

That led to the advent of the collar.  Controlled natives are happy natives.  By the time the aliens got to Earth, collar technology had been around for thousands of years.  The process had become so refined that a medium sized planet like ours could be fully assimilated in less than a day.

But they hadn’t counted on the software glitch that made them miss Ted and Rand.

After a long walk, the two began encountering other people and saw the collars.  They were baffled.  Why was everyone wearing a collar?  Why did no one seem to notice the collars?  Why did they not notice that Ted and Rand didn’t have a collar?  Why did everyone seem so happy, and why were they so busy?  Why was everyone talking about building a spaceport?

Fortunately, the collars didn’t stop anyone from answering Ted and Rand’s questions.  It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on.  Aliens with advanced technology had first controlled the humans with some sort of beam or ray, while they were still in orbit.  Then tens of thousands of robot drones descended on Earth and methodically collared the humans. 

The alien ship landed and waited for the drones to finish their task and return to the ship.  The collar gave the humans the instructions and knowledge they would need.  Some would build spaceports, others would work in mining operations or on construction projects that provided the infrastructure for the alien master plan.  The collars completely controlled the humans, they were unaware that the collars existed.  There were no outward signs that the collars were uncomfortable or unhealthy.  The people Ted and Rand encountered were cheerful and talked constantly about building the spaceport.

The aliens were preparing to leave.  They would come back as soon as we finished the construction projects and had built up sufficient stockpiles of metals, minerals, lumber and other raw materials.  These would be loaded on massive cargo ships.  Each ship would make the long trip between Earth and the alien territory many times, until the piles were gone.  Then the aliens would depart, leaving Earth stripped of resources.  With the exception of Ted and Rand, all of the humans seemed to be pretty happy about that. 

It became obvious, it was up to Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to save the human race, not only from the aliens, but from itself.

And they realized they had a golden opportunity to act.  The aliens were confident the planet was secure.  They were loading their ship and preparing to take off.  They weren’t paying any attention to the humans, they assumed the collars were in control. 

Ted looked at Rand and uttered two words:  “Stinger missiles.”

Rand said, “Great idea, but we can’t exactly go to a military base and buy some missiles like we were at Home Depot.”  Ted said, “Let’s find the nearest military base first, then we’ll worry about that.  We don’t have much time.”

It pays to be famous, the manager at Avis was a Tea Party man from day one and was more than happy to hand two of his heroes a set of keys without any paperwork.  Plus a laptop with a wireless card.  Ted drove while Rand googled for military bases.  Their luck was holding, there was one 30 minutes away.

The carelessness of the aliens showed up again when the car approached the base entrance.  The base appeared to be abandoned.  Soldiers got collars too, and like many others, their new mission was to assist with the alien construction projects.  Ted and Rand had a fully stocked military base to themselves.

After a few guesses, they found the armory.  They filled the back of a transport truck with the nasty heat seeking missiles, and drove toward the alien ship.

They could see the tip of the alien vessel, like a skyscraper, pointing to the heavens, almost ready for launch.  They parked and began unloading the missiles.  While Ted was driving, Rand had found a Stinger missile tutorial on the internet.  Easy enough for a ten year old to fire.  The men waited for their moment.

The alien ship was built with technology Earth’s brightest minds would struggle to understand.  But Ted and Rand had seen rockets before, they knew what an engine nozzle looked like.  When the engines of the mighty ship ignited, a roar filled the men’s ears.  They could feel the ground shaking beneath their feet.  While the craft would have to accelerate to over 17,000 miles per hour to escape Earth’s gravity, during the first moments of liftoff, it was moving no faster than the helicopters and airplanes the Stingers were designed to destroy.

As the ship slowly gained altitude, Ted fired the first missile.  Before it reached the target, Rand fired his.  Each man grabbed another launcher.

The first missile exploded in the middle of the huge plume of flame below the ship.  The same thing happened to the second missile.  Neither explosion had any effect on the vessel.  The two men worried that the simple, tiny weapons may not be enough for the alien technology.  But as the rocket ascended, the angle between it and the men widened out.  The third Stinger exploded just below the nozzles.  The fourth did the trick. 

The money shot blew one of the rocket nozzles clean off of the ship.  The craft immediately listed to the side, then began twisting out of control.  The two men watched from the ground as the top section of the craft separated, and a trio of large parachutes ejected from one end.  The rest of the ship exploded with a deafening roar.  The part that had separated hit the ground very hard, the parachutes barely had time to open.

Ted and Rand rushed to the craft.  There was no time to think or plan.  They had no idea what was going to happen next.  Would aliens firing weapons emerge from the hatch?  Would the craft explode?  Were the aliens dead or injured from the hard landing?  All they knew was, any chance the human race had to regain its freedom was inside that ship.

It only took them a few minutes to figure out how to open the hatch.  They could see the outline of the hatch, below it were six buttons.  The buttons were arranged in a semi-circle, five were roughly an inch apart, the last was about three inches from the rest.

They spoke for a few minutes about what to do next.  They speculated that pushing the buttons in some sequence would open the hatch.  But what sequence?  What would happen if they guessed wrong?  The possibility of a laser beam emerging from the ship and frying the men after three incorrect password attempts entered the conversation.

Then Rand’s training as a physician paid off.  He held his left hand up to the buttons.  His thumb was over the button that was the farthest away from the others.  Moving left, his other four fingers were very close to the next four buttons.  He said, “If it wasn’t for the last button, I’d say the buttons were to be pushed all at the same time, by a creature with a hand similar to ours.  But I’m not sure what to make of that other button.”

As it turns out, the education Ted earned in the Ivy League was not wasted.  He made the next leap.  The lawyer asked, “What is the likelihood that a species that evolved somewhere else would have six fingers instead of five?”

The two men looked at each other as the light bulb went on.  Of course, it was just a guess.  The consequences were unknown.  Seven billion humans had collars around their necks and the two that didn’t were in way over their heads.  But they had somehow managed to get this far.  Nothing to do now but make the best guess and keep rolling the dice.

Using five fingers from one hand, and one from the other, Rand took a deep breath.  Ted counted backwards from three.  Both men instinctively closed their eyes at two.  So they didn’t see the outer hatch retract when Ted said “Go!” and Rand pushed the buttons.  They heard a whooshing sound, but no bullets or lasers.  When they opened their eyes, they were looking at the inner hatch, which had a round handle, just like what you’d see on a ship built by humans. 

Rand gripped the handle and tried to turn it, but couldn’t.  Ted joined in, and with a mighty heave, they broke the seal.  The handle turned a fraction of an inch.  It spun easily after that, and the hatch popped open.

The men were overwhelmed by the smell that came out of the vessel.  Not just a strong smell, a foreign smell.  An alien smell.  The inside of the vessel was cramped and every surface was covered with what appeared to be instrument panels.  There were five forms, roughly human in shape, strapped to one wall of the cabin.  Some type of green liquid oozed from four of them.  None of the forms were moving or appeared to be breathing.  Closer inspection revealed that the creatures were wearing a suit that fit closely to their bodies.  The suits were made of some material that was both hard like glass, yet flexible like plastic.

The one place on the wall not covered with instrument panels or oozing aliens looked like a small cabinet.  And there were six buttons arranged in a familiar pattern.  Inside were a number of objects.  Some were unlike anything either man had ever seen.  But five of the objects looked quite familiar.  Like  guns designed for people with six fingers on each hand.  Another was also familiar, resembling a garage door remote.

Ted picked up one of the gun shaped devices, and climbed out of the craft.  He pointed the device at the ground a few feet in front of him, and squeezed where his instincts told him there should be a trigger.  At first, he didn’t think anything had happened.  But he noticed a burning smell, and a wisp of dust wafting through the air.  When he looked closely at the ground where he had aimed, he saw a rock with a hole in it.  He bent to pick up the rock, but immediately dropped it.  It was hot.

It took a few seconds for it to register.  Imagine the first time a Native American saw a gun in use.  How do you comprehend a bullet for the first time?  But Ted Cruz didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.  He knew an alien death ray device when he saw one.

While Ted was figuring out the weaponry, Rand examined the aliens more closely.  The four aliens who were leaking fluid were clearly dead.  He wasn’t exactly sure how he knew that, since he’d never seen aliens before, with or without green blood.  But anyone who makes it through medical school has seen plenty of dead.  He guessed that the aliens were not capable of living in an oxygen rich environment.  When the hard landing ruptured the suits of the other four passengers, they died quickly.  The one in the middle was apparently in the most protected spot.  And it was clearly not dead, because Rand noticed what he interpreted as shallow respirations.  It occurred to the doctor that the one in the middle was probably also the commander.

Ted returned and filled Rand in on what he learned about the weapons.  By then, the alien was beginning to move around.  The humans realized he might wake up and present any number of threats.  They remembered a coil of rope in the truck.  Rand’s medical school training came in handy, when you spend hours practicing tying knots with tiny bits of suture, pieces of rope are no problem.  In a few minutes, the alien was securely tied.

The humans discussed the next step in their plan.  Rand would stay and guard the alien.  He went outside and practiced a few shots with one of the weapons.  Then he sat in the open hatch, facing the trussed up alien, death ray in hand.  Ted gathered the rest of the weapons, and the device they hoped was the collar remote control, and drove the truck back toward town.

While Ted went to attempt the largest prison break ever, Rand was getting uneasy watching as the alien began to rouse up.  It didn’t appear to be injured, and was now able to raise its head and look around.  The human jumped up and hit his head on the top of the hatch when he heard an unusual, oddly inflected voice.  The alien said, “What is happening?”

Rand tried to compose himself, and realized whatever he said next would be the first words a human ever uttered to a species from another world.  If he had time to think it through, he would have come up with a phrase like Neil Armstrong’s “One small step for man…”.  But Rand had just lived through a plane crash and an alien invasion.  He’d seen humans walking around with collars on their necks.  He’d shot a spacecraft out of the sky with a Stinger missile.  Now he was pointing an alien death ray at an alien.

So what he said was, “My name is Rand Paul, I’m from the United States of America, and if you move a muscle I’ll blow your fucking head off.”

While Rand certainly hadn’t enjoyed himself the last 36 hours or so, the alien was likewise not exactly having a banner day.  Things were ok earlier but went steeply downhill after the launch.  First, the crash.  Then, the slow process awakening from the haze that both humans and aliens experience after a brain gets jarred against its skull.  Followed by the realization that a lowly native from some backwater planet had somehow entered the craft, tied him up with rope, and was pointing one of his own weapons at him.  And his four companions were dead. 

The alien spoke next.  He said, “In my culture, a warrior who is captured is a failure and must die.  Before today, that has not happened in over a thousand years.  I have shamed my race.  You must allow me to end my life.”  Rand said, “That isn’t going to happen.”

The alien continued.  “Then point the weapon at me and fire it.  Any rupture of my suit will be fatal.”  Rand said, “That isn’t happening either.”  The alien paused for a moment, then said, “Our worlds and our people are very different.  If our roles were reversed, I would have killed you before you regained consciousness.  I don’t understand why you don’t kill me.  But as you instructed earlier, I will not move my muscles.  I will do as you wish.  I am what you would call an admiral.  I am an old man, my fighting days are long behind me.”

Rand thought for a moment, then replied, “I am not a soldier.  I am a physician and a politician.  Right now you may be the most important living thing on my planet.  Because I’m pretty sure others like you will come soon if they don’t hear from you.  And I doubt things will turn out well for us if your ships show up in force, ready for a fight.  So you and I have got some talking to do.”

While Rand was polishing his ambassadorial skills, Ted drove the truck toward town as fast as he dared.  He stopped when he saw three people on the side of the road.  He took a deep breath, pointed the remote control at them, and pushed the button.  And watched as collars sprung into two pieces and fell to the ground.  Ted spent a few minutes talking to a trio of very disoriented people.  They seemed to be in shock at first, but regained their focus in a few minutes.  Ted realized he hadn’t planned any farther than this. 

But the others began talking and after a few minutes, the four had hashed out the next step.  First they needed some armed folks to head back to the ship to back up Rand.  Next they would need scientists and engineers to study the remote.  One remote wasn’t going to unlock 7 billion collars very quickly, or before it ran out of whatever source of energy it contained.

The four headed downtown to the police station.  After another short reorientation period, a group of heavily armed humans headed in the direction of the crashed ship.  Ted and a few others went the other way, to the nearest university.

By the end of that day, the surviving alien had been secured in the local jail.  At the university, a team of smart people worked all through the night, and by noon the next day, they started turning every garage door opener they could get their hands on into collar removers.

The next morning, the crash site was surrounded by the best scientists from all over the planet.  It looked more like a bunch of soccer fans after a big match than a gathering of eggheads.  The site was covered with knots of people, all talking in different languages, all talking about a different aspect of the wreck that played into their specialty.  There was no tower but the babbling didn’t stop.

Not for a while, anyway, but when it finally did, the humans got down to work.

It’s a known fact that innovation is hard, emulation is much easier.  Some miracle drug a pharmaceutical company develops may require billions of dollars and years of research to invent, but may be simple to duplicate by the competition, once they get their hands on a sample. 

Some of the alien technology was beyond our reach.  We realized we wouldn’t be able to duplicate the entire ship.  We had to be ready before the aliens returned.  We didn’t know how much time we had.  So the decision was made to focus on whatever parts of a spaceship are the most critical.  What does our current technology lack the most?  Rather than build a version of their ship, we would adapt their technology to vehicles we knew we could build.

The first choice of study was the propulsion system.  Humans lucked out again in a big way here.  The aliens had used a nuclear reactor for the energy source.  We already knew a lot about that.  The rest of the engine baffled the humans at first, but by the end of a month, they had it mostly figured out and were building test devices. 

Men like Robert Goddard and Werner von Braun are remembered for their contributions to the beginnings of human space flight.  Those men would be proud and amazed by what the new team accomplished in such a short time.  In ten months, the spaceports the aliens intended us to build as cargo ports became launch sites for a navy unlike any other the human race had built before.

Things had also gone completely weird for both Ted and Rand. 

For Rand, while his initial contact with the alien had been sketchy and scary, he quickly developed a fascination for the creature.  The alien himself gave every appearance of being true to his word.  He made no attempt to escape and answered any question the humans asked.  Rand accompanied the posse as they escorted the alien to the local jail.  And ended up staying.  He spent all day talking to the alien, the warden let him sleep in an empty cell. 

The next morning Senator and Presidential hopeful Rand Paul awakened with an epiphany.  He picked up his cell phone and called his wife.  He had to tell her several times, because there was no way she was believing this.  He told her to write it down and then start making phone calls:  “I am resigning from the Senate.  I am ending my run for President.  I am going to stay here and study the alien.  There is nothing else I can do that is more important.”

But that’s nothing compared to what happened to Ted.

You can throw out what you know about the old Ted.  Did he make poor choices in his political career?  Pander to special interest groups?  Engage in pointless filibustering on issues that were already decided?  Doesn’t matter.  That was B.A.  Before Aliens.

After aliens, Ted Cruz was a different man.  A driven, sincere man who had a vision.  A vision of uniting all of the people of the world.  He wanted to see everyone; young, old, rich, poor, black, white, brown, gay, straight; unify into a team.  A team that would put all their differences aside, to work towards one common goal:  to kick the shit out of a bunch of aliens.

He was so driven, and so sincere, and so convincing, that when the newly formed Council of World Governments held their first session, Ted was elected Chairman.

Ted and Rand weren’t the only humans who changed as a result of the alien intrusion.  They didn’t even have to suffer the indignity of a collar.  Something about having your mind controlled for several days by an alien device, and the knowledge that the aliens would be returning soon with an armada of warships, had a profound effect on the human race.  Nothing unites a species like the fear of extinction.

When 7 billion humans put their petty differences aside and started working together, the combined effort toward preparing for war with the aliens was impressive.  The World War II generation had done the same thing.  But now it was on a vastly larger scale.  With much more advanced technology, both human and alien.  For the first time, the human race was preparing to go into outer space in force.

While the rest of the human race was focusing on war, Rand was focusing on the alien.  The creature was articulate and polite.  He never showed much emotion, but would get very animated talking about his younger days in the military.  And he never backed away from any questions Rand asked. The two talked for hours, and only stopped when the Admiral needed to rest. 

As Rand talked to the alien, an idea began taking shape.  An idea for peace.  Based on what he was learning about the alien culture, he thought we might be able to use deception and trickery to get the aliens to leave us alone.  But it was a long shot.  He knew he wouldn’t be able to pull it off without inside information, and a lot of help.  Rand rolled the dice, and told the alien about his idea.

When Rand finished speaking, the Admiral sat silently for a long time.  He looked the human in the eyes and began speaking.  “I have thought about your plan.  That is the sort of thing my ancestors did many years ago.  That is what our legends are made of.  Your race is what ours used to be.  But now we are old.  Not just me, with my age.  Even our young people are old.  They are strong and disciplined, they will follow orders and work without supervision.  But they don’t think and act anything like humans.  You are independent, creative, unpredictable, and you are at your very best when, as the police chief is fond of saying, the shit is hitting the fan.”

“There is no way the military force your race is assembling will be on par with the enemy you will face.  Your soldiers will have zero experience at space warfare.  They will be going up against an enemy that has been engaging in it for thousands of years.”

“Yet, much of what happens in a battle depends on surprise, timing, and how quickly you react to the unexpected.  I didn’t get to be an admiral by not knowing what I am looking at.  In my career, I have never lost a battle.  But when I see what humans are capable of, the feeling in my gut is unmistakable.  You humans are, in your vernacular, loose cannons.  Loose cannons who are stealing some of our best technology.  I have decided I do not want my race engage in war with yours.  I will participate in your plan.”

The next thing Rand did was call Chairman of the World Council Ted Cruz and request an audience.  Rand told his friend, “You aren’t going to believe what we’ve cooked up.”

Ted believed him.  Shortly after talking with Rand and the Admiral, Ted addressed a hastily called meeting of the Council.  He said, “Gentlemen, the preparation for war needs to continue as planned.  But we now have another trick up our sleeve.  Rand has come up with a devious plan, one that just might work.  The Admiral is in agreement with the plan, and is in fact an essential part of it.  He does not want to see war.”

“The plan calls for a bold bluff.  The Admiral is going to help us simulate a force that is many times larger than what we will actually have.  The aliens are far away, the sensors they will use to verify what we tell them can only pick up tiny fragments of data.Powerful algorithms analyze the data and extrapolate from there.  It will be difficult to fool the algorithms, but with the Admiral’s help, it can be done.  The computer in the ship we captured has much of the programming we need.  Our best people are in the process of reverse engineering the software.  The admiral was trained in the use of the software just like all of the warriors in his navy, his assistance has accelerated that process dramatically.  That is the first part of the plan.”

“In the second part of the plan, we will take one of the ships we are building, and travel to the alien territory.  We will meet with the alien leaders, and demand their total surrender.”

Ted paused for a moment to let that sink in.  He continued, “Obviously, that sounds crazy.  But when Rand and the Admiral explained the idea to me, it made sense.  If the plan fails, we will have the war we are already preparing for.  If it succeeds, there will be peace.”

“Obviously, we aren’t expecting the aliens to surrender.  But we hope the outrageous bluff will throw them off guard.  Then the Admiral will be at bat.  He will tell his people how two natives outsmarted him and stole their technology.  He will talk about the offensive force the humans are building.  The vessel we arrive in will be proof we can build a worthy spacecraft.  With the tricks we are setting up, when they analyze their data, we hope to trick them into thinking we have already done it on a large scale.  If the bluff works, they may offer us a truce.”

“It is a long shot, but it is a chance well worth taking.  I believe the plan is so important, I have decided to go with them.  Effective immediately, I resign from my position as Chairman.  Mrs. Clinton has done an excellent job as Vice Chairman, I recommend she succeed me.”

Then Ted turned to Rand and uttered two words:  “Road trip.”  The two men high-fived as the Council gave them a standing ovation.

While the ship was being readied for the long trip to the alien territory, the Admiral spent his days teaching the humans how to fool the alien detection software.  The system uses pulses of an energy form humans had not yet discovered, but it works something like radar or sonar.  Pulses are sent out, they bounce off of something, they return and are captured by a massive antenna array.  The array is larger than the entire solar system of the Earth.  Unlike our radar or sonar systems, these pulses travel across unimaginable distances.  And, everything in space is constantly moving. 

Because of the distance the pulses have to travel, the constant movement of every object in the universe, and the tremendous amount of background noise, almost all of the signals the array receives are garbage.After the algorithms filters out the useless stuff, the next challenge is to interpret what is left. 

Humans are familiar with the Doppler Effect, where the pitch of a siren changes as an emergency vehicle drives past.  Something similar happens to the energy pulses as they travel across the unimaginable distance back to the array.  Every piece of data the array receives is shifted in more than way.  Worse, the shifts bump into each other, leading to undulating patterns of distortion. 

A second set of algorithms works backwards through these shifts, to get to the original data.  This isn’t a perfect process, it is a model.  Similar to the models humans use to try to predict weather.  Unlike human weather algorithms, the aliens have had thousands of years to refine their programs.  The algorithms had made accurate predictions about enemy forces for many generations.  But it had never been trolled by one of its own before.

The key to fooling the system is to know the timing and pattern of the pulses.  A vessel that moves at the same speed and in the same direction as the pulses, can fool the algorithms into thinking it is a much larger vessel.  And with a very precise set of movements, one ship can appear to be many.  Like every sailor in the alien navy, the Admiral became proficient at analyzing detection data when he was a new recruit.  It had been a while, but as he worked with the humans, it came back to him. 

It was one more risk.  The Admiral was not sure if the deception could be pulled off precisely enough to fool his people.  But they had no choice but to try.  The actual size of the human force was tiny, if the aliens sent enough of their vast navy, the defenders would be overwhelmed.  But Rand had convinced the Admiral that the key was the initial bluff.  If we knocked them off their guard with our bluff, they may lose enough of their focus to overlook any inconsistent details. 

Someone playing a card trick will palm the chosen card as soon as it is handed back to him, then return it to the deck just before he reveals it.  This requires two maneuvers deft enough to fool observers.  Between the two moves, things like shuffling and cutting the cards help create the illusion that the chosen card must be in some random location in the deck.  The three travelers would not be hiding any cards, but they would be doing verbal sleight of hand, and serving up their best set of illusions.

On the day of departure, the two humans and the alien took the newly constructed space elevator to the dock where they would board the ship.  They stood in front of TV cameras and microphones, with the ship looming behind them through the windows.  Ted spoke for the travelers.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, take a look at the magnificent ship our people have built.  We are about to travel where no human has gone.  If by chance we return, that will mean we succeeded.  We will have peace.” 

Ted paused, broke out in a grin, and said, “If that happens, you are really going to like me then.”  He paused again, and the grin disappeared.  “If we don’t return, that means there will be war.  In that case, Rand and I wish you the best of luck.  Goodbye.”

With that, the three begun their journey.  It would take six weeks to travel across empty space to the nearest alien outpost.  They spent the time planning and practicing their upcoming roles as actors and diplomats.  They decided Ted should take the lead.  He was a natural ham and had always enjoyed being in the spotlight.  His performance at the press conference prior to takeoff was not the first time he’d played for the cameras.  Before, it had always been fun.  This time, it was for keeps.

The Admiral would also play a crucial role.  The aliens would never believe anything humans told them, unless one of their own was telling them the same thing.  The Admiral had carefully memorized all of the exaggerations so that his story about how many ships he’d seen the humans building matched what the sensors would report.

Which left Rand to be the outside observer, the one to look for flaws.  Logical inconsistencies in what Ted or the Admiral would say or do, or where one would conflict with the other.  If you are telling the truth, you don’t have to worry about that sort of thing.  If you are telling lies, you have to keep them all straight.  The travelers passed the time rehearsing, thinking, refining, and then rehearsing more.

Once the ship got within range, the Admiral broadcast a signal indicating this was an unarmed ship requesting permission to dock at the outpost. Then he sent a message with his encrypted military code that identified himself, and indicated there was an emergency that required attention at the highest level.

That was important, because the alien defensive systems were automated and were set to launch weapons at unidentified ships as soon as they were detected.  The aliens preferred the gated community approach, and they didn’t have much interest in visitors.  The emergency signal would temporarily override the automated response, but it wouldn’t stop one of the Admiral’s counterparts from ordering a junior officer to push the button.  The travelers could only hope that their plan would not fail before they get started. 

One evening back in the jail, Rand and the Admiral watched a TV show.  The kind that features funny home videos, like a child hitting his father in the cojones with a baseball bat.  The title of the show was, They Never Saw It Coming.  After he sent the message, the Admiral explained, “If those weapons are launched, we won’t be around long enough to notice.  We will never see it coming.”

The luck of the travelers, and the human race, continued to hold out.  They received a docking confirmation code from the outpost.  They put the final touches on their upcoming performance.  The Admiral was amazed at Ted’s ability to tell lies so effortlessly, and with such conviction.  He learned much from his companions during the flight. 

By the time the ship docked at the alien port, the trio could have sold ice makers to Inuits.

When the three stood in the communication chamber at the outpost, the holographic images sent from the floor of the Board of Governors on the alien home world were eerily realistic.  If the humans moved around, the image would blur for a moment before it refocused.  Technology couldn’t overcome the great distance the signal had to travel.  But when the men stood still, the images appeared as real to them as each other. 

The first time Ted saw an IMAX movie, the opening scene was shot with a camera going down a zip line.  The sensation caught him off guard.  Part of his brain was telling him he was sitting in a comfortable seat in a movie theater.  Part of his brain was telling him he was going down a zip line.  He actually felt the sensation of falling.

The Admiral had warned both men they would get a similar feeling when the projectors turned on in the com chamber.  It didn’t help much.  Ted felt like he’d eaten way too much spicy food, and Rand’s knees buckled a little.  Fortunately the podium in front of the men wasn’t a projection, and Rand leaned on it until the feeling passed.

The men hoped the aliens didn’t notice any of that.  The Admiral spoke first, and what he was saying definitely had the attention of his peers.  The humans had no way of interpreting the facial expressions of the governors.  But they sat completely still, and didn’t say anything.

One of the many technological feats the aliens had mastered long ago was translation software.  With their app, all you need is a comprehensive digital dictionary of any language.  And the usual array of media that any digital culture creates.  The software reads in the dictionary, then starts analyzing books, songs, movies, blogs, tweets, you get the idea.  After an eternity’s worth of CPU time, which might be anywhere from a few hours to a few days, the software will be able to flawlessly translate the language into the alien tongue.  Even slang can be translated, “it’s hot today” and “JLo is hot” would both be interpreted to appropriate alien verbiage.

As the Admiral spoke in his native tongue, the humans watched the translations scroll in front of them, somehow suspended in the amazing holograph.  The alien spoke of how the mission to Earth started like any other mission.  The humans were collared, the ship was ready to leave.  He talked about the plane crash and the software glitch that allowed Ted and Rand to go undetected.  He spoke of their audacious, desperate actions that led to the destruction of his ship.  He talked about how fast the humans were able to steal their technology.  About the astonishing number of ships already built.  And about the deadline.  The day the human fleet would set sail to invade the alien home world, if the aliens did not agree to the human terms.

The alien governors sat in stunned silence as one of their most decorated Admirals told them that a bunch of backwater bipeds, thousands of years behind in technology, had declared war on them.  The Admiral closed with this:  “Lady and Gentlemen Governors, we may be able to defeat the Earthlings if we devote enough resources to the effort.  But they have built a large, effective military based on the technology they already had, plus what they have stolen from us.  We would have to stop all other expansion activities and pool many resources together to face them.  It would be an expensive and time consuming task.  If it were as simple as that, I would favor an all out attack.  I would want to be in the Admiral’s seat.”

“But there is a wild card, a problem.  You are aware of the number of missions I have commanded.  You know how many planets and races I have conquered.  I have studied each of those races.  I have now had time to study human culture.  I have lived among them, interacted with them.  I spent the past six weeks traveling with two of them.  This is why I do not want war.  Out of all the species we’ve dealt with before, these humans present a unique problem.  They are highly intelligent.  They are unpredictable.  They can innovate under the worst of conditions.  But the most important thing, what really sets them apart, what makes them the greatest threat we’ve ever faced, is this.  The fact is, every single human, without exception, is completely fucking insane.”

“As evidence, I present to you, former Chairman of the World Council of Governments, Mr. Ted Cruz.”

Ted broke out in his best smile, and began talking.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, first I’d like to say that it has been a real pleasure to get to know the Admiral over the past few weeks.  I feel we’ve really bonded.  Now, he is a military man, and he tends to think in terms that are black and white.  Things like, ‘surrender unconditionally immediately or we start blowing stuff up’.  But I want you to know I’m not like that.  I’d like to put all that kind of talk off to the side and focus on something else, something that is very important to me.  What I want to talk about today, is condominiums.”

Ted pushed the button on a remote, and the display the governors were watching showed an animated view of the planet Mars, from a distance.  The image zoomed in, and as it neared the surface, it showed the next phase of the plan.  In the background were the barren, dry wastelands humans are familiar with from images our rovers have sent back from the planet.  In the foreground, was an artist’s depiction of would be best described as Las Vegas for Aliens.

Prior to departing Earth, Ted and Rand took the Admiral to Disneyland.  Then they took him to Las Vegas.  Then they took him to The Villages, a huge planned community in Florida designed for retirees who love golf.  Think aliens instead of humans, mix all three together, and you’ve got Mars Vegas. That was the coup de grace, the final illusion that would convince the aliens that humans were too crazy to mess with.  As soon as the aliens surrender, the humans would turn Mars into the finest alien vacation resort in the entire galaxy.  Forget war and conquest, we want to earn your alien tourist dollars.

During the long trip, the Admiral pored through the history of his race and documented important legends from the past.  He noted things like historic buildings, icons, heroes.  He made lists of all the types of alien entertainment and sports.  And noted all the alien vices.  All species have them.

Visitors in Las Vegas will see elaborate replicas from humanity’s past and present.  They can see a pyramid, downtown Paris, a circus, a pirate ship.  There is every form of entertainment humans crave.  Music, dance, comedy, magic, the list goes on.  They can eat at buffets filled with all manner of gourmet food.  Then there are the vices.  Gambling, alcohol, drugs, sex.  What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

The three spent their time fabricating the details of their alien resort.  Mars Vegas would appeal to every high and low alien emotion, just like ours does for us.  Ted and Rand had spent a lifetime exposed to the slickest advertising humans can think up.  The Admiral had the inside information on what makes aliens tick.  The stolen alien software made Photoshop look like child’s play.  During the six week journey, the three put together the most important advertising campaign ever, not to mention the first one made in collaboration with an alien.

The governors sat in stunned silence as the smiling human rambled on his sales pitch for Mars Vegas.  They were prepared for some sniveling species begging for mercy.  They were prepared for chest-beating natives who talked big but wouldn’t last long in a fight.  That was their first impression of the humans.

But the aliens were not prepared for Ted Cruz, former United States Senator, former Chairman of the Council of World Governments, currently chasing commissions as a Martian real estate agent.  They never knew what hit them.

After taking the governors on a dizzying tour of the proposed resort, Ted focused on the part most dear to his heart.  The condominiums. 

“Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, everything I have shown you is just a dream.  I have done my best to convince the government of my world to build Mars Vegas.  But they are skeptical.  They do not want to invest that much capital without some sort of commitment from you good people.  This is the deal I was able to secure from them.  We will build Mars Vegas, and have it ready in two years.  The requirement, is that I return to Earth with signed contracts for a minimum of 1000 condominium units.”

The display panned through the animation of the proposed alien condo.  The condos would be built in the center of Mars Vegas.  Tube transport systems would take a condo resident directly to any desired location.  Each unit would contain every luxury an alien could desire.  The humans would stop at nothing to make their customers happy. 

Ted continued, “And today only, I can get you into one of these units for the introductory price of just $1.2 million dollars.  Folks, I can tell you, the value of these condos is only going to go up.  We’ve got low low financing and each unit comes with a $10,000 decorating allowance.  Remember, it’s first come first serve.  The units at the top have the best view, they will go first.  And, the first 100 buyers will also receive a set of Ginsu knives.  They slice, dice, and pare, and never need sharpening!”

Ted held up a set of the cheap knives from the 1970s, and gave the aliens another one of his best smiles.  He closed with, “Well folks, I know I’ve given you a lot to think about.  Rand and I are going back to the ship, you can talk things over with the Admiral.  He’s got the sales contracts for the condominiums, whenever you are ready.  I will leave you with this thought:  What happens on Mars, stays on Mars.”

And that was the show.  Ted and Rand walked back to the ship in silence.  They didn’t know if their lives would end before they took the next step.  Or if they were the most successful actors and salesmen in the history of the human race.  Inside the ship, Ted poured a beer for each man.  Rand queued up Pink Floyd on the stereo.  The two humans, who had been through so much in the past months, had completed their mission.  There was nothing left to do but wait.  By the time the Admiral returned to the ship, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul were comfortably numb.

They sobered up quickly when the Admiral showed up.  He said, “Ted, you are a lousy condominium salesman.  But you are a convincing liar.  The ruse worked.  The board wants nothing to do with humans.  They have decided we will vacate the entire Orion Arm.  That is the part of the galaxy your solar system is in.  That gives humans a safety zone that is 3,500 light years in diameter and 10,000 light years long.  That should do you for a while.  Congratulations.”

The three shook hands and hugged.  Then it was time for goodbyes.  The two humans had become friends with the Admiral, the feeling was likewise.  The Admiral reached into his pocket, and pulled out a worn medallion.  He handed it to Ted and said, “Recruits in our navy receive this medallion when they finish boot camp.”  I have carried this in my pocket my entire career.  I would like the two of you to have this, as a memento of the adventure we shared.”

Ted thought for a moment, then put on one more of his smiles.  He said, “Admiral, if you ever return to Earth, Rand and I will take you back to Las Vegas.  We’ll have a lot more fun the second time.  In the event you don’t make it back, we’d like you to think about us whenever you use these, they’re great for slicing vegetables.”  Ted handed his alien friend the Ginsu knives.

With that, Ted and Rand began the long journey back to Earth.

After the ticker tape parades, countless appearances on talk shows, and endless debriefing by various government and military panels, the two men finally had some time to themselves.  Rand went back to Kentucky, Ted went to Texas.  Both were satisfied with what they had just accomplished.  Each was sure they had peaked, nothing could happen in the rest of their lives could match the adventure they had just completed.

At any rate, that was what Ted was thinking one Saturday afternoon, when he was sitting on the porch, about to nod off while reading the newspaper.  A loud boom roused Ted from his reverie.  He looked up to see a car sized craft, obviously of alien design, hovering in front of him.  Gullwing doors popped open on both sides of the craft.  Rand Paul stepped out of one side.  The Admiral stepped out of the other. 

Rand said, “Ted, you’re going to have to come with us.  We have to leave now.  I’ll explain while we’re on the way.”  Ted looked at the two and said, “Well ok, but where are we going?”  The Admiral said, “Not where, Ted, when.  This is a time machine.  Get in."

© Copyright 2020 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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