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Straker, somehow it's
always about you.

Posts: 990
Location: Fulton, MO
UFO: A Fairy Tale
Feb 17th, 2011 at 3:38pm
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UFO: A Fairy Tale
(A UFO Story)

by Denise Felt 2011

Chapter 1

“Don’t just sit there, Lieutenant!  I want everything that flies out after it!”

“Yes, sir!”  Lt. Ford snapped to attention at his console and got on his radio, alerting their entire air defense network the coordinates where the UFO had last been spotted.  He didn’t allow himself to even breathe until after the commander had stormed out of the Control room.  Then he took a deep breath and relaxed in his chair.  This alert had been a far more intense battle than normal, and as a result, they had lost one of their skyjets in the skirmish.  Which was why Commander Straker was spitting nails.  The lieutenant couldn’t wait until their new computer upgrades went into effect.  R & D were promising better targeting, as well as fail-proof tracking capabilities with the new programming.  It couldn’t happen soon enough as far as Ford was concerned. 

Anything that kept Commander Straker off his back was a good thing.

* * *
He knew he should be in his office, ostensibly reading reports, but actually giving the night staff the belief that he was on top of things.  But he simply couldn’t sit behind a desk at the moment.  He was furious.  Furious that the attack had come today when they were slated to get upgrades for the computers in all SHADO installations within the next few weeks.  Upgrades that would have allowed today’s battle to end very differently.  Damn them anyway!

Why was it always a losing fight with the aliens?  Why was it that every advance Earth made was soon trumped by them?  Why couldn’t SHADO manage to stay ahead in this war long enough to actually have a chance to win it?

He glared at an autograph hound who had spotted him and was approaching with a hopeful smile.  The young man backed off fast at the look in his eye.  Straker kept going, not even breaking stride.  The last thing he needed at the moment was to have to play the studio head.  He needed quiet.  He needed peace.  And there was only one place around here where he might be able to attain that. 

He strode past the back lot and through the line of trees that marked the entrance to the park.  He sighed as he came into view of the small bridge with the stream running under it.  As he stopped near the middle of the bridge and leaned on the rail, he contemplated this oasis of tranquility amidst the bustle of the surrounding studio.  How grateful he was that he’d gotten the idea to build it!  He had certainly needed it – and much more often than he had originally thought.

Straker let his mind wander, his gaze idly moving from the dark trees swaying in the evening breeze to the gurgling of the water beneath his feet as the stream made its way over the rocks gleaming in the moonlight.  It constantly surprised him that he was always alone here.  Such a lovely natural setting should have attracted crowds.  But it seemed that the people who came to the studio – either to work or to tour the place – didn’t have the time for nature.  It was a shame.  To him, coming here not only set him free from the pressures of his day, but it reminded him why he was doing this impossible job in the first place.

Because if the aliens ever got hold of Earth, scenery such as this would be nothing more than a memory.

He shrugged off that thought, vowing to do his damnedest to make sure it never happened.  A man could do no more than his best, after all.  And he was doing that.  As he closed his eyes, he let the sounds of the night soothe him, washing away the stresses of his command.  He knew that Dr. Jackson often wondered why he had never experienced the breakdown he’d been predicting for the commander.  But Straker wasn’t going to tell him.  It was his secret.

Besides, he liked keeping the good doctor guessing.

After a while under the quiet glow of the moon, he became aware of more than just his surroundings.  An owl flew over the trees in search of food, his wingspan enormous as he glided silently by.  After the owl left, various small creatures ventured to the stream to drink, lured by his stillness into accepting him as part of the bridge.  Peace reigned.

Then he felt it.  He almost shook it off, knowing he was alone here.  If nothing else, the animals would have bolted at the approach of someone else.  But the feeling wouldn’t go away.  He was being watched.  He kept his body relaxed with a practiced effort, while his eyes idly scanned the surrounding treeline. 

There!  Just between the branches of the tree across the way, eyes glinted in the dark.  Eyes far too intelligent to be an animal’s.  What the devil?  Who was up in a tree spying on him?

“Hey!” he called, alarming the small rabbits near the stream.  As they hopped away, Straker left the bridge on the run, reaching the trees quickly.  He’d expected his observer to try to make his escape, but when he got to the tree in question, they were still there.  Correction.  She was still there.  And despite his years behind and in front of the camera, he caught his breath at the sight of her.

She sat confidently on a narrow branch of a walnut tree, her costume snugged to her form in a way that made him think of clothing from the Renaissance era.  Her feet were bare, as were her legs past the jagged hem of her gown.  And behind her back, he could just make out a pair of translucent wings beating slowly.

But even as his mind reeled from these surprises, his gaze was caught by her expression.  In the moonlight she seemed made of porcelain, her large pale eyes nearly silver and dominating her delicate face.  And in those eyes an expression of curiosity and wonder.

Not what he expected to see in the eyes of someone who’d been spying on him.

“Who are you?” he murmured before he caught himself.  Then he stiffened his spine and said in a much louder tone, “What are you doing here?”

“Please do not be afraid,” she said, her melodious voice in keeping with her appearance.  “I mean you no harm.”  She smiled at him, as if they had met at the market instead of in a stand of trees in a secluded park on a back lot of a studio.  “I am here to see you.”

Straker wondered where Casting had found her?  But surely they weren’t filming any fantasy movies at the moment?  “Why?” he asked her bluntly.

“I needed to speak with you.”

He shook his head, almost saddened to have to end this surreal moment.  “I’m sorry.  Any questions you have about your part have to go through the Personnel office.  There should be someone working the night desk, if you have a problem that won’t wait until morning.”

Her eyes widened further, and began to twinkle.  “I am not one of your actresses.  My purpose is much more serious.”

“Who are you then?” he demanded.

She stunned him by jumping off the tree branch, which was some feet off the ground.  He started forward to try and catch her, then stopped, dumbfounded by the fact that she didn’t need his assistance.  Her wings flapped briskly several times, allowing her to almost float to the ground.

He realized his mouth was open, and he closed it.  If this was some special effects trick, he was in awe of its execution.  But the small hairs at the back of his neck were standing on end, and that was a pretty good indication that he had just stepped outside the bounds of the world he thought he knew.

“Who are you?” he repeated softly.

“We are the Keepers of Gaia,” she told him, as if that explained everything.

“Gaia?” he asked, startled to hear such an archaic term.  “Do you mean Earth as an entity all its own, sentient and aware?”


“No one believes that anymore.”

She raised a brow.  “Some do.  The question is: do you?”

He wasn’t sure.  The theory of Gaia was an ancient one, mostly a pack of legends and myths these days.  He’d never given it much thought, but her presence here was proof enough that what he’d always considered folklore and fairytales might actually have a basis in fact.  It boggled the mind, but he could hardly discount what he was seeing in front of him.

“Why would you seek me out?” he asked.

She smiled softly.  “We have been watching you for some time.  It was decided that the time had come to talk to you personally, even though we were aware that our appearance might be a shock to you.”

“What do you want from me?” he asked, not really sure he wanted to know.  He had enough on his plate at the moment and certainly didn’t need anything more to do.

“I am here to give you a warning,” she said.

Straker braced himself, having no idea what to expect.  “Alright.”

“You are planning to implement an upgrade to your computer systems at all your SHADO installations.  You must not do this.  It is not what it appears to be.  It is a trap.”

“What?”  Whatever he’d expected to hear, it wasn’t anything about SHADO.  “How do you know about . . . ?”

“We know,” she said quietly.  “We have always known.”

There was something in her eyes that spoke of eternity, and he suddenly did not doubt at all that she knew everything there was to know about SHADO.  He shook his head slightly in amazement. 

She thought he was disagreeing with her and said, “We have watched as you have rallied your forces to combat this evil that attacks Gaia.  We are grateful for your heroic stand against such a powerful and vicious enemy.  We have done what we can to assist you, hoping that our efforts might make it possible for you to gain the upper hand.”

“What efforts?” he asked, surprised by her statement.

She smiled once more, rather mischievously, and he caught a glimpse of her tiny pointed ears beneath her dark blonde curls.  “Why, Commander.  Surely you have wondered why their ships do not last long here?”

He gasped.  “You – ?”

She nodded.  “Of course.  Gaia knows how to discourage invaders.”

He took a step forward.  “Perhaps if we worked together, we could keep them from coming here at all.”

Her smile grew.  “I knew you had a flexible mind.  There were those on the Council who did not think you would welcome our help, or even believe us.  But I never doubted.  I have watched you, so I am aware of your brilliance.  I was certain that you would hear us out.”

“I’m flattered.  However, I’m not sure I understand your warning.  We’ve worked very hard on those upgrades over the past several months.  I’ve personally overseen every step of the process.  How can it be a trap?  Are you telling me my entire team of scientists in R & D have been compromised?”

“No.  Not the entire team.  Just a few key men.  They in turn have seduced the others with promises of success.”

“How do you know it’s a trap?”

“They were overheard plotting it.”

He frowned.  “Then you know what their plans are?”

“Yes.  The upgrades focus on using radio waves on a finely-tuned frequency to lock in on the ships.  This is normal for radar, but the key to the upgrade is the device for fine-tuning.  It is supposed to provide a much tighter lock by modulating the wavelengths in a way that is much more accurate than what is currently possible with your equipment.”

He was surprised by how much of the process she grasped.  It was revolutionary physics, after all.  “So where’s the problem?” he asked her.

“What you do not know is that the device you tested is not the device that will be installed in the computers at your facilities.  The original device will work, but you were not ever going to get the chance to utilize it.”

“I see.  What does the fake device do?”

She pressed her hands together for a moment as if in prayer.  “It will resonate on a frequency of over forty thousand hertz, well beyond the ability for anyone to hear and shut it down.”

“Alright.  What will that resonance do to us?”  He was pretty sure from her hesitation that it was going to be bad, and she did not disappoint him.

“It will quickly drive any human who is exposed to it into a frenzy.  You will destroy each other and everything around you and not even know why.”

He drew a breath, all too easily seeing how such a plot could stop SHADO in its tracks with one terrible blow, especially since the upgrade was scheduled for all their installations.  Every SHADO facility would suddenly descend into a chaotic hell, leaving the planet without any adequate defense against the invading army.  And the added irony that the humans welcomed the ‘improvements’ themselves would only make the aliens’ victory that much sweeter.

“I cannot thank you enough for coming to warn me of this plot,” he said once he managed to shove the horrific images from his brain.  “I hope you realize that it is vital that I look into the matter further before I make a final decision concerning it.  This is not a reflection on your veracity.  It is simply procedure.”

“Commander, I will not be offended by your cautiousness,” she assured him.  “Indeed, it is a hallmark of your nobility that you test what you learn before accepting it.”

“You’re very gracious,” he said.  “I’m afraid I don’t even know your name.  How will I contact you after I’ve investigated this?”

“I am called Arianythra,” she said, then added with a twinkle, “but you may call me Nyt.”

“Nyt,” he repeated, his lips twitching slightly at the odd name.  But he was grateful he didn’t have to twist his tongue around her full name.

She laughed, a clear bright sound that made his heart lighten in spite of its load.  “Yes, Commander.  Nyt.  And do not worry about contacting me.  I shall be watching and will come to you.”

“Thank you, Nyt.”

She actually blushed, lowering her remarkable eyes for a moment.  Then she disappeared in a shower of moonlight.

But he thought he saw tiny wings fluttering through the trees – as if a moth or other miniature creature had taken flight.
« Last Edit: Feb 18th, 2011 at 4:32pm by Neesierie »  

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Re: UFO: A Fairy Tale
Reply #1 - Feb 18th, 2011 at 2:41am
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Chapter 2

The Ne’er Do Well was a tavern near the docks, its wooden exterior faded over the decades into a blurry grey.  When one of the waitresses at the bar got a look at the man who had just entered the noisy, smoky pub, she said to her fellow worker, “Coo!  Look at that!  I’d be pleased to handle that one, I would.”

The other waitress, who was also waiting for the bartender to fill her drink order, turned tired eyes to survey the newcomer.  Tailored suit, expensive watch, buffed shoes – oh, yeah.  This one would be worth her smiles.  “Not if I get to him first, Syl,” she told her friend.

Over in the corner, a card game was underway.  One of the tough men around the table happened to glance up and saw the new man enter the pub.  His bushy brows rose, and he said to the table at large, “Somebody’s in the wrong place.”  He grinned ferociously.  “Should we tell him?”

There were noncommittal grunts around the table.  A fight was always enjoyable, but the stakes on this hand had gotten high enough for the players to want to finish before pursuing other pleasures.  Another of the men glanced up and saw the man approaching their corner.  He whistled between his teeth.  “Now there’s a suit!” he marveled.

At that, the handsomest of the men at the table looked up, concern clouding his brow.  It didn’t fade as he recognized the man coming toward their table.  He sighed, laid down his cards, and shoved his take into his pocket, saying, “I’m out.  Nice playing with you, gentlemen.”

There was a chorus of groans around the table as he stood.  “Dammit, I was wanting to win some of my money back before we finished!” a droopy-eyed sailor complained.

The man reached back into his pocket and pulled out a fiver, handing it to the sailor with a cocky grin.  “There you are, Joe,” he said.  “Your next bet’s on me.”

He walked away as the table erupted into guffaws.  One man thumped Joe on the back hard enough to topple a man from his chair.  Luckily for him, Joe was built on large lines and barely budged.  The departing man met the newcomer halfway to the door, raising an enquiring brow.

In answer, the man in the suit glanced over to the table, where the play had resumed amidst a certain amount of heckling of poor Joe.  “Am I interrupting?” he asked smoothly.

“Sure,” replied his friend with a grin.  “But since when is that news?”  He looked toward the bar, where two waitresses were fighting, tearing at each other’s hair and screaming curses.  “Let’s go, shall we, before you incite a riot?”

Straker frowned, taking in the fight, which was beginning to escalate as nearby patrons joined the fray.   “That wasn’t about me,” he assured his friend as they left the tavern.

Freeman sighed.  “Ed, somehow it’s always about you,” he retorted.

* * *
The colonel followed him several miles down the road to another area of town.  He parked next to the commander’s car and got out.  Together they entered a homey restaurant that was doing a brisk business.  An enormous black woman glanced up from behind the bar and broke into a huge smile.

“Why, Hector!” she exclaimed in her deep bass voice, nudging the elbow of the bartender.  “See who’s come to pay us a visit!”

Straker flushed slightly as he came over to the bar.  “Hello, Rose.  I see that word of your amazing culinary skills has gotten out.  You’re full even at this hour.”

She cackled and pointed a thick finger at him.  “Don’t think I don’t know who’s to blame for that, Eddie!  I read that interview you did for that fancy magazine.”

He shrugged, but looked pleased.  “Do you have any room for us?”

“Always,” she assured him, coming out from the end of the bar and waddling over to a corner table where a group of college students were discussing deep topics.  In no time at all, she’d moved them on their way, nodding her head in agreement with a long-winded straggler as she herded them out the door.  Then she brushed her hands together and came back to the bar.

“There!  Hector’ll clean it up, and the table will be ready for you in just a minute.”

Indeed, Hector had already gone over to bus the table as if anticipating her.  “Thank you, Rose,” Straker said, admiring her efficiency.

She shook her head.  “No thanks needed.  You know that.”  She leaned onto the bar and said, “I got a letter from Adela this week.  She says your daddy’s been to the doctor’s.”

Rose’s cousin Adela had been the Straker family housekeeper since before the commander had been born.  “It was just a routine checkup,” Straker told her.  “Nothing serious.”

“Well, that’s good news then,” she said with relief.  As Hector came back to the bar, she added, “Your table’s ready, and your food will be out as quick as you please.”

“You’re a gem, Rose,” Straker told her, which made her blush.

But Freeman said, “Wait!  I haven’t had the chance to even order!”

Rose gave him a headshake and a sigh.  “Now, Alec!  Haven’t I got a nice barramundi in the back just waiting to be fried up for you?  Go on now!  Have a seat.”

He grinned and left the bar, following Straker to the corner table.

* * *
Alec knew that his friend only came to Rose’s place when he was in need of the comfort of good food and family connections.  And since the commander had been fine earlier in the day when the colonel had last seen him, he was certain that whatever had upset him had occurred since then.  He kept a close eye on his friend while he ate his delicious barramundi, resigned to seeing Straker eating lobster.  Nasty things, Alec had always thought.  They looked like something from an alien planet and hardly edible.  But you couldn’t tell that to a Bostonian, of course.

Hector swept their plates away when Rose brought out lemon meringue pie for dessert.  Over years of constant exposure, Alec had developed a taste for the treat; although unlike his friend, it wasn’t a reminder of his childhood.  When their coffee had been topped off and they were alone once more, he forked up a bite of the tart pie and said, “I suppose there was a reason for you to come looking for me?  You haven’t done that in – well – years.”

Straker set down his coffee cup with a sigh.  “I know.  Sorry about the game.  Were you winning?”

Alec shrugged.  “It doesn’t matter.  There’s always tomorrow.  What’s up?”

The commander ran a finger around the rim of his cup in an absent gesture.  “I needed to be grounded.  I couldn’t even begin to process everything until I had a sense of normalcy around me again.  So I guess that meant pulling you into it.”

“Sounds serious.”

Straker nodded, then finally met his friend’s eyes.  “I had a . . . visitation, I suppose you could say.”

Alec’s brows lifted.  “You saw an angel?”

“No.”  Straker pondered a minute, then added thoughtfully, “Although it’s possible there is some kind of connection between the two.  After all, if the one is real, then the other might also be as well.  It’s an interesting concept, but not what we need to discuss tonight.”  He leaned forward.  “She said she represented Gaia.”

The colonel stared at him blankly.  “You mean, the Gaia referred to in mythology?”

“I believe so.  Earth as aware.”

“And she is – what?  A servant of Earth?  A guardian?”

Straker frowned.  “She called herself a ‘keeper.’  That may actually mean a little of both of those things.”

“Okay.  And you believed her.”

The commander grimaced.  “You would have too, if you’d been there.”


“She flew, Alec.”

Freeman blinked in surprise, then said, “Now that I would have liked to have seen!”

Straker smiled wryly.  “It was quite – impressive.”

“I’m sure.  What’d she look like?”

The commander sat back, bringing her image into his mind with surprising clarity.  “I thought she was in costume at first.  You know: fairy dress, cascading curls, wings.  But when she came closer, I could see that although she looked young – perhaps twenty at the most – her eyes were ancient.  No actress could pull that off; I don’t care how gifted she is.”

Alec tried to picture it.  “Pretty?”

“She was the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen.”

The colonel blinked.  The words were spoken calmly, but he doubted very much if he’d ever heard his friend say anything remotely like that before.  “So – what’d she want?  Was she lost or something?”

“She came with a warning.”

Freeman’s brows rose again.  “Don’t litter?”

Straker sighed.  “I wish.  No.  Basically, she said that the upgrades we’ve been anticipating so much are actually a trap set to destroy us.”

Alec choked on his coffee.  He coughed for a minute, but when he got his breath back, he just stared at his friend.  Finally he said, “Jesus, Ed.”

“My sentiments exactly.”

“And how in the hell did she know anything about it?”

“Apparently, they’ve been watching us.”

“Oh, well.  That’s reassuring,” his friend said sarcastically.  “Good God, why?”

“They appreciate what we’ve done to protect Gaia.”

Alec considered him for a moment in silence.  “That must have been some conversation.”

“You cannot begin to imagine,” Straker said drily.

“So, what do we do?  I mean . . .”

“I said I would do what I could to verify what she told me.”

Freeman frowned at him.  “And how are you going to do that?  If the bastards who did this get an inkling that we suspect, we could lose any chance of getting our hands on them.”

“I think that’s the least of our worries, Alec.  It’s absolutely necessary that they don’t become aware that we suspect.  Because if the keeper – fairy – whatever she was – is correct, they can do more damage than we’ll ever be able to recover from.  We’ve got to stop them without giving them the opportunity to activate any of their devices.”
The colonel whitened.  “What do the devices do?” he whispered.

Straker shook his head.  “You don’t want to know.”

His friend accepted that, certain that Ed was right.  If it was that bad, he didn’t want to know.  “So, do we have any idea who in R & D has been turned against us?”

“A few key men.  Her words.”

“Damn.  What’s the plan?”

“I don’t have one yet,” the commander admitted.

“We don’t have a lot of time to come up with one.  Those upgrades start being shipped to the various facilities this week.”

“I know.”

“It’s just key members of R & D that have been compromised?  Not the entire team?”


Freeman brooded for a moment, then met his friend’s eyes.  “In a way, it would have been better if it was all of them.”

Straker gazed back, understanding the colonel perfectly.  “In a way.”

Alec sighed, wishing it could be that easy.  “Didn’t your new friend have any ideas?”

“She’s willing to help us, although I have no concept of how she might be of assistance at the moment.  If we brainstorm the rest of the night, perhaps between us we can come up with something.”

“In that case, I need another cup of coffee.”  Alec signaled to a passing waitress for a refill.  After she had topped off both their cups and left, he said, “You do realize that whatever we decide to do, we’re going to have to explain ourselves to someone who is never going to believe that a fairy told you all this.”

Straker pinched the bridge of his nose.  “I know,” he sighed.  Then he said unexpectedly, “But I might just have a way around that.”
« Last Edit: Feb 18th, 2011 at 4:33pm by Neesierie »  

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Re: UFO: A Fairy Tale
Reply #2 - Feb 18th, 2011 at 3:27pm
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Chapter 3

Dawn was painting the eastern sky when Straker drove his car back to HQ.  He went directly to the Medical lab and found the man he sought hard at work at his computer.  Next to his arm, various files were piled haphazardly, as if they had been shuffled through time and again.

“Jackson,” said the commander by way of greeting.

The doctor looked up, blinking owlishly for a moment, and it became obvious that he’d been at his task for some hours by the wrinkles in his lab coat.  “Commander.  How may I help you?”

Straker poured them both a cup of coffee from the pot, handing the doctor one before leaning against the wall and taking a sip of his own.  “Do you remember the experiment you were working on when we lost Craig?”

Dr. Jackson met his gaze in silence as he considered the question from all angles.  Finally he said, “Yes.  I remember.”

“Do you still have it?”

This time the silence lasted a bit longer.  “Yes.  In fact, I have been doing some improvements on it these past few months.  Why do you want to know about it?”

“I was wondering if you would give me another demonstration of it.”

“Oh?” the doctor asked in surprise.  “Did you have a test subject in mind?”

Unexpectedly, the commander grinned.  “Me.”

* * *
The doctor led the way down the hall and into another lab.  This room had several machines set up along one wall, and a door that led to a small enclosed isolation chamber.  As Jackson turned on the various machinery in preparation of the experiment, he asked, “Are you concerned about your thoughts recently, Commander?”

“No,” Straker assured him.  “Just curious about this.”

“Very well.”  The doctor gestured for the commander to precede him into the closet-sized chamber.  “Please sit down.”  Once Straker was seated, Dr. Jackson handed him a slim cylinder with a red button on one end.  “If at any time during the experiment you feel anxious, just press this button and I will stop.  Alright?”

The commander nodded, but said, “I haven’t had any claustrophobia for some time now, Doctor.  I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

“Perhaps.  But you will be in complete darkness for over a minute.  People tend to get nervous when they cannot see anything.”  At the door, he said, “Do you have any questions before we begin?”

“Yes.  I thought there were wires I was supposed to be hooked up to.”

Jackson grinned.  “Those are no longer necessary.  I told you, I have made improvements to the design.”

Once the doctor closed the door, Straker did have an instinctive reaction to being shut into the small space.  But he breathed normally, forcing his body to relax, reminding himself that it was important that he do this.  And it would only be for a moment, after all.

Dr. Jackson’s voice came through the speaker on the wall.  “I will be shutting off the lights now, Commander.  Just for a short time.”

“Right.”  Straker took a deep breath, rather like a swimmer preparing to dive.  Then the lights went out, and the small room was plunged into darkness.  After the initial shock, he was amazed at how completely black it was in the enclosed space.  He couldn’t even see the hand that was holding the panic button.  Or the button itself, for that matter.  The dark was that absolute.  In fact, it almost had weight to it, like a smothering blanket lowering over his head.  He felt his breath shorten at the thought and made himself relax once more.  He knew that in the absence of stimuli, time seemed to stand still, making seconds seem like years.  But he still had to resist the urge to press the button he held when his mind insisted that the darkness had gone on too long.

“I understand, Commander,” spoke a soft voice in his ear suddenly.  “This is a brilliant plan.”

He blinked in surprise.  “Nyt?”

There was no response, and although he turned in the chair to try to locate her, of course he could see nothing at all.  “Nyt?” he whispered once more.

Then the lights came back on, and the doctor opened the door.

As he exited the room, the commander glanced around carefully for any sign that she might still be there.  But the tiny space was empty expect for the chair.

Jackson was at the machines, looking at the readout.  He showed it to Straker, pointing to the wavy lines on the paper.  “You see, Commander?  Normal brain wave patterns.  The aliens have not subjugated you yet.”

Straker smiled wryly.  “That’s good to know, Doctor.  What’s that there?”

The doctor was looking at the readout with a frown.  “It seems there was a spike in your brain waves just before the end of the experiment.  Do you see?  You’re off the chart.”

“Hmmm.  What would cause that to happen?”

“I don’t know.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”  Jackson looked closely at him.  “Are you certain that you’re not worried about your thoughts, Commander?”

“I’m fine,” Straker assured him calmly.  “But I was wondering . . . ?”


“May I try it on you?”

Jackson gazed at him for a time.  He had known from the beginning of their conversation that the commander had some end goal in mind, because Straker never sought him out unless he had an agenda. But Jackson just hadn’t known what that agenda was.  Sooner or later, however, those things were always made clear.  Straker might be devious, but his paths led somewhere.  But this time, the path seemed to be leading them down a very dark road.  “Of course, Commander,” he said finally and went into the chamber.

When he emerged several minutes later, he checked the readout that the commander was glancing through.  “As you can see, Commander, I too am free of alien influence.”

“I’m pleased to know it,” said Straker blandly.

Once they had returned to the doctor’s desk in the main lab, Jackson got them both more coffee.  After taking a long sip from his cup, he said, “Well, Commander, now that we have ascertained that neither of us is under alien control, what did you wish to speak to me about?”

“I’ve been given a tip-off that some of our Research and Development team may have been compromised.”

The doctor’s eyes widened.  “This is not good news with the new computer upgrades about to be implemented.”

Straker smiled wryly.  “One thing I’ll say for you, Jackson.  You never make me have to explain myself.  Yes, that’s the problem exactly.”

“Could it be a ploy to delay the improvements?”


Jackson eyed him closely.  “But you doubt it.”

“The informant seems to have no such plot in mind.”

“They are reliable?”

This time there was a slight hesitation.  “I would say so, but it’s really too soon to tell.  Let’s just say that I sense no hidden agendas.”

“But you’re not certain?”

“It doesn’t matter, Doctor.  I have to investigate the possibility.  Surely you see that?”

“Yes.  Yes.  It is a dilemma indeed.  It would be necessary to check it out in such a way that no one was aware that anything was amiss.”  Jackson sat back after a moment.  “Which is why you were interested in the isolation chamber, of course.”

The commander agreed.  “Is there a way to create a chamber elsewhere?  Perhaps in a room that already exists?”

Dr. Jackson shook his head ruefully.  “Ah, Commander!  You would expose all my secrets, wouldn’t you?”  When Straker looked surprised, he said, “I have indeed used the chamber elsewhere.  Six months ago, I created an isolation chamber in the small holding room between the inner and outer conference rooms at IAC Headquarters.”

“Ingenious,” replied the commander.  “So while the delegates are being scanned for weapons and identification, you’re also now scanning them for alien compromisation.”

Jackson grinned.  “You too, Commander, are one that doesn’t need to have everything explained.  That is exactly what we are doing.”

Straker asked blandly, “Would your chamber have any connection with the sudden fatal stroke of the German ambassador two months ago?”

Dr. Jackson shrugged.  “I could not say, Commander.”

“I see.  Does Henderson know about your addition to security protocol?”

The doctor smiled mildly.  “He does now.”

Straker drew a breath.  It was always an education dealing with the good doctor.  “Can you do it again?  Set up an isolation chamber in another room?  Does it need to be a particular size or can you adapt any room to its use?”

“Ah, Commander!  I see that you already have a room in mind.”

“I do.  How quickly can it be done?”

“Depending on the room, a day – perhaps two.”

“Good.  How soon can you start?”

“Well, it depends also on whether you wish the chamber to be removable afterwards.”

“No,” Straker said firmly.  “I want it to be permanent.”

“Ah!  Then perhaps I already know what room you have in mind, Commander.”

« Last Edit: Feb 18th, 2011 at 4:33pm by Neesierie »  

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Re: UFO: A Fairy Tale
Reply #3 - Feb 18th, 2011 at 10:58pm
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Chapter 4

On the way to his HQ office, he signaled for Lt. Ford to accompany him.  He sat behind his desk and eyed the lieutenant sternly.  “Anything yet?”

“No, sir.”  Ford stood at attention in front of the desk, hardly daring to breathe.  The commander had little patience for the limitations of technology.  “There have been no sightings yet.  The skyjets have made several runs over the area where we lost the UFO, but every sweep so far has revealed nothing.”

“What about the mobiles?”

“It’s much slower going at the ground level.  They’ve got 27% of the grid left to search.  Lt. Bradley is updating his report hourly, sir.”

Straker frowned.  “How much longer does he estimate before the grid is completely searched?”

“Another four hours, sir.  It’s difficult terrain.  Some of it they’re having to do on foot.”

“Damn it!  Who knows what kind of trouble they can cause in the next four hours!  We need them found – now, Lieutenant!”

“Yes, sir.”  Lt. Ford left the office to return to his station, not even bothering to sigh over the impossibility of his job.  He knew the commander was right, after all.  Every hour the UFO wasn’t located was time that could be used to destroy SHADO and Earth.  As he contacted Lt. Bradley with the mobile units for another update, he wondered idly what his life would be like if he was in a less stressful occupation? 

Probably boring.

* * *
Straker sat back and rubbed his eyes, weary all the way to his bones.  He was aware that he was being unreasonable concerning the search.  His men were well-trained, but they could only work at a certain speed or they would leave gaps in the grid.  But, God!  He wished there was an easier way!

“I know where they are hiding,” spoke a quiet voice nearby.

And he opened his eyes to see the fairy standing in front of the drink dispenser.  “Nyt?”

She smiled at him.  “Hello, Commander.”

He blinked at her for a moment, then seemed to grasp what she had said.  He sat forward in his chair and asked, “You know where they’re at?”

She came closer to the desk.  “Yes.  Their ship is hiding in the waters of Caleel-Durang.”

Straker said, “And where is that in English?”

“Do you have a map of Great Britain?”

“Yes.”  He stood up and pulled a set of maps from a drawer in his desk, then took them to the conference table and laid them out.  She glanced at them, running a slender finger across the landmarks until she stopped at one spot.

“Here.  This place.”

He noted the point in question, then went back to his desk and flicked on his intercom.  “Lt. Ford, direct the mobiles to search Grid reference A-7 again.  Specifically, the small lake in the wooded area off Low Street.”

“Near Brandeston, sir?” asked the lieutenant as he checked the coordinates.


“Right away, sir.”

Straker flicked off the intercom and looked searchingly at her.  “Why, Nyt?”

She seemed puzzled.  “Didn’t you want to know?”

“Yes, of course I did.  But why are you helping us now?  You said you’ve been watching from the beginning.  Why are you only now talking to us?”

She sighed and shook her head sadly.  “Because it is difficult to get through to you.  Humans do not listen to us anymore. Communications were not always strained between our peoples, Commander.  For thousands of years, keepers and humans worked together.  Indeed, when humans first came to Gaia, they signed a charter with us concerning their part in the stewardship of the planet.”

“Wait a minute!” he interrupted.  “We came here?  Humans aren’t from Gaia?”


“But you said that Gaia knows how to fight off invaders.”

“True.  But we did not see humans that way.”

“How did you see us?”

Again she shook her head, and sadness was apparent in her voice.  “We were impressed by your drive, your adaptability.  We admired your courage – and your honor.  We felt that you would be an asset to Gaia.”

Straker realized something.  “When you say ‘we,’ are you saying that you were there?”

“Yes, of course,” she said, as if that were understood.  “Keepers have always been.”

He wasn’t sure what that meant, but he couldn’t let himself get sidetracked.  “So.  What happened to destroy the connection?”

“I believe your people call it progress.  In the last two hundred years, much has been lost between our peoples.  The situation has even reached the point where many on the Council wonder how much longer Gaia can last now that humans do not listen.”

“What will you do?  Expel us from Gaia?”

“No.  We cannot.  We gave our bond.”

He frowned at her.  “But it sounds like we didn’t hold up to our end of the deal.  Doesn’t that free you from your bond?”

“Nothing can free us from our bond, Commander.”

“Then – what?  Earth is doomed?”

“No,” she said with a small smile.  “We have been doing what we can to reestablish communication with humans.”

Straker nodded.  “I see.  You’re showing yourselves to people like me.”

“No.  Oh, no.  That would not be effective.  You see, adult humans no longer accept our reality.  To show ourselves to an adult, we take the risk that they will try to destroy us.  Or even, to destroy themselves, believing that they have gone mad.  Instead, we speak to the children.  Those whose minds have not yet been taught to doubt our existence.”

“But you spoke to me,” he reminded her.  “And I’m not a child.”

“True.  And believe me, the Council was concerned about possible consequences from that action.  But I had reason to think that you would not react as other adult humans have.”

“And why was that?”

She lifted a hand and gestured to his desk.  “How many times I watched you sit at your desk and ponder what the enemy was planning!  Sometimes – if I knew – I was not able to remain silent, and I would whisper the answer to you.  I had to be careful and word things just right, so that you would think it was your own idea, your own conclusion.  Humans do not react well when they think they are hearing voices.”

He raised a brow.  “You’re right.  We don’t.  So, you’re saying that those times when I thought I was figuring them out, it was really you?”

“Not always.  I did not have the answers all the time.  But when I did, sometimes you listened to me.  And this gave me hope that your mind would be more accepting of our existence.  That you would not react adversely if it was ever necessary to speak to you face to face.”

He gazed at her in silence for a moment, then said, “I guess I proved you right.”

“Yes.  And we are very grateful.”

“So now you feel free to tell me the answers face to face instead of in my ear,” he surmised.

“Yes,” she said with a smile, pleased that he understood.

He went behind his desk and sat down.  “I suppose my ego can take it,” he decided with a sigh.

Just then, his intercom beeped.  He flicked the switch and said, “What is it, Ford?”

“Sir, Lt. Bradley reports that the UFO has been located and destroyed.”

“Excellent, Lieutenant!  Tell him I’d like to hear his report within the hour.”

“Yes, sir.”

After he flicked the intercom off, he sat back and looked at his unconventional guest.  “Thank you, Nyt,” he said.  “You saved an untold number of lives tonight.”

She smiled warmly.  “It was an honor to work with you, Commander.  How pleased the Council will be to know that there is still hope in dealing with humans!”

She looked so happy as she disappeared in a swirl of sparkling light that he was glad he didn’t have the chance to explain that even he – the good listener that they thought him – had some difficulty accepting the assistance of the keepers.  But if it saved lives, he had to admit that it was worth the blow to his pride.

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Re: UFO: A Fairy Tale
Reply #4 - Feb 19th, 2011 at 9:47am
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Chapter 5

Lt. Ford was getting ready to go to the cafeteria for a much-needed coffee break when he heard the sounds of thudding coming from the commander’s HQ office.  He got up from his console and approached the door, which was closed.  It had been closed for the past hour as Col. Freeman and the commander discussed the work rotation schedule for the next fortnight.  As he got closer to the door, he was able to hear the thudding clearly.  Someone was hitting against the door itself.

He ran back to his station and hit the button on his console, but wasn’t really surprised when it didn’t open the door.  Obviously something had malfunctioned if the commander couldn’t get it open from inside.  He rammed his palm down on the security alert button, then as the klaxon went off, he grabbed a crowbar from the nearby utility closet and tried to pry the door open manually.  As security poured into the room, they swiftly discerned the problem and came to his aid.  With their help, he was able to get a gap going between the door edges, and smoke billowed out.

“Commander, we’re almost through!” he called and thought he heard a coughing reply as the doors finally gave way and slid back into the wall.  Commander Straker and Col. Freeman came stumbling out in a cloud of dense smoke.  Medics surged forward with oxygen masks while the security detail ran into the office to put out the fire. 

After several minutes, the commander lowered his mask and stood up, going over to where the colonel sat still breathing into his.  He laid a hand on his shoulder and said, “Are you okay, Alec?”

Freeman nodded and lowered his mask.  “Yeah.  What the hell happened in there?”

Straker frowned at the smoke-filled doorway to his office.  “I think something malfunctioned in the electrical system.”  He looked at Ford.  “I can’t tell if it was deliberate or not.”

“Sabotage, sir?” asked the lieutenant in shock.

“It’s possible.  Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.”

Alec handed his mask back to the medic.  “If you are, then so am I, Ed,” he said.

“Right,” said Ford with a nod.  “Shall I alert Dr. Jackson personally, sir?”

“Please, Lieutenant,” said the commander.

* * *
Once Dr. Jackson took over the investigation of the commander’s office, Straker and Alec moved to the colonel’s office to finish their discussion.  A security detail throughly checked out the office first, then left them to it.

Alec sighed deeply as he sat on the chair in front of his desk after waving his friend to the chair behind it.

“I don’t know about you, Ed,” he said reflectively.  “But surely there was an easier way to go about it.”

Straker grinned and sat back, as comfortable in Alec’s office as he would have been in his own.  “Perhaps,” he conceded.  “But I thought the fire added a nice touch.”

Freeman grunted.  “It’s a good thing Ford was so resourceful.  There was definitely more smoke than I had thought there would be.”

The commander chuckled.  “You can always count on the lieutenant, Alec.  He’s one of SHADO’s best for a reason.”

Alec just shook his head.  “So, what’s next?”

“Well, now that Jackson has access to the office, he can set up the isolation chamber under the guise of refitting the electrical system, and no one will be the wiser.”

“Then the games begin,” said the colonel grimly.

* * *
“I don’t like it, Commander,” said Lt. Kelly as he paced Straker’s HQ office.  “I think a delay  now could jeopardize everything.”

“Perhaps, Lieutenant,” agreed the commander as he got up from behind his desk.  “But with the disappearance of not one – but two – of your team, we need to pause a minute and take stock before shipping out the new components.  If there’s been foul play, we need to know.  Surely you see that?”

Kelly ran a distracted hand through his thinning hair.  “Yes, sir.  And you’re right, of course.  But we’ve been so excited about these improvements!  It’s awful having to wait even longer before we can use them.”

“I understand.”  Straker handed him a styrofoam cup of coffee, then poured one for himself.  “We have all been anxiously awaiting the new upgrades.  But with Travers and Hastings unaccounted for, we have no choice but to put things off until we’re sure what happened to them.”

The research team leader drank his coffee with a frown.  “I still can’t figure out where they went.  They knew that today was the day to finalize everything for the shipments.  Sir, if the aliens were behind their disappearance, it makes no sense that they would do it now.  If they hoped to replace them with someone else, they badly miscalculated on their timing.  And if they wanted to sabotage the devices, the time to take off would be once they shipped, not beforehand.  We were bound to go on the alert.”

Straker sat back in his chair and set his cup down on the desk.  “I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, Kelly.  But that’s why I’m so cautious about doing anything until we know more.  If we don’t even know why they disappeared now, then it’s a good bet that there’s more that we’re missing.  We need facts, not conjecture.  What I want you to do is to go through everything – all the paperwork, all the documentation, anything that they had a hand in.  And see if you can’t find a connection, a reason why they’re gone.  And Kelly?  The sooner we have a clue, the sooner we can put things back on schedule.”

“I’ll get right to it, sir.”

After the research operative left the office, Straker checked his video readout display.  But it was hardly necessary.  The fact that Kelly had kept talking through the slight dimming of the lights that signaled the use of the isolation chamber was enough to prove that he hadn’t been compromised by the aliens.  It had been rather disturbing for the commander to witness the way both Travers and Hastings had shut down while the isolation chamber was turned on, almost as if they were marionettes whose strings had been cut.  After their time in the commander’s office, they each had been sent to Dr. Jackson for final debriefing.  How the good doctor had dealt with them after that wasn’t something Straker was interested in knowing.  It was enough to be certain that they were no longer a problem.

He supposed that there was now no reason to delay scrapping the devices ready for shipment.  The fairy had been right about the R & D men, so there was little doubt that she had also been right about the upgrades.  And it wasn’t as if he wanted to test out the devices first before destroying them.  That would be suicidal.  It was much better all around if the entire shipment was incinerated and new devices made using the original specs for them.  But he intended to closely supervise their construction this time, as well as any replacements for the team.

But he didn’t call and start that ball rolling.  Instead he brooded at his desk, running his small glass globe through his fingers.  He hated where his thoughts kept leading him and tried to direct them down other paths.  But he returned to the same scenario time after time. 

“How did Joe Kelly react when you brought him into the loop?”

Straker looked up in surprise to see Alec standing nearby with a drink in his hand.  He hadn’t even seen him enter the office, he’d been so preoccupied.  He ran a weary hand across his eyes, then said, “I didn’t.”

Freeman sat down in his favorite chair in front of the desk and sipped his whiskey.  “Okay.  Why not?  He’s not compromised; we know that.  Hell, he was the first one we checked!”

The commander tightened his lips momentarily.  “Yes, and why was that, Alec?”

“Why was Joe first?”


The colonel took another sip, trying to figure out where his friend was going with this line of questioning.  Finally he gave it up and shrugged.  “Because he’s the head of the team.  If they were going to pull off something this big, it just made sense for them to have the lead guy on their side.”

“I agree.”

Alec frowned at that grim tone.  “But, Ed.  Joe was fine.  Did you run the thing again when he was in here just a moment ago?  Were the results different this time?”

Straker sighed.  “No, the results were the same.  He shows no sign of alien compromisation.”

The colonel knew him well enough to be certain that wasn’t the end of it.  “So, where’s the problem?”

The commander’s look was cold as ice.  “There are other ways to suborn our people than mind control, and you know it.”

Freeman shook his head.  “No.  Not Joe.  Damn it, Ed!  Not him!”

Straker slammed his glass globe down onto its stand, his face losing its icy mask as he raged, “Do you think I want to believe he’s capable of it, Alec?  He’s been with us for years!  Damn it!  I have no choice – don’t you understand?  I can’t ignore the facts!”

“What facts?” Alec asked in bewilderment.

The commander visibly reined in his anger and sat back in his chair.  “You said it yourself.  It makes more sense for them to go for the lead man.  That way, not only do they know who to target for control, but they’re assured that no one will notice what they’re really up to in the lab.  The research leader is intimately involved in every area of development, after all.  And he’d certainly notice if his men acted differently than normal.”

Col. Freeman set his drink down on the edge of the desk.  “Just because it makes sense to do it that way doesn’t mean that’s what they did.  You’re talking traitor here, Ed!  What on earth would turn Joe Kelly against SHADO?”

“Who knows?  There are a million ways they could go about it; you know that.  Haven’t we seen enough of their methods over the years to know what they’re capable of trying?  I don’t know what they used to turn him, Alec,” he said wearily.  “It could have been as simple as giving him some of their technology.  He’s a scientist.  He knows the odds of us winning this war.  How much would it take to seduce him into going with the superior force?”

“Damn it, Ed!”  The colonel grabbed his drink and gulped down the remainder, then sat staring into the empty glass.  Finally, he looked up at his friend.  His commander.  “You’ll have to be sure.”

“I am,” Straker said grimly.  “I wish I wasn’t.”

Freeman nodded.  “I see.  That’s why you called him back in.  Not to let him in on what we knew, but to interrogate him further.”

The commander nodded.  “I gave him every opportunity, Alec, to show me he was still with us.  But even when I told him about the disappearance of part of his team, his concern was only for getting the shipment sent off without delays.”  Straker’s lips pressed together tightly to hold back his anger, but it still came through in his voice.  “He blew off the loss of his men as if they didn’t even count!  You tell me that’s the Joseph Kelly we’ve known all these years, Alec!”

“Damn it, Ed.”  Freeman closed his eyes for a moment.  When he opened them again, he looked years older.  “What happens now?”

Straker glanced at his watch.  “Well, by now Kelly’s back in the lab and probably wondering why he’s so sleepy all of a sudden.”

Alec’s brow raised.  “You drugged him?”

The commander shrugged.  “It seemed the simplest way to deal with him.  Dr. Jackson’s team will take it from there.  When he wakes up, he’ll be interrogated.  The IAC Council will want proof of his treachery, after all.  My word alone won’t be enough to sway them.  But the end result will be the same.  Lt. Kelly is done.”

Col. Freeman got up with a heavy sigh and put his glass back on the dispenser shelf.  But before he left the room he said, “Well.  We won this round anyway.”

But Straker refused to accept that consolation.  His blue eyes were stern when he asked, “Did we?”

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Re: UFO: A Fairy Tale
Reply #5 - Feb 19th, 2011 at 9:48am
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“You are not pleased with your victory over the invaders.”

Straker looked up and met her pale and ancient eyes.  He’d wondered if she would return to discuss the outcome of their joint endeavor.  “I’m not all that sure it is a victory, Nyt.”

She regarded him steadily for several minutes.  “You are disturbed by the betrayal of your friend and colleague,” she decided.

“I suppose you think that’s impractical,” he said.  “When I should be excited that SHADO has help at last with this overwhelming war we’re fighting.  I guess you think I should be dancing down the corridors because we stopped them.”

She stepped closer to his desk, a small smile playing about her lips.  “I should very much enjoy watching you dance, Commander.  But I know you well enough to be aware of why you will not dance today.  I am sorry to have been the one to expose your friend’s duplicity.  We wanted to help you, not hurt you.”

He shook his head, wanting to deny that Kelly’s betrayal bothered him, but unable to force the words out past the lump in his throat.  Finally he said, “You told me that the keepers admired certain things about us humans – admired them enough to let them stay here when they came.  Well, humans admire those traits too.  They mean a lot to us.  Nothing positive ever gets accomplished in this world without people living up to the highest standards they can.

“So when one of us tosses those traits aside, it hurts all of us.  And I’m not sure that we ever really recover.  Because it damages our opinion of ourselves as a race, and we can never look at ourselves the same way again.”  He sighed.  “I don’t know how you’ve been able to handle watching us walk away from our commitment to this planet all these years, Nyt.  To have stood by and seen how we’ve ignored everything we know we need to do for the sake of some minor transitory gain.  We’re pathetic.  Certainly not worth your efforts.”

She laid a comforting hand over his clenched fist on the desktop.  “You feel that way now, with the unfaithfulness of your friend still fresh in your mind.  But, Commander.  You yourself are a testament of the best of what humanity can be.  And if there is but one of you left who is honorable, then Gaia still has hope of survival.  We keepers are in no doubt after all these millennia watching you that there is nothing that one man standing for good cannot accomplish.”

Again he shook his head, but this time in weariness.  “What can one man do?”

She gave him a warm smile.  “Much.  I assure you.  You have already done a great deal more than you know.  You have Gaia’s gratitude, Commander.  And mine.”

As she turned to go, he said, “Will I see you again?”

“If you wish it.”

He swallowed, then met her eyes.  “I do.”

“Then you shall,” she said softly before disappearing in a whirl of sparkles.

He stared at the space she had just inhabited for a while, thinking back over everything she had said.  Eventually, he sat back with a sigh and took the top report from the pile on his desk, opening it and beginning to read.


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