Static Age

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The Sayers’ fleet arrived from Gliese 832b after nearly sixty-five standard Earth years in transit from the constellation of Grus. Not a terribly long-lived species, in just over sixteen light years some two dozen generations of Sayers died and hatched en route. They had come to liberate humankind from the fearsome tyrant, Ambassador Phantom of the planet Krankor.

The little blue planet orbiting Sol was the only place in the local cosmos known to harbor intelligent life beyond the Sayers’ home system of Gliese 832. The actual name of Gliese 832b, unpronounceable by humans, comprised a central theme in the Saying, or story, of its majority indigenous inhabitants. These asexual, hardy crustaceans once shared vast, slushy oceans of organic compounds with an ancient and wise, if cantankerous, race of cephalopods. The latter were quite rare, owing to the collapse of their deep-dwelling ecosystem during the Age of Tyrants, when great queens among the Sayers battled for planetary supremacy. The immense husks of the long-dead Tyrants comprised the very ships with which their descendants took to the stars. The Sayers missed the company of the old cephalopods, who preferred the darkness of their depths on Gliese 832b to the tidal shallows, surface pools, and the emptiness of space.

The Orion-Cygnus arm was certainly teeming with life, but there was no one else with whom the Sayers could share stories, their all-consuming endeavor as a species. In the throes of death, their custom was for an individual to regurgitate their biogenic secretions into the interconnected pools of their brood-home. These contained biomimetic compounds that bonded with and redistributed individual secretions to the group. The shared experiences of a hundred thousand generations of sisters past were constantly documented, updated, and exchanged by taste/feel, pheromones, and sets of stridulating appendages, all constantly recording and reciting, engaged in the Saying. Their individual lifespan of about three Earth years was decidedly full, yet their collective hunger for new stories fueled their looking outward. The experience of space exploration filled the Sayers with equal parts wonder and loneliness. They had no need for gods to succor them; the cephalopods scoffed at the notion.

Then a handful of listening feelers, peppered throughout the local cluster, received radio waves from a nearby system just outside the Sayers’ explored reaches. A generation of intense analysis revealed numerous, if fragmentary, images and sounds. The smooth aliens, frequently furry in patches, also appeared to be able to communicate by taste/feel. They occasionally joined mouths and bodies in some of the transmissions. Sadly, the Sayers could not determine the content of these latter forms of communication, and had to rely on the context inferred through the laborious task of reconstruction. What was found was stunning, as the aliens sent out constant messages detailing many aspects of their lives.

They consumed (the aliens were thoroughly consumed with consuming!), and in the process of consuming traveled in metallic containers of wildly varying configurations on sea, land, air, and stellar space. They lived in shockingly small clutches of a mere handful of individuals, while other transmissions indicated the presence of great cities on their planet, made of stones and shiny, unidentifiable materials. The Sayers excitedly shared many new stories related to the deciphered radio waves.

To their collective delight, the Saying expanded greatly, but with the caveat of a drama which unfolded with the initial transcription of the alien messages. The warm, pretty little blue planet and its rather busybody inhabitants were also involved in a terrible war. Through the static and audio interference of a reconstructed transmission, an alien wearing a shiny carapace on its head, with a pointy, round face, and a countenance that even to the multi-eyed crustaceans of Gleise 832b seemed thoroughly sinister, declared: “Attention, people of Earth. I am Ambassador Phantom of the planet Krankor. At this moment, I am rapidly approaching your planet in a warship. Obey me, or die!”[1] This was followed by a series of barking, guttural sounds that the Sayers understood as laughter; theirs was accomplished through ultra-high frequency chirping through several of their lesser appendages.

The Sayers nevertheless understood that Ambassador Phantom meant to harm the aliens, as evidenced by the energy weapons of his ship and nefarious legions subsequently deployed against the populace. No further evidence emerged as to the general location of Krankor, but Earth’s neighboring planet of Mars definitively served as their forward base of operations. Many transmissions concerned the deployment of disk-like craft arriving from Mars, disgorging all manner of horrors upon the aliens. Giant creatures, reminiscent of the Age of Tyrants, terrorized cities and remote settlements alike. Godzilla and King Kong were notable troublemakers, along with broods of reptiles and insects that likewise destroyed whole regions of Earth. Phantom’s lieutenants were also as fearsome as they were cunning: Ro-Man, Princess Marcuzan, Dr. Nadir, and the Devil Girl from Mars sneered, schemed and repeatedly led invaders against the aliens.

When Plan 9 was revealed, detailing the resurrection of the dead in order to unleash them against the besieged, the Sayers were utterly appalled at this shattering of taboo. They customarily consumed their dead, and recycled the carapaces for use as conductive building materials. The machinations of Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and the Mummy in particular galvanized brood-sisters in every clutch on Gliese 832b to singular action. The Sayers’ relief armada to Earth assembled in only four generations. A particularly venerable cephalopod admonished them with distribution of harsh-tasting/feeling secretions from the deep, indicating for the Sayers to just stay the hell home, and try to be quiet. Heedless, their cousins rushed to the little blue planet at nearly one-quarter light speed, bristling with plasma blasters and chemical lasers reconstructed from the Age of Tyrants, sworn to liberate the aliens from Phantom of Krankor. War chiefs among the aliens, including Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Commando Cody, Tom Corbett and the Space Cadets, Ultraman and Johnny Sokko had to hold the line until the arrival of the Sayers’ relief fleet.

During the generations of the passage to Earth, the Sayers did not encounter the Jupiter 2 or Enterprise, which according to the transmissions already fled the Sol system with some survivors. However, interstellar space was vast; their destinations and ultimate fates remained unknown. Alarm spread throughout the fleet when the Sayers finally arrived at and penetrated the Oort Cloud that surrounded the aliens’ home system like an icy shroud. The transmissions altogether ceased. No final plea for assistance was issued. George and Weezy Jefferson simply turned to static, indistinguishable from the background noise of the distant birth of the cosmos. By the time the Sayers cleared the Kuiper Belt half a generation later, they had confirmed their worst fears. Updated astrometric imaging revealed that the little blue planet was entirely black.

No representatives from either Space Patrol or Rocky Jones’ Space Rangers were encountered during the somber final transit to Earth. Their little fleets had undoubtedly been scattered and destroyed by Ambassador Phantom and his vicious cohorts. Near Mars, the Sayers were puzzled to find no discernible trace of Phantom’s warships or other forces. A detachment of the Sayers’ fleet was left behind to scour the empty stones of the fourth planet in order to discover some indication as to the whereabouts of the tyrant.

When the Sayers’ vanguard arrived at the irradiated, ruined Earth, they likewise failed to discover any new information on the enemy. As other Sayer ships prowled the local cluster, Ambassador Phantom’s fleet remained as elusive as the location of his home system, the infamous Krankor. Meanwhile at Sol, the rescue mission had become one of forensic archaeology. No signs of irregular Earth forces remained to continue the fight against Phantom, riding on four-legged creatures called horses and utilizing chemical-propellant projectile weapons. The Cisco Kid and the Lone Ranger had perished in the conflagration. The individual clutches of aliens that identified themselves as Kramdens, Nortons, Addamses, Clampetts, and Munsters were no more. The knowledge of the death of Archie and Dingbat particularly aggrieved the Sayers. Nor were any other revered brood-leaders, including Groucho Marx, Johnny Carson, and Ed Sullivan, ever found in the endless obliteration.

A garrison of volunteers remained behind on Earth to search its charred husk and transmit any data recovered to the outbound fleet and Gliese 832b. Several generations later, a measure of success was met with the discovery of an underground facility which contained alien media, and utilized a primitive form of magnetic storage on reels. Analysis and translation allowed the generations of Sayers returning home to collate an inspiring addendum. The relief mission had failed, but much was contributed to the Saying. The new arrivals to Gliese 832b, having only known life in interstellar space, joyously greeted their sisters and shared many tales of how Hawkeye, Trapper John, and Hot Lips struggled in vain to save the little blue planet from the armies of Ambassador Phantom of Krankor.

[1] Prince of Space (1959), d. Ejiro Wakabayashi, Toei Co.