Thursday, July 09, 2009


Al-Hujwiri , " The Kashf al-Mahjub "

There are two kinds of speeches and two kinds of silences. Speech is either truth or a falsification, and silence is either fruition or heedlessness. If one speaks the truth, his words are better than his silence, but he who invents falsifications, his silence is better than his speech.

Al-Hujwiri , " The Kashf al-Mahjub "

Captain Khalid Muhammad sat feeling troubled in his ready room sipping his warm cup of tea and contemplated what his communications officer had told him earlier. He had been having a rather pleasant conversation with his first officer Commander Fadel Shaker whom he had served with for over 10 years now and the Sensors Officer Lt. Kathem El-Saher a young go getter from the planet Khalwat, over a dinner of spicy curried beef, rice and lemon grass soup, about the new star system they had just slid into. The crew was excited as the second planet’s surface was 65 per cent covered in oceans and had an oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere. The sensors had also showed and abundance of plant life and with an average temperature at sea level on the equator of 26c. The sensors had also shown that the planet was teeming with life.

They had been joking about where they were going to build their retirement homes on the planet, which they were currently calling Aamus, with Lt. Kathem El-Saher saying he would want to find where the best ski slopes were on the newly discovered world and build a large home there, when Sub-Commander Amr Diab the communications officer had interrupted saying that he had just picked up some video transmissions coming from the planet.

“Aliens?” asked Lt. El-Saher eagerly his face bright with anticipation.

“No, not Aliens” replied Sub-Commander Amr Diab a no nonsense man in a slightly annoyed tone, looking at Kathem El-Saher he thought if the man had a tale it would be wagging right now. He had then gone on to explain further, it was this further explanation which was bothering the captain.

First Citizen Kenny Macaskill was feeling annoyed. It was dark outside of his office window and he watched as the rain poured down in sheets, the park across the street being lit up by the occasional flash of lightening. The Rain wasn’t annoying him as it was cleaning up the streets of the capitol city which were sorely in need of it after yesterday’s founders’ day celebration, something which consisted mostly of throwing powder of various bright colors on your friends, foes and people chosen by random in the crowd. As a boy and even when he got older participating with his own children, he had always enjoyed the annual Founders day festival, but now his aides had advised him that as First Citizen it would not be dignified and so he had gone to some official dinner, that had annoyed him. Not that the aides said it, but that he had listened to them. Of course that was not what was really bothering him nor the fact that his secretary had put sugar in his coffee again why the boy kept doing that as he was quite competent at everything else his job required of him.

No what was annoying the First Citizen was that instead of having a year or two of warning about a starship approaching the planet he was told that there was one already in the star system and then they only knew about it because some astronomy grad students studying the huge and violent storms of the gas giant Gallaudet and saw it pass by the gas giant. They had originally thought they had discovered a new comet or asteroid then observed it making a course change. The military trying to keep the news of the star ship hush was currently providing free room and board for all of the astronomy students.

The military had gone on to with, what the First Citizen found to be refreshing, extreme efficiency to commandeer the largest telescopes on Sterns’ world and had confirmed that it was most matter of fact a star ship. They had also managed to determine, according to the classified report on the First Citizen’s large metal and glass desk, that it was not an Ark ship like the one which had brought the original colonist from Earth to Sterns’ world. The report went on to say in clipped military language that the star ship was not only of unknown design but that they were not even sure how its propulsion system worked.

After reading the short report to his assembled cabinet The First citizen sat down in his overstuffed green leather chair and called for opinions and questions. The cabinet quickly exploded with questions and opinions.

“Aliens!” stated Sayuka Isoyama the petite Minister of Culture, her entire tiny body shaking with intense anticipation.

“I doubt that it is aliens” replied Josh Brolin the Minister of science and technology, his facial expression relaying to everyone in the room that he thought Sayuka was a few slices short of a whole loaf. “It is far more likely that in the several hundred years that have passed since this colony was founded that earth has made various technological advances which we are not familiar with.” He then sat down taking his glasses off to clean them.

“Invasion Sir, you should call up the military reserves and deploy our star fighters at once” demanded the rather frightened red faced Minister of Agriculture a man used to combating crop pests not the aliens who he was sure would begin landing soon.

“Well there are two problems with that plan, one we do not have any star fighters and two we do not have any star fighters. Now I do realize that it is the same reason but it such a big one that I felt I should mention it twice. Our space command entirely is made up of two asteroid defense ships and three shuttles which we use to put satellites up in orbit and only the Asteroid defense ships are armed.” Stated Gerhard Stoltenberg the bear like minister of defense while looking at the minister of agriculture with contempt. “And military intelligence has determined that the ship is too small to be carrying an invasion force. It has perhaps a crew two hundred.”

“It could be an Alien military reconnaissance vessel” retorted the Agricultural minister trying to regain some of his composure.

“It is not aliens, and why would anyone invade us?” Asked Minister Brolin.

“Earth is overpopulated, it was even so when our ancestors left hundreds of years ago. It has probably only gotten worse and they need to resettle the excess population” blurted out Minister Isoyama whom after the initial shock of the news had passed, had decided it was not aliens.

“It would be easier and cheaper then to just send out thousands of Ark ships” Stated the Defense Minister.

Sub-Commander Amr Diab turned the video monitor to the channel the video stream they had interpreted was on. The officers watched it for a few minutes when Captain Muhammad asked the question that had crossed all of their minds, “what is wrong with the audio?”

“Nothing sir, there is none “replied Sub-Commander Diab with a wily grin he continued, “We have looked at thirty seven video broadcasting streams coming from the planet and none of them have audio. Also we have been unable to detect any audio radio broadcasts coming from the planet.”

“That doesn’t make any sense, one of the first things colonies do is set up a radio station or two. “Said Lt. El-Saher in a confused tone.

“We had the same thought. Me and the boys in communications looked at the programs and while many news, sports and even science programs had text subtitles and narration running under the pictures. Many of the pure entertainment programs did not. Then we looked at everyone was doing with their hands and we realized that they were talking with their hands” said the Sub-commander who was becoming very enthusiastic.

“How did they all become deaf? Was their some sort of virus or chemical accident? I do not see how this could happen on such a large scale.” stated the captain a puzzled look on his face and in his tone.

“We do not know sir, but I am sure that it is not beyond Confederation science to reverse it. Such an offer of help could really help with the diplomatic overtures.” Replied sub-commander El-Saher.

“I am sure that the Confederacy will be happy to send medical teams from New Malaysia or New Kurdistan to help the people of …. What do the people call their world?” asked Captain Khalid Muhammad.

“Sterns’ World, Sir”

“Yes, Sterns’ World. Help the people of Sterns’ World.”

Just as the First citizen was thinking to dismiss the meeting before it turned into a fist fight a well dressed female Aide to the First Minister came in to the conference room and slipped him a hand written note. He read it quickly and after getting everyone’s attention announced that the ship was sending them a text message.

The C.S.S. Hamza Yusef sat in high orbit over Sterns’s world, where thousands of very excited amateur astronomers, along with several dozen very concerned military stations watched it. The military stations monitored closely everything the could of the C.S.S. Hamza Yusef, taking special care to make sure that they did not try to communicate with anyone outside of the official government channels. And this was because; despite Sterns’ world’s government best efforts at keeping the arrival of the C.S.S. Hamza Yusef a secret everyone knew. One news station was keeping a steady of a blurry picture of the ship in orbit while instant experts discussed the implications of its arrival on Sterns’ world’s society.

The First Citizen could feel the veins in his neck throbbing as his entire 2 meter frame shook with rage. Help, the foreigners had dared to call it help. Stern’s world was a society which existed in silence. The concept of a society which exists in silence was enshrined in their world’s constitution. A Society in Silence was engraved on Mark Sterns statue outside of the Parliament building. This very thing is why their ancestors had left earth, to get away from this type of prejudice and now after hundreds of years the hearing world had finally tracked them down or if Captain Khalid Muhammad was to be believed, stumbled across.

First Citizen Kenny Macaskill had, had the military step up their jamming operations so that the foreigners ship would not be able to communicate with anyone outside of official channels the internal security apparatus try to make sure there were no leaks. Problem was Sterns’ world was not a police state and people were use to freely expressing themselves. The First citizen was afraid that the dangerous alien ideas that the C.S.S. Hamza Yusef would expose the population to, would destroy their society.

The crew had just finished praying Isha a few minutes before and while most of them were still making dhiker or praying Sunnah, Captain Khalid Muhammad and Sub-Commander Amr Diab met to discuss the day’s events in the officers’ mess over cups of thick sweet Turkish coffee and a large platter of walnut Baklava. Their day had been very busy and both men were grateful for some time to relax.

“The laser flashes directed at the ship are defiantly not an attack sir” stated Sub-Commander Amr, “it is old morse code. It took us a while to find a file on Morse code but we have been able to decode the message, somebody down on the planet is asking us if we can really make their children hear. I can tell you that this is not an official government request.”

Captain Khalid sighed and scratched his head. “Then we do not respond, from the emails and news broadcast we have been monitoring their world is already in an uproar about the offer we made them. I am not about to compound our problems by negotiating outside of official government channels. We are leaving the official diplomatic mission that will be here soon, inshallah, enough of a mess.” Said Captain Khalid sadly still thinking about how his offer of help had blown up in his face.

“Understood sir.”

The two men spent the rest of the evening in silence simply enjoying the coffee and thinking of home.

The First citizen wearily looked at the newspaper, he felt as if nearly all his strength had drained away. The newspaper showed tens of thousands of protesters in the streets of the capitol, demanding to be allowed to talk with the Starship in orbit. He knew that soon it would be hundreds of thousands in the streets all across the world. Even members of parliament were for an open dialogue with the foreigners and not just members of the opposition but members of his own party.

Business leaders were sending him text messages hourly it seemed demanding to be allowed to negotiate some sort of trade deals. At breakfast that very morning he and his teenage daughter had argued with his wife and eldest son, who was home on holiday.
An argument that had ended with hurt feelings and words that everyone wished they could take back.

Captain Khalid had told him that the C.S.S. Hamza Yusef would soon be leaving the system and that another ship carrying a diplomatic mission would arrive shortly aster their departure. The captain promised the first citizen that they would impose nothing on Sterns’ world but would respect any decision that they made.

First Citizen Kenny Macaskill simply did not want to go down in the history books as the first citizen who oversaw the collapse of Sterns’ world’s society.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Crows

The C.S.S. Azizur Rahman’s 1st officer Abdullah Yusef Ali, looking sharp in his new forest green uniform and wrap around data glasses, informed the captain that the engine room had stated that worm hole drive was ready and charged. The men on the bridge all looked anxiously to the captain awaiting his orders. They all knew that the Astronomy fellows at explorer command gave them a 90% probability of discovering a life supporting planet in the star system they were about to slide into.

"Let us go see what no other man’s eyes have ever gazed upon, " said Captain Khaled Hosseni, a large man with golden brown skin and dark piercing eyes which had the ability to look right through a man to his core, "engage the worm drive."

Within minuets the C.S.S. Azizur Rahman had slid into the outer fringes of the new star system. With the speed and efficiency of the well trained crew that they were, the men and women of the C.S.S. Azizur Rahman quickly down to the business of exploring a new and uncharted Star system. A shabash probe was launched to get a look at the area of space on the other side of the sun.

The Sensors Officer one of the older men on board, began conducting a detailed spectral scan of the nearest frozen world in hopes of finding valuable resources. Meanwhile three Jao class probes were launched towards the 4th planet from the sun , which they suspected of being able to sustain life.

It was the communication chief who made the discovery that the star system was already inhabited as he realized that what at first had seemed to be a lot of background radio noise was in fact encrypted radio messages being broadcasted through out the star system. He immediately notified the captain and the diplomatic officer. Afterwards the communications chief Taufik Zahid, a very efficient man from New Malaysia, started running the encrypted messages through the standard decryption programs as well as a few that he had designed himself. His wide brown face broke into a grin as he leaned back into the molded plastic chair, this mission was just starting and already it was very interesting.

Captain Khaled Hosseini did not simply have a cloud of gloom over his head, he had a full blown hurricane of gloom over him. He had left on an exploration mission, being told that there was a 90% probability that there was a planet in the star system that could sustain human life. Meaning he was going to be naming the world , its’ continents and seas something he had looked forward to; to being informed by his 1st officer that the 4th planet had to much background radiation, to much volcanic activity and not enough oxygen. Through 1st officer’s team assured him in 10 or 20 million years the planet would be ready for terraforming.

On top of this he is informed that the star system is actually inhabited already by humans. Which according to chief Zahid who had decoded the messages and the diplomatic officer seemed to be divided up into approximately 7 different factions that were all at war with one another. He told them that by Asr to have a full briefing prepared for the senior officers.

Sohaib Sultan felt as if he had been training to be a diplomat his whole life. He had gone to a French immersion elementary school and had taken English in high school. While getting his bachelors, a double degree in anthropology and sociology, he had taken several semesters of mandarin. A year of study on Camelot and his PhD in International affairs before he joined the confederate navy got him his diplomatic officers’ commission. And yet from reading the decoded transmissions, he felt that the best diplomatic tool the captain was going to have at his disposal would be the seven missile tubes and the 400 Jezzail missiles.

Queen Jenny Nimmo of the red crows listened to her right hand Sir Eoin Colfrey as he explained about the aliens or as he corrected not aliens but other humans, humans from another star system. He urged her to open negations with them right away and before there dreaded enemy the white crow or even one of the other factions did. By creating an alliance with this new element he told her, who knew what new weapons or defense systems they might get a hold of to use against the other factions.

Baron Paul Stewart, the left hand of the queen, told her that if they were to gain such weapon marvels the outsiders were sure to have, that they could bring about the fabled United Kingdom. Queen Nimmo knew the stories of the Mythological United Kingdom, she had heard them her whole life. The colony ark had brought them to this star system only to discover that the world they had thought of settling was poisonous. The people were a united kingdom; Queen Nimmo had some of the antiques from the supplies the original settlers had brought with them that bore this motto, but there had been dissenters among them.

The original colonist had voted to leave this star system to look for a new world but the dissenters sabotaged the ship and they were all stranded. From that the United Kingdom dissolved and the different groups arose. The white crows, the black crows, the sun crows, the war crows, the night crows and her own glorious group the red crows. She dreamed of the day she would united all of the crows and lead them out of that which the first red crow queen had described as their own little purgatory.

Queen Jenny looking down from her thrown informed Sir Eoin the right hand of the queen that she would meet with the ambassador of these confederates.

The C.S.S. Azizur Rahman’s diplomatic officer Sohaib Sultan smiled nervously as his dark brown eyes darted about the room as he addressed the captain.
“They have agreed to speak to us sir.” Said Sohaib quickly.

“Now, I have been told that there are several factions, so by they; you mean who?” asked the captain quietly hoping that Sohaib would calm down.
Standing next to each other it was obvious that the golden brown skinned captain Hosseine was about ten centimeters taller than the olive complexioned commander Sohaib.

“The queen of the Red Crows, Queen Jenny Nimmo. They contacted us not long after we slid into the star system. Our intelligence tells us that they are an English speaking multi-ethnic colony originally sent out by the United Kingdom or Great Britain as it is also referred to back on earth. I am suggesting that all the members of the contact team be armed sir. For what we have been able to assertion these crows form alliances and break them regularly. Being able to deceive your enemy is a virtue among them. Even the way they all call each other crow has a rather unpleasant foreboding.”

“How do you mean?”

“What do you call a group of crows in English sir?”

Captain Hosseini raised an eyebrow questioningly a puzzled look on his face.

The Contact team and their security detail sat in the C.S.S. Rahman’s ship boat the Jao going over code words. Both the Contact team and the security detail wore Jawan body Armor; the contact team had 12mm pistols in shoulder holsters while the security detail carried these as well as standard issue G.A.R.s and their own personal edged weapons.

The Jao’s pilot hailed the red crow asteroid colony, noting that the colony’s defense guns had both a radar and Lidar lock on them. They were given clearance to dock and the pilot did so as quickly as he could without making anyone to nervous.

The pilot and two men of the security stayed with the ship boat, the five other members of the security detail and the contact team were ushered through a maze of corridors and passageways, at one point they went through a huge crowded market place with multiple levels and a ceiling that appeared to be at least 50 meters up. They all took note that everyone they passed, who appeared to be over the age of seven, was armed.

Sohaib looked about the Queen of the Red Crows thrown room and found himself fascinated by the laser engraved metal walls. All of the metal engravings were of various space battles of which Sohaib did not doubt the red crow had won. Above the Queen’s thrown in thirty centimeter tall gold letters was the motto ‘Buaidh No Bas’; Sohaib would find out later that this was Gaelic for victory or death. The queen sat on a high back ornately carved wooden thrown, wearing a gold and red dress which seemed to shimmer. Standing next to her on her right side Sohaib recognized, from video talks held earlier, Eoin Colfer all decked out in red and black. Another man whom Sohaib did not recognize stood to her left wearing black body armor. Red Crow security men stood along the walls watching them warily.

Gifts were presented to the Queen, a Persian rug, a hologram of the planet New Malaysia and an ornate knife which she seemed most impressed with. Queen Jenny quickly agreed to allow the confederates to establish an embassy and a trading post in the New London star system. As negotiations continued it became apparent to Sohaib that what the Red Crows wanted was weapons. Unfortunately for them the Confederation was very unlikely to allow them to buy weapons considering the status of the New London star system and even if they were to be willing to, the Red Crow did not seem to have anything they could trade for them. The meeting ended with all smiles and the Queen giving them a gold coin with her likeness one side and the Red Crow emblem on the other as well as a hand crafted dagger, but as soon as the contact team was gone the grumbling began.

Upon arriving back to their ship Sohaib was informed by the 1st officer that there was a message waiting for him from one of the other factions. Sohaib opened up the designated channel using the encryption code sent with the message and found himself talking directly with the Queen of the White crows, Eleanor Mcevoy.

“I have been informed that you have opened negotiations with the red crow murder. We the White crow would also like to entertain you and begin the process of becoming your friend.” She said with a seductive smile. Something that Sohaib felt looked good on the Attractive green eyed blond woman whose face was literally framed by a gold crown which had gold rope chains hanging off of it.

He explained to her with so many competing factions that in the New London star system that most likely an embassy and trading post would be established not in one of the current space colonies; but on an uninhabited asteroid. This way the confederation hoped that it could convey that it did not wish to take sides in the internal squabbles between the different Crow murders.

Sohaib did not know that the White Crow had a reputation for patience and long term planning, as Queen Mcevoy asked about trading agreements and possibly sending students to study in the confederation. He did realize quickly while talking to her that behind that dazzling smile and bright green eyes was a cunning mind and a woman who was not to be trifled with.

Once Commander Sohaib had finished what at times seemed to be an interrogation with the White Queen, he went back to his quarters to write up his proposals shaking his head. For it seemed to him that the Crows were the worst combination of violent barbarians and high tech society.

Red Crow war master Frances Kent stood in front of the throne, Queen Jenny gazing down on her as War Master Frances thumped her chest and stated that she had thirty fighters and two cruisers ready to engage the alien ship. War Master Kent looked very impressive in her red and black battle armor, two 10mm auto-pistols strapped to her in shoulder holsters, knives in wrist sheaves and a claymore sword signifying her station strapped to her back. A cruel grin danced across her face as she talked of battle.

The Queen’s left hand Paul Stewart stepped out of the shadows, which his black body armor blended into, a 10mm pistol with a silencer on one hip and the garrote signifying his office on the other and spoke. “We have intercepted messages between the White Crows and the C.S.S. Azizur Rahman. If the White Crows gain the allegiance of the confederation they will become the dominant power in this star system. We cannot allow this,” he said with a hiss.

“Your majesty the fighters and cruisers that we spoke of are already in position to attack. If you wish I can send more ships, but our defenses if one of our outer settlements was attacked,” said War Master Kent.

Eoin Colfer the Queen’s right hand stood up in his red and black combat armor, two 12mm pistols in shoulder holsters, a large gold chain with the medallion which symbolized his office hanging around his neck and spoke in a steady and quite voice,” we still do not have a good idea of what type of offensive weapons and defenses that their ship has, we should wait until we have more intelligence. I can even go to the Sun Crow and gain us allies in this attack. They would be able to give us another twenty fighters easily.”

“And if they join us in this attack any spoils would have to be shared with them, something I do not wish to do”, said Queen Jenny rising from her thrown. “ No, two cruisers and thirty fighters should be plenty, but to reassure you Eion, I shall dispatch 6 more fighters from our guard here.”

And with that remark they all understood that the decision to attack was made and the discussion was over. The die was tossed.

It was after Fajr and the senior staff was eating in the officer’s dining room. They had all finished their initial reports and the captain had called for this meeting before they departed the New London Star System.

Commander Sohaib Reported that Eleanor Mcevoy Queen of the White Crows had agreed to donate an Asteroid to the Confederation to build an embassy and trading post on; as he finished up a voice broke over the P.A. system informing the captain that the ship had detected a large number of inbound ships. Captain Hosseini ordered the Ship to battle stations.

The atmosphere on the bridge of the C.S.S. Azizur Rahman was tense. As Lt. Ibrahim Dabdoub called out to the captain “ tracking multiple targets, more than three dozen fighters and two large ships look like light cruisers, unknown weaponry.”

“Load all Missile tubes, power up the magnetic pulse cannons and activate the missile defense guns. Fire when enemy ships are in range,” said captain Hosseini in a loud clear voice.

Missile tube commanders sat and watched as the red crow fighters came into range and almost in unison they uttered the basmallah as they pressed the firing studs next to their scanner screens. Seven Jezzail missiles locked on and went zipping towards their targets followed by another and another. Several red crow fighters managed to get into range and fire their missiles only to see them deflected by the C.S.S, Azizur Rahman’s magnetic pulse cannons. Two red crow fighters closed on the C.S.S, Azizur Rahman and tried to engage it with their guns only to be knocked out by the magnetic pulse cannons.

War Master Kent stood on the command deck of the red crow warship The Morgoth and it and the Warship the Glaurung to accelerate into firing range and fire everything they had at the alien ship, specifically targeting its missile launchers and maneuvering thrusters. All three ships started firing at each other at approximately the same time, the confederate ship getting its missiles away perhaps a second earlier.

The battling ships continued to close the distance between them while steadily firing at each other. Captain Hosseini first had his gunners firing all at the Glaurung which allowed them to successfully overwhelm her defenses. A red crow missile got through and struck the C.S.S, Azizur Rahman shaking her but to the red crows dismay did not take her out, for unbeknownst to the red crow was that while the confederate ship was not a warship as an exploration vessel it was constructed to go out alone and handle itself. This included two armored hulls each 25 centimeters thick separated by a self sealing gel.

With the Glaurung destroyed war master Kent called for a hasty retreat. Captain Hosseini decided it was probably for the best not to pursue and to continue preparations to leave the star system as planned. He did intend to change part of his report and double or perhaps even triple, he mused his recommendation on the amount of military production the embassy and trading port would need.