Summary: Now the tale turns even darker as we see humanity’s lust for supremacy over our fellows play out with wonder weapons of our future. Ultra-Violence is military science fiction about a day when technology takes us to the brink of extinction – and what comes afterward. File these weekly chapters as “terrifying dreams.”
See the previous chapters of Ultra-Violence, tales from Venus.
- The sins of our fathers.
- A Boy Meets a Girl.
- The Lost Generation.
- Let’s Do Something Fun.
- The Meek Shall Inherit the World.
- A Sign from God.
- The Siren’s Offer.
- The Riddle.
- Wolves Among Sheep.
- The Man Who Would Be King.
- The Angel and the Badman.
- Goliath’s Revenge.
- The Head of Every Man.
- In the Land of the Blind.
This contains violence and strong language (unfortunately, words even children commonly hear today).
Chapter Six: The Meek Shall Inherit the World.
Hanson scoops the last of the rocks into his bucket and dumps it behind him. Alex is ahead in the crawlspace they’ve dug out from the tunnel collapse. He’s motionless, his face bathed with light from above. They’ve made it. It took hours, but they’ve made it. The earthquake filled the bottom of the mining rig’s drill shaft with debris, trapping the men 300 meters below the surface of Venus. Hanson wasn’t sure they would get out at all.
Alex is actually in a good mood today.
The nine years following that awful night in the motel room have been hard. Hanson is a worker bee; he’s always found menial tasks he could scrape by with. The problem lies with Alex. He’s never been able to stay in one place for more than a few months. Before long he would always complain about being bored until Hanson relented. Sometimes Alex wouldn’t last a day before he got fired from a job or screamed obscenities at everyone and stormed out.
Doctors are expensive, so they were never an option. Hanson isn’t a reader, but he tried his best to research what might help his friend. He scraped together what little money he saved up and bought pills on the street. Alex refused to take them at first, only consenting after much coaxing from Hanson.
None of the drugs helped. Alex’s mind always burned so brightly. He hated the crushing dullness the pills brought. It agitated him more than his madness the drugs were supposed to cure. Dullness came with depression, and depression made him dangerously suicidal. There were several close calls that terrified Hanson. He abandoned the idea of drugging Alex and promised he wouldn’t suggest it again.
Alex’s sanity continued to deteriorate. Hanson hoped his pathological fear of women would get better. It didn’t. It got worse. What isolated corner of Venus doesn’t have women in it? As time went on, Alex couldn’t function in normal society at all. Hanson had to find them jobs increasingly isolated from other people.
Now they’re at rock bottom, both literally and figuratively, in this mining rig. The machine is almost entirely automated, it only requires two crew members. There is no other job on the planet more isolated than this one. If Alex loses his position here or quits, Hanson has no idea where else they can go. This is the end of the line. Hanson is completely out of options.
They’ve been here a month, and so far Alex has hardly complained. Alex knows the rig inside and out, he barely needs Hanson at all most of the time. He seems to actually enjoy the work a little. “I’ve been thinking,” Alex says. “We could start our own mining company. Run a rig like this one and operate it ourselves.”
“Great.” Hanson mumbles, occupied with tightening down a leaky valve. “How would we pay for it?”
“That’s the part I’m still working out.”
A massive earthquake hits. The ground shakes, maintenance tunnels collapse, gas pipes burst and steel support beams warp. Pieces from the tower above rain down the giant drill shaft. The wave of destruction triggers a power-down, bathing the men in darkness. A few seconds later red emergency lights switch on.
“What the fuck was that?” Hanson says.
“I don’t know, but we should get out before any aftershocks hit,” Alex shouts to him, leaping on an access ladder leading up the drill shaft. Hanson follows him. It
The men climb into the drill shaft of the silent mining rig, steam still fuming from exhaust ports. Any emergency event, like an earthquake, always triggers a power-down. Hanson follows up the ladder. He’s larger than heavier than his friend, so he can’t keep up. Alex shambles off the ladder onto the surface above.
Hanson feels heat as he nears the surface of the drill shaft. The metal rungs of the ladder are almost too hot to hold. This wasn’t an earthquake. He climbs out and rises to his feet. The upper portion of the mining rig isn’t damaged. It’s gone. The entire structure was ripped up by the foundations. There used to be a forest here. Now there’s nothing. This reminds Hanson of the orbital bombings on the South Pole, only much worse.
Alex is standing a few paces away. He doesn’t say a word. He’s just staring in awe. Hanson turns around to see what Alex is looking at.
A huge mushroom cloud is rising into the atmosphere, turning the sky black around it. The metropolis that used to fill the horizon, the capital city of Venus, is gone. Completely flattened, along with everything else around it. A nuclear attack, and not the only one. Other mushroom clouds are sprouting up as far as the eye can see.
But that isn’t the end of it. A tiny dot appears in the sky. It’s a warship moving so fast there’s barely enough time to see it coming. The dreadnought ran out of warheads to fire but has one bomb left: the ship itself. Hanson looks away. The detonating spaceship causes more destruction than all the atomic bombs combined.
“Get back in the shaft!” Alex yells.
There’s no time to use the ladder. They leap down onto a catwalk just in time to miss the firestorm. Even though it impacted much farther away, the ship causes more devastation than the bomb that destroyed the forest. It’s still not over. Meteors rain from above. Venus is well defended. The orbiting minefields and batteries blew up some of the attacking ships. But the pieces of wreckage slam into the ground at the same velocity as the destroyed vessels they came from.
The cataclysm finally subsides to a roaring aftermath. Alex and Hanson climb back up to the surface. The whole world around them is a scorched wasteland of smoldering wreckage and terrain. The sky above is dark as coal.
“What the hell just happened?” Hanson yells, barely able to hear his own voice over the hurricane of smoke and fire burning above.
“What does it look like just happened?” Alex laughs. “Judgement Day. The Fall of Man. The end of the world!” It does look like the end of the world.
“Why do you think I study the movement of the planets?” Alex continues. “Not the horoscope nonsense old wives banter on about. The real thing. God created the celestial bodies, why wouldn’t he use them to communicate with us? Do you know what day it is?”
“The day everything went to shit?” Hanson guesses.
“The day after the Martian Eclipse, Hanson!”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Revelations 6:12. ‘And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.’ God showed John a vision. He showed what was going to happen. But John didn’t understand what he was seeing. How could he? He thought it was the moon. Everyone thought it was the moon. They were all wrong. It was Mars! The Martian Eclipse!”
Every two years, Mars disappears behind the sun, cutting all communication between Terra and the Red Planet for 48 hours. The communist powers on Terra have always feared a rebellion on Mars, and there would be no better to do it than during the eclipse. For that reason, the entire Martian fleet is required to return to their armored battle station of Phobos and stay there until the eclipse ends.
“So, Mars was behind the sun,” Hanson says. “What about Terra?”
“Destroyed! Gone! The Terrans annihilated each other. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Everyone knew that. But what if, by some stroke of luck or Divine intervention, it happened right in the opening hours of the Martian Eclipse? Venus would know, but Mars wouldn’t. They would have no idea.”
“Why would that matter?”
“Think about it,” Alex tells him. “With Terra gone, sooner or later Venus and Mars would go to war too. But thanks to the timing, our side had the perfect opportunity to strike first. The only opportunity. This was the last time the Martian fleet would be gathered in one place. They would never do it again.”
“Our side struck first then.”
“Yes, we did! Our side attacked. Their navy is bigger than ours, so we needed everything, from the biggest battleship to the smallest torpedo boat. Despite the numerical advantage, the Martian vessels would all be in predictable orbits around Phobos. Destroy the fleet, then break up the moon with suicide ships. The battles station was the Martians’ greatest strength, but also their greatest weakness. Destroy the moon, Mars would be destroyed with it. We would lose our fleet as well, but it would be worth the loss. It was the perfect plan.”
“Well obviously not!” Hanson waves at the destruction behind him. “What went wrong?”
“As you can see, we didn’t destroy all of the Martian ships. We missed a few. It was a mistake no one could have predicted, even if they war gamed it for a thousand years. It wasn’t a mistake on our end. The Martians themselves made a mistake. Someone failed to show up to the rendezvous. It could have been any flotilla, but if I had to take a guess, it was the Stalingrad. It’s the largest battleship ever built. That’s all everyone has been talking about on the radio since it left on its maiden voyage last week. It was for propaganda value more than anything. Build it as fast as possible and iron out the wrinkles later.”
Alex looks at the billowing fireball where the ship impacted.
“A battlegroup, no matter how large, has to follow the same trajectory as their flagship to avoid collisions. So what if the Stalingrad’s new navigation systems failed and nobody caught the mistake until the whole flotilla was floundered up in the asteroid belt? There would be no way they could make it back before the eclipse. Their masters back on Terra would never accept the excuse. There would be reprisals. What did the Martians do? They lied! The Stalingrad and its escort ships powered down among the asteroids, and they waited. They didn’t even need to say anything. The dockmasters on Phobos realized what happened and went along with it. They reported every ship down to the last cosmonaut as accounted for, when none of them even showed up! The Martians fooled their entire chain of command, and the Venusian spies among them too.”
“Nobody knew about the flotilla hiding in the asteroids, and they survived,” Hanson says.
“Survive they did. They emerged from the asteroid belt and found Mars destroyed. A ship can survive in space almost indefinitely, but what would be the point? They had no home, no women, no children, no future. Just a sad, lonely life before extinction in the cold depths of the void. But the cosmonauts had a second option. Come here and do the same thing to us that we did to them. The Stalingrad and its escorts accelerated straight into Venus, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop them.”
Hanson is shocked, but he supposes this shouldn’t be a surprise. He saw so much hate, so much malice, in the Venusian jungles of the South Pole. It was only a matter of time before all that hate blew up and mankind destroyed itself. Hanson turns back to his friend.
Alex is crying, but not tears of sadness. Tears of joy. “Every valley shall be filled in, and every mountain and hill made low,” Alex says. “The crooked ways shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation” Alex wipes away the tears with his sleeve.
“There was no place in the world for me. So God made a different one. God created a whole new world. Just for me.”
Come back next Sunday for Chapter 7:
“A Sign from God.“
A chapter will be posted every Sunday.
Critiques are welcomed, but will be moderated.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents are either works of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any matter without permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. This copyright overides this website’s Creative Commons license.
About the author
Ian Michael served 5 years in the US Marine Corps. He did two tours patrolling in Helmand Province (Afghanistan) and one in Kuwait. He is now a Staff Sergeant in the US Army Reserve. He lives in Iowa.
Some of his other articles.
- Generals read “Ender’s Game” and see their vision of the future Marine Corps.
- Pain and misery build discipline! Or so we’re told.
- The Atheist Conservative shows why secular conservatism continues to be an irrelevant and impotent force in American politics.
- Alita, the Battle Angel, fights her feminist critics.
- Plato and Diogenes warn us about hubris – Here is a fun short story, historical fiction about one of the clashes between two of the larger-than-life people of the ancient world.
For More Information
Ideas! For some holiday shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
Fiction echos reality. See Chet Richards’ (Colonel, USAF, retired) post about this novel, about how it illustrates many of John Boyd’s ideas in action.
Biotech that might make this story real: Potentially horrific effects of drugs and machines making people smarter & stronger.
- Generals read “Ender’s Game” and see their vision of the future Marine Corps.
- Ender’s Game: Playing at Shock and Awe. — About the film.
- The little-known dark side of Ender’s Game.
A classic of science fiction
By David Brin.
The conclusion of the brilliant and powerful Uplife Trilogy, one of the best-constructed stories in the annals of science fiction. From the publisher …
“Brin’s tales are set in a future universe in which no species can reach sentience without being “uplifted” by a patron race. But the greatest mystery of all remains unsolved: who uplifted humankind?
“As galactic armadas clash in quest of the ancient fleet of the Progenitors, a brutal alien race seizes the dying planet of Garth. The various uplifted inhabitants of Garth must battle their overlords or face ultimate extinction. At stake is the existence of Terran society and Earth, and the fate of the entire Five Galaxies. Sweeping, brilliantly crafted, inventive and dramatic, The Uplift War is an unforgettable story of adventure and wonder from one of today’s science fiction greats.”