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Waterloo

Continuing Mission

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The man named Cox was amazed to learn that they had recovered the body at last. For decades, his colleagues in the United States government had been working to extract the body of an honest-to-god extra-terrestrial from one of its own facilities, but that?s the way it usually worked. The timing was ironic, because he had just learned that the notorious eugenicist Khan Singh had just successfully launched himself into space using a stolen ship from the very same base. After decades of destabilizing the world?s nations with his propaganda and political maneuvering, Singh was finally gone, but it wasn?t going to get any better for Earth. The combination of the intrusions on that base had exposed far too much, more than either could have appreciated?

Cox discovered soon enough what the immediate effects would be. He watched the daily news progress from reporting the break-ins to the implication of the sitting president in at least one of them, and the resulting destabilization of foreign affairs. War was declared, and it escalated at the same pace. It became the third World War within months. Trust became a currency that devalued swiftly. Tribunals opened even before hostilities ended. Civilization broke down. Baseball was the first casualty, the very symbol of lost innocence, after it had struggled so long and hard to emerge from it own scandals, hosting the first true World Series as a substitute for the first cancelled Olympics in decades. But it was not enough. Nothing was enough.

Through it all, Cox struggled to piece together the strands that had unraveled the world. He tracked down the body and studied the specifics of what Singh had been up to, what his ultimate ambitions were meant to bring about. Startlingly, Cox discovered that the rogue genius had gotten exactly what he had wanted, that he had calculated all of this from the start. But he had underestimated mankind?s aversion to Armageddon. The revelation of alien life didn?t destroy man?s trust in one another, but served as an impetus for something greater.

Okay, so it was true that when the world discovered what the Americans had attempted to cover up an apocalypse had descended, but as with all setbacks it had also provoked a more noble response, in the least likely individuals. Cox discovered that an associate by the name of Zefram Cochrane had been among the first to find out the truth, like himself, and had struggled to make something of it, only he had a greater idea in mind. He would build something from the ashes.

Having learned of the plight of the scientists who?d originally set these events in motion, how they had been working for the president himself in the hopes of bringing out legitimacy to programs he knew almost nothing about, Cochrane had studied both the alien and the vessel she had come to the planet in, and became determined to finish the project himself. He didn?t anticipate the cost it would have on him. He began to spiral out of control. He had an assistant, Lily Sloane, he could count on, but the weight of the war and history pushed him to heavy drinking, and he lost perspective. After a time, he convinced himself that his work meant nothing to him. It was probably a visit from Cox that did it. He didn?t want to be noble. He saw noble as nothing but trouble.

But Cox knew differently. He knew that the only thing that would rally humanity into a lasting trust and peace was the very thing that was originally intended, but had backfired so spectacularly, an attempt to at last take a lasting place in the stars, and an interstellar community. Singh had known it, too. All his work had been intended to reshape humanity along with him, to create a paradise. It was with a hideous dawning awareness that he realized what would actually be necessary to bring it about. Cox suspected that Singh had lost touch with reality, both real and imagined, by the end, and would probably never accept it again.

After Cochrane?s flight, Cox watched as things fell back together. He met a youth named Henry Archer, who seemed to grasp intuitively everything he had struggled with, who understood that the Vulcans were in effect, the last of the great struggles for mankind. Someday, everything would be won.

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