Beacon of Centauri 6
Another advisory body set up in the wake of the discovery (though later, after the visuals were presented) was the International Commission for the Analysis of Extraterrestrial Military Hardware. Obviously, this was not the most popular of any advisory body in the public eye (which is one reason why it seldom was), though for good argument it was deemed a necessity. It had one important distinction from any other advisory committee. It gave its evidence straight to the UN Security Council’s Permanent Members. This was because, although it was agreed that all knowledge of ETI should be made public and easily accessible, there were still concerns that the wrong kind of military hardware research in the wrong hands could lead to disastrous consequences.
Some have pointed out that the Permanent Members are coincidentally the largest arms manufacturers and dealers in the world, and that this is the real reason for the decision.
General Tod Mullins chairs the body.
He is a very difficult man to get to meet, as one would assume. However, he is gracious enough to allow me to interview him at his office in New York, mostly because the UN has deemed my documentation of this time to be of utmost historical importance.
He is a very tall, slender gentleman, now on the edge of his fifties. His face is constantly stern, but not aggressive, yet one cannot help but feel a slight intimidation in his presence. He strikes me very much as a man who doesn’t mince his words, and who expects the same courtesy.
Before his posting here, he was involved in the UN peace keeping force in Afghanistan. He is a man of distinction earning many of the highest citations of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
“Before we begin, I have to remind you that there are matters of grave international security involved in this subject. I am obliged, therefore, not to tell you everything you may wish to know – you understand?”
I’m shrinking inside already. But I manage an “of course”.
“I hope that’s ok, then,” he replies with a slight grin, and slightly friendlier face. I take it that means I won’t be fed to then Lions then, and get on with the interview.
I ask him if he could shed any light on how much of a threat we could have been in, if ETI proved hostile.
“Well, that question really doesn’t apply. Although we were separated by 4 and a half years of information, we were separated by millenia of physical travel time by either party leaving for the other at that time, unless one of us found new ways to cross the cosmos. That’s really the point of our commission. We had hoped that by careful study of ETI we would be sufficiently equal to, or even in advance of them by the time we actually crossed paths. Neither of us constituted much of a physical threat for probably the next few centuries, give or take the sudden jump in technological maturity.
“We’re not certain if they knew we were here, but all evidence points against it. Certainly they didn’t seem to be listening for us when we found them. So we may have had the advantage of them. We, in fact, may have proved the advanced civilisation if we met up.
“We certainly didn’t see the need to rush into making contingency defence plans anywhere in the too near future.”
There is a question burning on my lips since the start of the interview, but I suppress it for now, and instead inquire as to what we learnt about their military structure.
“We did perceive an order of hierarchical society, which came as no surprise. It’s pretty much a given for any civilisation to even appear. Their military size was unobtainable, but the population was deemed around 8 billion. How many of these were in the military, and whether they formed a single planetary military structure beyond the tentative peace keeping force of the UN is unknown. Not enough information was gained. We know they had armed forces capabilities on Land, Air and Sea, and were involved in Space exploration, like ourselves.
“We got some information on the soldiers of the ETI group we researched – their ground force troops. The were using projectiles, very much similar to our own, and had begun to commission the use of laser rifles – denoting that their laser technology was superior to our own.
“The Air force, too, seemed a step ahead, using different fuel reserves, and modelling of aircraft. However, it was the size of the ships in the Navy that impressed us. They dwarfed our largest carriers by a factor of 5.”
I have no idea how much of this is the whole truth. The General strikes me as the ultimate poker player. I can imagine heads of state and high echelon civil servants quaking in his presence.
I tell him I’m curious if we knew anything about ETI’s nuclear, chemical or biological capabilities.
“The biological would have taken time to figure out. Chemical weapons I cannot fully disclose without more analysis of the information. ETI was definitely adept with nuclear power though.”
Again, I’m sure there’s something missing here. Everything in this interview seems to be too concise. But that is to be expected with the nature of the intelligence.
I can’t hold it in, I have to ask. Can you give us any examples of technologies we have obtained and manufactured from the analysis of ETI?
“I’m afraid that is classified at this time.”
Frustrating, but understandable. No advance on weapons, aircraft modelling, ship design, or even armour to report back.
Fortunately the General is not offended by my inquisitiveness, and I’m invited to ask another question, before his busy schedule returns.
Obviously the Security Council is, sensibly, made up of powerful nations who don’t always have each other’s interests at heart. What was it like working with the friction of that environment?
“Many thought that the sharing of this information between us would help the balance of power. To act as a detente.
“Things aren’t always so simple. There was a lot of suspicion of the potential applications. A lot of security clearance protected treaties were drawn up and beaten out. That would come as no surprise to anyone who thought sensibly. The permanent members do not bicker as much as you might see the General Assembly do. Hands are laid on the table, people’s positions carefully viewed and reviewed. We’ve long realised that heated words have little place in the Security Council. Even China has realised that – perhaps them most of all. Of everyone, it was the French who were the most difficult. As an Englishman, I’ve come to expect and even admire that low simmering suspicion between us all. It keeps us on our feet, and stops us making mistakes – which gives us valuable lessons that we can teach the other nations in conflict resolution.
“This tension will not die away just because we found Intelligence outside our solar system.”
There’s a lot of work to be done before the military institutions of our planet, and their governments, agree to form a collaborative effort beyond the current scope of the UN.
“We’ve agreed on temporary treaties, with clauses for their review and amendment over certain time periods. I’d say we’re 99.9% certain that none of us has any intention of using anything we may have discovered from our recent research into ETI’s technology on each other in the foreseeable future.”
He’s spotted the hidden question on my lips, and answered it like a professional soldier, and a professional UN peace keeping officer. ‘Don’t panic, we have it all under control’. Though whether this will comfort those who fear the exploitational and somewhat sinister nature of the arms industry is very much in doubt.