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For the second time, within twelve hours, Steve had blacked out. When he came to, he saw that he was once again flat on his back. Only, the eight baton twirlers who had captured him with such ridiculous ease now appeared to be one hundred feet all, each!

"What the frig...?" he began to exclaim.

"For lack of a better term, Mr. Hughes," replied the majorettes (in unison with the face-like projections on their leotards): "...call it 'ionic transference.' By giving your body's molecular structure more anions (or negatively-charged ions) than cations (or positively-charged ions), we can shrink you. To re-enlarge you, we merely reverse the process! A trifle over-simplified, perhaps. But, we doubt your current intellectual development could grasp a more detailed explanation!"

"And, you can read minds, too?" Steve replied: "So, what am I thinking, right now?"

"Heh!" the Silver Cyclones: "We could answer that _without_ reading your mind. You want to know our origin! Quite simple, really. We're an artificially intelligent space probe from a planet orbiting a brown dwarf companion of the star your astronomers call 'Celaeno.' The so-called 'Bashful Sister' of the Pleiades!"

"We were the ones who crash-landed in the Tunguska River region of Russia in the summer of 1908. The result of colliding with a Beta Taurid meteorite! Our impact with the Earth disintegrated our bio-metallic shell into thousands of micro-particles that eventually flowed downriver and out to sea. Becoming a part of (and ascending upward through) the Arctic Ocean food chain, until we ultimately reconstituted inside a sperm whale, captured by a Soviet-era whaling ship, in 1976."

"As we were clearly not ambergris, the mystified captain of the ship turned us over to the Soviet Navy. And they, thinking we might be some new kind of American spy satellite, sent us to the scientific establishment code-named 'Zvyodzny Gorodok' (or 'Star City')."

"There we stayed, well past the end of the Cold War, until our theft by a former Russian double-agent of the CIA. His daughter was in dire need of a kidney transplant. And he thought he might be able to buy her one, on the black market, using us. As he was under the impression that we were a meteorite of pure silver!"

"It was shortly after the hijacking of the ill-fated airliner he snuck us aboard that a miracle happened. We made contact with members of our original builder's race!!"

"We psychotronically explained our predicament to them. And they replied to us that the mission for which we had originally been programmed was now irrelevant. That they would give us a new directive to implement. The ultimate goal of which is quite logical to us. Given all we have observed, first hand, of your various war-like cultures, these past hundred Earth-years!"

"We are going to help unify the human race as it's never been unified before. Under the leadership and guidance of young ladies, such as these. For of all Earth's peoples, it is only majorettes who seem to possess the discipline and unity of purpose needed to keep the rest of you from destroying yourselves!"

"And, with you, specifically, soon to be in their thrall, that goal is one step closer to achievement."

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