Not long after the Zardonian invasion of planet Earth began, an automated superluminal signal set out on a journey through space. Within it was the following message:
Defense crew captured.
The sun was up by the time the van pulled up outside Gerry Mc Loughlin’s house, but there was still a light on in the living room. Gerry was visible from the road. He was asleep on a chair in front of his computer screen.
Martina, Pa and Sandra walked to the front door. Kevin followed, but at a distance. It took them several loud knocks to stir Gerry.
He stood up, staggered to the door, and stared bleary eyed at the group..
‘Uh, lads, what are ye all doing at my house? what time is it?’
Pa was first to talk.
‘Dunno the time Gerry, but we need your help badly. We’ve built that spaceship and flew it onboard the alien mothership …but the thing is a fucking maze, would ya give us a hand finding the controls?’
Martina nodded in agreement.
‘Yeah, sorry to be bothering you again Gerry, but we’ll never find them without your help’
Gerry squinted to make out who else was in front of him, scratched his head, and stood back.
‘Come in lads, I’m gonna need a few minutes to wake up’
Pa, Martina and Sandra walked through the narrow hall and into the living room beside it. Kevin was the last to enter. Gerry waited at the door and stepped into his path.
Kevin cursed under his breath. Gerry leaned forward towards silently until their foreheads were only inches apart. ‘Prick’, he said.
Kevin responded by venting the word ‘gobshite’, and spitting into the hall.
He waited for a response. Gerry racked his brain for a comeback. His sleep deprived vocabulary was just not up to the job.
Kevin eventually gave up waiting and barged past.
‘Prick’, said Gerry a second time, but Kevin was already in the living room.
Pa and Martina sat in the two armchairs while Sandra kept guard at the window and Kevin lurked into a corner near the door. Gerry walked in and sat down in front of his computer.
‘Right, what’s all this about the spaceship’
Martina did her best to explain without Sandra interrupting. Gerry typed on his computer as she spoke. When she finished their story he sat back from the keyboard.
‘Right lads, it all seems fairly straightforward, but there’s one thing I can’t figure out, how did ye have the space to bring back an alien if the van was full on the way up there -are ye missing anyone’.
Pa looked at the others and shrugged.
‘uh, don’t think so Gerry’
He looked at the others again.
‘oh wait, shit, where’s Faf?’
Martina jumped out of her chair.
‘Jesus, we left him up on the ship …fuck …and Billy, Billy still has my stereo’.
Gerry shook his head slowly and dropped it into his hands.
The room fell quiet.
Gerry eventually broke the silence.
‘Right, we still have a chance to save humanity …and if we’re gonna take it we’ll need a proper plan this time, but first things first, we need to see if that creature ye kidnapped is still alive’
Kevin snorted and rolled his eyes.
‘Fuck the alien, what good is that gonna do?’
‘Well, if it’s alive it just might be able to give us an idea what we are up against’ replied Gerry sarcastically.
‘Good thinking Gerry, myself and Kev’ll drag it in here, Martina, can ya try find something to wake it up with?’
Pa and Kevin walked out into the hall. Martina followed them to the front door.
‘what the hell is going to wake up an alien Pa?’
‘I dunno, ask Sandra, or see if Gerry has any Dutch Gold left …the future of life on Earth is depending on it’.
Gerry Mc Loughlin doesn’t have neighbours. If he did, then they would have a higher than average chance of having seen two men drag an unconscious extraterrestrial from out of the back of a Ford Transit and into his sitting room.
‘I’ll say one thing for that creature, it’s nothing if not ugly’
Gerry regarded the creature carefully, and looked back at Pa.
‘I doubt it’d speak too highly of you either, was it heavy?’
‘No, light for the size of it …and it seems to be still breathing’
The creature was now in a crumpled heap next to a pile of circuit boards and a broken Superser heater. Sandra hadn’t moved from her vigil by the window next to and was still gazing up at the sky. Martina sat back down in one of the armchairs and began rolling a joint. Pa slouched into the other.
Kevin was doing a good job of looking surly and an average job of lurking by the door. He carefully ignored Gerry, who was typing on his computer again.
‘Lads, I’m just gonna see if there’s a diagram of that mothership on the internet, let me know if that alien wakes up’.
The faded red glow of the alien’s eyes flickered on and off, but there was no other sign of life.
‘This reminds me of the time Trevor Stauntons head went massive’
‘What the fuck are you on about Pa?’, muttered Kevin, ‘was he picked up in a spaceship with his two eyes glowing red?’
‘No, he wasn’t, but his head was about the same size as that creatures is now, and he was passed out most of the time too’
Martina put down the tobacco and glanced over to Pa.
‘When was that?’
‘Ah, a few years ago, before ya met him, his head just swelled up untill he was too top heavy to balance himself …he ended up out of work for months, and had to go for the cure to sort it’
‘up in the hospital?’
‘no, some woman living near Collaney had it’
Kevin rolled his eyes.
‘Hah, some woman in Collaney …are you saying Trevor went into the doctor and was told; sorry son, your head’s just gone massive and there’s nothing medicine can do …that’ll be twenty quid’
Pa continued, impervious to the sarcasm.
‘Yeah, apparently it happens, not very often though …I wonder would a cure work on that alien’.
‘No’, interrupted Sandra, ‘…Gaia does not heal life from outside her system’, she added with a tone of certainty.
‘Yesss, Merlin’s online’
‘Who’s doing what Gerry?’
‘Oh, The Merlin of Kronos is online…that lad wrote a book about Klingon spacecraft’
‘Gerry, I haven’t a fuckin clue what any of that means …do we know where the control room is now?’
‘We will shortly, I just need to fill The Merlin in on some details, can ye describe the part of the mothership ye were in Pa?’
‘We landed in a big room with a window, with little black robots moving around, then we went into one a big corridor, and there were a pile of empty rooms offa it, and, uh, that’s it really …is that fella’s name really The Merlin of Kronos?’
‘No, it’s Barry Mc Nally, but he likes to be called The Merlin, can ya give me a bit more detail, what size was the window?’
‘Huge …this Merlin fella sounds like a bit of a flute Gerry’
The noise was something like the noise the sea makes as it drags heavy boulders along the shore.
It had come from the creature, whose red eyes were now glowing brightly.
‘The alien’s awake’
The creature sat up carefully scanned the room with it’s red eyes. Every other set of eyes in the room were stared back. Except Sandra, who was still looking out of the window.
‘What did it just say lads?’
Pa stood up to get a closer look.
‘I dunno, nothing I’ve ever heard before’
‘Maybee it’s hungry?’, we could fetch it something to eat’.
Kevin rolled his eyes a second time.
‘Oh, grand so Martina, why don’t we just make it a jam sandwich while it’s mates destroy the world?’.
‘It was just a suggestion’.
Sandra kept her back to the room, and spoke slowly.
‘There is the third prophecy of Hybobulus Clune’,
She paused, waited for a response, and then continued without one ‘…he predicted that Earth would be invaded from space at the end of the twentieth century’
Gerry ignored Sandra’s contribution, and joined in the conversation.
‘Good idea Martina, that creature won’t give away much information if it thinks we’re gonna kill it …maybe it’s thirsty’.
‘Uh, okay, I’ll try it with a drink …Hybobolus who Sandra?’
‘Hybobolus Clune, he was a twelfth century monk who prophesied world war one, and the first time travel journey …and something a lot like what’s happening now’
Martina pulled open the ring pull from a can of Dutch Gold, mimed drinking from it, and placed the can in front of the alien. A scaly hand shot forward, grabbed the can, and its contents disappeared into the aliens mouth.
‘You’re right Gerry, the thing was thirsty’.
She opened a second can, and then a third. They were both downed instantly.
‘Lads, stop giving beer to the alien’
Gerry’s eyes moved to the computer screen as he spoke, ‘…it’s an awful waste’.
Sandra turned around to face her friends, and continued.
‘Hybobolus proved that the universe is made up of form and chaos …and that every time there is too much form, it reverts to chaos …ye can be sure that these aliens travelled here in an abundance of form’
‘Fuck this, we’re wasting time’
Kevin’s less than impressive patience had reached its limit.
‘first a hyperdrive that only speaks Japanese, and now an extraterrestrial that barks gobbeldygook; come on, let’s just go back to the ship, we can at least do a hostage swap for Faf’.
‘And Billy’, added Martina.
‘leave him there, that fella’s a space cadet anyway’.
‘that’s not for you to decide Kev, besides, I want my stereo back’.
Gerry looked up from the computer and over at Martina and Pa, ‘tell me again how ye set the coordinates for the trip to the mothership’.
‘We didn’t, Kev’s friends did it’.
‘Where are they now?’
‘Kev, do ya know where Paul and Tony went to?’
‘They went to get breakfast‘
‘What, in the middle of everything?’
‘I suppose so Martina, they’d been working all night to get things ready while all ye were off dossing’
‘Bit strange, don’t ya think’
‘Bit strange going to get breakfast? …and feeding beer to an alien in Gerry Mc Loughlins living room is normal, is it Martina?’
‘Relax Kev, it just seemed odd that a pair of lads that were big into spaceships would suddenly wander off before it was even launched’
Gerry sat up and clapped his hands.
‘Got it …The Merlin of Kronos has just posted online, and The Merlin reckons any command center has to be at the opposite end of the ship to the hanger, he says they wouldn’t have the fuel and ammo near the center of operations’
‘Uh, okay, makes sense, how do we get there then?’
‘What size were those corridors Pa?’
‘Big enough to fit your Transit?’
‘Good, we can drive there, but getting to the control room’s only gonna be half the battle -key to this will be making sure we put the mothership out of action’.
Gerry turned away from the screen and looked around at everyone except the creature, whose red eyes were now forlornly gazing at a fourth can of Dutch Gold. Gerry cleared his throat.
‘Listen, I’ve figure out how to save the world’
Martina glanced over at Kevin before being the first to reply.
‘That’s the second time in the night I heard someone say that’
Pa nodded in agreement.
‘Yeah, and the last time involved building a spaceship, will this new plan be much different, I’m getting really tired’
‘No, not really, I just need to add some code to the Mega Drive, so we can run the input sensors into an infinite loop, clone the drive, and upload it to the alien system.’
The room was silent.
‘Let me explain’, continued Gerry, ‘their spaceship is big so it’ll have a crazy number of sensors, if we change the code to report when nothing is happening, then, it’d overload their system’
The room was silent again.
‘Uh, think of it like a smoke alarm that sounds whenever it doesn’t sense smoke, only there’s several million of them all going at once’.
‘erm, we’re gonna make the mothership paranoid’
‘Couldn’t we just break stuff and be done with it?’
‘No, it’s not that simple, that thing has brought an invasion force across millions of light years, it won’t just break if ya hit it a kick’
‘Do you speak Japanese Gerry?’
‘No Martina, and what’s that got to do with it’
‘It’s just you said you were gonna do something with the Mega Drive …turns out it only speaks Japanese’
‘Yep, your Mega Drive communicates in Japanese, and ya shoulda warned us Gerry,’ said Kevin loudly, ‘we were nearly all killed because of it’
‘Did ye not set the language at the start?’
‘Erm, no, we didn’t, are ya supposed to?’
The room went silent for a fourth time.
Gerry stood up and looked out the window towards the Ford Transit parked beside the road.
‘Lads, leave the computer stuff to me, one thing is certain, the next time ye land up on that ship, there’ll be no messing’
He glanced over at the alien
‘here, big head, if you’re listening; when we get there ya can tell your buddies that these humans won’t be going quietly into the night’
It was difficult to tell if the alien had heard Gerry, the creature looked to be lost in thought. There again, it could have just been wearing a normal expression for an alien. In any case, nobody in the room seemed to care.
And that was it for the morning of July the fourth, nineteen ninety six: a plan, a weapon, a means of delivery, and a van load of trouble for any Zardonian standing in the way.