Bright Star

Here for your consideration is the tale of Jules Verrin, a woman of considerable intelligence and one dedicated to the history and cultures of the Pacific Islands. Living on the remote island of Rapa Iti she works as part of an archeological team searching for the remnants of an ancient settlement, and in that pursuit is far from the cares or concerns of the world outside. That is until a friend intrudes upon her idyllic existence. Beyond the beaches of Rapa Iti the world is changing and she will find that some things are indeed too good to be true...


Monday 27th

Addison
Hey Jules! How's it going down there in Paradise?

Jules
As good as it can be Adds. What's up?

Addison
Just wanted to let you know I got the job.

Jules
That's great. The one in New York?

Addison
Yeah. Not much to start but its a beginning.

Jules
Did they tell you when they'll need you?

Addison
Depends on a bit of paperwork. Probably next week.

Jules
That really is good news.

Addison
Can't start soon enough. Sure as hell need the money.

Jules
Hear you on that.

Addison
How is it all going down there in Rapa Hui?

Jules
Rapa Iti. It's actually not too bad.

Addison
What could possibly be bad? French Polynesia, palm trees, all that stress?

Jules
You can joke but its been a hard grind.

Addison
Enlighten me.

Jules
We've been here four months and still trying to get access to the dig site.

Addison
That seems odd. Somebody stonewalling?

Jules
Not so much. The local councillors want assurance that any relics found will be left in place after the dig.

Addison
Anything wrong with that?

Jules
Not really. Just means we have to change our camp. Move it closer to the dig.

Jules
With all the equipment we have it'll take more time and more money.

Addison
What are you looking for?

Jules
I have told you before you know.

Addison
Yeh. I probably wasn't listening. You know how I am with Archeology.

Jules
Or anything else?

Addison
Such a harsh criticism. You'll have to give me a moment to recover my fragile ego.

Jules
If you must know, we're looking for evidence of an ancient culture.

Addison
Out in the middle of the ocean?

Jules
That's what makes it so exciting. All the signs are pointing to a connection with Easter Island.

Addison
The big head guys?

Jules
That's them. We think when their civilisation failed that small groups left Easter Island and settled elsewhere.

Addison
Like Rapa Hutu.

Jules
Rapa Iti.

Addison
Whatever. Any luck?

Jules
A lot. Found at least one promising site. Just waiting on the paperwork.

Addison
Sounds like a lot of digging to me.

Jules
And you would be right. Going to be brilliant.

Addison
I don't know how we ever became friends.

Jules
Why?

Addison
Honestly? I wouldn't pick up a shovel even if they paid me.

Jules
Well that's where we differ. And for the record I do get paid.

Addison
Whatever, again :) Any other news from south of the equator?

Jules
New professor arrived Tuesday.

Addison
To steal your thunder?

Jules
No. Came with a new research grant. Going to be recording and documenting the local language.

Addison
...

Jules
He's a linguistics expert.

Addison
OK. Does that mean you'll have to do any extra work?

Jules
No.

Addison
Then I don't see a problem.

Jules
Its not. I have a feeling he might actually come in handy.

Addison
How so?

Jules
With an extra research team on the island we might be able to get things done quicker.

Addison
Or slow the whole process up.

Jules
I hope not.

Jules
Any news from home?

Addison
Nothing really. There is an asteroid though.

Jules
A what?

Addison
An asteroid. No big deal. It looks like a huge one is doing a flyby.

Jules
Close?

Addison
No. Outside moon's orbit.

Jules
That seems close enough.

Addison
Yeah. It got all the conspiracy theorists reaching for their binoculars.

Jules
Alien spaceships again?

Addison
Don't laugh. Half the preppers in the country are running for their bunkers as we speak.

Addison
Should actually be in view on Wednesday. Shouldn't be anything more than a bright star though.

Jules
Do you know if it'll be visible from the southern hemisphere?

Addison
Not a clue. I can find out if you want?

Jules
No need. If it comes into view I'll have a look.

Addison
No problem. One other thing.

Jules
Yeah?

Addison
Your Mom called on Sunday. Can I say I still don't understand why she calls me rather than call you directly.

Jules
Sorry about that. It's complicated. What did she want?

Addison
Needs you to give her a call.

Jules
Anything happened?

Addison
Not that I could tell. Could be about your brother. She seemed a bit sketchy.

Jules
Another DUI?

Addison
Didn't say. At least wouldn't tell me.

Jules
I'll give her a call later on today. Phones are a bit patchy though.

Jules
If she calls again just let her know I'll be in contact.

Addison
Will do.

Jules
Gotta go. Will text on Wednesday.

Addison
Copy that.


Wednesday 29th

Jules
Addison. What did you tell my Mother?

Addison
Nothing.

Jules
I rang her yesterday.

Addison
And?

Jules
Got a mouthful about me not caring about Jacob.

Addison
:)

Jules
I swear Adds. I said I would call her myself.

Addison
Everything copasetic?

Jules
I don't even know what that means. If however, you are asking whether I smoothed things over, the answer is yes.

Addison
Good. We've all got bigger fish to fry now.

Jules
What do you mean?

Addison
You know that asteroid I told you about?

Jules
Yeah. Saw it this morning for a few minutes. Low on the horizon.

Addison
Well, it turns out its not an asteroid at all.

Jules
What?

Addison
Yeah. Government says its a spaceship, and a big one at that.

Jules
Again, what?

Addison
No bullshit. All over the news. Feds have confirmed it.

Jules
How do they know?

Addison
Because it slowed down and stopped. Its now in orbit around the Moon.

Jules
No way.

Addison
Yes way. And that's not all.

Addison
They've sent us a message.

Jules
Who has?

Addison
The aliens. And its a doozie.

Jules
Why haven't I heard about any of this?

Addison
Only happened early this morning. Internet's in meltdown. Phones are gridlocked.  Surprised you even got through to me.

Jules
What did they say?

Addison
Well. That would require some explanation.

Jules
I'm listening.

Addison
It seems that our new best friends are called Hapsils.

Jules
OK.

Addison
They even sent us a picture.

Jules
WTH. What do they look like?

Addison
Large, fat Meerkats would be the most apt description.

Jules
You're having me on.

Addison
Nope. You can imagine the consternation when they didn't turn out to be grey with big almond eyes.

Jules
What do they want?

Addison
Well, that's the thing. Its not so much what they want, its what they want to give us.

Jules
What's that?

Addison
A whole new planet to colonise and the cure to every medical condition that plagues Mankind.

Jules
You're kidding.

Addison
No. Apparently they have an enormous space empire out there. They number in the trillions and they have a planet to spare.

Jules
And why would they want to give it to us?

Addison
Well, the Government says that it is incompatible with Hapsil life but would apparently suit us just fine.

Jules
But why would they want to give it to us?

Addison
That's another story. Apparently about five thousand years ago we helped them out.

Jules
Sounds ludicrous.

Addison
I know. Something about a Sumerian. Gulgamesh I think.

Jules
You mean Gilgamesh?

Addison
That's him. Saved one of their leaders from a burning spacecraft.

Jules
And people are believing this?

Addison
Hook, line and sinker.

Jules
I don't understand. What's in it for the aliens?

Addison
They need the planet colonised. Something about its strategic position. Apparently we would be doing them a big favour.

Jules
I'm obviously missing something. What exactly are they asking for?

Addison
Three million colonists. Within the next two weeks.

Jules
You have to be joking?

Addison
No. United Nations has agreed. A treaty with the Hapsils is already being drawn up.

Jules
But what's the hurry?

Addison
Aliens use a gravity drive that requires specific alignments of stellar bodies to work properly.

Addison
A two week window is all they've got.

Jules
None of this sounds right. Surely nobody's going to volunteer.

Addison
As of this afternoon fourteen million people have applied online.

Jules
Jesus.

Addison
Mostly nutters I'd assume but enough to whittle down a reasonably sane shortlist.

Jules
What does our government say?

Addison
They're all in. To show good faith the Hapsils have promised drugs up front that can cure cancer in a day.

Jules
I'm having a hard time accepting all this. Isn't it just a little too good to be true?

Addison
I don't know. Wouldn't it be great if it was all true?

Jules
It just seems that these aliens turn up and within days we're talking seriously about handing over millions of people.

Addison
It might look that way but the government's saying its all kosher.

Jules
Since when have you believed anything the government's said?

Addison
I guess since aliens turned up on our doorstep.

Jules
Fair enough. What cancer are they going to cure?

Addison
All of them. And that's not all.

Jules
What else?

Addison
Apparently the ship they have in lunar orbit is a self-sufficient colony ship.

Addison
We don't have to take anything. It'll land on the planet and become the settlement.

Addison
Kind of like a flying city. Fully functional and ready to go.

Jules
And for all this we just have to give them three million people.

Addison
Looks like it. The Hapsils only have one criteria for selection.

Jules
And what's that?

Addison
Colonists have to weigh at least five percent above normal body weight to go.

Jules
That seems weird.

Addison
They say its so the colonists will weather hibernation better. Like bears in a cave.

Jules
What's the internet saying?

Addison
Half and half. The bigger half is going crazy over the idea of a new human world.

Jules
And the other half?

Addison
Not believing a word of it.

Jules
And what do you think?

Addison
...

Jules
Addison?


Tuesday 5th

Jules
Addison. You there?

Addison
Christ Jules. Where have you been? Haven't heard anything from you for almost a week.

Jules
Sorry about that. Communications went down whilst we were last texting.

Jules
Taken most of the week to get someone out to Rapa to fix it.

Jules
What's happening?

Addison
Haven't you seen anything?

Jules
Nothing. Middle of the Pacific remember. The island's been isolated the whole time. Only just getting news now.

Addison
You'll find out soon enough then. Everything's gone crazy.

Jules
Did we get the cure for cancer?

Addison.
Sure did. Government started using it within days. Cured everybody who took the pill within hours.

Jules
OMG. That's amazing.

Addison
Then the stock market crashed.

Jules
Why?

Addison
Pharmaceutical companies collapsed. All the big names who were into cancer drugs. Sank like stones.

Addison
Tech sector followed. Large banks next. Total meltdown. Stock Exchange had to be suspended.

Addison
You've been off the grid Jules. Everything has gone totally nuts.

Jules
More than just that?

Addison
A whole lot more. Rioting all over the place. Religious types trying to rationalise why we're not the only smart guys in the universe any more.

Addison
Feds are managing to keep control but people are scared.

Jules
Is it bad at home?

Addison
Not so much out in the sticks. In the cities its getting hectic.

Jules
What about your job?

Addison
That disappeared into the wind overnight. Company canceled all recruitment. Left me right in it.

Jules
God. I'm sorry about that Adds. What will you do?

Addison
I'll be staying home for the moment. Family has a business that needs a tech-head.

Jules
That's something I guess. Looks like I won't be going anywhere soon either.

Addison
Why?

Jules
Funds for the dig have dried up. No money to even get home.

Jules
Foundation gave no explanation but considering what you've told me its not surprising.

Addison
How did you find out?

Jules
First email that got through this morning. Quite a jolt.

Jules
Still, If I'm going to be marooned anywhere it might as well be here.

Addison
Copy that. Beats a fly-over state any day.

Jules
Are the Hapsils still wanting their three million?

Addison
Yeah. Government still trying to make it work. UN has portioned out quotas to each country.

Addison
More than 125K are going from the US alone.

Jules
How are they getting to the ship?

Addison
It'll be landing in the Sonoran Desert in Mexico. Everybody is making their own way there.

Jules
This is all crazy. Why are we believing them?

Addison
They seem to have kept their word so far.

Addison
Everything that has happened has been our response to them. So far they haven't done anything.

Jules
Have you seen any of them?

Addison
No. The ship is fully automated. All we have is video and a direct communications link to their homeworld.

Jules
So we are giving three million Humans over to a race of Meerkats we haven't even seen face to face?

Addison
Government believes them. So do I.

Jules
Adds. What do you believe exactly?

Addison
I believe the Hapsils are giving humanity a great opportunity and we should take it.

Addison
You've been isolated from everything that's been going on Jules. Every news channel in the world is covering this 24/7. Its the biggest thing that's ever happened.

Jules
And you have no problems with so many men and women being taken into the unknown?

Addison
It won't be unknown.

Jules
Why do you say that?

Addison
Because I'm going with them.


Saturday 9th

Jules
Adds. Are you there?

Addison
Here. Busy though.

Jules
You need to talk to me.

Addison
Why?

Jules
You can't go through with this.

Addison
I don't see why not. Everything is set. Its the new world for me.

Jules
But why? Surely you see that there's a lot that's sketchy in the Hapsils' story?

Addison
What's sketchy? A great opportunity has been offered and I aim to take it.

Jules
But who are these people?

Addison
The Hapsils haven't just stopped with the cancer treatments.

Jules
What have they done?

Addison
We've signed a treaty with them. Humanity is now a part of a larger federation of civilisations.

Addison
As a reward for membership they've handed over new technologies and a plasma drive that will allow us to colonise the entire solar system.

Jules
But how are we talking with them? What language are we using?

Addison
Sumerian. Its the one human language they know well.

Jules
I don't believe this.

Jules
So we are communicating with an advanced race using a dead language so old only a few dozen people on the planet can properly translate it?

Addison
The Hapsils gave us an app to translate all their communications from Sumerian into English.

Jules
That was nice of them.

Jules
Do you not see that they are conducting this entire business at arm's length.

Addison
So?

Jules
So why aren't they here?  Why aren't they standing in the UN and explaining their plans themselves?

Jules
More importantly why aren't they on the ship?

Addison
I don't know. Government is convinced they are legit.

Jules
Has anybody actually bothered to test what they are saying?

Addison
Like how?

Jules
I don't know. Maybe looking at the star system and actually testing if it has any planets.

Addison
Can we do that?

Jules
I think so. It just seems reckless to give over so many people on faith alone.

Addison
They did cure cancer.

Jules
Yes they did. I just wonder what the cost is going to be.

Jules
When is the ship landing?

Addison
Tomorrow early. Loading begins at 6am.

Jules
Where are you now?

Addison
Waiting with a few million other people in the Mexican desert. Its actually getting quite crowded.

Jules
Don't get on that ship until I get back to you, OK?

Addison
Can't promise anything. Once they start loading it'll be either in or out. No second chances.


Monday 11th

Jules
Addison? You still on the ground?

Addison
Yeah. Loading began yesterday but I'm not scheduled for boarding until just before lift off.

Jules
Something's wrong Adds. Can you do something for me?

Addison
Sure.

Jules
Do you see the outside of the ship?

Addison
Sure do. Its enormous. They say its more than thirty miles wide.

Jules
Can you take a photo of the writing across its hull?

Addison
Easy. But everybody knows what it means.

Jules
What do you think it says?

Addison
Just the name of the vessel. The Sumer app says its the Bright Star.

Jules
Is there any other writing on the ship?

Addison
Hard to say. Its all in cunieform you know.

Jules
I know. Just have a look.

Addison
There is something small under the name. The Sumer app says it means "Colony Transport".

Jules
Can you get me a picture of it?

Addison
Don't know why but sure. Sending now.

Jules
Thanks. I'll get back to you ASAP.

Addison
No sweat.


20 minutes to launch

Jules
Adds. You still on the ground?

Addison
No. Inside now. The ship is truly huge. Like a little world all its own. Do you know its got an enormous tree growing right up through the centre of it.

Jules
Have the gates closed.

Addison
No.

Jules
Good. Get out now!

Addison
Why?

Jules
Trust me Adds, the Hapsils are lying to us.

Addison
How?

Jules
That Sumer app is wrong. Deliberately so.

Addison
How do you know that?

Jules
The Professor who came to the island. The one with the new research grant.

Addison
What about him?

Jules
His name is Llewelyn and his specialty is ancient languages. He's an expert on early civilisations including the Sumer.

Addison
So?

Jules
I gave him the picture you took.

Jules
Adds. That word in Sumerian is not "Colony".

Addison
Well what does it mean?

Jules
The Bright Star isn't a Colony Ship.

Addison
You're starting to freak me out.

Jules
Adds. Its a Livestock Carrier.

Jules
Addison. Are you there?

THE END

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