Where am I? Who are you?

Welcome to Eighth Angel Studios. We're going to write a novel.

This is a collaborative project- contributors (like you) provide characters who are woven into the story as it progresses. But your involvement doesn't end there- as the story progresses you can give feedback on your character, developing them further, influencing their decisions and guiding their actions. The more feedback you provide, the more development your character can receive.

If you want to join in, please follow this blog and comment on this post with a thirty-second description of your character- a name and enough to describe a first meeting. That'll get the ball rolling.

Anyway, enough rambling- on to the plot!

Friday, 29 October 2010

[STO] Bitter Pill

Karen realised her hands were shaking. She clasped them in front of herself, concentrating on not wringing them in terror. The last few days would be historic, but in the pit of her stomach she knew that the next few minutes would be what she would be remembered for. She had conducted first contact with an alien race, yet her epitaph would be the speech she was about to give.

The General Assembly hall was full, both delegates and journalists crammed in as thick as possible. She knew the podium would be under scrutiny by dozens of cameras sent from around the world. Most would be broadcasting live, or streaming onto the internet. Her words were likely going to reach almost every person on the planet before she had a chance to take them back.

She realised she couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept. Not properly, anyway. Half an hour’s catnap on a sofa here and there, and a lot of coffee, were the only things keeping her going. She couldn’t even remember the last time she ate, though at the moment she’d be hard-pressed to hold anything down if she did.

The new suit itched. She’d been wearing the same clothes since the first meeting, with no time to go home and change. In a moment of desperation this morning she’d sent an aide into the city with her credit card to find her something fresh to wear. He’d done well, though she feared her bank might disagree. That was a problem for tomorrow.

“You’re on in sixty,” another aide whispered. Karen nodded, knowing that if she spoke her voice might well break up. She closed her eyes, centred herself, calmed her breathing, cleared her mind of distractions as best she could. Whatever happened in the next few minutes, this was where she would be remembered. The least she could do was look like she appreciated that.

“Well, here we go,” she murmured to no-one in particular, and stepped out onto the stage. The tide of hushed voices washed away, replaced by the insectile chattering of dozens of camera shutters. Flash-bulbs seared from all corners of the audience, temporarily brightening the stage and forcing Karen to momentarily avert her eyes. As she took up her position behind the podium, the chatter cleared away into an expectant silence.

“Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. My name is Doctor Karen Wilshaw, of the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs, and primary liaison with the visitors brought to our world by the vessel now in orbit above us.

“I have been authorised by both the Secretary-General and the leader of the visitors to issue the following statement.”

Here we go. No stopping it now.

“The visitors represent the crew of the Morning Star. They have been travelling between worlds for centuries, and have encountered many species. They have come to us under a flag of peace, hoping to forge a bond of brotherhood.

“They do this not for altruistic reasons but for survival. All the crew of the Morning Star are the last survivors of their races. All are the only ones to have escaped the destruction of their worlds at the hands of an implacable force they name The Storm. In the countless worlds that they have visited, this is the first planet they have found with a civilisation not facing its own extinction.

“They have brought us a message: The Storm is coming. They do not know when, but they are certain that our world will soon be forced to fight for its continued existence, that humanity will need to raise arms against a force that has destroyed everything they held dear.

“The people of the Morning Star will stand by us on this day. They have vowed that this time they will not arrive to pick up the pieces but will stand alongside humanity and fight to ensure our world does not vanish into the night as theirs did.

“To do so they have agreed to provide humanity with the technologies to do so. The United Nations will shortly take possession of items of non-terrestrial technology, and in cooperation with agencies and companies around the world will endeavour to reverse-engineer these technologies for our use when the time comes. When The Storm reaches us, we will not be found unprepared.

“The Morning Star has asked for a single favour in return. In their cultures, as in our ancient times, their battles were led by the best and brightest, those most able to stand against the terrors that were arrayed before them. They have asked that forty people join them when their vessel departs three days from now, forty people they have named. These people will journey on into the stars with them, learning their ways as well as the ways of the enemy, so that on the day we take up arms the call to battle may be led by our own people. They will form the bond between our world and those beyond our solar system, and will represent humanity to the universe. They are our heroes and our messengers, and they will carry with them the hopes and dreams of our whole civilisation.

“National governments have been informed of the individuals identified within their borders, and the people requested will shortly be contacted to arrange their transfer to the Morning Star. For security reasons it is necessary to keep details of this confidential for the time being, but more information will be provided as soon as it is safe to do so.

“The last few days have seen a paradigm shift in the way we see both the universe around us and ourselves. We can no longer limit ourselves to considering us to be American, Russian, Chinese, British, French or any other citizen of a flag and an artificial border. We have been shown the border to our nation is the edge of our planet’s atmosphere, that first and foremost, before we owe any allegiance to a flag, or to a politician, we owe our allegiance to the ground beneath our feet and to the air we breathe. Before we belong to a nationality, we belong to Earth. To those outside our biosphere we are Terrans, and we will not be judged on our internal politics but on how we show ourselves on a global scale. We have been shown how ephemeral our concept of nations is, and it is now up to us to rise above that concept and see ourselves for what we may be able to become. The journey will likely be difficult, and for some traumatic. But it is a journey we started on centuries ago. These are just the final few steps.

“Thank you. At this time we will not be taking questions.”


  1. I like this bit: 'that first and foremost [...], we owe our allegiance to the ground beneath our feet and to the air we breathe'.

    A single, global, cultural identity is quite a scary thing - Both Niven and Clarke suggest that it would be bland and unintersting. I think the fight for identity would go on, undiminished. Not everyone has the brains to join the fight.

  2. Aside from the main thrust of the plot I do also intend to cover the home front- to explore what happens to the people as a planet gears up for war. Would a steadily-centralising power bloc allow nations to find common ground, your would it accentuate the differences? The UK-France defence agreement postulated yesterday is a microcosm of what I'm looking at covering.