Sunday, May 9, 2010

Alpha Element - September 11th

I've come up with a new idea for the "Second War of the Worlds" universe.  In this iteration, the Martians have sent their team back in time to a point a few years earlier than the initial invasion.  Actually, many years earlier - about twenty years early.  And they send children in the insertion team - their mission is to completely blend in with the Americans as sleeper agents.  Except, of course, children tend to develop their own loyalties over time.
Here are some notes for this new place.  Still have to work out all the characters and the setting locations, but it should be interesting.  Temporary name is "Alpha Element."  This first idea is how they deal with September 11th - something the Martians have not directly caused, but it's clear as things continue that their time travel has opened an alternate history in which September 11th occurs.

Some of the initial basis for this story falls under the plan for "Children of the State," at story about Jonathan and Selonge fighting on opposite sides of the Earth-Mars war.  Much of that story depended upon the idea that they are very similar as people, but as children their lives were shaped the nations under which they grew up.

September Eleventh

    I didn’t believe her when she said what happened.  “Someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center,” she said.
    I looked up from my math homework.  “You mean like a Cessna?”
    “Like a jumbo jet.  The whole thing’s on fire.”
    The World Trade Center?  “You mean like a warehouse or something?”  I tried to think of all the World Trade Centers I knew of.  The only one that came to mind was a pair of towers in the middle of New York.  They were the showcase of the skyline.  I couldn’t imagine someone flying a plane into that.
    By Lynne was shaking her head.  She dropped down her book bag on the table with a thud, and the librarian turned a warning glance our way.  “You have to listen to this,” she said, yanking out her Walkman.  “It’s all over the news.  You wouldn’t believe it.  They think it might be a terrorist or something.”
    I shook my head.  She was already pulling out a set of ear buds.  She jammed in the plug and held one of the buds out to me.  I just stared at it.  I didn’t want her earwax in my ear.  Not that Lynne was dirty or anything – the whole idea was just gross.  And then I saw Ms. Novak, the librarian, making her way over to us.  She didn’t look happy.  t was bad enough Lynne coming in late to study hall – now Miss “No-Way-No-How” Novak was going to kick us out again.  I tried to stare down at my math problems.  I didn’t need another one of those automated calls back to the house saying I had missed study hall again.  I mean, it was a waste of time, and I didn’t need the Oscar sitting me down in the kitchen for an hour to make up for “lost time.”  Mysti was taping Six Feet Under for us, and tonight was my night to watch.
    Ms. Novak strode up.  She pressed her palms down into the table.  She was just as thrilled to see us as usual.  She rasped in that icicle voice, like she had an ice cube lodged in her gullet.  “Miss Howard,” she said, glaring at Lynne, “we do not allow radios in the library.”
    “But Ms. Novak, they just flew a plane into –”
    Ms. Novak had her arm up, finger to the door.  “Out!” she said.  And it was chilling, how quiet she could keep her voice while yelling.  “I will not take back-talk from students.  Either you learn to speak respectfully, or you will find yourself –”
    It was then the principal came on over the PA.  Something about red-certified faculty to report to the attendance office.  And Ms. Novak – no surprise here – was red-certified.  I think that meant she had taken a fire extinguisher class over the summer.
    She growled at us.  Yes, I mean she growled.  Like a dog.  With an icicle jabbed down its throat.
    “You ladies wait here,” she said.  “I will deal with you later.”

    He had a special knack for finding the perfect gift.  Browsing the shelves, he could find the one item that was beautiful and thoughtful and completely useless.  It was a skill he cherished.  That and the ability to write a kind, heartfelt note without admitting to anything so bitter as love.

    There were questions she knew not to ask.  She did not know the answers – not for sure – but she was sure she didn’t want to know.  She didn’t want to see his expression as he looked away.  Guilty or not, he looked it.  And she knew what he wanted.  She could see him – even as he kept his eyes fixed forward – as he checked out the other girls.  She known for a while that he didn’t love her.  Not like that, he didn’t.  She only wondered how long it would be before he found the courage to tell her.

Colonel Rubin Whitaker
    They called it the “War Room” more as a joke than anything else.  It was underground, of course, and electromagnetically shielded, but that was standard practice.  There were at least nine or ten just like it scattered across the country – no one, of course, knew exactly how many, or where they might be.  It was likely, even, that the president himself didn’t know.  Not that he wouldn’t have asked for – or even demanded – the information.  Rubin was just pretty sure his boss would have lied and said he didn’t know.
    As far as war rooms went, Rubin figured they were in more of the “War Suite,” or possibly the “War Sheraton.”  Sometimes, pumping his sets, he would dream up new and creative names for the place.  “Hilton,” was another favorite, what with an honest-to-God beach less than a mile from the outside entrance.  Yes, it wouldn’t be long before those summer runs to the lake become jogs through the lung-burning chill of winter air.  Once, when the snow drifts reached up as high as the windows on the cottage up above, they had all talked about putting in for transfers.  “I didn’t sign up for this shit,” the major had been saying.  “I’m from California.  When San Francisco gets cold, you put on a fucking hoodie before running along the wharf.  The fucking Midwest, man – this is some fucking bullshit.”

Dill Bern
Burgess, IL
Gentry, IL
Hilltop, IL
Hilton, IL

Two bases, one Martian and one American, both manipulated by Dom Dialia.
Colonel Rubin Whitaker – American, fighting for U.S., taken in by the Martians as a kind of “guest prisoner” after Base H is taken down.

Class of ‘02
Selonge Naita, Martian, teenager.
Jonathan Mitchell, American, teenager.
Deanna – Jonathan’s crush
Jill and Bethi – do they work for the school?
Bethi Sooru – Selonge’s sister – works for the school as a substitute?  Or as a math teacher?  Her cover could be blown…or she could simply want to run away.  (maybe she falls in love with Jonathan?  Or with someone else?)

Marie Boggs – one year older
Melanie Boggs – one year younger

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