"You don't want to do this Lal-atha. You understand feedback. Or you should. It's a very simple scientific principle that even these "aborigines" have identified. Though they do not apply it to their lives yet, someday they will. If you destroy others - others will destroy you. There is NO getting around that one. What's a smart guy like you whose world has technology beyond most doing forgetting that simple, simple principle of energy?"
"More lectures. It's been thousands of years and I'm still here - you've died a number of times and will soon again. I'll take my chances. My world is one of the most powerful in the galaxy and no one will dare present us with any feedback."
"Well don't say I didn't warn you."
"Is that a threat? Is the puny human who lives as a monkey among the monkeys threatening me? Your world is at my mercy. The confederation has failed to protect you. The saps from Htra-deg and other worlds who attempt to battle my forces are too little and too late. Now that my armada is here I can obliterate the earth or simply wipe out all life and turn the planet into a mausoleum."
"And this will make you happy? Chasing me across the galaxy so we can have these wonderful little conversations before you kill me and wipe out a bunch of bystanders near me?"
I'm stalling for time until Shayla gets the last spire in place. It can't be long now. As I sit here, I flashback to a moment we shared in the flame room built by the Travelers and this moment, the end of the world crisis was foreseen. It passed by so quickly with all the other data of Earth's history. I realize now that the flame transcends conventional time barriers.
"Lal-atha do you know about the Lemurians?"
"You are wasting time. You should be saying goodbye to any loved ones you have instead of presuming to teach me galactic history."
"The Lemurians set up a defensive system to protect Earth from hostile visitors such as yourself. I've just been informed that this system is operational and will wipe out your entire armada and every man you have no on Earth should you and your forces not immediately cease hostilities and leave the Earth."
"You're bluffing. The Lemurians left Earth long ago and left no such system in place. And if they did, our very presence is proof it is not operational."
"I have done my part and given you fair warning. I'm not lying."
Lal-atha's presence is gone from my consciousness. He broke off - probably to check and verify my statements.
"Give the word. I can place the last spire in position in two seconds upon your command. When in place it will automatically fulfill its defensive parameters."
"Yal-hune?" I reach out to her mentally.
"I have retrieved the other human targets of Lal-atha and secured them on my brother's Confederation vessel. As for your plan - I cannot tell you what you should do. You must make that decision. This is your world."
Even without the emotions my mind experiences consternation and indecision. Activate the spires and see if Lal-atha and however many thousands, or millions, of beings he brought with him to Earth are destroyed or give him a chance to leave? The thought that others may be dying now as I hesitate is counteracted by the thought of hundreds of thousands of dead hostile aliens. While the answer seems simple - save the Earth - it is not. This predicament I am in, the Earth is in, has its origins in my own past actions. By activating the spires am I like Truman ordering the A-bombs dropped on Japan? While historians have pondered what would have happened if the US did not drop the bombs, and whether it spared lives in the long run, I find this is very different when the weight of the world and billions of lives are resting very uncomfortably upon my shoulders. What did I do in the past that brings this circumstance to me? Did I destroy others? Did I attack worlds? To attract such hate as Lal-atha has for me is most likely a mirror reflection of hate I have had for others.
Shayla looks at me benevolently and smiles. She is in my mind and aware of my thoughts and struggle. I try to work out these pasts. I try to see Lal-atha not as an arch-demon, that needs to be destroyed, but a soul who is suffering heavily from self-created torments. My bias of him has tied him to me and, subsequently, to Earth.
"Tech1 you spoke truth. There is a defensive system awaiting to be activated. My scientists have analyzed the system that was built and realize you are ready to activate it. I could order my fleet to destroy the Earth and our weapons would destroy the Earth just as you activate the system. We might not escape the repercussions. Again - you think you've outwitted me...that you hold my life in your hands and that you are still superior."
"I don't think that. No one is plotting against you. If I wanted to eliminate you I would not hesitate to have the last spire beamed into place. I'm not out here on Earth hiding from you and I don't know any of the people you have targeted. I met April Britt the first time today. Return to your world, live in peace, don't join the confederation if you don't want to. I really don't care one way or the other. I do care about this world and am asking you - nicely - to cease hostilities and leave..."
"Yes, or else. I have no real choice but to activate the system if you persist in hostilities."
There is a pause and I know this is the moment of truth. Does Lal-atha activate his weapons or does he leave? Shayla looks at me and smiles. I feel Yal-hune in my consciousness as well along with some other very developed folks I don't quite recognize but who are with me here in this moment of peril.
"We will depart. But this isn't over."
Part of me wants to shout, "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahooooooooooooooo!" but here even positive emotion is dampened.
"Yal-hune? Let me know when they have departed and have left the solar system."
"We are monitoring the situation right now."
It's hard to tell exactly how much time passes. A minute or twenty minutes. Then I hear Yal-hune in my mind.
"Lal-atha's forces have returned to their ships and the armada has left the solar system."
"Shayla, beam the last spire into position."
The entire atmosphere of Earth almost instantaneously assumes a deep rose hue. From horizon to horizon the sky looks an even shade.
"What is that?"
Shayla analyzes a holographic screen she has brought up.
"A side effect of the spire activation. The spires are cleaning the atmosphere by altering and manipulating certain field elements. Apparently education and defense weren't the only components of this system."
"You mean to say, it's cleaning the skies?"
"Yes, in a nutshell. It has reduced carbon monoxide, soot and other pollution elements normally associated with volcano eruptions, fires - or in this day and age, factories, smog, etc. Wow..it is also filtering some of the cosmic radiation and the dangerous portion of the ultra-violet spectra."
"Let's get back. With all that has happened, and particular with all the satellite arrays gone, Earth is going to be experiencing pandemonium. Oh...and thank you Shayla - you are the one who saved the Earth."
"One of many...and I couldn't let Lal-atha kill my own Doctor Doom could I?"
"I still love you, you know that"
"Yes. I do. And you know I love you too."
We've landed in Shamballa's airfield. I feel my atomic structures return to normal as I descend the ramp with Shayla. At the base of the ramp I turn and gaze into her spira-mirabilis patterned eyes and we kiss.
"Do you think you might stay awhile?"
"Maybe. You and me...we have all the time in the world...and then some."