Author : Desmond Hussey

“Greetings, friend and foe. I humbly thank you all for temporarily putting aside our differences and attending this unprecedented, historic peace conference.”

Twenty-three translators echo my words into twenty three different alien languages for the heterogeneous collection of delegates filling the cavernous convention chamber.

“My great-great-great-great-grandfather started this inter-planetary war – a war I hope to end today.”

A confusion of muttering, chirping, slurping and howls erupts from the congregation as my words are translated, absorbed and reacted to.

“He certainly didn’t intend to. Great-grandpappy4 George was a peaceful man, I’m told, who happened to be the leading specialist in laser technology when Earth’s astronomers detected a massive asteroid headed straight for us in the year 2035, Earth reckoning. He was asked to design and build an enormous laser on the moon capable of blasting it to smithereens – which he did, and in 2040, the asteroid was successfully destroyed.

“To us, he was a hero.

“However, in the brief, but hectic blasting frenzy, one shot missed. One fateful, three hundred gigajoule beam continued straight on through space for fifteen years until, despite all probability, it destroyed a space vessel belonging to the Thitherith.”

The reptilian delegation collectively hisses.

“The Thitherith, mistaking our errant laser as an act of war, assaulted Earth in a massive invasion in 2096. They brought lots of lasers of their own. With the aid of our fledgling space fleet and Great-grandpappy4 George’s laser, we managed to push the Thitherith out of our solar system.

“But not for long.

“For thirty years the attacks persisted. For thirty years the solar system and surrounding regions of space were ablaze with lasers, explosions and death. Then things got really heated.

“You see, with all those ultra-powerful lasers zipping around it was just a matter of time before another spacefarer got hit by a stray. Before we knew it, three other local races were up in arms over perceived, but unintentional hostilities. Of course, they all brought lasers.

“By 2140 we had regular laser battles from Cygnus to Sagittarius and five more indignant races had joined the fray. By 2190 lasers were bigger and more destructive, four home planets were asteroid clouds, seven were uninhabitable and multi-colored lasers criss-crossed the heavens hourly. On top of all this, reports of armed armadas bearing down on this sector seeking justice were coming from every quadrant.

“It’s now 2227. Twenty-three races are currently at war. Existing laser-beams will pollute the galaxy for fifty more years before they are too weak to do any harm.

“It is time to do something

“I’ve dedicated my life to stopping this escalating catastrophe. It has occurred to me; in the one hundred and eighty-seven years of galactic mud-slinging since Great-grandpappy4 George fired the first accidental shot, no one has addressed the fact that it was a simple faulty assumption that got us into this imbroglio. We have collectively believed that space beyond our local sphere was so inconceivably vast that our actions could not possibly adversely affect anything or anyone else. We know, now, this was foolishly naïve. We know, now, it’s a small galaxy afterall.

“I hope to convince this honoured assembly that our horrendous conflicts have been the result of a tragic misunderstanding – one that we can end. Today, by ratifying the Neodymium Accord, we can put aside our endless hostilities, stop polluting space with violent energy and ban the use of destructive laser technology. Today, we can choose to work together toward the first United Coalition of Planets and an age of peace.”

The room fell silent. I wait with baited breath.

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