Author: Rick Tobin

Charlene, a bubbly, buxom blonde graduate student from Rutgers, acting as a freshly appointed aide-de-camp to a hatchling President, turned sour overnight. Her daily briefing notes were disheveled, poking from her leather daily briefing binder, held close to her wrinkled blouse, as she stood behind her fuming employer. She leaned backwards for comfort against an American flag stanchion behind his chair in the embattled Oval Office. She avoided glancing through bay windows toward snow-covered lawn supporting a bevy of clustered alien ships occupying White House landing space. Their impenetrable force fields, glowing iridescent yellow and gold, confounded circling soldiers and tanks.

“What’s next, Char?” asked President Braxton. He sat tick tight against his leather chair, hoping the Great Seal would shore up his quivering spine.

“Admiral Goins, from the Joint Chiefs, will join us with a representative from…” she faltered, pulling at her notes. “I’m sorry, sir, I can’t pronounce it. Yrtlto…itsrxy…” She stopped in frustration.
“Not to worry, Char. I can’t say it, either. Worse than when I was stationed with NATO in Yugoslavia and then Wales. We’ll get through this. DARPA reps reported that all these invaders are telepaths. Damned inconvenient, but we’ll muddle through. Can’t be any worse than Patterson, New Jersey…or New Orleans. I managed through those language barriers to get elected.”

Secret Service agents opened a floor-to-ceiling security door, allowing entry of a half-man half-wall. Goins’ chest pushed at his array of service pins, medals and awards covering a military pressed suit with five gold sleeve insignias circling his jacket sleeves. He escorted an eight-foot-tall being covered in emerald leaf-like scales over twisting brown bark covering its three walking limbs and four outgrowths that moved like arms. There were no facial features to address. The President stood and began to extend his hand. Goins waved off the gesture with a half-hidden motion. Charlene backed up further into the flag’s cloth.

“Admiral, explain my role to…” Goins held his right hand up to his chest, with palm facing Braxton.
“The Representative knows everything about us—you, and this office. Similar meetings are being held worldwide. Just look towards the center of it, think, and it will communicate. There will be no need for an interpreter.”

“Ridiculous, but, okay.” Braxton gave the alien his full attention. In five seconds, he backed away and sat back down hard in his chair. “Are they kidding? Stop all forestry within a year. Drop all paper products and force all our people to use bidets? I think this character has more bark than…”
“Stop! Mr. President, for our survival, no humor. They consider it a threat.” The Admiral’s face turned pale as the bricks in his posture slumped.

“Admiral, I can’t take this demand seriously. What proof do we have that they can make such demands?” Braxton put his hands on his desktop and peered into the shaken Admiral’s face.
“Mt. Rainier is gone, sir, right down to the base rock. Northwest is panicking. Couldn’t hide that. Our subs are gone, too.”

“Why? We’ve done nothing to assault them.”
“Retribution for St. Helens’ forests.”

“Ridiculous. That was natural.” Braxton pulled his lips tight.

“Not exactly, sir. It was a failed experiment. Later, please.” Groins clenched his fists.

Charlene read from her crumpled notes. “This is just the first alien race, sir. All four have a separate armada. The next wants clean water…no more human waste in it. Then there’s air and fire delegations. I’m confused, sir.”

Braxton turned to Charlene. “Clear my calendar. This is going to be a tough day of negotiations.”