Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
I watch Nona and Paul walk away, then drop back down. Nothing to do for a while. My next workday is Thursday, so I’m free for the next five days. I wonder if Wanda… No, she’s off with Eber doing resistance stuff. I couldn’t do that. Wearing one of those heavy respirators and sleeping in pressurised tents? No. To be honest, I don’t see what they’re resisting. I mean, there hasn’t been a war in ten years. Can’t remember the last time I witnessed a fight. Haven’t heard of any, either.
Eber and the die-hards say we’ve been conquered and our proud heritage demands we should strive for our freedom from the aliens with every breath, every drop of blood. That whole ‘never surrender’ thing.
Which is where he and I parted ways. I asked one question: “Why should we fight to get back to a situation far worse?”
He hit me. Called me a defeatist. He called me a lot of other things, too. But it doesn’t matter – another thing he couldn’t or wouldn’t understand.
The alien race have a name that sounds like ‘Bangarstom’. Somebody called them Bangers, and that was the end of the naming discussion.
Technically, they didn’t invade. Fifteen years ago, an unexpected meteor shower lit the skies for a week. Unusually, many of them survived the burn and landed. By the time the authorities realised the scale of the problem, it was already out of hand. Vena advena is what the scientists called it – a majority decision after weeks of wrangling gave way before the effects of what the rest of the world had come to call Peace Weed.
It spread fast. Where meteorites landed in urban areas, the response was able to contain the effects with only a few accidents. Those only occurred after the authorities realised burning the alien plant released a smoke that acted like a concentrated dose of the chemicals given off by the living plants. So they experimented sloppily, killing an unknown number of people and animals, then settled on a couple of forms of hard radiation. Which also killed things, but not immediately, and nowhere near as quickly as it killed Peace Weed.
When it became clear that huge tracts of wilderness had become infested with Peace Weed, several governments proposed the use of methods that ranged from nuclear weapons down to radioactive crop spraying. None of the options were adopted. The amount of land that would be sterilised would spell the end of civilisation. Scientists noted Peace Weed was a non-competing species, and that it had become effectively established worldwide in record time.
The results of the chemicals given off by the weed were never properly categorised, because nobody cared. Science, like everything else, moved to providing solutions for the ills and deficiencies that had plagued humanity for decades. Nobody wanted to compete anymore. Many wanted to co-operate. The rest wanted to just live their lives without hunger or pain.
Then the Bangers arrived, asking politely if they could set up a few towns on the understanding they would share non-military technology without reserve. Everybody agreed it would be a good idea, as we hadn’t quite sorted out the transition from capitalism to where we’d arrived without warning.
That was twelve years ago. Between us all we sorted the final details of becoming a ‘quiet planet’, and have been that for ten years.
We are, at last, at peace.
Wanda flops down next to me.
“Why is Eber determined to return to a dystopia?”
“Fear, probably. You done with them?”
She kisses me.