Saturday, 11 January 2014

Trial (Robert A. Boyd) on Sci-fi Saturday

Trial by Robert A. Boyd is this week's Sci-Fi Saturday feature on One Thousand Worlds.


'Trial' is a science fiction political action thriller based on our probable reaction if we were contacted by an advanced alien race today.  An enormous starship appears over Manhattan Island, and an emissary lands in Central Park - where it is promptly gunned down, live on world wide television, by a skinhead gun nut.   The result is world wide panic, and the economic and social crisis is seized upon by a small group of ultra-right-wingers as an opportunity to overthrow the government.   A sensational murder trial masks the moves by the plotters to destabilize the government through assassinations, riots, and undermining the economy.   Can the government see the danger in time?   Can they counter the treasonous plotters?   And above all, can they placate the overwhelmingly powerful aliens?

About the author-

Bob Boyd has been a self published author since 2002, with eight novels currently released.   He takes great interest in self publishing, and created a non-profit trust to promote the craft through sales of his works.   He lives in Tacoma, Washington.   His books can be found on Amazon, or in book and download form through his web site:

Chapter One

"Aw right, move along!  Move along, pal!"  The NYPD cop was hot and flustered, and the look he gave Elaine Armbruster when she squeezed through the mob in front of him said he was in no mood to argue.  "Move along, sister."

"Secret Service."  She flashed her ID folder his face in tight lipped frustration.  It took her most of the morning to get here from Penn Station, and she was in no mood to argue, either.

"Yeah?"  He'd been on crowd control for three days now, and it took him a moment to focus on the petite woman in front of him.  "You're here about...'it', huh?"  He waved her past with a nervous half-glance over his shoulder, leaving her to cope with the plastic POLICE LINE streamer behind him, and turned his attention back to the frenzied mob.  "BACK UP!  ALL'A YOU!  MOVE ALONG!"  Not that it did him a damn bit of good.  Between the crowd noise and his raspy voice no one could hear him more than five feet away.  They weren't listening in any case.

Safely past the first police line, she fished a hankie out of her pocket and mopped her face with a sigh of fatigue and exasperation.  'How have they managed this well?' she wondered, wearily.  Even with the National Guard deployed, the city was in chaos, ready to melt down.  Midtown Manhattan was gridlocked.  The subways were, too.  There was an ironclad no-fly zone over Manhattan Island, with a half-dozen F16s circling in the distance to keep it so.  Even police helicopters were grounded, and no one knew what the hell was going on, so she had to get here on foot, which was much like hacking her way through the Amazon jungle.  The last ten blocks were a sea of excited, hysterical, often panicky humanity.  All the shops were closed, and as she fought her way forward, she saw more than one instance of looting.  With this midsummer heat, New Yorkers would be ready to lash out in any event, so she was a bit surprised things weren't worse.

Inside the first POLICE LINE was a second, with a row of TV cameras, equipment and crews wedged between.  They were quieter and more orderly than the riot twenty feet behind them, but were packed almost as densely, with the added hazards of cables and discarded equipment cases to trip over.  Harried technicians cursed and shoved as she struggled through, but she hardly noticed since she was finally getting her first look at 'it', just ahead.  She was so distracted that she collided with one heavyweight wearing a soundman's headset, and nearly knocked over one of the repeater antennas dotting the landscape.

"BITCH!"  A technician jumped to adjust the dish.  "Watch what th' hell you're doing!"  She retreated, muttering apologies no one could hear.

There were several dozen TV crews in a broad semicircle, along with a couple hundred others privileged to pass the first barricade.  She took a quick look around and saw BBC, Japan's NSK, the French TPS Foot—jeez, even the sports channels were getting into the act!—plus several unfamiliar logos.  They must have emptied the newsroom over at the United Nations.  The media moved fast before the mob began forming, which was good for them because there was no chance of any vehicles getting in or out now.  A dozen or more mobile news trucks were parked in a row along the lake, their antennas sticking up like a forest of masts.  What they would do when they ran out of gas was anyone's guess.

"Stay back in the press zone," the cop at the next barricade grumbled.

"Secret Service."  She waved her ID folder again like a talisman.

"Huh?"  He'd been repeating himself for three days now, trying to keep the marching morons from stampeding, and mistook her for one of the swarm of female reporters.  "Yeah.  Okay, sister, go on in."

"Who's in charge here?"

"Huh?  God knows, lady."  He sighed, and scanned the mob with a dismayed look like he was seeing it for the first time.  "Maybe not even God.  You'll have to ask somebody."

The first somebody to notice her, once she passed the second POLICE LINE streamer, was tall and spare, with a long face and the chunky look of body armor under his jacket.  He was mid 40s, with salt-and-pepper hair, and he stared at her for a moment with a look of mixed exhaustion and worry before heading toward her.

"Elaine Armbruster, Secret Service."  She anticipated him and waved her ID folder again.

"I'm Hanson, FBI.  You okay?"

"Yeah.  God, what a herd."  She pocketed her ID, thankful it did its job.  "I thought Denver was bad!"

"And it gets worse by the hour, 24/7."  He considered her vaguely: thirties, petite, neatly dressed, athletic figure, auburn hair, not at all bad looking.  The bulge under her jacket at her left waistband went with the assertive, no-nonsense look in her eyes.  "They never quit.  They never sleep.  If they eat, they must bring it with 'em..."

"There are tailgaters out on the fringe now."

"Gawd."  His tense look deepened.  "Like a fuckin' football game, pardon my French."  He scanned the frenzied humanity barely held in check by a thin cordon of city cops and National Guard troops, then turned his attention back to her.  "So what brings the Palace Guard to our little shindig?"


'That' seemed innocent enough at first glance: a perfect sphere twenty-odd feet in diameter made of some shimmery, pearly silver material with no markings, seams, openings or any other detail.  The catch was that it descended out of a clear blue sky three days ago, and it now hovered six inches above the center of the cluster of softball fields in Central Park next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"An honest-to-God flying saucer," she whispered.  "Jesus."

Watching TV wasn't the same as actually standing there and seeing it.  An alien space ship: product of a civilization far more advanced than mankind.  The reality of it chilled her.  Her first rational thought as she studied the enormous pearl was that the automatic tucked in her waistband was about useless.

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