Aboard the exterminator ship, Uxeloflat:
"There it is. The one the local oxygen breathers call Urth, or Yerth, or something like that. It isn't important, but I do like to know the sort of vermin we are eliminating."
"Yes, Captain Ergla, we will go about our business as efficiently as usual. Ah, I see that they have spotted us. Humph! A chemical rocket, of all things! Erdolf, swat that bug!"
"Yes, Ma'am, Supreme Leader Enslow. I'll have the laser lined up in a moment. Aha, got it on the first shot. They must have been using hydrogen for fuel, the way it was so thoroughly destroyed with a minimum beam strength."
"Good shooting, Erdolf. I'll make sure it goes into your efficiency report."
"Thank you very much, Ma'am. You are only too kind to a lowly gunner's mate."
"Shit! There goes our only chance to try for a friendly contact. OK, General Schwarzo, I am authorizing you to do whatever you must to destroy that alien spaceship."
"Yes, Sir, Mr. President. I'll get right on it. But, I must say, in all honesty, the way the peaceniks have throttled our development efforts, there is really not much that we can do."
"Colonel, the aliens have just destroyed the peace mission launched to contact their space ship!"
"OK, Captain, have your people keep a close watch, but don't do anything to attract their attention."
That last acknowledgment was almost cut off as Colonel Jacob Harrison flipped the off-switch on his intercom. He didn't want the sound of his cursing to leak out to the rest of his command. "Janet," he said to his adjutant, "I think we are in serious trouble. How near are we to being independent of Earth?"
"Actually, we have been practically independent for the last 17 standard days, but the official transfer isn't scheduled for another 13 days. That was supposed to allow time for the bigwigs on Earth to line up to take the credit for all of our work. Our farms have been supplying all of our needs for the last six months, and the water-from-rock plant has been on line for a couple of weeks. We have all of the solar and nuclear power we need, so we are no longer in any way dependent on Earth for anything but special medical supplies. Our chemical lab could even handle that, if necessary."
"Great. I think that we will be needing all of that before long. Damn, it really pisses me off that we don't have something that we could launch at that fucking spaceship to teach them some manners, but we will just have to hide from them and hope that we are not noticed. I can't help this feeling that they are up to no good!"
Aboard the exterminator ship, Uxeloflat:
"Captain Ergla, we have deployed the shell of satellites around the planet. You may have the honor of initiating the extermination."
"Thank you. So be it. Commence the extermination."
At the captain's order, an opaque field completely enclosed Earth so that no sunlight could pass through. This caused considerable panic among the beings on the planet, both human and animal. There was no importance to this panic, because, about 270 seconds later, a bright flash of light, so bright that some of it leaked through the opaque shield, was set off under the shield and over the planet. The humans never did find out what this radiation was, but it killed all life on the planet, from single-cell organisms on up through the most complex, in less than a second.
The aliens gave the satellites a little time to cool off before retrieving them and leaving for their next assignment.
"Janet, am I right that we have had no communication with Earth in the week since the aliens left?"
"Yes, Sir. There has been absolutely no sign of life anywhere on the planet. I, for one, am very concerned. My youngest brother's bar mitzvah party is due up in 22 days, and I very much wanted to attend. I had scheduled my medical rotation to Earth to coincide with the party, and now I am afraid that I will miss it."
"Janet, I hate to say this, but I think that your brother will miss it, too. I have a hunch that the aliens wiped out all life on Earth, and we have to be the ones, eventually, to avenge that."
Janet started to cry. "Please excuse me, Colonel. I have been fighting off that realization for the past week, and your words just broke my hold on my emotions."
Jacob got us from his desk and embraced Janet. "Just go ahead and let it all out. I know exactly how you feel. I did my crying last night, and now I am just mad."
Janet cried for another 10 minutes before she got herself under control. However, she was a strong person, emotionally, so she was able to channel her sorrow into rage at the aliens. "Jacob, oops, sorry Colonel, what can we do to avenge all of those dead people?"
"I have been working on some ideas that I would like to bounce off you. Go splash some water on your face and repair your makeup if you want to. When you get back, we need to start a serious planning session.
Three weeks later, Jacob called a meeting of all of the personnel on Luna. There were 296 men and 102 women in the crowd, and 12 men and women on the stage. He opened the meeting with a few general remarks. "By now, all of you know that we have not had any success in contacting any people on Earth. All of us here on the stage, and I am sure that most of you agree, have concluded that we are the only humans left alive anywhere in the galaxy!" Jacob was interrupted at that point by a sustained murmur from the crowd, with but a few denials.
He quieted the audience down and resumed his prepared remarks. "We all sincerely hope that this assumption is wrong, but we all agree that we must act as if it is correct. We will present detailed plans to each of you over the next few days as to what we think that you should do to help us keep the human race alive and to get revenge on the aliens that so callously wiped out the life on Earth. Whether you agree with us or not, you must understand that there is no current way that we can return you to Earth. With that fact in mind, you have no choice but to cooperate with us until something can be done to remedy that.
"There are serious medical issues associated with us being marooned on Luna, the major one being the low gravity. I am sure that all of you know how quickly the human body loses bone mass in low gravity. Indeed, some of you were scheduled to rotate back to Earth in the very near future so that you can return to living under 1 g conditions. Frankly, a solution to that problem is our number one concern at the moment. Hopefully, we will solve the problem in time, but there is always a chance that we will not. If we don't, we will be stuck on Luna for the rest of our lives. I'll keep you posted on the progress of our efforts. But, remember, any other research projects are of lower priority to that one, so be prepared to be asked to switch your efforts into a new direction, if you are needed."
Jacob then introduced the other people on the stage, and each one gave a short summary of the conditions and requirements associated with his or her bailiwick. The meeting lasted for nearly two hours before it was dismissed for lunch. When it was over, everybody was informed, but nobody was happy.
Back in Jacob's office, Janet brought up a serious potential problem: SEX. She pointed out that there was a ratio of 2.8 men to every woman. Unless something could be done to eliminate the surplus men, the old scheme of monogamy was dead and polyandry was in force.
Jacob agreed and asked Janet for her ideas. Janet suggested that they have the women choose one mate from the pool of all men. When that was done, The women would again choose a mate from the remaining men. At that point, each woman would have two husbands. A third round would be held, and, if any men were left at that point, they would be assigned to a woman by a computer controlled lottery.
Janet did say that Jacob was her first choice, but she would bet that he was the first choice of every other woman on Luna. If, for no other reason, every woman would want to have the top male as her husband. Jacob laughed and admitted that there was no way he could service over 200 women. At least, not and keep them happy.
They discussed the proposition with the chief psychologist and a couple of other women and men. Nobody could come up with a better solution, so that was the one that was picked. A meeting was called of the entire staff and the plan was explained. Very few people were completely happy with the proposed plan, especially some of the men, but, again, nobody had a better idea. The first round of selection was to be held over the next week. The psychologist thought that a week was an appropriate amount of time to devote to the first round. The decision had to be made soon, but it shouldn't be a snap judgment. Janet quickly let it be known that Jacob was spoken for, so the other women had to look elsewhere.
As expected, there were a few physical fights over especially desirable males, but the first round of the selection was completed in that week. The second and third rounds also took a week, each, and no man was left over at the end of the third round. It was left to the new families to work out the details of their sex lives, but the full staff of the psychology office was available to help with problems. After a couple of weeks, there were a few swaps of husbands, but the situation seemed to settle down once everybody was convinced that there was no alternative.
One of the reasons for a base on the moon was to do research into the control of gravity. The guess was made that they might learn more in a weaker field, and that guess turned out to be correct. Some progress had been made before the aliens showed up, and there was a working gravity-control machine about seven months after that disaster.
At first, all the machine could do was increase gravity by about 11%, but progress was swift and another three months saw a machine capable of producing a field ranging between 0 and 7 g. They could go higher than 7 g if they wanted to, but nobody could see any reason for it.
The first application of the new machine was to provide an exercise area where people could work out in increased gravity in an effort to get their bone mass back up to where it was supposed to be for a "normal" human. The second application was to adapt it for spaceship propulsion. That was not quite so easily done, but they finally worked it out.
Meanwhile, babies were being made and popped out almost in an assembly line fashion. Every person understood the necessity of getting the population up to a useful number. Interestingly, every one of the babies produced on the first round was female. This was greeted with considerable joy by the whole population. It was not going to change for a few years, but everybody could see the chance for the return of monogamy.
The second round of babies was going to have a few males, so there was a groan of relief there, too. The female/male ratio might see-saw for a while, but it looked like it would eventually straighten out.
OK, they had their space propulsion system, but what were they going to use for the spaceship? They wanted to send two people to Earth as soon as they could to find something to use permanently for a spaceship. They had perfectly good spacesuits, and the trip to Earth should take only a couple of hours or so. All they really needed was a vessel large enough to hold the gravity generator and a couple of people. The vessel did not even have to be sealed; the astronauts could live in their spacesuits for that short a time.
They wound up using an old storage tank. It was cut in half, lengthwise, and the gravity generator was installed in the middle. Two simple benches were put in, one on each side of the power unit, and they were ready to go. Safety belts were added for insurance, and they were ready for liftoff.
Jacob decided that he was going—that's it, no arguments accepted. The man who had done most of the actual fabrication of the gravity unit was the other person. Their plan was to find a suitable spaceship hulk and move the gravity unit to it for the return trip to Luna. Jacob was leaning toward a nuclear submarine, but he was open to suggestions. They figured on being gone a month, if necessary, but they would return to Luna as soon as possible. Neither one of them was in perfect condition for prancing around in 1 g for very long, so they had to allow for an extended stay.
The takeoff was not that well attended because they did not have enough spacesuits for everybody. As many as could squeeze up to the observation windows watched them go, and the rest watched on television. Janet and Jacob's co-husband had said their goodbyes the night before.
There's not much to say about the journey to Earth. They made it in 107 minutes and landed at NASA headquarters in Houston. They figured that they would find people there if any NASA people were still alive. Well, they found a lot of skeletons, but not much odor—that must have dissipated in the months since the slaughter. They headed for the communications center, and Jacob told the people on the moon what they had found.
They didn't think that there was much point in hanging around in Houston, so they used their little tub to fly to Norfolk, VA, to see if there were any submarines in port. They were in luck. They found one behemoth that looked like it would do nicely. They simply anchored their tub to the deck of the sub with a few tack welds and ran some control cable into the control room. They still had their spacesuits, so they were not worried about spilling air from the sub. Fortunately, there had only been a skeleton crew aboard the day of the attack, so they only had a few to clear from the ship (this thing was too large for Jacob to call it a boat).
Again, there was nothing spectacular about their trip back to Luna, except that they made it in a little faster time: 93 minutes this time. They landed just outside the largest cargo service port, which happened to be large enough to work the submarine through the airlock.
They cut the submarine open at one of the welds and did a thorough job of rebuilding it. The nuclear missiles had been removed for inspection and servicing, but had not yet been replaced. However, the torpedoes were in place, as were the cruise missiles. Jacob wanted to add some fully automatic, radar controlled, AAA guns to the deck. In fact, he wanted the hull bristling with guns by the time they were ready to go hunting. These guns were going to require another trip to Earth, so they were not a real concern right now.
Jacob was lucky to find that some of their people had a speaking acquaintance with submarines and torpedoes, so they had people who could train other people. Jacob wanted to switch the propulsion system of the torpedoes and cruise missiles to gravity generators for longer range and greater speed in space. They could operate the submarine with a very small crew, so Jacob's hope was to find several more of them to outfit as spaceships. Eventually, Jacob wanted a fleet of such spaceships, but they would have to work up to that.
One of the scientists who had been sent to Luna to work on the antigravity device was a super mathematician, and he had access to one of the finest computers ever built. He was doodling around one day and realized that there was a hole in Einstein's relativity equations big enough to drive a spaceship through. He found that there was a discontinuity in the equations as an object approached the speed of light. At around 99.99% of the speed of light, it was possible to jump out of real space into a pseudo space and then jump back into real space anywhere in the universe you wanted to be. This was not just FTL flight, this was instantaneous flight! However, he did decide to call it FTL for convenience in talking to people who had trouble following the math.
Originally, Jacob had wanted the spaceships for defensive use within the solar system, but the Lurie Effect was enough to change his whole focus to the offense. Jacob was now intent on hunting down those murderers and giving them a taste of their own medicine. As soon as he spoke of it, everybody was with him!