Prologue



Prologue


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“This … ‘thing’ that you’re talking about is only indirectly connected to the Angel. Although both the Angels and the thing in the Earth’s orbit share similar origins, what they do is completely different. The Angels come from an extremely advanced civilization that lives close to the center of our galaxy. If you were to rate it using the Kardashev scale, it’d probably be somewhere between a Type II and a Type III. That doesn’t tell us much about how truly advanced it is - I only mention it to give you a point of comparison.”
Konstantin took a sip of his beer; the extent of these words had not yet fully sunk in. “That’s almost inconceivable. Despite colonies on the Moon and on Mars, humans are still far from being even classified as Type I. The amount of energy generated by those colonies is ridiculously small in comparison, and we haven’t yet managed to find a way of making it available to the people on Earth as well.”
“Imagine a civilization that consumes ten billion times more energy than humans did even two years ago,” said Yssantis. “Imagine the environment in which this civilization must live. I can’t tell you where exactly in the solar systems of the Milky Way it evolved - the Lhon’Dar didn’t provide any further details - but what we do know is that the closer you get to the center of our galaxy, the greater the exposure to radiation and the forces of gravity. The stellar density is so high that there’s no such thing as night there – or, at least, there’s nothing like night on Earth. It’s always light on the habitable planets of those solar systems.”
“That has to mean that they struggled with these factors from the very beginning of their evolution, Yssantis,” said Konstantin, continuing his train of thought. “You just mentioned someone, the … Lon …?”
“Lhon’Dar,” Yssantis said helpfully. “They arrived on Nibiru and Earth at the same time, in 2017. They’ve been hunting the Angels for about 10,500 years. What I’m telling you today, dear friend, I know from them. And, by the by, evolution and life always find a way.”
“I often heard that saying in my childhood,” said Konstantin, momentarily lost in thought. “But I can’t quite remember where … 2017 … that’s over 30 years ago. I had no idea back then how my life would turn out. Don’t you miss your home at times like today?”
Yssantis thought for a moment. “32 years to be exact. And you seem to have forgotten, dear Konstantin, that I was born on Earth and have lived here for some years. I was telling you about the opening of the Eiffel Tower some time ago because you were planning to disassemble it in Paris and rebuild it here in Konstantinopol. You certainly inherited your father’s megalomania!”
Konstantin gave a brief smile at the mention of his father.
“I don’t know if it was megalomania. But it cannot be denied that he passed on his boundless ambition to me. Without it, I could never have built all of this here. But, please, I interrupted you - where were we? The Lhon’Dar fought the Angels, but if the Angels are now attacking Earth, how can we defend ourselves against a civilization that is so much greater than ours?”
“The Angels are not actually part of this civilization - the Angels are just one of its tools,” explained Yssantis. “We don’t know how many Angels there are or how big the civilization is that created them. But I’d better start at the beginning.”
Yssantis reached for his beer glass, which was still almost full, and took a generous mouthful. Out of the corner of his eye, he surveyed the inner section of the bar to ensure that they didn’t have an unwanted audience and relaxed somewhat when it became clear they were the only guests. Reassured by the fact that his words would reach no one’s ears but Konstantin’s, he went on with his story.
“I don’t know the actual name of this civilization, but I’ve got into the habit of calling them ‘gods.’ I think the name is quite fitting, as humans invested so much time and effort in the past searching for the great and all-powerful in the universe. You’re unlikely to find anything greater in the Milky Way than this civilization. Just as your esteemed father was markedly ambitious, the gods felt a similar urge to continually expand. They made it their mission to explore other galaxies. Their curiosity cost them dearly, however. They brought a contagious disease from the Andromeda galaxy back with them that was able to spread unnoticed throughout their civilization for quite some time. When the disease finally came to their attention, many planets had already been contaminated. It was too late for even a partial quarantine.
“The pandemic couldn’t be stopped, but they soon developed a medicine that could curb the progress of the disease if taken regularly, hoping that in the course of evolution a natural immunity would develop. In the worst case, that can take millions of years though. The medicine that the gods developed was based on proteins.”
“How does that work?” interjected Konstantin with a laugh. “They just built a enormous laboratory and then flew to all their different planets with tankers to distribute it to everyone?”
“I have to ask you to take this more seriously, Konstantin,” warned Yssantis, slightly irritated by the naivety of his counterpart. “I assumed you’d urgently want to hear this story.”
Konstantin held up his beer glass as a sign of conciliation. “You’re right of course. The scenario was just so surreal and, at the same time, exhilarating. How did these … gods get hold of such large amounts of raw materials, and where did they come from?”
Yssantis narrowed his eyes, giving Konstantin a critical look, but then raised his glass to acknowledge his host’s friendly gesture and began to answer his question.
“Most suitable, of course, were living organisms with DNA that closely resembled the DNA of the gods and could be cultivated and harvested without too much effort. They bred such organisms specifically for the purpose of processing them into medicine. Habitable planets with no dominant species were completely taken over so that they could produce enough medicine to supply such a gigantic civilization. To accomplish that, the necessary machinery had to be automated too,” explained Yssantis. “And that’s why the Angels were created. They were divided into different fleets and tasked with transporting these organisms to the planets, observing the populations, and later carrying out the harvest. But the disease continued to spread at a faster rate than that at which they could cultivate organisms from which to make the medicine. The logistics of this endeavor went beyond anything that had ever gone before, and they began to run out of suitable planets. The gods had reached a crossroads. They could either divide their own populace into a class system and only make the medicine available to the upper classes or find a way to optimize production so that everyone could receive it. The division of society into classes would have resulted in civil wars and the destruction of their own civilization. The gods knew that the cornerstone of their civilization’s existence and progress was unity.”
Konstantin burst out laughing. “That certainly explains why humans will never go beyond Type I. I can just imagine what decisions would’ve been made here on Earth.” He’d finished his beer in the meantime and evidently wanted another because he beckoned for Mara to come over.
“Tell me, Yssantis, could I interest you in a hookah? I always find that smoking goes well with a good story.”
“I can assure you Konstantin, I’ve seen quite a bit during my time here on Earth, and I’m convinced that humans wouldn’t even be able to choose someone capable of making a cohesive decision for the entire planet. And if you put a hookah in front of me, I’d be delighted to try it out. Different cultures and their customs have always interested me.”
“What can I bring you?” asked Mara with a charming smile when she came up to the table.
“Would you be so good as to fetch a hookah for me and my guest? And fill up our glasses again, please.”
Mara refilled the beer glasses and then disappeared into a back room, returning with two tall hookahs made of crystal and richly decorated with gold and sapphires.

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