Tuesday, January 10, 2012


"Do not be afraid."

David jumped around, his body flush with adrenaline. He had been alone in the room, or at least that's what he thought. Fortunately, he had managed to put his pants on.

"Who are you?" he managed. Someone was there, in the room, on the other side of the bed from him. He couldn't understand how he got past the agents outside.

"My name is Ra'ken," the man said. "We need to talk."

"How did you get here?" David asked, trying to decide whether shouting would be a good idea.

"I will explain. Please finish dressing and then we can go outside so you can feel safer. I did not mean to scare you." David felt a bit ridiculous but he was old enough to know that just because someone tells you they don't want to harm you it doesn't mean it's true. He finished putting a shirt on. "Shall we?" he asked, turning his head back to the other man.

"After you," the man said.

David opened the door. The three agents stopped talking and turned their heads to him. "POTUS is up," one of them announced, letting everyone in the White House know that the day had started.

Five seconds later, all hell broke loose. David had made it to the middle of the room when Ra'ken followed him. As soon as one of the agents saw him he shouted "Stop! Identify yourself!" and pulled his gun. Ra'ken stopped and lifted his hands a bit.

"Wait," David said. He took his first good look at Ra'ken. The man, though he was starting to feel like that wasn't the case, was very tall - over seven feet. He had a long face and long, blond hair. "Are you an elf?" David asked before he could control himself.

"I have been called that, yes," Ra'ken answered. "I mean you no harm," he continued, looking at everyone in the room.

"Ok, first things first," David said. "How did you get here? In my room?"

"Magic," Ra'ken answered.

"Please be serious," David protested.

Ra'ken lifted his right hand with the palm up. A small globe of fire formed over it. David felt for the chair behind him and sat down. "What the hell?" he managed. The globe was still burning. "Are you seeing that too?" he asked the agents, who nodded back. He had to admire them, they seemed unmoved by the scene - all of them were still pointing their guns at the intruder.

Ra'ken closed his hand and the globe disappeared. "We need your help," he said.

The tension in the room was palpable. The president had cancelled everything on the day's agenda for his top advisers and set up an emergency meeting for 2 pm. The rumors were flying around, though nobody took the idea of a war seriously - it wouldn't have made sense for the president to know about it before the CIA or the NSA. Still, Joe thought, something big must be at stake for David to cancel everything; he knew how important the meet-and-greet sessions were for a new cabinet.

"Joe," asked Carol, the National Security Adviser, "do you know what this is about?"

"I'm just as much in the dark as you are," Joe replied, "and let me tell you, I don't like it a bit." Joe was David's closest friend since college and as soon as David got elected he named Joe as the Director of the CIA. It wasn't just a matter of whom you knew, it was too important a position for David not to give it to someone he knew he could trust.

At exactly 2 pm, David entered the room. "Please be seated," he said as everyone had raised from their chairs. After taking his place at the head of the table and waiting for them to settle down, he began. "Gentlemen, I'd like you to meet my guest, Ra'ken."

The same door David had used opened up and Ra'ken entered. Joe felt his jaw drop and by the reaction of those around him, he wasn't the only one in shock.

"Hello," the new guest said. "My name is Ra'ken; my species is called Erzhi but I have been called an elf before. Feel free to use either name."

"How?" Joe managed to ask.

David made a face. "That is indeed a problem. Ra'ken came here using magic. Before you start," he raised a hand to stop the exclamations of unbelief, "he can prove it."

"Indeed," confirmed Ra'ken. "For now, however, that is not important."

"Please have a seat," David said, pointing out to one of the available chairs, "and tell us why you came."

Ra'ken sat down and took a deep breath. "We are at war," he began.

"The race we are fighting is called the Moqqid. They are strong magic users and have a large empire - much larger than ours. They have at least twenty-seven planets that we know about."

Everyone around the table was stunned. Not one, but two alien races, one of them with a huge empire, and Earth found itself in the middle of a conflict.

Ra'ken continued. "We have fewer people and fewer resources than the Moqqid. We have been fighting for several decades and, even though we have won some battles, we are losing. The Moqqid have already captured three of our planets and we have no news about the fate of our people there. We are becoming desperate."

Joe started thinking - any conflicts the US was involved in would have to be cancelled right away. The contractors would not complain, given that the new war they were about to be involved in would be much larger in scale. If anything, they were going to be ecstatic. Just bringing back the troops from Asia would free over a hundred thousand people.

"We are going to need any technology you can give us," he interrupted. "Weapons would be best, but we can use anything - medical, logistics, anything. In exchange, we can probably supply ten thousand troops right away." Joe was looking forward to a heated negotiation.

Ra'ken turned his head to him. "I apologize for the misunderstanding," he said. "We have no technology. We also do not need your help to wage war. Humans are incapable of using magic; a single Moqqid warlock, even a low level one, would destroy all ten thousand human soldiers without being hurt."

David blinked. "What do you need from us, then?"

Ra'ken turned back. "Slaves," he answered.