"Sarge? We've got more signals from Earth, and they're at least using a reasonable modulation. They seem to be words, but I can't read it. Want a look?"
"Sure, O'brien," said Zales. The Sergeant sat down at the private's terminal. "Hmmm... nope. I'll take it to the Lieutenant."
Sgt. Zales was worried, but didn't show it to his underling. O'Brien was visibly worried, and neither knew why. Zales left to see Lieutenant Maris. The Lieutenant had a look at it. "I can make some of this out from a class I took in college, but not much. Sergeant, get the Colonel on the phone."
"Yes sir," said Zales. After speaking to the base commander's secretary on the phone he handed it to Maris. "Sir," said the Lieutenant, "we have a communication from Earth. It seems to be in an archaic language. Uh, huh. Yes sir. Right away, sir." He transmitted the undeciphered message to the Colonel, who transferred it to a historian, then contacted his superior.
On Venus, General Washington was pleased with himself. "We've launched, Ford. In a month it will have reached Saturn, and two or three weeks after that the Martians will be gone."
"Is this necessary, General?" General Ford asked. "We have the entire southern hemisphere waiting for repopulation. We don't need Mars now."
"Yes, we do, Ford. We need a scapegoat. The last thing we want is massive unrest. I've already addressed the Venusian populace and told them that the Martians were responsible and we were retaliating, with specicide."
"Nobody objected to wiping out the Humartian species, as well as all the other species on Mars?"
"Of course not, any more than they minded wiping out the Vigers here. Why in the galaxy our ancestors would bring felines here I'll never understand. They should have realized what they'd evolve into. At any rate, even if the Martians aren't a menace yet, they surely will be in time. They're a militaristic species."
General Ford didn't loose his thoughts on Washington; the Martians had never been aggressive until the Venusians had threatened them, and that hadn't happened until Washington had pulled off his coup.
Back in the underground cube matrix on Earth, Rority was, of course, puffing his stratodoober and contemplating what Rula had communicated. They had learned fairly quickly how to communicate with the Martians and had even gotten face to face communications with them, hindered, of course, by the ten minute and lengthening lag between planetary communications. The Martians were odd looking, odder than the controls, odder even than the Venusians. It made sense; Mars had been terraformed first, and the terraforming had taken millinea. Mars still had quite a bit less mass and much less density than Earth or Venus but now had a magnetic field and an atmosphere, although the atmosphere was only 3/4 the pressure of Earth's. The Martians all were tall, with large chests and spindly legs, with smaller heads than the Experimentals. The Venusians looked somewhat like Controls, only larger and more muscular and with a strange skin coloration. "Well," he thought, "time to go to Venus." Not in reality as he'd believed before the supernova had ripped the veil of unreality, but as an operator. It would seem the same; an operator was all he was before.
Gumal was busy launching a nobotic probe to intercept the Venusian probe.
Rula was busy planning the next stage. Intercepted communications from Venus showed that the Venusians were in the process of launching hundreds more rock interceptors. just in case. Of course, a good dictator was always prepared for anything, and always paranoid of everyone. He hadn't liked the look in Ford's eyes and was thinking of Ford being killed "by Martians." Two birds with one stone. He contemplated that archaic saying and wondered what a "bird" was. Some sort of craft, perhaps?
He shook the thought off. He needed a plan to make it look like Martians had assassinated Ford, or better yet, to have the Martians do the dirty deed themselves. He grinned, and stroked the purple lizard that had jumped in his lap purring. "Soon, soon, we will rule not just Venus, but the entire solar system." It was his. HIS! All his! As soon as the Martians were exterminated, he would move on to the Earthians.