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قراءة كتاب Potential Enemy

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Potential Enemy

Potential Enemy

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

to destroy you," Gray said uncomfortably.

The next words were coldly contemptuous. We are not wanton killers, like man. We have no desire to destroy.

Gray winced and changed the subject. "You have found your new planet?"

At last. We are about to begin transportation of our population to the new world. For the first time since our ancestors became aware of the awful presence of man on the Earth, we feel that we can look forward to security.

Markham Gray remained quiet for a long time. "I am still amazed that you were able to develop so far without our knowledge," he said finally.

There was an edge of amusement in the answering thought. We are very tiny, Mr. Gray. And our greatest efforts have always been to keep from under man's eyes. We have profited greatly, however, by our suitability to espionage; little goes on in the human world of which we don't know. Our progress was greatly aided by our being able to utilize the science that man has already developed. You've noted, for instance, how similar our space ships are to your own.

Gray nodded to himself. "But I'm also impressed by the manner in which you have developed some mechanical device to duplicate human speech. That involved original research."

At any rate, neither man nor we need dread the future any longer. We have escaped the danger that overhung us, and you know now that we are no alien enemies from space threatening you. We wish you well, mankind; perhaps the future will see changes in your nature. It is in this friendly hope that we have contacted humanity through you, Mr. Gray.

The elderly journalist said quietly, "I appreciate your thoughtfulness and hope you are correct. Good luck to you in your new world."

Thank you, Markham Gray, and goodbye.

The set was suddenly quiet again.


Markham Gray stood before the assembled Military Council of the Solar System. He had told his story without interruption to this most powerful body on Earth. They listened to him in silence.

When he had finished, he waited for their questions. The first came from SupSpaceCom Michell. He said, thoughtfully, "You believe their words to be substantially correct, Gray?"

"I believe them to be entirely truthful, your excellency," the journalist told him sincerely.

"Then they are on the verge of leaving the Earth and removing to this other planet in some other star system?"

"That is their plan."

The SupSpaceCom mused aloud. "We'll be able to locate them when they blast off en masse. Their single ships are so small that they missed being observed, but a mass flight we'll be able to detect. Our cruisers will be able to follow them all the way, blasting them as they go. If any get through to their new planet, we'll at least know where they are and can take our time destroying it."

The President of the Council added thoughtfully, "Quite correct, Michell. And in the early stages of the fight, we should be able to capture some of their ships intact. As soon as we find what kind of insect they are, our bacteriologists will be able to work on a method to eliminate any that might remain on Earth."

Markham Gray's face had paled in horror. "But why?" he blurted. "Why not let them go in peace? All they've wanted for centuries is to escape us, to have a planet of their own."

SupSpaceCom Michell eyed him tolerantly. "You seem to have been taken in, Mr. Gray. Once they've established themselves in their new world, we have no idea of how rapidly they might develop and how soon they might become a threat. Even though they may be peaceful today, they are potential enemies tomorrow. And a potential enemy is an enemy, who must be destroyed."

Gray felt sickness well through him "But ... but this policy.... What happens when man finally finds on his borders a life form more advanced than he—an intelligence strong enough to destroy rather than be destroyed?"

The tolerance was gone now. The

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