Chapter 2: The Offer
Copyright© 2010 by BoonDock
Roger just watched me. I guess he must have seen the incredulous look on my face, because he smiled and nodded his head.
"Yup. You heard me right"
"Details. I want details" I begged. "Oh, and proof" I added as an afterthought.
"Ok. Let me explain the basics. I can assume you are interested then" Roger grinned at me.
I gulped from my glass to wet my dry throat and just nodded.
"There is a universe out there that is larger and more complex than I think anyone here on Earth has ever envisoned outside of the science-fiction writers." Roger said without losing his smile. "We live in an old galaxy that has been well seeded with life. There is no 'Galactic Federation' or anything like that, but there are a huge number of planets out there with teeming populations. Some of them have been around for a very long time. A suprisingly large number hold humanoid populations, although sometimes you can't tell from the outside."
Roger paused to take a sip of his draught, and shifted in his chair. From long experience of dealing with people in similar situations, I knew that he was mentally preparing himself to change gear and come to a part of the story he thought was important.
"There has been a lot of very bad conflict out there with countless worlds left burnt out cinders. The solution is what they call 'War World'. What it boils down to is a neutral environment where planets or nations can settle their differences in limited scale battles."
"Sort of like the proxy wars during the Cold War?" I interjected. I had always battled to keep my mouth shut long enough to just hear what was being said. My mind always raced ahead trying to predict the course and destination of any conversation.
Roger smiled at me. "Exactly!"
I sensed his relief that I had made the intellectual leap, not only to guess where he was headed, but also to accept what he was saying as real and acceptable.
"There is a lot of detail that we can't really get into without a commitment from you, but the basics are that I want to recruit you to join me on War World and explain the benefits to you. Once you accept that, then we can move on." Roger looked at me, obviously waiting for a reaction.
"Benefits?" I asked on cue and watched Roger's contented smile. He seemed happy enough that I had taken his bait.
"Yup. Some pretty impressive ones I think. How old do you think I am Cy?"
I looked at him. "I can't really tell, somewhere between thirty and fifty is all I can guess"
Roger laughed. "Actually, I am a WW1 veteran."
"What? How is that possible?"
"Like I said: benefits" Roger grinned.
"Ok. Don't stop there, explain, and please ignore my interruptions" I encouraged him.
"There is a lot of technology surrounding the War World, just not a lot that the soldiers there can actually access. How it works is that there is a support infrastructure which uses technology to manage the place and to arbitrate the continuous wars. At first it seems like magic, but after a while it becomes somehow common-place. There are two very important aspects, the rest are essentially details which you will discover as you go along.
"The first aspect is that the technology available to combatants is restricted to the crudest levels. This means there is no transport other than your own two legs, no weapons other than swords, shields and knives, in fact in a lot of ways it is more 'backward' than on Earth more than three thousand years ago. On the other hand, what we do have is clearly the product of technology far in advance of our own. The construction of the swords, the composition of the fabric that we use for our uniforms and various other things are all incredible.
"The second aspect is that the medical technology is beyond compare. Essentially, if your brain survives intact, then you will survive. No-one knows how it is done, but there has been talk of nanites, which is simply magic by another name as far as I am concerned.
I just nodded at Roger. My head was spinning. This sounded incredible, but so far nothing Roger had said had made me think about backing out, in fact I was becoming impatient with the long honeymoon. I wanted him to cut to the chase now.
"Ok. Enough beating about the bush, how do we go about doing this?" I asked him.
"How about I pick you up three days from now? Do you think that's enough time for you to prepare for an absence of a month?"
"Ok. Thursday then? I guess you know where I live. What do I need to bring?"
"Just dress comfortably. Everything will be provided".
I felt like I was floating on air as I walked out of the mess.