The Team Gets Organized by David Macfie
The team were woken at six am. They showered and dressed in time for breakfast at six forty five. Over the meal Jamie reported all he had found out about the surveillance devices in the rooms. He also asked Teacher to make an appointment for him with Komando-Ka. He requested that it should take place at lunch time and indicated that he wished to discuss the surveillance activity and devices.
By seven thirty they were in the training room, where they were to be taught the things they would need to know by the time they reached Androm. In the first session, the syllabus was summarized. It was really comprehensive and included the history and evolution of the Taurian race and its culture. Next came the geography, geology, seasons, climate, and life forms of Taurus. There were courses on Taurian lifestyles that covered industries and businesses, hobbies and pastimes, diet and foodstuffs, politics and government, more on culture including music, art and sports, architecture, engineering and technology, energy production, conservation and utilization, financial matters and, finally, sexual activity and reproduction. After all this the planet specific stuff was to be replicated for Androm.
These courses all had to be completed prior to landfall on the target planet. So the next six months would be pretty busy. Teaching and learning had been created in multimedia and would include many assignments and tests and projects. Some of these were for the captives individually and others for groups of two, five or the whole group together. If these assessments weren’t up to the required high standard, the material was to be taught again and then retested with different materials.
A lunch break was to take place between twelve thirty and one thirty followed by more training. At four pm the group would go to the gym where individually-tailored physical training programs would be followed until six pm. From then until dinner at seven pm, the pairs would return to their quarters to shower, relax, work on assignments or projects and talk to each other. Dinner would be completed by not later than eight thirty then the team would have an hour to talk among themselves on any topics of their choice. At nine thirty pm each pair would return to their quarters. Lights out was at eleven pm. Training was to be conducted in earth style ‘weeks’ with six days of work and one day off. The group was to decide what they would like to do on the off day. The calendar began on this day as a Monday, by edict.
This overview of the training program took until the lunch break, when the team went to the canteen while Jamie accompanied Teacher to meet with Komando-Ka. At first sight the commander looked as if he had not moved since Jamie’s last meeting. He stood, feet firmly planted apart, body upright, shoulders back and posture as still as a statue.
But as Jamie approached and saw a profile, he noticed that the commander’s eyes were in constant motion. They ceaselessly scanned the monitors all round the room and the space outside the transparent canopy. Jamie and Teacher arrived at his side and waited to be acknowledged. The moments stretched, but Jamie remained patient and stood just as still as the Taurian. After perhaps ten minutes, Komando-Ka deigned to speak.
“You wish to discuss our monitoring of you and your colleagues, yes?”
“Yes,” replied Jamie, tersely.
“I therefore assume you have a problem. Is this correct?”
“Of course. Did you think it would be acceptable?”
“Since you have no choice in the matter, I didn’t consider whether it was acceptable or not.”
“Then you have made a serious mistake.”
“First of all, your devices are easy to find and even easier to disable, so we certainly do have a choice. I can destroy every device you place in our rooms as quickly as you can replace them. I can also train all of my colleagues how to do the same thing. I have already explained how to find them and switch them off. If you decide to punish us for this you will have no first team for Androm, because all of us will resist this surveillance and the training.”
“Hmm,” mused the commander. “Go on.”
“Secondly, humans value their privacy and dislike intensely any threat to it. Spying on us, is a very poor and ineffective way of knowing what we’re up to.”
“I suppose you have a suggestion or you wouldn’t be here?”
“You are perceptive, commander. I do have a suggestion. In previous discussions, we have talked about the difference between treating us as captives or, alternatively, treating us as allies. I have tried to clarify why we would be far better as allies. I had thought that you understood the difference and the merits of alliance rather than compulsion. But it seems that old habits die hard. In this instance, you have choices and so do we. But there is one fundamental truth. If you continue to treat us as captives we will behave so. We will not fully cooperate. We will plan to escape and return to earth by whatever means. We will be disruptive and rebellious. That is not a scenario that would ideally suit either you or us.”
“In this we agree. You are persuasive on your arguments. Well then, what should we do?”
“However difficult it may be, you must learn to perceive us as equals in this endeavor and must interact with us as such. I think you will be surprised and gratified, not only at the positive reactions you will get, but also at the valuable contributions you will receive. Therefore, you must remove the surveillance in the presence of my team and you must explain to them that, on reflection, you do not believe it is necessary nor is it in keeping with the level of trust and cooperation you would like to achieve. Thereafter, you should personally talk to each pair about their desires and fears and concerns and you should ask them what could turn this situation into an adventure for them rather than a crisis. If you get to know these people and listen to them they will respond with trust. Some may wish to go home sooner rather than later, but those that stay will be fully committed to the desired outcome.”
“Jamie Calhoun, you are a good leader and you order your thoughts cohesively. Thank you for your candor and your input. You have given me much to think on. I will ponder and decide.”
“That is the best I could expect. I am grateful for your time, your attention and your understanding. Good day, commander.”
Teacher and Jamie returned to the team. Jamie reported what he had discussed but didn’t tell all of the suggestions he had made. He decided that the team must believe that Komando-Ka had decided, by himself, what should be done. The rest of the day followed the newly established routine.
At five thirty the following morning, the team members were woken by technicians accompanied by Teacher and Komando-Ka. The commander explained that he had ordered the surveillance to be removed and set up individual meetings with each pair. He said that this day would be an exception to the routine because he wanted to understand all of the humans better, not just Jamie Calhoun. Each pair watched as their rooms were cleared of all of the devices that Jamie had alerted them to and the group got ready for the day. Straight after breakfast, the individual meetings began, while the rest of the group went to the training room to talk amongst themselves.
Jamie opened the conversation.
“We have had only a short time to get used to our situation, but I think we need to become a more cohesive group. What do you all think?”
Brian Faulkner glanced at his wife Amy, who nodded. Clearly they had been discussing the situation.
“We agree. We’ve talked about it and the Taurians’ grand plan for Androm. We think that we can do this job if we pool our skills. The two of us are doctors and specialists in gynecology so we surely must be able to contribute to the breeding crisis the Taurians are facing.”
“And I’m a civil engineer and Gillian is a specialist construction project manager so we are well suited to the terraforming activities,” offered Peter Bishop. “We also agree that we should have some plan of our own. But we should share it with the Taurians to show goodwill.”
“I’m a climatologist,” said Jenny. “I don’t have much experience yet, but it is probably a good idea to understand what effects the terraforming might have on weather patterns. And that insight might alter the landscaping proposals.”
Jamie looked thoughtful and Jenny saw the expression.
“Oh, oh! Our esteemed leader has that look again,” she chirped.
“What look?” replied Jamie a little grumpily.
“That ‘I think I smell a rat’ look that you get whenever you suspect that something is going on we might not like,” responded Jenny, with a broad grin.
That got a laugh from the others.
George chortled with the group.
“She’s pegged you perfectly Mister Calhoun. So what’s on your mind?”
“I was just thinking that the Taurians might be a little smarter than I thought. I hadn’t really clicked that our professions might have been one of the reasons for our abductions. You’ve just heard how suited Brian and Amy and Peter and Gillian are to the needs of this whole thing. And Jenny is quite correct. A climatologist is essential to an effective end result. If I’m not mistaken you George are a specialist in electricity generation and Elizabeth is scientist, who has a PhD in renewable energy. These are also key skill areas. Robert and Laura are both scientists. He specializes in all forms of agriculture and she’s a geneticist who has been involved in genetic modification of anything from wheat to humans. Again key skills that I’m sure they will confirm when they get back from their meeting with the commander. The reason I was frowning is that I can’t figure out why they chose a professional soldier.”
“Perhaps because you’re a born leader,” offered Jenny, innocently.
There was a moment’s silence, while the group absorbed this idea. Then everybody started to talk at once. Jamie held up his hand and silence returned.
“I think you’re right, Jenny. And so I’ve underestimated our hosts. They’ve manipulated us beautifully into making pre-ordained choices that we believed were our own. And by putting us in certain situations that were designed to irritate us, they have managed to determine a lot about our character and resilience as well as how far we can be pushed before we react. I will have to decide how to proceed with Komando-Ka from here on in.”
Just then the group were interrupted by the return of Robert and Laura and the departure of George and Elizabeth. Robert and Laura were brought up to speed on the discussions so far.
“Interesting,” commented Laura. “But, paradoxically, it makes me feel better about this whole situation. It has clearly been well thought through and planned to a fine detail.”
“They must be able to access the internet to find out all this information on us. Or they have agents on earth, who did it for them,” said Robert, pensively. “But, I agree with Laura. I feel much more comfortable now. And, by the way, we also feel that we need to be more organized in our approach.”
So with all of them in agreement, the team got down to some serious planning.