Minerva Lifted

rating: +42+x

Foundation Orbital Research Compound 00, Director von Erbach's Office
July 25, 1973, 07:33 GMT

Axel von Erbach prided himself on his inflappability. To have maintained his position as head of Project Heimdall for 35 years, especially given the controversy surrounding his appointment, required steely nerves and a particular inner calm. He had led the FSF Siegfried into combat against the Screamer incursion in '46, destroying their noocraft by ramming when they'd run out of shells. He had spent three days straight negotiating with the ghost crew of the GRUH Oryole when the political situation in Cuba had threatened to go interplanetary.

So it was that, as the six-limbed monstrosity across the room toyed with one of his prized Thorak bronzeworks, he kept his voice even and relaxed.

"I beg your pardon, Herr Noamtosk?"

The so-called First Unit Director didn't turn to him, but it did extend one of its monstrous triangular jaws, prehensile teeth wiggling as a single beady eye surveyed him from its tip. Its German, as with its French, English and Tagalog, was perfect.

"Call it a change of scenery, Herr Direktor. A… public works project. Given what I've seen of your history, surely you understand the importance of dramatic societal change in building group cohesion."

Von Erbach felt a muscle in his cheek twitch.

"It is my understanding that you want to cut Minerva Base out of the regolith and put it in orbit."

The alien executed a full turn on the spot in two dimensions, its spinelike arms becoming legs as its horrific mouth of wriggling teeth came into view. Staring at him with all four of its eyes, it clacked two chitinous pincers together in a gesture that was simultaneously alien and frighteningly businesslike.

"Yes, yes we do. And we need your help to plan our entrance."

Minerva Base, Common Dome 1
July 27th, 1973, 13:02 GMT

It began with very little fanfare. That didn't last for particularly long, though. Those few aimless, bedraggled souls who still sat in the Common Dome, looking skywards at a planet that was not Earth, watched in numbed shock as a thin line appeared against the blackness of the daytime sky. It expanded, opening like a gigantic blank eye into a huge technicolor disk, silently boiling with colours that mocked all the chromatic achievements of Man.

The eye turned itself inside-out, skeins of impossible lightning rippling across the horizon as a shape pushed against the cusp of reality, bulging in defiance of all common sense. Something inaudible went snap, and in the blink of an eye a huge silvery disc hung over Minerva Base. Silence descended upon the dome. In the instant before the screaming started, some wag muttered three words.

"Klaatu barada nikto."

And then the ground began to shake.

Foundation Orbital Research Compound 00, Director von Erbach's Office
July 25, 1973, 08:27 GMT

Noamtosk had pulled a small silvery metallic pouch out of some hidden recess in what von Erbach considered might be its clothing, and was quickly and precisely transferring small strips of what might have been beef jerky from the pouch into its mouth. Despite the horrifyingly mobile chewing that was going on, however, the creature continued to speak.

"I can absolutely understand your misgivings, Herr Direktor, but look at it our way- if you're… if you're filming a nature documentary, trying to see animals in their natural habitat, you do your utmost to ensure that your film crew makes a minimal impact, yes?"

"I cannot say that I am too familiar with modern film making, but go on."

"Well, if the majority of the human race knows they're being covertly backed by a race of hyper-advanced… 'little green men', then all our attempts to record the drama of your situation become moot. Collectively, you would be unable to resist playing to the camera."

"Is your implication that you are treating this entire undertaking as a nature documentary? Are we animals to you, then?"

Noamtosk continued chewing, its inner teeth churning up and down as its jaw remained stock-still. It soldiered on, ignoring the question.

"Plus- if you're going to be our liaisons with the species, we need to ensure your comparative dominance. Put the fear of the Foundation into those who might seek to usurp power. Imagine- a shadowy extragovernmental organization wielding strange technologies who promise salvation for the species while taking refuge behind mysterious, impenetrable bureaucratic jargon."

As it spoke, its gestures became increasingly aggressive and florid, pincers snapping at the air as its springy arms audibly whooshed through the rarefied air of the office.

"Herr Noamtosk, it seems to me you're setting us up as the villains."

"Not us, Herr Direktor. Just you."

Foundation Orbital Research Compound 00, Observation Deck 2
July 25, 1973, 13:05 GMT

FORC-00 hung over Minerva Base in precisely the same way a massive repurposed alien derelict should not. Looking out the small portholes of the observation deck, von Erbach resisted the temptation to check the exterior sensor displays for the umpteenth time. The numbers would not have changed. Four kilometers up, with a velocity to relative to the ground of zero. The room was packed but silent, most of the FORC's crew watching in silence at the impossibile display of physics that was taking place outside.

Beside him, Head of Science Korpore Tagobe gave a low modulated whistle. Von Erbach didn't speak enough Otore Papuan to understand exactly what it meant, but after years of living in close quarters with the man his intent was clear.

"Still nothing from the labs, Doctor Tagobe?"

The small Papuan glanced down at his pager, then shook his head.

"Nothing, Axel. Under any other circumstances, nothing would be good, but…"

The sensors had detected nothing when the Showmen shunted them from the Oort Cloud to high Lunar orbit, nothing as they were slowly lowered towards Minerva Base, and nothing as the sinous Showman vessel using them as cover from the moonbase had suddenly appeared above them.

"It's… disconcerting."

Tagobe cast him a look askance. For all their differences in background, politics and leadership styles, they had developed a close rapport over the decades.

"What you're saying is you wish something would go wrong, so we could have a little excitement."

"That seems unlikely. I'm unsure how O5-10 accomplished it, but somehow the United Nations and the GOC- what's left of them- have agreed to go along with all this."

"Well, the Showmen can be… persuasive. Noamtosk certainly was. And before you ask, no, Memetics hasn't found anything. We're not being mind controlled. They're just- charismatic, so far as we can tell."

He shivered.

"Somehow. Those teeth are the stuff of nightmares."

Below, the regolith burned with blue-white light.

Showmen Constructor Canopyshell Workers of Rough Comportment Who Are Fundamentally Honest
July 25, 1973, 13:06 GMT

"Hyperspace anchors are in. Are the lifting systems secure?"

"Sure are, chief. Beam lathes are standing by."

"All right. Let's get to it, then. Heave!"

With very little fuss, a roughly spherical section of compacted lunar rock about three meters below the lowest point of Minerva Base's foundations simply ceased to exist, the walls of the suddenly-created chamber glowing blue-white-gold as they hardened into a substance which, had the Human species been aware of it, might have advanced their knowledge of materials science by several centuries.

The absence of rock seemed to stretch, yawning out into a ring and then a cylinder that encompassed the entirety of the moonbase and rose slowly through progressively-less-dense layers of rock. The stone shook as it burned away, but the station remained level, held in place by forces totally imperceptible to those inside it. In seconds, the cavity reached the surface, leaving the base, habitation domes, hangars, launch pads, solar panels and all suspended in empty space. For a brief instant the rim of the cut area sparkled, but the light vanished as if turned off by a switch.

And then, imperceptibly at first, but gaining speed as it went, Minerva Base rose, spinning majestically.

A fleet of small vessels seemed to pour out of FORC-00, swarming like flies as they descended upon the floating mass of Minerva base. The untrained observer would have seen SCP Foundation Varuna-class utility vessels. The sharp-witted observer would have noted that the firing of their manoeuvring thrusters didn't quite match up with their movements. The truly perceptive observer would have noted that they were ever so slightly translucent.

Where they struck the hardened stone of the base's exterior, the ships deposited angular blobs of dark material which unfolded like infernal origami, blanketing the rock with a thin layer of matte black technological stuff. Swathed in alien machinery, the mass of regolith and metal and panicked, terrified human life hung above the lunar surface, bubble domes winking in the sunlight.

Minerva Base, Insulated Conference Center
July 25, 1973, 13:10 GMT

"You see, gentlemen? Nothing to be afraid of. We have gravity, power, light, air… The Showmen have continued to be true to their word."

O5-10 cast an eye across the well-appointed chamber, and the expressions of alternating fear, panic, relief and awe on his United Nations counterparts. At his right hand, Noamtosk made a noise that might have been a pleased chuckle.

An indicator light at the center of the broad green baize table lit up, and a quavering voice resounded around the room.

"S-sir, I have a- uh- 'Fork Zero-Zero' requesting permission to land. Uh, well, they said dock, but… Sir?"

Foundation Orbital Research Compound 00, Director von Erbach's Office
July 25, 1973, 17:04 GMT

Von Erbach settled gratefully into his chair, wiping the sweat from his brow as Togabe closed the hatch behind them. O5-10 had taken one of the wall seats, and Noamtosk was hanging from a ceiling beam with apparent comfort. No one spoke for some time.

"Well," Noamtosk said, "I think that press conference went splendidly."

Togabe snorted.

"You call a riot splendid?"

The alien blinked, then made a gesture with its three dangling lower limbs that could almost have been a shrug.

"Any publicity is good publicity, right? At least they know who's fault it all is. And let the GOC deal with all that. The more off-balance they are the better."

O5-10 sighed, scratching the wattles of his throat.

"I'm not going to apologize for this, von Erbach- you signed on, as did we all- though some part of me wishes we could be more overt. You were simply-"

Von Erbach nodded, finding, almost to his own surprise, that he understood.

"I understand. As absurd as it sounds, they were more willing to accept that a rogue scientist using stolen technology lifted the moon, instead of- of-"

"Alien documentarians?", Togabe said softly.

"Quite. Besides, I am more than used to being disliked for my actions. I've come to terms with that, and you can rest assured that both I and all of Project Heimdall will continue our mission, in spite of these… changed circumstances."

The elderly O5 sat up slowly, casting a piercing gaze von Erbach's way.

"Your loyalty is not in any doubt, Axel. We have discussed this before."

Noamtosk, who seemed dedicated to prove his increasing familiarity with human speech, made a sound that was an adequate approximation of an amused snort.

"Can you imagine? If we'd told them that the man who lifted the moon was a Nazi?"

Everyone stared at him. Von Erbach felt the cold grip of fury descend upon them. The alien shook its head back and let out a soft warbling coo, shaking itself.

"I'm kidding, of course. We'll save that plot twist for at least a couple years."

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