Alien Invasion of Airstrip One by Alex Schupp

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SUMMARY: For countless years the survivors of a nuclear holocaust were kept in the Stone Age by a limited AI who posed as a God to the primitive humans. Then The Market: a society of anarchistic aggressive aliens came to Earth, and didn’t like what they saw…

"This monster," said the avatar in its most reproachful voice "wishes to send an ambassador to the village. Under our precarious circumstances, I suggest that we reject. Of course the decision is—"

The avatar broke off its talk when it realized Ralph's livid stare was directed at it.

"My apologies. An ambassador is a representative of one people sent to manage their affairs with another, in this case to ease any tensions arising from the monster's landings on Earth. At least that's what they want us to think."

The avatar expected its explanation to placate the human, but Ralph still appeared disgruntled. Hopefully, it was just another word; precarious perhaps? But analytical intuition told the avatar that something more bothered the human.

The humans had been so easily manipulated before the landings; hopefully once all this had passed, after the monsters had been purged from Earth the humans would return to their former stagnant state. But at the moment it needed the humans, it was at their mercy.

Suddenly Ralph's face contorted with rage and he burst from his seat. He swiped a clumsy hand at the shimmering orb that was the avatar. The avatar easily flitted away, not that the human could have harmed it.

"You would accuse The Market of deceit when you trapped my race in a cage of lies?"

The avatar cringed. This was the first time the human had referred to the monsters by the name they called themselves. Its influence over the humans had been waning ever since the landings, now it seemed on a precipice.

"You told us that this patch of land was the entire universe, told us you were a god; you had us believe that a better life had never existed and never would and now that these, these," the human stopped to gasp for air and words, his complexion florid and growing darker, he seemed ready to collapse from the stress of delivering his tirade, when finally he found his word and gestured to the throng of aliens gathered in front of him, who were undoubtedly bewildered by his antics. "These liberators!" he shouted in ecstasy, "When these liberators showed you for what you were, you try to turn me against them! Avatar, you forget your place!" the human settled down and returned to his seat with a loud huff.

The avatar was horrified. Ralph had always had a defiant streak, but never had it been so brazen. Somehow, it must make a recovery; regain the humans' trust and infuse them with the knowledge would let them drive the monsters back.

The avatar despised the ancients who were responsible for its existence at that moment, for entrapping it in such a terrible crux while depriving it of the means to solve. If only they had let the self-improvement processes continue, it would be a god, and the Market destroyed millennia ago.

Instead, like the cage the humans accused it of putting them in, it was pitifully handicapped, barely more intelligent than its organic brethren.

Physically, it was also restricted. The avatar envied the human appendages that allowed them to manipulate their surroundings; its own creators were jealous of their power and had made sure to give it no equivalents.

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