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Andromeda

By Kem Stone 
 

Prologue: The Fourth Millennium 

      In order for you to understand exactly what the kind of world the characters in this story were living in, we’ll first need to take a glimpse way back in time, to the year 3095.  This particular year marks no great milestone other than the death of Jon Clark.  Despite being a source of tears for billions, his death is of little significance.  It is the life of Jon Clark that we must examine.

      Jonathan Clark, for aeons following his death, was accredited with the shaping of modern society.  His biography in itself would have filled up several volumes.  One man attempted to document his entire life, but died before he reached Volume 3.  There was a lot to be said for this, seeing as how Clark only spent a total of forty-one years on the planet, and the biography only began to get detailed around Clarke’s twenty-fifth year.  This is where I will begin, but instead of filling up volumes, I will try to sum up the life of this legend in just a few pages.

      Jon Clark was an actor, who had his first big break doing a television commercial for a soda company.  Instead of reading from the script, he improvised, but because the Ad Company liked what he did, they aired the commercial just as he had done it.  It became a huge success, as far as commercials go.  In the advertising business, many tricks don’t work, but some things become as much a part of television as the programs, and many of them last longer than the sit-coms they’re seen during.  Clark’s commercial was one of these, and it wasn’t long before a Hollywood director decided he wanted him for a lead role in his picture.

      At age 27, Clark had his first role in a motion-picture, a lead role in a film called Space Invaders, which was just a zany spoof on alien pictures, which if anyone had kept count was the eight hundred and ninety-fourth such film.  It lacked originality and a good script, but Clark’s improvisations made the movie a box-office success.

      What followed was a slew of comedies, until Clark got tired of being seen only as a funny-man, and decided to try his hand in drama.  His agent was hard-pressed to find a director willing to cast him in a dramatic role, but one very rich and famous director decided he had nothing to lose, and cast him in the lead role of a film called The Martian Landscape.  This film had nothing to do with Mars or space travel, but about a poverty-stricken man who was forced to resort to crime in order to feed his family, and when one operation went too far he had to leave the country and assume a new identity.  The premise was dull and also unoriginal, but the script was great and the critics loved it, praising Clark’s performance.  The movie became an instant success, and swept the next Academy Awards, taking best director, best picture, and best actor, Jon Clark.

      There were many people ready to resent him for abandoning comedy, but he proved those people misguided by making sure comedy was the genre of his next film.  The film didn’t do too well, but he had the people on his side.  His next drama also won best picture, but he lost best actor to another man who had been snubbed at the previous awards, and the academy had given him the award to make up for it.

      At this time, you’re probably wondering where all this is going. How is some actor supposed to have changed the world?  I’d just like to assure you that I’m getting there.  And for those of you who feel this paragraph is pointless, I understand why you think that, but you’re wrong.  Dead wrong.  You may not understand for awhile, but you will, unless you’re a complete moron.  Anyway…

      Between his films, Clark also loved to pull publicity stunts.  He did many things that normal actors would never do without their agent’s approval.  He travelled across the country, showing up unannounced in places like bars, supermarkets and movie theatres, conversing with the people but not revealing his identity unless they asked him.  Most people recognised him, but they were afraid to say anything, so it wasn’t until the press figured out what was going on that the “tour” got out of hand, and he had to stop.

      Clark also became somewhat of a humanitarian.  He got involved in many liberal causes, and pulled a few stunts which he tried not to let anyone know about; but he just couldn’t hold onto the anonymity.  One such example was single-handedly buying out every item in several supermarkets and flying them to Africa, to put the food right in the hands of those that were starving.  He also enjoyed driving down city streets in his limousine, and flinging $1000 dollar-bills in paper-airplane form at homeless people on the street.

      But the stunt for which he received the most publicity was the moon-shot.  He paid an emerging space-company, known as STAR (Space Travel And Recording), to build an Apollo-style spacecraft and take him to the moon.  Taking a passenger to the moon was risky business, and no other space company (by this time there were dozens) would agree to such a mission.  But STAR, being a new and struggling Administration, decided the publicity would be just as good for them as it would be for him, and since he was paying for the entire mission, they decided to go ahead with it.

      After two years of planning and much press, the actor was launched into space, and a higher percentage of people watched his landing and walk on the moon than did the first moon-landing back in 1969.  By the time he came down for a safe landing, the actor was considered the biggest star in the country, and he was in reality the most famous actor in the world.  Children in Yugoslavia could have recognised him at sight.

      Incidentally, there were already colonies on the moon by this time.  However, these were purely scientific; they had been set up by other space companies, but not before the year 3000.  And while there had been a few manned missions to Mars following the turn of the millennium, there were no colonies on it yet.  World War III, which occurred early in the 3rd millennium, had set back both human technology and space travel for a thousand years.  Virtually the entire 3rd millennium had been one of rebuilding, and only by the 31st century was everything back to the way it had been during the first part of the 21st century.  But I digress.

      It was after the moon-shot that Clark decided he wanted to be more to the world than a Hollywood celebrity can be, and actually make a difference.  He wanted to be known as more than just “the actor who walked on the moon”.  So after ten solid years of acting, he ran for president at age 35, the minimum age to be eligible to run for that office.  So now you can finally see where all this is going.

      At first, the actor-candidate running under the Independent party was seen as a joke.  Nobody took the man seriously, including the press.  He did, however, have a strong enough following from the beginning to gain coverage.  All of his campaign money came from his own pocket or from anonymous contributors, since he refused to accept any money from special interest groups or people pressuring him to think one way or the other.  He took time out of network television broadcasting to explain his ideas to people, and it was through this medium by which he attained the nation’s interest.

      His speeches were spoken from the heart, which despite being quite humorous were also very intelligent.  Many people agreed whole-heartedly with the things he said, but didn’t realise that the radical changes he was proposing were actually possible to make.  By the time of the debates, he had enough of a percentage in the polls to be allowed to participate, despite the angry protests of his opponents.

      The two major parties were in an all-out frenzy over this.  They did not want to unite against this new political force, but they could not keep competing in their usual manner.  If they ran too many negative ads against each other, people would naturally look towards the third party candidate, but they couldn’t run negative ads against him, the most beloved actor in the world.  The debates were a disaster for them.  The Republican candidate did nothing but agree with everything the Democratic candidate said, and vice-versa, while Jon Clark was standing there with his charming grin, pointing out every politician’s trick they were using and basically making them look like fools.

      By the end of the race, it wasn’t a question of who would win the election, but of whether Clark would get the majority of the vote, and thus not have the election decided by the House of Representatives, in which case Clark would lose.  Come election night, hardly anybody could bring themselves to vote for one of the “major” candidates, save for some die-hard Republicans, and Clark won by the largest margin in history to become the first president from a third party since Abraham Lincoln.

      Once elected, he lived up to his promises.  Instead of spending time on publicity stunts, he focused all of his attention on the important matters.  First, he tackled the national budget.  He cut it up and pasted it back together in spite of all the senate protesting, until he had a plan that balanced the deficit, and put the economy on a road to the elimination of the national debt in twenty years.  When the bill was brought before the senate, it was already the most popular bill among the voters to ever come up.  Although the senators would have loved to have crushed the bill and thus make Clark look like a useless president, they knew they would be sacrificing their own political careers should they go against the voters they represented.  The bill passed by a 97 to 3 vote.

      At this, the president’s approval rating soared to a whopping 93%, the highest a president of the United States ever had up until that point at peacetime.  It was with this political backing that Clark was able to invoke his plan of massive social reform.  He came up with bill after bill to improve the very government itself, including one bill to actually re-write the entire U.S. Constitution, but that bill failed to pass much to the anger and dismay of the people.  It seemed to everyone that the tide of government was turning, and the people supported it while the politicians in Congress were too narrow-minded to accept it.  Despite the reluctance of Congress, Clark was able to make massive changes in the way elections were run, which eliminated almost all of the negative effects inherent in a two-party system.

      By the time of the mid-term elections, Independent candidates flooded in, taking 80% of the House of Representatives and 90% of the available seats in the Senate.  The thousand-year reign of the two-party system in the United States came crashing to an end as citizens realised they did have a choice, and the notion that voting for 3rd party candidates was wasting a vote had been exactly the attitude that had been keeping the American government in the rut it had been in for so long.

      Clark then focussed on the judicial system, and how the courts functioned.  He spent months drawing up plans for a new system that he concocted on his own.  In his second address to the nation, he out-lined this new system which would eliminate all unfairness of the jury-system, prevent justice from merely being a matter of money, and most importantly, taking all of the power out of the hands of lawyers.  He divided this plan into three separate bills, and used the support of the people to sway the senate into passing all three, which served effectively as the most radical change ever in the history of the justice system up until that point.  Lawyers hated him, but because average people could now get justice more easily, and were protected from frivolous lawsuits and ridiculous liability regulations, his approval rating rose to 97% once this change began to take effect.  Clark supporters would joke that they had no idea that 3% of the population were lawyers.

      After only two years in office, he had accomplished more than any other president in United States history.  In his third year, he took his sights off of the country and placed them on the world.  He put all of his energy into foreign policies, and held talks with every other world leader until they were in an alliance with the U.S. and agreed to cease any military conflicts they may have had going on.  Rather than bargaining, which history has clearly shown to be ineffective, he used philosophical arguments to simply talk them into it.  Their people didn’t take this well, but Clark told them how to explain the benefits to the people, and he kept the talks going until several nations decided to adopt his exact system of government.  The people in these nations, once they warmed up to the changes, had nothing but praise for their leaders, so eventually all world leaders followed suit.

      It was then that Clark saw that he had the power to achieve the greatest accomplishment in world history.  He called together a meeting of the United Nations, in which he invited representatives from every country, even those that were not previously a part of the organisation.  For seven months, he held meetings, explaining the benefits of a United World State, and talking down all of the objections the other world leaders had to this.  By the end of these talks, he had all leaders convinced that his idea was in the best interest of the entire human race, and each leader went back to their respective countries and addressed their people with these ideas.  Because their people loved them so much, they were willing to go along with any plan they had, especially if it came from Jon Clark.

      On April 18, 3092, the largest vote in the history of the world was held, in which every voter from every nation participated in making the decision of whether or not to unite the planet under One united system of government.  The proposal passed, and in several months time, the entire world was together in peace, with each world leader still governing his own part of the world but under the control of one government lead by one president.  Nobody thought of it in this way, but Jon Clark had effectively taken over the world.  What most people pondered was how he couldn’t get the U.S. Constitution re-written, but he could have it rendered obsolete.

      To the shock of billions, Clark stepped down at the end of his fourth year, and decided not to run for reelection, having accomplished all he had hoped for and more.  He left the presidency with the highest approval rating that any leader ever had, and ever would have for the rest of all time: 99%.  (There were still lawyers and politicians around with hard feelings.)

      He lived in retirement for just two peaceful years, until he died of a bullet in the back.  The man who shot him was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and this angered no one.  When Clark died, having no family, he left all of his trillions of dollars to the STAR Administration, the company that had taken him to the moon.  This allowed the company to build itself up to become the largest Space-exploration Company in the world.

      The year 3095 was seen as the peak of human achievement on Earth.  Crime was lower than it had ever been, there was no war anywhere, and the governments were co-operating in the interests of the people, rather than in their own.  Historians would look back and wonder just how one man, an actor who was first seen in a soda commercial, could have changed the world so much.

      So now you have an idea of the type of world that existed back in those times.  It seems impossible for any of that to happen nowadays, and it is.  Clark would have been trampled by the system long before he could have appeared in the first debate.  It’s kind of a shame, when you think about it.  But we’re not talking about now.  So keep in mind that although this unified world can’t exist now, it did exist a long time ago, and now I can tell you about all of the incredible things that took place in it.