The state of TIAH
July 1st, 2006
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in 1997, Great Britain's refusal to return Hong Kong to China, now that their lease on the colony was up, ignites a war between the two powerful nations. British troops massed on the island and British naval vessels patrolled the waters separating them from the mainland. The attack from the Chinese was overwhelming – it seemed that the whole Chinese navy had been sent to capture Hong Kong. Although the British ships were of a better quality, they were outnumbered and forced to retreat after two hard days of fighting. Chinese soldiers then began the island invasion, which didn't go as planned. After a week of intense fighting, the islanders were able to repulse the Chinese, who then established a siege, blockading the island from all traffic. Prime Minister Tony Blair of the UK is urged to use Britain's nuclear arsenal in order to save Hong Kong, and the Chinese leader Chiang Zemin is given similar counsel. Both politicians resist the hard-liners – Chiang has no wish to destroy Hong Kong, and Blair refuses to be the first European leader to use nuclear weapons. Tense negotiations between the two hostile nations finally give Hong Kong a break in their month of misery – in exchange for a huge percentage of the island's income, China agrees to lease Hong Kong to Great Britain for another hundred years. With the signing of the new lease, Chinese forces leave the waters around the island, and the entire city erupts in celebration.
in 2017, the Pokor, carrying its mixed crew of humans and Quarai from the Amandara system, docks inside a gigantic bay on the outside of the Dyson sphere they have been approaching for several days. The Quarai crew is eager to see what the inhabitants of the sphere are like – but the humans are apprehensive. Commander Patterson asks Captain Mawrao, “What's the atmosphere like?” After checking with a crew member, Mawrao says, “It's good. We need suits for us. You like it; it's hot.” Patterson and the humans learned the temperature in the bay outside the ship was a balmy 62 degrees Fahrenheit. The Eagle's meteorological expert, Dr. Dana, told Commander Patterson, “The air is almost perfect. 72% nitrogen, 20% oxygen, a few non-toxic elements – I don't think that's a coincidence.” Although virtually everyone on the ship wants to go into the bay and greet their hosts, Captain Mawrao chooses 4 specialists and Commander Patterson does likewise. The 10 of them then exit the Pokor and walk into the bay. They are greeted there by another mechanical device, which again speaks to them in the strange language the spacecraft had used 2 days ago. One of Mawrao's people records the speech and attempts to translate. “I don't have enough of it, yet,” the Quarai translator informs Mawrao. The Quarai Captain then says, “All right. We learn how to talk as we go.” The device broadcasts another speech, then begins rolling away from them. It pauses when they don't follow, emits a brief burst of speech again, then rolls away some more. “I guess we're supposed to follow it,” Commander Patterson says, and the small group begins trudging after its alien greeter.
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