By Daniel Rush
  After Cormac had exited, the silence was thick.  The slack-jawed statesmen just stared at the podium.  Even the cameras of the news organizations were still trained on the
empty podium.  After what seemed the better part of an hour, Bernard Shaw of CNN shattered the silence with, "There you have it, the Earth's defining moment."  Then a great
roar of voices riddled the air with questions.  But what would be the twelve most important questions?
  It took seconds before the press turned its attention toward Jimmy.  They still had not formed any questions for Jimmy as they converged on him as if he were the Messiah.  
Microphones and cameras were shoved at him like needles, Jimmy  dumbfoundedly said, "Hello."  He gestured to his wife, "This is Mary."
  Then they all started at once, "Have you been brainwashed?"
  "How many are there?"
  "Why you?"
  "Where did you meet your wife?"
  "Did they make all those crop circles?"
  Jimmy was flustered to the point of being frightened.  He tried to hide behind Mary.  Mary raised her arms and started shouting, "Back off, you sharks!  We only know as
much as you!"
  Just then, four men, in tan suits and what Jimmy thought were hearing aids, grabbed him and Mary by the arms.  They rushed them to a back room in Parliament.  He was
thanking them as they placed them in chairs in front of a desk. The nameplate on it said Russell G. Connolly.  From a side door a large man in his fifties with steel grey eyes
entered the room and sat behind the desk.  He wore a suit and a stern face.  The four men turned and exited the room.  The man began reading papers in front of him as they
sat in silence.  Mary grabbed Jimmy's hand, then said, "It's been a long day.  Can we leave?"
  Raising his eyes, he gave them  a perturbed look.  He then began reading his papers again for a few more moments before he cleared his throat and addressed them.  
"Where did you get the gold?"
  "So this is what it's all about," Jimmy said with a trace of anxiety in his voice.  "Like I told everyone in there, Cormac brought it with him."
  With his voice beginning to rise Connolly said, "Well, where did he get it. . . Pluto?"
  "South Africa as far as I know," Jimmy said, rolling his eyes.
  Connolly put both hands on the desk as he stood up, "Then it belongs to that government, doesn't it?"
  "Ah sure, they stole it right?  Isn't there a statute of limitations on a million years?" Jimmy cracked.
  Connolly glared at him as he reasoned, "South Africa owns that gold like Egypt owns the pyramids or England owns Stonehenge."
  Jimmy looked at Mary and said, "Well maybe they consider all that gold as payment for building them," and he and Mary burst out into laughter.
  Connolly was fuming.  "That gold belongs to mankind and I aim to make sure that we . . . they get it!"
  Mary stood up and jumped right into Connolly's face and sputtered, "I guess you monsters don't consider children mankind!"  She grabbed Jimmy by the hand and said, "Let's
go, Jimmy."Â  They then stormed out of the office.
  The men in the suits returned with shrugging shoulders.  Connolly growled, "Keep a close guard on them, they know more than they say."
  The following day, Jimmy and Mary returned to the farm.  Cormac was waiting for them at the door.  After bidding them greetings he cut right to the chase, "James, you must
take better control of the media pressure.  Hiding behind your wife is not what we were expecting of our spokesman.  At this moment in time you are more important than any
human on Earth.  We realize you are an out of touch farmer and not used to a spotlight of this magnitude but we know within you you have the fortitude for our mission.  Your
lovely wife, Mary, has the strength of the Irish Brigid and you shall be able to utilize her as a buffer in a moment of weakness.  Ultimately, though, it will be you who will hold the
world of Atlas."
  Jimmy bowed his head in shame and reverence then spoke sheepishly, "Cormac, we were spirited away after the conference by some government types and questioned about
the gold and. . ."
  He was cut off by Cormac, "Yes, yes,we have been informed.  Small men think in small terms.  We seek no dispute with any man, small or otherwise.  We are prepared for
any eventuality of this kind and will fight any fuss they invent in your courts, if need be.  Now, we have six days till the next conference.  It is time to groom you, Mary and Seamus
in the art of negotiation, confidence and respectability.  All three are wrought  from your greatest asset, honesty.  So the lessons will come naturally.  Remember, all men
think of themselves first.  If you think of your planet first then yourselves second, no one will be able to dispute your intentions. You have much to learn James.  Most of what we
need to teach you can be found in the pure heart of your wife, Mary."
  Mary began to blush as she bowed towards Jimmy and said as if she was at an awards banquet, "Thank you, thank you."
  Cormac smirked as he said, "We have lessons in humility for you, Miss.  But first, we will feast in the fashion of the Gods."
  By this time, the world leaders had been assembled at the U.N. to discuss the horrors of alien domination.  The militaries of most of them were at their highest alert.  The
entire area around the farms where the aliens were stationed was encircled  by a N.A.T.O. force.  Nuclear submarines were dispatched to the coast of Ireland from Cobh to
  Although not one soldier, sailor, president or prime minister had any idea what they were up against.  The discussions at the U.N. ranged from the nuclear destruction of West
Ireland to pacifying the aliens with gifts.  Most agreed not to do anything rash till after the next conference.  The Chinese offered to send a suicide squad in to find out what type
of weaponry the aliens possessed.  They were rebuffed with the argument that no one wanted to stir the alien's ire before the all important conference.
  The United States asked to send a delegation to the alien conclave under the guise of cooperation and peace while inspecting the alien station for weaknesses and
technology.  All the old Soviet Bloc nations vehemently opposed this as old mistrusts surfaced.  They then offered to make it a multinational delegation but could not find an
arrangement where enough nations could be represented without having a hundred advisers along.  Half the nations complained about doing anything before the conference
and the other half could not sit idly by and do nothing while, "The world was facing armageddon."
  Since they could not reach an accord for a decisive plan they moved on to who would be the twelve questioning countries.  After dispatching some smaller nations and a few
hours of more arguing it was decided population would be the deciding factor.  Being the host nation, Ireland was given an exemption from any criteria and given first question
status.  Africa was lumped together as a whole and was expected to inquire about its gold.  Indonesia and Bangladesh also were lumped together despite protests from both
countries.  France made a side deal with Pakistan for their place with a promise of foreign aid.  Most of the "outlaw" countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya and others were outraged by the
terms of selection and threatened a disruption of the conference unless they could be heard.  So it looked as though security would have to be insurmountable surrounding the
Irish Parliament House.  The United Kingdom with only a seventeenth rank and unable to secure a place in the twelve was becoming very hostile and feeling very threatened.  
Their long time foe and former stepchild, Ireland, was gaining respect and power that could only mean ill will for them.  So, as in the past, they feigned friendship towards Ireland
and offered assistance and resolved to commence the peace process again.  Ireland understood England's duplicity for once and withdrew its position of commonality.
  After much fudging of population figures and Africa not being able to elect a populist leader.  They tried to ensure  fairness in the order of the questioning by adopting the
following order: Ireland, China, India, Indonesia/Bangladesh, United States, Brazil, The Russian Federation, Japan, Africa, Mexico, Germany, France.  Egypt and Peru argued that
they should be given a place among the questioning countries strictly by virtue of the antiquities involved in their homelands.  Next came the input of all the excluded countries as
to what the questions should cover.  All of the included countries paid little heed to what was said here.  In confidentiality, the "ins" knew they would all be asking questions that
would be intrinsically relevant to them.  After two days of bickering and cajoling, the meeting ended so that the "in" countries could go home and discuss with their cabinets what
those all-important questions would be.
  The world media was in an unprecedented frenzy trying to learn what they could about Jimmy Malone and anyone remotely involved in this saga.  Newscasters and pundits
were stretching hour-long shows out of the paragraph of Jimmy's life: Born to William and Mary Malone on April 4, 1961 on the same farm where he resides now.  Two years at
Trinity College in Dublin studying business management where he met and married Mary Moore of Dublin.  Returned to the Connemara farm after his father's untimely passing
to resume farm duties.  Eight years later, his mother passed on.  He possessed the traits of a prototypical Irish farmer: Red hair, strong physique and a broad smile.  No traffic
tickets, no unkind words to be found and certainly no scandal.  Although he was a man of impeccable character, he was regarded as a bit of a flake by his peers.  Mostly
because of his quiet nature.Â
  "He did not seem to have an opinion on anything."  Old school chums were quoted as saying.
  "He was not given to flights of fancy."  Was the mantra of his Trinity professors, the ones who remembered him.
  Seamus was a different story.  Pub brawls, driving intoxicated, petty theft as a lad and allegations of fraud when he applied for his farm loan.  Seamus' first wife, bore him a
child and shortly after that, died tragically in an auto accident, with Seamus behind the wheel.  His second wife left him after only seven months together.  His son shortly after
that.  Alcohol had poisoned his life.  Since he was involved only geographically, and was taking a back seat to Jimmy in spokesmanship, these went largely ignored.  He
carried a nervousness about him that rarely allowed him to look anyone straight into the eyes.  After a few ales though, he would become confident, vulgar and testy.  Which
lead to most of his setbacks.  Worn beyond his years, his bad physique foretold his unproductive farm.  Downbeat and yet high strung, Jimmy and him had become good
friends after Jimmy's mother had passed.  The love of cider was what Jimmy and Seamus had in common.  The only real problem was that Seamus did not mind drinking it
  Mary, meanwhile, was being hailed for her strength and beauty.  She was given professional courtesy by the media and was not scrutinized as closely as they wanted.  They
did not trot out old beaus as they normally would have in a situation as this.  She was having compliments heaped on her in a way the world had not seen since Jacqueline
Kennedy.  With high ideals and ambitions is how she entered college.  She left the ambitions behind as she took Jimmy's hand in marriage.  Her love for him foreshadowed
any hopes of marrying into any of Dublin's elite.  She sometimes had pangs of wanting to taste the good life but she had no misconceptions of where she was and where she
would stay.  Standing beside her man was the most noblest thing she could think of.  Besides, Jimmy always tried to keep that pedastal she was on pretty high.  And now, just
as she had predicted, she was being referred to as the "Queen to the Aliens."Â  What more could a girl ask for.
  Cormac, in his stone palace, was having his own problems.  Though none of his colleagues had any power to dictate terms to him, their points were valid.  Giving the
humans open-ended questions could only invite trouble.  Without proof of everything they tell them, the skeptics would win out over truth.  Religious zealots will defy them to the
end.  How would they benignly counter any military action the foolish humans may decide upon?  Simply relocating military personnel, making their weapons inert and
changing locations will not dissuade the human's resolve.
  Although he, himself, had only come to this planet a handful of times, he had not encountered any dilemmas of this nature.  The skepticism the humans showed this time was
never a problem before.  He was treated as a diety.  The pageantry given to his infrequent arrivals were stuff of legend.  There were no questions of proof.  The simple
humans regarded his machinery, size and miracles with justifible awe.  But now, as they have been given most of the advancements of his civilization and where space travel
had become commonplace, there was nothing that the humans could not imagine.    Cormac wondered if telling them of Adam had been the right move so soon.  The
world's religions had already set in motion the re-evaluation  of every tenet hitherto put forth.  Vatican III was announced to take place before the conference at the Irish
Parliament.  Cormac figured, it was to plan for any development the aliens may espouse which would run counter to the Catholic religion.  They had to be careful what was to be
told in any religious context to the humans.  The fervor of the Irish religious beliefs would be enough to send their plans asunder if not handled properly.
 The fanaticism of the Islamic Fundamentalists in the Middle East had already taken a turn that meant it probably could not be brought back into the fold.  Extremists had tried to
plant a bomb beside the Wailing Wall but were stopped and killed in the process.  With them, the reason died as to why.  The general notion was that they tried because of what
the aliens had said had shaken their beliefs to the core.  Cormac found that religion would be his insurmountable obstacle.  Genesis was dictated by him to the first scribes of
Earth and had changed through its handling of the ancients from one language to another.  He wondered why, if the humans believed there was one God who created Adam, do
they still have in the their Bible "We will create man in our own image."  The origins of this universe were only passed down to him through lore of his own planet.  All of the
major religions on Earth worshipped one benevolent God.  And their benevolent God was more righteous than the next religion's and murder was the only way to prove it.  
Where had he gone wrong in this aspect?  The New Testament and the Koran  were not of his design so he resigned himself to leaving it at that and not place blame upon
himself for man's folly.  Although all of this worked to his advantage in the past.
  It seemed all the world was enthralled with what was to come at the next "Alien Conference."  Scholars were busy trying to find evidence to refute the claims the aliens had
made and were going to make.  The "Alien Chatroom" was the busiest place on the internet.  Suicides rose 23% in the first twenty-four hours of the last conference.  
Newspaper sales rose 38%.  Wall Street broke the twelve thousand benchmark in anticipation of new alien technology.  People all over the world converged on Dublin to be
near this historic conference.  O'Connell Street was inundated with wayward travelers in search of a place to stay.  The River Liffey was jammed with boat traffic.  Security was
brought in by the U.N.   The Temple Bar District was the place to be, as rock bands and some of the biggest names in the recording business showcased their talents for the
world.  The media never left the city as they fought for footage since they had little more to report till the next conference.  With the population of Dublin almost tripled,
unbelievably, crime dropped 72%.