skonen_blades: (Default)
They came back every century to monitor our progress. Our benefactors. The Saviors. Once a generation they returned.

I was young the last time they were here. I barely remember it. I only have impressions: my four-year-old fingers in my father’s beard, the summer day pristine, a dog with wiry hair close to us that I found fascinating, and the giant silver ship at the top of the hill surrounded by the thousands of us. I remember the adults crying and rejoicing. I was confused but I felt safe.

Now I am 104. With the medical extension technology they’ve given us, I still have the body of a 60-year-old and should be good for another 20 years. There are few others here who were present last time. We’re guests of honor and have bright silver pins on our shirts.

Back at the same hill near Brighton. The mound is still green, the sky is overcast this time. I am here with my own children, Rebecca and Therese. They are in their forties and Rebecca carries my two grandchildren with her.

There’s a puckering in the clouds above the hill and gently, the clouds form an opening, a perfect circle to admit the craft.

It descends bottom first, the silver skin glistening with rain. A massive tower of silver with the anti-gravity stabilizers throbbing through our bones like a deep bass. It’s majestic. I’m crying and I’m not the only one.

They will come bearing technology and systems of governance they feel we’re ready for. They’ve already balanced our atmosphere and given us peace.

It took the eradication or adaptation of all the religions. If needed, they named themselves the second coming or the apocalypse or whatever end of times prediction was necessary for each religion. For those that wouldn’t comply, a rapture was arranged. If they could not be converted with sights of the universe and proof of technology, they were frozen. If they wished to be sent on to their afterlife, they were destroyed. An astonishingly high number of them chose death. Only the faithful remained on Earth after the culling.

And faithful we were. Lovers of science, trusting of the visitors. United for the first time in Earth’s history and it had been that way for centuries.



tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
Coming home to your planet is always such a bittersweet experience.

Visiting simpler locales always leaves me feeling thankful for Karroway, my home planet. Simpler systems leave me in wonder at how the locals can even function. I had just gotten back from a recent addition to the galactic council. The inhabitants referred to it as Earth. I hate to call them primitive but they only had one mind state with a small percentage capable of two. The current minimum for intelligent life was at least five mind states but an exception was being made in their case because of their accomplishments. These one-state mammals had created basic silicate life, broadcast technology and even brushed with higher math. And not only did they suffer from one mind state, they had finite life spans! The definitions of membership and the galactic definition of life were being revisited. Earth was currently a pretty big tourist destination as a result.

That's why I went. I needed a distraction. Life on Karroway could be boring just with sheer noise. I turned three of my minds towards the porthole.

Karroway's four-planet heliod system came up bold and backlit by its three differently coloured suns. A red giant, a blue dwarf, and a yellow star sparkled brilliantly through the 8 ring systems interacting with each other. Our orbit-locked planets stood out beautifully. The gas-giant fuel center Leptus, the turquoise cloud-covered Reena, the temperate volcano paradise Cheng, and the startlingly Earth-like Rhoodus. Together the four of them orbited tightly around each other in traffic controlled ellipses and all four in turn orbited as one around the three suns. Each planet had a moon system of at least thirty moons, all inhabited. The rings collided through each other on the ecliptics, throwing sparkling dust out in constant rainbow fantails. Borealis sparkled along the gravitational bridgepoints between the four-bulbed shared magnetosphere. Unsuited travel between the four planets was possible as their atmosphere was also shared.

3 suns, four planets, 128 moons, and 8 rings. Overpopulated with complicated eclipses, dawns, and sunsets.

You can imagine my boredom at seeing Earth. No rings, one moon, one planet, and one star. Hard to believe complex life evolved on that rock at all. But my time there was relaxing.

It was contemplative. My multicolored body was of great interest to them. The fact that a good percentage of my biology inhabited the quantum was unbelievable to their scientists. There was a buzz of activity with every new alien that visited them. I was the first of my kind to be there, they said. My frilled tendrils blushed with the memory of how much I was fawned over.

I felt aggrandized and god-like, sure, but I was also humbled. These backwater rock-dwellers had accomplished so much. What had I done with all of my gifts? All of my insight, all of my dimensional awareness? All of my engineered biology? I had the ability to move single molecules with my tentacle tips and zoom in to watch it happen. I was immortal, having my choice of when to ascend. I had the capacity to speed or slow time, to access higher levels of energy life and talk to them.

For what? Idle fun. For all my complexity, all my afforded privelege and advancement, I was boring and lazy.

I felt invigorated.

When I got back to Karroway, I was going to write a book.



tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
The flames that warped across her field of vision shuddered the frames of her cameras. Her pain sensors had been removed which was probably a blessing but Ravendawn felt like something was missing. Hard data about hull integrity minnowing through her mind was useful but the spur of pain could be helpful. This atmosphere was doing its best to ignite her into a firework as she tore through it. She retracted her stabilizer fins before they completely disintegrated. She was more bullet than craft now.

This planet’s pink skies pillowed away from her on all sides, forming a pepto-bismol trampoline she was doing her best to pierce. It was a lovely place. No locals according to the scans. On the charts it was called DK485/c-9 but she’d get to name it whatever she wanted if the scans held up; the perks of being a pioneer. She was thinking maybe Judy like her biomother’s favorite actor. Or Centuryhawk.

Ravendawn reduced her speed. Her name stenciled on the side of her body was still intact but starting to blister and bubble. If the atmosphere didn’t yield soon, she’d need new detailing on top of a new paint job. It would be expensive but if the scans checked out and she was primary, it’d be a miniscule expense in the face of her new riches.

In her belly, the machines slept, waiting for the spasm of release. They would form the mining giants and bio harvesters that would build themselves out of the raw materials of the planet’s crust and crawl away from the impact crater, moving factories striping the planet with megameter-wide troughs of scoured bedrock.

Ravendawn was a planet harvester. A former human’s mental imprint housed in a deep-space arrow. A scant 6% of biomatter remained intact in the nucleus of the ship. All of her senses were sensors. Her eyes were varied and legion. A ladybug death flower on a mission of wealth and destruction.

One of a thousands, pinballing around the the universe, claiming and abrading planets.

The process left a planet heavily scarred but with enough of a biosphere left that, several millennia and a handful of ship generations later, it would have fully healed. Ready for another contact.

Lucrative. The retirement homes for her kind were gated servers near guarded planet cores where she could indulge in any constructed fantasy she could imagine. This was her ninth planet. One more and she’d be able to lock in to retirement for a real-time century, nearly infinity inside the machine.

The soup of the atmosphere cooled around her as she slowed, her skin going from white hot to red to orange, the holes in the clouds behind her staring to slow their expanding irises of rupture.

Half of her vision turned hot teal and protocols slammed shut all throughout body. Alarms sounded. All forms of scan shunted forward to the target. Magnification ratcheted up and her emergency ascent thrusters braked her sharply to a stop. All of this was involuntary reflex from directives peppering her insides. She violently stopped. The slosh of momentum inside her made her nauseous, a humanity leftover.

Damn, she thought.

She zoomed in on forty-six spectrums.

There, beneath her, in bright blue fur, was a four-armed child the size of a cat drawing a picture on a rock. The child looked up at Ravendawn and looked back down, continuing the drawing.

It was a drawing of a fast dot tearing holes in the clouds. It was a drawing of Ravendawn coming down to roost.

No more evidence was needed. This planet would be marked off limits and Ravenclaw would resume her search of leads. Mostly the data was reliable but sometimes life could evolve in between the scan logs and the arrival with the distances traveled.

Ravendawn banked and swooped back up into the dark space with a few cameras pointed back to watch the creature that had denied her this planet’s treasures.

The blue child watched her go, frantically trying to capture the detail of the ship’s moments in the sky to show her tribe.


tags
skonen_blades: (bounder)
Its name was a mental picture of a sunset on a specific day with cultural meaning to it plus personal memories of its family and the memory of three smells, almost like three tones of music, which we had no true parallel for. Pepper, lemon, and hot stone would be close but insultingly far off.

Without telepathy, we could not communicate.

The problem with human minds was the lack of a broadcaster organ like the aliens had. Using some organ graft technology on a stem scaffolding and a bucketload of immunosuppressants, Stevenson cloned one and joined some of those strange tube structures onto a lab mouse.

The alien’s reaction was to turn hot pink and to dance its feet yellow feet around like a horse on ice. It immediately hit the mice with a hot bank of information about its purpose here and the poor little mouse’s head exploded.

Obviously a success. Obviously human trials were the next step.

The problem with this level of the experiment was the human subject. We couldn’t use a death row inmate because who knows what his brain would broadcast to the alien? The same went for the mental hospitals we sometimes used. We couldn’t risk the best minds in our studio because of the work that would be lost if a head exploded.

We had to settle on reaching out discreetly in our local circles to a human that was loving, tender, fun, and into undergoing surgery to talk to aliens.

We found Alan. Alan smoked a lot of weed and had blue glasses. He sold high-grade marijuana to some of the scientists. It was slightly embarrassing when three of us realized we had the same dealer. He drove to the lab in twenty minutes and signed every form and waiver we put in front of him.

It took four days but the graft was a success. The tubular accordions hanging off of either side of Alan’s newly-shaved head pulsed and slackened wetly like lungs from a child with four probing flowers tasting the air like each ear was wearing a uterus.

The alien turned mint green this time and shuddered something that was either orgasm or shock. It knelt on the floor gasping through its sunflower heads and the smell of something between strawberries and rain wafted through the lab.

It composed itself and stood back up, straight backed this time, like a centaur dancer standing at military attention.

“Hello,” said Alan, turning towards us. “Thank you. This volunteer human knows my name now and can be my spokesperson. I know of your world intimately from him and I want to know more. If you can provide us with more spokespeople and minds to communicate with, we will give you the secrets of star travel and alchemy you need to heal this planet or leave it. Please provide as many as you can.”

Alan sagged. When he raised his head back up, his eyes were focused and clear and his own again.

“I have to make some calls.” He said. “I know about a hundred people that can be here in less than two hours.”
We gave him our phones.

That’s how the hippies took us to the stars.




tags
skonen_blades: (hamused)
Our racism was strange to them and their racism was strange to us.

The Quenari only saw in the radio, microwave, and infra-red waves. They had huge bulbous eye apparatus on tops of their head stalks in amongst orange tufts of muppet hair. They had three legs that spread like a tripod and ended in hand-like, eight-toed feet. Three tentacles spread equidistantly around their body stalks and drooped semi-rigid like tails when they weren’t in use. The most alien race we’d encountered so far and the most ridiculous looking.

But aside from the orange tufts of hair, they were all blue. The exact same shade of earth-sky blue.

Under their skin, they had naturally occuring radio transmitters, heat sinks, and microwave generators. To the Quenari there were seven variations of these emitters that made them as different to each other and a Rembrandt was to a Pollock. These skin patterns were invisible to us. The Quenari remained a pallid, uniform blue to our eyes.

And to them, we were all the same boring patches of black, blue, and red that our body heat produced naturally, with no radio or microwaves to speak of. Our translator pendants made us all sound similar so they didn’t notice accents or languages, either.

Their sexual activity was a long five-stage egg donor, carrier, fertilizer, mitosis generator and harvester affair that held no parallel on earth. Again, it was the subdermal beacons that spelled out who was who in that regard. Very social beings and large family units as a result. Our rather quick and internalized procreation was odd to them but our choice of partner was of no consequence. They could barely tell the men, women and genderfluid people from each other and never thought to ask in any case, sensing social awkwardness. Sexual orientation and gender held no meaning for them when it came to us and we were hopelessly lost in the same way looking at them.

Appearance wise, we were mostly homogenous to them and they were mostly homogenous to us.

It changed us. News of them spread and they infested our consciousness like Dr Seuss creatures. Indeed, several children’s books about them were published and were popular.

Instead of calling each other racist or sexist, we started calling each other Quenarish. Or Blue. The ridiculousness of it all altered our society in profound and lasting ways. Subtly at first but more and more, like an unspoken agreement around the planet, we measured each other on the basis of tenacity, knowledge, and strength of character rather than gender or race. As a people, we saw the Quenari as ridiculous and petty and beneath us.

Maybe we substituted one form of racism for another but it helped us.



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skonen_blades: (hamused)
The problem was their terrific understanding of math regardless of having no spoken or written language.

Both of our teams are here on the First Contact asteroid, formerly Vesta in the belt. It’s a neutral meeting ground selected for this purpose. This is the 8th race we’ve met here and they are so far the most unusual.

The Cashnishi, named after Dr Cashnish who discovered their ship’s trace pattern as it entered the solar system, understood math on an instinctual level, not unlike savants here on Earth. It could be likened to catching an orange. If a person tossed an orange at a human, the catcher would need to perform complex calculations of the orange’s parabola and the intersecting angle needed for that window of probability to catch the orange. However, no conscious math goes through the catcher’s head. It was like that for the Cashnishi but on a much higher scale.

They wanted to go to space so they made it happen. They intuited how much thrust it would take and how much fuel would be needed and the necessary tensile strength of the materials involved. They figured out faster-than-light travel in moments. Design and construction took the same amount of time it would have taken here on Earth but the basis for the engines took no time at all. Several groups got together into one group and made ships. To them, it was as simple as that. Instinctual, intuitive math leading to production. Not a higher brain function like ours but something on a level of hunger or attraction.

The deeper mystery was how they communicated with any complexity. They seemed to only ‘speak’ in intent. They had no trace of being telepathic in a way we’d know it but like-minded groups would gather and do what they wanted to do, knowing the end goal. Sometimes for minutes and sometimes for entire lifespans like the Cashnishi astronauts/ship engineers here.

They germinated bulbous memory pods on their backs during their life. These pods were harvested at death and eaten, passing on the memories. No matter where death occurred, it was instinctually the highest priority to them to harvest the pods. They lived in memories, did whatever they felt needed to be done, and knew math in a way we could not. They seemed more primitive than us yet they were here, escaping their own gravity well and breaking the light-barrier in a giant blue ship to discover other races.

Their research on us is stimulus response in nature. Our first contact team is on edge. The Cashnishi shout at them, coo at them, touch them, slap them, change colour like cuttlefish, tap out rhythms, and then stare at our team’s responses, committing it to memory. The memory pods on their backs writhe with the new information.

The separation of mind and memory is interesting. They seem to have a practice of disconnecting from memory and just sitting in a form of ‘meditation’ if we had to give the state a name.

They read our body language like we’re shouting. I feel as if they know our team very well and understand humans on a deep level. All of our written knowledge is useless to them, however. We cannot give them our memories and we can’t show them our records. Communicating our history to them is impossible. Video seem to get across to them but only in a gestalt way like they’re watching a montage.

The tallest one keeps looking at me. I’ve named it Wendel. I’m not sure how to tell them that they should probably steer clear of us. They seem so naïve. But maybe I’m projecting.


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skonen_blades: (hamused)
The ship had stopped in between Earth and the moon, twinkling like a massive cathedral made of glass and crystal. No shockwave or energy point. It was just suddenly there.

Our Earth defenses reacted immediately. The defenses of the asteroid belt and Mars rendezvoused with us around the alien craft.

We surrounded it, pointed weapons at it, and screamed orders at it to stay still and be calm. It didn’t react. It was hard to tell if it was following our orders, if it was truly dead in the water, or if it had even heard us at all.

The world was watching and the space defense forces of three solar governments were bristling with fear in a pinpointed sphere of death around it.

A hardy space marine scout advanced on it. I was that scout. I was old and experienced but I was also expendable.

I pushed forwards through the tense silence of space until I was right beside the ship.

I had no need to storm an airlock because there were vast open portals in the sides. There seemed to be no need to shield its crew or contents from the vacuum. I thumbed my jets forward, nosing my way cautiously into the interior of the ship.

A curious phenomenon awaited me. The ship appeared to only exist when light was hitting it. The hull and interior were only visible when the light of the sun or my suit’s flashlights played across it. Anything not being illuminated was transparent to the point of not existing.

The ship was half here and half not here. What I could see of the ship looked like ice or clear glass but when I reached out to touch it, my finger slid off of it. Completely frictionless.

According to our sensors, it didn’t have any mass. Obviously impossible yet here I was looking at it.

Movement caught my eye and I snapped my weapon up.

I saw the crew.

Odd, transparent, segmented snake-like creatures that flowered into an ornate nest of tentacles halfway up. They had the same properties as the ship itself, completely disappearing when in shadow. It was hard to tell if they were manufactured out of the same material as the ship or if they were merely in the same state of existence.

One thing was for sure; they were reacting to an emergency. I couldn’t detect any visible damage but the creatures were running around in what looked like panic even though they were ignoring me completely.

My headlamps were bringing the chaos into sharp relief. I wasn’t even sure if they could see me. They made no effort to avoid me yet somehow they never collided with me.

This looked like a cockpit of some kind but from what I could see through the translucent walls, the same activity was taking place in similar rooms. I couldn’t detect a central engine or chain of command.

Experimenting, I turned off my head lights and spun slowly to look behind me.

Lit by the sun from behind, my long shadow was a perfect me-shaped hole in the floor with only the depths of space staring back at me. I nudged down towards it and dipped a toe into the hole.

And my toe went through the floor.

I recoiled. “I’m leaving the ship!” I said into my comm. I couldn’t help thinking about drifting through a wall only to have the light change its angle when I was halfway through and trap me there.

Another part of me did not want to be aboard when the aliens fixed the problem.

I needed to leave. The ship didn’t appear to be a threat. It was just stranded.

I left the ship and angled back to my waiting defense craft to debrief. I was going to recommend waiting.

Over the next hour, darkness washed across us all as we drifted into the Earth’s shadow.

As soon as the ship was completely shadowed by Earth and no longer in the sun’s rays, I told the ships to turn off any lights they had trained on the ship.

As soon as they did, the ship disappeared. When we turned our lights back on to where it was, there was only empty space.

The scientists still puzzle over that crystal ship, theorizing how it could have broken the light barrier with its massless form. They talk about how photons or solar winds must have confused its tech somehow.

What lightless planet did it evolve on? How could it have form and no mass?

How could travel to infinity but only through the shadows?




tags
skonen_blades: (angryyes)
Their blood was like a cross between egg nog and hollandaise sauce.

Their skin was like bacon jerky. Their internal organs tasted like pecan pie filling with veins of peppermint running through them. Their muscles tasted of tarragon and blueberries. When they died, a wave of acid coursed through their brains, turning it into a tangy orange slurry. Their bodies, obsidian licorice toeclaws to grape-flavored head crests, were delicious.

Appearance-wise, they looked like rooster-headed cactus lobsters with too many white eyes and huge octopuses growing out of their backs.

With so many appendages, they had no right side up. They walked on claws or snaked along on tentacles as they deemed necessary, head always rotated to look forward.

At night, their bioluminescence made them look like mutant Christmas trees. They couldn’t turn it off. Worst camouflage ever.

They looked like HR Giger had Lovecraft over for a drunk drawing contest.

They were only around five feet tall but they were fierce warriors with complicated weaponry and wildly intricate martial arts.

Their death rituals were strict. Bodies were buried in the ground, water, or space but they were not to be disturbed. They would awaken during a rapture-like moment far in the future, it was said, unless they'd been interfered with.

Well, we were locked in a contest of extinction because they were delicious. We were devils incarnate to them. Our side hardly had to supply us with rations. The enemy was like a buffet to us.

Imagine a stinky pinkish monkey that ate all your dead. Now imagine lots of them, snacking on your comrade’s brains and moaning with pleasure like it was dessert.

There was no room for diplomacy. It was a fight to the death.

And we were winning.



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skonen_blades: (hamused)
Yes, the aliens were invasive. Savagely invasive.

But how could we blame them? We were a treasure trove to them.

The aliens had no name of their own, you see. As a warrior race, they let the planets they invaded name them. As they took planet after planet and civilization after civilization, they collected names. They were up to one hundred and sixty four.
Unpronounceable names screaming forth from terrified beaks, mental picture collages from psychic races, bursts of scent from pheromone speakers, they were all collected in their databank.

If a planet had no sentience, the aliens moved on. Slaughtering animals that could not name them held no interest.
And this is why Earth was like a rainbow of temptation to them.

With over 6900 languages on Earth, the aliens could increase their name count (and thereby their reputation) by factors of ten. And that didn’t even include slang or scientific definitions.

They took their time, making sure to take at least one speaker of each language to record their names for posterity while they laid waste to us.

It was fascinating for us to find out that the way we split and diverged our languages was unique. Most alien civilizations leaned towards a common language but we didn’t. What a strange thing to find out on the eve of our doom.

They didn’t destroy the forests or the oceans. They only targeted the cities and the towns.

As a reward for our staggering bounty of names, they left enough of us to start another stable gene base with the promise that they would be back in another ten thousand years to do it all over again after we’d evolved and split and developed new languages.

There are a hundred thousand of us now. They picked us all up and dropped us in Indonesia where it’s hot most of the time. We’ve started having as many babies as possible and doing our utmost to survive and keep each other safe.

Earth is reclaiming the ruined cities. The stink of human death is dissipating on the wind. In time the animals will multiply faster than we can eat them and the oceans will fill back up with fish.

Although this is the worst chapter of human history, or maybe even the end of it as we have no way to record our findings now other than scratching on bark or painting on cave walls, it sometimes feels as if we are in a new Eden.

I am thirty-two years old. I am on a beach in a hot country. The sun is going down. I can smell the boar our party killed cooking on the dinner fire. Sixty-three women are having babies in the next few months. We are by necessity polygamous to increase diversity for strength. We have no shame at nudity and we must not tolerate jealousy.

We’ve painted pictures of the aliens on any available surface as a warning to future generations. We are struggling to maintain one language among us but we are from all over the world. It’s hard. But we’re trying harder than humanity has ever tried to speak one language to each other so we can all understand. We are one tribe now.

I cannot bring myself to thank the aliens. My own family and all of my friends were killed. I am the only person from my city left alive.

But sometimes in moments like this sunset, I feel something like gratitude in my chest and it makes me feel conflicted inside.
I turn away from the sunset and go to eat.




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skonen_blades: (hamused)
The thing about sleeping in zero g is that I have a lot of dreams about being in my mother’s womb except that in my dreams, my mother is sleeping in zero g as well. That’s impossible because my mother never went to space. She was sixty before the alien diplomats came down to earth, one in every major city and no two aliens the same. Glittering ships that defied all reason touching down like inverted chandeliers before discharging creatures trained to field questions in English through their translators. The one in my home down of Phoenix Arizona was a tall insect that looked like a violet, leafless tree that walked around on crab-leg roots with a tight line of softly-glowing blue eyes down its trunk.

I was twenty-five years old at the time but still, when I saw that creature, I felt like a six-year-old who knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. Your calling can come at any time, I guess.

I wake up smiling at the memory and uncurl, the light slowly branding up to daylight in my quarters. I turn on the gravity and look out the window. Through the porthole, I can see a cadmium cue-ball planet with scudding blue clouds and a double meridian of shadow from its two suns. It’s beautiful. I’ll be briefed about its name in a second but for now I just drink in the view and once again swim deep in the wonder and pride I have at my job.

And then I look in the mirror.

I had alopecia when I was thirteen which means my body hair grows in patches now. I also have a dark wine birthmark that splashes across half of my face and most of my right arm. One of my eyes has too much eyelid and is higher than the other while my wide, thick lips hang like deflated inner tubes over the ragged jut of my huge, uneven teeth. My chin pushes forth like the prow of a ship. My nose is more like a beak and would probably come down to nearly touch my shelf of a chin if it hadn’t been broken in a youthful bicycle accident. It’s like a shark fin shaped into a child’s drawing of a lightning bolt in the middle of my face.

My point is that by human standards, I’m ugly. Hideously ugly. Almost comically ugly.

And the aliens don’t care. Because of that, I smile again like I do every day here. I don’t care if I ever see Earth again.

I take a morning sip from the protein udder on the wall and zip up into my jumpsuit. As I leave my quarters and join the flow of traffic to the main hall, I bump into a krinotaur. I think it’s beautiful. It flows past me like a wave settling next to the shore.

Maybe it took the job for the same reason I did. Maybe its eye cluster is too bulbous. Maybe its leg-stalks are too short. Maybe its communication mandibles have a noticeable stutter or lisp equivalent that's erased by the translators.

I would have no idea.

Everyone's earned the right to be here. We're diplomats and we're intelligent representatives. I know that the other life forms have tests and training just as stringent as my own that brought them here. We’re good at what we do; useful to our homeworlds.

I head to the briefing room to learn about the white planet below us and what city I’ll be assigned to welcome them into the galactic council.




tags
skonen_blades: (blurg)
April 30/30

26/30

THE UNEXPECTED PACKAGE

Randolph Beaucoup of the Terran Diplomacy Wing had been selected from fifty candidates for this particular First Contact mission. Little was known about the Marenko other than they were anamorphic pseudopods without discernible features. Smooth gelatinous bags that had the ability to form as many multi-fingered tentacles as needed to build or manipulate technology. The Terrans were still trying to figure out how they saw without eyes and thought without visible brains.

There were large ones and small ones although that seemed to have no bearing on age. There was talk of one the size of a small ocean but it may have been a god myth of some kind. All was unclear at this stage other than the fact that they had space-travel capability and were, by and large, peaceful. The math constructs had been sent and received as proof of intelligence and no weaponry was detected at the landing site.

Randolph stood on the plateau a few steps away from the Terran landing plank beneath his ship, clad in a fishbowl helmet to clearly display his face and wearing a tight spacesuit that showed his musculature to curious species. It was known as the 'nothing-to-hide' approach. The stars twinkled above him. The Marenko balanced in front of him like a transparent rearing slug trying to impersonate a capital S. It was the size of an elephant seal. Unlike slugs, however, the Marenko were unnervingly quick.

The Marenko extended a glittering flower-tipped pseudopod towards Randoplh and paused. Randolph extended his own hand and grasped the pod tip in what, in his experience, was a universal sign of greeting. A sharp pinprick zeroed in on his palm. His suit easily patched the tiny rupture as Randolph withdrew his stinging hand with an involuntary hiss of shock.

Before he could move, the Marenko extended another tentacled pad that slapped wetly up against Randolph's helmet and stuck there.

"Hello Randolph. The earth-name I have chosen for myself is Mary." said a pleasantly-modulated voice. The tentacle was vibrating against Randolph's helmet to produce the sound. "It is a pleasure to meet you. This has been a delightful first contact and I am honored to be the first to produce our communication."

Randolph thought that was an odd choice of words.

"The pleasure is mine, Mary." he replied. "I'm happy to meet you too. I'm curious, what was the purpose of poking me like that?" he asked, tentatively hopeful that the answer would be benign.

"I needed a small tissue sample to produce our communication. You are in me now, growing. Soon you will be large enough to leave yourself here and then we can talk after you leave."

Randolph couldn't understand the words. The sentence must been parsed wrong in the alien's nascent attempt at translation. "I'm afraid I don't understand, Mary." he said.

"Look closely at my center, Randolph." said Mary.

Randolph looked closer at the core of the huge alien's wavering, smooth gelatin. There, in the center, curled up and twitching, was what looked like a tiny human baby.

A tiny baby with transparent skin and gelatinous bones. A tiny baby with dark hair and dark eyes, just like Randolph. It grew as he looked at it. A Meranko-Human hybrid of some kind.

"This version of you will stay here. We will converse. It will have your memories but it will be of my race, too. After a short amount of time, you may come to collect him and talk to him as well to gather your own information."

"Uh.....what?"responded Randolph eloquently.

"I am, as you say, pregnant." said Mary.





tags
skonen_blades: (haBUUH)
The creature standing in the white house oval office was quite tall and seemed to be made of flexible wood. Glowing holes dotted its body. It didn’t seem to have a circulatory system. It did have eyes and a mouth but they gave the distinct impression of being put there for our benefit. Right now, the eyes and mouth were facing my direction.

I was the White House’s pet xenobiologist, David Randerson. Up until now, my services consisted of debunking Area 51 rumours on public chatboards and ordering my staff pizza for lunch. And by ‘staff’ I mean me. I was a team of one. A just-in-case employee that every administration wanted to cut but somehow kept renewing my position through three two-term presidents. That means that I was twenty when I got this job and I’m forty-four now.

I can tell you some things: Men in black do not exist. Stealth technology, Velcro, CD/DVD technology, and everything around on this planet was invented by humans. The aforementioned Area 51 houses failed Air Force experiments. SETI continues to scan seemingly empty skies.

No aliens have contacted us and we do not have a dialogue with them. However, I was having a conversation with an alien right now. Security all had their guns drawn. The president was behind his desk, sweating but trying to look like he had a handle on the moment.

The alien had appeared in the oval office three minutes ago. All attacks on it had failed. Bullets lay flattened around its feet. The air had the tang of taser and laser fire. It looked at me and repeated itself.

“I am what you call Gliese 667c. I am here to talk to you. What are you called?” said the creature to me.

I pushed my glasses up my sweating nose and answered.

“My, uh, my name’s Dave.”

“Planet Dave. I am pleased to meet you. You must come to me so we can talk.” The creature said.

“No, no. This is Earth. My name is Dave. I am a human. I live here.” I answered.

“That is disappointing. You are saying that you are not one with your planet. That you do not experience oneness. That your voice and the planet’s voice are different things. Does everyone on this planet consider themselves to be and individual?” asked the alien.

“Yes.” I answered. I didn’t like where this was headed.

“Then you are broken. Planets evolve a voice when they achieve maturity. We supposed that you were your planet’s voice. I am not FROM Gliese 667c, I AM Gliese 667c. I will leave.” It raised its arms as if to trigger a transportation.

“Wait!” I shouted “Don’t go. We can learn from you.”

“If an alien showed up and demanded that you speak with its toenail, proclaiming that its toenail had intelligence and authority to speak for the whole, would you take that alien seriously?”

“Well, I’d think that alien was crazy, probably.” I answered.

“Exactly. You do not speak with a unified voice. Your planet is mute. You are a passing phase, a disease, or maybe the beginning of a voice. But you are not yet Earth. We will return when you are.”

And then it left. No flash of light, no big explosion. It just…wasn’t there anymore.

I got a raise for averting the apocalypse. I didn’t feel like I deserved it.





tags
skonen_blades: (blurg)
We didn’t realize until it was too late. Too much trust in the universal translators.

The aliens had been checked out and studied, we thought. In terms of physiology and self-awareness, they were a good match. Myself, Janine and Roger were the first contact team assigned to touch down on Cyan-3. With all of our combined experience, we nearly had an entire alphabet of abbreviations after our names. We thought we were so smart.

See, the thing is that cultural contamination needs to be kept to an absolute minimum. We touch down with objectives and then we lift off. A small exchange of knowledge with the promise of more and the away we go. Baby steps. This is something that works both ways.

We had no idea something as simple as a name could screw it all up.

The Cyanots were quadrupedal with hand tentacles instead of hooves but they had faces quite like ours. More eyes and the mouth was up top but it was easy to see surprise, fear, anger, wonder, and happiness. The basics. All of our dealings so far had been an exchange of math between our computers. They seemed on par with us but hadn’t yet built anything bigger than satellites.

We stepped out of our shuttle underneath the bright orange sky of Cyan. The air had a slight blue mist to it making the shafts of light from our landing gear stand out. The Cyanot contingent stepped forward. There were six of them

Janine was her bubbly self, barely contained excitement at the prospect of first contact. Roger was his usual cool self, always retreating inwards in times of stress. Myself, I was tired. I’d done twenty-six of these. We looked at each other and we made introductions. I motioned for the lead Cyanot to go first.

Its deep voice sounded out and our translators kicked in. “I am Shenerade. This is Shenerade. I am accompanied by Shenerade and Shenerade.” It motioned to the other Cyanots around it.

Maybe a family? That would account for the same name. “I’m Warren” I said. “This is Janine, and this is Roger. We are from Earth. A planet like yours but far away. Why do you all have the same name?”

The Cyanots looked are our translators and then each other, confused. Almost like we’d done something rude.

The first one’s whinnying, glottal voice came back to us through the translator. “I am Siscorn. This is Siscorn. I am accompanied by Siscorn and Siscorn.”

Something in the back of my head flared up. This was wrong but I hadn’t guessed the depth of it.

Proud and angry, the lead Cyanot took a step towards me and brought its head up in what looked like a challenge. The others were still confused. “I am Torsh. This is Siscorn. I am accompanied by Siscorn and Siscorn.”

Then the one near the back fixated all of its eyes on Janine. Janine smiled and cocked her head. The Cyanot mimicked her astonishingly well. “I am Janine,” it said.

We all looked at it. The lead Cyanot looked at me and adopted a stance of fatigue and worry mixed with old age and professional scorn. It was me, I realized too late. “I am Warren.” It said.

Roger spoke up “We have to get back to the ship. NOW.”

“I am Roger. We need to get away from the humans. NOW. Something has gone wrong. I am Roger.” Said one of the other Cyanots.

We backed away from each other. We got on our ship and left. The Cyanot watched us go.

The Cyanot have no names. They only have terms for states of being. When they are jealous, they become jealousy. They ARE jealousy. When they are mad, they become anger. They ARE anger. Shenerade was polite pride. Siscorn was confusion. Torsh meant to be an angry leader demanding answers. When we introduced our selves as three different states that they’d never heard of, they didn’t understand what we were saying. Later, we found out that they had seventy-six states of being.

Now they had 79. Seventy-six simple states of existence and three complex, layered, human imprints. Unknowingly, we had just introduced three new ‘moods’ into their society based on our personalities. The broadcast had been shown to the entire planet on their version of live television. There was no escape. Every Cyanot was now capable of being Roger, Janine or Warren. My weary gruffness, Janine’s charming sly smile and Roger’s all-business jaw clench people the planet instantly.

It was the biggest cultural contamination screw up of my career.




tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
The pulsing orb set down in my farmhouse’s back yard in the middle of the night. The corn swayed in the breeze, completely unaffected by the alien craft. It silently came to a stop on the grass just outside the cornfield, shifting in colour from red to green.

In the distance, a dog barked.

I stood on my back porch in my bathrobe carrying my shotgun.

I stared at the glowing, eerie ship. A door opened and a green creature came out, stepping down invisible stairs to the lawn. It stood fifteen feet in front of me. It had a disturbing amount of claws and teeth. It looked nervous and awkward.

“Hey there. Uh. You mutht be a hoomin.” it said, long tongue lisping through long teeth, “Thorry. Uh….human! Human. Yeah. Uh, take me to your leader? Is that how it goeth? Yeah. Take me to your leader.” Said the alien.

“Get off my property.” I growled.

“Uh, yeah. Uh. We come in….peath! Peath, yeah. That’s how it goeth, right? We come in peathe. So, like, take uth, to, the…prethident. At the White Houthe.” Said the alien, shooting me a red-eyed questioning look.

“Look. If’n you don’t get offa my property, ahm a-gonna blast ya.” I sneered at the beast.

The alien looked at me. It appeared to be thinking.

“KORTH-QUAT!” boomed a huge voice from inside the ship, making both me and the alien jump. “QUIT PLAYING WITH YOUR FOOD!”

Sheepishly, the alien looked back at me and shrugged. It leapt at me before I could even raise my gun. The last thing I saw was those teeth coming straight for my face.






tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
As was usual with First Contact, communication had been the problem. The problem we were facing here was that the Nitkas had 56 mouths around their gigantic heads, 28 on each side.

When they spoke, each mouth spoke one word but all the mouths spoke at the same time. If their sentence had less than 56 words, the unused mouths would hoot when talking so as not to be left out. Each sentence was one big crowded shout, like a whole orchestra playing one note for one second. If a Nitka barked several times, that was a paragraph. It was a very efficient method of communication.

We were there for six Earth months trying to put together a translator. It was frustrating because we talked at an obscenely slow speed compared to them with our one lonely mouth. We said our words in a linear order taking forever to meander to the end of a sentence. Only the most patient Nitkas partook in our studies.

Seeing them learn English had been humbling. They broke the dictionary into groups of 56 words and shouted them staccato-blast at each other in their classroom. That took an hour. After that, they blasted rules of syntax to each other in the same way. They could learn our language in a day.

But they couldn’t speak it one word at a time. The one trick we’d been able to teach them was to treat each word as a sentence. They could say ‘the’ with one mouth while the other 55 mouths droned. Then they could say ‘cat’ with one mouth while the other 55 mouths droned. Then they could say “went” with one mouth while the other 55 mouths droned. And so on. The Nitkas were uninterested in that as a solution because it took so long and it was hard for us to hear what was being said by the one mouth with the other mouths droning. In a way, that led to our solution.

With a Nitka standing in a spherical cage of directional microphones pointed at each mouth, we could isolate the one word being spoken. With that discovery, we realized we could isolate all the words. With speech recognition programs, we could recognize all 56 words but then we had to order them. The computer could work out the versions of the sentence that the Nitka probably meant and show them on a screen. The Nitka could point to the right sentence. That let them talk to us fairly quickly.

Speaking back was a challenge. We could dictate words to a small bank of 56 speakers that would say them all at once. We had to be careful to make sure not to say sentences longer than 56 words or the Nitka would get confused. The result was us speaking in a straight line, one word after one word, and then pressing a trigger and the sentence was barked to the Nitka by the speakers. After that, they’d respond and then point to the sentence on the screen that was closest to what they meant. On our side, there were still embarrassing pauses as we spoke but it worked. It encouraged us to be succinct.

The result was a lightweight net of microphones worn by the Nitka ambassadors around their heads with an accompanying datapad for clarity and the humans wore a small bank of speakers on their chests. It remains one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced as a translator designer.


tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
The shifting planes of the emerald ship folded and twisted to expose smaller shards of landing gear as it touched down lightly on the White House lawn. It was a beautiful August day and the sun played off of the shining edges of the massive craft.

All of the world’s news networks were present at a safe distance from the craft’s touchdown point, telephoto lenses extended. They had perceived something newsworthy was happening and had gathered moth-like to the ship’s light.

A long shard extended forward slowly from the gleaming ship until it touched the grass.

The automated weapons that were trained on the ship swiveled to the new door that opened at the top of the walkway.

The creature that ambled down the walkway on several sets of legs had a large, ferocious mouth and three widely-spaced sets of eyes on either side of that mouth. When it got to the bottom of the walkway it reached out one long, taloned toe to touch the grass. Dubious at first, it gingerly stepped onto the grass and then looked around.

“Hello?” it said. Only the wind answered.

The cameras zoomed in. Programs based on intelligence-search SETI and NASA algorithms analyzed the creatures movements and body structure, cataloguing every nanosecond of this first contact. Military AI searched for weaknesses, quivering with as much panic as silicon intelligence was capable of, straining like a dog on a leash, looking for any excuse to open fire. Satellites reflected the live feeds to hundreds of countries and six billion silent homes.

Automated, efficient energy plants supplied power to those homes. Cities were kept running by nanodrones and reconstruction extruders. Even they were tuned into the transmissions that iCams were broadcasting.

“Is there anyone I can talk to?” the alien queried. It had obviously practiced the English language and it looked proud of it. Its voice echoed out over the lawn. No one answered.

Screens flickered all over the earth in billions of homes. Decades-old corpses lay in front of those flickering screens in those quiet buildings.

The disease had escaped and mutated too quickly to be contained. The disease thrived in water, lay dormant in food, breezed through plastic, ignored temperature extremes and was also airborne. The entire civilization had been wiped out in a matter of days. All humans and most mammals had been dead for a long time. The disease itself sputtered out soon after its hosts perished.

Plant life thrived and insects were enjoying a heyday. Meat-eating reptiles were almost extinct. A new ecosystem was growing.

And the automated systems continued masterless. Humans had found ways to power their machines for centuries at a low cost to their economy and the environment. AI discoveries had given the machines limited autonomy. And then the humans had died.

“Well. Uh. I mean. Shoot,” said the alien, pawing the ground, and then in its own language, “this is anticlimactic.”

“Anything?” barked a voice from inside the ship.

“No,” sulked the alien, “It’s just another casket.”

“Hey, don’t beat yourself up about it. You know the odds against finding a thriving planet-bound civilization right while it’s alive.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” The alien walked slowly back up the ramp into the ship.

The cameras mutely tracked the ship’s ascent into the beautiful sky until it disappeared and then turned back to scanning for other area news. The military stood down.

The planet mutely went back to business as usual.




tags
skonen_blades: (nyeeehaha)
The sun beat down on me and the rest of the media gathered on the white house lawn. I wasn’t dressed for the heat. I was sweating through my shirt, hoping that I wouldn’t sweat through my suit on camera. Six hundred of us were jammed into a crowd here for an amazing chapter in humanity’s history. Soldiers, politicians, scientists, and media. We stank.

The bulbous pink and blue spaceship settled silently on the grass as the entire world watched their feeds, drinking in every second of Earth’s first contact with alien life.

I could see the president craning his neck to get a good look at the ship. His face betrayed his nervousness. I’d never seen him this worried and the country had been through some scary issues during his term.

I was surprisingly calm. For one, the ship looked like it belonged in a kid’s cartoon and also, if the aliens were going to invade us, they picked the nicest day we’ve had in months. You’d think an invading force would like a little more cloud cover. I had a feeling that whatever was going to happen today wouldn’t be bad. But I’d been wrong before.

A door opened on the side of the craft and a rampart slowly lowered itself to the ground. The entire planet stared in an expectant hush.

A kindly old man stepped out of the ship. White hair, glasses, a nicely tailored but cheap suit, and a warm smile. His back was straight but he moved slowly down the ramp as he looked around at us. His giant eyes blinked behind his large glasses. He stopped at the bottom of the ramp, raised his hands, and motioned for us to come closer.

I stepped forward.

The crowd gasped. The old man smiled. None of the soldiers opened fire. So far, so good, I thought.

I took more steps, getting close to him. He smelled like vanilla, licorice, old books and raspberries. I found myself smiling back at him.

“Hello.” I said. And paused. I could hear a hundred journalists stab me in the back with their eyes. They all probably had amazing speeches planned. I did, too, but I couldn’t remember it just now. I held my microphone out towards the old man.

“Do I speak into this? Is that what you’re saying?” the old man said and winked at me. I nodded.
“People of Earth. Or as my employers call it, Cor Carraway 6.” He said. “My name, or the name I’m chosen, is Arnold Mintz. This form I’m wearing was created here, in this ship, to communicate with you. After a lot of research, I decided this would be the least threatening shape I could assume for what you call First Contact. You understand so far?” He looked at me expectantly. I nodded.

“I am an expert at this. My company has third-party-brokered many primary contacts before. This planet you are on has been recognized as possessing life capable of space travel and worthy of joining the galactic council. As an aside, there are mining rights we’d like to talk to you about and we’d also like to warn you about an extinction level event but that won’t be here for another century or so.”

A warm breeze rustled the grass.
“There are a lot of details to go over so if you don’t mind…..how do you say it.....take me to your leader?”

I grabbed the old man’s hand and started walking back towards the crowd.



tags
skonen_blades: (gasface)
This particular first contact was confusing. All the aliens seemed to have the same name. At first we thought the translators were broken but it appeared that the aliens, thrilled at meeting another alien race, were all named Cruff. They looked at us through their many yellow eyes and wide smiles with different lengths of green hair.

It was awkward.

In a radio transmission, they’d referred to their own race as the Kursk. So we knew they weren’t referring to their race.

When we introduced ourselves, it was like they didn’t know if they should be insulted or confused. Their smiles fell. They blinked a lot. They checked their translators like we did.

Then when re-introduced ourselves, the confused ones said their name was Jart. The two that seemed offended referred to themselves haughtily as Pronto and looked at the ground.

The Kursk had a notion that all emotions and physical states were vast, invisible beings. And that to experience an emotion or physical state was to become an appendage of that emotion or physical state. They believed they were merely extensions and that each of those vast, invisible beings had a name.

The joy of discovery was called Cruff. When a Kursk experienced the joy of discovery, that Kursk’s name became Cruff. Confusion was called Jart. Being offended was called Pronto.

They had different names depending on their physical or emotional state.

Angry people were called Tarno but then when they become happy, they were called Shret. The names were applicable all across three of their sexes.

They had six hundred and eight-seven names. As their society progressed and became more complex, a new name was added now and then. The last time that happened was a hundred years before we met them. They were very peaceful.

They had math and so they had numbers for each citizen to keep track of them in terms of any needed bureaucracy. Personal Identity Numbers to keep the wheels of commerce and retirement and birth records going. In many respects, they were like humans.

What happened was a tragedy. We’d taken precautions against any sort of biological or technological contamination. We’d even limited their access to our records so that they wouldn’t find out the finer points of war or the more distasteful chapters of our history.

But names. We didn’t think of the names.

We contaminated them. They had six hundred names. We have millions. In their culture, a new name was a big deal. They hadn't had a new name in ten years.

Now they had too many. It introduced a fracture into their society. In a mad rush to assimilate what they could from our culture, they innocently copied over nine hundred thousand names before we barred access to our records. We didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late.

They couldn’t agree on the finer points of the new names and what they signified. They demanded to meet people with the names they were unfamiliar with. We refused.

It plunged their society into chaos. It exposed them to an emotional complexity within a month that should have taken centuries to develop. We feel pretty guilty.

We basically introduced nine hundred thousand giant, invisible beings into their society with no idea how to define them. It might as well have been an invasion.

We are orbiting the planet now. Soon we will leave and classify this planet as off limits except to qualified personnel.

We’ve done enough damage here.




tags
skonen_blades: (blurg)
We had always been looking for a way to legitimately kill the stupid. But where did one draw the line? An outside force, something inhuman, had to make the choice. We couldn’t make that kind of decision.

We found a way.

The aliens left behind a device. We don’t understand how it worked but the components were simple and easy to recreate.

After first contact, Earth was catalogued, included in their star maps as possessing both intelligent and non-intelligent life, and then left alone. It was quite anticlimactic. Almost business-like. The aliens themselves had translator machines that picked up our language nuances wonderfully. They went to great lengths to appear like us. Aside from the blue skin and golden eyes, they succeeded. Their spokespeople appeared on all of our talk shows and deftly handled all of our xenophobic questions. They mollified us, measured us, and left.

The silence in their wake was depressing. Those that had been waiting to become part of the galactic family all of their lives felt like they’d been given nothing more than a high-five.

Then we found the device. It was the small machine they used to detect intelligent life. It flashed red on animals, meaning non-intelligent life, but green on most humans.

Most humans.

Some humans were classified as red. The mentally challenged, those with brain damage, and most children under the age of three, for instance. But around fifteen percent of adults tested also fell into the red category. In most cases, it wasn’t a shock. Racists, incompetents, overly aggressive men, willfully ignorant people, non-readers, dubious politicians, and religious zealots for instance. There were exceptions to all of these categories but the ones that showed up red were rarely surprising.

Many genetic theories were thrown into the pot. Perhaps these people, mostly from the same families, were closer in lineage to our ancestors and had not been given sufficient spurring to evolve. Perhaps they were from a strain of the human race with defects. Perhaps inbreeding millennia ago had produced these throwbacks.

That’s when the theory started that maybe the human race needed to be pure for the aliens to return, that maybe we were being watched and tested.

The first few ‘red murders’ were put down to extremists but as Green Wave Party started climbing in numbers, death tolls rose.

At first, all of the red-positive folks were rounded up for their own protection. Those temporary lodgings turned into refugee camps as the months and years went by. They were a drain on resources. Several leaders in the scientific community calmly suggested euthanizing the lot of them. After all, according to the alien’s machine, they were no smarter than stray dogs.

Most of the cities concurred.

Calmly, deliberately, and with a cold, orderly precision that would have made Hitler jealous, the lives in the camps were extinguished.

A few rebelled and successfully broke free only to become the hunted. A few escaped because of sentimental attachments that Green Wave Party members had. Wives or stepsons, that sort of thing. They were neutered and let out into GWP custody with no more rights than pets.

After the purge, the human race has become smug, docile, and guilty. Everyone is routinely tested. Everyone is green. We are smart and happy.

And it was all thanks to the aliens. We can’t wait to show them what we’ve accomplished.

We’re still waiting for their return.




tags
skonen_blades: (thatsmell)
Do I consider myself a citizen of Earth? Do I consider myself a human? Am I an alien sympathizer? Members of the council, I fear I no longer know what these questions even pertain to. They are meaningless sounds to me now with no more gravitas than the bark of a dog. I have only the following to say and I say it not in my defense for I know that is a laughable word in this court. I say for the sole reason that I must. It is on my mind and I fear the end of my career is near if not my very existence.

I have seen people who attended one meeting out of curiosity have their entire lives destroyed by the subsequent investigation. I have seen people who, solely by being accused by this committee, have seen their occupations disintegrate.

To be dramatic, you are angels with flaming swords, blind to the destruction you're causing but unwilling to stop because you're convinced your actions are just. If I was scared, you'd see it as guilt. But I am calm, and you see that as a suspicious flippancy. There is no victory for the accused in this room.

The sense of insolence you perceive in me is merely a sense of resignation. My life was doomed the moment your men knocked on my door. I have been brought before the all-powerful and my life is over. People who can't even pronounce xenosympathizer have been dragged before you in tears after running from arresting officers out of simple animal fear that you mistake for culpability. Their attempt to flee and subsequent weeping are no more an admission of hubris than this table is carved from a block of cheese. You take far too much joy in your mission, your unattainable goal. No society can be spotless.

A human ship landed on that planet, yes. The ship was destroyed and the astronauts were murdered, yes. I don’t know if the pilot and crew were perceived as a threat or food but I do know that it was a mistake to land without further research. The fault is ours.

The aliens were not communists. They were insects. They had no concept of money or values. They ate and built. It was not a political philosophy. It was nature functioning at a base level. They drew no line in the sand and they did not belong to a side. They didn't have the emotions with which to hate us. This is all our doing. We are guilty of genocide. Our act was not retaliation. Our act was a first strike.

And now, out of guilt and a bloodlust that was only fueled by their deaths and can never be sated, we are turning on ourselves. This, the aftermath of our shameful first contact, will be looked back on with even more horror than our mass slaughter of that race. No matter how many 'sympathizers' you root out and destroy, you will always be lady Macbeth and your hands will never wash clean of blood, both red and green.

I did nothing when they were destroyed as I have done nothing since. I have attended no meetings. If I am guilty of anything, it is of not raising my voice when it may have mattered. I await this mockery of human dignity to run its course and I am humiliated to be alive during this chapter of earth's existence.

--Last recorded words of disgraced xenobiologist Jance Hayward, 63rd traitor executed in the state of Arizona during the post-Xenocleanse Purge of 2061



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