New story… First contact…
Sarah watched the video screen as the rover Odin crawled across the surface of the planet Asgard. It was easy to think the video was in real time, but the reality was that the newly discovered planet Asgard was a little less than a light day from Earth. When Asgard was first found, it was thought it might be a rogue planet but subsequent measurements showed it was in a very long slow orbit of the Sun.
20,000 miles in diameter and made mostly of various ices with a metallic core and rocky outer layer over that metal core. The core was thought to be a bit bigger than Earth but the icy mantle was 6,000 miles deep and consisted of exotic high pressure ices and supercritical fluids. Cryovolcanoes were common on the surface, vast seas of liquid methane and ethane covered two thirds of its surface. Asgard was almost a much larger analog of Saturn’s moon Titan.
Asgard was so interesting that within a decade of its’ discovery an orbiter had been sent and three rovers landed on the surface. The orbiter was called Valkyrie, the three rovers were named Odin, Thor and Loki but like his mischievous name sake Loki had proved to be troublesome. Loki had stopped transmitting within a few weeks after a flood of methane rain had buried the hapless probe but Odin and Thor were operating with near perfection.
The surface of Asgard was, both unique and familiar. The atmosphere was a ten-bar mixture of helium, hydrogen, nitrogen, neon and other noble gasses. CO2, CO, and some hydrocarbons made up intermittent snowfall in the areas around the extensive cryovolcano activity. Methane rain squalls swept the surface regularly and the winds often broke off the crystalline growths that covered much of the surface.
Sarah had been mesmerized from the very beginning by the vast vistas the rovers had revealed. The forests of strange crystals, what appeared to be slow moving analogs of animal life, and yes there appeared to be life on the surface. Some scientists still had doubts preferring to wait before coming out on the side of living things, instead they asserted it was possible the growths and odd looking spiny balls and other shapes were just odd crystals and accretions native to the surface being rolled around by wind.
Sarah came down strongly on the side of life being responsible for the odd objects and growth on Asgard. But she had to admit the basis of such life was at this point was speculative at best! Five weeks ago, just as Oden approached what seemed to be a forest of crystalline forms, all transmissions from Valkyrie had stopped, 12 days of panic had ensued before the signal had been reacquired.
Three centuries of scientific advance, retreat, and finally advance since man first landed on the moon. “I am so lucky to live in this time,” Thought Sarah, “superstition has been vanquished, various faiths no longer fought between themselves to the detriment of society, a real utopia was finally on the horizon.”
While the power of religion had been quelled most of Earths people still held a belief in a higher power and various Temples, Mosques, Cathedrals, Churches and other holy sites were still held in high regard and services were still held there in the old traditions but the influences, not to mention the power of life and death had subsided.
Sarah smiled, “What a wonderful time to be alive…”
Now yet another problem had cropped up, the signal was old video, for some reason the Valkyrie orbiter had been sending old data instead of new. Sarah had noticed when the data stream had resumed the video seemed to be showing a surface that was familiar. Almost two weeks of study, trying to get the orbiter to reboot and even switching to sending the signals to the Pluto orbiter for re-transmission had failed to determine what the problem was. Two days ago, the explanation suddenly became glaringly obvious.
A new signal had been detected from the vicinity of Asgard, a signal that was riding the data transmission from Valkyrie, a signal that couldn’t be explained, a signal that had been decoded just three hours ago.
Sarah had the video playing over and over, back and forth across the portion where the signal became self-explanatory. The point that showed an alien sitting facing the camera, their camera, not Odin’s camera or Thor’s camera, but what was evidently a camera originating from an alien ship of some sort.
Sarah, called her grad student from the console where he was also going over the data.
“Jim”, asked Sarah, “do we have any reply from the radio telescope on the far side of the moon?”
“Not yet, the Lunar communication satellite has five more minutes before it comes into line of sight.”
The wait for the data from the radar dish was excruciating, the last data dump had given them just more of the alien figure with STANDBY scrolling across the bottom of the screen as though it was one of those “close captioned” channels on television.
Jim asked, “Have you decided when we are going to announce this transmission outside the agency or the government?”
Sarah sighed, “I’ve talked it over with the director, we wait until we can give more information other than an alien telling us to standby.”
“At this point we can’t even prove it’s not just some crank that has hacked into the main frame.”
“Sarah, can you really believe this is a hoax?”
“No not really, but we must be sure, neither of us needs to have fool listed on our job resume as extra talents.”
Jim’s console began to beep, the radar data was coming through.
“Sarah! Come look at this!” Sarah crossed the room and her breath was suddenly expelled in a loud gasp.
The radar data showed seven large blobs arranged with one blob in the middle surrounded by six similar blobs.
“What is this?” asked Sarah
Jim Replied, “It’s a radar image of the vicinity of Asgard, the operators are saying it’s huge blobs of ionized gas, each about 35,000 miles across. The spectra indicate the plasma is mostly Neon, confined by a magnetic field.”
Sarah looked in disbelief at the rest of the data, a communications screen lit up and the face of one of the people who manned the Lunar radar station spoke.
“Sarah?” he spoke, “both of you need to sit down, we have calculated the trajectory of the plasma clouds. It appears they are decelerating, now they are traveling at approximately .05 c, their current speed and deceleration should put them into the inner solar system in about a year. We are not sure yet but there appears to be a solid object at the center of each plasma blob.”
Stunned Jim and Sarah looked at each other, both knew what this meant, not a hoax, alien space craft were coming to call!
“Has anyone else been appraised of this data?” asked Sarah
“Yes” the face on the screen answered. “the US military has been sent the preliminary data, I’m not sure but I doubt they have made heads or tails of the data. It’s not as provocative to anyone who doesn’t have the complete picture.”
At this point yet another computer screen asked for attention by beeping. It was the feed from Asgard or evidently now the feed from an alien space craft.
Sarah transferred the feed to a large screen and Jim and Sarah sat down to listen. The message was fascinating and disturbing as well.
The alien was or at least appeared to be humanoid, the head was a round human like face, two eyes, a nose, a mouth but from there things began to diverge from a human face. The alien had four arms that could be seen in the picture. Two upper arms, they were large muscled and rested at the alien’s side while two more gracile arms and hands were visible. The two smaller arms seemed to be busy doing something but their movements didn’t resemble typing or any familiar actions. Two actual moth like antenna sprouted from the top of the head, two large pointed ears that terminated above the top of the alien’s head were visible as well. The mouth began to move and utter odd clicking and grunting sounds but English words scrolled across the bottom of the screen.
“We are the reason your probe failed, the magnetic sails we use for deceleration interfered with their workings. They will begin to work again as soon as our mag sails get far enough away. We will decelerate and take up orbit between Earth and Mars within an Earth year.”
At the mention of Earth and Mars Sarah’s eye brow lifted, “how do they know the names of our planets if they are just discovering us?”
“You are welcome to continue to probe us as we decelerate into your planetary system but I will give you any information about us you need. We will give you the data in measures you use so you can get an idea of us without extensive translation.”
“First, we come in seven colony ships, one million of us on each colony. The colonies are a rotating torus 500 miles across and 100 miles thick, we use fusion power to light the inside surface of the colonies, our air is similar to yours and we use gravity of twice Earth normal. We accelerate out of gravity wells using magnetic sails and decelerate into the gravity wells of stars with the same technology.”
“We use spatial folding to travel between stars at a pseudo velocity that allows us to travel any distance in what you would call ten years. Sometimes this is faster than light sometimes it is not but it is the only way we know of to travel interstellar distances in a reasonable time frame.”
“We intend to share our technology with you so you can build colonies and travel between stars like we do. We do not conquest we contact and communicate, sharing our knowledge and philosophies with you so your people can live better longer lives by following our example.”
“Sarah immediately thought of the old tale of something too good to be true.”
“We will share with you the secretes of the universe and the certain knowledge of THE creator.”
This time Both Sarah and Jim looked surprised, “THE creator?” they said in unison.
“We will help you wipe out the false religions that have been holding you back throughout the early years since you were created.”
Again, both astronomers gave each other an odd look. Sarah said, “Something is off here, or are they just failing to translate concepts properly?”
“The alien’s words continued to scroll across the screen. Here is an illustration of us, a picture popped up to show what was evidently the alien.”
An odd-looking creature, six legs, the rear legs were thick, shorter than the front which caused the body to slope up to the front legs which were longer and numbered two on each side. The front legs were in a cluster but the alien’s torso was at once human like and totally different. They had four arms with the top two being large and the lower two arms being small.
They had three toed hooves on each leg and seven fingers on each hand. Two of those fingers were thumbs, the glaring differences coupled with such similarities made Sarah and Jim uncomfortable in a way that was difficult to explain. The alien had ten limbs, 28 fingers, 18 toes, and funny looking antenna. This seemed like a joke but the humor was strained…
“I am sure you want ask how we know your language and details about your system. We had a robot probe in your system around one million of your years ago. We and our fellows occupy the Milky Way galaxy unchallenged, you will be allowed to take your place in our society as soon as you are willing to give the creator of the universe his due.”
“We suggest that you remove all historical artifacts from the places of worship you now use, we will be destroying them and replacing them with proper sacred sites for you to use. Your people will share in the wonder of a peaceful society and launch your own colony vessels to convert others in this region of your galaxy.”
Again, Sarah and Jim noticed the odd use of “your galaxy” Jim said out loud, “are they not from our galaxy?”
“We know that you will want to announce your liberation from the false gods your people have been enslaved by all your existence. This is the beginning of a glorious time, your people will gain the fruits of true freedom, we will show you how to live, how to treat your fellows, and how to show your creator your love. Feel free to send any questions you need answered, the time delay is several hours but we continue our trajectory to you as we approach your moment of destiny!”
Jim and Sarah sat down rather heavily in their chairs. “Do you know what this means Jim?”
Jim hesitated, finally he let out an exasperated sigh, “God damn Missionaries! First contact and they are missionaries! Technologically advanced missionaries some to convert the primitive tribesmen…”
Sarah sat and shook her head, “escaping the confines of religion took us two centuries, several serious conflicts and even a limited nuclear war before we could break the chains of superstition. All that struggle to break free of the suppression of the human spirit and now it will be forced back on us by aliens…”
An insane giggle escaped her mouth as tears ran down her face, “Missionaries from the stars, well maybe it will be a benign theocracy, if such a thing is possible”