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|The Sign (standard:science fiction, 669 words)
|Added: Aug 23 2003
|Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
|The aliens came without a word. And no-one could believe what they left behind...
The Sign ‘They came out of nowhere. I mean, space is big. Really big. But how we missed an alien vessel more than 15 miles long, I still can't understand. Suddenly it was here, big as anything. The EarthCom communications net jammed and then broke down because every astronomer and president in the world was trying to reach every one else and for a few hours, anything went. We had no idea what we were dealing with. It was nothing like the way we had imagined First Contact would be. They just hovered there in a high geosychronous orbit, in the process bulldozing away millions of dollars worth of communications satellites like they weren't even there. Naturally, we tried everything we could think of to communicate. Binary language, visual and aural patterns, Hell, some people even tried a simple ‘Hi there!'. But they didn't respond.' ‘Now don't get me wrong, I was pretty excited at the time. But as the first day passed without any signal whatsoever, I was getting worried. Let's face it, even aliens don't fly halfway across the Galaxy (I mean that hypothetically of course, since we still don't know who the bastards were or where they came from), just to enjoy the view from a hundred miles up. And if they weren't here for us, we could be in trouble...' ‘I've always hated leaving the gravity well and that time was no different. Guess I should be happy that it was definitely the last time, though I didn't know that while we were lifting off. As a member of the EarthCom Science Counsel I was asked to join the Secretary General and his staff on Tranquillity Base. Everyone figured that at least we'd get a better look at them from the moon. And we did. The vessel was shaped like a huge key, slim at the front and tapering out near the end. Along the top ridge we saw what looked like towers jutting out from the greenish hull. And still they didn't answer any of our calls.' ‘After we'd lost three reconnaissance droids to unexplained phenomena near the alien ship, it finally sank in that they were just not interested in communicating with us. They just hung there, blotting out the sun, looking for all the world like an antique housekey trying to open some giant lock down on Earth. And then the towers on top of the thing started to grow. Actually, they started to take of. Suddenly an armada of missile-like objects was heading towards Earth. And there was nothing we could do about it except watch.' ‘When the flashes started going off, we knew the human race had suddenly made it to the top spot on the endangered species list. For three days the whole planet was lit by a sickly greenish glow, bands of colour moving through the stratosphere and flowing together in intricate patterns. No communications with Earth were possible, of course. Nothing survived. On the fourth day, the alien vessel left. And I mean it was just suddenly gone, leaving us, the last survivors on Tranquillity Base, bewildered and confused. We could last here indefinitely, that wasn't the problem. There were plenty of supplies and with about three hundred healthy men and women, we did have an interesting future ahead of us. But we had to know why our planet had been destroyed first. That's just the way people are.' ‘It took us a month to understand that the swirling patterns, which by now had become regular and predictable, were a sort of language. It took us another three months to decipher that language. I don't know how long it's gonna take us to recover from the message we ended up with. According to our calculations, it's visible across nearly a third of our galaxy. Which is good news for someone. Because when our computers finally spat out a translation of the bands that had cost us our home planet, this is what I read: ‘Drink Fregarti Beer'..... Tweet
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