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The Sign (standard:science fiction, 669 words)
Author: TopaliAdded: Aug 23 2003Views/Reads: 3334/1Story 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 

‘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 

‘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'..... 


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