27 Dec 96%
I would not think that anything can surprise me at this stage. I seem to be oversaturated with a thoroughly unlikely series of unimaginable revelations and an absurd amount of unpredictable twists that my life has taken in rapid succession. Still, what I saw just minutes ago on a wall that has decided to become a large display was disturbingly unusual, in its own and unique way.
It was a spaceship. And by that I mean it was definitely an artificial structure, a product of advanced technology. But for a change, it did not look alien. The technology looked human, but ominously unfamiliar at the same time. I say “ominously” because it had a weirdly angular yet smooth shape that looked out of place on a human spacecraft. And unlike any of our space stations or satellites I have seen it wasn’t reflective or white – instead it was pitch black.
I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong with it, and then it hit me – it looked aggressive, like a weapon, or something built to carry weapons. And it did have cockpit windows or something looking like ones. Which hinted at a human crew. A military space vessel with a crew! I had no idea anything like that actually existed. And I follow all astronomy and space exploration related news and rumors religiously.
Tia seemed just as surprised as I, judging by a couple of expletives she whispered to herself, so she likely wasn’t previously aware of its existence either. While we were staring at the display, trying to figure out what to think of it, we heard a soft click and quiet hum of a relayed radio transmission.
“This is captain Campbel of USS Clark hailing alien vessel. We know you can receive and understand us. You are to release the abducted United States soldier and a Canadian civilian, cease all your subversive activity on Earth and leave the Earth orbit, effective immediately. In light of your previous activity, failure to comply will be treated as an act of war. You will be fired upon until you are destroyed. While your technology is more advanced, we doubt you can intercept as many nuclear warheads as we have trained on you at this moment.”
We looked at each other in sheer surprise. I was not grasping the full scope of what was happening and why, but one thing was clear: the sheer audacity of the captain: intercepting a few rockets should not be that difficult for Ed. They had to understand it down on Earth. And why such an overreaction anyway?
As if he could read my thoughts, the captain continued.
“We have multiple warheads launched from our space-based weapon systems on the opposite side of the planet, along with a large amount of pure kinetic interceptors identical in mass and shape. They are all approaching at orbital velocity as I speak. No engines, no active tracking, absorbing radar and light at most wavelengths and virtually undetectable. Leave now or be destroyed. You have sixty minutes to comply.”
“Can you confirm it or is he bluffing?” asked Tia tensely.
“I do not know for certain,“ Ed replied in a surprisingly embarrassed voice, “but it is entirely plausible. I may not be able to intercept a barrage of multiple kinetic and nuclear targets sufficiently far to survive the explosions. Then again, he might be bluffing.”
“Ed, can you patch me in?” I shouted, desperately trying to defuse the situation somehow.
“OK, you’re in,” Ed said in a calm and careless voice. I felt cold sweat on my forehead and shivers down my spine. Rush and half-baked thoughts were competing in my mind for the right to try and resolve the crysis, all weak and pitifully incompetent, like the opposing candidates in the last elections.
“Go on now, the channel is open.”
Lacking any coherent strategy, I blurted the first thing that I could turn into a meaningful sentence.
“Hold on, captain, this is Art speaking, the civilian.” I winced. Art the civilian. Really. What am I saying? “These are the good guys! We weren’t kidnapped, and the alien AI has helped us to prevent a nuclear attack, it has to count for something, and the bad aliens are all dead now anyway, and we need to talk to the good ones, and not shoot at them, and this is the first contact and just as they are deciding whether we are worthy of establishing relations or not, here you are bloody shooting at them, and us too for that matter!”
That sentence had started in a slightly worried tone, quickly went through a panicky phase and ended up on a truly hysterical note. An impressive range. What it wasn’t though is even remotely convincing.
“Listen, son, I don’t know what a bunch of crap the aliens are feeding you, but we have facts. The aliens have hacked most of our government and military networks. Chinese and Russian too. The hacks were directing all traffic to this vessel, not to any other supposed aliens. This is already an act of aggression. Then there were multiple assassinations and assassination attempts, kidnappings, and finally an attempted nuclear attack, which we have now confirmed to be of alien origin. Even though the worst was averted, apparently thanks to our military operative, now captive aboard your vessel, there are multiple casualties from the tsunami and panic, which was a direct result of the alien actions. This is an act of war, and the United States does not tolerate any aggression on its soil. We have no evidence of any other aliens, everything points to the single source. If they want to talk – they can leave a communications relay beyond lunar orbit and we can talk. But first they have to leave Earth and its orbit, and cease all their activities on the planet. This is not negotiable.”
Damn, here we go again. A swarm of nuclear warheads heading our way, and we have less than one hour until we either leave Earth to face whatever faith awaits us or simply cease to exist in a huge fireball.
I desperately looked at Tia, hoping she could think of something productive to add to the conversation. She did.