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“First Contact”, a Story from the Near-Dystopia

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When The Explorers came, it was a total shock to humanity. One moment the universe was a dead, sterile frontier, and the next a cloud of vessels and attendant probes appeared just beyond Mars.

The Explorers wasted no time initiating communications with Earth. Their first radio messages were basic, repeating in various languages that they lacked hostile intentions and wished only to seek out new life and civilizations. In order to determine the safety of earth’s environment, they warned it would be necessary to send out probes before they could dispatch emissaries to meet with Earth’s government.

Swarms of these flying robotic drones moved through the atmosphere, flitting about every corner of the world, dipping into the oceans themselves and the heights of the highest mountain ranges, but carefully avoiding military installations and the seats of governments themselves. These Explorers seemed to learn at an exponential rate, and their communications became increasingly sophisticated.

America and the United Nations went to great lengths stressing their open-mindedness and welcome embrace of all individuals no matter their origins. The Explorers, for their part, seemed quite happy to negotiate terms for a meeting, and expressed their only concern was the threat of possible contamination. Their species had suffered greatly from contact with a disease of some sort, and they were understandably determined to avoid falling victim to another infection.

After many days of continued surveillance and information gathering by the drones, The Explorers declared they were ready to send their emissaries to Earth to meet with humans face to face. They chose the National Mall in Washington DC for the history making moment, and on a crisp, September Saturday, the first of their ships plunged through the upper atmosphere.

The Madam President of the United States had stated her desire to fully represent earth’s diversity and open-mindedness to The Explorers many times in the hours leading up to the fateful meeting. There was something almost serendipitous about her status as the first female American president, a shattering of barriers nearly exceeded by her vice president, a transwoman of mixed Jewish and African ancestry. Her White House Chief of staff was gay, half of her generals and admirals were black. Her national security adviser was Japanese, her press secretary identified as pan-gender. The United State’s values could not have been better represented by any former administration, this was truly the peak of American exceptionalism.

A screaming howl of some sort of unknown engine technology accompanied the arrival of The Explorers. Their iridescent, metallic green ships had a surprising shape that suggested a spartan, almost militaristic design of forward swept wings and angular, hawkish cockpits atop heavy fuselages connected to glowing blue engines. Some sort of flickering shield device seemed to project around each individual dropship, occasionally shimmering as it deflected debris and leaves kicked up by the main drives.

As these vessels slowly touched down into pre-arranged landing zones along the National Mall, dozens of drones streamed away and began hovering in unison, silently observing the landing procedures. Huge boarding ramps banged down with a piercing metallic ring, followed by the tromp of heavy metallic boots.

The Explorers themselves were hulking figures, completely insulated in thick, overlapping sheets of some kind of iridescent green metallic plate. Bluish light glowed between ventilation grills on the rear of their suits, suggesting that each individual had some sort of reactor powering their armored exoskeletons. There were tribal markings along the pauldrons of these suits along with different colored helms that seemed to suggest some kind of ranking system. The leading figure, and also the tallest, had a white helmet with two narrow eye-slits above an angular face-plate. He slowly lumbered towards the stage and reception area assembled the previous evening, clearly knowing who the Madam President was and seeking her audience.

Madam President Genevieve Williams smiled welcomingly as the huge, bulky form of the white helmeted Explorer approached. He inclined his head towards her, drew up sharply, and then placed the gauntlets of his massive hands along the sides of his helmet. With a hiss of depressurizing hoses, the helmet came free.

Beneath the helm, a broad, triangular, reptilian head came into view. The Explorer’s face was unmistakably similar to some great skink, complete with iridescent green scales and a curiously expressive mouth. With a great whoosh of inhalation, he took in the September air of planet Earth and exhaled it slowly as an unmistakably pleased expression creased his features. “Ah it is good to taste the fresh smell of a new world.” he rumbled, rolling his massive shoulders as if to caste off the lingering stiffness of a long voyage.

“Madam President”, called The Explorer, favoring her with a warm smile that belied his reptilian ancestry.

“We welcome you to earth, and to America.” replied Madam President Williams. “You speak our language well and I’m glad that our atmosphere is safe for your people.”

For a moment, a flicker of confusion seemed to cross The Explorer’s face. “Safe?” he queried, before immediately answering himself. “Ah yes this planet is no danger to us, biologically speaking that is.” The Explorer slid a purple tongue along his huge, toothy mouth, seemingly dazed by his awe at the new world.

“We hope that this historic first meeting between our peoples will herald a spirit of cooperation for centuries to come.” said the Madam President, gesturing towards her attending staff, senators, and governors. “We believe diversity is a great strength, and we all welcome contact with our first visitors from beyond this solar system.”

The Explorer smiled impossibly large, his hulking, armored frame seeming to radiate an almost casual friendliness as he slowly walked up to the Madam President, extending his massive right hand in a surprisingly dexterous motion that clearly intimated his desire for a handshake. She put her hand in his, only betraying a slight hesitation, and he shook it with a careful delicacy exceeding the most gentlemanly human.

“Madam President,” he boomed, his deep, resonant, rumbling voice impacting her like the crashing of ocean waves. “We need to talk about something.”

The Explorer’s eyes were suddenly sharp, fixating on her vice president, standing just behind her. President Williams looked up, realizing The Explorer hadn’t released her hand. “Oh?” she replied, suddenly feeling unsure of herself.

“It concerns your vice-president,” said The Explorer, his huge jaws suddenly pulling back into a twisted sneer. “Why is this faggot part of your staff?” he growled, spitting the words in a hateful rasp.

“What do you mean?” stammered President Williams, her hand still locked in the clutches of The Explorer as if pinned in a vise. Her vice president was thunderstruck, furtively glancing about as if someone would speak in her defense.

“Why is this Kike, nigger faggot part of your administration, Madam President?” The Explorer’s armored gauntlet tightened painfully around the President’s hand, his reptilian gaze intense, his sneer of contempt showing rows of ancient, triangular teeth. “I have taken great lengths to master your language, do you not fucking understand my question?

The Madam President blanched, abject fear aborting any reply she had. The Explorer peered intently into her eyes, and suddenly she was airborne, slung violently upwards, her shoulder dislocating painfully before she was jerked down onto the stage with enough force to break ribs and shatter her pelvis. As she lay bleeding painfully before The Explorer, a crumpled wreck of her former self, the world around her descended into chaos.

A discordant, percussive whopping sound snapped through the air as the rest of The Explorer cohort began discharging some kind of particle projection beams that seared human bodies to steaming chunks of meat. Interspersed were screams, the retort of ineffectual handguns, and the horrible wet slicing sound of an energy infused melee weapon cleaving through human flesh. These “Explorers” were butchering every human they saw. Behind them, several of their ships were suddenly airborne, unleashing a vicious fusillade of missiles and energy weapons against the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and anything that wasn’t them.

The helmetless Explorer strode forwards through the carnage, grabbing the vice president by the head and crushing her skull into a messy, stringy collection of brain matter and bone fragments. He casually scooped up the broken, wheezing Madam President and marched himself in front of a collection of camera drones and microphones spared from the destruction by obviously intentional design.

“People of Earth,” he growled into the nearest microphone as the camera drones hovered around him. “Yours is a degenerate, diseased civilization, and we will not allow this infectious blight on the universe to continue unchallenged. We will exterminate most of your population, but we are not so arrogant as to presume it is our right to end a species. A remnant of your kind will be allowed to persist as slaves, in the hope that the forges of suffering may one day produce a race worthy of respect.” The Conqueror punctuated his brief speech by closing one massive hand around the neck of the Madam President, before ripping her spine and head away from her torso. “I will add you to my collection” he murmured softly to the President’s lifeless face.

Somewhere in the carnage of what was supposed to be a historic first contact of peace, a lone human struggled through the wreckage. “You are right, ” yelled a white skinned man hoarsely, “ours is a degenerate civilization.”

The Conqueror turned slowly, his imposing frame blotting out the sun. “Go on.” he rumbled, his face hard edged but tinged with curiosity. Around them every other human life was extinguished or on the verge of death. In the far distance, other Conquerors could be heard taking the capitol and butchering anyone standing in their way.

“I welcome you for finally ending this nightmare,” he continued, “I was afraid this evil would never be judged.” The human struggled to his knees, blood streaming from various superficial injuries to his face and arms.

With a grinding of metal on rubble The Conqueror strode out to meet the survivor, extending a hand and physically lifting him to his feet. “Do you have any offspring, human?”

“Two boys and girl.” replied the human.

The Conqueror paused for a moment, then reached down to his waist, producing an ornate talisman of iridescent metal. He casually tossed the trinket to the human in tattered clothes in front of him.

“Your house will be spared, human.” The Conqueror said at last. “Go back to your family, you are the first honorable creature I have met on this world.”

In the distance, the percussive crack of particle beam weapons and the shriek of Conqueror defensive shielding intercepting enemy fire continued to reverberate. The battle would continue, but it would be a one-sided formality decided long before the first ship touched down on this world.

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