33 Back to Earth

Fiona Paterson was playing on Torridon Walk, a quiet street in county West Lothian, Scotland, when her parents called her in to watch the news.

Fiona was a bright young girl, and she could tell by the strained look on her parents' faces that something important was happening. She couldn't remember anything so serious as this happening before, in all of her young life. Her parents' worry was contagious.

On the tellybox she saw a grainy image with a bright spot that moved back and forth, as the frames were played forward and backward. She heard the announcers and the "experts", all with many guesses to composition and purpose.

A few hours later, the Prime Minister was on the telly, explaining what they knew. The news shows played a similar explanation by the American president. Neither said much, both urged the world to stay calm.

She went to bed that night feeling just a little uneasy, perhaps a little afraid.

In the morning, her parents told her that a message had been received. Scientists said that it had come from the spot, or an area near it. It was in English.

It said:

We are human, like you.

We are from another world.

We have knowledge to share.

We come in peace.

We come with a great purpose.

With this, she could tell that the world was holding its breath. Her parents went about their daily routine. It was Saturday, and she had a football game in the afternoon.

As she waited for her game to start, she could hear the parents talking. It centered on the bright spot and the message. People tried to change the subject to other, everyday topics, but it came back to the spot, to the Object, some were calling it.

The game was eerie. The parents cheered, but their usual encouragement and instructions had a hollow sound. Uncertain. Everyone was uneasy, some were afraid.

When they got home, the news was of riots in a few cities in Africa and Asia. No one seemed to know exactly why, but many people were afraid. Some saw it as the end of the world. A few religious leaders in America said the end of the world was coming--Judgment Day.

She played with her friends in the park later that day, even their talk was hardly about boys. Each time someone brought up the latest gossip, interest died and everyone speculated. Some thought they knew what was happening, but no one believed them.

Aboard the Redun, the panic that had developed was causing a quick re-evaluation of their plans. The king ordered a change in course, one that would delay their arrival on Earth, and even keep them at a great distance, until they decided their next steps.

They had discussed this possibility, but assumed it was less likely than that their initial appearance would not be considered seriously... that it would be thought an elaborate hoax.

The king normally led with subtle suggestions, but now he was making decisions and then seeking agreement.

"The time has come to have John and Zeke speak to their people. I have a speech prepared, I think you should review it and we should send it with all haste. One of our shuttles has taken our place and it is now what Earth sees. We're going into a large orbit, out farther than Earth's moon. We will be invisible to anything on Earth. The shuttle will be seen to stay well away from Earth. I hope that will allay many of the fears we see.

"John, Zeke, look over the speech, see if anything has happened that calls for changes, I'd like to record and send it within the hour."

"We can do that," John replied simply, already looking at what they'd prepared for this situation.

An hour later, they sent the video message to a waiting Earth.

My name is John Taylor. I am from Council Grove, Kansas, in the United States. I am here, on the ship that you have seen, with my grandson Zeke. I know that you will be looking now to find out if I am who I say. I urge you to do so.

Yes, this is a ship, one that has traveled many light years. We are sending this because of the panic that our arrival, and first message, has raised.

We know that a few words from me will not serve to allay all your doubts and fears. Please give us a chance to do so. Please remain calm.

My grandson and I, are from Earth. I am here with him and a delegation from another planet, Anyar.

Those of you who know Zeke and I, and who knew my wife Anna--I ask you to trust me. We treat such a profound event as this with great care.

You have many questions. I understand, because I started to try and come to terms with this new reality myself only a few months ago.

We have already placed a great deal of information on Earth for you. We have been planning for this moment for many months.

John smiled and paused.

I don't think you will expect this, but you can go to http://anyar2Earth.info

It is, and will be, our practice to share everything with everyone. Each of you will have access to the same information that your governments do. The Anyari seldom keep secrets, and I hope you will come to value that as much as I do.

We have distributed this information across many systems, and even though I believe it will be the biggest load any website has ever experienced, I'm confident it will stay available.

It will take a long time to read all that is there. It should answer most of your questions.

Please believe what I have told you, or give us a chance to prove our honesty and our desire for friendship. I am eager to come back to Earth, to see my friends and my farm again, but I must wait until things on Earth have stabilized.

They were nearing Earth now, only a few light seconds, and the broadcasts were relayed by the drone with almost no delay.

They could see the tremendous flood of visitors to the website they had created. The commentators were at a loss. With no special access to the biggest story in history, they could only repeat the highlights of John's broadcast and summarize the information that was present on the website.

"Who would ever have thought that aliens would use the internet to contact us?" one said. He was serious, yet his tone conveyed amusement.

Almost every government on Earth sent messages, seeking to initiate contact and negotiations. They waited six hours before the next message, this time delivered by Zeke.

We have received many messages seeking private communications with various governments on Earth. That is not something we will do. An occasion as important as this must be shared with everyone, and we will not start with secrets.

However, we must speak to the world's leaders. We suggest that we send a small delegation to Earth, perhaps to the United Nations, where we can talk with the Security Council. We will speak with anyone who can represent the interests of Earth. If we receive an invitation from the Security Council, we will come to Earth when asked. We are also willing to send a shuttle to bring the Security Council members to our ship for our first meeting. The choice is yours.

The messages from governments continued but were ignored. During that time, the shuttle swung its course to return to the Redun and it matched speeds as it approached. The engines of the Redun were turned towards Earth, and it again became the bright spot that was the focus of Earth's attention.

The Redun shut down its engines, slowly, and its' systems that kept it from reflecting light, were deactivated so it could be seen from Earth. Its' size made it much larger than most asteroids and it was easily detectable from Earth.

Individual countries continued to send invitations. The Anyari continued their messages to Earth. John would send gentle, conciliatory messages; Zeke would deliver messages that were more pointed and specific. "Good cop, bad cop," was how John explained it to his grandson.

After a day with no official response, another message, again delivered by Zeke, was sent.

We have not received an invitation by the U.N. Security Council. If we do not receive one by the end of today, GMT, then we will assume that one is not forthcoming. In that event we will send a delegation to meet with those leaders who have invited us, and whom we deem most suitable.

A response from the Security Council was received within the hour and its validity was confirmed by reports by the media worldwide.

They had studied many of the leaders on Earth, using all the resources of the computer systems they had gained access to. The Secretary-General of the U.N., Chen He, appeared to be a pragmatic and honest individual. He had navigated the Chinese political system and maintained a reputation that had won him his position at the U.N. He was the one, they believed, most likely to put the benefits of the Earth above those of a single nation, even his native China.

Arrangements for a shuttle to land in a large abandoned lot to the southwest of the U.N. complex were agreed on. The Anyari made all communications open and logged them on the website.

The king, General Yalt, and John all agreed that the largest shuttle that the empty lot could accommodate should be used. In addition, the Redun gradually closed the distance to Earth, until it was orbiting at a distance of seventy-five thousand kilometers.

The next day, the R'krit left the Redun and descended to Earth. Behrlende flight trailed. The fighters stopped descending at around thirty thousand meters and flew in a continuous pattern, as the shuttle descended towards New York.

On board, as they'd planned, were John, Zeke, and the king. No one else, except the fighter crews above, made the trip.

The king looked out the window. To Zeke he seemed, for the first time since he'd known him, slightly tense. As they dropped lower, the signs of humanity on the eastern seaboard became evident.

"Much different from Anyar," Rolenil commented.

"Yes, though it was once as beautiful as Anyar," John responded. "I don't think you need a pep talk, but I do feel the need to say that I have as much faith in you, sir, as in anyone I've met. I'm glad that you are the first person the people of my world will meet."

They descended over New York and flew leisurely over the city.

John continued, "I always wondered why important functions take so long. Now I wonder if they are not, for the same reason we are taking our time, for effect," John laughed. "I think the Security Council, and all of those in responsible positions on Earth, will have some getting used to when they understand how quickly Anyari can make decisions and act, yet how slow and deliberate you can be when necessary."

Finally, they flew out over the ocean and then back in over New York Harbor. John pointed out the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks. Their landing spot was clearly visible, It was surrounded by vehicles with flashing lights. Throngs of people lined the street for blocks. They could see streets blocked off for a block in each direction. On their consoles, they could watch their own approach, as broadcast by the media. It was both fascinating and disconcerting to see themselves from that perspective.

Finally, Zeke landed precisely over an X marked on the scraggly grass of the lot. The hum of the engines lowered and stopped and everything was silent.

Through the windows, they could see crowds of reporters and cameras pointed at them. Wonder, and a little apprehension, showed on their faces.

John and Zeke rose and stood by the hatch. They would exit first. Only then would the king emerge. They were dressed in Earth clothes, casual slacks and shirts, that would have fit in at any mall.

They looked at each other, and John took a breath before Zeke pressed the panel that opened the hatch.


Fiona watched the coverage on the telly. The large craft that she saw looked like a futuristic bus, only much larger. It was a little longer than a tour bus, but twice as wide. It was, somehow, pleasing to the eye, almost like a sculpture. It gave the impression of being carved from a single, large, smooth stone.

A door on one side slid open and two men stood side by side. They were the two Americans, John and Zeke, who had sent the video messages. They dressed a lot like her teachers at school....

The announcer said that other, smaller craft were circling very high in the sky above them.

The head of the U.N., the Secretary-General, her parents had told her, moved to the base of the ramp as they walked down to meet him. She saw John, the older one, extend his hand.