34 Introduction to Earth

John grasped the Secretary-General's hand. "I am John Taylor, sir. I am very pleased to meet you."

"I am Chen He, and I am equally pleased to meet you. Are there not any of the uhmm..."

"Anyari," Zeke finished. "Yes, we have one companion."

They looked back up the ramp to see Rolenil standing, hands behind his back, looking out into the assembled crowd as if looking for something. They looked back at him. He was dressed in casual Anyari clothing, neither futuristic nor ostentatious. For a moment there was silence, then he acknowledged the crowd by raising his hand and smiling.

The crowd, perhaps to break the tension, broke into loud cheering. Rolenil's smile widened, and he waved his hand in response.

Zeke and John waited at the foot of the ramp with Chen He. Relieved and exultant at this first step, the king strode confidently down the ramp to join them.

"Sir, I am Rolenil, from Anyar. Thank you for inviting us to your planet."

Chen He was taken off guard for a moment, "Sir, none could be happier than I at your arrival. Excuse my surprise, your English is excellent."

"So is yours, Mr. Chen," he smiled, "I have read about you and your path to your present position, I hope we will have a chance to talk at length."

"Yes, I also hope we will have that chance Mr. ...?" and he paused, looking at John and Zeke for guidance.

John explained, "Rolenil is--we would call him the king, although it is much different than here on Earth. It's the closest title that fits. You've had a chance to read some of the information that has been made available?"

"I've poured through it and been briefed as quickly as possible, there hasn't been much time."

"There has been more time than we expected, Mr. Chen," Zeke replied candidly. "I suspect, though, that the delay was not your doing."

"I am sorry, getting the permanent members of the Security Council to agree to anything..."

"We are not diplomats, as I'm sure you know, but I have no doubt as to the truth of that," John replied amiably. "I'm sure you've looked into our backgrounds and know this is not a situation we're accustomed to, either. Fate has put us here, though, and we'll do what we can for the good of Earth."

"I choose to believe that, unless proven otherwise," Chen He answered.

Rolenil looked Chen in the eye, "That is all we ask."

Chen directed them towards a waiting car. "It isn't far, but it would be safer to ride than to walk."

"It will be safe for us," Rolenil asserted. "Let us walk."

Chen said something to an aide, who hurried off to see that a path was cleared through the crowd.

"Close and secure," Zeke spoke into his comm and the hatch closed. The Secretary-General looked at him in surprise, he'd spoken the commands in Anyari.

"Let everyone get a close look at our shuttle," Rolenil told Chen. "There is nothing dangerous and nothing that they can hurt. If you have anyone who has a technical interest, they are welcome to look, too. There will be much more for them to see, I hope, soon."

Another aide scampered off with this additional directive.

The crowd parted and the group started forward. The opening in the crowd wasn't very wide, and Rolenil stopped after a short walk to clasp the hand of a small boy, standing with his father.

"Are you really from another planet?" the boy said in a doubtful tone, to the consternation of his father.

"I am. My name is Rolenil, may I ask your name?"

"Rowlenhil? That is a funny name!" Only the Taylors were unsurprised at the king's gentle response.

"Yes, I was told that by my friends, when I was young. I was very distressed when I got home that day. My father, though, told me that it was I who should make the name, and not the name that should make me."

"My name is Benjamin," the boy replied, and, at the urging of his father, apologized for his remark.

"You need not apologize for speaking your mind. You meant no harm. Benjamin, I like the sound of that. I have a feeling it will become a popular name on Anyar. No doubt more popular than mine will be on Earth. If you'll excuse me, I have some important business waiting for me, it has been a pleasure meeting you Benjamin."

He shook the young man's hand again, and the group continued towards the U.N. building. News networks from around the world had cameras filming the historic event. Many held up cell phones to record the group, as they walked toward the UN building.

They spoke about the weather and inconsequential things as they walked forward, waving to the crowd who parted politely before them.

Inside, the building showed signs of its age and its decades-old design. When they reached the Security Council chambers, though, the walls, chairs, and table were richly furnished.

The chamber's horseshoe-shaped table wasn't designed for meetings with guests, but they placed a table where Rolenil, John, and Zeke sat. Facing them in the center of the table were the five permanent members with the other members placed around the remainder of the table, beside and behind them.

Chen He introduced them, formally, to each of the members of the council, starting at the left end and proceeding around the table. Rolenil nodded and smiled as each ambassador was introduced.

When that was finished, Chen He addressed the king, "Sir, you have come to Earth, so we will let you state your purpose."

Rolenil opened by asking, "This meeting is being broadcast so that any can watch?"

Chen He shook his head, "No, that was not planned."

"It is one of the basic rights on Anyar that everything should be as open as possible. We have the means to make this meeting open to all, and I intend to do so. I think it would be best if you were the ones to be open with your people, but if you will not be, I will, or I will find a group that is willing to speak with me in the open."

Rolenil waited patiently while the members spoke among themselves. Several people left the room and the American ambassador spoke, "We are making arrangements. If you have the means, you may record and broadcast as you choose."

Rolenil nodded and began, "Ladies, gentleman, thank you for your invitation. I know that we have been direct in our intentions to meet with you and I hope we do not appear uncivil. We have planned our trip to your planet for some time. We have been traveling between systems for almost two hundred years, and you are the first beings we have encountered. That you are like us, remarkably so, made it seem logical to contact you."

"Why are you here? What do you want?" the Russian ambassador, Zagrev, interrupted brusquely.

The king stopped speaking and waited for a noticeably long time before continuing.

"We have come for many reasons," he continued. "We have many things to talk about, more than we can discuss today. We have many things to offer you and believe that we will both benefit from our cooperation."

"That is not an answer!" the Russian ambassador interrupted again.

Zeke took the opportunity to reply, "I know something of both Earth and Anyar. On Anyar, civility is valued highly. They believe, as I have come to believe, it is the root of the peace that they have enjoyed for most of their history.

"You should not conclude, though, that seeking peace and civility are the same as toleration of disrespect. You should not fear the Anyari, but neither should you be contemptuous."

"You are barely old enough to shave, who are you to correct me?"

Rolenil answered, his voice firm, "Zeke Taylor is someone who has been heroic in the cause of Anyar. He has become a leader in a short time and has earned my trust and respect. Something you sir, do not appear likely to accomplish."

The council hall was silent, the air tense.

Zeke looked at his comm. He could see that the general had ordered the fighters to lower their altitude by half. An aide came into the room shortly and whispered in the American ambassador's ear, evidently telling him as much.

The Russian ambassador, reading a message on the console in front of him, chose not to speak again, but did not apologize.

The king continued, "Our technology is, in most ways, somewhat more advanced than yours. I do not say that in arrogance, it is just explaining the truth. Like you, we have our strengths and our weaknesses.

"We have made a great deal of information about our world available to you, and we will continue to add to that. There is much to tell, but I will tell you one part of the story that has brought me here to you.

"Zeke Taylor came to Anyar after he helped someone who landed here and was accidentally injured. Zeke happened across him and chose to accompany him back to Anyar. There he played a large role in rescuing Anyar from something that would likely have been disastrous for us. You will understand, even more, why Zeke has my trust and respect when I tell you that the person he aided was my son."

The chamber was silent and all eyes went to Zeke. He retained his composure, though his cheeks reddened.

"Anyar and Earth are very much alike in some ways, much different in others. I cannot bridge that gap today, but I choose to believe that we can and that we should."

With that, he stopped and invited questions.

The American ambassador spoke first, his statement a question. "It seems to me that much remains to be revealed."

"That I cannot deny. There is much to tell you, much that is important, perhaps urgent, but it cannot all be discussed in a day. We will tell you everything, in a short time, hopefully within a few weeks. If we feel, for some reason, that we cannot, we will leave you as we found you."

The Chinese ambassador dispensed with an interpreter and asked, "You have implied that you have knowledge, and I assume technology, to share. What is the price?"

"I believe you will find it essentially without cost, but only time will tell. However, you should clearly understand that we will not allow anyone to use our presence or our knowledge for their gain at the expense of others. If you think that we are not able to ensure that, then you will have something to learn."

"Can we expect more of your people here on Earth?" asked the Egyptian ambassador, one of the non-permanent members.

"We will come only by invitation. Our technology could be used for selfish purposes; those that seek to use it in that way will be disappointed. We will, as much as we can, allow you to choose what knowledge and assistance we provide. We may place limits on what we share, and will do so whenever we feel knowledge or technology will be harmful."

"That seems somewhat condescending," accused the ambassador from the United Kingdom.

"Condescending? It is simply prudent. Will you always like the decisions we make? Undoubtedly not. And do not misunderstand, those decisions are ours to make. We take the responsibility for the consequences of our actions. The knowledge we share will surely have profound impacts and we recognize the danger that, in the short term, they will cause significant disruptions, even though no harm is intended."

As they had planned, Rolenil chose when the meeting would end, subtly exercising the authority Anyar's advanced technology gave them.

"Ladies, gentlemen, I think we should end this discussion for now. There will be, I'm sure, many more. We expect to have discussions with the leaders of any country who is interested, and with interested individuals. We will not be communicating with or aiding any country that does not allow unrestricted access to the information we have made available.

"I am pleased to have met you all, I hope this marks the beginning of a relationship that will be beneficial to us all."

With that, he rose, looking at the Secretary-General. He strode purposefully from the room, followed by Zeke, John, and the Secretary-General. Once outside, he turned and stopped.

"Are you going back to your ship now?" Chen asked.

"I thought we might go someplace where we can talk?"

Chen's face registered a trace of surprise, "Certainly."

As they walked, Rolenil reminded him, "All of our conversations will be available to the public. I understand that this requirement may be difficult for you at first, but this is, I believe, too momentous an occasion to keep anything hidden."

Chen was uncertain but nodded agreement. He led them back to the elevator. It was old and rose with slightly unsettling jerks.

"I am still adjusting to this new reality. Even having seen your mode of travel, it is a little hard to believe."

John answered, "A few months ago, I was in that position myself. To be honest, I didn't accept it until I experienced the reality for myself. Perhaps we should invite a delegation to visit us?" he said, looking at Rolenil.

"I agree, we can add that to the list of things to discuss," he answered.

Chen led them into a room. An assistant stayed outside the door as they took seats around a table suitable for a much larger group. He looked at the king expectantly.

"We came to Earth with a plan. It is one we are prepared to change, when necessary, or as we learn new things. We believed that you were an honorable person, with the best interests of Earth at heart. Having spoken to you, I believe that is true."

"I'm honored by your compliment. Many people believe that they have the best interests of the world in mind when they do terrible things."

Rolenil leaned forward in his seat, his hands on the table and looked intently at Chen He.

"You, though, do no terrible things. You have a difficult job. John and Zeke have been our guides up to now, and I trust them very much. They believed you would prove to be a person with honesty and integrity. To be honest, we have been able to find out a great deal about you, and it has confirmed their opinions. Speaking with you today has confirmed, for me, that you can aid Earth and Anyar by helping us."

Chen did not speak for a moment, his face impassive.

He looked back at Rolenil, a stern expression on his face, "What do you mean? What does it mean for me--and for Earth?"

"It could mean many things," Rolenil answered without hesitation. "We do not have any magic technology that will stop the strife on Earth. It might be, however, that our appearance here now will provide a new path for Earth's people--if we are clever enough to find it and take it."

"That is disturbingly vague," Chen replied, his face still intent, perhaps distrustful.

"We are not here to conquer Earth. We have much more to tell you. We don't--and I don't--expect you to simply trust us. We will question you, your motives, and the motives of each nation as we engage with them. In turn, we will not be offended if you need confirmation of what we say. Trust is something that must be earned. We expect to earn it and hope that you will do likewise. We believe that you will be honest and honorable. We hope that the same will be true for every person and group that we encounter, but we are prepared for the opposite, when and if it occurs."

Chen's face showed confusion.

Rolenil continued, "We need the advice of wise and thoughtful people, as John and Zeke have proven to be. But this world is too complicated to be understood by two people, we need the help of... I don't know how many. Call it what you like, a liaison to Earth, an adviser, or ambassador. We want the benefit of your experience. We would like your help."

Chen was slow to answer. When he did, his voice was cautious, but it revealed hope, too. "If helping you will make Earth a better, safer, more peaceful place, then I will do all that I can to aid you. I do not know you, and little of Messrs. Taylor, but for the moment, I choose to trust my intuition and assume that your intentions are as you say."

Rolenil reached out to shake Chen's hand. "You have my word that I am here to help Earth. Do not misunderstand, our motives are not purely altruistic, we believe that both worlds will gain."

"As I said, I choose to believe your intentions, and time will bring clarity. I must believe you have technology that would allow you to be our masters should you choose, but I think if that were the case, you would not need me now."

John and Zeke had said little up to now. Now John took the opportunity to reassure Chen.

"I have been to Anyar. I would not be here now if I had not seen the truth of all that Rolenil has told you. We have thought long about how this introduction would be perceived--we expected doubts. The stakes are too high for you to simply trust, but we will do what we can to prove the truth of what has been said."

Chen looked at John, nodding in agreement. Rolenil spoke again.

"A trip to Anyar is a long journey, but I'm hopeful that many will make the trip before too long. We, too, must learn to trust you. We, too, must be careful with what we share. The knowledge we have to share could be used by some to further their own ends, and that is something we must not and will not allow. That is easier said than accomplished."

Chen nodded, "What next?"

"You are invited to travel to our ship, as soon as you are prepared to do so. You can bring whomever you trust," Rolenil answered.

"Hmm. I can think of many deserving of my trust," he looked at John. "Like you, those I trust most are my family. It may seem like favoritism, but my son, a little older I think, than your grandson, is one that I trust as much as myself."

"It may appear like nepotism," John acknowledged, "but a web of trust is what we must build. It has started with us, and I think you are the best person to extend that. We trust your judgment. I would say invite one other. Whatever negative impression that might be given by bringing your son will be tempered. Is there anyone else you would bring?"

Chen thought for a moment, "I am fortunate to have many that I trust. How soon will you be ready for us?"

"You can leave with us now," Rolenil responded. "Whenever you are ready, we are ready. I understand that is very sudden, so tell us what you would do."

"Normally I would say we should plan and orchestrate this, but now I'm tempted to proceed quickly. I don't know what the future holds, but I'm eager to start. I need to call my son, and a friend I trust. Do you mind if I step out?"

Rolenil nodded, "Our belief in openness does not preclude all privacy. Please do so, and we'll make arrangements."

Chen stepped out.

John asked Rolenil, "What do you think? How has this gone so far?"

"Well, I think. The Russian ambassador was more combative than we expected, but I see no reason for concern. Secretary-General Chen is, I think, the man we hoped he'd be."

Chen soon returned and they left for the shuttle. As they stepped outside the building, they saw that the crowd had grown. Rolenil stopped frequently to speak to people, answering their questions.

"Why are you here?" one man asked, after Rolenil had shaken his hand.

"What is your reason for coming here today to see us, to meet me?" Rolenil turned the question back.

"I wanted to see who you were, what kind of man you were, and see an important moment in history."

"That is why I am here. We want to know about you... about Earth. The universe is big, you can never have too many friends."

They walked on to the shuttle, John and Zeke went ahead. The police were clearing the crowds away.

John whispered in Zeke's ear, then went over to speak to one of the policemen. He then walked up to a woman, who was with her little girl.

He spoke quietly to her, "If you trust us, you can stay behind for a moment. We'd like to show you the inside of the shuttle, if you like."

The lady, young and smartly dressed, looked doubtful.

"You need not, but there will be others," and he gestured towards Zeke, who was directing a father and son towards the shuttle.

In a moment, several parents, with their children, stood beside Zeke and John. Zeke tapped a code on his comm bracelet and the hatch lowered, with a whir, to become a ramp.

They walked up and into the shuttle. Someone took out their cell phone to take pictures. They looked at Zeke for approval.

"Go ahead, we want you to share what you see."

They showed the kids the screens in the control cabin. One mother walked to a window and waved out to the crowd.

The kids chattered with excitement, asking questions.

"How fast will this go?" one teenage boy asked, looking at John.

John looked to Zeke for an answer.

"Very fast. I wish we had time, I'd take you to the moon and we'd be back in time for dinner," he said with a smile.

The young boys responded with a collective, "Whoah!"

About that time, the king and Chen reached the ramp. Rolenil looked at John with an approving smile.

"I'm sorry your tour has been so short," John told the small group. "We have to leave now. I hope I'll see some of you again."

"Will you be back?" a teenage girl, the oldest in the group, asked.

"Absolutely," Zeke replied.

"Will we get that trip to the moon sometime?" another boy asked.

"I hope so. I'm not sure when. Anyone, who really wants to will have the opportunity to see and do some amazing things."

Rolenil shook hands with each child and parent, as they went back down the ramp. The police outside urged the crowd back. The hatch closed and they waited for everyone to back away behind the fence.

"We are meeting Chen's son, Chen Shi, and a friend in 'Denver' ?" Rolenil said, looking to Chen for confirmation.

"Is there somewhere nearby large enough for us to land?" Zeke asked.

"I hadn't thought of that."

Zeke spoke to Ran, "Ran, this is Secretary-General Chen."

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Secretary," Ran replied.

Chen looked puzzled.

John answered, "Ran is an MI, a Machine Intelligence. "She" operates this ship, or perhaps I should say she assists whoever is piloting it."

"It is a pleasure to meet you Ran," Chen replied.

"He'll be traveling with us back to the ship. We're going to pick up two other people in Denver. We need to find a place to land that won't be too disruptive."

Chen gave the address and Ran displayed a map and satellite view of the area. "A park is nearby, but the thrusters will damage any grass or landscaping. There is a shopping center here, perhaps there will be a place free that is large enough to land?"

Chen nodded and placed a call. The crowd had finally retreated far enough to allow them to lift. They were soon traveling west, gaining altitude so that they could travel without creating sonic booms.

Chen sat in the control cabin with Zeke. John remained in the main cabin with Rolenil.

"I am more confident of our success now, based on what's happened today," John said.

"Yes, I think we should engage the public. With support from the populace, I think we'll influence their governments in a positive way."

"This is something new. Chen won't have any more experience with it than we do, but I think his judgment will be valuable there, too."

Soon they were descending, the plains rolling by underneath them. Chen Shi waited in an open area of the large parking lot.

Shoppers looked up as they approached. As the shuttle touched down, a crowd started to form. Chen waited near the hatch. As soon as it opened, he motioned for his son and his companion to come on board.

The two had hesitated until Shi saw his father. They quickly strode up the ramp. Shi embraced his father, who introduced them both to Rolenil.

"My son, Shi, and a close family friend, Tom Reynolds." Each shook hands with the king. Shi was in his early twenties. Tom appeared to be in his mid-forties.

"It is a pleasure to meet you both. We'll be leaving immediately, though I wish we had time to stay and meet the people who gathered. Every chance for a bit of goodwill is something I am loathe to pass up."

Zeke and John were introduced, and they motioned for the two to join them up in the control cabin. As soon as everyone was seated, the shuttle lifted and accelerated quickly up to orbit.

John and Rolenil resumed their seats and sat quietly in the main cabin. John watched as the ground fell away. Rolenil saw him smile and asked the reason.

"I was in that shopping center a number of years ago. In spite of the time I've spent getting used to this new reality, I can't help but think back with wonder, how I would have felt seeing this drop out of the sky and land there."

Rolenil nodded, "Most do not have the ability, or maybe the empathy, to really consider other perspectives. It is what leaders must do, while still keeping to a steady path. That is what makes them leaders."

"The role of adviser suits me fine. I'm content to let those with the skill and experience lead."

"You are a leader. You wouldn't have the wisdom you have just from watching. You've led groups before? Or am I mistaken?"

"Small groups, usually of others not unlike myself. It's much less challenging to lead a homogeneous group."

"Perhaps. Leadership can be taught, but the only way to become skilled is to have the opportunity to lead. I've read the reports of Zeke's flight. The responsibility was thrust upon him and he learned and adapted. You are much alike. I am not so brash as to make foolish pronouncements, but my intuition says you'll have a role to play--unless the next few years are boringly peaceful."

"If I were younger, you might be right. Now? That is harder to believe."

John could see father and son in the front cabin. Their sense of awe was plain on their faces. The sky darkened and soon the familiar shape of the Redun grew from a bright spot. He remembered back to that night he'd shared that experience with Zeke.

The landing bay door opened and the R'krit slipped inside. General Yalt, Captain Verrin, Helf, Dev, and Sephen were there to meet them.

Captain Verrin stepped forward to introduce himself, then said, "We have cabins for you. How long will you be here?"

They looked at Rolenil, who answered, "I think just for a day? I think you will be spending a great deal of time here in the future. To be honest, I am more comfortable here, for now. I think that it is important that you learn more about us. We've had most of a year to learn about you."

Dev and Sephen took the newcomers on a tour of the Redun, while the rest went to the mess to eat. Jonephs was waiting for them.

They talked of the day's events. Jonephs and his group had been watching the newscasts and the various media outlets. Almost everything was positive. As they'd suspected, some fundamentalist religious groups had condemned the "aliens" as evil. North Korea had labeled the landing and meeting at the U.N. a hoax.

A little over an hour later, the delegation from Earth joined them in a conference room equipped with large screens. They were introduced to those in the group they had not already met. They now carried foldable consoles, like the one John had received, configured like the computers they were used to.

Rolenil began, "We have been open. I hope that all the information we prepared and made available on your worldwide network illustrates that. Our plans consist of several phases.

"First, to become visible around the world. To make ourselves available to meet and give interviews to as many in the media as possible. To speak with as many groups as we can manage. All of those in this room and a few others you have not met, are prepared to travel to the planet. Initially, I think it will be limited to myself, Zeke, and John. Soon, more of our crew will be frequent visitors--wherever and whenever appropriate. We suspect that we will all learn a lot as we go."

"We realize this is all new to you," he said, and then laughed. "It is new to us, too!"

"At some point, as soon as we believe it can be done safely and constructively, we want to start providing solutions to the worst of your problems. We have safeguards to ensure any technology we provide will not be abused. We believe the safeguards will be effective, but we may find that they are not perfect. The first, and most obvious choice, is medical treatment.

"We have the means to provide inexpensive energy, but introducing that too fast will, I'm sure, cause great upheaval in your economies. We have some ideas as to how we can do that gradually, over a number of years... perhaps less.

"Education will be another challenge. We will only gradually reveal the most powerful aspects of our technology. This is, and I must emphasize it, an area where we will listen to your counsel, but we are determined to make careful and prudent decisions. These decisions will be made by us, with your input, but the responsibility is ours."

His tone grew serious, "We do not wish to be authoritarian, or to seem condescending, but we will not do harm, or allow our technology to cause harm. I'm sure there will be unfortunate incidents, but," he said with determination, "there will be no catastrophes."

He paused and looked at Chen He, waiting for a response.

"That will be a difficult task. I'm sure resentment will grow the first time a decision strikes the public as authoritarian or unreasonable, but I agree it is better to be safe than sorry. I've read and been briefed on as much of the material you've provided as possible, but I'm sure I've only scratched the surface of what you can do to help Earth."

Rolenil nodded. He started to speak again, his tone changed.

"As open as we will be in our dealings with you, sometimes it is prudent to wait before presenting all the facts. There is more you must know, and soon, the people of Earth must know."

John looked at each of the men. Their faces couldn't completely conceal their apprehension at what was to come.

"We have come to Earth seeking allies. We've said that our purpose here is to benefit both our worlds. That is more true than you realize. There is more that you must know.

"Over the past two hundred years, Anyar has been attacked three times. There is much we don't know about our attackers. We've captured very few of their ships and analyzed the wreckage of more. Thankfully, the attacks were comparatively small, and we were able to destroy all the attackers except for the last time. We believe a few escaped."

"Aliens?" Chen Shi asked.

"Aliens, yes, but from what we can tell, they are either a race of sentient machines that are controlled by organic life-forms, or, what we consider more likely, they are completely self-directed artificial intelligences. We've seen no trace of biological life forms in anything we've recovered, so all we can do is guess."

"They've attacked you, but not us. Is Anyar that far away?" Tom asked.

"Not really, a little over a month's journey for this ship. Why they have attacked us, and not you, is a mystery. Our best guess is that it's is simply chance. We know little about them. Just in the past year, since Zeke came to our world, we have drastically expanded our efforts to find out more."

The room was quiet for a few minutes. Finally, Rolenil acknowledged, "This is a lot for you to take in. We haven't disclosed this additional, important item, because just the enormity of our visit here was considered a lot to accept."

"I have to agree," Chen He said, a trace of a smile on his lips. "This will require a great deal of thought. I think it is good that you have hinted that more was to be revealed. There will always be some, though, that look for reasons to be exclusionary. I think we will have to give this some thought."

Rolenil nodded his understanding. "Our plan calls for our immediate openness and allowing the people of Earth to see us and meet us. Initially, I assume that many in the news media will want interviews with us."

"I'm sure they will!" Shi agreed. "If they had a way to reach you, or us, I'm sure we'd be inundated with requests."

"We've prepared both data and voice links. You should be able to access the internet and your email. Also, we have a way you can place and receive calls. I could simply make an announcement, but after talking with John and Zeke, we think we should contact the news media of Earth. Let them disseminate information about us. Give interviews, first on Earth, and then invite journalists, dignitaries, and a sample of interested citizens up here."

"This is a large ship, but the number of visitors you can support must be limited. Will you be bringing other ships like this?" Tom asked.

"We have other ships," General Yalt answered, "but they are guarding the Anyari system. We also don't want to make it appear that we are bringing in a large military force--unless that is needed for your protection, and desired by the people of Earth."

"That is a wise choice. I think that everyone on Earth is stunned by this development. It is hard to predict reactions, but I'd be surprised if some don't show their discontent, which would be made worse by several large ships visibly orbiting Earth."

Rolenil closed the meeting by saying, "Sleep on it tonight, and we will make our first decisions in the morning. Contact whomever on Earth you want. Get the opinions of those you trust. Let's let information flow informally, as well as through official channels. Even though there will be some rumors and misunderstandings, I think we should let the word get out through personal channels. I like the idea of people getting to know us through their own acquaintances. Good night, gentlemen."