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A Journey to Earth

(Freely translated from the original log)

January 2012

Interstellars meet earthlings. They're not impressed.
LOGBOOK.  Cosmic time 0013.3E0A.22C8.BB87

We are approaching the planet known locally as "Earth" from sector 2F3/97AE944.  We have been in space for some eons, and have visited over a thousand planets carrying various forms of life, since classifying these alien forms is our mission.  Only four of these planets have held intelligent life forms, and on those we've enjoyed stopping a while to share experiences and establish relations.  About a hundred planets have shown life forms classified as potentially intelligent;  from what we have learned about Earth through their electronic emissions, this planet will be in the latter category.  As on other planets with life in this rudimentary stage of development, we have to take measures to protect ourselves, since  – in typical fashion –  we can expect aggressive behavior from the species that  fancies itself the apex of life on this planet.

Actually the needed protective measures are trivial, and we're well equipped to handle such minor annoyances.  The semi-intelligent Earth species is still at the stage of hurling pieces of metal at one another, usually with a chemical or nuclear charge making a small poof which is expected to do damage where they land.  Our routine deflection devices naturally make such primitive projectiles useless.  Our autoguards readily coopt any projectile's tracking device and reprogram it within milliseconds of launch to U-turn and return whence it came.  It usually doesn't take many such U-turns before the aggressors change their mind about firing.  Ballistic objects are simply deflected by our gravitation anomaly generators.  Portable versions of all these devices are available should we prefer to make a landing.  But on most such planets we find the nuisance of direct contact with the semi-intelligent species more of an annoyance than we care to subject ourselves to.

This time, however, the Captain has decided to land.  It wasn't an easy decision.  The evident mania of the "apex" species here is likely to make the visit unpleasant, but one of the zoopsychologists on board specializes in just the kind of mania exhibited here, and has convinced the Captain to make a brief stop.

LOGBOOK.  Cosmic time 0013.3E0A.22C8.BB90
Leaving Earth orbit today after three Earth days, two unproductive and one actually enjoyable:

Day 1.
The day was wasted in trying to make contact with the "humans".  Although the Captain had several days ago announced our arrival by electromagnetic wave transmission on common Earth frequencies, and in several of Earth's major syntactic codes, no response had been received from Earth.  Nor did direct transmission into the internal nets of the "United Nations" and other major governmental centers produce any response beyond a flurry of primitive security reactions in the networks.  It's apparent that the earthlings have taken our messages for pranks.  The entire operation was repeated several times today, with the same result, before we took the ship directly above the United Nations Plaza in New York.  Not to say that this was a mistake, but the sight of this lithium glass overcast descending on the city was too much for some of the residents.  A general panic ensued, and it wasn't long before our gravity anomaly deflectors got a workout.  There weren't many projectiles, actually  –  a few hundred at most shot off by frightened citizens.  A crowd of a million or two humans soon gathered in sight below us.

We parked at a height of 300 meters above the Plaza and tried to contact the U.N. leadership again.  They had either decided to ignore us, or they had no protocol for dealing with extraterrestrial visitors, odd though that seems.  During our stay above New York we intercepted several thousand electronic messages sent between various governments, most accusing the others of provocation for having sent an unknown aircraft on a threatening mission to the U.N.  After waiting three Earth-hours, we saw evidence of organized hostile activity below, as authorities cleared out the crowd and primitive military equipment was rolled in.  After another hour we received our first communication from Earth:  A general of the army who claimed to represent the American President demanded that our ship withdraw immediately to the east, outside American territory.  The Captain replied that it was good to make contact with Earth, and that we would stay where we were in order to facilitate further communication.  This was not well received by the general, who repeated his order and added that failure to move within a half hour would result in destruction of our ship.  The Captain thanked him again for his communication, and invited him and other representatives to come aboard.  There was no reply, but over the next half hour the communication channels carried a lot of discussion about danger of falling debris if they shot our ship out of the sky.

And then, at the threatened hour, came a fun little barrage.  The Captain chose to simply deflect them, so they exploded harmlessly.  But when aircraft appeared, firing missiles, the Captain thought it would be a good demonstration to turn the missiles back on the firing aircraft, and this did seem to get the attention of the Earth folks, since all hostility stopped pretty quickly.  Sensing the futility of further efforts to communicate, the Captain took the ship to altitude and engaged the electromag-shield.  Earth communications were heard to comment that our ship had apparently disappeared.

Day 2.
The Captain gave up on New York and took the ship to a strange place called Islamabad. A similar panic as yesterday ensued, but there was no shooting. About two million residents fell to the ground in a prayer-like attitude, butts high in the air. It made for some great images that will be enjoyed at home. A general made a radio transmission to the effect that they had atom bombs and were not afraid. But there was even less sign of intelligent life than yesterday, so we spent the rest of the day with the electro-mag shield engaged, cruising unseen around the Earth and stopping here and there to transport up random human and animal samples for the zoopsychologists. We got about two hundred humans of various descriptions and several thousand animals. The bioscience team is still analyzing their nutritional needs, which will be met by the onboard anabolizer, which of course can produce any substance from the elemental particles encountered in space.

Day 3.
Well, finally some fun. The Captain took the ship, with the electromag-shield on, to a small town in Western North Carolina, where some slight sign of sanity had been detected. We took on board an editor of the Blue Ridge Journal, apparently the world's center for rational and empathic thought. The editor explained that the earthlings are all adolescents on the evolutionary scale, with a pronounced need for self-aggrandizement and conflict. He held out hope that they would reach maturity before they destroyed themselves and their environment, though this is far from certain.

The editor regaled us through the evening with tales of the earthlings' strange beliefs. We hadn't laughed like that for eons. It turns out that almost all humans believe that unseen greater beings made the cosmos, and in some way also made them. Those stories of human-making were a riot. In some beliefs the humans were defecated by the gods, in others they were spat out. In one popular version the male was made from dust and the female was made from the rib of the male. With each hour the tales became more fantastic. The evening ended in a general uproar when he told about the scheme of one popular god: He was very proud and wanted badly to be loved, so he invented something called "sin," which was whatever he didn't want the humans to do. If they did a sin this god made them kill an animal and dedicate the bloody carcass to him. He called it a sacrifice. But then he got totally PO'd because no one was listening to him anymore, so he said, "I'm making a huge fire and will burn everyone forever unless you start doing what I want!" Well, that didn't help, so he said, "It's a good thing there's three of me. I'll be good to the people because I love them so much. I'll send one of me down to Earth and make the people kill that part of me, and then that'll be a great sacrifice of part of me to myself, and then I can forgive them for not doing everything I want them to do, and then I don't have to burn them forever." And ... well, frankly, we didn't hear the rest of the story, we were laughing so hard.

Good thing we had that final day, or this trip would have been too depressing. We had a long debate this morning about whether to let the BRJ editor go or take him back with us. The zoopsychologists thought he would be an interesting contrast to the rest of the samples, but the editor pleaded that good sense is in short supply on the Earth, an argument that couldn't be gainsaid. So we put him back, with the offer to pass on some good advice from time to time, if he would promise to put it in the BRJ. Of course he agreed.

Warp drive! We're outta here.

© 2012 H. Paul Lillebo

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