First Contact’s True Horror
Image by Alemko Coksa from Pixabay
The pressurised doors hissed as atmosphere seeped between otherworldly compartments. Alien hues of not quite green, not quite grey shone with no source, lighting the lone figure standing resolutely within. Ambassador Ben Killingham, the first representative of humanity before the galaxy. A garbled voice sounded from nowhere, cycling between guttural roars, incessant clicks, moans, a whiff of scent which scrunched the nose and an impending sense of dread – like an unseen predator stalked him from the corner of his eye. He had been prepared for this – communication on many spectrums, including psychic – until the multifaceted ‘voice’ took meaning.
“Welcome, Ambassador Human,” The wrongness to the voice would have made any other man buckle, “To The Galactic Sphere.”
Killingham readied himself as the doors glided open into imperceptible recesses, and The Galactic Sphere opened to him. A narrow walkway extended out into the vast expanse of the chamber and a myriad of wonders and horrors occupied the innumerable atmospheric platforms that lined every inch of the Sphere. He had read dossiers on the races of The Galactic Sphere. He was prepared for the absurdity – in a professional way, but his innards still quivered with unease.
Monsters, blobs, humanoids, birds, lizards, twinkling clouds of cosmic dust… and other… things.
But they were just representatives like him. He reminded himself why he was chosen as he made was way into the centre. He had tact and empathy ideal for diplomacy yes, but he had tenacity also. He would ensure the interests of humanity were safe from being strong armed by this ancient alliance. He could endure the sights and the unease.
The leaders of the Sphere sat upon a platform which was elevated before the end of the path, enclosing its own atmosphere. Several races occupied it who seemed to share the same needs. The end of the path also hosted its own platform – humanity’s own platform – so that they may ascend into this civilisation.
Killingham strode onto the platform, but it did not take off to join the wall of the Sphere, instead the council leaders were lowered to come into line with him. One – a humanoid-ish bird with powder blue feathers and an orange beak – spoke into a console and a vaguely human voice was projected into the Sphere.
“Greetings Ambassador Killingham, welcome to The Galactic Sphere.”
Killingham smiled, aware that his hosts had read the dossier on humanity. He knew they would see a smile for how a human meant it, and not for how another species might perceive it.
“Greetings, noble hosts. I am honoured to be here and to help usher my great species into this powerful alliance!”
There was a chattering as his voice was instantly translated into all of the platforms around the Sphere, and then a silence. He could feel the many senses of the galaxy on him. The silence was beginning to weigh down, crushing him. He could feel sweat soaking through his formal jump suit.
The feathered humanoid – Blue-bird – chattered something to its companions, and the chattering spread throughout all of the races like wild fire.
There was no mistaking that reaction.
“Have I… Have I said something funny in your cultures?” He asked.
The council leader spoke again through the translator, “Great Species?!” It collapsed, holding its sides.
It made a gesture to a pink scaled council member next to it. Pink-scale hurriedly typed in a console and a projection appeared in front of Killingham’s platform from nowhere.
Killingham’s eyes widened in horror.
“We have monitored your world’s radiosphere since it was first projected into the void. Great Species? Ha!” Blue-bird commentated.
A selection of human history was played out before the audience. It was like being reminded about a social media post you made a decade ago. Killingham reacted the only way a human could, he cringed. And he cringed hard.
“CLEAN COAL! You people tried to market the poison of your atmosphere as CLEAN COAL!” Blue-bird roared.
“Your best solution for world peace involved pointing nuclear weapons at each other!” A furry green council member giggled from the other side of Blue-bird.
“You dumped SO much plastic into your oceans, like, how many species did you actually lose? Did you realise some of them could have been your allies?” Pink-scale added.
Killingham gritted his teeth as the whole Sphere around him erupted into raucous laughter at his expense, at humanity’s expense.
“We have moved past this,” He forced a laugh, “Surely we wouldn’t be invited to this council just to be mocked? Just to be the butt of some joke?”
This prompted more laughter.
Blue-bird spoke through fits. “You had no less than seven major nuclear meltdowns and allowed corporate interests to convince you to keep building more reactors! It’s not like your planet’s star was RIGHT THERE for you to harness!”
“Not like you had geothermal vents.” Green-fur mocked.
“Or wind.” Pink-scale said.
“Your people actively protested quarantines during pandemics!” Blue-bird’s voice was almost incomprehensible as the laughter was translated as well. “We really did invite you here as a joke!”
“What a rort!” Pink-scale screamed in tears.
“I see.” Killingham’s knuckles were white.
He turned robotically and strode from The Galactic Sphere as the leaders of the cosmos mocked him. He made his way through the hissing doors, into his shuttle which detached from the space station in orbit around Luhman 16, docked with the bridge of the human Cruiser ‘Tranquility’ and stormed towards the observation deck.
“So it didn’t go well?” Captain Wu asked, sipping her coffee with a bemused expression.
“How could you tell?” Killingham asked.
“I know you. What should I report back to Sol?” A technician handed her a data pad which she glanced over with half interest.
“Aliens hostile.” Killingham said, staring down the spherical station with the burning red star behind it, “Fire at will.”
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