It’s amazing how many times you think you know how something is going to turn out and, even though you were right, it still ends up surprising you. Take the mothership for example. We knew it was coming. I kind of guessed what it might look like and I was right but Priya was also right that it was not what I was expecting.
I was expecting something enormous which was at least the size of three or four double-decker buses. Kind of like they have in films. What we saw descending towards us turned out to be much, much smaller. It was a disc about two metres across and about half a metre high. It wasn’t completely circular though. The ends were squared off at each side. The size explained why it was appearing to come down so slowly.
We were expecting it to get a lot bigger than it did as it got closer. As it passed the top of the pylon though, it became clear that it was a lot smaller than we imagined.
THE MOTHERSHIP LANDS
The ship was otherwise just as I had thought it would be. Smooth and shiny, metallic in colour and with lots of small flashing lights on it. There were no domes or anything on the top. In fact the top looked almost the same as the bottom. It was also silent. There were no whining or whirring noises and there was no steam or plumes of smoke coming out of it as it landed.
I began to indicate to Priya and Sugar to move back to make room for the ship as it got lower but as it turned out this wasn’t necessary. It dropped to a height of about three metres off the ground and suddenly stopped in mid-air with one edge quite close to the leg of the pylon.
We stood and watched in silence as it spun around. I’m not sure either Priya or I could think of anything suitable to say and we were quite simply awestruck by what was in front of us. Suddenly a panel slid open on the side of the ship and a metallic bar came out slowly towards the leg of the pylon.
As it got half way the bar was joined by a second behind it and then a third between and below the first two. All the bars attached themselves to the pylon using some kind of finger-like clamps. Most of the lights went off on the ship and it just sat there fixed to the pylon. I puffed out my cheeks and looked at Priya.
“Now what?” she whispered
I shrugged and said”I’d take a few more photos if I were you. Nobody is going to believe this.”
Sugar walked in front of us and turned to face us.
++WHEN THEY APPEAR THEY WILL NOT UNDERSTAND YOUR LANGUAGE. I WILL TRANSLATE++
“How many are there in that ship?” I said”I was expecting it to be bigger.”
++THAT IS A MAIN TRANSPORT CLASS VESSEL. AT FULL CAPACITY IT CONTAINS ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY CREW AS WELL AS UP TO FIFTY PASSENGERS++
“A hundred and seventy?!” I exclaimed”In that?”
“How big are they?” Priya asked but Sugar didn’t answer her question. Instead he turned to the ship and said
++LOOK THEY ARE EXITING THE SHIP++
All at once several small panels slid back on the underside of the ship and small ropes - no bigger than string - dropped through them. Then, one by one, the aliens appeared, slowly lowering themselves down the ropes.
There were in all about thirty aliens who came out of the ship. The first thing that struck me was their size. They were no more than 5 centimetres tall but not all the same height. They were different heights and shapes and sizes, much like humans are.
In appearance they were much like us: one head, two arms, two legs, two eyes, a sort-of nose and a mouth. They didn’t have hair but some of them had patterns on their heads which were different from each other.
They were a range of different colours and shades. Again as different as humans are from each other. The other thing that surprised us was that none of them were robots.
“Oh” said Priya”I was kind of expecting them to look like Sugar.”
“Yes and I thought they’d be bigger.” I said”If this is an invasion, you and I will be able to stop it by stamping on them!”
“We don’t know what weapons they have yet Tim.” Priya pointed out.”And besides, we don’t know that they mean any harm yet.”
“Priya they are invading our planet! I think we can safely say they mean us some harm!”
“All I am saying is that if they were going to zap us with lasers or something they would have done it from the ship by now wouldn’t they?” She shrugged her shoulders”Perhaps they are just investigating first.”
“Maybe,” I replied and turned back to the groups of aliens descending from the ship. They were wearing some kind of uniforms, which was a relief: I’m not sure I’d want the first aliens I ever saw to be naked! Although to be honest I’m not sure how I would tell if they were. One by one they slid down the tiny ropes and landed in the grass. Here they met their first problem.
THE ALIENS LEAVE THE SHIP
The grass was long. So long it hid the aliens not only from us but from each other. They started to make little noises to each other and then they started to jump up and down to see each other.
This was very, very funny to see because none of them seemed to time their jumps at the same time so they just kept bobbing up and down like one of those whack-a-mole games at the arcade. Both Priya and I started to laugh. The noise of our laughter made them stop jumping and look in our direction. Suddenly the grass started to flatten around one of them in a circle. Then another did it and another until eventually there were a number of flattened circles in the grass. I could now see that each alien was holding a long (for them) rod which glowed at one end. The colours of the rods varied from green to blue to purple but it was clear that they used to rods to flatten the grass down somehow. They then made paths of flattened grass between each other and eventually they all gathered in the larger of the circles near Sugar.
Sugar stepped forward and kind of bowed to them. They gave a little nod back to him. Sugar made some weird noises in response to which one of the aliens made similar noises. This continued for a bit while the others stood around looking into the grass around them.
“I think that one must be in charge or something.” I said nodding towards the one in the centre.”Look how the others are guarding it.”
“Yes I think you’re right.” Priya said”I wonder what they are saying?”
I was just about to comment when Sugar turned to us and said
++THIS IS THE ONE WHO WILL SPEAK FOR MY MASTERS. I WILL TRANSLATE BETWEEN YOU. THEY HAVE SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU++
“Okay,” I said,”Explain that we will do our best but we are just children and do not represent the views of everyone on this planet.”
++I HAVE DONE THAT. THEY DO NOT THINK THEIR QUESTIONS WILL BE TOO DIFFICULT FOR YOU++
“What a cheek!” I said quietly to Priya, “We’re not that stupid!” and then to Sugar I said”Tell him we have some questions too.”
++MY MASTERS DO NOT HAVE MALE OR FEMALE. THEY ARE JUST AS THEY ARE BUT I WILL TELL THEM++
The main alien made some noises and Sugar turned to face the aliens. Then he turned back.
++THE FIRST QUESTION IS: HOW MANY HUMANS ARE ON THIS PLANET?
I knew this one,”About seven billion” I said.
Sugar relayed my reply. There then followed a series of questions about the planet, humans and the weather. We answered the best we could but some of the stuff we just didn’t know. Eventually I’d had enough and decided to ask a question of my own.
“We are human, what are you?”. Sugar seemed a bit puzzled but asked the question anyway. There was some noises among the group and eventually Sugar replied. This pattern was followed pretty much for all of our questions.
++ON THEIR OWN WORLD THEY WERE KNOWN AS THE TRAVELLING ONES. THEY HAVE NO NAME FOR THEIR SPECIES++
“Where is their world?” I continued.
++IT WAS FAR FROM HERE AND NOT ON ANY OF YOUR STAR CHARTS+
“Why do you keep referring to it in the past tense?” interrupted Priya.
++BECAUSE IT IS NO MORE++
“What?” I said”What happened to it?”
++IT MALFUNCTIONED AND WAS DESTROYED++
“Malfunctioned?” Priya said”That makes it sound like a machine.”
++MY VOCABULARY IS LIMITED. I HAVE USED THE BEST AVAILABLE WORD++
“Oh,” I said, realising what he meant.”He doesn’t mean it actually malfunctioned. Just that something went wrong with the planet and it got destroyed. Kind of like my Mum goes on about with global warming here.”
“So, if the planet was destroyed.” Priya asked,”How many of them escaped?”
++MANY SHIPS WERE LAUNCHED. ALL ON THE PLANET ESCAPED. BUT NOT ALL HAVE SURVIVED++
“Why not?” I asked
++UNKNOWN BUT THIS IS THE ONLY REMAINING SHIP++
“When was their planet destroyed?” Priya asked
++IN YOUR TIMEFRAME ABOUT ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO++
“What?” I spluttered”So why has it taken so long for them to arrive here?”
++THEY WERE WAITING FOR A PROBE TO REPLY++
“A probe?” Priya said,”You said ‘a probe’ not ‘the probe’. How many probes are there?”
++PROBES WERE DISPATCHED TO MANY SUITABLE WORLDS. NONE HAVE REPLIED UNTIL NOW++
It was time to ask the question I had been wanting to ask for sometime.
“What do they intend to do with this planet?”
“Yes,” I pressed,”but what does that mean? What happens to us humans?”
There seemed to be more discussion between Sugar and the aliens on this question. Eventually Sugar turned to me and said
++THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS. WHY WOULD ANYTHING HAPPEN TO THE HUMANS?++
I tried to spell it out as clearly as I could.”If your masters occupy this planet, it becomes their planet. What will happen to the humans when your masters occupy this entire planet?”
Sugar didn’t relay this question, instead he replied of his own accord
++TIM THERE ARE ONLY ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY EIGHT OF THEM. THEY ARE SMALL. HOW CAN THEY OCCUPY THE ENTIRE PLANET? IS THERE NOT ROOM FOR YOU BOTH?++
“Wait!” Priya interrupted,”Are you saying they don’t want to destroy or enslave us?”
++YES THAT IS WHAT I AM SAYING. THEY WISH TO OCCUPY THIS WORLD ALONGSIDE THE HUMANS WHO ALREADY OCCUPY IT++
“Tim!” Priya gasped”It’s another problem from his limited vocabulary! He doesn’t mean occupy in the sense of ‘take over’, he means occupy in the sense of ‘live on’”
“So they don’t want to take over the Earth as belonging to them?” I said
++NO. WHY WOULD THEY? THEY ARE PEACEFUL. BESIDES HUMANS DO NOT OWN THIS PLANET. HOW CAN SOMEONE OWN A PLANET++
I looked at Priya”This changes everything.” I said,”They’re not invaders, they’re refugees!”
++WHAT IS REFUGEE?++
“A refugee is someone who has to leave their home and seeks shelter and help in another place.” Priya said
Sugar turned to the aliens and relayed this. They replied and then he said
++THEN THEY ARE REFUGEES. THEY HAVE NO HOME. THEY WISH TO MAKE THE EARTH THEIR HOME++
“Yes, that really does change everything,” I said,”mostly because now we have to find somewhere to put them and somewhere to hide that ship.”