Author : David Botticello
We only discovered them by mistake.
Waiting out in space, watching, listening. Deliberating.
We had this exploration drone, for a comet. It was supposed to land, take samples, send back pictures and analysis—you know the deal. The physics of the thing was astounding; firing what was essentially a ballistic camera off into space with only small maneuvering thrusters, trying to hit a chunk of rock and ice hurtling through space. It was almost comical, when it bounced off. Hubris you might say, that we thought we could accomplish such a feat. Space Command had given it fifty-fifty odds.
Well, it bounced. All that money, time, effort, skipping off the surface, back into space. And so we figured, might as well leave the cameras running, right?
And then three and a half months later, while going over the images in some lab late at night, my buddy says, “huh, that’s odd.”
That was how we discovered the Vorinii. They had it all perfectly timed, tapped into even our most secure networks, moving their ship around so that none of our satellites would ever see them—if everything had gone according to plan, that is. Damned deliberating aliens. Just waiting there. Watching us. But they hadn’t expected us to fail. No, I don’t even think they understood failure in those days. They just didn’t get the concept. Everything they do is a resounding success. Some people say they’re just that much smarter than we are. Others say they are a particularly lucky species, or that we’re an unusually unlucky one. Or that they plan so much they just rule out all the bad options. This priest from my bowling league thinks they have some sort of cosmic authority that conforms the universe to their desires, makes everything they do come out well. I’ve half a mind to believe him. But whatever the situation, however it goes, for some reason the Vorinii just, kinda, succeed.
And that’s why they were so interested in us—a kind of morbid fascination, when you think about it. We fail. Sometimes dismally, but other times, there’s a bit of comedy, or even glory to it.
Well they landed, made contact, explored, flew away, came back. The whole deal. They even took news of this odd new race called Humans to the stars.
Twenty-five years in the planning. Ten years of travel. Hundreds of thousands of manpower-hours. Resources from across the world, some of them near-irreplaceable.
So that’s our first introduction to the universe, I guess. We fail spectacularly.