Author : James SW Paris

They came from outside the solar system, in a ship the size of Mars. We thought it was something natural, then it performed a braking maneuver around Uranus, and the planet’s twenty-seven moons slid out of its way, returning to their normal orbits after it passed. The alien ship spent five years traveling through the outer solar system, skimming the outer planets, slowing down using some technology we could not identify. Eventually, it stopped at Jupiter, always staying on its far side, out of sight from Earth observers.

There were no envoys. There were no detectable emissions of any kind that could be interpreted as an attempt at contact. So we sent probes, nine of them, robotic missions, to get a better look. Some sent back a few pictures of the alien ship on the far side of Jupiter, two mile high towers around the equator, but all lost contact before anything useful was discovered. One moment, the probes were transmitting, the next, they were just gone.

Our tenth probe was different. One hour after it disappeared, it reappeared in front of the United Nations building in New York City. And in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. And Red Square, Moscow, Russia. And on the Ajyad Bridge in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. One moment, none were there, the next, they were in place. Not a single camera, radar, or seismograph caught a hint of what brought them there. All were identical down to dings collected in interplanetary space.

They were collected. In careful and secure conditions, they were examined. A hologram of actor Aladdin Mann appeared, dressed like his character Danny in the Stuck in the Baby Elevator episode of his sitcom, “Big Daddyed.”

“Don’t freak out,” the hologram said. “This isn’t really whoever’s image this is.

“Enough with the ridiculous probes. They must be expensive. We don’t want you to see what we are doing. We’re going to start destroying them as they cross the fourth planet’s orbit.

“We are sending this message only because we don’t want you to freak out and kill yourselves or something. You seem eager to meet us, We don’t care. There is nothing about you that is unique, or even interesting.

“Your brown dwarf has some stuff we want, and we are extracting it. We are taking about one percent of its mass. We will leave soon after the next solar minimum. We will leave the brown dwarf with half a million stable orbits.

“This might upset you. There’s nothing you can do about it. You can barely point these probes at the second biggest thing in your solar system.

“You might somehow think you ‘own’ something you don’t know about, and probably will never have the technology to extract. Here’s your payment: you’re polluting your atmosphere. Stop it or you’ll all die.

“Who we are is none of your business. What we are doing is none of your business.”

We sent two more probes, and the Visitors destroyed them both. They left Jupiter after the next solar minimum, taking one percent of the Jupiter’s mass with them. As far as we could tell, the ship seemed the same size and mass. They accelerated away using an engine we were never able to identify. Five years later, they were so far away we could no longer spot them among the stars.

We have no idea how we would ever follow them. And no idea what we would do if the Visitors return.

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