Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

It began as a simple misunderstanding. The Liturgians were a social-insectoid race. When they negotiated with a graduate student from Cal-Arts, they assumed that she spoke for the entire huwoman hive. The concept of individuality was unfathomable to them. So when the student agreed to allow the Liturgians to mine ice from the Whitney Glacier, in exchange for a joy ride in their spaceship, they assumed that the entire Earth collective had agreed to the terms. Therefore, they happily gave her a quick tour of the inner solar system, then headed off to the glacier.

Alerted by LAX, the California National Guard scrambled two F-16 Falcons from the 144th Fighter Wing to intercept the “UFO.” They spotted the flying saucer as it was approaching the Whitney Glacier. Since they were not authorized to open fire, they established a containment pattern 10,000 feet above the landing site and waited for reinforcements. Next to arrive at the glacier were four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which hovered around the ship and illuminated it with searchlights. By the time the infantry units from the 40th Division arrived, the Liturgians had already excavated several tons of ice and were preparing to load it onto their spacecraft. When they noticed the solders approaching, they deployed their six phaser cannons and aimed them back toward their own ship, which was the universally accepted convention for receiving honored guest. However, the soldiers, not knowing the business end of a phaser cannon from the charging coil end, assumed that the aliens were preparing to attack. They preemptively opened fire, launching everything they had at the Liturgian ship. After the smoke cleared, the saucer was undamaged, and two of the four helicopters were flaming wrecks, having been shot down by friendly fire. The Liturgians were utterly confused by the turn of events, but decided not to respond until they better understood this bizarre behavior.

The following morning, the governor of California arrived at the landing site to take charge of the situation, since he had had personal experience with hostile extraterrestrials earlier in his career. He felt that this was clearly a misunderstanding that could be resolved with a non-confrontational face-to-face meeting. He approached the spacecraft alone, with his arms spread apart. Finally, the Liturgians concluded, a gesture that was unmistakable. The Queen of the Liturgians sauntered out of the spacecraft to feast on the obvious huwoman sacrifice. In Liturgians culture, after a battle, it was required that the leader of the losing hive offer her life in exchange for the lives of her offspring.

The governor smiled at the rhythmic clattering of the Queen’s six chitin legs on the hard surface of the ice. It reminded him of the banter between dueling tap dancers. When the Queen reached the governor she arched upward, perched on her four hind legs. From a height of over nine feet, her massive mandibles snapped downward and clipped off the governor’s head. In one fluid motion, her maxilla gathered in the severed head and guided it into her labium. The Queen bowed appropriately, and began to return to her ship. Almost instantly, the infantry opened fire again. The bullets ricocheted harmlessly off her personal force field. “What is it with these Earthlings?” she exclaimed after returning to the ship. “Can’t they make up their minds? They go from friendly, to aggressive, to surrender, to aggressive again. To hell with them. We’ll get the ice from one of the moons orbiting the largest gas giant. But before we leave this planet, we need to exterminate this hive. They cannot be permitted to swarm.”


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