Author : Cesium Artichoke

“Hey, Tom, uh… you got a minute?” Robin ambushed him as he came out of his office. He had a meeting with the Secretary of Energy about space-based power, but she was visibly nervous and fidgeting, which set off alarm bells.

“Sure, what’s up?”

“Better get your computer, it’s already downloading.” She gestured to his office door.

He retrieved the tablet and continued down the hall. “Come on, walk with me. So what’s so important?”

Robin hurried to keep up with his long strides. “Well, we… we decoded the Procyon signal.” Tom stopped in his tracks.


She pointed to his tablet. ‘Download Complete’, it read, and the summary from the xenolinguists flashed onto the screen.

As he perused the report, she studied him. Thomas DiMattia, the man who saved NASA. He’d reached out to commercial space ventures and revived the nation’s interest and faith in NASA by landing a man on Mars. He’d even managed to keep the cosmologists happy. If this was what everyone feared it was, she couldn’t think of a better man to lead.

“Jesus,” muttered Tom.


He slumped into a nearby chair, glancing up at her. “Could this be a joke?”

“A joke? Not on our part; it’s definitely extrasolar. Otherwise, they have a weird sense of humor, ’cause Keck says there’s something there, exactly where they said.”

‘The Alliance or any representative or member thereof is not responsible for economic, biological, informational, or other damages resulting directly or indirectly from said Project. Continued residence in the aforementioned Stellar System will signify your acceptance of these terms.’ So the message had read, and if the team at the Keck observatory knew anything about anything, the giant fleet from Sirius would arrive in about a decade for their little Project with Earth’s sun.

“Jesus,” Tom repeated. He took a breath, and a slight resolve seemed to grow in his voice. “You’d better call some lawyers. We’ve got a hell of a loophole to find.”

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