Author : Bob Newbell

It was with trepidation that the Secretary-General of the United Nations brought his lips near the microphone to make the first verbal attempt to communicate with the 1,500 spaceship armada that had infiltrated the outer solar system. With a steady voice he said, “On behalf of the people of Earth, I bid peaceful greetings to the visitors to our solar system.”

It was expected that it would take perhaps 35 minutes for the message to reach the fleet and as long for a response to be heard back. To everyone’s surprise, the reply was immediate.

“Yeah, hi there. Sorry to just barge in like this, but we have orders to repossess your gas giants.”

The Secretary-General and the other dignitaries who heard the message were stunned.

“Would you please explain how you are communicating so quickly over hundreds of millions of kilometers and explain what you mean by ‘repossess your gas giants’?”

“We put a satellite in orbit around Earth to convert between your radio communication and our tachyon pulses which are faster than light. It also translates languages,” came the reply over the speakers. “Your world’s account with PlanetShield Incorporated is 65.5 million of your years delinquent. The company hired Interstellar Repo — that’s us — to collect the four gas giants PlanetShield sold to your ancestors to gravitationally sweep up asteroidal and cometary debris in your star system so the inner planets wouldn’t get pummeled.”

The United Nations delegates looked at one another in utter astonishment. The Secretary-General composed himself and spoke. “There was no intelligent life on our Earth 65 million years ago.”

“You’ve got that right,” replied the alien. “No intelligent life form would try to protect four rock-worlds with just four gas giants. Not only does this solar system have a large comet cloud, it’s got a great big asteroid belt right outside the orbit of the fourth planet. You really need six and ideally seven or eight gas giants for proper coverage.”

“No,” responded the Secretary-General, “I mean there literally were no beings on this world who could have engaged in any sort of business agreement to celestially engineer our solar system 65 million years ago.”

The U.N. delegates heard what sounded like papers being shuffled over the speakers. “Let’s see,” said the alien. “Large reptilian beings, some bipedal, some quadrupedal, most with scales, some with feathers, collectively dubbed ‘dinosaurs’ by subsequent dominant mammalian species. Sound about right for 65.5 million years ago?”

“Yes, but–”

“Got the signed contract right here.”

“But the dinosaurs went extinct! We believe an asteroid struck the Earth and–”

“Well of course an asteroid struck the Earth. Those cheapskate dinosaurs went with a package designed for a star system half as big as this one. And then they didn’t even pay for that. And I’m afraid under the terms of the contract responsibility for payment devolves to Earth’s dominant life form after the 90 kilandra trial period, or 65.5 million of your years. Well, folks, the ships are in position around the outer planets and we’re ready to warp out.”

“Wait!” screamed the Secretary-General. “If you take those planets Earth’s orbit will change. Our civilization will be destroyed!”

“You can use the satellite to send a tachyon pulse to contact PlanetShield Incorporated if you want to negotiate a new contract. No hard feelings, I hope. We’re just doing our job.”

The speaker went silent. Telescopes and space probes quickly confirmed that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune were gone.

“Hmm, think we could get by with five gas giants?” asked a delegate.

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