Author : Bob Newbell, Featured Writer

The aliens came in a spherical spaceship that would have been at home on the cover of a 1930s pulp sci fi magazine. Their ship was nearly a thousand miles in diameter and could easily be seen in orbit with the naked eye. For three weeks the human race sent radio signals starting with sequences of prime numbers and working up to more complex attempts at communication to the ship. There was no response.

As the world debated what to do next, smaller spheres abruptly emerged from the spacecraft and started plummeting to Earth. A total of 17 spheres landed at various points in North and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the floors of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Each mile-wide ball embedded itself exactly half of its own diameter in the Earth's crust. Humanity's militaries scrambled to respond to a possible invasion.

Over the course of several days, as the armies of various nations surrounded the seemingly inert vessels, seismologists began to pick up something resembling the primary waves or P-waves that precede earthquakes in the areas around each sphere. Concern that the spheres might be some sort of weapon that could shatter the Earth abated as further study revealed that the seismic waves were powerful but harmless collimated beams of sound that were directed deep into the planet's interior. The sound was highly modulated, leading scientists to believe it was some form of communication. Recordings of the sound signals were played back to the spheres by various means: loudspeakers, probes sunk into the adjacent ground, even via direct contact with the surface of the objects themselves. Again, there was no apparent response.

Eleven days after the spheres had begun their transmissions, a second set of signals were detected. Seismologists informed an already stunned humanity that the second set of signals were originating within the Earth itself. Moreover, these new signals were themselves modulated like those coming from the spheres. At first it was thought that the terrestrial signals might have been reflections of the signals originating from the spheres, perhaps representing some sort of acoustic location or imaging modality like the sonar used by submarines. Further analysis of the signals from both the spheres and the Earth's interior demonstrated the unmistakeable hallmarks of communication. Humanity was witnessing a dialog.

For four months a ceaseless subterranean conversation took place. Then, abruptly, all was silent. One by one the spheres wrenched themselves free of the ground and flew up into orbit to rendezvous with the mothership. The alien moonlet arced across the sky and left low Earth orbit bound for deep space.

For years we've tried to establish communication with whatever intelligence resides deep in the Earth's interior. The liquid outer core seems the most likely location for some sort of life to exist. As to what sort of life could exist in a 9000 °F nickel-iron fluid, even wild speculation seems woefully inadequate. Did the depths of Earth somehow become home to one of the sphere aliens at some point in the past? Or is there an indigenous, extremophile civilization 2,500 miles below our feet? Could the Earth itself be in some sense a self-aware being? We have no answers.

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