Author: DJ Lunan
Earth’s first extra-terrestrial visitor for 500 years is a peace offering and a miscalculation.
Intended for a swift twenty-year journey through its own solar system in the Monfix Galaxy, the visitor that breached Earth’s atmosphere had voyaged for almost 4,000 years from Urabia.
The visitor is a Fexil Box. It is tiny, no larger than a human fist. This Box contains a graphene alloy 3D printer, with Yttrium salts for energy and Lithium trioxide for connectivity. The printer is remarkable technology to humans, while for Urabians, it is a veritable antique that we only use to teach schoolchildren the value of inter-species communication. Indeed, Earth’s visitor is a peace offering from Class 5Vx of Vihin Primary School. Of course, they are all long dead.
“My Great-Grandfather was in Class 5Vx”, began President Monbieux, barely holding back tears, standing in front of footage of the long-forgotten Fexil Box falling to the blue planet.
When it lands on a remote beach on the Skua Islands, it barely disturbed the hot white sand. First, an umbrella emerges for communication and shelter. Next eight limbs sprout and the voyager struts into the forest, where it has identified the crucial mix of basic grapheme, terbium, and fresh water. Here, it extends a drilling syphon into the forest floor and quickly begins extraction. Then, silently, the visitor begins printing.
Under the umbrella, the production line is efficient, with newly-printed parts neatly stacking and self-assembling.
Meteorological tempests on Skua are violent and punctual. Beginning at 11 pm each day, wind and heavy tropical rain lash the island. Every living thing does its best to hide.
The first Limax maximus – a large slug – finds the Fexil Box at 1 am, and shelters happily under its communication umbrella, overhanging the efficient, silent industry of the printing press. Like all residents of Skua, Limax dream of unreserved shelter, and being gregarious, this first slug uses its happiest pheromones to signal to its family scattered across the forest.
Bliss proves an overwhelming draw, and within an hour, forty slugs are clinging to the underside of the umbrella, sleeping, mating and defecating.
Little did the slugs, Urabians or humans know that those specific mucous secretions from the sheltering slugs are caustic to the printer’s bullet-proof graphene alloy. By 3 am, the printer structure was visibly corroding, slowing production. Soon the printer begins malfunctioning and emitting sharp industrial noises. Its newly-minted components began disintegrating.
“This barbarity is obscene, criminal!”, announced President Monbieux to the transfixed Urabians watching the disintegration.
Dawn broke the storm. The Limax secretions had corroded tiny holes in every hinge, joint, pivot, and fulcra which were perfect for early-rising Neuroptera – net-winged flies – to lay their eggs. The larvae hatch within an hour and gorge on the nutrient-rich cocktail of love mucus and base minerals abandoned during the ongoing corrosion of the graphene alloy. The hungry larvae devour for the morning in the shade of the umbrella, before transforming into winged giants and flying to their nocturnal feeding grounds.
The larvae albumen provided the final fatal ingredient to the chemical cocktail, rendering the printer inert. By dusk, all components new and old stopped communicating. The unstable umbrella detached with that evening’s first winds, and communication with Urabia was lost.
Across Urabia, pictures loomed on screens around Urabia of Limax and Neuroptera tag-teamed destruction of the Fexil Box and its printers. Nostalgic Urabians wistfully remembered the innocence of their schooldays, and the midnight launches of the homemade Fexil Boxes promoting peace and love across their solar system.
“This aggression cannot go unpunished! What sort of race deserves to live that would destroy a child’s toy!”