The High Cost of Contact

Author : David C. Nutt

“I don’t need to explain it to you again Mr. Ambassador. There’s absolutely nothing you can do but accept our terms.”

“This is an outrage! It’s piracy! It’s –

“Yes, it’s all that and more- but it doesn’t alter the facts one little bit now does it?”

“No. It doesn’t. (Sigh) We had such hope. We thought it would be different.”

“Yeah I get it. It was the same for my people too. One day we thought we were alone in the universe and the next day they came out of the sky. We were awestruck by their technology. They ended world hunger, disease, our energy problems, made us instantly sustainable.”

“Then your bill came due.”

“Yup. Took almost all of our silicates. Most of our ferrous materials as well.”

“At least you didn’t lose two ice caps.”

“Hey, you can replace most of that with what’s floating around your asteroid belt. That will hold you until you can construct the fleet to siphon hydrogen and other easily convertibles from your gas giants. We gave you the technology to do it.”

“But it will take nearly everything we have! Assuming we can put aside our differences and cooperate on this, even with the tech you gave us it will be hundreds of years until we can replace the water from the ice you’re taking. Why didn’t you just go get the water from another gas giant? From one of your own stars?”

“Well, here’s where things get complicated. Our system doesn’t have any gas giants. The nearest star has another system that owns the rights to that star and the next three or four other stars in our neighborhood. You guys were our next stop after all that. You’ve got premium ice, readily available plus water, hydrogen, methane, ammonia and other resources to spare. We trade your ice for the rights to one of those stars a tad bit closer to our home world and we can replace the silicates and other materials we lost with our first contact.”

“There’s no one we can call for help is there?”

“Oh yeah, plenty! But if you think this is a raw deal try paying the bill for protection. Do the words ‘nitrogen and argon’ mean anything to you? Be thankful we found you first and only took what we did. We could have taken more but, well, my people have a soft spot for first contacts.”

“I’m moved. So what can we do to guard our resources from the next race that comes by?”

“Here’s where I get to ease your pain. Ten of your days after we leave your system and are long gone we will send you the blueprints for a planetary defense system that will keep just about every known race in the galaxy at bay.”

“How much is that gonna cost us?”

“Mr. Ambassador! I’m truly hurt.”

“I’d rather front load the pain than have you come back in two decades and take an ocean or two.”

“I assure you our terms are totally reasonable.”

“Why do I get the feeling you’re going to ask me for the sun and the moon.”

“Nonsense. Just the moon.”


  1. xdhz8

    Gives a whole new meaning to prices being out of this world!

  2. Jae


    But needed another editing pass before submission.

  3. M J R

    Nicely written. Reminds me of a acronym coined by Robert Heinlein TANSTAAFL (there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch).

  4. Irene

    Good one! Very amusing and well done.

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