Alien Roots : a short story by: GF Willmetts

July 28, 2019 | By | Reply More

From space, our Earth looks a delightful blue from the oceans with a touch of green from the vegetation. It doesn’t show the effects of how we badly polluted it with plastics and other assorted materials that we are slowly sorting out.

With all of that distracting us, the discovery of an interstellar message board seemed trivial in comparison. Very advanced. It read our messages and then did instant translations of whatever was there. Fancy AI stuff. There was also some explanation why we had never had any extra-terrestrial contact. We hadn’t invited anyone. Not that many were close but several species were space-farers. It wasn’t designed to carry any scientific information. Why look for scientific knowledge when we could ask the real thing?

Our scientists and archaeologists were far more interested in the older messages and wanted to know what happened with other encounters before inviting an alien species to Earth. After all, we had barely made it out of our star system, let alone any successful colonisation of other worlds. Who knew what would happen should we invite extra-terrestrials here. If they were carnivorous, then we’d all end up in their foodbox. So much for the human race and anything else left on Earth. The same would also apply to potential slavers.

It was a tricky situation. We all wanted to meet aliens but we had to be so careful of the price. A species that was vegetarian or even vegan had to be more advanced in their ideals. After all, wouldn’t that mean they had concerns for ecological issues and less likely to hurt a fly, let alone a human. If they were Buddhists or their alien counterpart, that would be good as well, providing they could help us more than thinking meditation would sort everything out.

Of course, we didn’t expect to see all of that in the messages. For all we knew, a yoga oomah could be a ring tone. Would their message boxes be an equivalent of terrestrial ones. Who knows? Maybe there was some alien influence on our version in the first place. One can only hope that once we found it, that it was a free account or at least we had a 90 day freebie depending on how they defined 90 days. With the distances involved, it could mean centuries.

Anyway, we couldn’t hang on forever, we needed to show we could belong to the intergalactic league, assuming that they had a collective name and needed to show we wanted to become at least a junior member if it did. Quite what the rules are and whether we had enough funds to join up remained to be seen. Would they want any of the other planets in the Solar System or even want to colonise them remained to be seen. The uproar from the opposition that we shouldn’t give away anything for free and a reminder of our own dark history quickly went into circulation. We didn’t have clean hands and any alien species was just as likely to have a quick look and move on. Should we tell the true, lie or bluff went on for a long while. Whatever, it would take a lot of front.

Being found out if we bluffed wouldn’t change our current position anymore than lying. Would an alien species expect us to be totally honest or see us as mugs to do so? Maybe we could be mostly honest and anything we glossed over seen as just tiding up our own history. We would also have to view any other sentient species likely to do the same. Would the really honest alien species out there stand up please. If you thought the perils of our own world was bad enough, what would they want to hide themselves? When I put that proposal on-line, it made a lot of people stop and think and I was discretely recruited. Not for my writing skills but my astute thinking when it came to the alien mindset. What journalist wouldn’t fall for that except the only promise I had was that after first contact was made and the aliens landed, I would be allowed to go to print. I suspect I would also be heavily censored but that wouldn’t stop a best-seller. After all, I could always write an SF novel.

My job was basically to be the alien advocate. To voice my opinions as to how aliens would see, assuming they saw in a similar spectrum, what we told them about us. I was also to look over the alien message board and see if I spotted any potential vegan species. As if I was vegan. Mind you, I had to go that way to get in that mindset. In some respects, it would have been easier to figure out who the carnivores were.

Anyway, I ended up choosing a couple possibilities and one relatively close to Earth. We thought we’d just drop them a ‘Hi!’ message before getting too elaborate. Let them come back to us would tell how willing they would be to establish a first contact. Let them do the running. After all, we couldn’t go to them.

The one thing we had no idea about was how long we would wait for an answer on the message board. A month passed and our people were getting worried. Should we send another message? Maybe they didn’t get the first message? Even my new career was put in doubt. Had I picked the wrong alien species?

Another month passed and a message appeared. ‘We will be there tomorrow.’

So much for developing a relationship first. How did they term the word ‘tomorrow’? Decisions had to made quickly now. The message was in English but we set up portable message boards just in case talking was impossible. The only thing I could add to the table was maybe they could travel as fast as the message they sent. That would mean that the speed of messages was limited to the speed of light which was also a clue to the speed of their own spacecraft. If we were in their shoes or whatever footwear they wore, we would probably do the same thing to converse than wait months between messages. At least, it wasn’t years or centuries as some of our ancestors once thought. My choice of a local star group probably saved us that although they could be space-farers already in the neighbourhood. I suggested that we send some co-ordinates so they just didn’t land at the White House or United Nations. Not that they wouldn’t be welcome there but more a matter of how big their spacecraft was and the cultural effect on mankind. A tickertape parade or a party from the first might not be the best way to show how mature a species we were.

As it turned out, they came down in what we later learnt was a scout craft. Even that was huge. The size of a small village. Their mothership was left orbiting Jupiter fuelling up. The aliens, called the Varians, came out in astro-suits and tested the atmosphere and passed some scanning device over us before shedding their helmets. Mostly humanoid with a head that looked like a cross between a rabbit and bovine. Not exactly ugly but not what we were expecting for extra-terrestrial beings.

Their main team communicated with the message boards while saying another team needed to investigate our vegetation. As vegans, their interest was in our vegetation. We explained about our irresponsibility with pollution but they saw the plastic like some sort of relish and offered us the deal. They would have all our vegetation and, in exchange, re-vegetate the Earth at a faster rate. We weren’t that stupid to let them strip the Earth without some guarantee that we were have edible vegetables from the seed they were offering. You think we would be stupid to fall for a B-plot Science Fiction story? Wash you mouth out. We were also assured that our vegetation would be available as a trade with other vegan species, more so when they knew what we had to offer.

We weren’t stupid. We showed the alien Varians on the media and got a 70% approval rating. Of course, there would be many who thought it was a bad deal. Then again, they would think that of anything but the majority ruled. We would have our main plastic pollutants removed and we had our own seed banks we could replenish our own plants as well as some sturdy alien plant-life we could trade on with whatever super-fertiliser they were using. We had assurances that our animal life wouldn’t be affected. Most countries went along with that. A few didn’t but it was all a free choice.

The Varians brought their mothership into Earth orbit and even helped removed our satellite debris. We couldn’t believe our luck. They were so helpful in every way. The perfect first contact and I was a major contributor to that choice. A regular eco-alien species with the means to sort out another species pollutants and even take it away.

The plan went ahead and I was amongst the few allowed to watch from their mothership and filming. It was rather weird seeing the Amazon rain forests being cleared to the earth and then the plant-life being regrown. The Varians dispersed fruit and meat to the animals with an expert ease and showed an expertise in re-building worlds that we could only envy.

Almost as quickly as they arrived, they were ready to go. They were homesick and were returning to their home planet. Our own planet Earth was in a far better state than before they came and we wished them bon voyage.

Things were going fine for a few months and then the alien plants began to grow ever more quickly. The media described them as being akin to ‘Jack And The Beanstalk’ as many of their plants reached up into the sky. At least they left room for some of our plant-life and our own omnivore and vegetative animals thrived on them but we couldn’t stop the growth.

We studied the plants and realised their material would make good house-building material. What we lost in some things we gained in others although we seemed to be moving back to a more primitive era. More so as the growth broke up the tarmac. We would have to work on different types of vehicles.

The long-range forecast wasn’t so good. In a few years, human civilisation would be less than medieval as the forests continued to grow. Of course, we weren’t stupid. We contacted the Varians through the message board and waited the customary couple months for them to return a reply. That turned into nearly a year and eyes were turning to me for an answer.

As I pointed out, there was no indication how close anyone was when they used the message board and we only assumed that the message to the Varian mothership had been relayed back. If they were travelling near the speed of light, it would take a while for the message to catch up. They might just have been in the neighbourhood waiting for a first contact message than travelling anywhere. They were rather eager to supply their own mothership before going home. That was the onus. They were going home and didn’t tell us how far they had to travel.

Had we been conned? I wasn’t sure. They weren’t Indian-givers. We certainly were better off…at first. We had also described ourselves as vegans to these aliens. Maybe they saw the vegetation they’d give us as all that was necessary for us to get by. Maybe there was something about their vegetation that could advance us into space despite what the 40% distracters thought. We would just have to think like the Varians did and see what they had given us to take us to the next level. Maybe they were right. Maybe we should announce ourselves as a veggie shop and attract clientele. Look for other space-faring aliens in the neighbourhood and hope the trade-up will sort out the apparent mess we put ourselves in.

If anything, the real question was should we attract more vegan aliens and would they all be space-farers with a shopping list? As it is, it looked like we were being turned into a Jupiter fuelling station with a side order of food on the side so we could make some galactic currency which wasn’t a bad idea. That being the case, we should also charge for fuelling at our gas giants. Maybe our next message on the board should be ‘We’re open for business.’ That did the trick and the start of messages from other alien species ordering supplies. Mostly those new giant plants and we were investigating what was so special about them. Trade boomed.

In many respects, I’m glad we didn’t announce we were omnivores or even carnivores. Would the first contact have left some dangerous livestock or, our worse fear, seen humanity as the livestock. At least we wouldn’t be inviting such species just yet. However, there was always the worry one would come visiting one day masquerading as vegan. Would going to the message board and asking about weapons and building spaceships make us look less hospitable to our new vegan friends? Pass the yoga mat, I need to think about that.


© GF Willmetts 2019

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Category: Scifi, Short fiction

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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