The Earth hung silently in space, as still and quite on its long journey around the Sun as the long dead satellite that orbited her. The silvery moon shined down upon a world empty of life. There was nothing but emptiness everywhere across the face of the earth, abandoned cars, buses, and planes, sat where they had come to rest. The signs of death were everywhere; bleached white bones littered the cities. The once vibrant Earth was a cauldron of death and decay.
It had begun as the dawn of a new era for earth. They had come at the beginning of the second decade of the twenty first century, a small group of travelers from the stars. They said they were from a star we call Tau Ceti. They had contacted NORAD by conventional radio and requested permission to land.
Panic had first ensued through all levels of government. At first it looked like a cover-up of galactic proportions was about to take place. But due to the fact that it was an open broadcast, many amateur radio operators had also heard the request, newspaper and TV news programs were flooded with the story. Within a few hours the United States Government had finally given permission for the Tau Cetians to land at the shuttle landing facility at Edwards Air Force base in California.
The Tau Cetians landed among the largest gathering of people in one place the world had ever seen. As soon as the news got out that the visitors had been given permission to land and where, the people had started arriving. First in small numbers and then in a wave of humanity could only be described as a seething mass. It seemed as though everyone on the planet wanted to be able to say "I was there." Diplomats from almost every nation on earth boarded planes and headed for Edwards.
Unknown or unthought-of by everyone else there was also another group of people watching all this unfold. Who could have guessed this group's xenophobia could have been so strong. They were not people from small back-water towns, but people who lived normally, and until this moment considered mankind to be the pentacle of creation. This group saw the Tau Cetians not as new friends but as abominations threatening mankind's superiority. Oh there were a few demonstrators about the invaders that were coming to pollute our planet, but no one gave these few naysayers' any serious consideration. How could anyone have known that there were a few people who held these feelings in powerful positions in our government and the military? In the rush to welcome our new guests from the stars, no one ever considered the possibility that one or more of these people might be in a position of power to act on their fear.
It might have turned out differently had it not been for the fact that two of these people just happened to be stationed together as the launch crew of an ICBM complex somewhere in Iowa. Who they were didn't matter, what did matter was that these two Air Force officers shared the same irrational fear and hatred of these invaders.
What mattered even more was that for whatever reasoning fueled their hatred they had knowledge that they shouldn't have, they knew how to retarget their missiles. The targeting should have been fixed, entered into the computer by some white-coat half a continent away, but one of them knew how to change it. He knew how to bypass the safeguards, how to get into the system without setting off any alarms, how to bypass the safeties. With this knowledge, whether driven by fear or hate or both, he did as he felt was right. "These invaders must be eliminated." The Earth was for humans and he would see that it remained that way. Did he think of the consequences? Maybe so, maybe not, it is doubtful if he even considered that he would go to prison for murdering millions of people. He probably saw himself as the savior of mankind, but in the end it didn't matter how he saw himself, he would do as he thought he must, he would rid the planet of this abomination no matter how many lives it cost.
The lone nuclear missile had arched across the western United States, before anyone had a chance to react the visiting ship, its occupants, and the thousands of people gathered for the event were reduced to ashes in a blinding flash of light and ball of nuclear fire.
What this self proclaimed hero of the world could not have known was that the Tau Cetians had a second ship in distant orbit to back up the first. Unlike the first ship this one was equipped with weapons, weapons as far beyond our primitive thermonuclear missiles as Earths missiles are beyond the club of a caveman.
Their response was swift.
The Earth turned silently in space.
©2008 Dave Cole