When they stepped out of their space vehicle, they looked exactly like human beings.
Five years earlier, NASA had detected a space vehicle on Mars. The vehicle, unclaimed by any agency or company on Earth, orbited the red planet for one year before taking a new route. World governments didn’t want to take any chances. They began preparing for an encounter.
There was inevitable disagreement as to what should be done. It was widely believed that the ship was, in fact, carrying some form of life, because footprints were photographed on the surface of Mars by the Curiosity rover. Some suggested the space vehicle be destroyed, based on the assumption that any alien species would be hostile. Others suggested a more welcoming approach, acknowledging the reality that, in the future, an ally in space could be a very useful asset.
While politicians and scientists argued, anxiety began to set in with the rest of the human population. Those who aligned with the “aliens are probably hostile” movement built underground bunkers to dwell in during the invasion. Conspiracy theorists laughed at the implausible idea that this was the first alien contact. And amateur scientists relentlessly yet fruitlessly attempted to contact the alien spaceship.
After two years of summits, world leaders came to an agreement. They would attempt to greet the aliens peacefully but would resort to force and destruction if hostile actions were advanced by the visitors.
Various delegations of scientists and politicians were stationed around the globe. No one knew when the aliens would land or where they would land their ship, which traveled at varying speeds and, at times, even seemed to be veering away from Earth. Space programs, both private and governmental, used all available resources to try and make contact with the vessel, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, the rest of humanity prepared as only humanity knows how. They produced songs, movies, reality tv shows, and books dedicated to the imminent arrival. Or demise. Depending on who you ask. Aliens were big business. Toys, t-shirts, home decor, car decals, and a whole host of other products were sold on the idea of the unknown beings traveling in space.
The closer the vehicle came to Earth, the crazier things became. People began spending their life savings on all sorts of things including dream vacations, luxury cars and expensive jewelry. Many quit their jobs to pursue their life dreams. Markets were volatile, and corruption was rampant.
Finally, the vehicle reached Earth’s orbit. The vessel had many close calls with the many satellites also in Earth’s orbit until a wing-like portion of its tail collided with one of Russia’s military satellites.
The vessel quickly began a course that appeared to be a landing attempt, and an emergency one at that. Russian authorities immediately moved to destroy the spacecraft, charging the United States with faking the whole thing in order to destabilize Russia. The United States quickly denounced the accusation, and its many allies stood with the powerful nation. The original plan to initiate a peaceful welcome continued.
Time seemed to slow down as the ship descended. The entire world was on alert. Eyes were glued to television sets, large screens on the sides of skyscrapers, mobile phones, computers – anything that could broadcast the descent. Cell phone lines were jammed and many websites went down as everyone tried to communicate, not knowing if these were the last moments of their lives. The vehicle finally touched down on a cliff along Chile’s northern coast.
Delegations stationed in Santiago and Rio de Janeiro immediately deployed to the remote landing location, and troops were sent to guard towns in northern Chile, southern Peru, eastern Bolivia, and eastern Argentina just in case.
After a few hours, the door to the spacecraft opened. Twelve beings stepped out of the ship. They looked exactly like us.
The Santiago delegation arrived and set up a base camp one mile away from the landing spot. They approached the beings in armored vehicles displaying white flags. The beings went back into their spacecraft. A minute later, they exited once again, this time each carrying a white flag.
Peace wasn’t the only language the aliens shared with the humans. The beings were able to speak English, Chinese, Russian, French, and Spanish, among other languages. They hadn’t studied Earth’s languages from afar. These languages were spoken on the planet from which they came.
The Earth celebrated the arrival of their new, peaceful friends with cautious optimism. The “aliens” toured the world, visiting modern cities, ancient ruins and natural wonders. Scientific experiments revealed that the alien species was, in fact, identical to the human race. Most importantly, the aliens met with the people of the world, sharing customs, stories and generosities.
Russia persisted in arguing that it was all a ruse until the United States and its allies offered to pay for the replacement of the military satellite. With its military tech restored, the Russians no longer had an argument and joined the rest of the world in welcoming Earth’s guests.
After a year, the aliens made a proposal. They wanted to recruit six beings to return to their planet with them, while six of their kind would stay on Earth and foster good relations. One person from each continent (minus Antarctica) was chosen for the journey.
Life resumed. People returned to work. New industries and new dreams sprang to life now that the hope of space travel and alien life were fully realized.