Grow and Prosper

“I speak for the Commander of the People.”

The creature was obviously a different species from rest. It could almost be a small human, except for the skin. Were those natural markings, or did they convey some sort of rank? Why did the People have a different species translate for them? Was the creature in front of him more gifted in language, or was it a sign of arrogance? The People, as the aliens called themselves, were large, at least two metres high. Secretary General Khan nodded, trying to keep all the advice from the myriad of scientists who had prepared him for this interview. Ha! As if anything could prepare someone for the first interplanetary contact with a new species.

Don’t smile or show your teeth. Don’t make sudden movements. Don’t gesture as you speak. Who were these experts, and how could they have any expertise in alien communication?

“I am the Secretary General of the United Nations. Please call me Imran.” The translator issued a series of guttural clicks and grunts, presumably translating his words for the Commander behind him. Khan tried to ignore it as he continued. “May I firstly welcome you to Earth, and I hope this marks the start of a long a fruitful relationship between our two – ”

He stopped as the Commander barked.

“The Commander wishes to discuss the detail of our relationship,” said the translator. Khan raised his eyebrows in surprise, then wondered if that was the sort of gesture the linguists had advised him against.

“Well, of course, but we have many nations, with their own interests and concerns. We will happily make our negotiators available to you over the coming weeks.”

The Commander spoke again. It was an ugly language, decided Khan. Was that as a consequence of those huge jaws?

“You have a population of seven billion,” translated the creature in front of Khan. “Resources are scarce, and so you fight amongst yourselves. You burn fuel and do not replace it, and so resources become scarcer as the population grows. Yet you have large areas of land uninhabited, deserts where you cannot thrive.”

“It is true that regrettably we do sometimes have wars,” said Khan, feeling the reputation of the Earth suddenly rested on his shoulders, “but the vast majority of us live in peace, and we have achieved -”

“We will give you energy,” said the alien.

“Excuse me?”

“We will give you the technology to control fusions reactions. This will give you unlimited, clean energy. With this you will be able to irrigate your deserts, power your cities and fuel your vehicles. We estimate your planet could then support sixteen billion.”

“Sixteen billion?”

“Or your current population with no hunger or need for war.”

A young man handed Khan a note. Khan looked down at it as he played for time.

“That’s very generous of you, um, Commander,” he said. The note was in a hastily scribbled scrawl.

Cold fusion!!! Unlimited cheap energy! The mother lode!

Khan wondered if all the exclamation points were strictly necessary. He was vaguely aware of the growing hub-bub behind him as various observers frantically tried to contact their superiors.

“What would you want in return?”

“The People wish to live here. We will inhabit an island and provide you with technical expertise. We wish you to grow and prosper.”

Inwardly, Khan’s heart sank. Did they have any idea of the hornets’ nest they had just overturned? Governments and corporations would kill to have access to that sort of technology, while many of their citizens would no doubt kill to send the ‘invading’ aliens back home again.

“That’s very kind of you, um, Commander. We will certainly discuss this. I’m sure that some arrangement could -”

“The Commander is aware of your history of animosity to those that are different from you, therefore your current fusion weapons will be neutralised.”

Did the Commander ever let anybody finish a sentence?

“Of course, we are working towards that. For many years now we have been negotiating treaties to limit the nuclear arsenal, and -”

“You misunderstand. The People have mastered fusion technology. They have already neutralised your fusion weapons. They no longer work.”

The hub-bub behind Khan rose to a roar. He wondered how the nuclear governments would justify their opposition to world-wide peace. If nothing else, it would unite old antagonists into a single voice, he thought wryly.

“This is the island we will inhabit.”

An image appeared in the air before Khan. The shape was familiar. Was it one of the smaller Caribbean islands? Behind him someone screamed an obscenity in English. Khan’s eyes widened as he finally recognised the shape.

“Australia? You want to have Australia?”

“It is barely populated. With irrigation it could support fifty times the number of humans it currently does. This will be the People’s new home.”

“No. No, I’m sorry, but that is just not possible.”

“Why?”

Why? Khan worked his mouth noiselessly. If they had to ask the question, how could he possibly explain? Why? Why? Because it was home to twenty-one million people. Because it was rich in natural resources. Because it was home to a unique eco-system. Because it was someone’s country!

“It’s inhabited already,” said Khan. It sounded weak, even to his ears. “Even if Australia agreed to it, even if others would be prepared to accept the influx of immigrants, I mean, the logistics, the size. We couldn’t possible expect to ask an entire county – my God, an entire continent – just to up sticks and evacuate their home.”

“You misunderstand,” said the alien, prodded by the clicks and grunts from his master. “The People have no desire to displace the indigenous population. Quite the opposite. We want them to prosper and grow. They will be first to benefit from the People’s new technology.”

“Really? Well, that will be down to the Australian people, of course. It may take some time. How long can the People stay in orbit?”

“The landing has already started.”

“But you can’t!”

“Do not worry,” said the translator, and even though it was an alien species Khan could see it slump in resignation. “The People are very good at husbandry. They will grow and prosper. Then they will be farmed humanely.”

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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