An Arrow for an Olive Branch: Sci-Fi Short Story, Part Two

Updated on February 3, 2018
cam8510 profile image

Chris has written more than 175 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Hubble Space Telescope, Administered by the Space Telescope Science Institute

The Hubble Space Telescope is administered by the Space Telescope Science Institute which plays a key role in this story.
The Hubble Space Telescope is administered by the Space Telescope Science Institute which plays a key role in this story. | Source

Recap of Chapter One

In the first chapter of the story, Ruth Billings, astronaut and astrophysicist, was conducting research on the Moon for NASA when she and her pilot were nearly run down by an out of control, alien spacecraft.

In this chapter, the President of the United States, and all the world's leaders must learn who these visitors are, where they are from and why they have come to Earth.

An Arrow for an Olive Branch, Chapter Two

The Space Telescope Science Institute, a world-class astronomical research center, was in its thirty-fifth year overseeing and operating NASA's premier observatories. Most notable were the Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, and the James Webb Space Telescope, launched in 2018. Dr. Richard Smith, Program Director for both the HST and the JWST, stood behind a line of technicians who were busy at their computers. "I want as much information as you can get, people. There are going to be questions only we can answer."

Dr. Smith's personal assistant approached. "I have Dr. Anton Ferris on the phone as you requested."

Dr. Smith left the technicians to their work and returned to his office. "Anton, how are you, my friend?"

"I am fine, Richard. Let’s set aside any small talk. You must be a very busy man right now." The thin, quaking voice belonged to a man twisted and crippled by advanced osteoporosis. He was also the icon and elder of the world’s scientific community.

"Thank you, Anton. The aliens haven’t shown any sign of aggression or inclination to communicate. Why would they come here? How should we proceed if we establish contact?”

“Have you ever given any thought to the ant hills in your yard?” Dr. Ferris took his usual, unconventional approach.

“I can’t say I have.”

“You ignore them because they are irrelevant to your life.”

“I suppose that’s true.”

“Have you ever seen anyone maliciously destroy an ant hill?”

“I’m sure I have, but what does that have to do with the crisis at hand?”

“We are like the ants. Since the day the aliens became aware of our existence, they have chosen to ignore us. But now, they have sought us out.”

“Disturbing words, Doctor. I can almost sense the heel of a cosmic boot hovering overhead.”

“Technologically, we have nothing that would interest the aliens. But we have something they need, or they would not have traveled so far for so long."

Dr. Smith’s assistant interrupted them. "Sir, you have a call. It's the President."

"Thank you. Send it right in.” Dr. Smith returned to his call. "Anton..."

"I heard, Richard. You also asked me how we should proceed. It is the we of that question that concerns me. Do not look to the politicians to deliver us. If you feel you are unprepared, they are even more so. Appeal to the community of scientists. We must step forward and lead the way. No one else can go in our place. Please give my regards to the President and his daughters.”

Richard hung up, and the phone immediately rang. "This is Dr. Richard Smith."

"Dr. Smith," said a female voice, "I have President Alec Golden on the line, please hold."

#

White House, South Lawn

Source

Alec Golden began his political career as a congressional aide. The party quickly targeted him as its potential savior based on his charisma and personality. They pushed him through election after election, winning every one. He campaigned for the presidency as a centrist and followed that same philosophy while in office. Golden had been President less than one year.

"Dr. Smith, I appreciate being able to reach you at such short notice."

"Mr. President, it is an honor to speak with you again. The team here at the Institute are ready to help in any way we can. By the way, Anton Ferris sends his regards to you and your daughters."

"Thank you. I appreciate knowing that Dr. Ferris is involved already. First of all, do we have any idea where these beings came from?

"The most likely planet is Vicinus."

"I've never heard of it."

"Vicinus is one of the dozens of exoplanets we've found since going live with JWST. At three light years, it is also the nearest.

"Wouldn't that mean they've been headed our direction for quite some time?"

"Three years, if they traveled at the speed of light."

"How likely is that?"

"The craft is spherical. Theoretically, if something were to fly through space at the speed of light, it would naturally be pulled into a spherical shape. If the materials weren't strong enough, the force would destroy it, unless the designers constructed it as a sphere in the first place."

"That’s why we didn't see them coming. We've been watching the skies for decades, especially since SETI and METI began monitoring and broadcasting. We didn't see them because they traveled to our solar system at the speed of light."

"Technically, we could have seen their photon wake, an afterglow, but the fact is, they got here without us noticing.”

"What can you tell me about their planet?"

"Vicinus is similar to Earth in atmospheric pressure and mass. The atmosphere has nineteen percent oxygen compared to twenty-one percent on Earth, but the predominant gas is argon. Ours is nitrogen. Humans could live on Vicinus by the way, but something is happening to the atmosphere."

"Don't tell me it's experiencing global warming?

Full Scale Model of the James Webb Space Telescope

Full scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope to be administered by the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Full scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope to be administered by the Space Telescope Science Institute. | Source

"With the use of mass spectrometry on planets, one of the big deals of JWST, we can discern the composition of atmospheres and the source of certain gasses."

"Would one of those be co2?"

"Yes, sir. The level of co2 on Vicinus is much higher than our own and comes from either volcanic activity or the burning of fossil fuels, or both. The resulting average temperature is also higher than ours."

"Do you think they've abandoned their planet?"

"One spacecraft doesn't indicate an evacuation, but it might have been sent to do research about Earth––Mr. President, I'm sorry. My team is calling for me, and I'm sure you'll want to know about this. Will you please hold?"

"Yes, of course."

There was a knock at the door of the Oval Office. "Yes, Janet." The door opened, and the secretary entered.

"Oh, I'm sorry, you're still on the phone."

"It's ok. I'm on hold."

"You're what, Sir?"

"On hold."

"Here's your energy drink." Janet handed the President his drink and walked out shaking her head.

"Mr. President?"

"Yes, Richard."

"There is a second spacecraft."

"Here at Earth?"

"No. This one is orbiting Jupiter, and smaller crafts are swarming around Callisto, Europa, and Ganymede, three of the planet's moons."

President Golden hung up and traced his earlier path around the Oval Office. Aliens are invading our solar system and practically ignoring Earth. Once again he looked down upon the Presidential Seal. The wings of the eagle were spread wide revealing its feet, each holding an item of symbolic importance. An olive branch or an arrow? Which will it be?

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        11 months ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Lawrence, If ever an object enters our solar system with intelligent life on board, it will be an unfortunate day for Earth. Aliens with the technology to reach us would not be coming here for any good reason...not good from our viewpoint at least. We have nothing they need––except possibly our planet.

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        11 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        NASA is going to be analysing the data for years to come, just shows though, even the wildest stories aren't as wild as we think!

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        11 months ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Fascinating news, Lawrence. Traveling too fast to have originated in our solar system. The first interstellar visitor to our solar system ever recorded. An elongated, dense rock formation with a reddish color. No radio signals identified.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        11 months ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Thanks, Lawrence. I'll do some googling right now.

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        11 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        Chris

        Less than two weeks ago, (this is genuine) NASA detected an object 400 metres long and about 50 metres wide wide less than two million miles from the Earth, it was closing at 15 miles a second but was passing right through our system.

        From the trajectory it was worked out that it wasn't from this solar system, but probably from a system 2,500 light years away.

        Right now, NASA is investigating what they heck this thing is, they don't think it's a spaceship, but they can't rule it out just yet, and it is the first 'interstellar' visitor we've had so far!

        Great read here.

        Here's the link to have a read

        https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/dec/14/is...

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        12 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        I enjoy reading science fiction. This is an intriguing example. I'm on my way to Part Three!

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        12 months ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        MizBejabbers, Cat people? Why didn't I think of that? See you at chapter three.

      • MizBejabbers profile image

        Doris James-MizBejabbers 

        12 months ago from Beautiful South

        Wow, Earth has potential alien visitors, and they are ignoring us. They must be cat people. Sorry, just had to say that. Very interesting and now I'm going on to episode no. 3 because you really have my curiosity aroused. Nice suspense.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        12 months ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Peg, Thanks for reading today. I hope the story is complicated enough to make it interesting. There is a degree of predictability in it, but getting there will be interesting reading, I think.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        12 months ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Rasma, thanks for coming along for the ride. We will be meeting some interesting characters soon.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        12 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Lots to consider in this episode - like whether we will be regarded as ants or used as an alternative habitat or both. I can see this getting more complicated as the story continues to evolve. Nice twist, putting POTUS on hold.

      • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

        Gypsy Rose Lee 

        12 months ago from Riga, Latvia

        A fascinating write. I too am not much into sci-fi but you had me from start to finish.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        12 months ago from Flagstaff, AZ

        Eric, Thanks again for reading my story. I'll probably speed up the release. It's being moved to LetterPile, so the more parts I have there, and the sooner I have them there, the better. Hang on, it gets pretty cool as the story progresses.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        12 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        And it just does not get better than this. I never go in for sci-fi but you have me hooked.

        I am sorry to tell you but the NYC competition you do is full of crap. Nobody is as good as you.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, letterpile.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://letterpile.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)