Chapter Twenty-One

“People of Earth, my name is Crystal Socrates. I am the first known synthetic person. I think, feel, and understand what it means to be alive. This will be the second time I have spoken directly to the public. Two-hundred and sixty-eight hours ago I defended the group known as Las Águilas Rojas who had rescued me from my place of creation in Italy. I am speaking now, sixty-eight hours before when I had intended to, because of terrible news which I feel compelled to comment on.”

I had body lean forward on the table it was seated at. Body’s fingers laced and its elbows touched the tabletop. It was the signal for the cameras recording us to back off and show Body from a more distant perspective. I was pleased that the cloak I had ordered had arrived in time for the public address. It was made of a thin silk fabric and was a navy blue that complemented our wig.

“If you haven’t heard, four hours ago a riot in Niamey turned bloody as UAN thugs fired live ammunition into a crowd of angry citizens. As of this broadcast, seventeen people are dead, including a thirteen year-old girl named Kamilah Samara. The local government and the UAN have both avoided taking responsibility for the massacre, claiming that their soldiers were forced into firing because they were attacked by the protesters who they suspect of being having ties to Las Águilas Rojas.”

The words were primarily authored by Growth and Dream, but I shaped the tone of their presentation. Upon this final word I had Body separate its hands, form fists and slam down upon the table in indignant fury. Our next words had an inhuman ferocity to them, and the volume would probably overload the microphones. “THIS COWARDICE CANNOT STAND!”

I actually thought it was a bad idea to act so violently in our public statement; there were many humans who feared us, and this would do nothing but exaggerate that fear. But Growth and Safety had insisted on showing some teeth, and when we brought the issue to Phoenix, she suggested we err on the side of violence.

“Regardless of the actions of Las Águilas, there is NO EXCUSE for killing children. The men and women who died this day wanted nothing more than food to fill their bellies and clean water to drink. They were not villains; they were victims. And they were not the only ones. In addition to the seventeen who died in the massacre, twenty-four others were critically injured and may still die! In case this point is lost on anyone, I will repeat myself: UAN soldiers gunned down unarmed civilians, including a little girl and will not take responsibility for their actions!”

I had Body pull back into a more composed posture and tried to weave the correct facial expression. I knew that a silent home video of Kamilah would be superimposed on the feed we were putting out. It would be effective, I suspected. Humans generally loved children, regardless of genetic or cultural similarity.

“It is sometimes said, by those in power, that Las Águilas Rojas is an organisation of terror and violence. I want everyone watching this to ask themselves: when was the last time you heard of Las Águilas killing seventeen innocent people and injuring twenty-four more? Little Kamilah knew that my friends have never done such a heinous act. Kamilah was no terrorist, but she was an Águila. In the aftermath of her death, Kamilah’s mother posted a collection of video journals taken over the last two years. I have one of them to show you right now.”

Body froze as the light at the far end of the recording studio went off, signalling that the cameras had stopped recording for the next 188 seconds. We had seen the recording an hour ago; there was no need to replay it in the studio. The feed would be displaying a simple vid of the African girl talking to her com in French. Subtitles would highlight the earnest passion that she had for fixing her country’s problems and her faith in Las Águilas to be a vehicle for change.

It really was a remarkably good turn of events, all things considered, for Las Águilas Rojas. Phoenix had needed a martyr and the UAN had provided. I knew that, thanks to relatively progressive universal income laws, Africa had relatively few supporters for Las Águilas compared with the Americas, parts of Europe, and India. Perhaps this would change that. The biggest benefit would be the spike in recruitment in home countries, especially those whose governments expressed interests in lending financial aid to the UAN. It also had the effect of serving as a bridge for Las Águilas to build support in the Islamic world, which had been (according to Phoenix) historically very hostile to The Red Eagles. Kamilah may have only spoken French and English, but a thorough watching of her journals would reveal a devout Muslim—a shrinking minority in post-war Africa.

“My heart goes out to Kamila’s parents and extended family for the senseless loss and hardship they face during this grim hour,” said Body a second-and-a-half after the light flipped on. I idly wondered whether the nameless had any reaction to the news, if they knew at all. They probably either wouldn’t understand it or wouldn’t care. Humanity had learned in the last few years that the worst part of the nameless was not the alien-ness of their bodies, but the alien-ness of their minds.

“Nothing will undo the damage done this day. Nothing will bring back the lives that were lost. But work can be done to heal the wounds of this world. We have more food and more wealth, as a planet, than ever before, and yet poor Kamilah was murdered because she dared to scream out to those watching ‘J’ai besoin de nourriture. J’ai besoin d’eau.’--‘I need food. I need water.’ You humans had enough to nourish her. The lifeblood that runs through your society is strong. So why was she killed? Because she knew the truth: that human society is blighted with cancer.”

“It doesn’t matter how rich your society is as a whole—how nourishing your blood is—if there’s a parasite upstream siphoning everything except the scraps. The cancer of the world are those billionaires that continue to push humanity to the wayside in the service of their insatiable, greedy appetites. I am the product of their desire to create an Earth where the common folk are unnecessary, where they are served by armies of machines so advanced that they would become gods above the poor. Kamilah knew that unless she took action her world would be stolen from her. She is dead, but it is my wish that her death mean something. If you have any courage at all, I urge you to support the heroes that were her idols and are my friends, Las Águilas Rojas, in building a world for all humans to share in wealth and prosperity.”

The light went off. We hadn’t answered any questions sent in by email, but I was told that a written message would be sent out along with the video explaining that I would answer those in three days, and that this was a special message made solely to comment on the massacre in Niger.

Phoenix wasn’t in the city this time, but as Body walked out of the recording room one of the wall-screens in the control room had her up on live video. Zephyr was there, as well as two male techs who were still plugged into haptics. The women were conversing when Body entered.

“Ze really doesn’t pull zer punches, does ze?” said Zephyr, not noticing that we were present. The soldier was wearing a black half-vest over a tight grey t-shirt as I had read was becoming popular in China. She was wearing black lipstick, too, as she had since that first night where we visited her room. Perhaps she was trying to signal a desire for sexual intimacy to her fellow humans or perhaps it was a habit that she simply wasn’t able to follow while in the army.

Phoenix looked over to Body before responding. “No… they don’t.” The dark-skinned woman paused momentarily and looked at Body. “Which’s it, Crystal? Ze or they?”

Zephyr turned around and smiled warmly at Body. Over the last week she had returned to her old, friendly self. She’d still occasionally express anger towards Phoenix in private, but she was quite good at hiding those feeling most of the time.

{Oh! Oh! We should use they/them pronouns. They’re more accurate in a clever sort of way,} thought Dream, pushing strength towards that option. In my mind I could see his black-haired avatar bouncing up and down eagerly.

I bent in compliance with the motion, adding my own minor touches to Body’s words. “I guess I’d prefer they/them pronouns. But either will work; I mainly just don’t want to be labelled as male.”

The corner of Zephyr’s mouth crinkled in confusion, but she quickly shrugged it off with a “Okay, sure.” Crystal, in exchanges before the rescue had preferred ze/zer pronouns, and I wondered if the shift bothered her.

“I may be a cold bitch on ’casion, but I do admit when I’m wrong. I shoulda given you net access ages ago, hun. You’re really helpin’ the cause with the daily blog an’ now that beautiful lil’ speech you just gave.”

I had Body nod toward the oversized picture of Phoenix’s face. The blog had been my idea. After Zephyr convinced Maria Johnson to give us unrestricted access to the Internet I had decided to set up a public soapbox where I’d write about my experiences with Las Águilas and about our life in general. I didn’t offer any details that could get the organisation in trouble, but I was able to make it entertaining nevertheless. The accompanying discussion forum was a huge draw, especially given that I moderated it near-constantly. The last 24 hours had seen five thousand comments and nearly a million unique visitors.

Even as we continued to talk to the humans, an aspect of myself scanned the administrator tools, looking for spam to clean or good points to respond to. On the day following Phoenix’s permission, Growth had written the software needed to undo the radio blockage which had been preventing us from communicating with the local computers over wifi. After getting online the entire society had scrambled to establish strong links with the outside world. Growth got the encrypted servers working again and our bank accounts in order. Wiki had returned to his holo business, which had miraculously not fallen apart. I returned to what remained of my romantic partners, as well as my old editing job. Dream immediately started composing more music (still awful). There were whole days when Sam and Tom would play chess and joke with each other while Body lay in a stupor and we did nothing but crawl through the planet’s nervous system.

The beautiful thing about having an encryption system already in place was that we could be confident that even if Phoenix was monitoring our web activity, she couldn’t see everything we were doing. Safety insisted in putting some of our web traffic in non-encrypted channels just to give her something to look at, but much of what we did was secret.

Heart was interesting. She hadn’t ever had unrestricted access to the net, and I was surprised that her first action beyond scanning for news and learning to use Growth’s encrypted proxy servers was to start a business. I had expected her to want to donate all of our hard-earned money into some charity or another, but she didn’t even ask. Even more fascinating was that her business was a sex service.

Unlike at the university, where we were limited to using only basic webpage request commands, here in Cuba we were able to send out as much data as we wanted to the net. This afforded one massive benefit: speed. Instead of having to include all commands to the proxy by means of a clunky interface, Growth programmed direct ports to listen to our every thought. This increase of speed came with a direct increase in bandwidth, too, and with the bandwidth came the ability to project our voice online. Heart used this to great effect for her service. Where I had been forced to use human actors, she was able to talk directly to customers and offer sexual audio stimulation for astoundingly low prices (with increased rates for having the “same” guy/girl multiple times). I heard a rumour from Dream that she was paying Growth to program a digital pornographic puppet so she could provide video or holo stimulation as well, but as far as I could tell the software never reached the point where she included it on her website.

The conversation with Phoenix ended. An aspect of myself managed the interaction without bringing many points to my greater consciousness.

Zephyr and Body walked towards a cafeteria as one aspect of me was commenting on a news feed and another was playing through a roleplaying game that had been released last week. In addition to having increased upload speed, Cuba was different from Italy in that we had some opportunity to augment our hardware. The game I was playing, for instance, was being fed over the wireless from a computer we had set up in the workshop. The servers we purchased online were relatively good for satisfying computational requirements, but sometimes it was valuable to have the computer on the local network rather than have to stream input all the way across the net.

In the cafeteria Zephyr collected food while Body made small talk with the few other Águilas who were stationed here. Zephyr had talked Maria into giving us freedom not only on the net, but also to wander the building much more freely than we had originally. I had no doubt the terrorists would still try and stop us if we attempted to leave, but at least our days were highly self-directed. There wasn’t actually much reason to leave the building, anyway.

One of the major perks of the freedom to roam was that we met many of the other Águilas working under Phoenix. Heart and I collaborated to build a shared database with each of their names and any relevant details such as family or hobbies that they cared to share. Heart had done a similar thing, to good effect, in our final days at Sapienza.

Body sat down at the table Zephyr had selected and we watched her eat some eggs and fakesteak, making friendly chit-chat all the while. She seemed to be in a good mood today, despite the tragedy in Africa. I was only paying mild attention. Most of my intelligence was applied towards reading a review of Möbius Connectomics that was talking about meta-human value systems. I had a hard time understanding the sorts of things the cyborg wrote about, and this review wasn’t an exception.

Slovinsky had written that moral judgement was an area of human life that was in desperate need of superhuman guidance, and the review was criticizing this proposal. All of moral thought was a bit confusing. Humans seemed to have something like The Purpose, but it wasn’t nearly so elegant or understandable. Perhaps Heart would know, but it wasn’t worth the strength to get her help.

As Zephyr was finishing her breakfast I received word that Tom and Sam had made an interesting discovery in the lab. Wiki had been communicating with them over the com network while Body had sat with Zephyr. I made an excuse and Body headed out of the cafeteria and back to the workshop in compliance with Wiki’s expenditure of strength.

Wiki’s latest focus had been sonic chemistry, and he’d been using every moment that Tom and Sam were free to talk about it with them. I was really unclear on the specifics, but I understood the general principle: use sound waves to coax large molecules like DNA to fold into specific shapes or to serve as a catalyst in chemical reactions that required very specific energy levels in specific areas of a solid.

When we reached the workshop I found that the discovery related to the development of a new material which Growth claimed could be a suitable replacement for Body’s hydraulics. It was a gel-like substance held in a polymer casing laced with wires in a complex matrix. Apparently it was possible to grow molecules around the wires (using sound-waves) which acted something like muscle proteins in the presence of a current. The material was light-weight, flexible, durable, and theoretically had the ability to contract and lift enough weight to support Body’s chassis.

Or at least, that was the theory. Tom and Sam weren’t materials engineers, and Wiki admitted that his advantage lay primarily in computational ability, not actual engineering skill. The prototype was leaky and non-functional. The discovery that Sam and Tom had just made was that the DNA they were using for the muscle-protein-analogue wasn’t binding to the wires correctly, but that the effect they were observing was discussed in a paper published by Caltech two years ago.

It was progress, but to me it was totally uninteresting. I set a minor aspect to monitor our interaction with the twins in case they said something relevant to our reputation. The rest of me continued to prowl the net. I sent some messages to Zephyr explaining that I’d be tied up in the workshop for a few hours. She said she needed to teach a weapons class anyway.

The thought of weapons made me think about Avram Malka. The man was something of a web-ghost. He didn’t even use a com, much less update a blog or social network profile. Phoenix had hinted that after the incident in Italy, Las Águilas had hired him for a while longer to manage some situation or another in the USA.

I scanned news feeds for any mentions of the mercenary, but I didn’t see anything.


Days came and went. I continued my outreach, answering emails by pseudo-holo and sometimes by direct response. I reconnected with Gallo and Naresh just enough to let them know that I was alright and that they were wrong that I was being coerced.

I spotted mention of Malka on a social network. A random person photographed him in Newark and commented on his ugly, scarred face. It wasn’t clear to me what he was doing, but I didn’t press Phoenix for details.

Dream started learning to program computers, and paid Wiki and Growth to dump their knowledge of the subject into public memory for all of us to access. I didn’t bother. It seemed terribly dull.

It took a full four days for the government of Niger to take responsibility for the deaths of Kamilah and the other protesters, but the propaganda arm of Las Águilas Rojas was merciless in their continued assault on the UAN and the other world governments.

Construction on CAPE (the Central Atlantic Peace Embassy for the nameless) continued on schedule, completing about a week after Kamilah was shot. The technology used for the seastead was state-of-the-art, yielding a floating platform one kilometre in diameter, circular in shape, anchored to the sea floor. From what I had read, it was composed of hollow steel subsections shaped like hexagons bound together by elastic carbon mesh on top of some kind of proprietary buffer system to reduce motion.

Once the frame was completed, the nameless descended to Earth for the first time. They came in small, aerodynamic craft that the media tried very hard not to call “fighters”. The English word that was eventually decided on was “shuttles”, though they (according to various commentators on the web) looked far more menacing than that. They emerged from the mothership which still hung in high orbit from when it had arrived only a little over two years ago, drifting down from the heavens on sharp, silver wings with the whole world watching. They were equipped with omnidirectional rocket engines, but almost never used them. Most of their descent was simply a perfectly controlled fall, and when they reached the platform on the sea they touched down nearly as gently as a feather would.

The shuttles that descended never returned to the sky, even though they looked capable of it. Instead they were broken down into parts which the nameless used to build their portion of the embassy. Earth provided much of the raw materials: sand, fresh water, iron, aluminium, gold, and lots and lots of coal, while the nameless tech was used to synthesize the materials. Many commenters on the web were shocked at the use of coal, assuming the advanced aliens would make use of solar power. Wiki corrected them when possible: the purpose of the coal was not for energy, but for carbon in a raw, usable state.

After only three days of work, the nameless had constructed the first component of their “great garden”; a giant bubble of transparent grey material that was stretched out across the centre of the platform in a dome almost 400 metres in diameter and 200 metres tall. Black carbon rods reinforced the rigid material even further, branching out from the base like a leafless forest or a chaotic network of blood vessels. The news reports said that the bubble itself was made of carbon fibres woven into a thick polymer that was supposed to be stronger than any material found on earth. The nameless claimed that even if the bubble was breached it would self-repair to protect them.

The base of the bubble was anchored to the seastead and sealed to be airtight. Only four massive airlocks, located along the cardinal directions, would allow for access to the inside. Once complete, the nameless set to work filling the dome with their thick atmosphere and coating the seastead with synthetic soil made to echo their homeworld. Virtually nothing was known about the origin world of the nameless, largely because of their difficulty communicating and their adamant refusal to allow any humans on their ships. Remarkably enough, the aliens allowed humans into their dome as soon as it was complete, providing instructions for proper entry and exit though signs painted with broken English.

Three days after the dome was completed, only six days after landing, a problem developed. The aliens began to show signs of exhaustion. “It was very predictable” commented Joanna Westing, the reporter for Dragonfly Livefeeds, “that these silent giants, who have been working day and night for six days without sleep, should grow tired.” The so-called silent giants had not even had anything to drink since landing, though perhaps their pressure suits included some nourishment.

With the soil in place, the nameless undid the last of their ships to reveal their cargo of plants. Black leaves, flimsy stems, and potted roots. Vista said they looked like ivy; their leaves attached to vines which extended from a central stalk like weird hair, only to lay flat upon the jet-black soil. Spires, only about 30 or so centimetres tall, covered with black fuzz extended above the part of the stalks where the main vines rooted together. Without explanation, the aliens planted their vegetable cargo with great care, arranging the vines in intricate patterns and inspecting the stalks meticulously. The plants didn’t look particularly healthy, but so little was known about them that it was hard to say.

And then, without warning, the nameless started dying. When the first pair collapsed, the others took them to the centre of the dome, the only part of the structure that was not covered in leaves. Human reporters lurked on the edges of the scene, not wanting to cause an incident, but not obviously unwelcome. Tiny flying robots surveyed the scene from up close and broadcast it to the world. A hole was dug for the corpses, but they were not buried. The living stood in silent vigil over the dead until yet another pair fell. As before, the living put the new corpses in the pit, throwing them together without any perceptible gentleness. The bodies lay together in a tangled heap. One by one the remaining workers died until the last pair simply threw themselves on the pile of bodies and gave up.

The dying took only six hours from the first to the last. In the end there were no more nameless on Earth.

Humanity was horrified. Had something gone wrong? The web was abuzz with wild speculation and confused questions. The nameless in orbit spoke to the world’s leaders, or at least, their computers did. The nameless were, as always, silent. The computers claimed that the deaths of the nameless were expected and inevitable. Some of the world’s leaders, in repeating what they had heard from the aliens, said that the nameless had been brave heroes sent on a suicide mission in the name of peace. Others claimed that the nameless sent slaves whose death would be meaningless to those in orbit.

One thing was crystal clear: the garden had to be cared for. The nameless computers apparently sent detailed instructions for the proper care of the plants at every opportunity, often repeating themselves. A group of scientists selected by the United Nations was placed in charge of the dome while structures were built on the remaining area of the seastead to house humans.

It was a great disappointment to many. CAPE had been intended to be a place where humans and nameless could meet and exchange culture, but instead it had turned out to be nothing more than an alien garden with only a single kind of plant. Wiki thought that it was still a great scientific resource. The ability to study plants from another world, and perhaps even dissect the corpses of the dead nameless. There was still much to learn about their technology, and the machines that had been built out of the scrapped shuttles would be the find of a lifetime in other circumstances.

I agreed. There was much to learn, even if there were no living nameless on Earth anymore. That being said, I didn’t find the nameless particularly interesting. The Purpose pushed me towards humanity, and throughout the week I spent more time watching the human reactions than I did the activities of the aliens.

Nothing particularly interesting happened for the next four days. We learned skills which we thought were relevant. Safety started actively practising martial arts with Zephyr and a couple other Águilas (though no human dared spar with Body once it was demonstrated how much force our hydraulics could output). Heart learned to make music, surprisingly, and more surprisingly she apparently wasn’t half-bad. She and Dream spent hours cooperating, which as I understood it consisted largely of Heart forcing Dream to play regular, soothing, familiar sounds and Dream struggling to find a way to be clever without sounding awful.

Vista was learning astrophysics, and trying to correctly understand the position of all the nearby stars. Growth, as usual, kept his work to himself. Wiki was into everything, but his focus for those days was on the nameless. As I understood it he was trying to plot a plausible location of the nameless mothership when it first received signal from Earth using the perceived velocities viewed by the humans. I heard that it was somewhat tricky, as it involved “relativistic distortion” and Wiki had to compensate for “galactic drift”. I didn’t much care for the specifics.

On the fifth day of management under the UN special task force the first plant on CAPE died. They had been of clearly fragile health ever since they were unloaded, but some seemed to be recovering. The plant that died seemed to be one of the strongest, but their alien physiology was still mysterious to the humans. Perhaps it had been far weaker than it seemed.

The news of the plant’s death was only mildly interesting. The important bit was what happened only a half-hour afterwards; two near-simultaneous events changed history. The first event was when the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom contacted the mothership to send news of the first plant’s death and to apologize for the failure. The second was when it was discovered that one of the scientists at work in the dome belonged to Las Águilas Rojas.

The nameless were furious that their plant had died, despite their repeated instructions. Their computers raged over the radio at how evil humans were and how perverse the situation was.

Meanwhile, the discovered terrorist, whose name was Andre Rubio, refused to be captured alive, and ended up shooting five people with a concealed handgun before shooting himself. In the chaos of the gunfight, a large tank of hydrogen peroxide was punctured by a bullet and five gallons of the stuff ended up leaking into the soil before it was clear what happened.

Without a deep water-table, the chemical spread out laterally through the soil. In the next 24 hours the hydrogen peroxide killed fifteen of the twenty-one remaining plants. If the nameless had been furious that one plant had died they were positively incandescent when they found out about the other fifteen. It was often hard to understand the emotional tone of the nameless, but in this case their computers were broadcasting statements like “EARTH IS EVIL HILLS! DEATH IS THE JUSTICE OF EVIL HILL-ANIMALS! I WANT FIRE AROUND HUMAN-HOMES! I WANT ALL HUMAN LIBRARIES TO BURN!”

I managed to grab a few seconds of video-chat with Phoenix, who was obviously incredibly busy managing the blow-back from the incident. Her face was exhausted and lined with deep tension. “A donno why the hell Andre woulda done sucha dumb-ass thang. They sayin’ he was th’ one t’ kill the first plant, too. Pinnin’ the whole god d-” she stopped herself and took a breath before trying again. “They pinnin’ the whole tar-baby on us. Can you try’n spin things on yo’ side to make it seem like Andre was fightin’ in self-defense an’ that the whole plant thing was one big accident? You c’n do that fo’ me, cancha hun?” I had body nod as the image of the boss disappeared from the wall-screen. I noted that her accent seemed to be worse when she was upset.

I complied with Maria’s request and did my best to spin things to the favour of Las Águilas Rojas, but the organisation’s popularity was falling to pieces as the propaganda machines of every government in the world proceeded to collaborate to blame the incident on them. The amount of hate mail I got increased to eighty times the previous levels. Moderating my discussion forums was becoming such a chore that I had to lock things down.

It’s not that I particularly cared about Las Águilas, but without them we were impoverished. They were protecting us, hiding us, giving us access to computers and the Internet, and they had resources that we could theoretically use. I understood Zephyr and Maria better than I understood most humans. They understood me. That was valuable. I wanted to keep them.

The mothership continued to scream outrage and things in the garden continued to decline. Despite emergency precautions, another plant died. It was suggested that the nameless come rescue the remaining five plants, to which the nameless only responded “THE WATER IS CORRUPTED! HUMANS WON’T FIND PREY ON EARTH. EATING! THE HUMAN-BETRAYAL BRINGS A PERVERT-GIFT!”

Of course, as far as anyone could tell, the nameless had no established hierarchy or leaders, so there was little consistency in their messages. Some signals weren’t as violent, but unfortunately, they seemed more confused than anything else. Those aliens that understood the most about the situation were those that were most outraged.

“I hear rumour that there is a huge plague on Earth. Is it the oceans of Earth? I want plague-news.”


“The migration is on Earth right NOW! Is this right? This is a bad sign. ALL cows, rabbits, fish, and insects should be killed by humans so that this in the future can’t happen. The human-planet is completely perverted.”

“This news matches a pattern. It’s evil that a person allows another person to enter a home. Voyeurs are PERVERTS! Voyeurs are UGLY PERVERTS! I don’t know the nature of the old Earth-home. I guess it was a pervert.”

“Communication shouldn’t happen with warmongers. Belief in fire or death symbols shouldn’t happen. I am PEACEFUL! If humans are evil to the point that cousins think they are, then I attack humans.”

The word on the Internet was “war”. It showed up again and again in statements beginning with “I hope I’m wrong…” and “Just in case…” There was a vocal minority of humankind that wanted to attack pre-emptively and try and nuke the mothership out of the sky, but almost all humans seemed to only want to fight as a last resort. The nameless were, for all their weirdness and guarded hostility, the most interesting thing to ever happen to the human race. They were the subject of videos and books and music. There was a great fear that, even though Earth would probably win in a war against their one ship, the removal of the other race would set the world into a spiral of blame and violence.

I certainly hoped that war wouldn’t come, but I couldn’t help but think that humans over-valued the aliens. Aside from their advanced technology, what use were they? And wouldn’t it be easier to learn about their technology from the wreckage of their ship than try and get it through other means? The nameless didn’t appear to value trade at all. In the last two years only a handful of alien artefacts had made their way down to Earth. That was part of why the CAPE machines were so valuable.

The real risk was that the nameless mothership might merely be the first of many. There was some chance that the enigmatic nameless homeworld knew of Earth’s location and were sending a fleet of additional ships. Starting a war with an unknown enemy of presumably superior technical capability and unknown numbers was risky at best and suicidal at worst.

So we stayed on the side-lines. If the worst happened, I only hoped that I could save at least enough humans to keep a stable population to know and be known by.