In my last post, we explored the impossibility of successful communication with the first aliens we make contact (unless they are Hollywood aliens, which are all fluent in English). Before diving deep into the aspect of culture in the next post, which is vital in inter-species understanding, I’d like to give a short pause and share a freshly-written, absurd flash fiction piece I wrote to give a brief glimpse of what I think might happen in the event that humanity makes contact with an inter-galactic race. Let’s see what happens:
8 minutes 44 seconds in Earth time. The final stronghold fell much easier than its definition suggested. It was strategically a terrible location to fend off the final assault for the remaining few Orgics that had chosen to hole up here– weak concrete walls that could easily be bashed in, inviting, thin metal sheet reinforced glass doors, with no booby traps inside and all.
Lost deep in his own, proper stronghold of thoughts, Captain Anders lingered through the main hallway, pushing aside the scattered glass remnants of the display cases on the floor with the side of his boots after each step. The Orgics had chosen to sacrifice their lives for whatever those fragile containers housed. What could be more important than life? Still preoccupied, Captain Anders hadn’t noticed he was standing right in front of a shattered glass door. He gently pushed the massive crack barely holding up in the centre with his gloved hand and watched the remaining glass fall and break into smaller pieces beneath his feet. So fragile! Then, it made sense a bit- the last of the Orgics weren’t the military type as those were the ones first wiped out. What would they know about fortifications? Anders bent his head slightly and passed through the doorway.
Anders was greeted by Lieutenant Orrin once he entered the main room where a 10-feet marble sculpture of an orgic freshly riddled with bullet holes stood.
“We’ve secured the place,” Lieutenant Orrin said.
Captain Anders saw the dead bodies of half a dozen Orgics piled up in a far corner. “Any survivors?”
“One, but it’s in a bad shape,” Lieutenant Orrin pointed at the giant statue. “Fought well trying to defend this. Didn’t leave its side.”
“I am guessing this one was too heavy to move.” Anders touched the feet of the giant statue and drove his hand up. It was hard and cold… just like death. “Why sacrifice life to save something so lifeless?”
The lieutenant shook his head, but Anders didn’t notice. His gaze was still fixed on the the colossal hardened form. “Take me to it.” He finally said, first prying his looks, then his touch away from the statue.
The small storage room had nothing but a wobbly metal chair in the centre. On it, was a loosely tied female orgic. Judging by the severity of her wounds, the loose ropes were there for her not to fall off the chair rather than prevent her escape. She had a couple of hours of life in her at most. Maybe less.
Anders lifted her chin up and saw the diminishing light in her empty gaze. Time was of essence and he had to pick the right questions to be able to make sense of the orgics’ purposeless actions. “Why?” He asked. “Why did you sacrifice your life for a heap of stone?”
Laura looked up and came into direct contact with the android leader’s blinking crimson eyes. She knew she was dying fast, and there was nothing else left the android could threaten her with to get answers. Besides, how would she be able to describe an alien concept to an alien race in the very limited time she had left? How could she explain art to those that never experienced it? On one note, the android seemed familiar with the concept of ‘sacrifice’ as it was the word it’d used. But, sacrificing one for other lives was one thing and willing to die for inanimate creations of their own doing was another. Besides even if she were able to make a little bit of sense, would it not get lost in translation on the way from the AI underlings to the alien masters? The androids were highly adaptable. They were the foot soldiers created to learn and adapt… To do the dirty work of their masters. And that adaptability alone caused Earth to fall in under a week: Thousands of live Trojan horses, dealing the unexpected final blow to the unaware human race. But, the whole dagger and cloak thing wasn’t to take humanity by surprise, it was merely to learn and record a race that was to be annihilated for good. The events of the past week started playing in Laura’s mind…
The androids were sent to Earth by their extraterrestrial overlords. Humanity has always been naïve in thinking we would make contact with the real deal alien entities, but just as automobiles replaced horse carriages and factory workers with machinery on Earth, it was only logical to think dangerous space exploration or planetary invasions would be made remotely with easily controllable androids from the comfort of their spaceships by galactic conquistadors. The droids were a form of liquid machinery disguised in flesh that could take any shape and blend in for planetary missions and sadly, copying the physical appearance of humans were not that challenging for the creations of a far superior intergalactic race. The whole invasion happened in under a week and didn’t even requiring probing. Without humanity even noticing, the droids learned everything about humanity to ease off the invasion. Well, learned about almost everything… culture and art wouldn’t make any sense to them even if they stayed concealed on Earth for a millennia. They had never had art. Nor culture!
“Why?” Captain Anders roared in frustration of the fact that a lowly race had secrets they weren’t able to figure out.
“Art… Culture…,” Laura mumbled in pain. “It’s what makes us human.” With her last breath, she wanted to make them understand that humanity was something to be preserved rather than destroyed. She’d always thought art was universal… literally… They would understand. They had to. The ropes holding Laura tightened as her head dropped down.
Upon arrival, the droids learned that art was a way of expression and imagination of the human creative skill, and paintings or sculptures were the byproduct of… art. But, what exactly was ‘Culture’?
Anders looked at Lieutenant Orrin for collaborative brainstorming. The definitions he got by connecting to the planet’s database were conflicting. But, that wasn’t surprising. The Orgics spoke languages based on conflict. A stronghold didn’t always mean a difficult place to take over, yet he clearly heard an Orgic mentioning this place as one. They had names for non-existent concepts like god, religion, soul, magic, ghost, monster… and he would never understand why they used the same word to describe existent but unrelated concepts or things. For instance, among other meanings, ‘Coach’ meant both a ‘large wheeled transport to carry a large amount of people from one place to another’ and a ‘trainer in sporting events’. There seemed to be no logical connection.
Orrin started speaking; giving definitions of the term ‘culture’:
“The manifestations of human intellectual achievement-“
“That can’t be it,” Anders cut in. “Not worth dying for something you can recreate. Besides, humans are not the intellectual type.”
“The ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular-“
“Not a chance. Creating a stone representation of yourself isn’t really an idea… as for social behaviour, there’s no scientific explanation to why they keep producing things that would never give them benefits.”
“Perhaps, it gives them benefits,” Orrin said. “We weren’t able to fully analyse them, yet.”
Anders shook his head. “They have 3D printers to create such things quicker and more efficiently. If one gets lost or broken, replication shouldn’t be an issue. Yet, they are willing to die for their own creations that can be recreated easily.”
“Thinking in Orgic’s way and speaking in their language affects my line of thinking and reasoning, is it necessary as I fail to understand even what you’re saying.”
“You know that total immersion is the best way to learn,” Anders coughed to clear his throat, which he felt no actual need to do so.
“I think I got it,” Orrin said. “It must be this one… maintain tissue cells, bacteria, etc. in conditions suitable for growth.”
Anders paused for a minute before speaking. “Have we detected any living organisms on… art?”
“Yes,” Orrin nodded. “Not on the newer creations, but older art is sometimes covered by vegetation and there’s also moss growth in time. It’s basically their breeding grounds! They ensure survival through inter-species transformation.”
“That’s it,” Anders agreed. “I am sending the report now.” He remained motionless as his eyes fluttered at intervals while compiling the final report.
And, a moment later he sent it. The final report that reached the outer ring of the 3149-R planet, read:
“The Orgics have found a way of immortality through creating lifeless representations of themselves and other things. Naturally induced tissue cells and bacteria are carefully preserved on these creations, only for them to spring out as a different life form in the future. This makes it possible for them to completely alter their DNA for a more suitable life form. Further study is not needed. Requesting permission to go on to the next planet.”
—- The End —-