On August 7th, 2024, SETI, in cooperation with NASA, released a joint statement that changed the world. A signal sent from far beyond the charted cosmos had, after two years, finally been decoded, and the experts agreed extraterrestrials had reached out to us and were on their way to Earth.
The beings from beyond made it clear they had been observing the Earth and its human inhabitants for over a century and were well familiar with the problem facing human civilization. They were coming on a goodwill mission decades in the making. They were bringing technology that would save humans from the inextricable problems they made for themselves.
War and starvation would no longer be inevitable aspects of the human experience. The environmental systems industrial society had sent into imperial decline could be restored, and every human would enjoy a standard of living unparalleled history. At the last minute, humanity was being given a second chance by visitors from the stars. It was Deus ex Machina.
It had barely been two months since the news broke, and society was still processing the information. The transmission reached Earth approximately 18 months before the ships were to enter the atmosphere. After the initial excitement, many resumed life, as usual, simply waiting for the news to keep trickling down from up on high.
Amy Samuels kept up her routine. She kept going to the gym, the office, and Sunday brunch. Much like everyone else on the planet, though she was feeling burning anticipation. She knew life would never be the same, so why was she still clinging to it?
One bright and beautiful Monday morning, while Amy sat in her windowless office subjecting her eyes to the degrading light of her computer screen, she received a chiding email from her boss.
Amy's work had been deemed "unacceptable" and needed to be redone. Amy read the email and clenched her teeth. The frustration swelled in her chest to the point she could barely breathe. Finishing that project the first time had put her through hell, and she didn't know if she could go through it again.
Amy dwelled on her situation. She had been doing her job for 5 years and hated it since day one. However, the pay and retirement plan was better than adequate but did any of that matter now? Amy exhaled, and the tension in her chest seemed to leave with her breath. Her lips curled into a soft smile "screw it," she muttered before leaving her office, never to return.
Vincent Theodore Pierce was many things. A successful entrepreneur, a black belt, and in the last few years, he became a highly sought political strategist. He could boast one of his clients had made it to the White House! During the historic Herst/McComb race, Pierce advised Herst, the then-presidential hopeful, to walk out of the traditional cable new debate. On his way out, Herst told the cameras and the electorate there was too much work to be done to stand around wasting time on softball questions. An hour on CNN wasn't going to make or break his campaign. That was up to the American voter!
Whether or not Herst used that evening productively is a matter of debate. Still, that show of defiance and Pierce's bottomless war chest put him over the edge and into the oval office. Behind his chair stood Vincent Theodore Pierce, the mogul, futurist, and now kingmaker.
To a man in Vincent's position, Amy was a cautionary tale. It opened his presentation to President Herst, the cabinet, the joint chiefs, and a gaggle of fortune 500 CEOs. High on the attention, Pierce stood up and strode back; feeling all eyes on him, he took his time with his words and made sure each punched harder than the last.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we can not allow these aliens to invade our planet," Vincent told them firmly. "The introduction of this alien technology will destroy not only capital markets but will wreck supply lines and interrupt production in every sort. We won't be looking at a recession or even a depression but total economic annihilation." Vincent concluded his monologue and fell back into his chair.
The dignitaries exchanged frightened glances. General Auckland, chairman of the joint chiefs, broke the silence. "Mr. President, I'm afraid Mr. Pierce might be right. I'm also concerned with how this will affect the country's military preparedness. All three branches are seeing a record number of desertions."
"Defense stocks have fallen by nearly half in three weeks," William Lloyd, CEO of Raytheon, interjected through a computer monitor. "We only have enough cash to get through the next two months. Without any new orders will be bankrupt before the year is out."
"World peace isn't our only problem here," Jessica Roberts, CEO of Chevron, said somberly. "These aliens said they're bringing alternative energy tech to replace our energy products completely. As I'm sure you're all aware, investors figured out the implications of this pretty damn quick." Everyone grumbled in agreement.
President Herst nervously looked around the room. "So, what should we do then? According to the polls, the public is pretty pro-alien, and we have elections to consider."
"You're right, Mr. President," Pierce said, springing to his feet again. "We are in a sensitive situation. The average person can't appreciate the macro-economic impact of all these pie-in-the-sky promises the extraterrestrials made. We have to find a way to turn public opinion against them before they land."
Herst shrugged, "ok, how do we do that?"
"Human autopsies," Pierce said with an enormous self-satisfied grin.
"We get footage of these aliens slicing people up like livestock, maybe suggest they want to use us a new food source. That way, we'll win hearts, minds, and votes when we blow them out of the sky!"
"How do we even know we can destroy them?" Herst asked.
"The engineers in the Skunkworks have made some great breakthroughs in anti-orbital missile technology," Andrew McCabe, the CEO of Boeing, said assuringly. "With a sufficient R and D budget, I'm confident we can find a solution."
Hurst looked back to Vincent. "This is our only option, Mr. President. Either we destroy the aliens, or everything we have will be gone forever. Our era will be finished."