2544 The First Alien Visitor to the Solar System

Humanity has spread throughout the Solar system. Millions of people live in orbit and on other planets. Recently, spaceships started to travel faster than the speed of light. And only 13 light years away, a trading post has been discovered where alien species meet. Humanity’s first FTL ships travel there. The trip takes several months because FTL technology is still brand-new.

After meeting humans at the trading post, an interstellar trader of the Marui species decides to visit the Solar system. For the Marui, the trip only takes 10 days. From humanity’s point of view, their ship is extremely modern and very fast – the Marui, however, consider it rather small and old.

The Marui ship’s incoming course is 60 degrees off the ecliptic plane. The nearest planet is Saturn. Neptune and Uranus are currently far off on the other side of the Solar system. During their approach, the Marui crew analyzes traffic patterns and approaches one of the busiest hubs: the Ibadan habitat orbiting Titan.

The merchant vessel hails Ibadan’s traffic control. Using automated translators, they ask about docking procedures and local habits. The traffic control centre assigns a docking tube, just as if extrasolar visitors were an everyday occurrence.

The traffic in the outer Solar system outside the plane of the ecliptic is not regulated. Sometimes, long-distance ships arrive there, but interstellar traffic is still insignificantly small compared to the in-system traffic volume. The Marui ship can easily be mistaken for one of humanity’s few long distance merchants.

In the middle of the third millennium, the live translator is ubiquitous. Many different languages are in use throughout the Solar system and traffic control typically goes by their local language, which in this case is Titan-Nigerian Hata. The Marui had acquired the translator with hundreds of languages from the human mission at the trading post.

The Marui vessel pulls in at one of the flexible docking tubes, as they have been advised by the control centre. The crew waits for the release indicator before they open the airlock and leave the ship. Then, inside the Ibadan dock, a group of five Marui, dressed in light protection suits, knock at the crystoplast window of the docking master’s booth.

The docking master on duty is surprised by the protection suits and by the unfamiliar look of the visitors. But an experienced 26th century docking master has seen a lot of questionable genetic engineering. Compared to all the uplifts, bio-mods and mech-shells, the Marui seem rather normal. At least, they walk on two legs, which cannot be said about all human zero-g genetic hacks.

During the following conversation (with the help of the automatic translator), the docking master slowly realizes that his visitors are more alien than he initially assumed. Then, frantic activity breaks loose. The docking master rushes back into his crystoplast booth and alerts the control centre (that takes 3 seconds), then the on-call team of the immigration agency (after 10 seconds) and finally his sister at Kronos News (within 25 seconds).

Fifty seconds later, the five Marui are surrounded by camera drones and police bots. At the 55 second mark, the avatar of r flickers up inside the Marui group. The first flash posts are online after 60 seconds. Kronos News starts to broadcast live after 78 seconds. Their 3D live feed is taken over by a relay chopper after 85 seconds. 90 seconds after the dock master’s alert a rapid response team in heavy exoskeleton armour takes aim at the visitors. The area around the Marui is cordoned off by mobile barriers after 92 seconds. Three seconds later, jammers unsuccessfully try to interrupt the live feed – the relay chopper had arrived in time and is already sending from inside the barrier.

Avatars of the first gawkers flicker up after 98 seconds. The first physical spectators, after 105 seconds, are uploads in mechs. Bios arrive only slightly later.

Two minutes after the initial alert, the dock is filled with 25 circling sensor drones belonging to ten different news services, as well as 15 police bots with crowd control equipment, seven military drones, an airborne tactical coordinator AI, 12 barrier bots with transparent shields, 800 mechs, 120 bios (among those the four in battle armour, who don’t have a free line of fire any more), and 5000 avatars in varying sizes and shapes, though these don’t take up any physical space.

An uneasy silence falls onto the scene, which is only interrupted by the reporter avatar’s persistent attempts to get an interview with the Marui.

After another 90 seconds Esmeralda Alvarez Velasquez, head of the Ibadan civilian traffic control, pushes through the crowd and reaches the inner circle, where the five Marui have moved closer together.

Almost exactly four minutes after the docking master realized the significance of the moment, the first extrasolar visitors are officially welcomed, covered live by Kronos News. The news propagates at the speed of light throughout the Saturn system with all its moons and satellites. The Kronos newsfeed is automatically augmented by other news agencies with live impressions, background information and commentaries. The exa-level priority tag is authorized by most reputation networks, so the news penetrates all news filters.

Most of the ten million inhabitants in the Saturn system interrupt what they are doing, or they are woken up or booted. They experience the first extrasolar visit live via their retina displays, implants or data interfaces, as if they were present on the spot.

Velasquez tells the visitors “Maraba da rana. Kada ka damu”, using the local language Hata. This means “Welcome to the Solar system. There is no need to worry”. The term “Kadakadamu” – “No need to worry” turns into a popular quote transcending all language barriers, and Velasquez becomes the star of the talk shows.