The television display was normal, broadcasting an innocuous program few cared about, but millions were sitting in rapt attention. Warnings had gone out for the past couple days, alerting people that the ‘aliens would finally speak’ as part of the ongoing YouTube video releases. The public was hungry to learn more about what was actually going on, and this was their one chance to finally decide for themselves. The government, despite the widespread rioting in the streets, continued to refuse to comment, terrified of making a terrible situation worse.
People across not just America, but the entire world turned on their TVs, ignoring the channel or content, waiting for the promised program to start. This was a real grass roots effort, as anyone could tune in. Anyone with a radio or TV could participate, regardless of any restrictions imposed by either their governments or the commercial broadcasters. The Washington elite, the New York City or West Coast intellectuals, had to have their kids set their high-def TVs to receive the free broadcast signal. No one was more frustrated than President Atkinson and his staff. For all the sophisticated jamming technology, regulatory and broadcast restrictions, they had no way to prevent the transmission, and there was no way to manipulate it for their own purposes until after everyone had already seen the original.
However, those who were used to watching for free were more familiar with the technology, and many were ready to record whatever was broadcast and post it immediately to the Internet as soon as it completed. By the time the various heads of state figured out how to manipulate the images, the deal would be done. Everyone across the world would already know what had been said. Even if a country shut down the broadcast studios in their country, people could still receive the broadcast just by leaving their TVs turned on. The more repressive countries considered blocking the signal, but they couldn’t block the entire spectrum and they assumed the broadcast would hurt the U.S., not them.
Everyone watching across the globe leaned forward at the same time as the screen flickered, flashes of black and white appearing along the ribbons intersecting the image, and then the entire screen changed. There, on the screen, was a well-built muscular youth looking at his massive audience confidently and proudly. The background was unusual in that it didn’t look like anything the viewers had seen before. It wasn’t really ‘futuristic’, just unexpected. The common tools, utensils and conventions were all wrong. The worldwide audience held their collective breath as he began speaking.
“Good evening. You’ve probably all heard my voice by now, so I’m finally revealing my face. For now, let’s call me Adam, for want of a better name.
“I’ve been selected to speak for my friends because I assisted them, learned their language and helped them not only recover but prepare to return, so they trust me to speak for them. Everything I say is what they themselves believe, though due to language difficulties they’re unable to speak in a manner you’d understand.
“As you all know by now, I’ve been helping a group of aliens who were shipwrecked here, helpless and incapacitated by illness. I and a few of my friends,” here he spread his arm, indicating others, and the camera panned out revealing four other individuals, three of which bore the short hair and watchful cautious behavior of military personnel, “set out to help these individuals. However, our government leaders, instead of taking the opportunity to assist the very people who could give them access to advanced technology thousands of years beyond ours, chose instead to hunt them down, dissecting them and trying to capture the plague that was killing them so they could inflict it on their enemies. But they had no clue what they were doing and almost unleashed the same plague on the entire human race. It was only because we stepped in that the death toll was as restricted as it was.
“As our more recent video showed, the world’s most advanced military is unable to compete against this more advanced technology as we ran circles around their best fighters, making them about as efficient as a child’s paper airplane. We never fired a single shot in the entire episode, although we had to continually save the pilots from their own actions, as their weapons were only designed to combat Earth based technology.
“These people meant us no harm. They never once attacked or tried to injure anyone. Yet the President of the United States callously ignored the laws of his country and made a mockery of Congress who did nothing to stop him. He created secret camps where they threated to remove my arm rather than waiting to discover how the technology they were attempting to steal operated, caused the death of their entire base, and then attempted to deny they had any responsibility for those very men. When one man finally stood up to them and exposed what they’d done, they eliminated him. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust the president to piss straight.
“Of course, I don’t have any evidence of this, since anyone revealing this information can be legally imprisoned for the rest of their lives without access to independent lawyers, judges or even a summary trial.
“This is significant, because it reflects what I’m about to explain. The difference between your leaders and these aliens is essential to both of our futures. When they first took to the stars, they realized they couldn’t continue the petty ambitions, corruptions and abuses of power so common here. When a single small ship has the potential to destroy entire planets, an angry individual could cripple an entire civilization. So they set about to restructure their entire culture.
“The reason why they were stranded here on Earth is because there are other races which haven’t learned that lesson yet. One of those, very much like us, crippled their own ship, developed and infected themselves with a horrible plague, and then sent out distress calls hoping to capitalize on these beings’ charitable nature. When they realized they were soon to die, not wanting to leave their ship abandoned for these foes to seize and exploit, they jumped to an unknown location. Earth. Here they encountered the same greed, blind ambition, short-sightedness and malignancy they were fighting.
“The reason why I’m detailing all of this is to explain what their decision about us is.”
Here Josh took a moment to collect himself before continuing, and Molly reached out, gently touching his arm to provide emotional support.
“As long as we continue to allow such governments to control our future, we will never be allowed to reach the stars. If necessary, they’ll establish an automated garrison which will shoot down any craft, manned or unmanned, that leaves the planet. As long as we remain a danger to the rest of the civilized universe, they’ll leave us here on this little rock, poisoning and killing each other.
“As for us,” and here Josh again indicated the four individuals on the screen, “we’re unable to resume our previous lives. If we did, we’d be arrested, convicted in mock trials and locked away for the rest of our lives. As such, when we were invited to travel with our new friends we accepted. Think about that. We had the opportunity to send our best and brightest scientists to other worlds to learn to build a better society, and instead, because of the actions of a few power-hungry individuals and their lackeys, only those we reject can venture beyond our self-imposed prison.
“We were offered this chance because the plague that stranded them here left them understaffed and disabled. But rather than reach out for help from people intent only on stealing from them, they turned to the only people to offer them aid and demanding nothing in return.
“So this is both our hello and goodbye. As you can imagine, we’ll be gone for a long time. Interstellar travel takes a lot of time, even at speeds vastly faster than the speed of light. We’ll return, just to check up on your status. If you can’t resolve this political crisis and continue to improve yourselves, then you’ll forever be locked on this one isolated world. If you can change your outlooks and restrict those greedy power-hungry individuals who seek to hold back everyone else in order to promote themselves, then the universe can be your flower.
“Before I close, I’d like to introduce some friends.” Here the camera pulled back once again, revealing several shockingly alien creatures, the likes of which no movie had ever imagined. They each approached the central group of humans and stood beside them. “These are the people we’ll be spending the next several years with. We hope to present the best of humanity, while also warning of the dangers of our own species. Take this as a lesson, Earth, consider your future and decide whether you want to be ruled by those with no interest in advancing humanity.
“That’s all we have to say. We have a long journey ahead of us, and there is nothing here making us look back. Good luck, because you’ll need it. Hopefully you’ll still be here by the time we return.”
With that the screen went blank, and a moment later some game show reappeared on the collected television screens of the world. How the world chose to respond to that short message was anyone’s guess, but it was no longer Josh’s concern. He had bigger things to concern himself with.