Contact by WJQuinn

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It was December 5th, 3786 CE; not long now, not long at all. 8 hours alone remained of a wait lasting 500 years. One "theory", held that it would be a perfect half millennium to the day, and hour, when those few hours passed. Live and let live, sure, thought Annie, but resulting memetic spam littered even her rank of the Uninet. "We're gonna party cos it's 3786", a horrible re-working of the legendary Prince song was ambushing surfers throughout human-settled space.

"Hahaha, you just got Prince'd" or similarly inane messages would arrive from the culprits shortly after. Only you weren't "Prince'd" were you? The "makers" of the track were very different from that musical icon of a past era, so different she hoped they were sterilised.

Breathe, Annie, breathe; stop getting so riled up.

Yes, human irrationality did annoy her; but this rant was just self-distraction. The pachyderm in the airlock wasn't going away: in 8 hours, she would take her place as senior scientific advisor to the first contact team. To prepare, Annie Morikawa was going to a bar; well the ship's refectory, but it would do. It served the real thing there: straight from the leaf, tea.

Now in her opinion, the vending stations through the ship were first rate, they printed a mean meat substitute. Tea, though: machines had never, and could never, replicate it adequately.

The walk there was supposed to do her good, to calm her down, yet she was stomping through the access corridors like someone on their way to a murder. She drained the aggression from her stride, but not the pace, the Earthcraft Gulliver was the largest space vessel ever built; strolling got you nowhere, fast.

The designers really hadn't built with the casual pedestrian in mind. Excepting designations printed at junctions, each semi-cylindrical walkway was an identical exercise in sterile light and composite metal.

She checked her internal chronometer. In 7 hours, 58 minutes, and 29 seconds, humankind would meet the Droitja.

Heritable technogene modification provided Nano-second accurate time-sense across all non-luddite humanity: quite the miracle. Still, Captain Grigor Semenov was busy telling people that the Droitja were the first sentient species in the universe and they were the model for humanity's earliest depictions of angels.

Grigor, fabled captain of the Earth Ship (E.S.) Asimov, the youngest command officer ever in the fleet. Grigor, successful negotiator of humanity's first contact with another sentient species. Grigor, who indulged in myth and legend like a giddy school boy.

You're doing it again Annie, breathe. Walk, and breathe.

The account of that deft handling of an accidental encounter with the Fleek (real name unpronounceable - even by the A.I.'s), was core educational curriculum. A routine search for minable resources in system Kepler-444, finding instead, Earth's first friends in the cosmos.

Approaching one rocky planet from day-side, the Asimov entered into low orbit, cresting the dark horizon only to find another, far larger, ship holding position there.

The textbook move was to make for home. Semenov decided the ship hadn't appeared "designed for aggression", and recognised something akin to social insects in both their form, and activities on the asteroid surface.

Reasoning that such life on Earth was rarely aggressive, unless provoked, he asked the ship's A.I., one Zex-263, for a suitable greeting message. The A.I. offered up a modified "Arecibo" message, and transmit it they did. The results were positive, the foreign ship duly transmitting back its own version basically reading, "Hello, we've got eight legs. We come from far away. Nice to meet you."

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