Meghan Makinde, 09:00 Oxford Street, London, England
Meghan was running. Her long confident strides carried her from Westminster, through Soho and up Oxford Street. Though solitary, she was not running alone; she was running with the city, her city. She loved every inch of it. Every cracked pavement beneath her feet. Every house, every storefront, every tree sitting stout in the same street it had stood for decades. She had her headphones in and she was listening to an audiobook.
Suddenly the audiobook paused, and another voice replaced the narrator.
“Hello World,” the voice said.
Ola looked down at her smartwatch. She saw a woman she did not know.
“Greetings, to the entire earth family.” continued the woman. “I know that this is going to come as a shock to you, but I am speaking to you from the edge of your solar system.”
“We have travelled far to find our cousins. On this momentous, glorious day, we will reunite our family.”
Meghan stopped running in front of a shop with a frontage made up of screens. Every screen was showing the woman. Her beautiful brown skin and dazzling smile were everywhere. Meghan looked around and saw that everyone around her was transfixed, either looking up at a large screen or looking down at one of their mobile screens.
“I imagine that taking over every screen on your planet like this is quite a spectacle. Do not worry; within a few hours, we will be with you, and we will explain everything. We shall see you soon.”
Meghan immediately sent a message to the group chat she had with her cousins.
What is going on?
Ola Makinde, 12:00 Mulliner Towers, Kingsway Road, Lagos, Nigeria
Every phone in the office was ringing. Things that were not phones were ringing. Ola unmuted herself in the video conference that she was dialled into.
“Ola Makinde, Lagos Times. If it was a hoax, how did she seemingly take over every screen on the planet?” she asked.
“Tatenda Hunchu, Zim Daily News. Exactly,” said a bald man with a Zimbabwean accent. “The insistence that this is a hoax is contrary to everything we know so far.”
“Ola Makinde, Lagos Times. Twelve space agencies and counting have confirmed a fleet of spaceships just passing Saturn now,” said Meghan. “They are like nothing we have ever seen before, and they are coming fast.”
“Robert Burchill. The Guardian UK. Who just confirmed?”
“Ola Makinde, Lagos Times. NASA two minutes ago.”
“Barry Dillon. New York Times. I think we still need to investigate whether this is just some elaborate hoax.”
Half the people on the call groaned audibly. Ola muted herself again. She was live-tweeting the event to her 1.2million followers as they unfolded, but things were moving so fast. First contact with an alien species was not something that she expected to be reporting on when she had dragged herself out of bed in the morning. It was only midday but her fingers were already aching from typing and tapping. The story could be summarised in one sentence: an alien race claiming to be related to the human race was approaching earth. And yet, the millions of questions that this simple statement raised had no answers. Ola had been emailing space agencies all morning with little response beyond their sparse official statements. She had reached out to scientist friends across the globe, and by all accounts, the morning’s announcements had taken everyone by surprise. The Americas were just waking up to the news, whereas Asia was forgoing sleep to see the rest of the story unfold.
Ola had not looked at her personal phone since the morning. She had 104 messages, but she swiped her way into the group chat she had with her cousins. She saw a message from her cousin Meghan in London. She replied.
I know as much as you do. Rebecca, you must know something more.
Rebecca Makinde-Roberts, 10:00, Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C, United States
The spaceships appeared in the skies as morning progressed on the East Coast of the Americas. From the ground, they looked like rings. They sat in the upper atmosphere, so little detail about their composition could be seen by the millions of observers standing in parks, streets and hanging out of windows across the globe.
Rebecca sat around a table with ten other people and two empty seats. Each person had a name placard with their name and role in front of them. Rebecca’s said: Rebecca Makinde-Roberts, Chief of Space Operations. They were officially on a break, but despite the fact that the President and the Vice President had left the room, the conversation continued.
“Has anyone made contact yet?” Rebecca asked.
“No,” said a man in a military uniform, the name placard in front of him said John Hopkins, Secretary of Defence. “Every government with the ability is hailing the ships in orbit but there has been no response to anyone yet.”
“Surely they’ll reach out to the President,” said a man with grey hair slicked back into a ponytail, the name placard in front of him said Secretary of Homeland Security.
“That is the Hollywood protocol,” said Rebecca. “But you’ve seen what they can do; they can speak to everyone on the planet. They are capable of interstellar travel, perhaps even intergalactic travel. Whatever their intentions are, I’m guessing they don’t need permission.”
“A pre-emptive strike must be considered,” said John.
“On what basis?” asked Rebecca.
“This hostile incursion,” responded John.
“This is the intergalactic equivalent of a stranger pulling up to your driveway,” she replied. “There is absolutely no justification for military action.”
The door opened and the President and Vice President rejoined the table.
“OK let’s get back to it,” said the President. “And I hope you all have some actual answers this time.”
For a moment the temperature in the room seemed to increase, for a split second and then it was back to normal.
“It’s her,” John said.
Everyone looked up. The woman who had taken over screens across the globe was standing just beside the president.
“Please do not be alarmed,” she said. “I’m sorry to appear so suddenly like this, but there’s no real subtle way of doing this. To be honest, I wanted to come down and meet you for myself.”
“On behalf of Earth, I want to…” the President said, but the woman continued.
“Rebecca,” she said. “I have travelled light years to find you, dear cousin.”
Rebecca stared at her in utter confusion.
“Come,” the woman said extending her hand. “There is much to discuss.”
Rebecca did not know whether to trust the woman or not, but a childhood of Star Trek and a career reaching for the stars compelled her not to refuse first contact. She reached out and took the woman’s hand. There was another sudden flash of heat.
The Sambisa, Ikan Fleet, Earth’s Orbit
In an instant, Rebecca was no longer in the Cabinet room. She was in a much larget space, surrounded by what looked like thousands of other people. Rebecca looked around. All of the people looked familiar somehow. She realised that she knew some of them. A few metres from her she saw her cousins. Although standing back to back, they had not yet seen each other and they had not yet seen her. She weaved through the crowd and grabbed them by the shoulders, swinging them around.
“Hey,” she said to them.
“Rebecca!?” they said in unison.
“Do you know what’s going on? Do you know how we got here?” asked Ola.
Not a clue
Meghan pointed up, past her two cousins, “Look.”
The woman who had appeared to the world in the morning and to Rebecas just a few minutes earlier was again on screen. The space that the cousins and thousands of other people were gathered in was surrounded by ten foot high screens.
“Hello Family,” she said. “I know you’re wondering what you are doing here, so let me explain. You and I are related. Approximately one thousand years ago, a group of our ancestors were travelling the cosmos. Due to a technical fault half of the group got separated. After centuries of searching, we located you on this planet, just a year ago. From what we can gather, your ancestors crash landed here and settled in the area now known as Nigeria. For over a year now, we’ve been preparing to reunite our family and now the day has finally come.”
The woman paused and the room was silent.
“You might think us impulsive, but I trust that you recognise the same direct and assertive quality in yourselves,” she said, her smile twinkling even brighter. “You have all been transported onto the ships in our fleet. We will soon be leaving and travelling to Ọgba.”
Murmurs of opposition and concern emanated from the crowd.
“You will be able to return as soon as we get there but we simply felt that there was no way to adequately explain everything. You really do have to see it for yourself.”
The cousins looked at each other, they had no words.
“You will all shortly be shown to your quarters. Feel free to ask any of the crew members for anything and they will help. Most of all, please do enjoy the ride.”