The Stupidest Invasion Pt. 1: Chapter 2

Link to Chapter 1

Chapter 2

As I tried to get my head around the fact that I was talking to a living, breathing alien, Xav spoke.

“We would like you, Robert Burchmann, to be our liaison to the governments of Earth.” Things got a little crazy after that. So much so, that Chuck had to usher everyone else out of the SCIF. Mr. State Department didn’t like it but he had no choice since Xav had expressly stated that he would only talk to me. Alone. I was too distracted to pick up on the import of that request, given the situation but it got easy once all the bigwigs left and took their interdepartmental bickering with them. Not that I wasn’t still in shock a little, though.

“Why me?” I asked. “I’m just an intelligence analyst. And, not a high-level one. I do not have the diplomatic skills to pull something like this off.”

“Do not worry, Robert,” they replied, “We are sure that your government will provide the necessary expertise when it is required.” They smiled, which was slightly unnerving in that “uncanny valley” kind of way. Xav almost looked human, but some details were just the slightest bit off. Take that smile, for instance. It met all the criteria for a smile: the corners of the mouth pulled up, the eyes crinkled just a bit, there was even some warmth. But, for all that, it still seemed contrived. Not necessarily fake, but not natural either. Xav continued. “As for why you, there are multiple reasons. One, your director said you were the person who determined that the ‘UFOs’,” they said, making “air quotes” — and, yes, it was weird— “were alien.”

“Well, yeah,” I said. “But, what does that have to do with things?”

They smiled again and it was a little less odd. I guess practice does make perfect. “It shows a nimbleness of mind that others of your race lack. You were willing to… we believe the phrase is ‘think outside the box’ when others couldn’t or wouldn’t. And, you weren’t afraid to state your conclusion despite how others might have perceived it. That tells us you are courageous.”

“I don’t know about ‘courageous’,” I said. “If you were to say ‘so socially awkward I don’t know when to shut up’, I could agree with that.” They laughed and all that uncanny valley stuff came rushing back. It wasn’t unpleasant, just deeply, deeply weird.

“You make us laugh, Robert. And, while that is not an action that is familiar to us, we find it very appropriate.” Once they settled down from “laughing”, they said, “Lastly, we find your mind interesting. It is ordered more like ours than most others we have encountered in our time on your world.”

“Wait, you like the way my mind is ‘ordered’.” It was my turn to make “air quotes”. “How do you know that?”

“We are telepathic,” they said. “Not a complete hive mind like the Rernairid.” Xav noticed my confusion at that name and said, “They are an insectoid race from Lleon 1NG, a world about 50 light-years from here. But, yes, we can ‘read your mind’,” they said. “Do not worry, that will only happen with your consent. But we know how your brain is organized because your thoughts do not remain inside your head. The electrical activity radiates out in all directions and we can pick it up and make determinations from it.”

“Okay,” I said, still a little uncomfortable with the idea that my thoughts were truly my own. “Can I ask you a personal question?”

“A ‘personal’ question?” they said, pausing as if they were trying to process the phrase. “Ah, you wish to know something about our life, feelings, or experiences. Please, go ahead.”

“Why do you refer to yourself with plural pronouns? Like, ‘we’ and ‘us’. We have people who use ‘they’ and ‘them’, but they generally don’t refer to themselves as ‘we’,” I said.

“We refer to ourselves as ‘we’ because there is more than one of us present,” they replied. “Earlier I said we are not a complete hive mind and that is true. But, being telepathic, all beings involved in a mission will connect so we can share information in real-time. It is much more efficient than other methods of communication.”

I nodded. “Okay, that makes sense. Kinda wish we humans could do that.”

“We understand,” they said. “However, there is some limited capability for this in your race. Are you aware of beings known as ’empaths’?”

My face twisted into a sour look and I said, “Yeah, but I’ve always thought that was bullshit.”

They got that far-off look again like when they were trying to figure out “processing”. After a moment, they said, “Bullshit?”

So, they don’t know everything, I thought. “It means nonsense or something made up to fool or mislead people,” I said.

“Ah,” Xav responded. “I can assure you it is not, in fact, ‘bullshit’. These beings do have the ability to feel the emotions of others. Perhaps not as much as some would have you believe, but the capacity does exist.” They smiled again and it wasn’t nearly as strange as the first one. “With training, practice, and patience, most humans would be able to nurture some level of telepathy.”

“Hmmph,” I said. “Didn’t expect that.”

“Do you have any other questions?

“Well,” I said, “I guess we should talk about what you expect from your new liaison.”

“Does this mean you accept the position? We would not want to coerce you in any way?”

“No,” I said. Then, “Well, yes, I accept the position. And, no, you aren’t coercing me. I mean, you laid out your case really well and I have to admit, I’m enjoying spending time with you.” I smiled at them. “You get me in a way that most people don’t and it’s kind of nice not having to explain things all the time.”

“Excellent!” they said. “Before we discuss expectations, we should tell you the reason for our presence on your world: there is an Arvenoid invasion fleet on the way and we wish to help you defeat them.”

And, just as things were starting to settle down, Xav upset the apple cart again. We were going to have to talk about that.