First Contact – Well, the FIRST first contact – was a momentous occasion for multiple reasons: Mankind learned we’re not alone in the universe, we learned how far behind we are in terms of technology, and at least in one possibly possessed Australian’s case, learned how to flip a Karnakian onto it’s back and check her plumage.

…that came out wrong.

Point is, is that the riots, existential ennui, the … war, the surrounding mass panic and helter-skelter nature of humanity was on display – and basically to be expected, sure, but it was somehow… right to do. After all, you only get invaded by aliens once, right? So some people reveled in the boogalooening, some people took off innawoods, and a few just wished for everyone to be quiet because they finally had a few days off after working 15 days straight. Mankind got it out of their system, a new normal started to settle in, and life continued. Life was hard, but it continued; although our new ‘guests were apologetic benefactors, the damage had been done. With a wary eye, mankind accepted gifts from the stars, and suffered the growth pangs for it.

Then the Dorarizin showed up.

There was a second initial wave of mass panic – Were they friends? Enemies? Was Earth going to host a war between two alien empires? Were they here to enslave? Did we now have two masters to serve – wild, rampant speculation was the order of the day. Another round of mass panic, another round of riots, of curfew and of martial law. The dust settled, more Karnakian bodies were buried, and we learned that our new NEW guests were also kind, egalitarian benefactors.

The fact that they kidnapped the heads of state was a minor speedbump, really; after terse negotiations, a couple of feisty kicks to the jewels (or where they should’ve been, at least) and a few days of naptime President Carter, along with European Union Chancellor Viksburg, Oceania Defense Pact Minister Gopi, and Chinese Extended Economic Cooperative Zone Administrator Zheng were allowed off the landing craft – but only if they came back before curfew and had an escort the entire time they were gone.

All in all, a successful Second First Contact. A New NEW normal settled in as Mankind tried to understand interstellar power dynamics, learn about their new visitors, and generally get used to the fact that not only was life everywhere in the cosmos, but that they were going to rapidly be acquainted with it.

Then the Jornissians showed up.

Now, of course, by this time not only were the Jornissian Governate aware of the discovery of the new species, but they were also briefed on what exactly happened. There was a grand closed-door debate between representatives on what response should be given, and some of the more hawkish voices won out: Freedom, especially that of an innocent people, must be preserved at all costs. So, the Jornissians assembled their own Armada of Equals and set off for the Human homeworld.

Eight months after the Dorarizin “checked in” on their Karnakian Allies, a Jornissian first-contact fleet de-warped around Earth, it’s ships spreading across the southern horizon in a display of might, culture, scientific advancement and reach.

In response, a few trashcans were ceremoniously lit on fire and kicked over before being put out.


Negotiation/Visitation Site 1, Vik, Iceland. +1y4M after First Contact or +1,000,000,000 years in politician.


President Carter groaned softly as he flopped in the fold-out metal chair. He hadn’t shaved in a month, and his disheveled and unclean beard had grown from a sleek black to a spotty white. His hair remained an auburn brown, but that was mainly due to the hair dye he had started to use; whether he kept his natural color or was now pure-gray, he didn’t know and honestly didn’t care at this point.

There were more of the bastards.

Now granted, the Spacewolves weren’t so bad; apparently humans triggered their deeply-ingrained instincts and provoked a natural protection response. Considering the myriad other instincts that could have been triggered, everyone involved agreed this was an alright thing to happen and there were no hard feelings and everyone involved is a fine upstanding person but could we please go home it’s been 2 weeks now and you talk in your sleep. It had taken roughly a month for scientists and doctors on both sides to start to figure out what was going on, and by then the instinct had lessened to the point that negotiations could happen…

Administrator Zheng’s forehead dropped onto the table with an unceremonious thud, startling him wide awake once more. At one point that would’ve made everyone laugh, but now…

There were more of the bastards.

So nobody got any sleep. Nobody was going home for the holidays, nobody was going on leave, nobody got to do anything other than be a proper little puppet for the power structures back home, desperately putting out fires, maintaining order and oppressing cults, if you could believe it. Pulling double-shifts was expected, and combat sleep was the only type of sleep anyone got. Caffeine and Nicotine were provided freely, and in some more unscrupulous units, stronger stimulants still. New data was always pouring in; final body counts, infrastructure damage, paradigm-wakes from the new technology – all of it had to be compiled, condensed, and used as leverage for negotiating. The irony of once-advanced nations going to hyper-advanced alien species and learning they were basically all back on the barter system was…

It would be funny if there weren’t more of the bastards.

“Mr. President?” Senator Armstrong said, poking his head into the smaller, cramped tent. “They’ll be landing in 15 minutes.”


Senator Armstrong frowned, and waded through the trash-floor to his leaders’ desk. MRE-wrappers, instant-noodles, cans of red bull and ginseng and beer crunching under the large man’s feet. “Mr. President, you need to be present when the new visitors land.”

“Mmnot gonna.”


“Why do we even have a Vice President if he’s not going to do anything!”

“Sir, he’s running basically the entire continent in your absence.”

“Trade him.”

“No, Mr. President. Come on.” Sen. Armstrong said, scooting the President’s chair back and lifting him under his arms. “You have to go-”

President Carter went limp in his grip.

“Goddamnit Steven.”

– – –

President Carter was propped up.

I don’t mean that in a “he was a puppet on a string, beholden to greater masters” kind of way, but in a literal “he was so exhausted he basically was using his interns as a wall to lean on” way. He had been up for a solid 36 hours preparing for this event, and it had run him ragged; after the Spacedogs and Spacedinosaurs shared information about the new species, nobody got any sleep.

They were giant snakes. Giant, angry-looking snakes.

Everyone prepared as much as they could be bothered to; special forces took their familiar positions up in the hills and houses, weaponry was pointed to the landing site to wipe it off the map, the coffee maker was replaced with the deluxe espresso one that nobody knew how to work but everyone agreed looked very impressive and helped project an air of ‘we’re competent and know what we’re doing’. The various flags of the new and old territories were marched in, soldiers and honor guard standing at perfect attention, and before them all were a group of negotiators, scientists, doctors and four very exhausted leaders.

If Carter was more awake and aware – well, aware without the extreme abuse of stimulants – he would’ve appreciated the unique architecture and design of the drop ship that landed not a few dozen yards away, it’s curves and lines like nothing he’d ever seen. He would’ve admired the heraldry riveted to it’s sides, and the inscriptions on the ship itself. He would have, if it weren’t for the predominant thought of ‘Good God, let’s just get this over with.’ That currently dominated his every moment.

Then the snakes ‘marched’ out.

Carter’s exhausted brain didn’t really register how they moved; it looked like a sentient braid, or a hydra, as each body followed the other in perfect sync, how no tail trod on the other, how they all moved as a single unit. For a brief moment he thought they were all one being, but they split off once off-ramp taking ceremonial positions known only to them. After a few moments the Space-snake Ambassador and his retinue slithered down the ramp, it’s fierce eyes immediately locking onto his own.

Neither of them blinked, as the one moved towards the other. The snake, because it couldn’t – not really – and the human, because his hindbrain was currently debating if another bump of amphetamines would allow him to escape, or if embracing the sweet release of death was worth it at this point.


“F-figured that.” Carter mumbled as the giant snake finished hiss-screaming and leaned back, staring down furiously at the human. It’s neck flared out, and it seemed to roll and pop it’s jaw in a way that was just wrong.

Carter’s hind brain processed the beast before it and just accepted death with a slight mental shrug.

– – –

Speaker-Ambassador Hrrprsnk’krespk smiled as he eyed up the primitive alien.

It was a cold part of their homeworld, granted – only one sun and a tilted orbit would do that, and from what data they had shared with the rest of the Senate the planets’ climate changed regularly enough that not only was it predictable, but welcomed by the local inhabitants. That didn’t mean it was comfortable, mind you, but a little cold never hurt anyone and grew thick scales. But as Hrrprsnk’krespk took in the local leader he noticed a couple things immediately; First, that they were very tiny – which refuted a couple ‘you must be X large to be sentient’ academic arguments back home – and second, they seemed to absolutely radiate heat.

The Spiritual Stargazers were more… cool-blooded, somewhat; they generated some heat, but still needed ambient temperatures to be comfortable. Clutchmate Seekers were warm, sure, but it was trapped under all that fur, and even if you bunked with one there was no guarantee that it would keep you comfortable – by Harsak-who-Devours-the-Dead, it was easier and less fuss to put a couple heating packs under an emergency blanket and use that instead.

But these small aliens were basically radiating heat like it was going out of style. He welcomed their warmth to his thermo-receptors, slowly waking to the various heat signatures around him. It was cool for his people, certainly, but these locals probably didn’t even notice the temperature.


“<I understand that there has been much turmoil in recent times among your peoples, and for that we apologize on behalf of the rest of the Intergalactic Senate.>”


“<Yes, it is good to be resilient. Our people are here to support yours in every way we can; do not hesitate to reach out to us. The path of Liberty is a rough one which wears on all treads uneavenly, but throughout time…>”

– – –

President Carter somehow found himself getting more and more exhausted by the moment. First contacts were one thing, the end of civilization was another thing entirely, but what he absolutely did not expect was to stand before an alien politician and hear it stump speech at him.

It just wouldn’t stop.

Now granted, at this point the translators that had been gifted by their other benefactors had gone through multiple revisions, but everyone was aware it was a game of telephone and that translations were going to be imperfect for quite some time moving forward. The fact that the translators were external and did not mask the native speech was not lost on the Human delegations, and it wasn’t unheard of for negotiations to start only for one side to uncontrollably flinch at the sound of the others’ opening comments. The birdsong-like roaring of the Spacedinos was nothing like the backfiring bone chainsaw of the Spacewolves – each one was it’s own fresh hell to listen to.

But this?


It was if a white noise machine was cranked up to eleven, implanted it into a purring tiger and then taped that to a busted steam pipe. It wasn’t so much as a speech as it was just noise, and aggressive noise at that. As the alien politician got more and more into his (probably) rousing speech, he twisted and gyrated in intricate and unfortunate shapes and always, always kept his unblinking eyes fixed on Stevens’. It demanded his rapt, complete attention, and that was something that the overflow of fear inside of the President was more than happy to give… for a while.

After all, he’s only human. He’s been up for 37 hours, his adrenal glands were shot, his knees were weak and arms heavy, and he’s only human. Sometimes, man by sheer force of will can overcome his body and achieve astounding things not thought physically possible. Sometimes, the human body wins and the mind is forced to shut down, retreat within itself and let time and chance wash over it.

Against his will and good judgment, President Carter’s eyes screwed shut in exhaustion. The sudden prolonged darkness was enough to trick his brain into thinking everyone and everything had gone away and it might as well take a break because if it couldn’t see the problems, they didn’t exist. Imperceptibly, President Carter tipped forward, losing balance as he fell asleep on his feet.

Thankfully for everyone involved, Speaker-Ambassador Hrrprsnk’krespk was there to catch him. Before President Carter hit the ground he was greeted with cool scales and a firm grip, his unconscious body quickly rolled into the Speaker-Ambassador’s own extremely-long torso. Nobody moved for a few moments as they processed exactly what just happened, and a few human guards half-heartedly raised their weapons slightly.


European Union Chancellor Viksburg yawned fiercely, scratching his side quite unceremoniously. “Well… can’t say I don’t envy him. Could you let him up, though? We’ve got another caffeine epipen we could use to-”


Chancellor Viksburg sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “God… again?”


“No, just.” Viksburg waved his hand around a bit. “Nothing. Why won’t you release him?”


“. . .right, let’s just give him a little tug-”

Speaker-Ambassador Hrrprsnk’krespks’ body instinctualy tightened a bit, the dead-to-the-world President of the New American Empire slowly disappearing in his coils, causing everyone to freeze. “[IS FINE.]”

The equally-exhausted Chancellor of the European Union stared up at the Ambassador for a few moments, internally weighing something in his mind, before giving a physical shrug. “Fine, fuck it. Make space.”


And so the President of the New American Empire was joined by the Chancellor of the Expanded European Union, The Oceania Defense Pact Minister, and the Administrator of the Chinese Extended Economic Cooperative Zone, all of whom were far too tired for any more nonsense and who finally got a full and uninterrupted 12 hours of sleep.

– + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + –


He floated up from a shock his mind couldn’t fathom, from pain and confusion and primal fear-

“——— – – ——.”

He floated up from a black pit, the oppressive weight pressing down on his chest slowly getting easier and easier to lift. He inhaled, dimly aware that a mask was on his face.

“Hey. Hey – Hey.”

Someone was saying something… but it was hard to concentrate. They were words, he knew them, but that wasn’t important. He inhaled again, deeper, and the fog cleared far enough from his mind for him to think for a moment. ‘Something… about a park. His wife’s dog. About a movie? Was he in a movie?

“Good Morning, Hank. I’m Dr. Pratchett. I need you to breathe deep, ok? Breathe deep for me.”

It sounded like a good idea, so he did so.

“Alright. Keep doing that – can you breathe deep for me one more time?”

He did so, and his eyes opened. He was staring at a tiled drop ceiling, something that wouldn’t look out of place at any school, office complex –

– he finally heard the beeps.



“Hey hey hey hey-” He felt hands on his shoulders, pushing him back into the tilted bed. “None of that, no movement. You’re still recovering.”

Hank turned to look at a doctor – a normal doctor. Nurse? Doctor. Somewhere after 40 with mocha-colored skin and no discernible accent, he seemed absolutely normal and absolutely out of place.

“Haaanlinen. Haaa?”

“Try words.”

“Mmmmmmipsh.” His dog? He clenched his fists. Why… why would he talk about his fucking dog

“Mipsy is still at-large and considered armed-”


No, he wasn’t in a movie! He was… there were aliens, he wasn’t dreaming it! There were aliens and police and then he fell an-

Hank lurched forward, his oxygen-starved brain finally running on 3 out of 4 cylinders.

His arms were ripped off. He felt his warmth pour out, the cold ice take his chest. The pain – oh God the pain – the movement, the fear-


Hank violently thrashed against the nurse – doctor – it didn’t matter who, there were too many of them and they were holding him down and he needed to get out he needed to-

It started to get hard to breathe again. That weight was back… it was enough. He wasn’t so much tired as just… shut off. He knew he was attacked; he knew oblivion again.

– – –


Special Operations Combat Doctor Pratchett, to his credit, flinched only slightly as the translator kicked in. They were by no means in a traditional hospital; more like a purpose-built facsimile floating high above Atlanta in a ship far beyond his – or any other Humans’ – comprehension. Various species came and went in the background, but always this one stayed. Always it looked through the one-way screen, always it stood vigil.

“A little. No cardiac arrest this time.”

The alien growl-trilled something to itself that the translator either didn’t bother to pick up, or couldn’t. Pratchett knew guilt when he saw it – species barriers be damned – and sighed, resting his hands on the small of his back. “Look… you’re not the only one. There are others-”


“Mmm. T-Talk to them, sometime. I will let you know if his condition changes; we’ll try to rouse him in a few hours-”


Dr. Pratchett stared at the alien, and the alien stared back. After a few moments the good doctor collected himself, gave a slight nod of his head, and left Aq’rel’a to stand vigil. Mr. Hill was getting better – each time, a little closer, a few less problems, a little stronger. One day soon, he would be able to wake up and prosper.

When that day came, she was there.

When that day came, she was there to apologize, and he was there to forgive.

– + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + –

Site 5 was unlike most anything else on the planet; it was an impromptu library of culture, of words, of history and of science, all bent towards one singular goal:

Figuring out what the FUCK that thing just said.

Site 5 was also multiple different locations working simultaneously in concert, but all of them were colloquially known as “Site 5”. The Site 5 in question for the English Language was a re-purposed High School Gymnasium, bleachers ordered into neat rows and columns of English literature, the history of the english language, the etymology and mutations thereof…

Sitting in the middle of this perfect storm of literature were dozens of Etymologists, Sociologists and other Scientists, with their corresponding alien counterparts taking up the rest of the Gym floor. It wasn’t so much that they had so many resources to bring in to build their side of the translator matrix that they needed the floor; merely, they just needed that much space to spread out and the bleachers were fine and yes we’re comfortable up here far away from you, thankyouverymuch.


“Name of place?” Dr. Welst said, going through the checklist to whittle down what the alien meant.


“Name of us?” She clarified, pointing to herself and then to one of her colleagues.


“One. Human. Two or more. Humans. All. Humanity.” Dr. Welst began, rattling off in the most simple and basic way she knew how the various definition and tenses of her species’ name.

– – –

“B—. ?r$r—gBh.?”

“[Alright, did you catch that?]” Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren subvocalized, communicating with the real team high in orbit on a senate ship. Her HUD flashed a confirmation, and she waited in attentive boredom as the little alien made happy-sounding mouthsounds at her. A private ping blinked in her sight, and she opened up the notification-



[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [What’s going on?]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [Just. My team’s having a field day over these things.]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [They’re not a thing, they’re a proud and noble race.]

= = =

Zgrnuzh-of-Regren rolled her eyes at the fierce defense, typing out a dismissive gesture in chat.

= = =

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [Seriously. Come on- just look at them. Nobility aside, this is borderline ridiculous.]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [+REDACTED VIA CONTENT FILTER+]. [Granted.]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [I’m still not over them being… just, them. Like.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [Yeah!]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [Right? I wouldn’t believe it unless I was here.]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [So what’s the plan? We’re having… a lot of debate on our end as to what name to assign their people.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [Same. Should we go for a placeholder until the top brass figures it out?]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [Yes. As long as it’s respectful.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [Dull your claws already, sheesh.]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [Look, I’m just saying they’ve suffered enough injustices already, and so the least we could do is introduce them in a way that-]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [Stooooop. Doing so is only going to have them carry this forward for millenia. It’s better to name them based on what they are than what’s happened to them-]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [But the two are the same! History can’t be separated from the species that creates it, and-]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [Warm cuddles.]

= = =

Zgrnuzh-of-Regren physically turned to look at her Forever-Free-Trail-Maker comrade, tilting her head slightly.

= = =

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [What.]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [Warm cuddles. Our Ambassador-Speaker was apparently used as a nest for their Leaders. They radiate heat, and didn’t want to leave. They are Warm and the cuddle, and it was a historic moment.]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [Fear-shit.]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [Mmm. Serious. Ask for file RE#55*NJ-7.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [Ok if that’s the case then all bets are off. They have the tiniest of teeth and are so happy to chomp them at us – so, tiny-chomper.]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [This is dumb and you’re dumb and I hate both of you and I’m going to-]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [Hold on.]


Zgrnuzh-of-Regren prepared herself, and cleared her throat – which, for some reason, caused all of the little locals to jump.

“{We want to see if you’re ok with this name}”



“[OK]” Zgrnuzh-of-Regren’s translator kicked back to her.

“{Tiny Chomper.}” Zgrnuzh-of-Regren said, enunciating each syllable clearly and slowly. If she was remembering correctly, they had translated both of those words before, so there should be no confusion-

“[HUMAN.]” The translator matrix helpfully spat out, in the locals’ native language.


“[YES.]” Zgrnuzh-of-Regrens’ translator confirmed.

Zgrnuzh-of-Regren blinked, taken aback slightly. She had prepared to backpedal, as translation errors happened all the time, so this little discrepancy could be explained away, but… but was it ok? Were they ok being called Tiny-chompers?!

“{Is that good? You want to be called tiny chompers?}”



“[YES.]” The local research leader said, nodding to her colleagues and responding with a bright, wide smile.






[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [No. No. No. No. No. No. No.]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [LOOK AT THEM THIS IS SO PRECIOUS OH MY GOD]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [No. No. No. No. No.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [I can’t believe they’re actually ok with this.]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [No. No. No. No. I just. No. No.]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [OK OK OK MY TURN-]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [NO.]

+) [Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan][DISCONNECTED FROM CHAT][TEMPORARY][VOLUNTARY]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [We are going to hell for this.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [Maybe. Maybe this was meant to be? Aren’t you into predestination and whatnot?]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [See, I know we’re going to hell for this because you’re willingly engaging me in a theological debate to drag me off-course.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [They SAID they were ok with it. It’s both historically accurate and who they are, so it checks both boxes-]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [Just because you’re technically correct doesn’t mean that you’re properly correct.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean.]

+) [Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan][REJOINED CHAT]


[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [NO WAY.]


[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [I can’t BELIEVE you two right now! They are little, and innocent, and they need protecting from so much, most of all people like you.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [So is that it? Is that the name?]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [What, little needs protecting?]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [I like it!]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [NO. I will be better than you both!]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT-]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [NO. STOP TEMPTING ME.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT-]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [. . .]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT-]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [DO IT DO-]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [DO IT DO IT-]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [DO-]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [DO IT DO I-]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [DO IT DO IT -]

+) [Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’][DISCONNECTED FROM CHAT][TEMPORARY][VOLUNTARY]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [Here we go here we go here we go-]

[Translator Technician Shrrsn’aasan]: [No way is he going to do it is he actually going to-]

+) [Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’][REJOINED CHAT]

[Translator Technician Rre’Qeuai’rr’’]: [I hate you both.]

[Translator Technician Zgrnuzh-of-Regren]: [HE DID IT THE ABSOLUTE INSANE BOY DID IT-]