“Mommy, what are those?” the child asked as the majestic object flew overhead.
The mother and daughter were walking through Central Park when something flew between them and the sun, blocking the light for a couple of seconds. No one else in the park except for the occasional tourist looked up or pointed. The two of them found an open bench and prepared their picnic lunch and ate their ham and cheese sandwiches on a fancy crunch roll.
FULTHOOM! The sound echoed across the sky like thunder. A vast white cloud appeared behind the creature. A few second later, another in the distance sounded his own horn.
With a wingspan easily the length of five football fields, the Fulthoom, named after the sound they would periodically release, floated ephemerally through the air at half the speed of sound on a good day.
Mrs. Mariam Porter patted her daughter on the head and got ready to issue the standard pronouncement, ”Claudia…”
“And don’t tell me not to worry about it. I’m seven now. I am old enough to understand. I wanna understand. Why do we see more of them than ever? Why are there little ones, now? Where did they come from?”
Mrs Porter didn’t realize she had reached the point in her daughter’s development where she would be responsible for her first Birds and the Fulthoom talk.
“Network, holodisplay, backpack emitter array.” She placed her daughter’s backpack on the bench between them, while offering her daughter a napkin to clean her face.
“Lookup: Vidipedia: Fulthoom; first contact.”
“What does ‘first contact’ mean?” Claudia sought to use every second since her mother appeared to be in a question answering mood.
“It’s what happens when two alien cultures meet for the first time.”
“Isn’t that what’s in your book?”
Mrs. Porter rallied, “Yes and no. My book is a series of theoretical conversations about the Fulthoom and what they want with the Earth.”
“Video queued up and ready.”
“Play.” Mrs. Porter had watched this particular video in its unaltered form more than twenty times. The WebNet version is likely to be cut in a variety of ways, but whatever they cut out, it is liable to be the best most useful parts. This version of the video is likely on of the multiple leaked copies that found its way to the webnet with the audiotrack added later. “Whiskey 95, this is Intercept Actual, please confirm visual sighting.”
“Intercept Actual, this is Whiskey 95 confirming sighting. We have three bogeys moving at 650 knots, western heading, two-six-nine degrees. I don’t what to call it…I’ve never see anything like this. Matching course and speed.”
“Whiskey 95, are these hostile aircraft?”
“Actual, I am not even sure these qualify as aircraft. Setting up camera telemetry. You tell me.”
“Whiskey 95, they don’t show up on radar, so I need a threat assessment. Command is losing it here and wants to know if they need to scramble support.”
“Negative Actual, I don’t know what they are, but they don’t seem to be doing anything or heading toward any important potential targets. My call is to have them on standby. I am good on fuel for another 30 mikes. Will shadow and record. Can we get an AWAC on station?”
“We are redirecting one to your coordinates along with high aerial drone support.”
The video showed various data feeds regarding the Fulthoom gathered from multiple locations. Data marked secret has been digitally scrubbed from the video. After multiple passes, the American Air Force refrained from shooting since the creatures appeared to have no apparent flight plan. This remained the case for the next twenty years.
* * *
Dr. Claudia Porter finished her thesis in Extraterrestrial Studies, with an emphasis in Fulthoom Biology and Biometrics. Much of her work was based on her mother’s theories and experimentation before she died tragically in a Fulthoom-related incident. Claudia spent hours pouring over her mother’s work trying to understand what she might have been thinking ten years ago.
Since their arrival on Earth over forty years ago, As far as the Fulthoom were concerned, not a single one of them had ever touched down anywhere on Earth. As far as anyone had ever known the creatures never came close to the ground. The lowest any had ever come were over the city of Tokyo, where one of the First Fulthoom, the largest and slowest of the creatures hovered over the city dropping to a speed of just over two knots and just under one thousand feet for the first time.
Her mother’s notes became frantic and unable to be complete understood. She kept saying there was a pattern, but Claudia couldn’t see it.
Whatever that pattern was, the elder Porter went to Tokyo and was in the city when the very first Fulthoom lit up the sky in a fusion explosion.
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