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In my story, humanity comes under attack by extraterrestrial forces determined to sieze Earth's resources (water particularly). In my research it seems to be more plausible that aliens would attempt to exterminate humans by introducing a killer virus or Weapon of Mass Destruction rather than attempt a full-scale invasion.

I do not want to use the quite old concept of an alien killer virus or some giant space laser since contaminating or destroying the earth's surface is not their objective. In a previous question, i wanted to know if aliens would use self-replicating drones to exterminate the human race.

My next question is, if aliens did use these drones to invade, would they immediately target and eliminate humans or would they attempt to take out our infrastructure?

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  • $\begingroup$ I hope this question is not too opinion based. $\endgroup$ – Noah Nov 2 '18 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ I'm having trouble identifying a difference between this question and your previous one. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 2 '18 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre In my previous question, i asked if it was plausible for aliens to use drones instead of some WMD in attempt to eradicate humanity. This question really builds on the previous one adding that if aliens did use the drones, would they take time hitting infrastructure then attack humanity directly or would they immediately start with the latter. $\endgroup$ – Noah Nov 2 '18 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ Why would they bother fighting for water when so much is free nd undefended (and already outside Earth's gravity well) among the comets...and Europa? $\endgroup$ – user535733 Nov 4 '18 at 2:21
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Depends on the infrastructure and the mode of attack.

If the drone siege is instant, like if they were to sneakily land a few and they remain hidden until they build their numbers and infiltrate, then attack in one coordinated Seal Team 6 style attack, then infrastructure is not an important target. The enemy (humanity) simply doesn't have enough time to organize a response to the attack.

However, if the invasion allows more time for a coordinated response, then infrastructure that helps facilitate that response becomes necessary to destroy. This primarily includes means of communication. Satellites, fiber optic networks, cellular towers, and radio stations all provide means to coordinate a rapid human resistance.

  • Satellites are the easiest, as they can be taken out from orbit. These also tend to consist of a large percentage of the worlds military command and control infrastructure.
  • Cell towers would likely be the second priority as they disconnect the greatest percentage of the human population, and are often used as means of accessing the internet, navigation, etc.
  • Fiber optic is useful for disconnecting government command and control assets, as well as countries from each other. This is also the last major bi-directional digital communication asset.
  • And finally, radio is the last resort at mass information dissemination. This will be the most difficult to keep down, as radios are fairly easy to construct from spare parts, but they're also remarkably easy to pinpoint via triangulation.
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I am not sure entirely exterminating the human race via self-replicating drones would be the move here for this alien race, unless there is a compelling narrative-based reason that they would need to do so. A complete conquest and extermination would be extremely resource intensive, especially if this alien race were to take out the infrastructure designed to harvest resources from the planet which they wish to harvest resources from. Is it assumed that the aliens are already aware of the location of all of the resources on earth that they plan on acquiring? Do they already have a means of resource extraction which they know is more efficient than simply utilizing the human-based infrastructure already in place for harvesting these resources? What is the key factor that is pushing this alien race towards extermination rather than conquest or simple enslavement of the human race? Would these resources even be accessible if a violent alien invasion led to nuclear-panic, causing a nuclear winter and irradiation of damn near anything that would be useful to organic life?

There are certainly scenarios where I believe extermination would be the best option for an alien race to take. Namely, if these alien invaders can guarantee destruction of nuclear arms before they can be launched, if these alien invaders know exactly which resources they want and exactly where to find them on the planet without the aid of human knowledge of their home planet, and that the alien invaders have their own methods of resource extraction which are more efficient than human-infrastructure based methods of resource extraction.

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    $\begingroup$ I see more questions here than an actual answer. If you want clarification from the OP, use comments. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Nov 2 '18 at 20:39
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Self replicating drones are free and entirely disposable. The most efficient path to extermination would be to simply overwhelm the humans directly. There is no need for anything tactical like targeting our infrastructure. Besides our infrastructure may have a value to them for material resources, if nothing else.

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  • $\begingroup$ I see so they would not waste time trying to weaken us. But what about our military response? If the drones were to begin laying waste to the population, wouldn't it also make since they would attempt to take out our means of retaliation? $\endgroup$ – Noah Nov 2 '18 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ What resources are the aliens after? (The drones may not be entirely free as if they consume the same resources that the aliens have come to harvest.) $\endgroup$ – Skek Tek Nov 2 '18 at 19:18
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I think the key here, from an author's perspective, is to take a slightly different approach. What the aliens would do depends on the alien thought patterns, their history, their current leadership, their religious views, etc. And moreover, it depends on how they use all that to mentally model their best guess at our weaknesses, and try and exploit them.

So the best thing might be to decide what best fits into your story (in terms of what they attack first), and then make sure to include a really interesting explanation for it.

For example, do you have a good scene in mind for what happens when they take out a dam? Or perhaps is it more about people hiding in their homes from hunter drones?

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