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We messed up.

Space colonization is tricky. Sometimes, things go awfully wrong with space colonization. This is the year 2451 and we've just had a failed colonizing expedition, with grave consequences. After 16 years of travel, the expedition misaligned the lander before entering the planet's atmosphere and almost all colonists died.

But.. that's not the only issue..

An alien email arrived

And after the crash, we got this alien email, on our company channels,

Earthlings,

We have a problem. There's this boy from Earth on our planet now, 13 years old, sole survivor of your expedition. He "landed" 6 days ago.. your primitive ship's log sais most crew were in hibernation, when the ship entered our atmosphere. The log also indicated they sought to colonize our planet, with some 40 of your Earth people. We regret to inform you 38 are missing now, almost certainly evaporated during the accident. On the surface, we did find the remains of one of your copilots, but our genetic sequencers did not succeed in getting all the pieces in place, so we regret to inform you 39 human lives were lost. But as these people apparently set out to colonize, we'd like to remind you of our presence, and we have sent a ship, to make sure there are no further misunderstandings..

Regards, Tzlotuun Hoyran, General

General. A military rank. "primitive ship". They decoded our logs. No mension of the boy.

The approaching alien ship has been detected, it will arrive on Earth, in 22 days (!!)

We are inexperienced. We have had close encounters, but until now, they were quite friendly. What would be an appropriate protocol, a first diplomatic step, to avoid confrontation ?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you looking for a company's response or a government's response? AFAIK- it is illegal (in US) to make 1st Contact. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2021 at 0:27
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    $\begingroup$ It looks like you're asking about the decisions of a specific in world entity. Such questions are a story based question not a question about creating a fact of the world. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Dec 28, 2021 at 1:10
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    $\begingroup$ E-mail sits atop a zillion layers of technological standards, which must all be in place for e-mail to happen. Technological standards are in the nature of international treaties. If you got an e-mail from them, this means that there is a communications network in place. If a communication network is in place, this means that Earth already has some sort of diplomatic channels with them. Since Earth already had some sort of communication with them and yet Earth sent a colony ship, this means that Earth is at war with them. There is no peace to keep. We started the war. We are the baddies. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 28, 2021 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP or they recovered some of the ships communication systems. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Dec 28, 2021 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Goodies I don't think you understand how questions work here, we as posters need inofrmation to make answers and your story coherent, how the planet was explored will drastically change aspects of the question. Questions here are OOC. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Dec 28, 2021 at 1:36

4 Answers 4

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A meeting place.

Aliens are coming. They are fast. If they can move that fast and they are warlike we are toast. Other governments need to know aliens are coming so they don't do something stupid when they detect them.

Humbly apologize. Thank them for rescuing the boy and trying to help the copilot. Note that you are interested in learning more about the genetic sequencer. Give them coordinates on Earth that they will understand (perhaps a map) and arrange to meet them there. Invite representatives from other governments. Have gifts. Cross fingers.

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  • $\begingroup$ .. and carry a big stick. (You also might want to meet somewhere not-earth.) $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2021 at 10:45
  • $\begingroup$ (government talking) yes thanks mr Wilk, we have told the UN yesterday. We'll have to make some excuse for the colonization. And we cross our fingers ! $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 28, 2021 at 12:13
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    $\begingroup$ (government talking) We have decided to follow this line. They are clearly superior in space travel, we cannot hide our disadvantage from them. We will humbly apologize and thank them for their efforts. Also we need to try to find a proper way to ask them about the boy's whereabouts in such a way, they would not be offended. The sequencer is an interesting idea as well, we can show them we are eager to learn about that technology. First things first.. the protocol we'll have to follow, our response.. and the boy. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 29, 2021 at 20:39
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Simple claim that is was all a misunderstanding. That you didn't know the planet was inhabited. Offer a small contemsation in exchange for the boy and everything thing should be alright.

Just in case send out your entire fleet to as a Friendly excort for the alien ship. Just as a reminder who runs this galaxy.

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  • $\begingroup$ (government talking) Thanks for your input. The boy is our primary concern atm. We don't know if he is on the ship. We don't know if the boy is a hostage or not. We are already underways. What a mess.. this company will be out of business soon. Maybe we'll have to put an email we announce we will punish the company ? Maybe you're right we should offer something in exchange for the boy.. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 28, 2021 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Goodies I don't think punishing the company will be necessary after all the lose of those the alien killed should be punishment enough perhaps if the aliens insist on it as a condition of get the boy back. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2021 at 2:22
  • $\begingroup$ Right now the humanity must more carefully apologetic but at same time it doesn't want to appear weak or easily bullied. So you want to give enough to appear regretful but not enough to feel afraid especially when the boys status is unclear. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2021 at 2:29
  • $\begingroup$ (government talking) We have decided to not base the protocol on your proposal. One of our anthropology experts indicated that offering a reward for saving the boy could be interpreted by them as putting up a price for the boy. We don't know their culture, we don't know if the boy is on board their ship. Also, there were grave objections from the part of Defense, against sending in the fleet. Too much risk and we would show all our cards. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 29, 2021 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Goodies what would you do instead. $\endgroup$ Dec 30, 2021 at 2:51
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(government)

(Proceedings)

With your inputs sofar, we have devised an approach, that would respect the thruth (the error is on our side) and we'll show our gratitude for the report and their efforts to save our crew member.

There is no time for a formal protocol, we will have to put that in place when all ends well. For now, our psychology experts have advised us to answer the email in the same style, that is polite and informal,

Dear General,

We regret the misunderstanding about your presence. We should have investigated further before landing, to make sure we would not claim a planet that is rightfully yours. We thank you for your attempts to rescue our crew member, and the detailed account you have provided.

We hope all is well with the Earth boy. His parents are looking forward to see him soon. We expect to welcome you in 21 of our days, with military salute and in the presence of our leaders, and the boys parents. We look forward to the acquaintance, more information will follow later about our preferred time and place.

In order to prove good intent on our side, we have decided to provide you with a gift. The gift was sent toward your ship in a small probe and it contains some very useful, Carbon-based materials.

Kind regards, Earth's government

We had most discussion about the part concerning the boy. We can't be sure of culture (parents), on the other hand we can't speculate either.. it is difficult to find a way to give them an incentive, to say anything about the boy. We really want to know if the boy is aboard their ship and we will regard any promise about the boy as a confirmation of peaceful intent on their side. By announcing the parents to be present to welcome them, we hope to put some pressure to hear more. Is the boy on the ship ?

About the meeting location.. we have not decided yet, who will be present and where it will be. We don't want (or we can't) pin them down on any landing location, but we have indicated that we would decide where to meet them. When they accept that, we will also regard that as peaceful.

The gift consists of several rolled up samples of our best grapheme foil.. and also a highly accurate diamond lens, in a small wooden box. Carbon is quite rare on their planet, but it can be found. There are traces on the surface and there exists gaseous carbon (as CO2) in their atmosphere. We hope (expect) they may be unaware of the many applications of solid Carbon.

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  • $\begingroup$ One thing that really stands out about this answer is the part about solid carbon... if we know the chemical composition of the planet we are going to, then we can guess what things we have that could be seen as valuable, exotic, or even or even technologically advanced to them. That is a great way of providing them with a worthy gift, but also a very big risk. If they know they are more advanced than us in most ways, but that we have a resource that they would really like to have, we could easily go the way of the Incans and their gold $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Dec 29, 2021 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ They have that info already. They found the remains of our colonization ship, a black box with its logs intact. These logs told them we had been on a 16 year travel to that planet. Then, they send a ship toward us that can reach Earth in a month. Their advantage is quite obvious, I'm afraid.. they already know we're at least a century behind them in spacecrafts. But we're not going to show them any other technology, until we know their intention. We don't have any illusion we would win, when an armed conflict would occur (the minister of the Environment suggested we'd sell them our excess CO20 $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 29, 2021 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ This is really good. Still think you should send the "escort " $\endgroup$ Dec 30, 2021 at 2:53
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanMcClure we'll need a week margin at least, to send our ships out.. Maybe we'll have to, but before we decide, we'll wait for a response to above message.. There's 19 days, we'll keep you informed via here. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 30, 2021 at 12:04
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(government)

Proceedings

The alien ship has materialized (?) at L2, we did not get a response to our mail. Scientists have proposed the aliens could not receive our mail in time, because we don't know how to do their FTL tricks. Our email landed at the server, 2 light years before they arrived. The server would send it over, but the message has never reached them.

They are past L2 now, approaching Earth on impulse.. and we still have no reason to assume the boy is on the ship. We resent the message and got the following response,

Earthlings,

We hail Earth, may the Xyluph enhance (?) your Ytug. In two days, we will land on the back side of your moon, we expect your diplomats and fleet to welcome us as promised. Please indicate the level of Tgluip, so we can enter your ship safely.

Regards, Tzlotuun Hoyran, General

.. we regard this as positive and negative. They seem to wish us luck, but same time they seem to expect us to lower our shields. We are not sure what is expected of us (please help.. Tgluip ??), we stationed a diplomatic delegation in one of our star ships in moon orbit.

We'll keep you informed !

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