The planet was a lush rainforest of continents swaddled by gentle indigo oceans. Enormous pink clouds floated around it like so many puffs of cotton candy.
From a crawling orbit above the atmosphere the strange bipedal hairless hominoids were embroiled in disputes about it, and about the sentients they hoped to find below.
This was the first time the hominoids had ever attempted such a thing. They had been carefully chosen for this mission to properly represent their species as delegates from the third planetary body orbiting the star Sol.
So far from home, only the Navigator recognized that specific star. He checked several times a day (insofar as one could relegate days on the vessel), just to make sure it was still there. He superstitiously believed that if he ever lost track of that star, he might never find it again. A good navigator can always find his way home.
The hominoids bickered about how to land, where to land, what to bring, how to approach the natives (if there were natives), what all that purpley and bluish stuff was, and who would go versus who would stay. The arguments were pointless for the most part, as they had procedures set in place for just this kind of thing. To be fair the landing discussion did have some merit: everyone agreed that it would be difficult to land on top of the thick canopy of trees covering everything. At least what the topography expert believed to be trees. No one knew for sure. Two things they all agreed on was that all this had seemed much more simple and straightforward on paper, and also that the planet below was more beautiful than they had ever anticipated.
Below in her small forest village, a brilliant girl was fiddling with her latest invention. She fine-tuned some metal filaments and what could reasonably pass as an antenna inside of a crude wooden box. This girl, whose mind was far beyond anything her people had ever seen, was at the moment quartered in a treehouse with all her homemade gadgets and paraphernalia. She was both feared and respected by the village, who gasped in wonder at her impossible inventions. A small orb made of fused sand and metal absorbed the sunlight during the day and emitted an illuminating glow during the dark night hours. It didn’t provide the warmth of a night fire, but it was a much safer lighting system. She’d also created a sort of aqueduct system that brought the village fresh water from a nearby river. Her star map – carefully carved into a large piece of stone was something of a novelty to the villagers who didn’t really understand what it was for, but appreciated its complicated beauty.
As she fiddled with the filaments a gentle hum emanated from the box. Jumping back excitedly, the girl moved her finger to the antenna to ground the device. She felt a small charge and grinned. She was hoping her theory was correct, and this this device might be useful to warn the village of the frequent great electrical storms. What she heard instead from the device was garbled words in a language she did not understand, although it sounded strangely familiar to her.
“…earth. We come in……Captain Walsh….Transmission….Four – Two – Seven……..delegates from the planet………..peace……can…..hear me?……Walsh……Two – Eight – Six….”
The device lapsed back into a humming static as she pulled her finger away from the antenna. Eyes wide, she stared at the small wooden machine in front of her. Any other villager would have proclaimed that the box was possessed by evil spirits. This girl was not so superstitious.
She was thrilled. Immediately she began working on another box, similar in design but with key alterations. She would send a message back. She would say in every dialect she knew that she had waited so long for a friend equal in her intelligence. She would ask where her new friend was. She would tell him to come to her little village – she would tell him about her inventions, and ask about his.
She would no longer be alone.
Miles and miles above the village that held such an extraordinary girl was the ship. The great metal beast of a ship, filled with hairless hominoids. Hominoids that could not stop arguing with one another about so many tiny details. Details about how and where to land, what to do, how to make contact. They were already sending a pre-recorded radio transmission out into the airwaves – but there was not much hope that it would be answered. So when it was, the bickering stopped cold, and the girl’s message filled the silent ether.
And the hominoids staring fearfully at one another as the strange gravelly voice intoned such hostilities at them suddenly decided as one that they would listen and obey, no arguments about it. It did not occur to them that the words they heard may have only sounded like their language, but meant something else entirely.
The Navigator searched the sky for Sol and programmed the ship to make a beeline. He was gratified that the rest of the crew suddenly all asked him to point out the comforting star to them, and not a single one forgot how to find it again.