Everyone remembers where they were when the Spiral Hegemony star cruiser first appeared in orbit. It was visible out the window of the International Space Station, and soon the images were beamed to every phone and television across the planet. It happened at 2:06 PM Eastern Standard Time, so most of the Western world was either at work or school, settling in for dinner, or heading out for a night on the town. People would talk about it for years to come, regurgitating the same stories of fear, awe and wonder over and over again, embellished by time and the natural tendency to want to tell a more compelling story than their friends.
Caleb Farnsworth did not remember. In his defense, it was because he was unconscious, because he was drunk, because he had been broken up with, fired and evicted all at once the night before. Free advice: do not start screwing the landlady while working as a menial repairman in the apartment building in which you live.
He woke to the buzzing of his phone. He fumbled with it and denied the call. It buzzed again. He threw it across the dingy apartment. It kept buzzing and he kept ignoring it until he felt more awake than dead. Finally Caleb rolled off the couch and crawled to where his phone lay. He looked at it: 43 missed calls, at least one from pretty much everyone he knew. He opened the messenger and looked at the first text.
ALI: Look out the fucking window!
He did, and he basically shat. By then, the cruiser had sent its fleet of contact vessels to every major city on Earth. These ships looked essentially like large blimps and the underside appeared to be a massive screen. In massive illuminated letters, the screens read — and I shit you not — “We come in peace.”