Introduction to Ultras


Mars was once a beautiful garden planet, full of life with large oceans and a thick, healthy atmosphere. This much is fact, known by today’s scientists. Then something happened, something on the level of a billion megaton nuclear explosions.

Two of them.

It devastated the entire surface. It blew away the atmosphere. The oceans boiled away, leaving only trace amounts of the precious, life-giving water deep in the ground, where most of it froze solid. All life ended dramatically and tragically. This much we know. Earth’s scientists think of Mars as a terrible example of what could be in store for our world if we do not become a spacefaring people. A race is now on to develop the technology to survive, to find new homes, to make the inhospitable hospitable.

What we could not know for certain was what caused the nuclear devastation that destroyed Mars[1]. Those who dared to imagine they had unnatural causes, shuddered at the nightmare this conjured.

1. Because scientists do not currently recognize or officially document the existence of any advanced life forms, much less advanced civilizations on Mars, they cannot scientifically put forth the idea that a super-massive nuclear bomb was used to destroy life on mars. Two hypotheses are proposed. One which does not meet the facts as a natural nuclear reactor, an explosion of which would have left devastation behind and there is no evidence of that. In addition, the presence of significant quantities of xenon 129 is a clear marker indicating nuclear weapons detonations in the atmosphere. Earth’s own xenon content increased 10% since the 1940s due to open air nuclear testing… The second hypothesis, that of two asteroids containing fissionable materials colliding in the atmosphere and somehow managing to reach exactly the correct critical mass to create a supermassive explosion is, in my opinion, unlikely in the extreme. Nowhere has such a thing ever been recorded.

What follows is a leaked video from a closed meeting of UN leaders and a party of unknown origin.

[General greetings are given, United Nations members introduced, but the Unknown Party remained without a name. They are at the edge of the video, tantalizingly close, but the image is blurred making real identification impossible.]

Unknown Party (ALIEN): Thank you for seeing us, Secretary General. We understand that to you our appearance is sudden and alarming.

Secretary General (SG): Obviously shocked. Your… arrival is something some have dreamed of for so long. Now… well you’re here.

ALIEN: Indeed. Some of your people do in fact believe they have seen us in their dreams. Rest assured, those were not dreams but memories. We have visited this world many times in the past twenty thousand years.

SG: Looks around at leading members of the General Assembly, then clears his throat. I hope you can forgive me. This is a lot to take in. But I assume you are here now because something has changed?

ALIEN: Yes. We have determined you are sufficiently self-aware and self-organized to understand our invitation and efficiently organize yourself once you realize the potential we offer.

SG: Appears cautious. Invitation?

ALIEN: We are pleased to inform you that the people of Earth are ready to join the [a strange, warbling buzzing sound was heard] Assembly.

SG: That didn’t actually sound like an invitation.

ALIEN: We invite you to join voluntarily. In so doing, you will be given the right to remain here, in space claimed by the Assembly long before homo sapien sapiens hammered his first stone tool, and you will be granted access to technology tens of thousands of years ahead of your own. We will happily relieve you of the burden of unemployment, social class issues, and starvation in exchange for your efforts to further the goals of great civilization provided by the Assembly. We will also relieve you of the burden of self-rule and the constant warfare this causes you. This will allow you to pour all your creativity and aggression into scientific and other creative advances. We estimate you will become a fully contributing member of the Assembly in a mere two centuries, given your species’ ability to learn and create when not distracted by starvation, war, and disease.

SG: Looks uneasy. That’s something that would need to be put to a vote… Wait a moment. I beg your pardon, but that sounds rather like slavery!

ALIEN: Another alien steps forward. What you call free will is in fact simply a survival trait we left intact when we dissected and reassembled your DNA 500,000 of your years ago. We had no desire to maintain constant vigilance over a fledgling, barely intelligent species for hundreds of thousands of years, after all. So we gave you a decent chance at survival and simply checked on your progress from time to time. Now, however, you are intelligent enough to overrule your desire for self-determination. After all, you do it to each other frequently already.

SG: Jaw agape, stares back at the aliens. But that’s… what you are asking is impossible! No nation here would willingly give up their sovereignty for slavery!

ALIEN: Members of their group turn toward each other briefly, as if to silently discuss. One finally turns back to the Secretary General. This is unfortunate if true. But we ask you put this to a vote.

SG: What are the consequences to the people of Earth if we refuse?

ALIEN: We have determined forcibly evicting you from our property — this world — would result in another Mars Incident, which occurred in this solar system four billion of your years ago. Therefore, we have decided that we shall instead Leave You Here.

SG: Looks immediately wary. Leave us? After all this, you would simply le— wait, what’s this about Mars.

ALIEN: An unfortunate incident. The species that arose there most vehemently opposed joining the Assembly. They threatened to destroy their own world if we did not withdraw the invitation. This was a serious threat since at the time Mars was the only habitable world in this star system. Our leaders at the time did not trust their sincerity of conviction, however. They detonated a two gigaton nuclear warhead at our Welcome Wagon, which significantly damaged the ship, destroyed all life on Mars, and blew away much of the then-present and quite healthy atmosphere. The Welcome Wagonners were disappointed. It did, however, have a fortunate side effect.

SG: Still looking stunned. Side… effect?

ALIEN: Portions of that planet that were blasted away fell here and added essential chemicals — even DNA — to this world. Combined with primordial chemicals brought by comets, new life was able to arise on this world less than two billion years later. I can tell you, the Wagonners were quite pleased by this development. It would seem that not all our property here was doomed to become a handful of moderately interesting but lifeless planets orbiting a rather unspectacular yellow sun.

SG: The property value went up.

ALIEN: Indeed.

SG: Anyway, you mentioned that if we chose not to join you, then you’d leave?

ALIEN: Voice dripping with ominous venom. Yeeeees.

SG: Looking around at his advisors. There’s a catch. Obviously there is a catch we are missing…

ALIEN: Only that we will give you a parting gift. Over the last twenty thousand years, we have visited you many times.

SG: Yes, you mentioned that.

ALIEN: Speaks in an ominous tone. What you do not know is that we modified the DNA of those we visited. These modifications activate exceptional capabilities, powers beyond that of the average homo sapien sapiens. The alien stops. Your term for yourselves is burdensome to speak.

SG: While technically correct, we do prefer shorter versions.

ALIEN: We shall use the term ‘saps’ to refer to your people.

SG: I’d rather you didn’t…

ALIEN: Then what about homos —

SG: Not really much better. How about humans?

ALIEN: That’s a ridiculous name. Anyway, as I was saying. The alien resumes in an ominous, threatening tone. We shall active the gene. And then Some People will have incredible powers.

SG: So… slavery or get amazing powers? That’s the choice?

ALIEN: Yes. It is your choice how you will use this power, how you treat those with power, and how those with power treat others. Your own history shows that this is likely the very worst thing that could happen to you. Unless you evolve wisdom to temper your intelligence [there was a buzzing sound one might associate with alien laughter], you will annihilate yourselves in less than fifty years out of jealousy and fear.

SG: Rocked back on his heals. The alien could very well be correct. Very well, I’ll bring it before the General Assembly for a vote.

[The final results of the meetings, and the vote, was hidden from public record. However, since we are not currently slaves to an Alien Assembly, it’s safe to say that the UN member states decided to take their chances. This explains the large number of super-powered individuals that seem to be popping up all over the globe. But did all nations reject the “invitation”?]

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