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If you hear a nursery rhyme called Snippity Snap, you need to read this as a matter of life and death. [Part 2]

Just joining us? I kindly recommend starting at the beginning.

In the bottom corner of the picture I see a human face. A girl. It’s Becca, no doubt, on the ground after Ryan had knocked her down, looking wild-eyed with a gleeful smile across her face.
“Thank you,” I say, passing the phone back to him. I make a final notation on my clipboard labeled Survivor. “If it’s alright with you, Ryan, I’d like to know Becca’s last name.”
“Her last name?”
“Yes.” I click my pen and place it into my chest pocket. “I think her and I need to have a discussion.”

The front door swings open. A young girl with thick eye-shadow greets me. “Who the fuck are you?”
I stand up straight, reach into my jacket pocket and pull out my badge. “My name is REDACTED and I’m here to speak with you about an Event.”
She narrows her eyes at me. Her name is Becca Galun, and I believe she’s been in contact with an urban legend known as Snippity Snap. She’s a seventeen year old attending Elktorch High. A classmate of one Ryan Halflow. Presently, she’s wearing a green turtle neck with blue jeans, and a scowl the length of her face.
“An Event?” she says. Her eyes look me over, and then she glances back inside her single-story house, as though making sure the coast is clear. “Are you with the Facility?”
“I, um. What?” The question catches me off-guard.
“The Facility,” she hisses. “Are you one of their Men in Black?”
“Men in Black?”
“Don’t be stupid. You know what I mean. I’m asking if you’re a Ghostbuster, or Hunter or whatever. You work there, don’t you?”
I was cautioned that due to recent Events, knowledge of the Facility’s existence may have grown more widespread. “I do,” I say hesitantly. “You’ll forgive me for asking, but how did you hear about us?”
Her face turns shades of anxious as she ushers me inside. Before she closes the door, she scans the front yard and the rest of the street. Then she bolts the door shut. “I spend a lot of time on the Deep Web. You guys are pretty infamous on there.”
“Oh,” I say, making a mental note to mention it to my superiors. “I’m actually here to speak with you about--”
“Snippity Snap?”
“Yes, actually.”
“Good.” She leads me into her kitchen. The house isn’t particularly modern or renovated, but it’s clean. There’s barely a hair out of place. She rummages through a wooden cupboard and a moment later pulls out a kettle and a couple of tea bags. “Hope you like English Breakfast,” she says, filling the kettle with water. “It’s all I’ve got left.”
“It’ll do fine.”
I pull out a chair at the kitchen table, then open my briefcase and retrieve my clipboard and forms. The kitchen is small. Cramped, really. The round table seats four, but there's only two chairs. “Are your parents available? Strictly speaking, I should be requesting their permission before interviewing a minor.”
“My mom doesn’t live here, and my dad’s at work -- don’t worry though," she adds, "Neither of them care. They don’t really give a fuck about anything.”
“I see.” I attach the forms to the clipboard and pull my pen from my pocket. I notate that Becca Galdun is a child of separated parents. It's a minor detail, but one potentially important in determining her motivations and impulses.
My eyes scan down the form, and read the heading labeled INTERVIEW ENVIRONMENT. I glance around, taking in the kitchen and make notes as I go.
The fridge is old, its white surface stained an off-yellow color and peppered with magnets. A short distance away is the stove, and between the two is a dull, metal sink. Above the sink is a small window. Its blinds are closed, blocking the glare of the setting sun.
“It's quiet," I remark, checking my watch. Its display reads five pm. " I figured by this time the entire household would be home."
“Well, this entire household is just my dad and I. He works late. He doesn’t make much money and needs to pick up shifts where he can.” She pulls a couple of teaspoons out of a drawer.
“In that case, are you alright if we proceed without him?”
“I’m making us tea. What do you think, that I want us to sit here in silence?”
“An excellent point. Let's get right into it then." I flip a page on my clipboard, returning to the first form. "Just so I have the proper details, your name is Becca Galun, correct?"
"Ah." I cross out my previous spelling and rewrite her name above it. "Thank you. Am I correct in saying that you attended a house party on 321 Hendra Ave with one Ryan Halflow?”
She shuts off the tap, closes the kettle lid and plugs it in. “I didn't go there with him. I met him there.”
I check a box on my clipboard labeled IN ALIGNMENT. The second question I asked was a small lie, one used to determine the validity of a potential informant. It ensure multiple stories can be corroborated. So far, her story matches Ryan’s. “When you met Ryan there, what did the two of you do?”
She turns around, placing both of her hands on the edge of the counter. I notice one of her fingers is badly scarred. “Why don’t we skip the bullshit? I took Ryan into the basement to kill him.”
My heart skips a beat. It was a suspicion I’d had, but to hear it announced so brazenly throws me off. “Excuse me?”
“You and I both know it.” She gestures to me incredulously. “You assholes are the whole fucking reason the world’s been going to shit. Don’t think I haven’t heard about the experiments you did to make the Man with the Red Notepad a reality.”
“That…” I begin, unsure how to phrase it without giving away pertinent intelligence. “...Was not my department.”
She smiles, but it’s scornful. There’s pain inside of it. “No, of course not. You’re one of the Interviewers. You talk to people like me who have met the monsters you want to subdue. To weaponize.”
I pause, considering my words. “You’re awfully knowledgeable about my line of work.”
“More than you know.”
“Is that so. What else do you know?”
She looks me over, her eyes flicking from my clipboard, to my face. “I know that you’re new. Your badge number begins with alpha. That means you’re as fresh as fresh can be, just barely out of Orientation.
“I also know that you were hired after an Interviewer posted an encounter with an entity known as Jagged Janice. That interviewer hasn’t been heard from since. He’s probably dead, and now you’re his replacement.” The kettle starts to scream. “Follow his lead, and you’ll be dead too.”
She turns back to the counter and drops a couple of teabags into two mugs. Then she unplugs the kettle, and pours the boiling water inside.
“Is that a threat?”
“No,” she says, opening another cupboard and pulling out a jar. “Honey in your tea?”
She cracks the lid and takes a spoonful, dropping it into the steaming mugs. “I’m just telling you what I’ve read. What the trend is. Your Facility is new, and it isn’t exactly great at what it’s doing.”
She turns around, both mugs in hand, then walks over and sits down at the table across from me. She slides my cup across the wooden surface. “I want to be rid of this curse. I really do, but I can’t be if my only help is a moron; one more interested in boosting their career than stopping my nightmare.”
The words sting, but they're not far from the truth. On some level -- on many levels -- I felt excited about discovering a real case this soon. I felt ecstatic about the prospect of chaining an Entity in my first month on the job. “Understandable," I say. "I’m here to help, if I can.”
She appraises me, leaning forward and resting her chin on her steepled fingers. “Fine. It's not like I have any other options.”
I bring my pen back to the clipboard. “Why did you intend to kill Ryan in that basement?”
"Honestly? It was him or me.”
“Him or you?” Even prior to securing my job with the Facility, I spent extensive amounts of time studying the paranormal, and urban legends specifically. I’m well versed in the lore of Snippity Snap, and there’s nothing in there about ultimatums. “Can you expand on that?”
“The first time I saw Snippity Snap, I was just a girl. Seven going on eight.” She reaches for her mug of tea, then stops herself. Her face is focused. Serious. She’s remembering something. “It was the nursery rhyme. The old urban legend, except back then it was more recent. My mom used to sing it in the car, and I think it was because of that woman’s funeral.”
“Woman’s funeral?”
Becca nods. “Yeah. Fuck, what was her name? Hope Delvine? Yeah, I think that was it. She was murdered by her husband. The asshole stabbed her six times with a sewing needle, then cut her throat with a pair of scissors.”
She picks up her tea, gives it a gentle blow, and then takes a sip. “Pretty dark stuff. Anyway, I guess she used to write poetry in her free time. A hobby of sorts. One of these poems was read at her funeral, and the local paper published it.”
“Interesting. So that’s the origin of the rhyme?”
“I think so. After the paper published it, and since the events surrounding her death were so horrible, kids picked it up and started running with it. Pretty soon the poem became a sort of song, or a chant. Next thing you know, it’s in full-blown urban legend territory. Shared at sleepovers and campfires and shit.”
A fascinating discovery. I remember getting emails when I was in highschool about an entity known as Snippity Snap. They contained an old nursery rhyme, but I had always assumed the origin of it would be much older than ten or so years. I hum to myself, and the tune comes back.
Snippity Snap, you’ll come back
Needles you’ll pin but it’s
Remorse you lack
Snippity Snap, please don’t come hack
There’s silence here
Until the machine click-clacks
Snippity Snap
“Some friends and I were chanting it one night,” Becca says, squeezing her scarred finger. “And I got this stupid idea in my head. I thought that maybe since Hope was killed by a pair of scissors, and the rhyme was ‘snippity snap’, then maybe the scissors had something to do with the urban legend. Maybe scissors could make the fabled monster appear.”
Her voice fades to silence, and her mouth hangs there for a moment. When she speaks again, it’s slow, and full of regret. “So we tried saying the rhyme again, this time cutting at the air with scissors.”
“You were trying to summon Snippity Snap?”
“We were eight,” she says defensively. “It sounded scary, but we knew it was ridiculous. I don’t think a single one of us thought anything would actually happen, but back then we didn’t have smartphones to entertain ourselves, so we had to get creative.”
I jot down her story, then look up. “Did it work?”
“Not that time, obviously."
I flip through my clipboard to the form entitled ORIGIN APPARATUS. I check a box labeled ATTEMPTS and then place a single tally beside it. Knowing the rough number of times before a summoning succeeds is important, particularly if we intend on capturing the Entity in question. “What did you try next?” I ask.
“Cutting something with the scissors. Not air, but something tangible. Paper, at first, and then cloth -- since the whole rhyme was about sewing. Still, we got nothing. Then I had a thought.
"I figured that since Hope was murdered, that maybe there needed to be some kind of mutilation involved. A sort of blood for blood, kinda deal. So I cut my finger and then I said the rhyme. My friends were obviously grossed out but... it didn’t take them long to become believers.”
My breath catches in my chest. I feel for this girl, I really do. I feel for this entire town and everybody who’s suffered from this urban legend, but I can’t pretend I’m not excited. This is day two of my investigation, and the discoveries are already proving massive. “Did it appear?”
“Are you recording this?” Becca asks, narrowing her eyes at me. “Like word for word?”
I shake my head. “I’m just taking some notes.”
She raises an eyebrow, and there’s some hesitance on her face. It’s something I recognize from the instructional videos I watched only a couple of weeks prior.
“Becca, before we continue I think it’s important that I impress upon you that I’m not law enforcement. The legality of your actions doesn’t concern me, I’m strictly here for the details on the Event.”
“So you can just turn around and hand those details to the FBI as soon as I’m finished talking?” Her fingers grip her coffee mug, and they dance along its circumference. “I know how this goes.”
I sigh. “That’s not the case at all. Your details, and those of the Event will be kept in secured storage within a well-defended compound. Any digital records will be fully encrypted. It’s bad for business if we arrest our informants.”
She studies me for a few moments, and then her expression softens. She’s satisfied by my answer. “Makes sense,” she says at length. “Yes. When I mutilated myself, Snippity Snap appeared.”
I cycle several pages on my clipboard, then I stop at the one labeled FIRST APPEARANCE. “Can you tell me where exactly it appeared? Was it in this house?” From here on out, I need to make sure I’m crystal clear about the Event.
"Yes," she says pointing to a hallway to the right of us. “We did the ritual down there, in the bathroom. It's the only room in the house that doesn’t have any windows, so it was ideal for the summoning."
My pen scratches across the form, trying to get every detail as she mentions it. “When Snippity Snap appeared in the washroom, where was it standing?"
“In front of the bathroom door. It stood, I don’t know, maybe six feet away from us? It was dark though, so dark, and none of us noticed until we heard that awful sound. Its shears opening and closing. Snip. Snap.
"I honestly don’t know why I did what I did next, but I guess I probably just panicked. To see it there, this monster with two giant scissors for arms and that horrible, sewed face with its loose flesh and all of those eyes." She shudders. "I lost whatever nerve I had. I shouted at it to leave us alone. To go away.”
I frown. “That doesn’t sound like you lost your nerve. It sounds like you were quite brave.”
Her eyes lock onto mine, and there’s anger there. Fury. “You didn’t let me finish.”
"I apologize." It occurs to me that informants must feel incredibly vulnerable sharing these harrowing Events. "Please, continue.”
Becca takes a moment, then exhales. “I told it to get lost. To go back to whatever circle of hell it crawled out of…” She stops suddenly, and I think I've upset her again, but I catch her glancing toward the hallway. It's brief. Only for a split second, but there's a nervousness in her eyes. A panic.
“Is somebody here?” I ask.
She shakes her head. “No. Sorry, I just thought I heard my dad come home, but it’s only six. He won’t be back until seven or eight.”
“I see.” I adjust myself in the chair. Part of me feels off, like something isn’t quite right, but I do my best to ignore it. I’m a professional, after all. In any case, Snippity Snap is a creature that requires a summoning to appear, and such parameters haven’t been met.
“What did you do?” I ask again, returning my pen to the clipboard.
“I, um.” Becca looks flustered. Distracted. Her previous calmness is lost, and something else has replaced it. Fear? It’s difficult to say for certain. Despite it though, she speaks. “It cut Heather first. It caught her arm when she tried to make a break for it -- to run past the thing.
"It nearly cut her arm off. I remember her forearm was just hanging there, off of her elbow. The only thing keeping it together was a few strings of flesh.” Becca's expression trembles, the muscles on her face twitching with the onset of coming tears. She stifles a sob and wipes her runny nose onto her sleeve.
“I'll never forget the overwhelming smell of blood, and the sound of Heather screaming. Her arm was spurting blood like a fountain, and it was getting everywhere. All over us." She shakes her head. "It was horrible. I was so afraid.”
I record each sickening detail. “There were no adults in the home to hear this?”
“No. My mom was at work, and my dad was outside on the street working on his Camaro. That thing's engine drowns out anything that isn't a jetliner." She sniffles, choking back another sob. "It was just me and my two friends inside, shut up in that bathroom. Nobody heard us.”
I circle the word Witnesses on the form, and as I do, I hear a faint sound in the distance -- like metal scraping on metal. “Do you hear that?”
“Hear what?”
“A metallic sound.” A sensation begins to grow in my chest, my adrenaline spiking. Something’s triggering my fight or flight response. “Like scissors.”
She shakes her head, and for a moment I feel foolish. The sound is so faint, so quiet, that I’m wondering if maybe I’ve allowed myself to become too invested in Becca’s story. I wonder if I’m frightening myself too.
Instinctively, my hand brushes over the side of my jacket, where I can feel my service weapon holstered. Relax, I tell myself. Don’t ruin this opportunity.
“Are you okay?” she asks.
“It’s nothing,” I say, plastering a smile on my face. “I’m just hearing things. I didn’t get much sleep these past couple of nights, and I think the consequences are coming home to roost.”
Becca cracks a bittersweet smile. “I know the feeling. Um, can I get you anything else? Maybe a glass of water instead of tea?”
“No, I’m fine with the tea. Please, excuse my interruption. Continue your account.”
"Okay," she says, taking a deep breath. “Heather’s bawling and there’s blood everywhere, and I see that creature’s mouth open and close, with all of its eyes, and a sound escapes, and I realize it’s speaking.”
“Speaking?” The scissor sound is gone now, and I’m beginning to think I may have imagined it. It’s possible I’m letting my inexperience get the better of me. “What did its voice sound like? Was it masculine or feminine?”
“Neither,” she says. “It sounded wrong. It was sharp and grating, almost like a sewing machine.”
“Curious.” I make a notation on my clipboard. Deviation. In the legend, the voice is typically non-existent. The creature is silent, save for the sound of its shears. “So it wasn't speaking words then?”
“No, but somehow I understood it anyway. I don’t know if I just saw the writing on the wall because of what it did to Heather, or if I was attuned to it or something but… I knew what it wanted. I knew it wanted an offering. Someone to suffer like it had.”
“Suffer like it had?” A thought crosses my mind, and I stop writing for a moment, staring across at Becca. “Do you believe Snippity Snap to be Hope Delvine?”
Becca sighs, and reaches for her mug. Her hands are shaking so much that the tea spills over the rim, scalding her. She shrieks in pain and the mug clatters to the table. “Fuck!” she snaps. “God fucking damnit!”
“Allow me,” I say, standing up and to retrieve a rag.
“DON’T!” she roars. Her eyes are wild, and there’s venom in her voice.
I freeze, the sudden intensity of the moment feeling wrong and out of place. “I just thought I’d lend a hand.”
“It’s fine,” she says, her anger dissipating. “I’ll deal with it.” She gets up and walks to the stove, ripping a rag off the oven handle. She uses it to dab at the wet table, sucking on her burnt hand as she does so.
“Anyway," she says, sounding casual again. "I guess I just thought that it made sense; Delvine being a ghost and all. I mean, her rhyme had summoned the creature, and my blood had made it real.”
I sit back down, slowly. Hearing Becca speak, the concept of Snippity Snap being a vengeful spirit is a plausible theory, and one that I make certain to write down in full. Still, it leaves a lingering, uncomfortable question. “What did you offer it?”
She looks up at me then, her eyes and mine, and I see a worry in her expression. “What?” she says.
“You said it knew it wanted an offering. Someone to suffer like it had.”
“Oh,” Becca looks away. “I um, I offered it the only thing that I could." She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath and then brings a hand to her mouth to stifle a sob. "I offered it Heather.”

submitted by Born-Beach to nosleep


Mr. President

"Mr. President," the aide urgently said as he shook the President awake. The President tossed and turned for a second before tiredly opening his eyes.
"What is it? Is it about the climate conference?"
"Aliens, sir." The president froze for a moment and then sat up, alert as ever.
"It does not appear so."
"Shit." He hopped out of bed and toward his closet. "What is the situation?"
"Look at the sky." The president turned back to the window and looked up. In the sky were several hundred bright orbiting dots, illuminated by the yet to rise sun. He immediately turned back to his closet. "Mr. President, you need to come with - "
"I'm sure as hell not making first contact in this!" The president hastily put on a suit. "What do we know?"
"Four minutes ago, our radars went crazy, hundreds of spacecraft just popped into orbit out of nowhere. Moments later we get a transmission from, presumably a high ranking alien official, demanding to talk to our leader, or we would face the consequences."
"Well, at least we won't die from climate change. They are speaking in English?"
"And Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, pretty much every major language."
"So they presumably know a lot about us by now. What do we know about them?" The President and the aide exited the bedroom and into the halls, filled with bustling high ranking officials. One handed the President a coffee.
"Not much. The aliens appear to be somewhat reptilian, bipedal with four arms, and they presumably severely outrank us technologically. Ground based telescopes and the NRO's satellites are currently assessing their fleet." A woman handed the President a folder.
"Hold this," he said, giving the aide the coffee, and opening the folder, which was filled with preliminary low quality pictures of ships in the alien fleet. "Oh boy."
"Mr. President," said a general, "Radar scans estimate some ships are several kilometers long. Energy emission is also high in the infrared wavelengths, suggesting high heat rejection, with a spike in several wavelengths right as they arrived."
"Thank you, general. Keep me posted." The trio turned the corner into the Situation Room, where, on the big screen, an imposing, green, scaly, four armed figure stood.
"At last, a leader," the being said in a sly, commanding tone.
"Good morning to you, too."
"I assume by now, you will have scanned our fleet enough to know you are no match for us."
"Tough to say, all we have are a few grainy pictures." One of the screens to the President's right switched to showing estimated fleet statistics. "Ah, the numbers are coming right in now."
"Your "International Space Station," "Deep Space Gateway," and "Harmony of The Heavens" combined are no match for even our smallest vessel, and your fleet of "Starships," "Dragons," and "Orions" would barely register."
"Sir, Putin will be joining the call," whispered an official.
"Roger." The President turned back to the alien. "By our estimation, we are greatly outclassed in terms of space superiority. What is it that you want from humanity?"
"Prompt unconditional surrender." The President's eyes narrowed. The display updated with better information, along with a higher detail picture of one of the larger ships in the fleet, high resolution enough to resolve engines and weapons along the triangular hull. Curiously, however, a massive star shaped shield could be seen oriented towards the sun.
"Russia will not surrender," Putin replied.
"You are in no position to negotiate," said the alien. An idea popped into the President's head.
"Why do you want our surrender?" asked The President.
"As you are in no position to negotiate, you are in no position to demand information from us."
"Not even your name?"
"Neither of you have been so keen to volunteer yours."
"Well tell me if I'm right... You know enough about us to be able to translate into any of our languages at will, you know enough to know the names of our space stations, and you know how to use our communication protocols." Several other world leaders trickled into the call, most remained silent.
"Your protocols are simple and unsecure. A toddler could figure that out."
"Therefore, you should also know our history... How we can make war so brutal when we want to." The alien remained silent. The fleet analysis screen kept rapidly updating. Several battleships, curiously of many different types, punctuated by larger and smaller warships, and many of what appeared to be troop transports comprised most of the fleet.
"You want to scare us into surrendering because you want to avoid a long, drawn out fight... If that didn't matter, you would have attacked already. You want - "
"Mr. President, we are transferring the call to Air Force One, please come with us."
"Hold on, General. You want this planet, or something on it, and you want it cleanly. Am I right?"
"If so, what does it matter?" shouted the alien.
"Sir, the alien spaceships are maneuvering into formation." The screen updated again with more information, which The President studied as quickly as possible.
"Because you are not getting it cleanly." The President motioned for one of his aides, who handed him a briefcase, which the President rapidly opened. The President input a code and held his hand over a button.
"Nuclear weapons, how quaint. Our ships could withstand magnitudes more, if you could even get close! Even if you did dent our fleet, we have thousands more mighty fleets ready to drop in!"
"I'm not aiming for you. I'm aiming for Russia and China." Putin's eyes widened. "Strategic locations, nuclear power plants, the whole lot. And I invite Putin over there to do the same, but directed at us. The fallout will render this planet effectively uninhabitable. You asked us if we had scanned your fleet, and we have. Those are radiation shields, aren't they? Pointed directly at the sun? And your body armor, it wouldn't stop the smallest of bullets. That's not armor, that's a space suit - one with a ton of shielding! My best guess is that you are terribly radiation sensitive - bad news if we nuke the planet."
"Your assessment is incorrect."
"I don't see you correcting us." Putin pulled out his own nuclear briefcase.
"Russia's nuclear weapons are targeted at American infrastructure, nuclear plants, and the Yellowstone supervolcano. Our salted cobalt bombs are prepared to raise radiation levels to unacceptable levels. Our Poseidon bombs are prepared to create tsunamis that would wipe out major coastal cities."
"Wait, I thought we banned those!" the President exclaimed.
"China's nuclear weapons are primed for launch, targeting various sites."
"United Korea's nuclear missiles are ready for liftoff, - "
"France's nuclear weapons are - "
"Britain's - "
"India's - "
"Pakistan's - "
"Israel's - "
"In short," said the President, "We may not have the power to destroy you, but we have the power to destroy the thing you want. I believe we are now in a position to negotiate. So tell me, what is your name?" The alien paused and considered.
"I am Srizdiforf Riew, Srizdiforf is a rough approximation of your title Admiral."
"Well, Admiral Riew, welcome to Earth. If we don't get our way, you will most definitely not like it here."
"Our ships are ready to fire upon your cities."
"As are we. Now tell us, Riew, why have you come here?"
"We seek to conquer and expand for the glory of the Empire."
"Alright, why Earth in particular?" There was a pause.
"We seek resources."
"If you did, you wouldn't have come here, for every place with life, there's a million more without. If you want resources, go ahead, you can have Venus if you want! There's several good asteroids out there I can think of!"
"You misunderstood, we seek the unique a world conducive to our life."
"Then head for the Trappist system, plenty of worlds that are a decent level of habitable out there with nobody to guard them. We have a full list of candidates."
"Only your planet is suitable for our life."
"Oh come on, you've got "Thousands of mighty fleets," warp drives, ships dozens of kilometers long, can't you just do some terraforming?"
"The Empire is amazing at terraforming!"
"Then tell us why. Why are you so averse to terraforming the Trappist system instead, or Mars, or Venus, or even fixing Earth after we nuke it to pieces? Can you terraform or can't you? Please, Riew, put it in terms we can understand. Why Earth?"
"Mr. President," said a General, "Look." The scan display had updated once more, and the fleet assessment was more or less complete. The President's eyes widened. He paused.
"Surrender or we will attack," shouted Riew. "We care not for your nuclear weapons, we shall terraform your world back any way. You will face complete destruction and enslavement if you do not surrender!"
"Who are you running from?" The President asked. Riew froze.
"We are not running."
"Look at your fleet. I see several battleships here and there, and a ton of smaller warships, punctuated by a few larger ships, but you know what, Riew? No two are the same, as if the fleet was thrown together from whatever ships you could find, and nearly all of them are damaged. Your largest ship has a gaping hole in the side, and several of your ships are visibly falling apart! And all of those troop transports... They aren't transporting troops, are they?"
"The fleet composition, the strategy, the damage... This is not a coherent invasion fleet, this is a refugee fleet, isn't it?" Riew was silent for several moments.
"The Empire was once the greatest known force in the galaxy. We prospered like no other. Waged war like no other. Waged peace like no other. Terraformed like no other. Innovated like no other. But then the Ierdis came. They came and slaughtered our children, decimated our planets... They defeated us."
"So you ran with whatever you had left."
"We... We are the only ones left. We ran and ran, trying to find a world with the right conditions to rebuild. We were nearly out of fuel when we finally found this place... But you were there. You humans. You disgusting vermin! You destroyers of hope! I saw planets burn, I saw trillions of my own kind die! And I ran, in hopes of finding a better future for those who remained. We battled our way out of Ierdis space, but only a fraction of the fleet remains. Do you, Mr. President, know how hard of a decision it is to leave tens of thousands of your kind behind in the path of oncoming doom because you have no spare parts left and no time to transfer the crew over? Or spending three quarters of your remaining fuel getting to a planet that looks amazing and then have to tell the remainder of your species that "Oops, the atmosphere is poisonous?" Humans... You will never know what it is like to lead your fleet to the last beacon of hope, a near perfect world, although too warm, on the last drops of fuel and last spare parts, only to find out that someone beat us here by several thousand years? A someone so territorial that they have fought wars over practically nothing? Our only hope was scaring you into surrender. And we tried. And we lost... Territorial does not do you justice. You would blow up your own planet and everyone on it just to stop us from having it. But, what does it matter to you? You have defeated us with words alone. Goodbye, Mr. President. I will take the fleet to the Trappist system, I believe fuel is sufficient. We will die there, but we will die having walked on firm ground once more." Riew turned away from the camera, defeated.
"Wait, Riew... You studied us for how long?"
"A month."
"And you didn't think we'd want to help?"
"How many thousands of stories and movies and series do we have talking about peacefully exploring the stars together, only resorting to battle when attacked first?"
"You can't even unite long enough to help yourselves. Look at your nuclear stockpiles."
"And you look at the fact that we've only ever used two of them. Look, we may not be perfect... Who is? but we strive to get better. Despite what we do sometimes, the vast majority of us want to live in peace, collaborating to become better and better, maybe exploring the stars."
"Collaborating to explore the stars, you can't collaborate long enough to save your own planet from yourselves."
"You have a point, but we're already collaborating to explore the stars! You yourself mentioned the International Space Station, our most ambitious spacecraft yet. It was largely constructed by two countries who were once archenemies! We do struggle, but we seek to overcome, and I'd say we've done okay so far. Look, Admiral Riew... I can't speak for all these other ladies and gentlemen, and I don't expect full cooperation as you have left quite a sour taste in our mouths with your quite rude arrival, but if everything was up to me, I would say that we must do all we can to help."
"As do I," said Putin.
"The Commonwealth is at your service," said Queen Elizabeth.
"We may not be friends, but we are certainly not enemies, so we will help however we can," said another leader.
There was a chorus of agreement with only a few dissenting voices.
"How many of your kind are on your fleet?"
"Approximately seven million."
"And you said Earth is a little warm for you?"
"This is not final at all... I have no authority to do this. This will require an international agreement the likes of which has not ever been seen before. But I would like to propose giving the... What is your species called?"
"I would like to propose giving the Seriks the unclaimed portions of Antarctica. Admiral, does this land meet your needs? It is inhospitable to us and there are so few resources there, nothing grows, but it is cold, so it might meet your - "
"The Seriks would be forever in your debt. We would never be able to repay you."
"As far as I'm concerned," said the Prime Minister of New Zealand, "You can have most of our Antarctician claim."
"There may be something we can do as well," said the Prime Minister of Australia. "The unclaimed part, for sure, though."
"We will have to go through the legal trouble, and prepare vaccines, and whatnot, and find out if we can make whatever they eat, but on principle, is anyone opposed to the idea of letting the Seriks stay on Earth at least temporarily?" asked the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. A few leaders voiced concern, but none of them outright condemned the idea.
"Admiral, how long can your fleet last before needing to land?"
"We estimate eight months."
"Well it's not going to be pretty getting all the vaccines ready for a completely new biology in that time... Unless they are different enough that we can't cross infect. But, we did it quickly with COVID, we can do it quickly if we set our mind to it. Expect a deal on Antarctica in one or two months maximum."
"One more thing, Admiral," asked The President. "The Ierdis. How far away are they and how long will it be until we have to worry about them?"
"We don't know, hopefully never. While fleeing, we entered an unstable wormhole, as such, we have no idea where we are, we only know that we are far enough away the Ierdis will almost certainly never make it this far."
"Okay. So we probably don't have to fear them. That is good news."
"Mr. President... And Humanity..."
"Yes, Admiral?"
"Why what?"
"Why did you help?"
"Because we hope you'd do the same."
"Then what can we do? What could we ever do? If this goes though, you have saved our whole kind. We threatened to destroy your civilization and you respond with love! There is nothing we can do that could ever repay your unconditional, undeserved compassion. Nothing!"
"You said you were good at terraforming, right?"
"With the proper equipment, which we do not have."
"Well, our planet is in the middle of a disaster right now. You studied us, you know about our climate situation?"
"You want us to fix it?"
"You can?"
"Easily, once we are re-established!"
"And that could also take the planet a few degrees closer to your optimal temperature, so win-win!"
"But this is still nothing compared to what you have done for us!"
"If you're looking for more to give, your technology will undoubtedly work miracles."
"But - "
"Well, if you're still on the fence, consider it a gift." The Admiral broke down, into what Humanity would later find out was the Serik equivalent of crying.
"There is nothing we can ever do that could ever make up for what we tried to do to you!"
"You know what you can do for us, Admiral? It will take a while, for sure, and the road will doubtless be bumpy... But remember what we said earlier about collaborating to peacefully explore the stars?"
"Please, if you will, join us in pursuit of that future."
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