I don’t think the attack was really an act of hostility, not when you look at the way it changed the world. I get to see stars every night now, in the sky above my head. For real stars. I don’t have to navigate to a satellite telescope web address or anything. I just go outside and look up. Who would have imagined that in my lifetime? Who can look up at that beautiful splash of light across the night sky, the Milky Way, and think it a bad thing?
The half million dead. Sure. They and their families wouldn’t appreciate my joy at the night sky. In fact, most of the world’s 10 billion people tend to remember the brown blanket of smog covering the planet, glowing in the city lights, quite fondly. These clear night skies make them feel exposed, and those twinkling pinpoints of light overhead seem ominous.
From which of those billions of points did the invaders come? Will they come back? Are they watching us now? Why did they attack in the first place? It’s the not knowing that unnerves people the most.
So they turned off the lights. If the aliens can’t see us, then they can’t hit us. But people got scared of the dark. So they huddled together in the cities. Safety in numbers, and all that stuff.
All those people, pushed together like that, it made them smarter. Cities present a smaller surface area, but all those buildings are awfully conspicuous. So they “greened” the buildings, planted gardens on the rooftops and encouraged vines to grow down the sides. They still look conspicuous to me from my window, but the satellite photos make New Hong Kong look like a mountain range.
Then some other smarties pointed out that the city was no longer a heat well, absorbing all the Sun’s light and radiating it back as thermal energy, but we were emitting a suspicious amount of heat in the wintertime. That thermal heat was visible in the infrared, so we had to insulate. The city government flies overhead regularly now, filming in infrared to spot the buildings that are leaking heat the invaders might see.
Then there’s all the interest in space again. New satellites are going up every week, but they aren’t watching the weather or broadcasting television, they’re looking outward. We’re back to the Moon, and we’re really really gonna put a person on Mars this time. We have to; we’re just sitting ducks here.
Environmental stability, reaching out to the stars again, world peace… All for the price of 0.00005 percent of the human population. I know it’s controversial to say so, practically blasphemy, but I can’t help but wonder if the invaders weren’t just trying to shake us out of our apathy. Doing what they did for our own good.