No one saw them coming. It was a mystery where they came from. Only one thing was clear. They were here.
A cube suddenly came out of nowhere, a hundred meters across. It had landed right on top of some houses in Kansas, which were nowhere to be seen anymore. El Dorado didn't seem like the city of gold anymore. The neighbours came out of their houses with sheer terror in their eyes. A building a hundred meters high towered over their heads. It looked the same from all angles, no entrance or anything. They walked towards it as near as they dared. More people gathered to observe this strange apparition. Everyone was calling their friends and beloved ones to inform them. Soon the news was widespread.
The police quickly surrounded the building to hold back the crowd. The government sent in the army to inspect it. The whole town was evacuated, as this could be a dangerous encounter.
“Have you ever seen anything like this?” captain York asked.
“No, it doesn't look like any material I encountered yet,” Shelton said, a pioneer.
“I need a Geigerteller to measure if there is any radioactivity. Be right back.”
He came back with it but there was none to be found. He took a hammer and carefully hit it to hear its sound. It made no sound at all! Shelton raised his eyebrows at York, who shrugged. So he hit it harder, but no matter how hard he hit it, nothing. It was almost sure that it was outer space, but this was unexpected.
“I don't trust myself any further with this, we need to have some skilled scientists to investigate this object,” Shelton said.
York called some people and within an hour a metallurgist and an engineer were present with a riding lab. They first walked around it to see if they saw anything special.
“Hm, it looks like a building like this can have no purpose,” Jackson said, “in human terms this is a useless building. I suggest we dig underground to see if the bottom is the same.”
“We need some bulldozers,” York said to his higher officers on the phone.
In hours they had dug a trench under the building straight through the middle. There was no difference to be seen. They dug up the edges after filling up the middle, but it was clear in the end it was a cube with the same appearance everywhere.
“My services are no longer needed, whatever it is, I can't think of a purpose,” Jackson said.
“Thank you for coming,” York said. “it's your turn now, Stafford.”
The metallurgist started to get his gear out of the lab. He hammered on it, as if to see if it would now have a sound. He tried to drill a hole in it, but the head just crumbled. A gas burner didn't do any harm to it, even thermite left the building just standing there, untouched. When he got his diamondcutter and it just broke off he had enough.
“This is useless. The material is impregnable. It is tougher than anything I have ever encountered. Sorry I couldn't help.”
“That's quite allright, it's not your fault,” York said.
He packed up his gear and fled the scene.
While the military held a secret meeting on where to go from here, the six o'clock news reported the 'incident', with eyewitnesses and people who lost loved ones. No government officials were allowed to speak, while it was still under investigation.
Soon the USA had the whole world crawling all over them asking them to clear up what was going on. Finally they put cameras around the object from all angles so that everybody in the world could see a live coverage of what was going on: nothing. Several meetings of world leaders and military officials were held, but to no prevail. There was simply nothing to do.
After a few days a telescope picked up something on the moon. When they zoomed in they saw that an exact copy of the item on earth was there. This sent the scientific world on fire. They started to observe every planet in our solar system that had a rocky surface to see if those cubes were there too. And surely, as time went by, they found it on most of them. So they concluded it must be on all. The sun was also investigated, but they couldn't find any on it.
The days went by and nobody seemed to know what to make of it. The only thing that was clear was that this was a threat of some kind. What were their intentions? Was there even an intelligence behind it? Where did they come from? How can something pop up out of thin air? There were many questions and no answers.
After two months something happened. The cameras that weren't crushed picked up images of shady figures sliding about fifty meters before an exact copy of the cube surrounded them. Now there were four. Everything that was there was simply gone. The same happened on all places they landed. The images were watched over and over until they concluded that they must be aliens. They floated in the air and looked to have no mass at all.
Now the human race tried to make contact with them. They tried every known way there is to communicate, but there was no response at all. And again, there was nothing to do anymore. The aliens simply ignored us.
By now the military forces were getting concerned about the safety of mankind. They sent in every weapon they had, except wepaons of mass destruction, to at least touch the buildings in some way, but nothing could get through that wall of an unknown substance. Finally they agreed to wait to see if the multiplication would happen again.
After two months the same thing happened. Now there were sixteen cubes! This was too much to ignore any further. Scientists concluded that in under two years they would fill the earth. Something had to be done. World leaders agreed to send in spaceships to the moon to test our most destructive weapons on the cubes sitting on the moon. The mission was a total failure. There was no scratch on those alien structures. There wasn't even a return fire or some message that they acknowledged our fears. They just stood there.
The scientific world was gathering daily on the purpose of these visits. They tried to find a motive for their visit to our solar system. One day they theorised the aliens might be mining an unknown substance from our planets to create those buildings. If they are mining, one said, it must be a finite substance. We could look at smaller planets to see if the cubes are gone there.
So they looked at Pluto, as this was only a small planet, to see if those apparitions were gone there by now. They found them still sitting there, although there were only three of them. A mathematic was asked for an equation.
“Pluto has a diameter of two thousand three hundred and twenty kilometers. There are nineteen cubes possible, as it seems. So if our theory about mining is correct, each of them can mine two thousand three hundred and twenty kilometers divided by nineteen makes one hundred and twenty two kilometers. Relate them to the diameter of Earth and we will have forty thousand divided by one hundred and twenty two makes around three hundred and twenty seven. So, these objects will fill thirty two point seven kilometers of Earth before they leave, if our theory is correct.”
Finally some light was shed in our days of darkness. The cubes were going into the same direction, every time they multiplied, so far. When the next quadruplication happened they tested their theory and noticed on all planets the direction was the same. Pluto had none anymore. As there was nothing left to do but evacuating thirty three kilometers of Earthly land, while hoping we were right, mankind went on with their lives. The evidence showed that we were right, as all smaller planets were soon 'clean'. Still, when the day came for their partial departure, the human race held his breath.
The mathematician was totally right! They left! Two moths later, no cubes or aliens were ever seen again. Long were the talks afterwards about what the implications were of what we saw and why they didn't contact us. As a philosopher put it:
“What we saw is our future. These aliens treated us as we do to ants. They ignore us because they could crush us like a bug. We are nothing to them. They have so much intelligence they lost their heart.”
Hundreds of years later mankind discovered what it was they were after. They found a substance in very low numbers, which should have been way more around, according to astrophysicists. Thus is the importance of getting there first.