[Chief Petty Officer Richard Daly was among the first humans to make first contact during a vanguard operation by NATO forces ninety three days after Orbit Day. The following is an excerpt from his first public interview, conducted via radio during his time in orbit.]
We were the first ones up. Forlorn hope force. Couldn’t wait to get up there, honestly.
Yeah, the waiting-it’s horrible. Horrible. We’ve spent the past three milenia learning how to fight human beings on Earth. All that was going out the window. Brass was freaking out. There’s no case study, no manual, no doctrine.
-You weren’t nervous?
I mean, yeah. We were going to space, maybe fight aliens. But until we got there, nothing we could do. Just gotta get it over with. Talking in circles won’t help.
-Are you saying you were ill-equipped?
Not at all. Could’ve asked for silver bullets and we would’ve gotten them. But infantry combat revolves around small unit tactics: a machine gun and bunch of riflemen. Gun team, rifle team. MG suppresses the enemy while the riflemen flanks and engages. Couldn’t count on any of that working. Didn’t know if suppressing fire would work, or if we’d be able to resupply, or even if bullets would work. Repeat for comms, armor, and on and on and on. Didn’t even know if a resupply would be possible. Not encouraging. When we blasted off, every single gram of equipment had spent ten hours in committee and twenty in R&D. We went up there the best equipped soldiers planet Earth had ever produced.
-Tell me about that. When you took your first steps onto the station, what was it like?
When the airlock opened...no one really knew what would be on the other side. It was empty. Just...empty. Nobody home. Don’t know if that was better or worse than coming face-to-face with a bunch of aliens. We made a comm check, secured the area, and got on with our objective. It was...creepy. Think about it. We’re on a spaceship. There’s aliens on the spaceship, and we know that they’re there. But walk in and there’s just...nothing. We were expecting, I don’t know, something! Not just an empty room.
-Have you or any members of your unit made contact with extraterrestrials?
Can neither confirm nor deny that.
-Can you tell me about your objective?
That’s classified, sorry.
-To your knowledge, have there been any casualties, human or otherwise, as a result of this mission?
-Is there anything you can tell us?
We’re following a 4-step procedure for contact: Recon, Sample Collection, Communication, and Contact.
-Do you know of any attempts to make contact by any non-NATO countries?
No I do not.
-What step in that procedure is NATO currently on, and what does that entail?
-In your opinion, what are the chances of military conflict between any extraterrestrials and humanity?
Honestly? No idea. No idea. Could happen but...I hope not. God, I hope not.