Aliens make first contact with President Trump and offer a deal he can’t refuse.
The Immigrant Problem
President Donald J. Trump sat at his desk in the Oval Office, with his advisors, Chiefs of Staff and Cabinet Heads positioned around the room.
He moved various objects around on his desk, to keep his hands busy, to give him time to think. He needed to think. A decision was required. He looked at his surrounding cadre and spoke.
"We're not going to stop work on the wall."
"You don't have a choice," said Steve Bannon, Trump's Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor.
"The country is up in arms," added John Kelly, the head of Homeland Security.
"But it was the President's signature campaign promise," said Kellyanne Conway, Trump's official Counselor, with her rigor mortis smile.
"It was supposed to create jobs," countered Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, plainly unhappy with Conway's attempts to assuage the President.
"We needed a way to build it cheap," said Jarod Kushner, the President's son-in-law, in his official role of Senior Presidential Advisor.
"Too cheap," groused Reince Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff. He was one continuously sour grape these days.
General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, barked back, "What are you talking about, Reince? It's a state of the art defense perimeter, built with alien technology. It's impenetrable!"
Priebus replied, rubbing at his scalp, "You know what I mean, General. It's being built, yeah, but not by humans."
"Orange bastards," said Bannon.
"And we can't finish it without them. We really got bamboozled," said Priebus.
"Can you really say that?" countered Dunford, "Highly advanced detection technology, for free. A large and eager labor force, for free. All we needed to bring to the table was brick and mortar. Who could say no?"
"It seemed like a gift from heaven," said Conway.
"At the time," Priebus responded tersely.
Conway turned to face the President, who was listening intently as his lieutenants crossed swords, "There was no way you could predict how events would unfold, sir. You had your eyes set on the goalposts. You told the public that you alone could get things done and, when it was looking like you might not be able to fulfill your most important campaign promise to the American people, you were handed a golden opportunity to get that one thing - the most difficult of all the things you promised -- accomplished! It was a boon from outer space."
President Trump rubbed at his jowls and scowled at his audience, his circle of hawks. They brooded back, waiting for any sign from him. Or were they vultures? They were all hard liners; political velociraptors ready and able to tear asunder the opposition and clear a path to a mean and lean, America first, core values U.S. Government.
After Inauguration Day, they had hit the ground at full trot, assertively taking control of the various departments and divisions of the Federal Government and reaching out in force to a willing Senate and House to enact new legislation intended to kick start the American economic engine.
They threw environmental regulations and international treaties out the window like so much dirty bathwater. They saw themselves as crusaders, removing the shackles from industry and the labor force. Let the free market be free, they said. They also snuffed all talk of minimum wage increases. Raising wages was anti-business, they said.
They simplified the tax code, favoring the wealthy, of course, and to some degree the middle class. They didn't mention that the new federal sales tax was basically a regressive tax, paid for by the poor, since it was driven by consumption, rather than income, and the wages of the poor were not rising for the foreseeable future.
They gave all U.S. corporations tax amnesty on their earnings held abroad, so long as they used their repatriated profits to invest in job creation within the borders of the United States.
They did many purposeful things. And some spiteful things.
They repealed the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare and gave themselves three years to figure out a replacement, because they had no idea what to replace it with. They just wanted to be vindictive.
Even with the new Federal sales tax they still had to approve enormous deficit spending, despite having crowed about the evils of deficit spending when the other side was in charge. It was necessary, in order to kick-start infrastructure projects around the country. Private industry alone could not kick start the economy. Seemingly overnight, idling Americans were propelled out of their Barca Loungers and Walmart aprons into hard hats and work boots and put on the job to rebuild America. They got to work repairing, refurbishing or replacing highways, bridges, tunnels, power grids, oil rigs, shipping lanes and transportation hubs.
It really seemed like Donald Trump and his gang of merry velociraptors was getting things done.
Except for one thing.
That wall between Mexico and the United States -- President Trump's signature campaign promise, as Conway liked to remind him. It was the lynchpin in his grand strategy to put America back on track. He knew it was not enough to bring back jobs. He also had to pay homage to the resentment that defined the voting base of modern Republican Party and had ultimately won him the election. That wall was the ultimate symbol of that new American, highly xenophobic mindset. He had already put a freeze on all immigration and the importation of refugees; the drawbridge had been pulled up, although he still had to organize a deportation program for those illegals still living in the country. But most importantly, the people wanted that goddamm wall. And he had promised to make Mexico pay for it.
But Mexico had had no intention of playing nice.
* * *
"We have no leverage with President Nieto," said Reince Priebus, standing before the Resolute Desk in the Oval office.
"He laughed at us, on TV," groused Jared Kushner, standing slightly behind the President.
"And we're coming up on the second year of your Administration, sir," added Priebus, "People are grumbling about the wall. They're saying you've broken your promise."
"With all the job creation that we've fueled, the influx of illegals across the southern border is on the rise again," added John Kelly, who was also sitting at one of the sofas. "Something has to be done."
"The bottom line is, Mr. President, that one way or another, we need to break ground on that wall," said Bannon, brushing his trousers in a show of nonchalance.
"But it's not as easy as just saying, 'Do it', sir," cautioned Kushner.
Trump eyed his son-in-law, "Why not? I'm the President."
Priebus answered for Kushner, "Even if you decide to not wait for Mexico to pony up, which is what I think you are getting at, sir, we need a finalized design. And budget approval. We need to line up the Army Corp of Engineers and sign contracts with raw materials providers and what is likely to be an army of private contractors. There's eminent domain issues too. And environmental obstacles. And scheduling. Where do we break ground first?"
Trump waved his hands impatiently, "Details, details. You know what I think of details."
Priebus was not cowed, "We all know your management style by now, sir, but you can't ignore these particular details. I'll be setting up briefings shortly."
President Trump didn't like being told that things were not possible but that was just what he was hearing from the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors.
"We can't afford it," said the Chairman, Bradford Colby. "We're already deep in the hole with the infrastructure programs we're funding around the country."
"But we'll recover that money, Colby - people with jobs spend money and pay taxes, don't they?"
"In due course, probably, yes, but right now, sir, the deficit is the largest it has even been in U.S. history. And with the trade war you're planning against China, it puts the store of value of our currency at risk. A trade war will also mean higher prices. It will create inflation and a scarcity of goods."
"So people will have to pay more for their electronic gadgets. Who cares?"
"It's more far reaching than that, sir. We import everything. Hoodies, baby formula, dry wall, Viagra, you name it. We don't make anything anymore in this country."
"But that's changing, right? We gave all those companies tax amnesty."
"Yes, but we're not there yet, sir. All of this retooling takes time. In the meantime, we're at risk. If commodities get so expensive that nobody can afford to buy anything, if inflation starts to heat up because of tariffs, and we're forced to print money to keep up with the inflation, we'll make imported items even more expensive and devalue our currency. And if borrowers lose faith in our ability to meet obligations because of the enormous deficit..."
Trump threw up his hands, "If, if, if! The whole thing's a house of cards."
President Trump was about to shout a retort but held his tongue, suddenly realizing his economic advisor had made his point. The whole thing was precarious in the extreme. He was practicing a form of economic recovery by dictate, the likes of which had never been tried before. Not even the Obama stimulus had come close to the magnitude of his current undertaking. He claimed to be allowing free markets to operate unfettered, but in reality what he was doing was not that different from the command economies China and Russia. It was unknown territory and if the house of cards collapsed, it would be very bad indeed for his vast business empire, which lay in wait at the end of his Presidential stint.
"So you're saying we can't go any deeper into deficit."
"I strongly advise against it, sir. It would be playing with fire."
Lieutenant General Sam Putman, the Chief of Engineers of the Army Corp of Engineers, was also very sobering in his estimation of the wall project.
"There are nearly two thousand miles separating Mexico and the United States, sir. About six hundred and fifty miles of that is already provisioned with vehicle and pedestrian fencing, which would have to be torn out and replaced with our taller, stronger wall. Building that wall could require as much as three hundred and thirty nine million cubic feet of pre-cast concrete."
"That's a lot of sand! I wonder if there'll be any beaches left after we're done? " Trump laughed.
"I don't know sir," answered Putman soberly. "But I do know that it's about three times what was used to build the Hoover Dam. It will traverse the two thousand mile border and reach up to fifty feet."
"That's huge! Just think of it. A fifty foot high, two thousand mile long wall stretching from Texas to California. It'll be the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World!"
"It may be, sir, but it's not just the size, it's the cost. We estimate the wall will cost as much as twenty five billion dollars."
"Twenty five billion." Trump's eyes gleamed upon hearing the figure.
"Yes. Mr. President. That means you would be asking Mexico to pay twenty five billion dollars to us to build a wall that blocks their people from entering our country illegally."
Trump stared at the Lt. General sourly. "Are you trying to tell me your opinion, General Putnam?"
The Lt. General blinked, surprised at his own daring. Still, he could not hide his own incredulity at the enormity of the task, financial, logistical and political, of creating this wall in the manner the President was proposing.
"I apologize, sir, but my job is to advise you on feasibility, mechanics, logistics and costs of this project. I am finding it difficult to imagine President Nieto agreeing to that price tag, let alone paying us to build a wall between our countries at all. It's a hard nugget to swallow. We only give them around fifty million dollars a year in aid. That's peanuts. Threatening to withhold that unless they pay is just not a big enough stick, sir. And, once it's built, it doesn't mean the wall will be truly impenetrable. People will still find a way around it, whether it's over it, under it or finding some way to game their way through it. You have to ask yourself if it is truly worth it."
President Trump chewed on this, his eyes going dark for a moment, before responding, "Well, General, it may be your job to give me facts and figures but it is none of your damn business how I pay for this wall. Leave that to me and you just do your job. And that is to make me a terrific wall. A huge wall. The best wall God has ever seen. Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir, my apologies."
But the President was not one to leave a slight unanswered. He continued talking right over the Lt. General, "And furthermore, I'll have you know - and I've consulted with Wall Street experts on this - some of who I know a long time and I respect and who are among the best financiers out there - the best - that I will force Mexico to pay for that fucking wall by blocking Mexicans who want to send money from the United States back home to Mexico from doing so if they don't show documentation proving their legal status. I happen to know for a fact that Mexico receives about twenty four billion each year from people sending money from the United States. We're just going to plug that spigot."
The Lt. General swallowed, uncertain what to say, and shuffled at his papers.
Trump continued, "It'll be an easy decision for Mexico, General. I'll actually go easy on them. I'm a great negotiator, as you know. What I'm going to do is propose that we share the cost. That's right. I'm going to demand that President Nieto make two payments of ten billion dollars each, in one year intervals, to ensure that the twenty four billion his countrymen send home --each year-- continues to flow into their country year after year. We'll cover the last 5 billion."
"As you wish, sir," said Lt. General Putman, poker faced, resisting the temptation to point out that if President Trump were to deport all the illegal Mexicans, there might be no one left to send twenty four billion dollars back to Mexico.
He was about to swivel and leave the room, then paused, "What are my orders, sir?"
Trump got up from his desk and paced around it to face the Lt. General. "Send me the latest write-up and budget, cleaned up for outside consumption. Take out the feasibility crap. I just want construction and cost data. I'll need it for my talk with Nieto. You can go, Putnam."
It had been almost 500 days since the Inauguration, and Donald Trump was feeling like he had this President of the United States thing under control. It had been rough riding at first, with undue scrutiny from the media and the press over his and his Cabinet's every move, and his family's unabashed exploitation of the Trump brand, coupled with their tawdry grabs for power within the White House and inside his businesses. That, and the vast populations continuously staging protests of one kind or another in front of the White House, the Trump Tower in New York, and practically every major city on both coasts and along the Great Lakes, gave him little respite. You just could not make everybody happy. That was the bottom line. Only Mar-a-Lago offered relative peace. But he couldn't escape very often. He had to conquer this dragon, or risk being seen as incompetent, or worse, a failure like that intellectual milksop, Obama.
He had enjoyed a number of early successes by upsetting the status quo, as was his habit, and using the resulting chaos as opportunity to remake the map wherever he was operating. In this way, he had forced the tax amnesty for corporations, kick started scores of infrastructure projects, and halted the influx of foreigners onto U.S. shores. People loved it. At least his people did. Trump voters. He also had a lock on Congress. Pence was doing a good job controlling Speaker Ryan and his gang of barking heads in the House. The Senate was more cautious and watchful, thinking about 2020 and who to replace him with, but that was fine. It gave him time, or rope, as McConnell probably imagined it.
But now he had hit the wall, no pun intended. He had stressed the international order almost to the breaking point by cancelling treaties, closing borders, withdrawing armies, creating power vacuums and using belligerence, and now he wanted to stress it even further. His advisors were telling him there was no way. He would break the system if he pushed any further. He could cause an economic and geopolitical meltdown.
He wasn't sure he cared. All of his Generals and advisors were full of shit, in his personal opinion, wrapped up in their foregone conclusions and not willing to take a few risks. You had to break some eggs to make things happen in this world. But he had already broken quite a few.
President Trump leaned back in this chair and rubbed at his temples, something he had rarely done before taking this job.
Sometimes you need a miracle.
* * *
The object was identified at 0400 hours coming in fast from the direction of Proxima Centauri and entering Earth orbit at approximately 0600 hours. It circled the planet several times, changing speed, altitude and inclination at will with no apparent pattern or forewarning, though no evidence of propulsion mechanisms or thrust effluvia could be detected by orbiting satellites or ground control systems. It changed orbital planes and altitudes effortlessly, seemingly without concern for fuel or power conservation.
Eventually, the object descended into the atmosphere, deliberately and slowly, without causing undue friction or heat buildup on its surfaces, as far as earth observers could tell. NASA scientists soon realized it wasn't flying in the conventional sense of requiring speed, thrust and a lift mechanism, such as wings, to stay aloft. It was floating. It was hovering. It was also rotating. As it came closer, they observed that it was not one but six triangular objects that moved as one through space, rotating around an invisible apex, perhaps connected by magnetic fields. NASA quickly dubbed it the Array.
President Trump had been alerted; aroused from his sleep, the moment the Array had been detected approaching Earth. He had been annoyed, but was quickly intrigued upon hearing the details.
He was fully dressed and sitting at his desk in the Oval Office when the Array started moving towards Washington D.C.
"Mr. President," said the Under Secretary of Defense, "We think it's time for you and your family to enter the bunker."
"But what if they want to talk to me?"
"You'll be able to communicate with anyone you want from the bunker sir, now if you please..."
Just then all the power in the building went out, which was an impossibility, given all the backup systems that were in place, but it happened nonetheless.
Donald Trump stood stock still in the darkness, listening to the cocking of firearms from the direction of his Secret Service detail, which was moving quickly to surround him.
"Find Melania and Barron and get us into that bunker now!" he barked into the gloom, feeling a twinge of trepidation. What the fuck is going on?
One of the men in the detail echoed his order, and he heard footfalls running off into the distance. Someone showed up carrying flashlights. Very quickly, beams of light crisscrossed the room. Suddenly one of his agents yelped in surprise. A smell like spoiled citrus began to permeate the air. President Trump looked in the direction of the sound and almost emitted a girlish yelp himself.
"Shoot!" he shouted, remembering to sound commanding. His men obeyed, filling the room with the loud report of gunfire, but it seemed to have no effect.
The targets of the barrage of bullets seemed to be a knot of humanoid shapes, only partially revealed by everyone's dancing beacons.
"Everyone, shine your lights on those things now!" ordered Trump.
Pools of light converged on the figures, revealing three of them. They were surprisingly short, around four feet high. They wore what looked like broad shouldered, rubber ponchos that extended down to their boots and were festooned with hieroglyphic patterns. They also wore helmets made of what appeared to be opaque glass or shiny metal, shaped like upside down jugs with wings jutting from both sides. The flashlights also revealed flash burns on their garments from the bullets, but they were evidently uninjured. The bullets lay all around them on the ground.
One of them raised a three fingered, gloved hand. The digits were very long and one of them was opposing, like a thumb. With its other hand the creature touched a button on base of its helmet, and spoke.
"Do not be afraid. We are travelers. We are visitors."
There was a long, stunned silence.
"We are friendly," offered the visitor.
President Trump cleared his throat and spoke. "You said travelers? You mean...aliens?"
The creature bounced on his toes, in a strangely childlike action. "We are from another planet. Or were. We mean you no harm."
"Then why the power outage?" said the head of the security detail. "That does not inspire confidence in your claims, Mr...."
The three visitors turned towards each other, as if conferring, for a few seconds. Finally, the one who had been speaking replied, "Ummato. You may call me, Creature Ummato."
"Ummato," said Trump, as if savoring the name."
The other two members of the visiting party bobbed up and down on their toes in response. One of the Secret Service men stifled a laugh, causing the head of the detail to slap his arm hard. Trump did not seem to hear any of it, but was instead completely focused on his visitors.
Creature Ummato continued, "I am the leader of this expedition and I am sorry for the power interruption. The power field from my ship, which hovers above, is most likely responsible for that. It appears we have incompatible power generation mechanisms. I will order my ship to move off but please refrain from any further violent actions. Let us talk instead and explain why we are here."
"OK," said Trump, "order your ship away and let's talk."
Ummato bobbed, and touched the rim of his helmet. He spoke in a drawling chirp into what must have been a helmet communicator of some kind. A muffled response was heard and soon thereafter, the lights came back on. From the bay window behind the President's desk, the hovering Array could be seen moving towards the Washington Monument. Pedestrians on the Mall ran from it in all directions, as police and military vehicles converged on the scene. A company of Marines jumped out of troop carriers and raced towards the White House, fully locked and loaded. A contingent of SAM batteries was also being moved into place on the Mall as they rotated their turrets, tracking the floating Array.
Trump saw this and turned to the head of his security detail, "Contact the CO of those incoming troops and tell them to surround the building but hold their fire. Do it now!"
"Yes sir! Should we contact your advisors and the Chief of Staff? The Joint Chiefs of Staff?"
Trump barked back, "No doubt they all know something is up. Just look out the window! Do what I told you! Get Priebus, Conway and Bannon up here. The Generals can wait."
Trump turned back to face his visitors, who could now be seen more clearly. In the bright light of the Oval Office, Trump saw that their uniforms and helmets were actually orange-hued. He was reminded of their odd scent. "You smell like spoiled fruit, did you know that? Is that normal for you?"
The remaining members of the security detail stared, slack jawed, at the President, amazed at his rapid return to blunt form, despite the amazing circumstances. More armed men arrived and were quickly briefed in whispers by the first group of Secret Service agents. They crowded at both doorways to the Oval Office, staring in disbelief at the strange visitors chatting with the President.
"What is spoiled fruit?" asked Ummato.
"How do you speak our language?" asked Trump, shaking his head in disbelief.
"We have been observing your world for decades. Since our probes first encountered your television signals. We have extensively studied your civilization since that time and have come to know a great deal about you, including many of your tongues."
"That's wonderful. Terrific," said Trump, "But why are you here? You need to explain. And why now?"
The visiting trio turned to each other as if to confer, before Creature Ummato swiveled back to face Trump, "We have come to Earth, Mr. President, because we need your help."
Trump's eyebrows shot up, as did those of several others in the room. "You need our help? Now that's incredible, believe me. How can we possibly help you?"
"Let me answer you by first telling you a little about us. We come from a planet we call Axtlan, known to you as Proxima B. It is in the Proxima Centauri system."
"That's the closest star to earth, sir," said one of the Secret Service agents, "It's like four light years away. I heard about it on a podcast. Proxima B is a planet that's been detected there."
"Yes, but not anymore," answered Ummato, "Remember that I said we were from there."
Trump answered, "Yeah, I remember. So, what happened?"
"Axtlan is no more. You will be able to detect the disappearance of our home world in about four years, when the light from the region of space propagates this far."
"Yeah, the light years. Did it explode or something?"
"No, it was destroyed by a sudden and massive flare from our sun, which is a type of star that you call a red dwarf."
"And it burned your planet?"
Ummato bobbed, "Vaporized it. Red dwarfs are small, low luminosity stars and because of that, habitable planets tend to have orbits very close to such stars. Still, the chances of a planet being in the wrong place when a solar flare is emitted by its star, and of that flare being large enough to reach the orbit of that planet is very rare. Or was."
"So, your planet took a hit and you escaped, is that it?"
"But how did you have time to prepare an escape? Does a solar flare give advance warning?"
"Only to a degree."
"And you're the sole survivors?"
"Not exactly. There is an entire fleet of our ships waiting in space outside of your detection range."
There was a collective gasp in the room.
Just then a new voice interjected. "Mister President, I think this calls for an immediate meeting of the Cabinet and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This is very serious," Reince Priebus said as he shoved his way past the armed agents and stepped into the Oval Office. He looked ruffled but managed to put on an authoritative front as he examined the Chochirizzi visitors, clearly taken aback.
Trump rubbed at his face, thinking hard. "Welcome to the party, Reince. I guess you've been briefed on your way here about the little we know so far."
"These are actual aliens, sir! You can't just stand around making small talk with them!"
"Keep cool, Reince," answered Trump, "Let's hear this out before we turn it into a circus." He leaned back onto the front edge of his desk and rested his weight there, stroking his chin. The room waited in silence. More footfalls from the corridors could be heard rapidly approaching the Oval office. He turned to face Creature Ummato again.
"So you had time to evacuate the population before your planet was incinerated."
Ummato swayed his body left and right, "No. They all died." Boffola and Jungli began to sway as well. Ummato continued, "Everyone who lived on Axtlan was vaporized. Our fleet was already in space. This was routine. We have been a spacefaring race for some time now."
"Did you say fleet?" asked Priebus. "Or do you mean an invasion force?"
Kellyanne Conway stormed into the room, just as Priebus was asking his question, and stared. For once, she was at a loss for words.
"Hello Kelly. Not something you see every day is it?" said Trump with a smirk. "Have a seat somewhere."
"No, I think I'll stand, Mr. President."
"Fine," he answered, and returned to facing the alien trio. "Is that what you are, Creature Ummato? An invasion force? Are you and your little crew just the tip of the iceberg?"
"No, Mr. President. We are an exploration fleet. As I said before, we have been observing and studying Earth for decades. We have been observing many races such as yours through the ages. Our race is peaceful and our ships are for exploration, not conquest."
"Then what do they want from us, sir?" interjected Conway, her smile securely pasted on. She eyed the three aliens up and down in wonder, and then locked eyes with the President.
"You can talk directly to them, Kelly. They don't mind," answered Trump.
Ummato did not wait, "We need refuge, Mr. President. Very simply, we need a place to live."
* * *
All the Cabinet Secretaries and members of the National Security Council, as well as Donald Trump's closest advisors were seated around the long, wide table in the Cabinet Room in the West Wing of the White House. The President's sons, Donald Jr., and Eric, as well as his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared were there too. Melania and Barron had been ushered back to the East Wing, and were being moved to Mar-a-Lago immediately.
John Kelly was leaning forward and staring at the President, "You're not seriously considering letting them settle in the United States, are you sir?"
"How do you know you can trust them?" added James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense.
"They can barely breathe our air!" said Kelly, "They can't handle our sunlight! What exactly are we planning to do, Mr. President? Build underground shelters for them?"
Reince Priebus interjected, trying to sound as calm as possible, "I have to agree with John, sir. What would ordinary Americans think of a bunch of four foot tall aliens in orange spacesuits who smell like spoiled fruit moving into their towns, or living next door to them in tunnels? They would make the Syrian refugee crisis look like a walk in the park. You were elected, sir, on an anti-immigration platform. Isn't this essentially a massive, foreign immigration?"
"It might not even be healthy!" said Tom Price, the head of Health and Human Services, "What about alien germs?"
President Trump raised his voice, "Look, all of you need to calm down. We're here to understand the pros and cons. It's like any business deal."
"I beg to differ, sir," said Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, "Business is not the first concern here. We're not trying to make money from this, are we? This is an alien invasion! It might seem like a peaceful one now. But we don't know anything about these... Chochirizzi."
"Nikki, you're young, so I forgive you, but all agreements are bargains -- deals with an upside and a downside -- and that's always about money, even if it doesn't look that way at first."
"Mr. President, what would be the strategic justification for agreeing to this, sir?" asked General H.R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor, trying not to look exasperated.
Trump answered, "That's an easy one. They have advanced technology. Which means we will have access to that technology. That's definitely part of the bargain I intend to make. That means we will have the upper hand over the rest of the world for the foreseeable future."
Steve Bannon ran his hands through his mop of graying hair and nodded in agreement, "It's definitely the right move. I fully support your decision, Mr. President. We need to own these aliens."
Priebus shot back, "I don't think Russia and China and the European Union are going to sit around and allow this to happen."
The President stood up and pointed his forefinger at Priebus, "Well Reince, Steve and I happen to think that they will, and I'll tell you why. You want to know why? Because they'll be scared. Very scared. They're all cagey cowards. Losers. They'll want to watch and wait and see what happens to us before making any noise about it. They'll probably even be hoping something really, really bad - something very terrible happens to us. But it won't turn out that way. Believe me."
Kellyanne Conway looked back and forth between the two men and said, "How can you be so sure, sir?"
Trump's face broke into a supremely confident, floppy grin, "Because I'm a great negotiator, as you know, Kellyanne. I'll figure out a way to lock down these outer-space out-of-towners and make sure the United States gets something in return."
"Like exactly what?" challenged General McMaster.
Trump fell back into his chair and answered, "Like a wall. A fucking huge wall, built with alien technology."
After heated executive team debate, extended proselytizing in the halls of Congress and an outpouring of public demonstrations on both sides of the issue across the nation, the Chochirizzi got their refuge. It came down to, "Would you rather have a friendly, advanced alien race lay down stakes in another country?"
On a dusty August afternoon, the fleet of Array ships noiselessly descended upon a restricted area in the Southwest corner of the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range in Arizona, in the foothills of the Cabeza Prieta Mountains that had been especially set up for them. It was situated right along the U.S./Mexico border. The 143 square mile area had been cordoned off by electric fencing and was guarded by Marines equipped with heavy armament -- for the alien's own security, it was said. Nothing else was done. The aliens would have to build their own underground settlements and provide their own sustenance. The U.S. Government agreed to truck in water until an alternative solution could be engineered.
But Trump had bargained well. As part of the settlement agreement, the Chochirizzi would have to participate in the American economy, providing goods and services that had value to Americans, in exchange for goods and services that had value to them. The biggest things they had to offer were free labor and access to their technology.
And they had agreed to build the wall.
Construction Manager Derek Daniels stared down at his alien counterparts in their orange suits. They stood before him in a semi-circle, holding contraptions which appeared to be measuring devices and calculators of some kind. Behind Daniels, construction derricks and trench diggers were in motion, moving the earth and filling the resulting hole with blocks of border wall.
He squinted into the sunlight, but not just because of the glare of the hot sun. These derricks and trenchers were of a wholly alien design, made of the same dull brown alloy as the hulls of the Array ships from the looks of it, and able to do multiples of the work the human-made equivalent could do. They were silent and powerful, and powered by who knows what. It wasn't diesel or electricity, he knew that much.
And they were effective.
The trenchers used some kind of matter energy converter to literally dissolve the earth beneath them and make rifts 12 stories deep. They moved forward steadily, relentlessly, leaving a perfect, smooth walled chasm behind them. It was incredible to see. And there was no heap of excavated material to worry about. Perhaps that was what powered the Chochirizzi machinery? The rocks and dirt converted into energy?
The alien derricks were able to lift massive extents of concrete in one go and put them into place with pinpoint precision, but not before draping both sides of the chasm with a "sensor fabric" of Chochirizzi design. Barely a plume of dust was raised by their work.
Daniels felt a tap at his elbow and turned to face his alien counterpart. The alien's helmet translator spoke the words, "Construction Manager Daniels, we will need ten tons of additional slabs delivered by tomorrow."
"Yes, Creature Nonnab, the work is proceeding quickly, like nothing I have ever seen before."
Gary Cohn, head of President Trump's Council of Economic Advisors, sat in one of the sofas in the President's office and flipped through his papers and charts as he spoke. Jared Kushner was also present. He had been keeping very close tabs on developments and so far things had been going great. He was a tempering force to Bannon's radical notions, and an independent force to counter Priebus' Pro-Republican, conservative bent. So much had happened since the arrival of the Chochirizzi, and the President's team had navigated the minefield of legislative resistance, international unease and public opinion well. Now, they were at another crossroads.
Cohn was drawling on, "We have great employment numbers, thanks to your policies, Mr. President, but still, the idea of using aliens to build the biggest infrastructure project in American history..."
"Don't get upset, Gary. It's temporary work, and it's saving us a fucking fortune in costs. It's great! It's fantastic! Only I could have thought of something so amazing. Don't you think so, Jared?"
"Yes, sir. You're right about that."
"I am. I definitely am. Plus -- you wanna know the best part of all this, the absolute killer part of this? - this is the part I still can't believe, but it's true, it's amazing, it's beyond belief -- the Chochirizzi do not have labor grievances, or contract demands or even fatigue. They're fast and efficient and they don't complain!"
"But Americans are seeing how fast the wall is going up and are worrying that this is just the beginning. It's all over the talk shows. It had to happen. People are saying these aliens are stealing jobs from them," said Cohn.
"Gary - you have to keep your eye on the ball. Don't be swayed by two bit talk show hosts. They're all losers. We're not scared by that, OK? Those jobs people think they're not getting are going to disappear once the wall is built. Once the wall is up - no more wall jobs, right? Your job is to message that out. Do I make myself clear?"
"We're trying sir, but..."
Trump steamrolled over his advisor, "What should really matter to Americans are the permanent jobs that will come once the wall is built, OK? You've gotta drill that into them, Gary. Do you understand me? There's a lot of not smart people out there, I know, but you gotta get through their thick skulls, Gary. There will be jobs down the line. Huge numbers of new jobs. We'll need an army of personnel to manage and maintain that wall. The Department of Homeland Security will at least double, if not more, in size. Tell that to the public, Gary, OK?"
Kushner jumped on that, "And people forget that the supply chain for the wall project is entirely human. The materials manufacturing, the transportation infrastructure, the security forces, the training for eventual operation of the security tech - that's all happening now."
Trump nodded vigorously, "That's right! Jared's got that right. Did you hear that? My son-in-law has it figured out, Gary. Tell them all that, Gary. We have the - what did Teddy Roosevelt call it? -- yeah, the bully pulpit. We have the bully pulpit here. We're in control. Total control. Control the message, Gary."
Cohn looked glum, but nodded his assent. "Is there anything else, sir?"
"You can go."
Cohn made his way to the door, and after he passed through, Trump's personal secretary peeked her head in and announced, "Mr. Bannon and Mr. Priebus are waiting, sir."
"Fantastic. Send'em in."
A few moments later, Bannon, in jeans and a blue blazer over a striped button shirt, and Priebus, in a suit, marched in and sat down. They nodded at Jared.
Priebus wasted no time, "The blowback is getting worse, Mr. President."
Trump nodded impatiently, "Cohn was just in here moaning about it."
"It's not just about the jobs. It's about the aliens themselves. People are not sure about this alien refuge business."
Bannon chimed in, "These fuckers are foreigners in the most radical sense."
Priebus added, "The reality is that you may have shot yourself in the foot, Mr. President."
Trump raised an eyebrow, "What are you talking about, Reince? Is your head screwed on straight? Employment is below 5%! The economy is booming, and the world is watching in awe. I said America First in everything we do and we're doing exactly that. We're enormously successful! We're doing everything we said we would do. What's the problem?"
Priebus wrung his hands as he spoke, "Yes, we have momentum, but introducing this alien wild card has really taken the situation into unknown territory. By hosting what are basically a new kind of immigrant..."
"Immigrant? These are not immigrants. They're an advanced civilization -- centuries, I'm talking centuries, ahead of us in technology -- giving us a huge tech shot in the arm - just huge, it's incredible -- and they're building my fucking wall - I negotiated that, and that is impressive, isn't it? -- and they're doing it for free!"
Bannon cleared his throat and interjected, "Mr. President, they're not just an advanced civilization bearing gifts. What Americans see is that you're giving refuge and employment to foreigners. Outer space foreigners! And by giving them a place to live and allowing them to show Americans how they can outperform the American workforce for almost no cost -- that is threatening to Americans across the country."
"Especially the ones who voted you in," added Priebus.
"What? That's ridiculous," said Kushner hurriedly, seeing his father in law's face darken, "We just have to push back on anyone spouting that nonsense."
Priebus shot back, "It isn't that simple, Jared." The two men locked eyes for a moment. Priebus shook his head and turned towards the President, who was squinting at him and a wearing a frown.
Priebus sat up straighter, "The situation is getting dangerous, sir. You forget that what got you here is xenophobia. Xenophobes got you here. Out of work, conservative, aging, white men with guns, god and grievances voted you in. And they don't like what they see."
Trump waved the claim away and shook his head, "I don't believe it. I believe they see the wall actually going up. I said I would do it and it's actually happening! And I believe they see the promise of no more illegal Mexicans..."
Bannon cut in, "But in their place, what we have instead is... Space Mexicans!"
Priebus laughed. Jared felt himself grow pale. Trump frowned harder.
Trump seemed lost for a moment. "Space...Mexicans?"
Bannon slapped the coffee table to emphasize his point, "Exactly, You don't see it do you? Their spacesuits look like ponchos. Their helmets look like Inca pottery. They don't speak our language. They work for free. They're every angry white guy's worst nightmare, and you did it to them."
"Once the wall is finished, that'll all go away and people will calm down," said Kushner, trying to sound matter of fact.
"Will it?" asked Priebus, leaning forward and looking directly at the Senior Advisor. "I mean, look at what these aliens can do. Why stop at a wall? They can build anything, from what I see. And what about their technology? Obviously we'll want our own zero gravity spaceships based on their propulsion system, won't we? What about military superiority? Have you seen what their trenchers can do? What if we weaponized that thing? We could dissolve entire armies. We could wipe out ISIS overnight! Don't forget that you promised that too, Mr. President. Now you've got the ultimate weapon to accomplish that. Why should we stop using them once the wall is finished?"
President Trump rubbed at his jowls and scanned the faces of the three men surrounding him. He had to admit he had been thinking about how to exploit the Chochirizzi after the wall was finished. He really had the upper hand in their arrangement, provided they didn't decide to turn their technology against him. That did worry him. It was important to learn their secrets so the U.S. could achieve parity as soon as possible. Then, once we had that, there would be no more need for Space Mexicans, would there? But he needed time. He had to keep them busy on that wall. There was simply no way they could change directions on the wall project. Bannon and Priebus, and Sean Spicer, his Press Secretary, would just have to toe the line and keep the growing tensions at bay. What the hell was he paying them for anyway?
"Your job is to keep public opinion under control, keep the crooked press on the defensive, and hold the line until the wall is completed. We're not changing direction and that's my final decision."
Bannon and Priebus did not look happy, but they eventually nodded their assent and excused themselves. Kushner lingered a few moments longer, and once the other two were out of earshot said, "You made the right choice, sir."
Trump waved him off, "You better fucking hope so, Jared. Make sure that I did."
The wall building continued for another month, steadily carving a newly erected barrier from West to East, across mountains and valleys, and had extended as far as New Mexico, when all hell broke loose.
It was the dark of night with no moon in the sky when "Beanpole" Bob Livingston spotted the flashing beacon across the border. Wall construction was proceeding apace and the alien machinery would reach the spot where he was holed up within 48 hours. The blinking flashlight in the distance was the signal that his Mexican compatriots, soldiers and rebels; having found common cause with their American counterparts in the new reality, were ready to start the operation.
Bob put his fingers to the sides of his mouth and let out a low whistle, not unlike a coyote's forlorn wail. He didn't have to wait long before he heard scuffling sounds and the dull thrum of all-terrain vehicles driving towards the area he had reconnoitered.
The spot that he and his collaborators had selected was an expanse of rugged mountains south of the Coronado State Forest, a no-man's land of sagebrush, dust, clay and rocks. More importantly, the wall was being laid along the natural cradle line between mountain and valley along the border. The chosen spot was exactly in that path, and Mexican Federal Highway 2 was less than half a mile to the south. It was perfect.
"Hey, Beanpole. We've got the HMX. Dangerous as fuck," said a leathery, cleft chinned, older man, as he jumped off the running board of one of the SUVs.
"Good to see ya, Cody. Everything work out?"
"Yeap - we're good. We've got friends in high places, brother. What about our compadres down there?" Cody asked, nodding towards the border, as he pulled out a pack of smokes.
Beanpole frowned, "Code, maybe wait on that, K?"
Cody gave Bob a sharp look, then acquiesced, acknowledging his collaborator's tactical wisdom."
"They said they have 20 tons of TNT and RDX ready to place."
"This HMX stuff is the icing on the cake. Shaped charges, Beanpole," Cody said, rubbing at his cheek with a gleam of amusement. "This is gonna blow those alien contraptions back to outer space."
"Let's hope so. We're not gonna get a second chance, Code."
"Yeah, don't I know it."
They both contemplated what they were about to set in motion for a few seconds. Then Bob croaked, "Alright, let's get the gang organized and let's head down to the border line to meet our cohorts."
Cody nodded, satisfied, and trotted off back to the SUVs, which were parked in a huddle some distance back.
Beanpole Bob Livingston reached into his belt holster and pulled out a flashlight of his own and shown it in the direction of the original beacon. Instantly, another light flashed in response. It was time.
"Come on, Code!" whispered Bob into the darkness, trying to be quiet and loud at the same time.
Cody and his men soon emerged from the darkness, carrying duffel bags filled with HMX canisters, timers, detonators and the hoisting equipment they would need to lower the explosives and apparatus into the bore hole the Mexican half of the operation was busily digging.
As they made their way towards the rendezvous point, Cody spit at the ground and said, "You know, I gotta say I never thought I'd see the day that I would be working hand in hand with Mexicans to sabotage a border wall."
Bob laughed, "Yeah - 'specially you being an ex-Minuteman an'all."
Cody said nothing. They travelled in silence, listening to the crunch of shoes on dirt in the darkness. As they neared the digging area, Bob added, "Life sure takes strange turns, for sure, Code."
Cody thought about that, shaking his head, not sure if it was in agreement or in disbelief. Eventually he offered, "It's always been about keeping out foreigners, buddy."
Construction Manager Derek Daniels looked behind him, still amazed at the elegance of the construction effort. The white walls of the Chochirizzi barrier shone brightly in the southwestern morning sunlight. The wall was ten feet wide and fifty feet tall and hugged the contours of the rugged terrain perfectly, as if it had grown out of the ground. And it wasn't just a wall. Periodic sections of the wall had been hollowed out and made into sophisticated detention blocks, to be used as holding cells for any would be violators of the new Trumpian order.
The top of the wall was an uninterrupted boulevard, hundreds of miles long already, from which one could scan the surrounding terrain for miles in all directions. A force field that would disintegrate anything that touched it was also deployed along the top edge of the wall on the Mexican side, humming and shimmering deep blue despite the sunlight. On the American side, advanced monitoring equipment house in evenly spaced watchtowers continually scanned the approaches to the wall for any motion, any heat, any disturbance of the light spectrum or seismic vibrations of the earth.
It was the most sophisticated and grandiose feat of engineering Daniels had ever witnessed or knew of. He looked east towards the leading edge of construction area and watched the Chochirizzi trencher inch inexorably forward, leaving behind an impossibly deep and wide, perfectly smooth trench in its wake, for the alien cranes and dozers to fill with electronic mesh and concrete.
The Chochirizzi operated their own equipment and strictly forbade any humans from observing or attempting operation of any of it. They claimed it was too risky and that it was best to leave them to the job, as they and they alone would be able to accomplish the massive job smoothly and efficiently. Humans would be trained on the alien tech after the job was done. Daniels, and many of his compatriots, did not think much of these explanations and rationales, but orders were orders, and he had plenty to do managing the human side of the operation.
Daniels was lost in this reverie when he was suddenly knocked off his feet by a massive explosion that sounded like the side of a mountain had just come crashing down. He rolled towards the stateside wall, seeking cover and instinctively raised his arms around his head to protect it, despite having a hardhat on, and waited for the rain of airborne shrapnel and debris to subside. A large rock the size of car landed very close to him and actually bounced a couple of times before coming to rest.
A few minutes of silence followed before sirens and claxons burst into life, and people started to stir, checking themselves for damage. One of his foremen lay dead just a few feet away, his body a crumpled ruin, but most of the other men seemed to have survived and were shakily rising to their feet and brushing themselves off. Daniels had been deafened by the blast and could only hear faint echoes of the cacophony of alarms and sirens converging on the blast area. He stumbled forward, towards the eastward edge of the wall and examined the chaos below.
The explosion had created an impressively large crater that lay directly in the path of the wall, just in front of the spot where the trencher had been digging before the blast occurred. The Chochirizzi trencher was lying on its side at a pitched angle, partially fallen into the trench it had been digging, but looked otherwise undamaged. Other Chochirizzi heavy equipment was tossed about and lying inert, but no smoke or fire plumed from any of it. Incredibly the alien machines were undamaged by the blast, but human vehicles lay in ruins everywhere. And human bodies. Daniels squinted his eyes and examined the carnage more closely. Then he saw something he did not expect.
Creature Nonnab, his alien counterpart on the construction crew, lay inert near an enormous crater that must have been where the blast had originated. Or rather, Creature Nonnab's body. His head appeared to be missing. Creature Nonnab was dead. Scanning the area further, Daniels was able to spot several other dead or dying Chochirizzi strewn about. He saw one whose spacesuit had been torn asunder crying out in pain and trying to hold the torn material together. Earth's sunlight and heat were deadly to them, he knew, as was the oxygen rich atmosphere. He had learned they breathed a different mix of oxygen and nitrogen, and at a different pressure than that of Earth, making it very uncomfortable for them to be exposed to Earth's environment without protection.
Daniels hearing began to recover and he heard ambulance sirens and other emergency equipment approaching. In the distance, he also noted the chump chump chump of helicopters converging on the scene.
"Mr. Daniels!" said a shaky voice behind him, causing him to start. He swiveled to face the person speaking. It was Wayland; one of the crew, looking beat up and covered in dust. "What the hell happened, sir? Is it a terrorist attack? Should we evac?"
Daniels stared blankly at his crewman, not sure what to say. This was unprecedented.
Wayland grabbed Daniels by the biceps and shook his boss. "Sir! There's dead people down there! And dead aliens! There might be more explosions any second! We should skedaddle, yeah?"
Daniels shook his head, attempting to clear it. He brushed off Wayland and said, "Yeah, get on the comms and tell everyone to report to the watchtower post behind us. The wall is probably safer than the ground right now. I'll get Homeland Security and demand an airlift of all the crews. I gotta get down there now, Wayland. I need to take control of the situation. You handle getting everyone together."
"Roger that! But what do you think caused this, sir?" asked Wayland, as he started towards the watchtower post.
Daniels glanced once more at dead alien bodies below and knew the answer. He shouted back to his crewman, "Humans, Wayland. Humans."
* * *
President Donald J. Trump was in a foul mood. He didn't like surprises and he didn't like not getting his way. The country was turning against him over that God-forsaken wall, but more disastrously, the Chochirizzi had had a very bad reaction to the terrorist incident at the border.
"More like a boondoggle", Priebus had just said.
Vultures or velociraptors?, he asked himself again, as he pondered his circle of advisors, Chiefs of Staff and Cabinet Heads standing or seated in various positions around the Oval Office.
"They're stonewalling us," continued Priebus.
"Cute," said Kushner.
Priebus ignored him, "They're reneging on the deal. All construction has stopped."
Bannon declared, "You need to kick them out! Send'em back to outer space!"
Kushner turned to face Bannon, who glared back, their dislike for each other as plain as day. "And exactly how are we going to do that?"
Priebus pounced. "Jared's right. We have no means of doing that. They had us by the short ones at square one."
Trump had heard enough. He waved his hands dismissively and loudly proclaimed, "To hell with those orange bastards. We don't need them. We'll just continue the project without them. We've got great people who can do the job. Great people. Tremendous people. And it's going to be a terrific wall. A huge and really perfect wall, just you wait."
General McMaster, who had been silent until now, cleared his throat and spoke quietly and soberly, "Not quite, sir. We won't be able to continue with the alien design. We don't have their equipment or their technology. We can barely build a conventional wall. We tried this in 2006 with the Boeing bid and one billion dollars later we had fifty three miles of shitty wall."
Andy Puzder, the Secretary of Labor, who had also been keeping his counsel, watching and listening, suddenly chimed in, "If we do take over the project, we'll need contractors who can gear up for the job. And we're already facing an acute shortage of legal labor."
Bannon laughed, "We'll have to use Mexican illegals. Imagine building the wall with illegals. It's just too rich."
McMaster answered, "Slaves partially built this building we're sitting in."
Trump interrupted again, "Enough with the history lessons."
Steve Mnuchin, from Treasury, who was mostly retiring at these Oval Office brawls, spoke up, "The bottom line is that some of the infrastructure projects we have going on around the country may have to be postponed in favor of the wall. Not just because of manpower, but because of money. We can't go any deeper into debt. Our National Debt is already at 135% of GDP - the highest in American history - and we can't just print money - it'll cause an inflationary crisis."
Kushner shook his head, looking dire, "But you can't postpone existing projects, sir. We have to finish those that we've started. The optics will be very bad if we leave behind half-finished roads and bridges. It's going to take us years to finish the wall project. If we do take it over, it means anything we postpone in favor of the wall will be delayed for years. More than your term. Or terms."
Mnuchin agreed, looking relieved, "We should abandon the wall project."
"For now," added Kushner.
Bannon chuckled, "Until you mend fences, ha ha, with the Chochirizzi."
"No," said Trump, growling the words.
"Then you have to find a way to get them back on the job, sir," said Puzder.
Trump leaned back in his chair, scowling and frustrated. After a moment, he sat forward again and declared, "We still have leverage. Our space-holdouts are refugees. Their losers. Their planet blew up or got baked or whatever and they've got nowhere else to go..."
"Mr. President, don't you think Europe or China or Russia will be jumping at the chance to take over hosting the aliens?" asked Priebus.
Trump did not agree. He shook his head emphatically. "No, Reince, I don't think they're ready to do that just yet. And I'll tell you why. The Brits and the Europeans have enough problems with their own human refugee crisis. And Putin and Jinping are satisfied to be watching and waiting - at least for now."
"For what, sir?" asked Mnuchin.
"For the next move, Steve," answered Trump. "Look, it's like this. The fact is no one knows what is going to happen next. Nobody. And our orange friends can't just hide in their spaceships and tunnels forever. They have to come out of hiding eventually and talk to us, or leave, or..."
"Counterattack," said Bannon with an incongruous smile.
"We should nuke the tunnels," he continued. "Preemptive measures."
There was a stunned silence in the room. Trump scanned the room grimly. The occupants of the room stared back. Finally, Trump looked directly at Bannon. "Yeah, Steve, we could bomb them -- and I would love to do that, believe me -- but that would not solve our problem. There would be no coming back from that. They would strike back, without a doubt."
Priebus added, "It's an insane idea. Sorry, Steve. We know nothing about their weaponry. I think it can be safe to assume they have highly advanced weaponry."
Trump nodded, and proclaimed, "Fantastic weaponry. The most terrible weapons, you can be sure. Which we have to get our hands on someday, somehow -- not China, not Russia, not those wine tasting pansies in Europe."
"So what are you proposing that do we do, Mr. President?" asked Mattis.
"Like I said before, Jim, we have leverage. The Chochirizzi still need supplies. They need access to water. And they know that. What we need to do is get in touch with their leaders and start a negotiation. I can do negotiation. I'm the best negotiator this planet has ever seen. I'll get them back on the job."
* * *
"Mr. President, do you need anything else?"
"If I drank, I would say a stiff shot of bourbon."
"Wish I could help you with that, sir. Good luck, sir."
President Trump, in khakis and helmet, nodded at his uniformed attendant, who hurried back to join the rest of Trump's entourage. Accompanying the President, and positioned fifty yards behind him, was a Company of U.S. Army troops, tanks and mechanized infantry. Trump himself was unarmed except for a Triport Tactical Headset, for talking with his support troops remotely, and a respirator unit.
A few yards in front of where Trump stood was the sealed entrance to the Chochirizzi's Cabeza Prieta Mountain stronghold. Blocking the entrance were two enormous doors made of the brown, dull metal alloy used by the aliens.
The Chochirizzi had continued to ignore all attempts at communication and remained sequestered inside their tunnel and cave network. Shortly after the bomb incident, the Array ships, which had been stationed around the area at random points, had lifted off silently and vanished into space, taking station at the L5 Lagrange point between the Earth and the Moon, where the gravity pull from both celestial bodies was perfectly balanced.
Now Trump waited. He had insisted that the only way to get the aliens' attention would be to make a personal appearance at their location. Against the advice of virtually everyone, he had proceeded with preparations for his personal appearance before the tunnel entrance. He had ordered all armed forces and equipment, which had been considerable, cleared from the immediate area around the tunnel entrance.
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting in the southwestern desert heat, Trump was considering giving up, when without warning, the ground vibrated and there was a raising of dust, as the vast double doors slowly parted, receding into the rock on either side of the tunnel entrance. Beyond, only darkness beckoned.
Trump peered into the darkness looking for any signs of life but there was nothing. Eventually, a faint whirring sound could be heard, which grew in volume, until something could be discerned approaching the tunnel entrance from the depths of the interior space. A man sized glass lozenge emerged, floating on its rim edge, about a foot above the ground. It moved to President Trump's side and swiveled so that one of the flat sides faced him. Trump stared, remembering to look determined. A glass panel slid aside revealing an upholstered seat within. The lozenge hovered silently, its intent clear.
Trump looked back at his troops, resisting the urge to wave, and then climbed aboard. Immediately the glass panel slit shut and he was transported into the tunnel.
His headset comm unit crackled to life as he floated into the tunnel. "Everything alright, sir?" asked the communications officer.
How the hell should I know? thought Trump, but his mouth said, "So far so good, soldier. I'll stay in touch."
As if on cue, the tunnel doors slid shut. This led to the supporting troops snapping into action and rushing towards the entrance, but it was for naught.
The tunnel doors came together with a quiet "goosh" followed by a dry click, sealing off the light from outside, and instantly cutting off the President's intercom. Lights came on at the front of the lozenge as it picked up speed. It followed the length of the tunnel until an intersection of vertical and horizontal tunnels came into sight. Looking through the glass walls of the lozenge, Trump could see that the vertical chute extended both above him and below for considerable distances. The lozenge positioned itself over the chute and without delay plunged precipitously into the emptiness below. Trump reeled inside the lozenge, fighting G forces and nausea, and was about to lose his lunch when suddenly the lozenge came to a smooth, but forceful halt at what appeared to be the bottom of the vertical chute.
A row of small lights came on outside, outlining a circular chamber made of the same dull brown alloy used by the Chochirizzi in all their machines and devices. The glass panel on one side of the lozenge opened and Trump felt the coolness of the cave air invade his space. It helped to settle his stomach but the spoiled fruit tang that permeated the air worked to achieve the opposite. He tried to calm his nerves. He reached for, and donned, his respirator with slightly shaking hands. He was really on the bleeding edge of things now. No President had ever had to face the unknown in quite this way. But he was Donald Trump and not one to scare easily he told himself, fighting down the apprehension that he felt. He stepped out of the lozenge and onto the floor of the circular chamber. Just ahead, two door panels slid apart revealing a dim corridor beyond.
A Chochirizzi waited there.
Trump walked towards his alien host. When he was within a few feet of his escort and about to speak, the alien abruptly turned its back to him and scuttled into the depths of the corridor beyond. President Trump followed, swallowing an urge to say something petulant.
Eventually they came to another set of doors, this time more ornate than any Chochirizzi design he had yet encountered. His alien escort bobbed on its orange booted feet, as if impatient, though Trump knew their body language did not correspond to human idioms, and with a sweep of one arm gestured towards the door, which opened on cue, revealing a small foyer or antechamber of sorts within. The escort silently scurried away, leaving Trump alone at the antechamber entrance.
President Trump removed his communications headset -- after all it was useless down here and was annoying to wear anyway - and entered the antechamber. Squinting, he tried to make out its contents. Ahead, he could see that there was something or someone installed in what appeared to be a settee. Stepping closer, Trump observed that his host was not wearing the usual outerwear. He realized with a start that he might be looking at an unclothed Chochirizzi! Examining his host more closely, he realized it was not entirely naked. The alien had a wide, orange strap draped over its shoulder, festooned with pouches. The Chochirizzi reached into one of the pouches and produced a cylindrical object into which it spoke.
Not 'Welcome Mr. President', thought Trump, offended.
Before he could respond the alien said, "I am Creature Ummato. No doubt you did not recognize me without my exterior garments."
Trump scanned the alien's features, taking in a Chochirizzi face for the first time. It was like a human face seen through a funhouse mirror. The Chochirizzi's skin was china doll smooth and sepia-toned, or perhaps that was an effect of the lighting in the room, he could not tell. It had two very large eyes, like an anime character's, with pupils the size of half dollars, a wide and protruding nose and a chiseled, square chin. Its forehead was a broad plate that hung over its eyes like a cliff. It also had a very small, puckered mouth with what looked like moist gum work inside, making the creature appear to be sucking at a straw. A mop of straight black hair, or something like hair, with strands as thick as spaghetti, topped it all. The overall impression could have been construed as almost comical, if the situation hadn't been so other worldly.
"I can barely recognize you when they're on," answered Trump, trying to be matter of fact in the midst of all this strangeness. He needed to be.
"I am impressed that you would take the risk of coming here by yourself, in the interest of your wall."
"You left me no choice. We're tied together, Ummato. You need this refuge and we need our wall. It's that simple."
"It was simple, President Trump, in the beginning. That is true. But now it is complicated. From our studies of your transmissions, we had identified the United States of America as being the most advanced, benevolent and enlightened of all the sects that occupy your planet. Because of this, we chose to approach you first in the hopes of finding a peaceful refuge for our people. Evidently, we were wrong."
Trump shook his head and began to pace, gesturing in his characteristic accordion player motions. "You have to try and understand something about humans, Ummato. Not all people think the same things. Everybody has their own agenda. What might be good for some might not be considered so good by others. You see? You understand? So people take things into their own hands and the next thing you know -- the unexpected happens. It's just the way it is."
"We find this idea of uncontrolled individuality difficult to understand."
Trump pointed his finger at Ummato, "Well, you don't have to understand as long as I understand it. Consider it fortunate that you have me and the U.S. armed forces on your side. My guys are trained professionals. The best. They're loyal. And they do what I say. We can protect you."
Creature Ummato stared at President Trump for long minutes, then fell back in his settee and began to rub at his orange jowls rapidly - a gesture Trump had once been told signaled amusement in the Chochirizzi race. "I think we can protect ourselves, President Trump."
Trump raised his hands in feigned exasperation, "You can't live in hiding the rest of your lives, Ummato." He looked to the left and to the right, surveying the dim surroundings, "Do you want to spend the rest of your days living in a cave? Look at this dump. It's dark. It smells funny. It's going to get more and more cramped as your population grows."
Ummato was unmoved, "We Chochirizzi like it this way. It's not unlike our environment back on Axtlan."
Trump retorted, "You're making excuses, Ummato. You know as well as I do that this is not sustainable. You need us for resources. Water. Food. Minerals and ores for your machines. Not just for protection."
"We can leave the United States."
"You just said we were your best bet, by your own estimates. Do you think it will be better in Russia, or China? Especially after they've seen what happens with you people if anything goes wrong? Those places are autocratic societies - ruled by dictators, Ummato - very bad hombres - with massive income inequality and social injustices. Lots of angry people. Millions of them. They're not nice places. The bottom line, Ummato, is that it doesn't get any better than right here in the good old U.S.A. We're the best there is. Believe me."
"We can forcibly get the resources we need."
Trump froze, fighting down the chill of apprehension running down his spine upon hearing those words. The Chochirizzi had the means. But we would fight back. There would be a lot of death and destruction, even if we won in the end. He pasted a skeptical smile on his face and bluffed, "Yeah, you might have better tech than we do, Ummato, but you're just one fleet of ships. You might be able to do a lot of damage, but we would never give up. And we would do some damage too and you can't afford to lose anything. All you've got is your ships. We have an entire planet of resources. We might be separate countries, or sects, like you say, but if you attack one of us, the rest of the human race will join in because it would be the ultimate us versus them contest in all of human history. And - let me tell you -- if there's anything humans latch on to, it's us versus them. Believe me, I know."
Ummato was silent. Eventually he got up from his reclined position but did not stand, perhaps aware of the height difference between the President and himself.
Trump sensed a wavering in the alien's resolve. He had argued well. He felt the wheels turning inside Creature Ummato's alien head. It was time to press his advantage, such as it was, "We can avoid all that ugliness, Ummato. There's got to be a way for us to negotiate an arrangement that makes sense for both sides. You're stuck in here, basically, and we're stuck out there. We're both stuck. And only you and I can unfreeze the situation. You speak for your people and I speak for mine. You and I can break this impasse right here and right now. Just tell me what needs to happen for you and your people to feel comfortable again. What do we need to do to get that wall built?"
Ummato rose from the settee and began to pace around Trump. Trump resisted the instinct to pivot and stood stock still.
"Just tell me what you need, Ummato."
Ummato continued to pace around Trump, examining his body, making the President somewhat uncomfortable, but Trump held his ground. He knew he had the alien.
"You are right, President Trump. We must seek a way forward that ensures peaceful co-existence between our races. You want your wall and we want a safe and secure refuge."
"We could benefit from each other, Ummato."
"But we cannot tolerate exposing ourselves to any more risks of individualism."
"We can provide excellent military protection for..."
"It would never be enough. We need to avoid any possibility of another confrontation such as the one we suffered at the construction site."
"Hmm. Then what do you propose?"
Ummato stopped his circling and went back to the settee. He took his time making himself comfortable again and then looked President Trump directly in the eye. "This is what we can do..."
* * *
"I can't believe it's nearly finished," said Kushner, standing to the right and slightly behind the President.
"And in record time," said Bannon from the sofas opposite the desk.
"Those new workers are even more efficient than the Chochirizzi themselves," said Priebus, sitting on the other sofa. "You really pulled a rabbit out of the hat, Mr. President," he finished.
Trump looked up from reading the documents before him and smiled at Priebus. I love hearing that.
"I sure did, Reince. Hundreds of people are telling me that every day. But it wasn't just my incredible negotiating skills that got this deal done. Chochirizzi technology is the other half of the equation. I gotta give them some of the credit. Creature Ummato's people are amazing genetic engineers. Incredible. It's phenomenal how much they have built inside those caves. You've gotta see it for yourself to understand it, I'm not kidding. Very impressive. They've got dozens of levels excavated out of the rock - entire floors of labs and factories. They've even got genetically modified crops growing down there under giant red lamps."
"I always thought it was a little convenient how they were able to survive on our foods without any problems," said Kushner.
Trump turned his head to look back at his son-in-law, "Well, there's your answer, Jared. Amazing technology."
Kellyanne Conway's face was a sunbeam of happiness. "If everything goes according to schedule, you'll be able to cut the ribbon on the wall in just under a month, sir."
Trump sat back in his chair, envisioning the moment. He steepled his hands and said, "I'll need a shot surrounded by the new workers. That'll be quite the picture."
Everyone laughed at the thought of Donald Trump surrounded by genetically modified, four foot tall, stocky versions of himself dressed in hardhats and work coveralls. The Chochirizzi had produced an army of the mini Trumps, designed to perform physical labor and operate basic machinery.
They had addressed the Chochirizzi's fears of exposing themselves to any further risk, and made sure Trump's wall was built at zero labor cost. The mini Trumps were low IQ, asexual grunts, happy to be put to work so long as they were fed and allowed to watch TV in the evenings.
"I'm still surprised you let your own DNA be used for the workers, sir," said Conway.
Trump replied through pursed lips, "I was the only human available at the time, Kellyanne, and you have to strike while the iron is hot. I made the deal and I pushed very, very hard to get it done. And I gotta say -- it is kind of satisfying, in a way. I've always been a take charge kind of person, right?"
"Yes sir, without a doubt. You've always been a do it yourself if you want it done right kind of guy."