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A Modest Proposal

Dave D'Alessio is an ex-industrial chemist, ex-TV engineer, and ex-award winning animator currently masquerading as a practicing social scientist. He can be Googled.
Hello. I am Glarb, and as should be obvious from the fact that your planet lacks intelligent life forms based on hexalateral symmetry, I am what you would call an alien. As we proceed, let me remind you that to me you are the aliens. Your dominant species has seen too little of the universe to realize that the universe does not revolve around yourselves.
We come from the Federation--no, not the silly entity portrayed in your entertainments. As Navigator Blurk says, "Prime Directive, my excretory gland."
We were sent to evaluate this planet and its life forms for potential membership in the Federation. To be frank, you have limited spacefaring capability. You burn organic fuel at a disgusting rate. You have failed to control many of your infectious diseases. You have used atomic weapons and are prepared to use them again.
You are savages, the lot of you. We were going to recommend that you not be admitted, and that the star and planets of this system be allocated to civilized species that can put them to use.
What do you mean, "They're ours"? You're not using the other planets, and when we're done you won't be using this one, either.
However, some recent observations have caused us to re-evaluate our recommendations.
During a routine monitoring of your flying objects we detected one substantially more advanced technologically than any you had demonstrated previously. Until this point we had been tracking aerial vehicles moving at velocities of 1,800 of your miles per one of your hours and less. Mostly less. Mostly a lot less. We were not impressed.
However, this new object was about 1,000 times as fast. We clocked it at over six hundred miles per second.
We observed the object stopping at individual domiciles on your planet with complete precision and accuracy, delivering packages to each. Curious, we hacked into the computers of the entity you call amazon.com but could find no mention of this form of delivery.
The lack of obvious braking systems and extremely high rates of acceleration this object demonstrated clearly shows that it must be based on a very advanced propulsion system that renders the object inertialess. Engineer Bort is very impressed.
The packages the pilot of this craft was leaving behind are of finite mass ranging from several of your ounces to a number of pounds (up to a ton, in the case of the immature female who received a pony). The craft in question lacked the internal volume to hold that number of packages by several orders of magnitude. Additionally, the craft was able to park on rooftops of standard construction despite the enormous weight of the packages. This suggests a form of extradimensional storage.
Using our tractor beam technology, we brought the craft aboard our own and examined it minutely. The only motive source we could find was a set of nine mature members of your species Rangifer tarandus, one of which possessed a genetically mutated nose such that it glowed red (suggesting he was the recipient of genes from one of the Lampyridae family of insects). They had no special equipment or modification to protect them against the very high heating that would be caused by air friction at their observed velocities, and so we conclude that the inertialess drive is also a frictionless drive.
We interrogated the pilot, identified variously as "St. Nicholas," "Odin," "Santa Claus," "Sinter Klass," and "Father Christmas." When we asked him which of these was his correct name, he answered, "Yes." When we asked him about the details of the drive that powered his craft, he placed a finger alongside his nose and answered, "Magic." He handed each of us a package wrapped in brightly colored paper, and then he and his craft disappeared from our observation deck.
Each of the packages was again of measurable volume and weight. Upon unwrapping, which was handled remotely by our bomb disposal drone, they were found to vary in contents. Mine contained a garment emblazoned with the phrase, "Chill out, dude." There was a book of photographs of objects of the universe taken from the perspective of your home planet in Blurk's package, and he wishes me to convey to you that he is grateful although he lacks the ocular equipment to properly enjoy it. Bort received a combustible lump of sedimentary rock, the utility of which is unclear to us.
We were able to subsequently track the craft throughout the night, and confirm our previous observations. You have access to a drive. It is frictionless and inertialess. You have access to storage that is extradimensional.
We want them.
All civilized entities are familiar with the axiom that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and therefore we conclude that a) your Santa Claus was speaking the truth, at least as he perceived it, and b) he is the only one that possesses knowledge of these technologies.
Therefore, we will make you the following offer. It is not subject to further debate or negotiation.
Give us the one who calls himself Santa Claus.
If he cooperates with our scientific investigations, your planet will be admitted to the Federation as full members. You will receive technology transfers that will enable your planet to alleviate all poverty, eradicate all disease, and supply all your power needs. You will have a voting seat in our assembly and in every way be the equal of every member species of the Federation.
If you fail to deliver the one called Santa Claus, however, we will come and get him. Since this will be much easier on an uninhabited planet, we'll do it that way.
It's up to you. You have forty-eight of your hours. And as you say at this time of your planet's orbit, Merry Christmas.
The End
This story was first published on Friday, December 25th, 2015

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