The Worlds Turned Upside Down:
"USCS Sacajawea. Come in, Sacajawea. Are there any survivors onboard? Is anyone receiving this? Come in, Sacajawea."
Janice Alvarez awoke from her deep hibernation. The broadcast was being streamed to her while she struggled from the deepest sleep any human could experience. It was repeating. Repeating. Repeating in her head.
"Damnit, Fatima. Turn that off."
The broadcast ended and Janice Notrand, Captain of the USCS Sacajawea, weakly raised her arms up to wipe her eyes. She had 276 years of 'sleep' in her eyes and it hurt. Deep sleep was never fun, but 276 years was the worst yet.
"Captain. We have a situation."
Janice laid there and started to take stock of herself. She seemed all there. Toes wiggled. Fingers and hands obviously worked. Eyes worked, and a quick complex math problem told her the brain was intact. All good. You never knew and there were stories.
"Captain. As I said, we have a situation."
"Fatima, you've rousted me from the longest sleep I've had in ages, hit me with a 'situation,' and you haven't even let me grab coffee yet. You know how well I work without my caffeine." Humor worked, too.
"Captain, we do have a situation and its not because the bots drank everything but the decaf in our trip. That's one I'd try to hide if I could, but, alas, it'd be impossible."
Janice glowered at the ceiling. Fatima was the ship, so the ceiling worked as well as anywhere else. Freakin AIs. Janice grimaced and pulled herself up. Oh gawd, it hurt. Stiff was not the word.
"Situation report, Fatima. What's going on? Where are we?"
"We are 15 astronomical units, AU, from Gliese 667C, our target system. We are being hailed by a three ships rapidly approaching. They are currently .1 AU from us and closing at a velocity of 200 km/s. They are hailing on the frequencies from Houston and in English, albeit accented."
English. Hailed. Not in orbit around Caerus, Gliese 667Cf (technically). Either the Fermi Paradox had an easy answer or was utter junk. Crap.
"Captain. I need you to plug in. There is more information but verbally communicating has far too narrow a bandwidth."
Janice nodded and closed her eyes and willed her implant on. It negotiated its linked rapidly with Fatima and she gasped. She always gasped. It was just her reaction when all those cyber, noncorporal senses swam into her consciousness.
3 ships. All closing at very high speed for something looking to rendezvous. That'd probably mean a fly by. That could be ominous. Especially since the ships were not flipped over for deceleration. They were small, so unless they were AI driven, it was unlikely they'd crossed the great black sea.
Then there was the transmission.
"USS Sacajawea. Come in, Sacajawea. Are there any survivors onboard? Is anyone receiving this? Come in, Sacajawea."
The ship was very intact, so that was not the problem. Why would they refer to survivors?
"Fatima. Roust the rest of the crew and the marines. The ships ought to fly by in a little more than 20 hours. I'd like everyone ready. In the mean time, find me the coffee and let's begin communicating with our friends."
"Crew is already being rousted. Marines are being placed at alert. I am not waking the colonists."
"Good. Send the following to our new friends: this is Captain Janice Alvarez of the United States Colony Ship Sacajawea. We come in peace and send our greetings from all of humanity."
Ten minutes later the reply came back.
The transmission began with laughter. "Humanity sends its regards back to itself then, Captain Alvarez. We have been waiting 150 years for you. This is Captain Khan of the Indian Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, Planet Ganesha Division. Have you brought any fruits, nuts or vegetables with you?"