The light from a distant star reached the mirrored surface of the Hubble Space Telescope after traveling nearly 26,500 years from a distant arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Far enough away and faint enough, a designation would never be given to it by earth scientists. With nearly a billion objects already categorized, it wouldn’t have had a very interesting name anyway, just something like SDJRp J134857.94-587898.1, representing its celestial coordinates and other location criteria meaningless to the average person. To relocate it one could use such coordinates and an extremely large telescope and never actually find it anyway. It was that faint and far away from earth.
It was also too far away for astronomers to see the minuscule changes in stellar emissions that would indicate that planets orbited the star. But there were planets. One of those planets, circling that star in an egg-shaped orbit with an average radius of about 122 million miles was full of life. Its inhabitants referred to it as Stel. They called their planet Vargo.
The present day location of Vargo was actually millions of miles away, the earth scientists knowing for sure only where the Stel was 26,500 years ago when the light we currently see first left it.
Eight thousand earth years earlier, the light from our sun was detected by the telescopes of astronomers on Vargo. Three hundred years later, they had the technology to see clearly the planetary system orbiting the sun.
It was an interesting time in earth’s distant past back then. When they first saw us, they could only see that there was a planet passing in front of our sun. Earth wasn't visible until after the bigger ones in our solar system, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.
Like Earth in the present day, they were sweeping the cosmos for signs of planets, with some hope of learning they were not alone in the universe. After several hundred years of advancing technology, they were able to locate planets with at least the potential of intelligent life developing within a few years. Out of the billions of stars in the galaxy that had been examined, only a dozen or so showed the potential. Hundreds of years passed before identifying those planets.
Planets need liquid water. Some kind of "Goldilocks" atmosphere that’s warm enough and cool enough to support life. It also helped to have the large outer planets whose gravity would attract meteors that might otherwise impact the habitable one and protect it from cataclysmic events.
A planet would also need to develop a race of intelligent beings who could develop electronic communications before the potential for contact could ever happen.
Finally, when Vargons could see the planets they had identified as potentially life-supporting in real time, they found that one had reached the age of electronic communication.
Kent Dern, sitting by the fireplace enjoying his morning cup of coffee saw an interesting communication via email. It was in somewhat broken English. He had received similar emails before. Nigerian heirs to massive fortunes looking for help to export millions out of their country in exchange for a large fee. Beautiful young women trying to strike up a conversation with an American man in exchange for, well, the companionship of a beautiful young woman.
This was a different accent though. more precisely worded, and without the normal spelling errors. There was a certain sincerity to it that Nigerian heirs and the Russian women never possessed.
"Greetings from Vargo," was the subject line. Kent thought it sounded like the name of a planet in some science fiction book. "OK, I'll bite." He opened the email.