Dhar Ry sat alone in his room, meditating. From outside the door he
caught a thought wave equivalent to a knock, and, glancing at the door,
he willed it to slide open.
It opened. "Enter, my friend," he said. He could have projected the idea
telepathically; but with only two persons present, speech was more
Ejon Khee entered. "You are up late tonight, my leader," he said.
"Yes, Khee. Within an hour the Earth rocket is due to land, and I wish
to see it. Yes, I know, it will land a thousand miles away, if their
calculations are correct. Beyond the horizon. But if it lands even twice
that far the flash of the atomic explosion should be visible. And I have
waited long for first contact. For even though no Earthman will be on
that rocket, it will still be first contact--for them. Of course our
telepath teams have been reading their thoughts for many centuries,
but--this will be the first _physical_ contact between Mars and Earth."
Khee made himself comfortable on one of the low chairs. "True," he said.
"I have not followed recent reports too closely, though. Why are they
using an atomic warhead? I know they suppose our planet is uninhabited,
"They will watch the flash through their lunar telescopes and get
a--what do they call it?--a spectroscopic analysis. That will tell them
more than they know now (or think they know; much of it is erroneous)
about the atmosphere of our planet and the composition of its surface.
It is--call it a sighting shot, Khee. They'll be here in person within a
few oppositions. And then--"