High and Low Earth Orbit, Contact +0 Minutes
“|We are riding HARD and FAST. SCR’s ignored, time to planetcrest 30 seconds-|”
“|Torpedoes in launch tubes, blasting covers in 10-|”
“|Check gimbals before atmosphere-|”
“|Rough-shocking to binary planet, codename GRAVESTONE-|”
“|Micromissiles launched; non-friendly IFF debris clearing-|”
“|Interplanetary signalling outpost detected, kinetic docking in 15 seconds-|”
High Lord Inquisitor-Commander Tr’’’’r’’ of the Eternal Holy Karnakian Crusade And It’s Infinite Legions stood and watched, arms crossed in thought, as his Armada moved. Dropships sped towards the colony world, squads grouping in twos, threes, tens and twenties – Interceptors and Missile barges popped afterburners to gain enough momentum to slingshot around the planet, ready to bring hell to whatever fleet was besieging The Three Stones on the other side, and his tertiary command ship?
With zero physical momentum it generated enough power via it’s powercore to temporarily and physically bridge the gulf of space, the relativistic energy tsunami – and the blinding light – the only indicator that it had moved from within his fleet to this planets’ only satellite.
“|What dumb, broken-clutch bastards.|” mused Qoili’’e, standing in awe at the sheer amount of weaponry being brought to bear against this new aggressor species.
“|Maybe.|” High Lord Inquisitor-Commander Tr’’’’r’’ said, watching as over the planet superimposed geometries of fire began to coat it in a dangerous orange. “|But our plan is simple. Gut the enemy fleet, confound their planetary defenses – when they surrender we hold them hostage to negotiate with their core worlds.|”
“|Still, sir. To fire on children-|”
“|This is why we never underestimate an unknown en-|”
“|Planetary Blindside on screen, Sir!|” interrupted their EM Lord, Uri’krei, as all available eyes turned to the expected carnage of The Three Stones, floating listlessly in space, being picked apart like carrion on the plains-
… like being picked apart…. By the enemy fleet…
“|Where are they?!-|”
“|Dumping Torpedoes, Tiq-fly formation-|”
“|No, seriously, radiation scans are negati-|”
High Lord Inquisitor-Commander Tr’’’’r’’ growled, beginning to roll his shoulders slightly in an involuntary threat display. “|Can we not see them?! Were they boarded to preserve the ship, reverse-engineer our technology?|”
“|Wide-Broadcast urgent message from The Three Stones-|”
“|ON SCREEN, IMMEDIATELY.|” Roared the High Lord Inquisitor-Commander, and before his order was finished Matriarch Tr’Nkwi appeared on-screen, feathers torn from her face and neck.
“|GIVE US A SI-|”
“|YOU MUST STOP!|” She cried, hands outstretched in a wretched plea, her ripped and molted feathers falling like a waterfall from her open palms. “|PLEASE! IT’S A HOMEWORLD-|”
“|What?!|” cried EM Lord Uri’krei, as for the first time in his 700 year career he stopped paying attention to his job.
“|Wh-what?!|” Stuttered Qoili’’e, the self-righteous wrath burning in his chest quickly turning into an icy pit.
“|WHAT.|” Responded High Lord Inquisitor-Commander Tr’’’’r’’ of the Eternal Holy Karnakian Crusade And It’s Infinite Legions Armada, as with righteous fury that same Armada suddenly found itself without purpose, missile ships and EM destroyers and carrier nests and graviton lances all paused, their momentum carrying themselves forward with no purpose any longer.
“|CONTACT.|” Responded the kinetic interceptor operator, as their ship slammed into the ISS, a thousand hooks grappling and fusing the fledgling station to the war transport.
“|SHIT.|” High Lord Inquisitor-Commander Tr’’’’r’’ of the Eternal Holy Karnakian Crusade And It’s Infinite Legions groaned, as his eyes tracked to the War Theater screen. “|N-NONLETHAL! NONLETHAL! RETURN ALL OPERATORS AND SHIPS, STAND DOWN! I REPEAT, STAND DOWN-|”
– – – – –
L.E.O. +5 minutes
“|PLEASE! IT’S A HOMEWORLD-|”
“|I’m sorry, what the fuck?|” SACRAMENT said, interrupting the wide-field broadcast. “|Did she just say-|”
“|NONLETHAL! RETURN ALL OPERATORS AND SHIPS, STAND DOWN! I REPEAT, STAND DOWN!|”
“|Well.|” PREACHER laughed out, shaking her head. “|Usually everything turns to shit once we land.|”
“|Souls damn them, how does he expect us to do that? These things are a one-way flight!|”
“|Just… when we land, just do nothing.|” APOSTLE absent-mindedly ordered, tapping into his chain of command to get actual, real updates as to what’s going on. “|Non-lethal is sanctioned, but we’re not to fire … we’re not to fire even if fired upon.|”
“|That’s a new one.|”
“|…joy. I guess I’ll learn how to best farm alien space crops after all.|”
Silence gave way to static and then to a gentle rumbling fire as the planet’s atmosphere began to violently cradle the special operations soldiers, armed to the teeth and utterly impotent.
– – – –
ISS +5 Minutes
The station shook – violently. Enough so that the windows’ view spun wildly, a sound like a thousand rocks slamming into the outer plates of the capsules rippling up and down the ISS.
“No, seriously what even is that alarm and why is it going off-”
“Look. You get in Soyuz, leave. Vladimir and I, we stay in suits, we fight.”
“With what?” Michael said, waving his hand around his mostly-suited up cosmonaut colleague. “Firstly, there’s no way we could’ve known that this would happen – I still think you’re crazy for trying to stay! We’ve been up here for two years and the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on this station is a fucking scalpel-”
Wordlessly Pitor Melnik reached over Michael’s head and opened an extra-large “oxygen” tank within the Soyuz capsule. Within it were completely disassembled weapons parts and a significant amount of loose ammo.
“…I have many questions-”
“да. However, these wait for later. You must go, and go now – let one of us survive.”
“нет. Do not try to change my mind. I die not for glory, but f-”
“-why is there a straw in the ethanol tank?”
The Astronaut and The Cosmonaut looked at each other, silently. Pitor slowly reached up and grabbed the hatch, and wordlessly closed it, cycling the airlock. He paused by the hatch for but a moment, before beginning to assemble the weapon before him – much as he did during his training days, the familiar movements quickly executed through muscle memory.
“Is he gone?”
“You think we have a chance?” Vladimir said as he affixed his helmet, the kalishnakov rifle floating awkwardly between them.
“Ба́бушка на́двое сказа́ла.”
Vladimir laughed as his friend finished up, tucking spare magazines and rounds into pouches never meant for them.
“Без му́ки нет нау́ки!” he responded, as Pitor shook his head. “But personally, I don’t want to learn too muc-”
“|Excuse me, but there seems to b-|”
“За тобой!” Yelled Pitor as he raised his rifle, Vladimir thinking quickly and kicking off a wall to float down a separate corridor as Pitor let fly a few desperate rounds into this black thing that just stuck it’s head through an entrance hall.
“|Listen, we’re sorry, but depre-|”
“умри ты сукин сын!” Bellowed Vladimir as he finally caught his weapon, pressing his back against a bulkhead as he began to focus fire. Light danced off the alien in geometric shapes, and it seemed to shudder – or perhaps, sigh.
U’iki’ri sighed and pulled his head out of the quite-cramped hallway, doing his best not to also drag out too much of the extra cabling that circulated the life support of this primitive space station, turning to his colleagues. When his interceptor ship slammed into this… construct he marveled. First, at how such incredibly delicate designs could survive in the hard vacuum of space, and secondly that his own ship didn’t keep just plowing through what was left of the station and go right to planetfall.
As soon as their pilot killed momentum, everyone got to work doing the best repair job they could – hell, fully half of them were spreading a quick-expanding foam between the ship and the black void of space, doing their best to keep as much atmosphere locked in, while the other half were performing a time-critical EVA mission to… well.
Collect the rest of the primitives’ space station.
This left U’iki’ri, as the highest ranking officer, in the very unenviable position of “negotiator”. However, no matter how gentle his voice or how sweet his song, every time he spoke the aliens tensed up, crouched – which was an interesting tactic in a place with no gravity, and fired their weapons at him. At this rate, they were putting more holes in their own station than in him – speaking of.
“|I am getting nowhere with these small ones. How goes the repairs?|” U’iki’ri said, ducking his head under the wing of his craft, his boots now stamping on the crackling temporary foam floor.
“|Best case, Sir? 10 minutes. We sliced their station in half, so both sides are venting atmosphere at a ridiculous rate – the EVA team has capped the other side, and a barge is coming in to stabilize their orbit, but-|”
“|Ah, there it is.|”
The private dipped his hips a bit in embarassment, patting the alien “wall”. “|This one is not only unstable, but breaking apart. EVA crew already picked up what looks like an escape pod, so if they’re evacuating…|”
U’iki’ri sighed. “|Well, I can’t damn near fit through this little hole-|”
“|Honestly, Sir? Might be better to make your own.|”
U’iki’ri tapped his helmet. “|Did you hear that, EVA? My suit should’ve tagged the two locals-|”
“|Aye, sir. Opening this can now.|”
There was the sound of muffled screaming, the whoosh of oxygen, and the rapport of firearms.
– – –
High Atmosphere, Earth. +10 Minutes
They fell everywhere the light touched, and those that didn’t skipped across the atmosphere to land where the single sun didn’t shine.
Pods burned through atmosphere, a twisted mockery of a shooting star, automated hard-coded defense systems kicking in – scrambling EM transmissions not tagged as friendly, deploying chaff and decoy missiles, sending suicide shield drones to blossom their defense as they fell, screaming from the heavens. The AI of each pod – programmed before, during and after launch – knew where to drop them, and did so with terrifying efficiency as the clouds burned away, and it’s optics scanned the horizon.
They fell on bridges and in car parks.
They fell on roads and power substations.
They fell on broad intersections and in abandoned alleyways.
They fell in playgrounds and dogparks, in greenways and overpasses, in apartment complexes and promenades.
They fell, and they thanked every ancestor, spirit and deity, that the hastily-reprogrammed AI hit nothing of importance. Their pods neglected to fire the anti-personnel grenades, forgot to launch the thermal netting, and refused to dislodge their EMP worms. Instead, with just a mild flair for the dramatic, the bolts that held the drop pod door shut blew open, and thousands of heads poked out of the safety of their one-use ships.
They stared at slack-jawed motorists and shoppers.
They stared at stuttering construction workers and terrified wildlife.
They stared at innocent citizens in the midst of their workday, and hoodlums, spray-painting graffiti.
They stared unflinching at hundreds of small animals, at aliens in the midst of play and life, of families enjoying their day together.
And then everyone they looked at started screaming.
– – –
The City of Sydney, Australia, Earth. +35 Minutes from Contact.
“STOP EYE-FUCKIN’ HIM AND SHOOT, YOU CUNTS!”
Qrr’iraa sighed and closed her eyes, counting to 10. She landed and evacuated her pod, making sure to shut everything down per surrender protocols, stowing her weapons, grenades and other armaments away in their respective cubbies and lockers, and then locking those down via a genetic code + congretory code. Now, only her and her CO could get to those weapons of war – she was, in effect, completely harmless.
The bullets ricocheting off of her suit’s microdrone shield lattice wouldn’t have led you to believe that, however.
“|By the First Light, do they have to keep doing this?|” Qrr’iraa murmured as a grenade indicator pinged on her HUD, the dropship deploying a drone no larger than the size of her fist to cup it in a purpose-built reinforced shield – a muffled thump shaking dust from the ground as the drone tanked the blast to float lazily up in the air once more.
“WHAT TH’ FUCK-”
“|Non-lethal, non-lethal.|” Qrr’iraa murmured to herself, slowly walking towards the still-aggressive locals. They were so tiny, yet fierce, and their souls just… glittered. Whether that was normal or because of the trauma she inadvertently inflicted, she couldn’t say. Sure, her ship kind of put a massive, uh, hole in their bridge, but that column stayed up! Mostly.
……The bridge was still standing, ok?
“|Non-lethal. Can I just… push them a little?|” Qrr’iraa thought, lowering her center of mass and closing the distance to the closest alien. “|I don’t want to hurt them too much, I just want to get back to the squad-|”
Qrr’iraa pushed, and stared incredulously as Corporal Walker was launched 15 feet backwards into a truck, rocking it with the impact of his body.
“WE’RE NOT HERE TO FUCK SPIDERS, SHOOT THE CUNT-”
Qrr’iraa stood there and took the new incoming fire as she watched the alien’s brain stutter, then dim…
…then brighten like a nova. His eyes opened with a cool fire, an intense glare that caused her more primal mind to stir.
“Crikey. That’s a trip.”
“John?! John, Goddamn, stay down you’re…you’re…”
John Walker stood up with unnatural ease, short shorts flowing in a breeze that seemed to only affect him. “What a beaut. I’ve never seen one in the wild, but you can tell she’s a sheila by her size-”
“Oh! And she’s an adult! That’s why she wants to get back to her family group.” Everyone stood still as John moved forward, an otherworldly glow alight on his features. Everyone, that is, save for Qrr’iraa, who lowered her head to the ground, boots digging into the alien pavement.
“Now now, I’m not gonna ‘urt ya! I just wanna take a look at ya! You’re obviously at the top a’ your food chain, and this is a chance that comes along once in a lifetime!”
“Cpl. Walker? S-sir?”
“Ah! That cunt got put roit through the ringa! But he gave me a lil time just to take this animal down and away from our Human civilization – and back into the wild!” John triumphantly stated, arms and legs going akimbo to make himself seem larger to the now semi-feral alien.
“N-no.” Private Taylor said, his voice choking up slightly. “No. We lost you.”
Corporal Jake Walker – if he could still be called that – straightened up and turned to look at the kneeling private and smiled, face bright and shining, features seeming to change ever so slightly. “Nah, mate! I’m in the heart of every true-blue ‘Strayan who wants to protect nature an it’s amazing beauty! And this-” He motioned to the Karnakian, who was in the middle of a threat display that was fierce (but sadly covered by her suit). “-This is somethin’ I couldn’t pass up. Now excuse me while John and I become a sick cunt and rassle this lil lady sos we can get a look at her!”
And Steve did just that.