“…with 11 Alive, reporting live with an emergency broadcast from the parking deck at Tech Square. This is the closest that the military will let us get, and even here if we’re asked to evacuate we will have to move. Military and Police officials are urging people to stay indoors – if you’re within the city itself you are to shelter in place, I repeat – Stay indoors, shelter in place. If you’re in Atlanta, don’t try to commute home, don’t get on the roads. MARTA is not running, and I-75, I-85, I-285, I-20 are all shut down for military use only- If you HAVE to travel, stick to surface streets or you will be pulled over and detained, but really Police officials are asking everyone to stay out of the metro area and off the roa-”

The reporter uddenly looked off into the distance, hesitating for just a moment.

“…y-yes, that sounds like gunfire. Oh God, that is definitely gunfire – we need to go-”

“Alright, alright, I’m moving. Fuck.” Sgt. Hernandez said, fingers interlocked on his head as he was nudged towards the alien spacecraft.

Nudge was as close a word as he could use, given the circumstances; the alien…raptor-thing would lower it’s body and then just push against him with the top of it’s helmet, guiding them all to the same spot. Running was not only ill-advised, but ineffective; as soon as you got 5 steps you’d run into a wall of alien – again, literally, they’d just let you bounce off of ‘em – and then you’d get the head-nudge treatment once you got back up.

“Hey Twitch.”

Sgt. Hernandez turned to his battle buddy, Pvt. Kowalski, as he tilted his head towards the closest invader.


“You realize they haven’t taken our knives, right?”

“Well don’t fucking tell them that.” Hernandez hissed, tilting his head to the alien shepherding his squad.

“I figure they don’t know our language – else they would’ve just… told us to comply or surrender or somethin, so I figure we can talk about ‘em easy.”

“That’s… that’s actually a good point. You realize the core doesn’t promote you for thinking, right?”

“Count of three we jump the fucker?” Pvt. Smith ventured, shrugging.

“With our knives? Shit. Wait, don’t you have a tomahawk, actually?” Sgt. Hernandez said, lowering his arms to walk more ‘casually’.

“Yep.” Pvt. Kowalski responded, walking in lock-step with his squad. “On three?”

“Yeah. One.”

The group slowed down a bit.


An inhalation of breath.


They turned and jumped as one.

“|Now I know you want to run away, and I get that, I really do, but you have to stay with the group.|” Lectured Tr’chr’’, mostly to himself since (1) his suit wasn’t broadcasting his words to his new captives/protectorates, and (2) because even if it was, it’s not like they could understand each other. The hope was that in a few hours, if not a day ,they could figure out enough of the language to do basic communication, explain this was all a terrible misunderstanding, and then start over.

Maybe. I mean, it was just one city, it’s not like the entire planet wa-



As one his three smaller charges that needed-protected pivoted and unsheathed various blades and leapt onto him, wrapping their bodies around his limbs and driving their blades into his armor with savage ferocity.

“|Aaaaaahhh….AAH? Ah… UH. HELP?! Lieutenant?!|” Tr’chr’’ whined, slowly turning towards his commanding officer as the natives kept stabbing his body, their blades connecting with his armor with light ptink sounds.

“|Just- Tr’chr’’, what did you do now?!|” Lt. K’uree sighed, turning away from perimeter guard to look at the scene unfolding behind him.

“|Sir, this isn’t my- hey don’t stab down there – look they just jumped me I didn’t do anything!|” Tr’chr’’complained, making sure not to move too much as the natives crawled over him, attempting to stab and hack at his joints, limbs, head-

“|Can you shake them off?|”

“|I don’t want to hurt them though! What if they land on each other – with bladed weapons?|”

“|I… I don’t know! Think of something yourself! But if you have to stand there until their sun burns out and let them stab you, you do it!|”

Tr’chr’’ stood stock still for a few moments before an idea took hold.

Truth be told, it was a terrible, awful, wonderful idea, born out of desperation and exasperation. He decided then and there that if the natives wanted a body he’d give them exactly that.

“FUCK. YOU. FUCK. YOU.” Grunted Sgt. Hernandez as he summoned all his CQC training, stabbing at joints, slashing at the neck, driving his knife under the arms of the invader that was easily carrying the weight of him and his squad. Speaking of his squad, they were all doing their best as well, trying to drive their blades into supposed weak spots wherever they could find them.

Pvt. Kowalski was making some very interesting stabbing choices with his blade, Sgt. Hernandez reflected, as he paused a moment to catch his breath.

That pause was all the alien invader needed – with a gentle but quick movement it reached up and gripped his knife, wrenching it free from his hands – and dropping him right on his back in the process.

“FUCK!” Hernandez scrambled backwards, bracing for a savage attack. “GET-…get… off…me?”

The soldiers paused for a moment as the alien held the blade before him, then gently tucked it under his forearm, and began to…

“|For yea, the night was long ‘ere the watch caught me, as I stole the stars from the sky and your mind.|”

Tr’chr’’ trilled, pulling upon his years of appreciation of philosophy and theater, and placed the knife into his ‘heart’.

“|But what shall I say as the will of the infinite strikes? To defy the gods themselves is folly, for all our steps are preordained, and our thoughts ordered as if in stone-|”

Lt. K’uree, and really the rest of the away team (and their various alien captives), just stopped what they were doing and watched an impromptu performance of the old stage play “The Death of the King of Bandits”.

“|-Nay! I take my life in folly then!|” Tr’chr’’ cried dramatically, head raised in defiance to the sky, tail dropped to the earth in dramatic fashion. “|-For the gods may have stolen my life, but I – I steal my death from them! And with this last act!|”

Tr’chr’’ slowly looked around and gently kneeled, letting the alien soldiers step off of him as he then laid out on the ground, head craned under his wing in a ‘death throe, “|And with this last act, I die!|”

Tr’chr’’ laid out on the alien soil under the alien sun with an alien knife ‘buried’ in his heart with alien soldiers standing around his ‘dead’ body, quite confused as to what just happened and looking a bit sheepish, to be honest. One of them half-heartedly kicked his body, only to get a dismissive wave in response.

“|…Tr’chr’’, I fucking hate y-|”

And it was then that the Javelin missile fired by the rapidly-assembling United States Military re-enforcements connected with Lt. K’uree’s suit-drone, rapidly overloading it’s shields and causing the explosive pressure-wave to slam into the commanding officer, taking his consciousness with it.

The second verse was much like the first.

Barring the unfortunate munitions-caused concussion of Lt. K’uree and a mis-timed jump by an overzealous rookie that saw him leap off of a retaining wall, the second wave was dispatched with just as much speed and care as the first responders. Vehicles were destroyed – and moved to make impromptu roadblocks – weapons confiscated and neutralized, and soldiers…

…well ‘herded’ is a word you could use. The US Military wouldn’t like you to use that word, but it’s applicable.

“|Nnntthhh.|” Lt. K’uree moaned, his head throbbing. He arched his back against an unyielding floor and rolled onto his side, cracking an eye open slowly.

Hank’s frozen, screaming face filled his vision.

“|GUH!|” K’uree gasped, rapidly regaining consciousness as his suit’s diagnostics adjusted their drug-and-nanite cocktail, the fuzz quickly receding from his mind. “|I’m…in the dropship?|”

“|Yes sir.|”

“|Aq’rel’a?|” Lt. Murmured, before sitting up properly on the ship’s flooring. “|Right, right…how are you holding up?|”

“|I’m. . .|” Aq’rel’a trailed off as she stared at the frozen local. “|I’m here.|”

“|It’s… we’ve never seen this before, never done this before – it’s not in the books, no one can blame you. It’s not your fault.|”

Aq’rel’a let out a mirthless chuckle and remained unmoving, staring at her crime. “|And? Will the scribes of history look upon me favorably? Will their own history forgive me? Will this get better – or have I damned us to a war of generations?|”

Lt. K’uree sighed. “|If you were truly guilty – truly, truly guilty, you wouldn’t be here. You’d be dead.|”

“|I wish that, now, sometimes.|”


The three of them sat there, in silence, sharing a quiet moment.

Well. I mean, as much as Hank could willingly share a moment, given that his perception of time had frozen in a moment of terror and he was a horrific, twisted sculpture of pain and suffering, but yanno. He tried, he really did.

“|So what have I missed?|”

Aq’rel’a shrugged dismissively. “|The multiplication of my sin. More soldiers come, more are disarmed. We’re running out of drones – and suit meds. They’ve taken to fortifying a perimeter outside of our own, and their snipers are good shots. That’s not counting their portable missiles, or a strafing run we get every so often.|”

“|And what-|” K’uree grunted, standing up on shaky feet. “|-has our commander decided? Are we to sit and die?|”

“|Well. We can’t advance to their hospital without more support-|”

Lt. K’uree blinked and thumbed on his HUD with a mental command, a laundry-list of IFF identification icons scrolling on.

“|…No. Surely-|”

“|115. We have 115 of their soldiers and guards within our perimeter, protected under our ship’s shields. We can’t keep them hostage and return…|” Aq’rel’a trailed off, studying the local’s face. “|No more casualties on their side, though, thankfully. You were injured, and there’s a triage unit for a couple other soldiers, but…|”

“|Surely they’ll realize we’ve broken our talons for this fight-|”

“|I don’t know.|” Aq’rel’a said, falling into her thoughts once more. “|I don’t know.|”