The Stupidest Invasion Pt. 2 Chapter 12

Image by Amy from Pixabay

Link to previous chapters

As the 280 skimmed over the carnage of the day’s fighting, I began to feel what the survivors of the 7th Cavalry must have as they made their way out to Custer Hill all those years ago. A ball of dread had formed in my stomach and grew as each klick tucked by. I had left those kids behind, in an impossible situation, and for what? A fucking ship? Some technology that we might, and I emphasize might, be able to use somehow. I’ve made a lot of hard calls in my career, but this one was the hardest. And, it ate at me.

As we got closer to the LZ, I stood behind the flight crew, peering out the windscreen, hoping against hope that I wouldn’t see what I knew was a possibility. Shit, not a possibility, a fucking probability. I’d managed to push an ammo resupply as we lifted in the Skinny ship that passed us as we skedaddled back behind the lines. That one got through but the next one, which also included a full company of reinforcements, didn’t. The Skinnies had actually started throwing up some AAA and turned them back. We lost radio contact with the covering force not long after that. It didn’t bode well. Neither did the fact that I hadn’t seen any movement as we swept in to land.

Not Looking Good

I walked the field, searching for survivors. The battle had moved on from here, the Skinnies finally moving these troops up in their futile attempt to stop the assault that was blowing through their lines like shit through a goose. And, I was slowly losing hope. Every human I saw was dead. Worse, they’d been mutilated. The Skinnies decided to take out their frustrations on these poor kids. And not ritualistically, either. They just hacked them to pieces. I wouldn’t want to be the graves registration unit that got assigned this sector. They’d have their work cut out for them, trying to match all these pieces back up. I was about to give up when I got a call over the radio.

“Over here, Chief.” I saw one of my people, Diego Thomas, waving about 15 meters away. “I think we got something.”

Hope Springs Eternal?

I made my way over to Thomas, doing my best not to step on any bodies or slip in the gore that coated the ground around me. These people had suffered enough without my old ass landing on what was left of them. I saw some movement through the legs of the troopers surrounding a pile of semi-intact bodies. It was hard to tell if they were human or Skinny from this distance, and I tried hard not to get my hopes up. As I stepped up, I heard a familiar voice saying, “Anybody got any water? We been dry for a while now.” I pushed through the crowd and my old mate Hurtado saw me.

“Powell. ‘Bout fucking time you fuckers showed up,” he said with as much of a grin as someone who’s been through hell can muster.

I pulled him to his feet and wrapped him in an embrace. “Fuck you, César,” I said through tears and laughter. I pushed him back a bit. “You look shit, man.” I wasn’t lying. He was covered in blood and bits of god knew what and it was hard to tell what was human and what was Arvenoid. He had a nasty-looking gash on the side of his face and a tourniquet on his left thigh. But he was alive.

“Yeah, things got a little crazy and I haven’t had time to clean up,” he said. “You know how it goes, man.”

“Slacker,” I said. I looked around and saw five or six more survivors from both D-7 and his platoon. “Is this it?” I asked, motioning at this tiny group. Hell, almost 40 of us started this op and now you could count the survivors on two hands. That was fucking grim, even for this war.

His dropped for a second and he said, “It’s all I know about. After we got overrun, I kind of lost track of the bigger picture, you know?”

“Lawson? Zoe?” I asked. I knew I was coming off as short, but I wasn’t sure I could trust myself to say more.

He shook his head, saying, “I don’t know. I was passing out what ammo we had left when the Skinnies penetrated our position and separated us. After that…” He shrugged.

“Which way?” I said. He pointed down the line and I headed that direction.

Love Lies Bleeding

I found them about 20 meters away. I didn’t see them at first because a huge ring of dead Skinnies surrounded them. They lay in the middle, back to back, completely unmutilated. Their bhuules were placed by their sides and their uniforms were neatly arranged. I’d never seen anything like it. Apparently, the Arvenoid respected their fighting ability enough to set up this small, impromptu monument. And, it gutted me. I hoped that fucking ship was worth the cost. Personally, though, I had my doubts.

An Audience With the Mighty Vol’n

Supreme High Lord of War B’bing had a problem. He had news that his emperor, The Mighty Vol’n, was not going to like. And any time Emperor Vol’n received news he didn’t like, he reacted…violently. Usually, the messenger didn’t survive. Mostly because Vol’n tended to devour those who incurred his wrath. If they were lucky, the emperor killed them first. But all too many weren’t lucky. B’bing didn’t hold it against their sovereign; it was the Gnirli’idi way, after all. But they also didn’t achieve the pinnacle of rank in the most powerful military in the galaxy by being stupid. They heard the clack of nails on the tile floor that heralded their aide’s approach. Lieutenant Kackoi, of the rodent-like Scroqrod species (one of Emperor Vol’n’s culinary favorites), scurried up to them, bearing a data pad with the offending information.

“Supreme High Lord,” Kackoi stammered, “I have the information you requested.”

“Excellent work, Kackoi,” B’bing said in his most soothing tone. “In fact, your work has so good of late that I am giving you a singular honor.”

“Yes, my lord?” The anticipation was so evident in their voice that B’bing was almost sorry for what he was about to do. Almost.

“I am going to let you present it to the emperor in a solo audience.” They saw Kackoi’s silky fur ripple and weren’t sure if it was in fear or elation. Scroqrod knew their place in the Gnirli’idi Empire, which was at best subservient. Often, as it would be this time, their position was prey. Weirdly, the species had no problem with that. In fact, being murdered and eaten by their overlords was considered the ultimate service and the most worthy death possible for one of their kind. He waved the creature toward the massive throne room doors and watched it scurry forward.

It was only a few seconds later that they heard the emperor roar unintelligibly. That was followed by the thump of Vol’n descending his huge bulk from the throne and a high-pitched squeal which was cut short by an awful, wet squelching sound that could only be the emperor tearing out Kackoi’s throat. As if that weren’t bad enough, B’bing could also hear the smacking noises as Vol’n consumed the aide. Vol’n was their sovereign, but the being had truly atrocious table manners.

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

After an hour, during which the emperor had completely devoured the Scroqrod and then taken the nap that always followed satiation for his sovereign, B’bing decided it was safe to enter the royal chambers and discuss the current situation. Even if that idea made his scales stand up. It had to be done because, while they were the Supreme High Lord of War and thus head of the Gnirli’idi military, certain things could only be done with the emperor’s approval. They steeled themself and nodded to the guard to admit them. They moved past the stain on the floor that was once his aide and stood in front the throne, head bowed. After a moment, the emperor (still groggy from the snack and the nap) noticed them.

“What news do you bring me, B’bing?” they boomed in their characteristically gravelly voice. “Is it more about the humans?”

“It is, your eminence,” B’bing replied as obsequiously they could. The emperor should be feeling the warm glow of satiation that followed a kill but B’bing didn’t make it this far by taking stupid chance. “I have the full report compiled by your excellency’s top intelligence analysts, laying the entire scope of the Arvenoid debacle.”

“Hmm,” Vol’n rumbled. “And how did we come by this information? The last I recall, we had no assets anywhere near the Sol system.”

“True, sire, we do not. This intel comes from the Llesote. They have operatives on the planet, observing everything.” The Llesote, being carbon-based, was the race most similar to humans in the Galactic Confederation. Like most silicon-based life forms, he found them, the Arvenoid, and the humans they both resembled, weird. It wasn’t even an uncanny valley thing, they were just creepy, a thing that shouldn’t exist. The emperor shared his feelings on the matter. He noticed that Vol’n’s scales rippled in disgust at the mere mention of “the Llesote”.

“Ugh,” they said. “I’m not sure I trust anything with a form so rounded and smooth. It’s unnatural, B’bing.”

“I am in full agreement, sire. They are, however, our only option. Unfortunately, we are stuck with them.”

“Very well,” Vol’n said. “What do you have?”

This was where it got dicey. The news wasn’t good and, even though the emperor had a full stomach, they could still react badly. B’bing was no coward, however. “Well, sire, it seems that, as the report Kackoi brought you stated, the humans have gotten their hands on an Arvenoid fusion drive.” They steeled themselves for a possible outburst of violence that often came after Vol’n got news they didn’t like.

“Those moronic Arvenoid!” the emperor boomed. “The entire Confederation agreed to leave the humans alone until they progressed. But could they wait a few short millennia? Noo, those fools had to poke the arfnid nest.” They smashed a side table in anger. “How were the humans able to their disturbingly long fingers on an FTL drive?”

“It appears that they stole one of the Arvenoid ships. As we suspected, their military is not really a match for the humans,” B’bing said. “The Llesote said the humans are extremely competent fighters, inventive tacticians and strategists, and capable of extreme violence. The Arvenoid are, well, the Arvenoid.”

“Of course, they are,” Vol’n said. “When we heard those morons were planning an invasion, I said, ‘We should stop them. There’s no way this will turn out good.’” They shook their head. “But no, the other members of the Council thought it might be a good idea to test Earth’s defenses, see what they could do against us.” B’bing hoped the emperor wouldn’t remember that they were one of the voices advising that course of action. Vol’n turned abruptly, their massive tail missing B’bing’s body by mere inches. “ Do the humans know what they’ve got?”

“They do, eminence. The Llesote said they have reverse-engineered the technology and are heading our way.” After they said that, B’bing saw something they’d never seen before. Fear crossed over the Mighty Vol’n’s face.

“They are coming?” they said, their voice quavering.

“It seems so, Your Excellency.”

“We are doomed,” the emperor whispered.

Okay, I’m taking a break from this story for a bit because my ADHD is kicking into overdrive after pursuing the same idea for almost 3 months. Don’t worry though, we’re not through with our friends’ fight with the Arvenoid, just taking a break.