The Stupidest Invasion Pt. 1: Chapter 3

Image by Amy from Pixabay

Links to Parts 1 and 2

Chapter 3

After I recovered from the shock of Xav’s announcement. I blurted out, “Invasion!?”

“I am afraid so, Robert. A race known as the Arvenoid are preparing their forces as we speak.”

“But why us?” I said. “Why Earth?”

Xav thought for a moment. “We, both the Llesote and the Arvenoid, are members of a grouping of planets known as… well, the name does not easily translate. So, let us call it the Galactic Confederation. There has been a shake-up in the leadership of this confederation creating a power vacuum and the Arvenoid wish to step into it. However, they have neither the resources nor the military prowess to do so. They see your world as a way to acquire both.”

“Really?” I said. “Is their planet as far away as yours?”

“It is,” Xav replied.

“Then why come all this way?” I asked. “Surely there are closer worlds where they could find what they need.”

“There are,” they said. “But none as rich in certain minerals as Earth and its surrounding system. Even if richer planets existed, it is unlikely they would be able to take or hold them. They are perhaps the least proficient military power within the confederation. They see Earth as a way to gain combat experience along with the raw materials they desire.”

“Okay, that does make some sense. But coming 40 or 50 light-years still seems like a lot of heavy lifting for questionable return.”

“It would but for the wormhole,” they said. “You know of its existence, correct?”

“Kind of,” I said. “I mean, I know that some probes found an anomaly out past the Oort Cloud, but that’s about it. The government’s been a bit tight-lipped about it.”

“‘Tight-lipped’,” they said, puzzled.

“It’s a colloquialism meaning ‘unwilling to disclose information’,” I said, having no idea where all that fancy talk came from. Maybe Xav was starting to rub off on me.

“Ah,” they said. “It is a wormhole, a connection to our section of the galaxy, to put it more simply. We have known of it for quite some time and have explored this region rather extensively.” They smiled again and this time, it almost felt natural. “In fact, this is not the Llesote’s first time on Earth. We were here about 80 of your years ago. There was an accident in a place called Roswell, I believe. Have you heard of this?”

“What?” I said. “Those were real aliens?” Oh, that sounded wrong, I thought. “Well, ‘alien’ to us, I mean.”

“It is fine,” they said. “I believe the colloquialism for this occasion is ‘No worries’. Is that correct?”

“Yeah, that works.” I was glad I hadn’t offended them.

“But, yes,” they said, “Those were ‘real aliens’. They were one of the scouting teams the expedition sent out. We, and by that we mean the collective speaking to you now, were also here. But we managed to stay undetected.”

“Wait,” I said. “You don’t look anything like the… beings that were found. How is that possible?”

They laughed and while it wasn’t as unsettling as before, it still had that weird feeling. “That is because we are shapeshifters.”

“Shapeshifters?” I said. “Like Odo from ‘Deep Space Nine?” It hit me that I’d probably made another bonehead move. “Sorry, you probably don’t know who, or what, that is.”

“Actually, we are a fan of Star Trek,” they said. “It stretches the bounds of scientific reality quite a bit, but the stories are excellent.”

“Hold up, you watch Star Trek?” I said.

“Oh yes, it is one of many programs we consumed to learn your language and customs.”

“One of many?” I said. Then, “Did you watch Star Wars?”

“We did. The science is even worse than Star Trek but again, the stories are excellent,” they said. “We are particularly enamored with that franchise’s story arc. I believe it is called ‘the hero’s journey’?”

“That’s it,” I said. “According to a guy named Joseph Campbell, that’s one of the oldest storytelling patterns on Earth.”

“Not just on Earth,” Xav said. “Almost all races within the Confederation have a similar tale in their mythology.”

“Wow,” I said. “I never would’ve thought that.”

“Intelligent life is intelligent life, my friend. I suspect we all have more commonalities than differences.”

“I guess,” I said. Then, I remembered what we had been talking about before I dragged them down one of my rabbit holes. “Okay, I kind of got us off track. So, you came through the wormhole?”

“We did.”

It was interesting how they didn’t miss a beat with that hard transition. Most of my colleagues would have gotten whiplash. I sat, thinking, trying to recall all the UFO sitings, reports of alien abductions, and the multitude of other weird things that had happened in the intervening years. “Have you guys visited us very much?”

“Not often,” they said. “The Confederation decided after that first scouting trip that it would be best for all concerned if Earth had a little more time to mature before venturing out into interstellar space. Unfortunately, that timetable has been upended by our friends the Arvenoid in their quest for power.”

I nodded. “Next question,” I said. “Why are you helping us?”

“Excellent question,” they said. “There are multiple reasons. Some political, some military. And, for the Llesote, one personal.”

“Okay,” I said. “Color me intrigued.” I thought they might struggle with that idiom but they didn’t. They seemed to get it immediately.

“What part of that intrigues you? The political? The military? The personal?” The emphasis they placed on “personal” said they thought that might be the one. And, they were right.

“All of them, of course,” I said. “But the personal one most of all,” I added with a grin.

“I thought so,” they said. “Much of that personal motivation is based on the fact that carbon-based life isn’t the most common form in the galaxy.”

“Really?” I said. I knew I was interrupting but it just popped out.

“Oh yes, silicon-based life is much more prevalent. In fact, the only carbon-based races in the Confederation are the Llesote and the Arvenoid.”

“Wow, silicon-based life. I guess I knew it was a thing but I can’t begin to imagine what it would look like. Or even work, for that matter.”

“It is interesting,” Xav said. “Perhaps at a later date, we can share more information on this topic.”

I realized that was their way of pulling us back from the brink of a dive into yet another rabbit hole. “That would be great,” I said. “But, what does it have to do with your more personal reason?”

“As you can imagine, being a minority is… challenging,” they said. “Being a minority that is lumped in with a race as incompetent and buffoonish as the Arvenoid,” a sour look passed over their face as they said the name, “is even more so. If you were to defeat them in battle, and perhaps join the Confederation, it could make our minority status less distasteful.”

“I can respect that,” I said. “But do you think we have a chance against a technologically superior alien race?”

“Oh yes,” they said with a grin that carried more malice than I thought possible. “With our help and humanity’s natural aggressiveness, the Arvenoid don’t stand a chance.”

The Next Step

Things snowballed after my meeting with Xav and I didn’t see my bed for the next 48 hours. I did catch a few catnaps, though. Just enough to keep me going. We realized pretty quickly that I was probably going to need some sort of staff. I mean, I’m just one person and can only do so much but it seemed everyone in the damn government wanted a piece of this. Chuck, formerly my supervisor since I didn’t work for the agency anymore, was instrumental in getting me through this. His knowledge of bureaucracy and the D.C. pecking order helped winnow down the field of people demanding a chunk of my time to an almost manageable number. I wanted to bring him on with me, but he had other ideas.

“I don’t know, Bob,” he said when I invited him, “I think I can do more good here.”

“What?” I said. “How can you say that? I need somebody who knows this fucked-up system to help me navigate it and you’re the best candidate I can think of.”

He shook his head. “I’m not the ‘best’ candidate you can think of, I’m the only candidate. Plus, you’re going to need a friend in the intelligence community. You know how cutthroat this business can be.” He thought for a moment, then said, “Tell you what, I’ll put together a list of people I think would be a good fit and you sort through it and find the one that works best. Okay?”

I didn’t like it, but he had a point. “All right,” I said, sighing. “But I need that list really soon. These people are driving me insane.”

“Not a problem,” he said. “I’ll have you something within the hour.”

Chuck was as good as his word and, in significantly less than an hour, I was looking over a list of potential associates. My new position as liaison to the Llesote had gotten me undreamed of access and I spent a good part of the morning looking over each person’s dossier as I wanted to be as informed about each person as I could possibly be. Because of my social anxiety, the interviews were awkward. But,there was one bright spot: Becca Murphy.

Murphy came into my office as I looked over her file again. She was 39 years old and, appearance-wise, was one of the most non-descript people I had ever seen. Average height, average weight, her mousy brown hair not short or long, it was like she had been sent from Central Casting in response for a clerical worker. But, she had started as an intern in Political-Military Affairs and worked her way up to a management position in budget administration. That meant she was smart and could probably equal, if not exceed, Chuck’s institutional knowledge. There was a downside though: she was, if anything, even worse at the social stuff than I was. Something that became clear almost from the moment she sat down.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Murphy. Thanks for meeting with me,” I said, scanning her file one more time.

“Of course, Mr. Burchmann,” she said, not even making an attempt eye contact.

“Are you aware of what we’re doing here?”

“A little,” she said, pulling a pen out of her bag and repeatedly clicking it. Two clicks out, pause, two clicks in. Over and over. She still hadn’t looked at me, her gaze everywhere but on my face. I recognized the behavior for what it was, a stim. I had them too, but had learned to mask them a little better. “You’re a liaison to some new organization, but they won’t say who. It all sounds very cloak and dagger.” She was right, it was.

“You’re right,” I said, “It is. But we’re trying to some sort of infrastructure in place before the news gets out.” I paused for a moment. “I mean, this is world-changing stuff and things will most likely get a little crazy when it breaks.”

“Fair enough,” she said. “So, what would I be doing here?”

“The short answer is helping me navigate all the D.C. bureaucracy,” I said, grinning sheepishly. “That’s all I can tell you right now. Partly because of security issues and partly because I really don’t know what you’ll be doing.” I shrugged. “It’s all kind of up in the air at the moment. But, I will say this: no matter what the job ends being, the potential for making an impact on humanity is bigger here than anything else you could imagine.”

“Wow,” she said, “That’s… bold.” She finally looked at me. “Are the any other candidates for the position?”

“A couple.”

“What was their response to that bombshell?”

“Honestly? Most of them thought I was full of shit.” One had even said so. “None were willing to give up their current position to go any further.”

“That’s a condition?” she asked.

“Yes. Once you take the next step, you’re in whether you want to be or not.”

“Oh,” she said. “That is intriguing.”

“Does that mean you’re in?” I said.

She thought for a moment, the pen clicking faster but still so rhythmically. “Yes,” she said. “I’m in.”

“Good. Now, let’s go meet Xav.”