The Stupidest Invasion Pt. 1: Chapter 4

Image by Amy from Pixabay

Links to Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3

Chapter 4

We paused for a moment outside the SCIF that had become Xav’s home away from home and Becca said, “Are you all right?” I realized we’d been standing there as my mouth opened and closed like a fish gasping for air on a dock. And in that moment, I understood Chuck’s hesitation as he brought me in a few days ago. How do you prepare someone for something that will completely upend everything they thought they knew about the world? What could I say that would adequately prepare her to be introduced to a being literally from another world? And, how could I explain all the little things about Xav that would have absolutely no corollary in her life? I realized I couldn’t, so I took the only path left and opened the door.

Meeting With the Alien

Xav sat on the conference table deep in what looked like meditation. In reality, the various beings of their collective were sharing notes and preparing a report for the Confederation. No one could explain it, but somehow the Llesote’s telepathic abilities were able to defeat the SCIF’s electronic countermeasures. The trance broke as we entered and a smile broke across their face.

“Robert! So good to see you.” They noticed Becca standing beside me. “Is this our new associate?”

I nodded. “Becca, this is Xav. They are a Llesotian collective from the planet Trappist 1e.” I could see the gears turning in her head as she struggled to process what she’d just heard/seen. She took it much better than I did, however.

“Interesting,” she said. “I’ve always believed we weren’t alone in the universe. I’m glad to have first-hand confirmation of that fact.”

Xav’s eyes lit up. “Oh, Robert. We like this one. Leave us while we get acquainted.” They had learned a lot in their brief time with humans, but tempering their bluntness wasn’t on that list. I had to admit it stung a little, even though I knew there was no ill feeling attached.

“All righty, then,” I said. As I turned to leave, Xav spoke again.

“Robert, in our research, we have come across some human behavior that we wish to understand better. It concerns the keeping of animals for entertainment or companionship. We believe you call them ‘pets’?”

“Um, yeah,” I said. Where was this going? And, what was I going to have to do?

“As we believe the best way to explore this concept would be to engage in it, we would like a pet. Perhaps a cat. Would that be possible?”

I could just imagine the response of the maintenance staff, security, and pretty much everyone else within the agency. They were already peeved about me setting Xav up in the SCIF since demand for the units was higher than usual. “I don’t know,” I saw their face start to fall a bit. “You know what,” I said, “Fuck it. What’s the point of having power if you don’t use it? You want a cat, I’ll get you a cat.”

“Excellent!” they said. “Now, run along. We have much to discuss with Ms. Murphy.”

Cats and Aliens and Admins, Oh My

I exited the SCIF muttering, “Where the hell am I going to find a cat?” and realized I wasn’t alone.

“Mr. Burchmann?” The speaker was a tall, rail-thin, youngish man I’d seen around the office a time or two but wasn’t acquainted with. I tend to be a bit face blind but he stood out due to his shoulder-length blond hair. The agency, having a healthy quota of former military personnel in its ranks, tended toward the conservative side about appearance, and anything longer than a high-and-tight was uncommon. “I’m Sebastian Wallace. Mr. Lester sent me over. He said you needed an administrative assistant.”

Good old Chuck. Best damn boss I’ve ever had. “He’s right, I definitely need an assistant.” In that moment, inspiration hit and I knew how to solve my latest problem. “In fact,” I said, “I already have an assignment for you.”

He blinked a bit at that, but said, “Okay, what is it?” I liked him already.

“I need a cat, Sebastian. A cat and all the stuff to take care of a cat. Litterbox, litter, food, dishes for water and food, toys, whatever you can think of. Can you handle that?”

He considered it for a moment, then nodded. “I can. How soon do you need it?”

“As soon as you can get one,” I said. “It’s not an emergency, but I don’t want to waste time, either.”

“Right,” he said. “I’ll get on it.”

“Thank you,” I said, relieved at not having to deal with the issue. It’s not that I hate cats, I just don’t understand them. Kind of like women. Both are pretty much a mystery to me.

This Could’ve Been an Email

I’d been happy when Sebastian had shown up since I had what purported to be an important meeting to attend. But I’d spent at least half of said meeting checked out and the rest only peripherally interested in the proceedings. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why I needed to be present at a meeting to meant to determine when and how to announce Xav’s presence to the world. I had no input on that decision and the few questions they’d even asked me could’ve been handled with an email. Same for whatever decision they made. I was drifting between daydreaming and mindful when I heard my name again.

“What do you think, Mr. Burchmann?”

“About?” I asked.

The speaker, Arthur Gilcrest, the same State Department Assistant Secretary who’d gotten his panties in a wad when Xav chose me to be their liaison, huffed. “About the possibility of announcing the alien presence within the next week. Are you even listening?”

“Oh, I’m listening,” I shot back. “You’ve wasted an hour and a half of my valuable time on turf wars, pissing contests, and general bullshit. But now that you’ve approached a consensus, not reached just approached, you want to drag me for being checked out? Seriously?” I mean, I was kind of checked out but this pompous ass didn’t need to know that. He also didn’t need to know that I was stalling because I had no idea what I thought about their “plan”.

That set Gilcrest back on his heels. “You don’t have to be crude,” he said.

I just stared at him for a moment, continuing to stall. I finally put together a coherent response and said, “The sooner you release the news, the better. I’m not sure how much longer we can keep it secret. Everyone in the agency knows something’s up and a few know exactly what it is. The longer you put it off, the greater the chance of a breach.” Which was exactly what David Murray, head of the agency and my ultimate boss, had said. Hey, a little sucking up never hurt anyone.

“Well,” Gilcrest said, “We can’t just announce things. There are protocols to follow and they take time.”

I waved him off. “You don’t have time,” I said. “And, what little time you did has gotten pissed away in meetings like this. Set up a news conference and let’s get Xav out there in front of the world because we’re not going to keep the lid on this much longer.” All the other attendees nodded in agreement.

“Fine,” said Gilcrest. He’d lost and didn’t like it. “We should be able to present him in 24 hours.”

“They,” I said.

“I’m sorry?” said Gilcrest.

“They go by ‘they’, not ‘him’.”

“What do you mean?” he asked. “Are they one of those transgenders or something?”

Of course he’s a transphobe, I thought. And, a stupid one at that. “No, they’re not trans. They’re a telepathically linked collective. What you speak to Xav, you’re actually talking to 7 separate beings.”

“Oh,” he said. Then, he adjourned the meeting and scuttled off before he could present some new way for me to humiliate him. As I was heading for the door, my boss pulled me aside. He waited until everyone had left before getting down to business.

“First of all, Bob, I want to thank you for backing me up in the meeting,” he said. “And, I want to commend you on the job you’re doing. You’ve been thrown in the deep end and you’re not just treading water, you’re swimming your ass off. That said, you might want to ease up Gilcrest a bit. You’re making a pretty powerful enemy.”

“I know, Mr. Murray. But I’m pretty sure that status was set the day I met him. He’s still pissy that Xav picked me instead of him or one of his people.”

“That’s true, but you didn’t help the situation just now. Once the news is out, the infighting with other countries is going to be bad enough. We don’t need to add to it with bickering within our own government.”

“Yeah, I see your point,” I said. “I’m just not great at this kind of thing. And, he gets under my skin so bad.” Murray started to say something but I continued. “I’ve got someone working with me now that I hope can help with that. And, I’ll do better, sir.”

Murray smiled. “Good man. If you need anything, and I mean, anything, let me know,” he said. He headed out the door himself and said over his shoulder, “Keep up the good work.”

Meeting with the Alien. Again.

I hadn’t been back to the SCIF’s anteroom that was turning into my office long when Sebastian walked in, his arms full of cat and cat paraphernalia. “I see you were successful,” I said. “You even got a cat already. I gotta admit, I wasn’t really expecting that. I figured it would take a couple of days at least, what with all the paperwork and shit.”

“She’s actually one mine,” he said. “I’ve been looking to rehome her since her doesn’t play well with the others.”

“Others?” I asked. “As in more than one?”

He smiled shyly. “Yeah, this one made 4. She was my mom’s. I got her when Mom moved to the senior living community.” He paused for a moment. “Can I ask why you need a cat? I can’t keep her but I want to make sure she goes to a good situation.”

I thought about it for a minute before deciding this required a different approach than the one I’d taken with Becca. This was different than a person deciding whether they wanted in what we were doing; it involved a being who couldn’t make a decision on their own and needed their person to make it for them. And, for Sebastian to make that decision, he needed to know everything. I did need to make sure he had clearance first, though. “Okay, couple of questions. One, are you cleared for everything we’re up to here?”

He nodded. “Mr. Lester said he’d add me to the list.”

“Okay,” I said. Hey, if Chuck was happy, that was good enough for me. “Next, how open-minded are you? Specifically about aliens, UFOs, that sort of thing?”

“As much as the next person, I suppose,” he answered. “To be honest, I’ve never really given it much thought. Why do ask?”

I sighed. “All right, this is going to sound crazy but stick with me, okay?”


“In that room,” I said, pointing at the SCIF, “is a being named Xav. They are a representative of an alien race that has come here to warn us of an impending invasion by another alien race.” It was the first time I’d said any of this out loud and I was right. It did sound crazy. “We are,” I continued, making a motion that encompassed the entire suite, “The liaison for Xav, and our job right now is to make them as comfortable as possible. They have requested a companion, specifically a cat. That’s why I asked you to get one. Are you okay with that?”

He thought for a minute, taking in the dump truck load of bat shit crazy I’d just dropped in his lap. “Is this some kind of joke? Or maybe a test? Because it doesn’t just sound crazy. It sounds like you need to be institutionalized.”

I shook my head. “Nope. Not a test. And, do you think they’d give me a SCIF so I could play a joke on an admin assistant?”

“Good point,” he said. “So, you’re telling me that aliens are real. And, they’re here.” I nodded. “And, one is right through that door.”

I nodded again and said, “More than one, actually. They’re a psychically linked collective from a race known as the Llesote. While you only see one of them, you’re interacting with 7 beings total.”

From the look on his face, that last bit almost broke his brain but he recovered quickly enough. “If I heard this anywhere else, I’d think you were certifiable. But Mr. Lester spoke highly of you and, like you said, they wouldn’t have given you a SCIF if you were crazy.” He thought for a moment. “Do you think this… Xav?” I nodded. “Do you think they’ll take good care of her?”

“I do. I’ve spent a lot of time around them over the last 72 hours and they are… well, frankly, they’re kind of wonderful. I always feel better after talking with them.” I considered things for a moment. “How about this: you meet with them for a few minutes and make your own decision. That work?”

“Yeah,” he said, “I think so.”

I opened the door to find Becca seated at the table, as Xav paced around the room telling her about life on their home planet. They stopped when they saw me. “Robert, you are back. Does this mean you have brought us a cat?”

“Well,” I said, “Sort of. I’ve brought you someone who might have a cat for you. But, they wanted to meet you first and make sure you’re a good fit for the animal.”

“Excellent,” they said with a smile. “This is them?” Xav gestured at Sebastian.

“It is. This is Sebastian Wallace. He’ll be working with us as the group’s administrative assistant.”

Becca waved at him and said, “I was hoping you’d find someone for that. I’m not nearly organized enough to handle all that, and,” she looked over at me, “I suspect you aren’t either.”

“Oh, you are too right, sister,” I said. “But I didn’t find them. My former boss sent them over.”

Xav glided across the room toward us. They had an absolutely uncanny grace and I still wasn’t used to watching them move. They extended a hand to Sebastian, saying, “So nice to meet you, Mr. Wallace. I am pleased to be working with you.” I could tell he was a bit overwhelmed with the “muchness” that was Xav. Hell, a huge chunk of my time over the past 3 days had been spent with them and it was still overwhelming to me. After taking their hand, though, Sebastian seemed to relax and slip into the groove (for lack of a better word) that was interaction with the Llesotian.

“Oh, the pleasure is all mine,” he said. He clasped Xav’s hand with both of his, saying, “Really, it’s an honor.” He looked over at me. “I see what you were talking about before we came in.” He let go of the alien’s hand. “Hold on a second,” he said and walked back to the anteroom.

“A lovely man. And, Ms. Murphy here is equally marvelous. Where do you find these people, Robert?”

I shrugged. “Like I told Becca, I don’t. They seem to find me.”

“You are a lucky man, then,” they said. “We have some new information, however, that is not so lucky.”

“Oh,” I said, “What’s that?” But before they could answer, Sebastian came back in with the cat and some of its equipment.

“I can’t think of a better person to care for Miss Minnie Pookiebottom,” he said, cradling the animal in his arm. Xav and the cat perused each other for a moment before she twisted out of Sebastian’s grip and landed lightly on the floor. She walked over to Xav and began to wind herself around their legs, purring contentedly.

“I think you’ve made a friend, Xav,” I said.

“This is good?” they asked.

“Oh definitely,” said Becca. “Hear the purring? That’s a good sign.”

“Yeah,” said Sebastian. “She likes you. Try picking her up.” Xav reached down and scooped the cat up, holding her the same way Sebastian did when he brought her in. She snuggled into their arms with a decidedly satisfied look.

“I like this,” they said. “I like this very much.”

“Good,” I said. “Now, what is this new information you were talking about?”

“Oh, yes,” they said, “Our scout ship monitoring the wormhole contacted us. The first units of the Arvenoid invasion fleet have just come through. They are forming up and waiting for the rest of their force.”

“Oh shit,” I said. “How much time do we have?”

They went into the trance-like state that meant they were communicating with their collective. After a moment, they continued, saying, “My friends at the wormhole say that the ships are coming through a relatively fast pace but they are taking quite a bit of time to get organized.” They looked at me for a moment. “The Arvenoid are not what one would call bright. I believe you would refer to them as “dumb as a brick.” Hearing that saying come from Xav, whose speech was normally so formal and polite was weird. Kind of funny, but still weird. “We would estimate that they will be here in approximately 6 to 8 months.”

“Fuck!” I said. “Okay, I gotta report this. You guys hang out here and I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

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