The Stupidest Invasion Pt. 1: Chapter 1

Image by Amy from Pixabay

Chapter 1

The stupidest invasion in the history of the world, maybe even the galaxy, started in a remarkably low-key way. Air defense systems all over the world began noticing an uptick in unidentified flying objects, many of them skirting U. S. airspace. Eventually, several were downed and examined. An odd mix of both advanced and rudimentary technology that seemed oriented toward intelligence gathering was found. Everyone thought it was China, as they and the U.S. had been in the middle of another round of saber-rattling toward each other. It didn’t help that each nation’s state departments blamed the other loudly and vehemently. To say it was an interesting time is an understatement.

Those of us in the intelligence services felt differently. We knew something was off. The tech we were seeing was weird. It was definitely beyond human capabilities, but something about it seemed clunky. Like, it certainly worked, but it worked in the most awkward way possible. The situation was so strange that intelligence services from nations that were normally rivals started exchanging information in an effort to figure things out. Hell, even the hermit kingdom itself, North Korea, started working with other countries. No one was prepared to accept what the evidence was telling us: that the tech was not of this world. And it was breaking our brains. The world’s denial came to a screeching halt, however, when the Arvenoid showed up. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It was 5:47 AM when I woke up to the less-than-dulcet tones of the “Space Bell” ringtone on my phone. I rolled over and struggled to focus enough that I could read the Caller ID screen. It was my day off and I had promised myself that I wouldn’t answer calls that weren’t dire emergencies. After a second, I could make out “Watch Desk”.

“Shit,” I mumbled, taking the phone off the charger. Jerry Kingman was on the desk this weekend and he had a habit of crying “wolf”. It was probably bullshit, but I had to take it since you just don’t blow off calls from the watch desk. I almost cursed him out but thought better of it, simply saying, “Burchmann.”

“Hey, Bob. Sorry to wake you up so early, but we’ve got a situation.”

I thought to myself, Yeah, I’m sure “we” do. But, I said, “What’s up, Jerry?” It took the guy forever to get to the point and I was not in the mood. I hoped I could head that off.

“Are you at home?” he asked.

My hopes for preventing his rambling started to fade and I said, “Well, Jerry, it’s…” I looked at my phone again, “5:48 on a Saturday morning and I’m not on duty. Where else would I be?”

“Yeah, I guess that was kind of a dumb question. Sorry.”

“I’ll forgive you if you’ll get to the frickin’ point.” My already strained patience was wearing even thinner.

“We need you to come in.”

“Seriously? It’s my first weekend off in God knows how long.” We’d all been putting in long hours due to the UFO activity.

“I know, man. It sucks.” He paused for a moment. “But I think you’re going to want to be here.”

“Oh,” I said. “Why is that?”

He hesitated for just a beat. “I can’t say over the phone. But I think you’ll be glad you did.”

“Fine,” I said. “I’m on my way.”

The drive into the office was smooth, even for a Saturday. Traffic in the DC metro area is never what you’d call good but that morning? It was remarkably light. While that wasn’t exactly unheard of, it wasn’t exactly common either. When I finally got to the complex where my office was located, the line of cars trying to get in was backed up into the street. This was unheard of ever since they’d instituted the RFID system a few years ago. It could be worse, I thought, at least I can finish my coffee while I wait.

After a few minutes, I moved up the line enough to see that the gate guards weren’t relying on the automated system but were instead physically checking ID’s. More than a few cars were being shunted off into the visitor lot where were armed guards controlling access. And not just any armed guards, either. I recognized them as members of the agency’s special ops unit. And their involvement in anything meant some heavy-duty shit was going down.

It took about 10 minutes for me to finally reach the gate where I handed over my ID to Kelly, a longtime security guard who’d always been friendly.

“Got your hands full today, huh Kell?” I said as amiably as I could.

She didn’t answer immediately, scrutinizing my ID and then checking my backseat. She turned and grabbed the inspection mirror and made a circuit around my car, looking underneath for God knew what. After she’d finished, she finally acknowledged me. “Yeah, it’s been a little busy, Mr. Burchmann. Everybody’s on edge. Things on lockdown with a very short list of who’s allowed in this morning.”

“Guess that explains all the cars over there,” I said with a nod toward the visitors’ lot. “Why. What’s going on?”

 “I don’t know. They don’t tell us much out here.” She looked around for a second. “There is a ton of weird shit going on this morning, though.” She waved me through before I could ask any more questions, saying, “You better get moving, sir. They’re waiting on you.”

That last statement was so normal. Yet at the same time, it was so ominous.

I’ve read a lot of sci-fi over the years and when aliens finally showed up, I was expecting them to be…, well, different. The Arvenoid, who we encountered later, met, and maybe even exceeded, my expectations of looking suitably “alien”. They were tall, around seven feet on average, with creepily long arms and legs, all covered in a fine layer of fur that changed color depending on the light. But, as I said earlier, their technology was weird and a bit awkward. By our standards, at least. Their managing ethos tends toward “good enough”. And, my god, they are dumb. And that was our saving grace. Well, that and the Llesote. Their help was a game changer.

I met my first representative of the Llesote not long after I arrived at the office. After passing through two more security checkpoints, I was finally ushered into a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (aka SCIF). My boss, Chuck Lester, greeted me.

“Hey, Bob. Sorry to call you in on your day off but we need you here this morning.”

I shook my head, saying, “It’s okay, Chuck. All part of the job, right?”

“Yeah, I guess it is,” he said.

Something seemed off. Chuck was one of the steadiest people in the agency and he seemed shook. “Okay,” I asked, “What’s going on?”

He opened his mouth to respond a couple of times, before finally saying, “I don’t know how to explain it to you, Bob. You just have to see it.”

As I entered the SCIF, I noticed there were quite a few bigwigs present, including the Vice Chief of Space Operations, a representative of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and an Assistant Secretary from the State Department, all of whom I recognized. There were also a couple of people I didn’t recognize. Their titles weren’t mentioned as Chuck introduced them but had a distinctly spook-ish air about them. They had to be CIA. They had those ridiculously bland names the Agency loves. I mean, “John White” and “David Black”? Seriously? And then, we got to the reason I was there.

“Bob, this is…” Chuck began haltingly, “This is Xav.” He looked over the individual sitting off to the side, their face shadowed.

“It is close enough,” they said as they stood up. “Our full name is a bit difficult for humans to pronounce.” Xav had an accent I’d never heard before. Every syllable was distinct but not in a clunky way. They stressed things more in an American way than a British one. I thought that might be an affectation, though, and could change depending on who they were talking to. On top of that, there was just a hint of sibilance to their esses. That’s an absolutely shitty description, but it’s the best I can do considering the situation. As I stood there, trying to place it they noticed my puzzlement. “You’re trying to place our accent, aren’t you?”

That caught me off guard. “Well, yeah,” I said. “I’ve worked with people from all over the world and I’ve never heard anything quite like it.” Mr. State Department started to get huffy, but Xav waved him off.

“It is fine,” they said. “I like this being’s candor.” They smiled. “It is… refreshing.” We all caught the dig, but the two military men seemed to appreciate it more than anyone. They continued. “The reason you have never heard anything like it is because it is not from Earth. We are,” it said, bowing, “the Llesote from the planet—” it used their name for their home world, which, true to their word, would be “difficult” for me to pronounce. And, by “difficult”, I mean “fucking impossible”. “I believe your name for it is Trappist 1e.” Holy shit, I thought, I’m standing in a room with a real live alien.