They came out of no where and attacked every major city on the planet in the most sophisticated coordinated strike in human history. No corner of the planet was spared; from the European Union, across the American Empire to the Asian Alliance and down the Africa United Republic States were conquered with incredible ease.
It was the year 2452, a hundred years after the worst war and plague man had ever seen. They were the gal'karr, a race of blood-thirsty warriors determined to conquer the known universe. Population fell from four and a half billion down to a few hundred thousand in a matter of seconds. And of the few survivors, only a fraction managed to escape and set up makeshift armies, scattered throughout the wasteland the planet had been turned into. For over a century, humans fought back, planning skirmishes against the invaders; there were more loses than wins and the last free humans knew the end was near...
- Alexis -
He seemed nice, or at least as nice as a member of an invading alien force hell-bent on annihilating my entire fucking race can seem when he’s holding something very long and very pointy. He was about their version of average height, maybe seven feet or so but was thinner – lanky even; gal’karr were known for their big, burly physiques and my guest was closer to emaciated – again, gal’karr version.
He smiled at me; at least, I think it was a smile. Gal’karr are lizard-like and, really, who the fuck can tell when their happy, sad or horny. Whatever emotion he was conveying, all those pointed teeth on display were both creepy and terrifying.
As he paced the room, his heavy tail twitching like a mad cat’s and his clawed hands clasped behind his back, he began growling in a steady, almost rhythmic way. I didn’t know if he was talking about me, to me or what until I heard a small click in my right ear and a computerized voice began speaking in a robotic monotone that I realized the “interview” had begun.
“You are military. What is place of compound.” Without inflection, questions are really weird sounding. “Speak boy-child.” Was the translator that shitty, broken or were their language skills secondary to murdering, raping and war?
“Answer now, boy-child. Place of compound.”
I answered. Well, sort of. See, I’m kind of a smartass, though my brother would call me a dumbass. I know, a character flaw but I can’t help myself sometimes. Also, I’m thirteen and hate overbearing authority figures.
“Go. Fuck. Tail.”
“You have pain.” He moved quick, cracked me right across the face. I screamed, I admit it. It fucking hurt. Like, half my face swelled right up; I thought my damn jaw was busted. Until I opened my fucking mouth and stupid dribbled out.
“Trust me, asshole, smelling you is painful enough. Fuck, man-thing, don’t they havesoap where you’re from?”
“You enjoy pain. Yes. Good. Pain for you.”
“Why don’t you-”
I let out a sound I didn’t know my vocal cords were capable of making and way more frightening than the ones in those old horror films Lita keeps locked up in her “secret” vault underneath the War Room. And fuck, he wasn’t kidding about the pain. It like my whole body was flash frozen and roasted to a crisp from the inside out at the same time. When it ended, I went totally limp, save for a few twitches. For a minute, I even blacked out.
“Restraints are pain makers.”
Again it happened; electricity ripped through me, though it hurt less than before. Still, fucking ouch.
If I could’ve formed words, I might’ve told him everything.
- Lita -
After a bit of awkward silence, Taylor excused himself and went off to, I assume, blow something up. At least, that’s what he normally does when feeling an emotion he doesn’t want to confront.
“That went better than I expected.” He couldn’t have hidden his relief if he tried. I was surprised he’d stayed; though Taylor didn’t look dangerous, his personality could bevery intimidating. Hell, he was downright scary sometimes. Throw concern over Lexi into his very volatile mix, and you’d stand a better chance against the Devil of Christian mythology himself. “I thought he’d at least smash something. Maybe a vase.”
“Be happy he didn’t; he tends to only break things that bleed.”
“Don’t worry; he saves it for the battlefield.” I patted Merrick’s cheek and smiled, hoping it’d relieve his sudden fear. “He’d never hurt one of us unless it was welldeserved.”
“Now I know why the other ministrys hate him so much. They fear him. You could use that”
“They know what he would do to them if he caught wind of their many machinations. As much as I’d love to set him loose on them, they’re nobles and have powerful support from some of our less reputable citizens. Plus, everyone would know I at least encouraged it. No, I need to be more creative than that to rid me of my greatest non-warm-bloodied threat.” I realized I was rambling and quickly thanked my lucky stars it was in front of someone I trusted. “Anyways, speaking of creative, have you learned anything about their not-so-secret meetings?”
“Um, no.” Not what I wanted to hear. “So far, they haven’t even admitted they hold them. I’m afraid we’re too close for them to trust me but due to my position, they won’t just come out and day it. I don’t know that I’ll be of any help with this.”
I wanted to hear that even less. Merrick was supposed to be my way into their secret circle. But he did have a point – damn it – about them and their distrust of everything related to me. They’d never let someone I trust in on their treasonous plans.
Unfortunately, there was no time to consider any options concerning those bastards as Sooraya Dagher, a member of Delta Squad who should’ve been knee deep in their controversial covert mission, burst through the doors like a woman possessed.
Not a good sign.
“Empress! Empress!” She skidded to a halt so quick she almost fell over. While she was known to make a scene, this had to be serious. She hated me for reasons I had yet to figure out.
“What is it?” I asked but knew the moment she came in. Something had gone terribly wrong. Alexis was in trouble.
Taylor was going to kill someone.
- Taylor -
More children, preparing to die. That’s what I saw every time I stepped foot into the “classroom” on the other side of the underground compound where I taught barely pubescent boys how to kill and how not to be killed, though that lesson seemed far less successful. Eleven, twelve, thirteen at the oldest; basically people too young to be so good at death. At the rate we were losing lives, nine year olds would be leading our armies.
Fucking space fuckers. If not for them, we might’ve recovered from the war and outbreak. We’d still be royally fucked but at least we’d have had a chance.
As I walked in, twenty sets of eyes landed on me and I instinctively cleared any and all traces of hopelessness; no need to prematurely murder whatever innocence they might have left, not that many over the age of reason were lucky enough to cling to any. Anyway, the gal’karr would see to their childhoods’ ends soon enough. Best to just try to prepare them for the inevitable instead.
“Alright, boys, who can tell me why our weapon designs are all at least three centuries old?”
Spencer, the newest addition to my class, spoke up without hesitation.
“They’re defenses are too advanced for our more modern technology. Our energy weapons are unable to penetrate their shields. Only projectile-based weapons can get through.”
The boy was smart - best in class, even. In fact, he should’ve been moved onto basic training already but I’d been unable to sign the paperwork promoting him. I couldn’t stop Lexi from going out there and I guess Spencer remained me so much of my baby brother I found myself being extra protective of him.
Also, I was intrigued by him. When I said “newest member” what I meant was “he’d only been here at the compound for a month or so. No one knew where he’d come from; he was a pint-sized mystery. One I needed to solve before I allowed him out of my tutelage.
I’d hide that though. No need to add to everyone’s stress.
“Good to know someone listens to me.” I used my best fake no-I’m-not-worried-about-shit smile. “Okay, now who can tell me the weakest points in gal’karr personal armor?”
A wave of nausea hit me hard and I crumpled to the floor like a broken rag doll. The kids screamed and called for help while Spencer, showing his talent for command, was able to calm his classmates while I worked my way into my chair. Once the fog lifted and my stomach stopped rolling I excused the class – I didn’t think I could finish the lesson without spewing breakfast. Also, I wanted to know what the fuck just happened to me.
“Taylor? Taylor, are you alright?” I lifted my head off the desk and saw the blurred image of Spencer failing at hiding his inner freak out. I totally understood the fear and confusion he so prominently displayed – I was barely keeping my own in check.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m good. I think.”
“Dunno.” Fuck, I hate admitting that. Makes me feel weak and vulnerable and shit. “But don’t worry; I’m sure it’ll pass.”
But it didn’t. In fact, it got worse. I collapsed again – no small feat considering I was already not standing (and barely even sitting) and would’ve face-planted if Spence hadn’t caught me. This time, there was more than stomach gymnastics as pain flooded through every part of me so fast, I almost blacked out.
“Help!” I barely heard Spencer’s voice through the excruciating pain. “Someone, please!”
- TO BE CONTINUED -