This is the 76th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Space Swarm, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 15th February 2013
Word count: 1000
“The odds are stacked against us,” the soldier, Private First Class Eric Whitehead stated.
“Yep,” the mysterious civilian said. Eric had some suspicions.
“We’ve barely got any ammo,” Eric pointed out.
“That’s true,” the civilian acknowledged.
“And I don’t know you from Adam,” Eric pointed out flatly.
“Funny my name is Adam,” the civilian said.
“Somehow I don’t believe you.”
“Fair enough, it doesn’t matter what my name is. I’m presuming you can put two and two together. I outrank you in this, so believe me when I tell you that if we don’t even try the Earth is doomed,” the civilian said. Eric was now sure he was Earth Defence Intelligence. “We’re in the ultimate behind enemy lines situation. This ship is on a direct course to Earth.”
“So the two of us are going to single handedly invade their cavernous engine room and destroy it?”
“I was hoping to be discrete about it, but that’s the general idea, yes.”
“Okay I believe you,” the soldier sank into the wall. “Well I’ve got two batteries, one gun to use them in, and my knife.”
“That’s a start, we’ll pick up weapons along the way. Follow me soldier, and try to be quiet.” The soldier snapped right back into his training and followed his de facto commanding officer.
A day before Eric had been sole sentry on Omega Station, a glorified tin can floating on the edge of the solar system. He was two months into a six month assignment guarding scientific equipment. Technology thieves were rife, but the station was decently defended with weaponry that while armed it would be unappealing.
Eric had been woken by a shrill alarm, proximity sensors. There should have been warnings long before then. A ship docked while weapons were only just warming up.
“Stand down soldier,” the mysterious civilian had said, “I’m just here to great your visitors.”
“What visitors?” the soldier said his rifle pointing at the civilians chest. The proximity alarms went off again. “What the fuck is going on?”
“Doesn’t matter, hold your fire until it swallows your little vessel. It’s our only chance to survive,” the civilian ordered. Eric decided it was sound enough advice as he saw some sort of vessel on the scope which appeared to be a third of the size of the moon.
“Aliens?” he asked.
“Yep, and not your friendly alliance type either,” the civilian said, “Hold your fire until we’re well inside, we might just live through this.”
They did live, and now they were slowly making their way through the bowels of the ship.
“How is it you know where we’re going?” the soldier asked.
“I have access to information you could only dream,” the mysterious man said, pulling wires out of a door control blocking their path.
“Is it far?”
“Just through this door, get ready,” the door separated with a hiss.
The soldier looked through the door, inside was a cavern of metal and glass. Scuttling about were insect like creatures, carrying tools in spindly arms.
“Fuck,” the soldier said, “What are those things?” he ducked back hoping nothing noticed him.
“Those are engineers if intel is right. They shouldn’t bother us, once we do what we came to do they’ll be plenty busy.”
“Right then,” the soldier said, “what is it we came here to do?”
“Look through the door again, do you see a large glass liquid filled tower?”
Eric looked, “Yep, down at the far end, bugs are crawling all over it.”
“What we’re going to do is destroy that,” the civilian said.
“And that will stop this ship before it gets to Earth?” the soldier asked.
“Oh yeah,” the civilian said, “Remember that old twentieth century film, called Star Wars?”
“I might have seen it in school,” the solider said, “Well that is the equivalent of thermal exhaust port.”
“I don’t know what that means,” the soldier said.
“Just destroy it, and the day will be saved.”
“Yes sir,” the soldier broke through the door. As the civilian had said, the bugs didn’t respond, other than to avoid his falling feet. The civilian followed behind looking around, picking up and dropping things as he went.
Two dark shapes loomed from the corners of the cavern, The soldier’s training kicked in, he fired off three shots into the centre of the masses. Two cockroach type creatures curled up dead.
“Soldiers,” the civilian shouted.
Eric was more cautious now, he moved forward, but he was tracing shadows with his gun. “Clear,” he reported, and progressed onto the glass tower.
“How do we take this thing down?” Eric asked.
“I was looking for something, but I can’t make head nor tails of this alien stuff,” the civilian said, “Guess intel wasn’t that complete.”
“Fine,” the soldier said, he turned back to the tower, took aim and fired a single round. Both men ducked the ricochet.
Bugs swarmed over the site of the shot.
There was movement behind, Eric looked back and saw cockroaches approaching. “Tell me, quickly. Is this a suicide mission?”
“Yeah,” the civilian said, “My name’s Michael, Michael Greyhorn.”
“Well Michael, here goes nothing,”
Eric turned back on the tower and fired his last five shots, and then switched for his last clip. Behind him, he could hear the civilian fighting and dying against the cockroaches. Eric didn’t turn back, he just repeatedly fired at the same shot.
Eric watched as cracks spread across the glass tower, all the insects were swarming alarmed towards it. He felt a presence behind him, and then something punctured through his midrift. Eric looked down, it was the leg of one of the soldier aliens. It was too late though, the glass tower exploded, high pressure liquid firing everywhere. Every where it fell, the cavern began to melt.
It took hours, but the ship died. By the time the human ships arrived, the alien ship was just a burned out husk, with only a few bugs clutching on for dear life.