Letter from the Future
I am sending this letter back in time. I shall spare the details of time travel, just let it be known that small inanimate objects can be sent through time. The past, however, cannot be changed; every time-jump is just a loop of sorts. Because of that, this message is somewhat in vain. There is nothing you can do to change the future. I guess I am writing this because I want somebody to know what happened to Earth, it makes me feel less lonely.
I am one of the last people left standing on Earth. The Blue planet, as it has been fondly called, will be destroyed in just two short years. The Council of Solaris 1 has decided that Earth is more trouble than it is worth.
Oh where did it go wrong? Earth was at an almost complete world peace in the year 2030. We had solved several of the greatest problems. At the top of the list were creating safe nuclear power, and permanently stopping terrorism. Oh of course our Utopia wasn't completely perfect, and some people grumbled. But our greatest thinkers put into action a good format for a Utopian world, and earth was at peace.
I think the problems started anew when we decided to pursue space colonies. The idea itself wasn't a problem, but Dr. Stephen Johnson, the man who spearheaded the effort, decided to promote utter independence from earth. Almost nobody agreed with him to begin with. But after our solar system was completely settled and we started looking at inter-solar travel, the idea grew in popularity.
In the year 2100, when the Pluto fleet, Star Hopper, set out for Proxima Centauri, a council convened between Earth and Mars. It was decided that Earth would no longer hold sway over other planets. Our solar system would be ruled planet to planet.
Many people who had stayed on Earth were somewhat upset. I think they must have been jealous as well. Humans were exploring beyond our solar system while Earthlings seemingly sat at home. To make things more complicated, we were expanding beyond just 'race'. We now had an interplanetary discrepancy to face. The Utopian method Earth had employed, to great affect before, started to crumble.
A murmur of war started somewhere on Earth, and soon there was a cry for vengeance. Why exactly, I'm not sure. Earthlings felt left behind.
Mars, the closest planet, felt Earth's hate first. We had out grown atomic bombs at this point. Bombs of that kind were a sort of child's play. Not because their destructive power had gone down, humans simply had got that much meaner. We used Negative Matter. (Technically not truly "negative", it was thus named because of the black hole like destruction it left behind, or rather didn't leave behind.) The greatest atrocity to ever take place in our solar system happened on April 11, 2107. Earth launched two, eight megaton Negative Matter bombs at Mars. The first bomb sucked over half the planet into oblivion. The second one, hitting only seconds after, left just a ring of dust particles, and just like that, an entire planet disappeared. They had no warning, and nobody was confirmed to have escaped.
The other five planets summoned an emergency council. Earth had amassed several space frigates, rigged for war, and was planning on regaining control of her lost subjects. The other planets declared immediate retaliation.
Fourteen years of fighting ensued. Earth did not want to give up, and the other planets did not have the luxury of backing down. If they did, they would be ruled by a tyrant of a planet. At this point several million people fled Earth. Most were turned away, only 2.3 million were recorded as accepted on the planet Venus. The rest were doomed to wandering space. They had deserted their planet, and no others would take them. Another key thing that happened during this period was the creation of the Council of Solaris 1. So named because we had already started a massive colonization of several other solar systems. Most notably among them, Proxima Centauri.
In the year 2121, Earth was beat into submission. All her natural resources had been spent, and water existed only in sparse locations near the poles. Earth was finished. The Council of Solaris 1 sent most of the inhabitants of Earth to prisons spread throughout the solar system. Only four hundred or so people were left on planet Earth.
The year is currently 2125. The Council of Solaris 1 has condemned Earth to the same fate as Mars. I will be leaving Earth for the final time in just a few days.
Earth's fate is a sad one, but I think it is a just one. Humans are spread out over fourteen solar systems in all now, and we have yet to find any other life. We have grown much bigger and farther then most people ever imagined and yet we are still tiny little blips on the map of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Unfortunately this will be the one and only letter I can send. To put things back in time, you need to place them in the exact physical spot you want them to appear. We will be losing more then just a planet. We will be losing a portal to the past as well.
The Golden City
”...and each with his
weapon for smashing.”
Key·ol·te·ton and his men overlooked the desolate plateau below with caution. Deep in the territory of the Nephraceetan, high on a rocky crag, the Mammoth-men studied the pulsating glow in the middle of the third terrace. Mesmerized by the scene, the mystic dance of radiance twirled and weaved in its colorful, pattern-less array. Seductively it called out to the men’s senses of wonder and yet at the same time they feared the unknown of its magic. This was the most sacred of places. Only the gods were welcomed here. The Sanctuary, — The Light — emanating from the very heart of the Forbidden Terraces, — guarded by the monstrous ghouls,— The Nephraceetan.
“Brother, we have traveled too far north since we left the soft-skins,” whispered Zee·ya. The panic in the medicine man’s voice was unusual. “We should of turned south weeks ago. Surely no one would have been foolish enough to bring the Beloved this deep into the dark world of the cannibals?”
“Our own spies confirmed the tavern owner’s story —that the kidnappers were bringing her to the devils as an offering.”
“No one strikes a bargain with the devils. They are beyond reason.”
“Shhh!” Key·ol·te·ton answered as he cautiously lessened his exposure behind the large outcropping of granite while keeping his full focus on the changing scene below.
Zee·ya froze in horror.
* * *
The small contingent of transparent forms moved as phantoms in the twilight hours through the primeval woodland. Only a rare sign marked their passing. A few prints with razor sharp talons pushed into the rotting debris of the forest floor. Here-and-there, a singular dewclaw scarred the earth as it gripped the unstable terrain like an opposable thumb.
The occasional roar of a big cat and the squeal of prey, or the thunderous trumpeting of an angry pachyderm hinted of the dangers of this foreboding world; but the ghostly forms seemed indifferent to the unnerving sounds of the fierce denizens.
Apparitions on a quest, the aliens stalked through the matted vegetation. They were Marshals,— Guardians on a mission. Soldiers of the Empire sent to reclaim a critical outpost on the fringes of the realm.
Ahead, somewhere in the heavy growth, their destination lay hidden,— abandoned long ago on this forgotten world after the galactic upheaval that lost this sector of space to insurgents. Hopefully, after the onslaught of some of the heaviest fighting of the insurrection; the treasure-trove of scientific research was still intact, — and with it, an antidote.
The alien Prince stepped into the clearing and solidified as silent as a disembodied spirit taking form. The cloak, — a mere tool in his arsenal against a resourceful enemy, had served its purpose. The locator signal on the giant’s visual array marked arrival at the coordinates as he inspected the passage of dancing light far ahead on the mountain plateau. Numerous trees broke up the features of the flat landscape ahead; a haphazard smattering of dead and barren shapes that prevented a clear view of the energy source.
Subordinates materialized in defensive positions around their commander.—— Ignoring the science, it was a haunting display of magic as the mystic warriors stood; the stone hewn features of the Guardians’ imprinting images of ancient centaurs in the soft hue of the single moon’s glow.
The contoured horns of each war-helmet gracefully shadowed the large bulging eyes of the masks that were as black as the surrounding night. Deep within the dark glossy orbs, radiated small pupils locked on their destination; the burning embers peeking out through the doors of hell. Gnarled cords of hair, a tangled mass of disjointed, twitching, spider-like legs, veiled the back of the neck and draped over the heavily sinewed shoulders. Light chain-mail, girded at the waist by a thick belt served the duel purpose of protection in battle and field generation for the cloak.
For hand-to-hand combat, heavy gauntlets shielded forearms and each warrior carried a unique weapon of choice besides knives of varying lengths: single and double edged swords; saber, trident, spear, battle-ax, and war-hammer.
The Prince alone, standing a full head taller then his subordinates, carried a quarter-staff. Fingers with daggered talons held the stout metallic shaft as corded sinews rippled under the giant’s adjusting grip. Strength was a characteristic bequeathed to all the warriors; but the long tusks protruding from under each mask appeared the most formidable of their natural weapons.
A fearsome contingent of soldiers, these were the pride of the royal house and sworn sentinels to their leader;— the giant, Cal·mic·kay, — “The Destroyer,” foremost prince of the Guardian Empire.
The giant triggered his targeting sensors, and scanned the doorway ahead. The waves of light emanating from the entrance seemed to twirl and spin like rays from a sun reflecting off the rippling surface of a stream. Go from this place, they warned hypnotically. The rhythmic power source from within hummed and vibrated,— cautioning — Leave or Die, to any life-form.
Pulling a small black box from his belt, the Prince transmitted the appropriate frequencies to unlock the safeguards, and motioned his sentinels forward.
They walked into the sparse, almost barren grove. A haunting mystique of evil shrouded the ancient courtyard, —most of the scattered trees, dead and withered. Repugnant, shriveled fruit clung to a few gnarled branches, hanging abandoned, — the mummified remains of lost prosperity.
They neared the gateway and static filled the air. The presence of ozone readings scrolled down on the officers’ visual arrays doubling as mask visors.
“Why is the shield still on?” Cal·mic·kay raised a hand stopping the advance.
* * *
Kreya thrust her knee into the back of the Earther's suit, right below the portable air unit, and twisted his left arm up higher, so it almost reached his head. Big suit. Clumsy suit. The kind people wore when they didn't live in space. He slammed up against the outside wall of the airlock and grunted inside his helmet.
"Tell me when you planning hit us, mahn," she spat into the comm of her own suit. "We not looking more Earthers comin for what ours now."
"The hell I will," the man hissed. "You ungrateful space rats, you don't know what a good life we've given you."
"Ah, so good we starve when you no feel like sendin food, that be? Then you tax what you do send so we can't eat, and charge high for air so kids can't breathe right. Well, we grow our own food now, heavy mahn. You not know? We got food and air. We no need you any more. We got good life with no Earthers messin our stuff. It been 200 years and you still think you control what never yours. We light and livin out here Mars."
The man twisted in Kreya's grasp, but she had him pinned too tightly to do much more than squirm.
"Go to Hell."
"No, it be you who goin, mahn, if you no tell me. One last chance - when you hit us?"
"You're as good as dead, dust-eater."
"No me, Earther. It you be flyin back to Earth in no suit. I find out some other way what you plan."
Kreya reached with her free hand across her body, pulling a five-inch utility knife from a side pocket of her skin-tight reflective suit. And, mainintaining pressure on the man's back, she dug the blade deeply into his protective casing, leaving a wide gash. The hiss of escaping air whistled over the comm link, and the man gave a strangled scream. When she released her knee, he dropped, gasping, to the ruddy soil. His arms flailed and thrashed as he tried to suck in air that wasn't there. She stepped back and watched, her dark eyes glinting like steel from behind the wide faceplate of her sleek helmet. Her chocolate-colored face hardened, too - this was not her first kill, but it was clearly a necessary one. The entire expanded colony - her people - depended on it. She waited until the thrashing stopped and the man lay looking at her with empty eyes.
Kreya peered out at the rocky plain surrounding the spaceport. It was still the dawn shift in Mars' perpetual twilight, and there weren't many ships coming in and out at this time. She was sheltered by the bulk of the airlock protruding from the port's loading dock, but she knew she couldn't leave the Earther here. No one could track his death to her, specifically, but trouble between Earth and Mars had been brewing for decades, and she knew, regardless, that the SMM would be blamed. And the Sovereign Mars Movement couldn't afford to become entangled in that right now, especially when they were so close to gaining their independence, despite what the diplomats said.
There was an access shaft behind the airlock that was only used when the generator had to be taken offline; that would do for now. Kreya dragged the body to the shaft and turned the large wheel that would open the metal seal. It was stiff from disuse. Even in Mars' light gravity, dragging the man and hoisting him into the shaft was difficult - she was fifth-generation Martian, and well-adapted to her planet. Mass was still mass, no matter where you were from, and Earthers carried more muscle from pulling against their gravity.
"Mahn, why you be so big load?" she murmured into the silence. "Damn Earther make more problem even when is dead."
She poured him in headfirst, pushing on his legs to get the rest of the body over the seal's lip. The hatch shook slightly as her burden hit bottom, and convinced he would not be discovered anytime soon, she swung the wheel in the opposite direction and took to brushing the drag marks from the reddish dust to avoid any unwanted attention. Real, red dust. The Earther was right about one thing - she was a dust-eater through-and-through, and damn proud of it. Then putting her palm to the airlock's plate, she waited for the door to cycle and went back inside.
The SMM war room had been built in an abandoned maintenance cavern 29 levels below the planet's surface. It had taken 10 years of covert effort to turn it from a dust-filled hollow to a state-of-the-art surveillance and attack center, as the Martians took as much technology from the Earthers as they could get away with and re-engineered it to improve its function. Banks of vido monitors lined the walls, each monitor trained on a different level and section of the colony. At the far end of the room from the entrance stood a long, squat console, whose switches and knobs operated a wide range of ordnance aimed at targets both inside and outside the main dome, defending the inhabitants from The Enemy. There was only one - the planet next door - and everyone here knew it. Kreya had grown up in this room, learning the ins-and-outs of every console, every weapon from Mars' top minds, and she had grown to become one of the SMM's leading stealth agents.
It was now time for the day-evening shift switch, and in the chaotic movement of people on all the levels, about 100 individuals had been able to break away and make it to the room undetected. They sat in the chairs, against the walls, or between machinery, wherever they could find a space. Hevor, a tall, dark-skinned man of about 40 sols moved to the front of the room, and a hush descended, though the air still crackled with anticipation.
"We be glad you come," Hevor started. His voice was deceptively soft for his size. "Know it difficult but we near the time. Deimos put it within a week. Kreya, anything on the Earther?"
She dropped her chin slightly. "No, and he gone."
He turned his gaze toward an Asian man near the back of the room. "Been over manifests they post. If they carrying, they not showing it there."
A gray-haired woman raised her voice. "Hevor, got intel. All you need hear."
Her voice was gravelly - she had spent her whole life breathing in the planet's dust, and it commanded a certain respect - like everyone in the room, she was a Duster through-and-through. Everyone turned as one to look at her.
She continued. "Two ship inbound, docking in three sols. "Hurley" carry Earther people-killer machine - wipe Dusters out with no damage to dome. Needs get inside to use it, though, so we got room. "Casey" got maybe 2,000 troop. They plannin for big fight. No prisoner me thinkin."
"How solid the evidence?"
"Confirm off Netlink, and got send-through from our Duster in military office. We right in it."
Hevor considered this for a moment. "Evacuation?"
Kreya spoke up. "All not old enough to fight goin to down-below. Bulkheads down and everyone else know be shield. We be ready."
Hevor peered out at the group before him. "We got one chance get this right. We gotta know everyone in and knows what doin."
"We all good," Kreya told him decisively. "Been long time waitin. Not gonna screw up."
Hevor nodded. "Good. We get maybe five minute when they dock for them to realize the airlock no cycle for them and get their suits on. We gotta be in by then. Not gonna lie - won't be easy. We gonna lose some, but we have surprise. To them Mars just old space rock; to us home, and we fight for home. Show them Dusters don't take no beatin from the heavy mahn."
The group cheered their assent.
"Nayan give final posts tomorrow noon," Hevor told them. "Be there, be ready, and this time Mars finally be free. Now go. Don't want no Earthers wondering where their space rats go to."
One by one they filed out, moving into the crowds as inconspicuously as they could.
It was all in the planning, Kreya told herself as she wriggled tighter into her hiding space between two large cargo containers in the docking area. It was hard to move with her suit on, but she needed the protection in the airless bay. The Earthers would land in about 20 minutes, their ships descending from the surface platform into the bay, which was supposed to seal and pressurize so they could disembark. They didn't know that Tarent had sabotaged the cycler, but it wouldn't take them long to figure out how to override it. That was the time upon which all their plans depended - getting to the ships and the crew before they were fully pressurized and before they knew what hit them.
She was in charge of the laser cutter. She had always shot on target, and now she would have her biggest target yet - an Earther ship, which she was to slice open like a ration tin. The trick was making the gash quickly enough and deep enough so that many of the Earthers wouldn't have even suited up yet. If they weren't caught in the fire, they should suffocate in the vacuum of the bay. The rest, who were suited, would put up the biggest fight, and that's where the casualties would start to mount up. "Be quick cut," she whispered to her weapon, and she tensed her grip on it.
"Comm check," came Hevor's voice in her ear.
"Bay cargo ready," she replied, and she heard each of the other hidden fighters reporting in. She kept her comm open for any additional orders.
Kreya felt the vibration as the entire bay shook before Hevor's voice came again: "Ships locked on pads. Headin your way, cargo. Fight well. We back you up."
The bay shook as the ships descended, and she felt herself holding her breath. "No, breathe, Duster," she told herself. "Life in the breathin."
Minutes went by, she and she could see the bottom of the platforms entering the bay. The large bay doors were starting to close. It was now or never.
Kreya let out a whoop of excitement. "You go nowhere, Earther scum! Hit now!"
She and at least ten other shooters targeted the ships and began drilling. The Earthers had named this planet after their god of war. Well, it had come to war. And in that war she knew she would either live or die, but it would be worth all the effort, no matter what. Mars, her world and its colony of people, would live forever.
#MarsLives #rebellion #SFstory
The bomb’s mechanisms kept going with no regard to the chaos around it.
“Damnit! It is always down to two wires, isn’t it Gregarrd?” Kyko muttered to his droid.
He continued to stare at the wires, hoping something would eventually make sense. The air was thinning and Kyko did not feel all that comfortable being so close to the impulse engines. If this bomb did not kill him, the infinite space just 5 feet from him surely would.
“Finally! Hey Gregarrd, in all those old films we used to watch the hero never chose the red wire. Since I am no hero, I deduced I should choose that very one and as luck would have it, I beat the system!”
Greggard barked enthusiastically in response.
The compact space that the device was hidden in contained nothing more than the back up generator, the perfect target.
These Martians are coming to be quite predictable, thought Kyko.
He pushed open the metal door behind him and glanced down the long hall, deactivated bomb in hand. Fighting could be heard from the end of it, but he had confidence Titus would have it cleaned up in a jiff. This was always how it went, after all. He disabled the ever-present bombs and Titus did the dirty work.
The hatch in the wall next to him allowed for proper disposal of the device. He could feel the pull that was created in the air the second that hatch opened. Kyko’s curiosity of what space could possible hold for him would one day turn deadly. The feeling was gone the moment the hatch slammed shut and he shook it off.
Continuing down the hall with his droid at tow, he found Titas. A sickly green head dangled from his massive fist and a equally sick smiled marred his otherwise imposing face.
“That easy?” Kyko questioned.
“Quite. Their poor tactics will never cease to amuse me,” Titus jested in response. He had been fighting these aliens for over a year now and has been itching to teach them a fighting lesson or two. Being trained by his war-born father, he was the best in his class in his youth. No one could best him, except Kyko occasionally.
This particular war has been going on for 37 years between Earth and Mars, both strong colonies. Mars was jealous of the advantage that Earth’s citizens had when it came to it’s natural resources. Mars, being an organically barren planet, demanded to have equal rights to them, to which Earth refused.
Kyko and Titus were born into this war sixteen years into it’s progression and it has yet to end. The people of Earth agreed to a draft for the military and Kyko, along with Titus, were sucked into this life with no say, only their classes and experience to save their asses from time to time, like when particular alien asses invade their ship and attempt a suicide bombing.
“We better get to the cockpit to see how Lerena has fared,” Titus remarked.
“Oh, I am sure she’s fine. Hasn’t crashed yet as far as I know.”
Lerena, too, was a victim of the draft. She was orphaned at the age of eight and a soldier ever since. They made quite the formidable crew.
In the cock pit, Kyko immediately noticed Lerena’s absence.
“Um, we do have a pilot, right? I did not just dream that up one horribly lonely night?” Kyko questioned.
“No,” Titus answered with a jovial laugh. “She is nothing like the sort of woman you’d create, Ky.”
They searched only to find her asleep beneath the controls.
“Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey, princess,” Kyko said with a stern kick to her back-side.
″Eggs, mmmmmm,” Lerena mumbled sleepily. “Don’t mention eggs.”
“I’ll make you a huge pan of them when this bloody war ends and you tell me why you’re asleep during a damn invasion!” Ky replied, yelling the last part.
“No... sleep... for... three... days,“she mumbled half-heartedly.
“Ugh,” he groaned. “Let’s just get out of here.”
“I’m with you on that. Ler, you can sleep when you’re dead. Get up.′
She slowly crawled out from beneath the console and got to her feet.
“Ok let’s go.”
(The end, but you get the gist)
The bins had been evolving on Mars.
Nobody knew how or why and the exact history behind their existence on the unprotected Martian surface was inconsistent and vague.
Binologists maintained that there were only two viable theories; the Extratrashestrian Theory (soon proved impossible) postulated that the bins were aliens from an as-yet-undiscovered planet and they were now in a stage of revealing themselves; the Intradumpty Theory of Trasholution contraindicated that the bins were in fact a product of humans-past and were reaching a stage at which we may be beginning to recognise them as a new species.
There were two subsets to each theory and they both split at the point of considering the bin’s intentions and therefore how best humanity should prepare. One side of each argued they should observe from afar and, at most, probe them for any signs of communicative power; the antithesis was heralded as key to the alternative subset: nuke the bins before they bin-nuked us.
A third theory - considered now by all sides in retrospect - was proposed by 9-year-old Alison Grasswood-Mountainview to her professor of Binology, Joffrey Bluetooth, and that was the following: the bins were just bins but inside the bins were space rats.
The only downside to Alison’s theory was that, as far as Binologists were aware, there was no such thing as a space rat.
Politicians were quick to throw their hats in the ring or swing their pseudo-science-decorated feet in their mouths but popular culture couldn’t get a good grip on a far-flung intelligence that they were still used to putting burnt eggs inside.
Within the time it takes for an unexpected and enrapturing television program to become an insolently absent court jester, bins were yesterday’s moon cats. Scientists on liberally informative infotainment slots tried their best to sex up the concept of a sentient refuse collective but they only made for desperate examples of the limitations of knowledge when it came to the come-hither powers regarding the concept of a living dirt box.
3 years later, by which time Alison was now more interested in pop stars than Martian refuse receptacles, a very small group of people from all sides of Binology got sick of waiting, broke through the weakly secured doors leading out to the bins - possibly after drinking a lot of shots during several bets about bins - and investigated the bins by hand.
It was often said of the decline-inclined that they lacked the gumption to take on science that was active or evolving but on this day they had proven their field could be a petri dish for the growth of true heroes of the field; they weren’t taking facts on the dormant and had had it with stagnancy, although Stag Nancy had offered to procure samples.
Apart from one of them dying due to not wearing a space suit after losing at strip poker, they found what a lot of the science community – and a now-12-year-old girl – suspected: space rats.
Having now known space rats had existed for ten years, the scientific community were not surprised. This was exactly the sort of thing space rats were known to do, anyway, they decided to award the team of Binologists medals for tenacity, after all they were space badgers.
I will never forget the day Rancor scaled the summit of Olympus Mons. Our Martian sun, though smaller and dimmer than the shining brilliance of Earth, tenderely kissed the horizon and radiated the simmering red that would become so famous.
Or do we dance with infamy? Do our feet hit the floor with ill-intent? It was Rancor, standing against that radiant red sky, who planted our flag on the top of our Martian world. It was Rancor, his breath fogging the glass of his Earth-made helmet, that gazed into the billowing black smoke of the early terraformers and saw something more than a place for Earth to pillage without thought or consequence. I remember that he turned to me and his black eyes flared with the fiery reflection of that red sky, and I stood in bewildered awe before the first true Martian. Not Hadfield, whose Earth boots were the first to be dusted red by our Martian clay. Not Plyskov, whose terraforming giants first drilled into our Martian bedrock and darkened the sky.
No, it was Rancor, who on the summit of Olympus Mons screamed at the blue jewel in the sky and declared this planet for us, demanded those on Earth that Mars was no longer a thing to be used and discarded so that they may live out their greedy lives. That we, the first Martians, held more value and worth than we had ever been afforded.
When we can back down from the mountain, he gathered us under that red sky. The great Rancor stood apart, the low Martian sun throwing his body into an imposing silhouette, and when he spoke his voice cut through the Martian air like the stinging whiptails that split his back apart when he tried to save his father. As he gazed at the throngs of people standing before him it seemed to us as if he looked into each person, saw the turmoil swirling beneath the surface and with each word he raised us up out of the muck.
"Their best and brightest tore through this land, our land!
*OUR LAND!* We called back to him and pounded our fists against our suits in unison, the Rancor way. The Martian way.
"They scoured and penetrated the heart of this planet, our planet!"
"Do we not toil? Do we not sweat, and bleed, and ache, and bend, and break? We do not break for them! We do not bleed for them! We but break for her, our Mars!"
"We are for us, for our wives and daughters, our husbands and sons, our mothers and fathers, our minds, our hearts!"
"Yet we are placid, we are cowering, we are at the mercy of Earth, and for what? Why do we betray the very thing that makes us who we are? For food? For water? For oxygen? We beg and scrape and snivel for what no human should ever have to beg and scrape and snivel for! Are you Earthlings?"
"Who are you? WHO ARE YOU?"
*WE ARE MARTIAN!*
"Then let us be at their mercy, NO MORE!"
And with that Rancor the First, the True, the Great, tore off his helmet and drew Martain breath.
Our world stopped. We stood there as Rancor laughed and cried, taking in the Martian air. They lied to us. Trapped us in their prisons of steel and glass. He stripped off his Earth-made suit and with it any remnant of loyalty to the blue jewel in the sky.
I knew, there and then, as red Martian dust swirled around him and the hundreds of thousands that stood around me stripped off their suits and helmets, that freedom had come to Mars.
Our war with Earth had begun.
Indigo once spanned the skies from dusk to dawn. It brightened ever so lightly when the morning came despite the planet’s three suns. At least, that was how the elders described it until the night of the fiery sky. The current generation rarely saw one of those suns through the elusive wisp of a black cloud. They spoke of heavens blackened by the flames trailing the giant metal insects screaming to the surface. Many had never heard these legends, believing their lives always included their oppressors. Then again, upon arrival, the visitors almost entirely eradicated the indigenous population.
The beings who spilled out of the blazing bug when it landed swept the natural resistance under the rug. Each uprising was mercilessly stomped flat so none could follow in those footsteps. As far as the public knew, such things never happened. Klik was one of the few who knew about revolution firsthand.
Human. Klik heard them use that term in an effort to differentiate themselves from the locals. They said it to themselves more than those they repeatedly struck to the same effect with whatever blunt instrument was in hand. Where humans bled red, Klik’s people bled blue. Just another example of that species’ cruelty if you asked him. The two races were easily distinguishable from one another if you looked. Klik knew the term they used when they thought his people were out of earshot. The humans called them bugs.
Klik had seen it all in action when his father led a great failure of a revolution that had cost the man his life. There was no way he was going to repeat those mistakes. He would restore his family and his people’s honour if it was the last thing he did. Already, unlike his father, Klik had a secret weapon none before him did.
Deep within the underground catacombs where humanity had forced them, they kept a man. Something about him had made him different to Klik from the moment they stole him away from his people like they had stolen everything from the planet’s inhabitants. By any measure, he was a small man, yet he offered no resistance against his captors’ jabs and strikes. Klik’s brethren were unimpressed by the man’s silence, resolving to heavy blows instead of words. They were more curious about whether or not their prisoner’s blood was blue.
Klik chatters his mandibles to one of the guards placed on the man’s door. The guard who steps aside to let him in mumbles something under his breath about wasted time. A growing number among them were beginning to voice impatience. It was slightly worrying that some felt emboldened to say it in his presence. He hoped to make his move before any overzealous fool took an eager step to set the plan back.
Once inside, he learned he was already too late. Red covered the walls and floor around the crumpled heap that had been Klik’s hope. He spun around just in time to catch the flash as the mumbling guard fired at him. As he fell, Klik remembered his father’s glassy stare when he too met his fate.
He never really considered what it looked like, 3 thousand years of war. 3 thousand years of death by unnatural causes, a life expectancy of 37 for men and 39 for women. Flicking through history books he could see the trends of life expectancy and how they correlated to wars, from the early ages of humanity where it was predicted to be around 40, all the way to a slightly varying peak of 120 to 130, which was supposedly but never proved to be down to experimental drugs prolonging or shortening life. From that grand age, to stagnate for 1 thousand years, but then to drop to below 50 in 100 years, 2 thousand years of progression destroyed in 1/20th of that time.
He was 74 today, twice what the expected was for a male human now, but half of the expected from 3 thousand years ago. A commissar to the imperial cause, a soldier to the King and Queen, a servant of an empire, the order of importance of these mattered not to him, for he wanted it all to end, and if it was to be done by force then that was how he would do it. "Crush the rebel men underfoot, tear down their emplacements, and exterminate the populace of ECXIV" That was his mission assigned to him by the King personally, in those exact words.
It was a wondrous thing to him, how he thought of these things every time he went into the warzone that was once ECXIV, perhaps it showed some past humanity left in him, his compassion for his ancestors, but perhaps his vile disgust towards his own generation and those that will follow. However, it is a trait of humans to fear death in their most primitive instincts, drilled out of him and his fellow soldiers by their millions.
A technological difference was apparent and very clearly shown by the gear worn by either sides of the conflict, the imperial soldiers would wear heavy body armour or mechanised suits of nigh on impenetrable poly-armours, whereas the rebel fighters would wear what they could scrape together or old outdated armour, the occasional elite unit would be well armed, but their quantity was small comparatively. Perhaps this would signal the war coming to an end, and the inevitable destruction of the populace of ECXIV.
As the lightweight poly-armour fastened to his chest, arms, and legs he glanced over towards the troops he was dropping with today, clearly hardened veterans, though maybe not even out of their 20's yet, and nor would they make it out of them in the most part, as he rolled his eyes round the room he felt the familiar slight pain of the chest piece running its electrical checks through the ports in his body and then it sharply fastening into place ensuring no air gaps that could depressurise the suit. Slowly doing a limb check with basic movements the commissar was satisfied with the fit and reached for his personalised helmet, often considered a relic with its gold leaf pattern covering across the cheeks, but also recognised among both imperial and rebel soldiers for its crest upon the forehead signalling his position, it resulted in some fools who would challenge him, and other fools who would run from him.
The system check was quick as it only checked for basic functions upfront and passive functions in the background, the visor dropped and sealed in place bringing up the yellow tinted display, happy with his suit he moved to the armoury for weaponry. A knife, a handgun, and his own personal rifle, battle-scarred and chipped from countless combats, but equipped with an old style X717 scope which he was more than comfortable to look through unlike many others who relied upon the automatic aim of their suits and focus systems, offering a small prayer to the royalty he boarded the SCZ dropship and fastened himself to the transport area in preparation for the heavy cannon fire they would encounter on the way down.
The SCZ hurtled towards ECXIV from the "Lords Prayer" King class battleship, and much to the commissar and his fellow troops surprise there was seemingly no anti-spacecraft fire, however in this singular moment explosions erupted around them, quickly assessing that the rebels had waited for that lapse in guard the commissar grimaced as the SCZ shunted sideways and collided with another ship, the hull was torn and 3 suits were torn from their harnesses, they would live if they weren't hit and soon be picked up by a retrieval ship after astro-combat subsided once the raid party landed, as the SCZ approached the DZ it was hit directly and the front end was blown clear of the rest of the hull, killing both pilots instantly, the rest of the ship hull spiralled and plummeted towards the ground. "RELEASE!" Screamed the commissar as he ripped his harness off commanding his fellow troops to do the same, he then leapt from the hole previously made in the hull moments before the wreck plunged into the ground and exploded in a rebel minefield not cleared for landing, as he landed his suit protected him from most of the impact but the left arm which he had used to soften the landing was malfunctioning and there was an air leak in a crack made in the breastplate, he staggered to his feet reeling from the impact and quickly assessed his surroundings, briefly doing a radar check for his unit, only 6 of the 18 original suits responded and they quickly headed to a central location. Upon reuniting the unit quickly recorded minor damage and lacking in combat ability from usual standards, their ability from a full size unit was already dropped by 66%, and the damage sustained incurred a further 15% reduction from the remaining suits damage status reports. Despite this the commissar decided to push on with their mission to engage frontline enemy troops and break through the defensive line, so the foot-troops can march through their broken lines.The 6 suits moved quickly up towards the peak of a nearby hill to overlook and scan for weak points in the defence, upon reaching the top the rapid realisation of the continued competence of the rebel commanders showed through with few if any weak points that would require immeasurable accuracy and precision to penetrate and cause any serious damage without heavy casualties, which they already couldn't afford with their few and damaged suits. The commissar ordered the troops to load full explosive ammo and radioed for an artillery strike from the "Lords Prayer" He was denied the strike due to his proximity to the co-ordinates, "Enter code R:C:6029" he spoke into the radio, after a pause the reply came through and the strike was confirmed. Upon this he ordered 3 of the suits to wait on the hill and dig small holes to shield from the shockwave, while he and the other 2 would head towards a nearby bunker towards the lower part of the hill on the rebel side, sprinting down they quickly broke the weak and damaged walls to use as a small shield from the debris that would come from the strike. Moments later the first blast hit the rebel location sending debris flying, the second disintegrated a tank and the men beside it, continuous shelling resulted in a much weaker target with fewer walls and no armoured targets that the suits would struggle to deal with.
Once the shelling stopped he ordered the suits to charge and the 3 on the hill to provide heavy long range explosive cover fire, which was firmly granted as explosive fire ripped into the rebels who tried to fire upon the advancing suits. They reached close fire combat and as the commissar rounded the first corner through a doorway he was shot in the shoulder by a rebel, his suit compensated the rebound and within less than a second he was aimed and took his shot into the rebel blowing his insides onto the wall behind with his small explosive anti-infantry round. They were rapidly moving from room to room shrugging off the occasional shot and killing all who stood in their way, but as they approached the next guarded building a large calibre shot hit the suit on the commissars left and pierced the face visor killing the occupant, before raising his gun to return fire the commissar was hit in the chest and knocked backwards stumbling to the ground, he was winded from the impact so took a second to realise where the enemy was, fortunately he returned fire and shredded the portion of the building the shot had come from before he got hit again. Offering a quick prayer for the fallen suit he moved on quickly and regrouped with the other 4 remaining suits and systematically cleared through buildings in close proximity.
Unit MS:1048 took the point they targeted and allowed for the general infantry to follow through, the casualties on that one day accounted to 18,572 imperial soldiers, the day after would be the bloodiest of the battle for ECXIV, as it would be the one to crush the backbone of the rebel army and would result in a much shortened war on the rebels.
Tales of Jaolia
Dusty red sand swept into my face as I fought the strong winds. Just as I reached the gates of Pabola I could hear the faint sound of an engine heading this way, adrenaline began to pump through my veins and I banged on the large iron gates. The rumble slowly started to get louder and I shouted for them to let me in. The attack wasn't supposed to happen for another three hours. I was supposed to have time. A race of alien the same as my own appeared on the other side of the gate.
"Please state your identity little one." His voice carried smoothly into my ears despite the howling winds from the mountains of Cabaras.
"I am Rlelryn of sector 5-8-2 in the quadrant of Rakris. I have code 9-2-4-3-7-5, now please let me in!" A scowl spread across his face and he did not budge to let me in. Swiftly I pulled down the hood of my grey cloak revealing my reef blue skin and pointed ears pulled back by a series of silver beads."I am here on military business and demand to be let in." He immediately entered the code to open the gate and pulled me inside.
"So sorry General. I didn't know, I thought you were a dweller." Anger surged through me putting a touch of red on the top of my ears.
"We are a rebellion at war captain. Slave or not we accept our own kind! If you're not willing to accept that maybe we should put you on the other side of that gate. Now the humans are almost upon us I suggest you gather your men and prepare to defend." With that I left him stuttering after me as I put my hood back up and headed for the small medical hut.
The hut was only made out of a simple wood compound, it made it seem impractical for a war meeting but we liked it that way. Inside two bodyguards awaited me. I vanished behind them down a hidden corridor that led to one single Tungsten door protected by a eye scanner. Carefully I placed my face in front of the eye scanner, it the proceeded to send a golden light down my eye. After precisely thirty-two seconds the door opened and revealed a large circular table surrounded by thirty-one people all like me. I confidently strolled into the last seat and looked at the individuals around me. At what would be the head of the table across from me was Polow the grand jury member of our planet, Jaolia. On his right hand side was his niece, Estdel, the would be princess of our planet. On his left sat, Iarai, his son and the commanding officer of all military units. The rest of the table was filled with people from various juries and military rankings, each of them ready to give their lives for our cause.
Iarai stood up dressed in traditional silver armor to address us. "As you know Jaolia has been overtaken by creatures identifying as human Earthlings. They have killed, wounded, and captured our citizens, we will not stand for this." He paused for the cheers of the table. "We will have to plot carefully, for the humans have proved cunning. Let me remind you that the purpose of this meeting is to save the citizens of Jaolia and separate ourselves from the wretched humans."
I could hear a large roar but it did not come from the people around the table. Briskly I turned around to see the strong Tungsten door being beaten down, dents became visible in the sleek black material.
Polow stood up and shouted, "Rlelryn, take my niece out the passage. Everyone else prepare for battle." By the time the humans had pounded their way in The princess had made it down the tunnel. Dirt crumbled onto our cloaks as we carefully made our way down trying to make as little noise as possible. But suddenly we could here the pounding footsteps of boots and the clink chains meant to bound us.
"Estdel Run! They found us." We began to sprint down the corridor until we made it to another tungsten door. I produced a key and unlocked the door shoving the princess out into the open and locking the door again. Finally for what seemed like hours I turned around to see one human pointing a gun to my head. The man babbled in strange tongues but his intention seemed clear, my thoughts were further proved when he easily pulled the trigger.
*I don't write much SciFi, but I plan to improve and this is a start :) *
A heavy layer of tension hung in the air as the people of the planet Aukere went about their daily lives. It was hard not to notice the simmering glances that Aukerens shot towards the militant Earthlings in their ridiculous blue and gold life support suits. It was true that the suits were vital for Earth born humans outside the safety of their bases, but that didn’t stop Aukerens from hating everything those suits stood for.
The Origin Guard was the Earth’s special Aukere military branch where only Earth born humans were allowed to join. Inside the palatial military bases humans enjoyed luxury, high incomes, and true human prestige. It was a den of overindulged, entitled, and vicious snobs with a metaphorical “no Aukerens allowed” sign that we all resented. Much to our indignation, all Earthlings viewed Aukerens as a lesser subhuman race. I found myself comparing the dark mahogany skin tone and black hair of Aukerens to humans’ natural colors. Hate was born from so little.
“What are you looking at gene splice?” The vitriolic voice of a guard made me snap my eyes down and curse myself for having been careless enough to stare at them. Anything more than a glance was just inviting trouble. The crude insult he made about the Aukeren race’s origin burnt a slow molten anger within me.
“I apologize sir, I meant no disrespect.” My throat felt tight around the forced words of contrition.
“Next time keep your weird reptile eyes off me.” The guard sneered at me disgustedly. It took everything I had to remain passive.
“It’s called a nictitating membrane.” We both turned to see a congenial looking man smiling benignly. Like most Aukeren men, the man was powerfully built with a very dark skin tone of maroon hues. Although he was the picture of serenity, I knew that he more than anyone held an intimidating amount of resentment towards the Origin Guard and Earthlings.
“Ishedus Corliss.” The guard nodded with distaste marring his lips. Ishedus smiled blandly at the guard, because he knew that his position in Aukere as a pira tycoon gave him a good measure of enforced respect among the humans.
“If you’ll excuse us, I have some business with him.” Ishedus didn’t wait for the guard to respond, but simply clapped me on the shoulder and led me away.
Being in Ishedus’ presence always gave me strength and a stronger sense of pride in myself. He was a giant in the pira industry of mining and exporting, as well as the owner of all the pira foundries. Because of this he held a lot of clout among Earthlings for his wealth and the fact that it was through him that Earth obtained most of its pira.
Pira was Aukere’s most precious commodity. It was a mineral not found on Earth, and was intrinsic for building the nuclear fusion reactors that Earth and Aukere relied heavily on for energy. Pira easily withstood the high heat and the speed of the neutrons generated by fusion reaction.
“Thanks for saving me back there Ishedus.” I gave my boss a grateful smile and exhaled loudly.
“I’m just glad I came upon you when I did.” Ishedus gave my shoulder a squeeze before releasing it and walking companionably beside me.
“Gyan, It would be a dangerous thing to attract their attention right now. For the sake of the cause, you must be more careful.” Ishedus remarked softly.
“I promise it, Ishedus.” I vowed, feeling the chill of shame at having been reprimanded by Ishedus. He was right though. It was a delicate time.
We made our way to one of Ishedus’ factories and slipped inside. Ishedus’ stride took on a new purpose as he walked into a cavernous space filled with the brothers and sisters of our cause.
People quieted and moved aside as our leader Ishedus strode for the makeshift dais set up at one end of the room. It felt good to walk beside him, and as his right-hand man I got many nods of respect as well.
Ishedus and I had become close after Ishedus inadvertently learned that my estranged father was actually a human named Bram Roth who held a high position within the English government. My father didn’t keep in touch with my mother Tamah and me, but he had recently contacted me to urge me into becoming a spy in the Aukeren rebellion for the EUN (Earth's United Nations.) I had vehemently refused. When I told Ishedus he shocked me by telling me I should have taken the deal. His logic was sound though, as he explained that it would have been an invaluable source of intelligence and misdirection against Earth. My blunder haunted me, although Ishedus assured me that he understood why I turned it down.
“Brothers and sisters,” Ishedus began, “I am sickened to bring you news of our beloved Emeric Fesler’s removal from his post as viceroy. The rumors were true.” Ishedus was solemn as we all cried out in shock and protest. The heads of the Fesler family had been acting as Earth’s viceroy since the first established colony on Aukere. The Fesler family like all the original colonists had started out human and then made the genetic transition to subhuman in order to flourish on Aukere. A loud chorus of why’s bombarded Ishedus and he calmly held out his hand to stem the outcry.
“As we all know Lord Emeric Fesler is an avid Aukeren advocate and has made great efforts in the human rights of Aukerens and the prejudice against us. Earth has declared that the interests of the Fesler family no longer coincides with the interests of Earth’s United Nations, so EUN has decided to take direct governmental control of Aukere with the enforcement of the Origin Guard. Emeric Fesler will be removed and thanked for his services.” Ishedus gazed out at the sea of rebellious Aukerens and reflected their outrage back at them. I could feel my own heart dancing to the rhythm of wrath as I silently shook in rage. How dare Earth remove our only voice.
“My people! It’s time to protect what’s ours! To prove to those Earth bastards that we are just as human as they are! It’s our duty to our people, to our children, to our future to not sit back and let Earth walk all over us.” Spittle flew from Ishedus’ mouth as his face grew dark with fervor. The crowd cheered their agreement, calling out their existence and their anger to the universe. “It is time for us to FIGHT!”
“WE! ARE! HUMAN!” We all chanted over and over in unison.
It had been three weeks since Ishedus had cut Earth off from all pira related exports. We had reliable information that tomorrow night the Origin Guard would be attacking us. A few moderately successful skirmishes against the Origin Guard had given us confidence against our enemy. It was true the Earth military was better prepared, but we had the upper hand when it came to passion and pure blood lust. Through the battles we had proven that we were serious and that negotiations were no longer an option. Our demands were simple and reasonable. We wanted an EUN allied government ruled by the Fesler family, our full human rights, and the reduction of the Origin Guard.
“Gyan!” I looked over to where Ishedus was bent over a 3 dimensional map talking urgently to a group of people. “I left the plan copies up in my office right on top of my desk, would you mind?”
When I reach his office I see that he’s already remotely unlocked the door for me to enter. I immediately see the pack of plan copies and grab them, but the glow of a mail page floating above his desk catches my attention. I spared a moment to look at it and was shocked by what I saw. It was a message from the EUN addressing three of the storage facilities containing casts of pira that Ishedus had signed over to the Origin Guard.
I commanded the mail back to his inbox and began snooping around his letters. I was horrified to learn that Ishedus had been feeding the EUN information about our rebellion. Ishedus had been the one to propose the plan to the EUN in return for a powerful position in the newly formed Aukere government. Earth wanted Ishedus to incite the rebellion so that the EUN could do a surgical removal of the insurgents. And in return the EUN agreed that as long as Ishedus could keep his name unconnected publicly to the rebellion he would be rewarded.
A memory formed of Ishedus refusing to be the face of the rebellion. His explanation was logical and charismatic when he told us that the rebellion didn’t belong to one man alone, but to all the men and women who fought for their rights. It belonged to Aukerens.
The soft susurration of fabric alerted me to Ishedus standing in the office with me, his face cast in shadow.
“It’s very inappropriate to read someone else’s mail. I was wondering what was taking you so long.” Ishedus said blithely while shutting the door behind him.
“Is this what I think it is Ishedus?” I was willing him to say something, anything to change the reality of the situation.
“This makes things easier for me.” Ishedus smiled like the gleam of the knife allowing me to see that the man I thought I knew was a mask. “With your convenient parentage, it won’t be a far stretch for people to see how you sold out your race for your own advantage. Like father, like son.” My mind was a maelstrom of shocked betrayal. This man had been like a hero to me.
“You wouldn’t.” I choked out, seeing the pieces fall together too perfectly. I was desperately trying to reconcile this monster with the man I thought I had known for so long.
“Well that’s a stupid thing to say. I’m obviously capable of many things you never would have dreamed I’d do. What makes this so different?” He cocked his head inquisitively. “You’ll go down as a traitor to the people you were willing to die for. It’s kind of poetic.”
“I don’t understand why you would betray us." I surreptitiously looked for something to defend myself with or a way out.
He guffawed unexpectedly. “Why would I not betray you?! This rebellion isn’t going anywhere. I have nothing real to gain from this. You don’t get respect and power by demanding it like little children holding sticks.” A loud noise from downstairs distracted us.
“Damn it, they’re early.” Ishedus muttered in annoyance. I took his moment of confusion to try to lunge past him to the door, but he easily batted me out of the way. He withdrew an energy fusion gun and aimed it calmly at me.
“What’s going on?” I demanded as he pressed the priming button and the gun began glowing green. I could hear the savage sounds of battle echoing through-out the building.
“It’s the clean-up crew. The Origin Guard is here to squash the rebellion.” He smiled confidently.
“So you’re just going to kill me?” I already knew the answer, but I still needed to ask.
“Don’t get second thoughts now. Weren’t you prepared to die for what you believed in?”
I glared at him resentfully and shook my head. “I never believed in this. In spite of everything you’re doing to undermine our beliefs, our...no, my people will persevere.” I glared at him viciously, but he wasn’t really listening.
"You know what? I’m actually a little nervous. I’ve never killed anyone before.” The gun flashed brilliantly in front of my eyes as the soft sound of the laser hitting my body echoed within me.
As my senses slowly abandoned me, I heard a beautiful rebel yell, “WE ARE HUMAN!”
Our rebellion was only just beginning.