Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Short story - The Invasion Fleet
There were seventeen of the ships, hovering silently in the night. Most people
envisioned shining white bastions of power – man’s triumph over the universe –
when they thought of deep space battle cruisers, but the reality was much more
practical: that which cannot be easily seen is much more challenging to hit. Looking
at the vastness of space arrayed behind them, the ships – painted in matte black
with no external running lights – simply were not there. They made an imprint on
the electromagnetic spectrum, as expected of most modern vehicles, and were thus
easily detectible with the right equipment, but every advantage taken away is one
less thing an unknown enemy can use against you.
It had been nearly two hundred years since the original invasion took place, and
Earth was nearly lain to rest. The human defenders fought against vicious alien
hordes that appeared as if from nowhere, but ultimately were defeated due to a
simple oversight. That specific oversight was lost in the annals of time, but the
horrors of that period still dominated human perception of the universe. Earth had
been attacked by an unknown force, in unknown number, and had only held on by
the skin of its teeth. On that day the sense of wonder associated with outer space
changed, and humanity’s perceptions shifted. First it was in the construction of
defense platforms. Then, the focus on mobility and resource gathering techniques.
Finally, the Enforcer doctrine came into being.
Some dissidents, far fewer now than they used to be, still maintain that the original
cause of that initial conflict was a simple mistake, but the facts of the matter still
stand. Not a hundred years after the initial invasion, humanity again found itself in
combat with an alien presence. An alien task force that happened to be wandering
through the solar system, with an unknown mission. The battle was short and
brutal – a standoff ended with a first shot fired by accident, destroying ships on
both sides. Humanity learned a lot about space warfare in the years that followed,
as the owners of the original task force rose to defend their fallen soldiers. The
war, though small by modern standards, had blazed across interstellar distances
previously unthinkable in their magnitude as combat raged between the two stellar
systems. In the end a stalemate brought a shaky truce, but the damage had been
done. Humanity had been converted. The days of peace and love were long gone,
and the motto of “Never again!” had taken full effect.
All pretense of peaceful research was abandoned. Humanity hoarded resources,
building vast fleets with the latest in weapons and defensive technology. Within
twenty years they had accomplished feats most races only managed in half a
century. The truce with the Baltans ended abruptly. Some would draw comparisons
between the Earth fleet’s sudden destruction of Balta and the original attack by the
still unknown enemy force, but those comparisons did not last long. Earth had no
need of another race to subjugate – they came to scour and scavenge. The face of
Balta was swept by flame, its inhabitants wiped out in the horror of sudden, flaming
death. By the time their defensive fleet realized the situation they were facing, the
battle was already one. Within two days, the entire population of the Baltan system
had been wiped out – not a single Earth ship lost in the offensive.
That day gave rise to the First Strike doctrine. Humanity had been burned, and was
not going to be caught by surprise again.
The seventeen ships moved forward, silently traversing the stars. Reactant-based
propulsion had long been abandoned in favor of gravitational manipulation, which
suited the needs of military designers focused on creating a complete absence
of visible light reflection. The scouts had already been through this system and
knew that there was nothing possessed by the inhabitants that could cause serious
harm to the task force, but the ships still made full use of their electronic counter-
measures. For all intents and purposes, the ships were invisible to any object farther
than a hundred meters away.
The planet below them rotated silently, its inhabitants going about their daily lives
without any concern. The electromagnetic emissions originating on the surface
belied the complete lack of orbital structures – either the inhabitants didn’t have
the capability to leave their world, or they just didn’t care. Today they would pay for
The ships fanned out, remaining in orbit but positioning themselves around the
globe. Each ship was assigned a major population center, and hovered directly
overhead, invisible to all but the most sophisticated of equipment. Stillness returned
to the universe for brief moment. Then, one of the ships lit up.
You could almost hear the screams, if you tried hard enough. The radiated light
stabbed downwards, focused into a deadly beam brighter than the fires of the
nearby star. In thirty seconds the largest city on the planet was wiped out.
Simultaneously, three of the remaining ships began broadcasting a message across
all frequencies seen on the planet itself. The traditional demand for surrender and
tribute, along with instructions on how to respond. Failure to agree would result
in another city being destroyed in three hours, and another. Many planets began to
fight back after the first wave of destruction, but few made it past the third major
city lost to invisible enemies. Before long the sign was given, and the Earth had
added another to the long list of its thralls. This world made sixty-one, all with the
same requirements – no space travel, no weaponry, one tenth of their resources was
There would be rebellions, guerilla warfare, sabotage – these were all expected.
It had happened before, and would happen again. It wouldn’t mean anything
except for the destruction of more of their citizenry, their culture left to the flames.
Eventually the resistance would die out, and Earth would reign supreme.
Incoming gravity wakes heralded the arrival of the occupation fleet, and the
invaders withdrew. It had been a long time since a world had shown the capacity to
fight, and this world was no risk whatsoever. The ships of Earth drew back into the
night, hunting for their next target.