We had almost no warning. Sensors picked up their blue shifted transition into normal space as they entered the Oort Cloud. It took the invaders a mere three months to reach Earth from that point. Every attempt at communication went unacknowledged. The closer the invader got, the more desperate and frenzied the communications attempts became. It was obvious that their technology was superior to our own. We could not move from the Oort Cloud to Earth in only three months. We could not travel faster than light.
The stars, like dust in the wind — fingers can’t touch
When they reached the asteroid belt, we got our first taste of what was to follow. Our research station on Ceres made “first contact.” We dispatched a light cruiser and three shuttles to intercept and contact the invaders. All humankind watched in breathless anticipation as our ships, so tiny against the overwhelming size of the invaders ships, crept towards the alien fleet.
We watched as a mid-sized ship broke off from the main Invading fleet and leapt with amazing speed towards our delegation. With brutal suddenness, a beam of energy shot from the invader and engulfed all four of our ships. The shuttles exploded, their fuel tanks igniting and snuffing the life of the crews. The cruiser lasted long enough to send a distress call and to fire a single missile at the attacker. The missile struck the invader did only minimal damage. Unperturbed, the attacking ship returned to the main body of the fleet and continued its inexorable course towards Earth.
his breath on my neck; the reaper
There were two weeks left until the invaders arrived. The entire planet was in a state of panic. Governments toppled. Anarchy reigned. Plans were formed. The Chinese armada on the far side of the moon mobilized as the American fleet mobilized on the near side of the moon. Japan recalled their small fleet from an insurrection at their Venusian mining colony. The European Union taskforce abandoned their job of patrolling near-Earth space and joined the American fleet.
My unit sent mobilization orders within moments of the destruction of the Ceres delegation. I left my wife and four children at the resort, pausing only long enough for a tender embrace from my wife. I remember uttering reassuring words as I stroked the side of her face with the back of my hand. Arrogant words. Ultimately, they were foolish words.
light and breezy across the lake surface — a child’s laugh
I reached my duty station, the USS Carl Sagan, two days later. She had been a massive cargo and research ship during her first incarnation. Her basic infrastructure was sound, though, and she was now a military vessel, humanity’s third largest space vessel. Only the USS Tyco Brahe and the new Chinese dreadnought were larger and had more armaments. Our largest ship was only a quarter the size of the largest invading vessel.
Two weeks later, the invaders were well past Mars and almost to Earth. The human fleets came together; Chinese, Japanese, EU, American, and various small boats from other nations like Egypt, Iran, and Australia. It was the single largest fleet ever assembled in space. Four hundred and seventy-nine ships of various armaments and size took offensive positions one hundred thousand miles from Earth and waited with fatalistic determination for the invaders to arrive.
the starry expanse disturbed by silent shadows armada flies past
From the onset, the invading fleet outmatched ours. They were faster. More powerful. Within minutes of engagement, a third of our fleet was only so much space dust. Not a single enemy ship was destroyed.
I manned a particle gun bank on the Carl Sagan. Able to fire ordinance at close to an eighth of the speed of light, it was the newest weapon in the American arsenal. The dreadnoughts, being in the rear of the armada, had had little chance yet to engage, and I was eager to try the new guns. I got my chance all too soon as the fleets melded together in a single, warring, mass of ships. Each destroyed ship became a danger to the entire fleet as dust and shrapnel flew at amazing speeds in all directions.
ions cascade pinging my shields — miniature aurora
It was the Chinese who broke the Fermi Treaty. The over matched Chinese dreadnought, as a last defiant gesture before death, launched a nuclear missile at the largest of the invading fleet. Unprepared, the electromagnetic pulse disabled dozens of the human ships. The alien super dreadnought, though, was completely destroyed. The alien fleet, packed tight, suffered massive damage. The blast disabled almost a hundred ships. They listed and spun away from center in dangerous spirals, causing ancillary damage to themselves and others in their fleet.
That was the turning point of the battle. Most of the American and Chinese ships were nuclear capable; there was no longer any point in denying it. Frantic crews on all human vessels scrambled to load nuclear ordinance. Firing at the largest of the alien ships, nuclear missiles were exploding, and destroying, alien ships at a furious pace. There were a number of human casualties as well; our slow-moving ships were unable to retreat fast enough to avoid taking damage.
I finally got the chance to fire the particle gun as a damaged alien vessel limped into my crosshairs. With a rush of adrenaline, I targeted the engine and fired. In one sustained burst, ten thousand steel rounds the size of a marble ball shot out of the gun at over twenty-three thousand miles per second. I aimed for the engine. For a second, nothing happened. Then a spectacular explosion engulfed the aft section of the ship and, shortly, the rest followed.
we fire hyper-velocity rounds enemy destroyed
The day was won. We were the victors. All that remained was mopping up the remaining alien ships. And then the unthinkable happened.
Sensing a hopeless battle, one of the remaining alien dreadnoughts broke away from the battle and headed straight for Earth. The Tycho Brahe broke off and gave pursuit, but it wasn’t fast enough. As the alien dreadnought got within ten thousand miles of Earth, it fired a single, massive, missile.
We all gave a sigh of relief when the Brahe caught up with and destroyed the alien dreadnought. We watched in tense anticipation as the missile flew into the Pacific ocean. We watched and waited. Nothing happened. The missile appeared to have misfired. It was a dud. We turned our attention back to cleaning up the rest of the battle.
Time became a haze as I gunned down ship after alien ship. Soon, there was only a handful left. That’s when I heard a gasp from a crewmate. I turned around just in time to watch the Earth explode into a million pieces. I turned around just in time to watch my family die along with the rest of the Human race.
Yes, I remember the day we lost the Earth. I was there; a desperate gunner on a military dreadnought. Fourteen billion people killed before my eyes and the Earth reduced to millions of city-sized fragments by a weapon of unimaginable power.
it breaks apart like shattered glass; an entire world
When the Earth exploded, there were one hundred and forty human ships still in service and ninety-one disable enemy vessels. The Earth, our home, was now an expanding sphere of death forcing every able ship to flee. My ship, the Carl Sagan, attached towing cables to seven of the largest remaining alien vessels as we fled the brittle fragments of Earth. The Tycho Brahe, trying to tow thirteen alien vessels, wasn’t so lucky.
From our relatively safe vantage point, I watched, as the Brahe was unable to course correct in time to evade a mountain-sized rock. It even had trees and houses on it. As it loomed closer and closer to the Brahe, it became evident that they wouldn’t be able to evade the Earth fragment. I saw the tell-tell flashes of the particle guns firing at the mountain, but their effect was negligible. Missiles launched, destroying the surface, the homes and trees, but still, it came on. The largest ship in the human fleet; destroyed by a chunk of Mother Earth. microcosm;
dead plants, trees
The Carl Sagan was now the largest ship in the human fleet. We managed to hide behind the Moon as we weathered the worst of the storm. In the end, only seventy-one human ship and thirty-six alien ships were able to escape. The American moon base, on the near side of the moon, was completely wiped out. Fourteen thousand people dead, but that number seemed small and insignificant compared to the loss of an entire planet.
Too shocked to think of personal loss, we immediately contacted and tallied the rest of the human race. Twenty-seven thousand people were on the Chinese lunar base. Nine-hundred at the Venusian mining colony. Fifty people at the Mercury solar observatory and thirty-seven people on Ceres.
signs of life reappear — spooked natives
The best news came from Mars. The joint American/EU colony had gone radio-silent as soon as the invaders had destroyed the welcoming delegation. Primarily underground, the colony was completely undetectable from orbit unless you knew where to look. There were over two hundred thousand men, women, and children on the Martian colony.
Yesterday there had been fourteen billion of us. Today there were a quarter of a million. That’s when the madness hit me.
Later, someone smarter than me dubbed it “Post Earth Stress Syndrome”. PESS, although we grunts called it “The PISS.” All I remember is the beginnings and the end of my madness. A red haze enveloped me as I ran through the ship, wielding a four-foot pipe, calling my wife’s name. Looking for my children.
As the fleet limped to Mars, I remained in my madness. It wasn’t until I saw a crewman die from his madness that some sense of self-preservation emerged and I clawed my way back to sanity. One of the “mad ones,” as they had come to call us, found a new hiding place. Crewman Devendran Vemuri picked the wrong place.
vacuum surprise frozen eyes scream — faulty airlock switch
Two months later, as we entered orbit around Mars, I was sane and again performing my duties on the Carl Sagan. There were no repercussions for my actions, negligence, and behavior. Too many people had suffered already. We all shared the loss of Earth and we all cared for each other. In a way, there was more compassion now than ever before.
There was also hate. Hatred so black and deep that it fueled the next phase of human advancement. The latest chapter in the history of the human race was marked by a universal desire for vengeance.
it keeps me warm my new blanket; hatred
We had thirty-six alien ships, filled with dead aliens. We had their technology. We had their data banks. We had good old “monkey ingenuity.” We learned that they were no so far ahead of us. Their technology was not unfathomable. Our remaining scientists speculated that the aliens were only a couple of centuries ahead of us.
Mars became the new home for humankind. We relocated the Japanese colony on Venus to the Moon; it was easier to mine precious metals from the fragments of Earth. Sol’s new asteroid belt was rich in all the metals and minerals we needed to rebuild. There were even thousands of enormous frozen water deposits, new comets from Earth’s oceans, that we reclaimed for use.
Scientists scoured the remains of Earth, looking for the genetic material we would need to rebuild. We found complete DNA samples from most large mammals; dogs, cats, bears, lions, shrews, rats, squirrels, and of course, humans. The frozen water deposits contained viable samples of a myriad of marine life as well. We were even able to recover whale and dolphin DNA. Compared the former diversity of Earth, our salvaged samples were so few.
single cell; last legacy of the eagle
Within five years, our paltry two hundred thousand had risen to almost three hundred thousand. As part of the mandatory population controls on Old Earth the Chinese had removed the eggs of millions of women. Instead of having them destroyed per international law, they had shipped them to their moon base for experimentation. We had human genetic stock to spare. The provisional human government required every male to make sperm donations twice weekly. Elaborate nurseries and childcare facilities were erected as the infant and child numbers grew.
duty and pleasure in one neat package; sperm bank
Our scientists demystified the alien technology. We understood it. Improved it. Implemented it. We had hundreds of dead aliens to examine; we learned their physiology. We had their databanks, and all the secrets within, waiting for successful deciphering.
We rebuilt. Fast. The initial fears of our sociologists were wrong; humanity’s disastrous first contact with another species and the destruction of Earth did not destroy our collective will to live. They were so very wrong. Humanity had a new purpose. To survive. To grow strong. To get revenge.
The powerful energy beams that had had such a devastating impact on our fleet were reverse engineered. We were not surprised to learn that the visible spectrum of the beam was only a tracer. The real power of the beam lay in its ability to super-excite atoms. Comprised of charged ions, we realized that this plasma beam was inefficient and suitable only for close-range combat. Using the concepts learned from analyzing the weapon, human scientists were able to produce a weapon of greater power using a beam of neutrinos instead of ionized gas. Our weapon would kill the biologicals while leaving the technology intact.
The advanced alloy that comprised the outer hull of the alien ships was simple to duplicate and improve, once we had a chance to examine it and reverse engineer the engineering principles behind it. Human metallurgy techniques were superior to the aliens’; it all came down to learning the formula for the alloy.
Alien technology, once improved, allowed us to rebuild a fleet that was more powerful, if not more numerous, than our previous fleet. We built thirty super dreadnoughts, each capable of faster-than-light travel once we demystified the alien computer control algorithms. Our new ships were a hundred times more powerful than anything we had previously had. The ships were more powerful than an of the alien ship as well. We refitted the Carl Sagan with the new weapons, drives, and armaments.
Then it happened. We deciphered their language and gained full access to their data banks. It pointed us to their home world.
We had the weapons. We had the desire. Now we had the address.
We knew now why they came to Earth. Colonization. They had intended to wipe out all human life and create a colony on Earth. Three other advanced species had already given up their planets, their existence, to the aliens’ brutal expansion. None had resisted at the level we had. None had defeated them.
A massive initiative prepared our fledgling fleet for its first offensive. Our first foray outside of our solar system had one grim purpose – to eliminate the aliens who had destroyed the Earth.
Our leaders too great care to ensure the survival of the human race. A dozen generation ships launched in different directions. Each carried thousands of samples of human genetic stock and the means to start a fledgling colony on distant planets.
With great fanfare, apprehension, and tears, we launched our fleet towards the alien home world. The shift to FTL drive was uncomfortable, as none of us had experienced it before, but we endured with grim determination.
inside out and back again FTL drive
Our trip lasted a month. We returned to normal space less than twenty million miles from their home world. The improved technology allowed us to get much closer than the aliens had when they had attacked Earth.
It was immediately apparent that they were not expecting us. They had less than two days to prepare. Our comm boards lit up as the aliens tried to contact us. Their desperation was obvious. We were resolved. We ignored them.
They managed to muster sixty ships to defend their planet. Sixty to our ninety. When the inevitable battle ensued, it was anticlimactic. They were no match for us. Underpowered, unprepared – they stood no chance. We demolished their fleet and approached their home world. Our losses: two ships.
From each of our dreadnought launched dozens of skimmers, specialized craft with the ability to enter into the upper atmosphere of a planet. We dropped millions of EMP bombs across the planet.
When we had autopsied the dead aliens after the initial battle, we learned that they were especially sensitive to strong electromagnetic pulses. This explained why ships well outside the blast radius of our nuclear bombs had stopped functioning; the EMP had killed the crew.
With no hesitation, we detonated our EMP bombs across the entire planet. We estimated our bombs killed nine billion aliens. Less than a million survived.
Two months later, we returned with colony ships carrying tens of thousands of colonists. A species cannot survive without a home planet. Mars would allow humanity to survive, but never flourish again.
It isn’t Earth. But it will do.
fresh air filling my lungs New Earth