sci-fi saturday: 06.27.2787

sci-fi saturday: 06.27.2787

Sci-fi Saturday returns with what will be part one of a short story...

Normally, when you’re in the middle of an alien solar system, you might lose a satellite when a stray space rock too big to deflect slams into it fast enough. There are procedures to detect the incoming debris and dodge it with a gentle orbital adjustment. But there was no protocol for what looked like a sleek, wide, jet black skyscraper that bled red and blue gas like a wounded beast appearing out of nowhere in an implosion of space and time, with ghosts of itself surging into a single location, and ramming your equipment at an utterly insane velocity.

The satellite was instantly vaporized, of course. What else could’ve possibly happened when a quarter of a million tons of flexible, self-organizing alien alloy and fusion reactors slams into it at nearly relativistic speeds? The craft spun wildly as jets of gas escaped from gashes which zigzagged across its surface, slowly but surely beginning to topple end over end. A large pod shot out of it in the general direction of the planet below, trying to get away from the doomed spacecraft.

Hitting the atmosphere fast enough to bounce off, the giant ship shot upwards and exploded with a horrifying flash which collapsed in on itself as if a tiny black hole devoured it from the inside out. A second blast followed, spewing spirals of white-hot energy and a burst of gamma rays that lit up sensors across the solar system. The atmosphere of the world below lit up with auroras for just a few minutes as the supercharged particles slammed into it.

On the surface, human astronauts working in a large, self-contained habitat that looked as if it was an exercise in origami on the scale of a city block were trying to figure out what exactly just happened. The interference from the radiation and the loss of their primary satellite were like an uppercut followed by a hard smack on the ear for their computers. They knew something big happened but were still trying to get all the pieces. Communication with their home base was hobbled by the fallout from the giant ship’s disintegration, and by the time the effects fully dissipated, they were out of alignment and the satellite they would use as a relay was gone.

All that was left to do was to study the few frames that were broadcast before the collision and try and come up with a plan to get back up and running at full capacity.

“Can we request home base to send the backup satellite?” asked the Outpost Commander.

“Absolutely, but it will take two weeks to get here,” replied one of the technicians.

“I’d ask if anyone has any ideas about what the hell that thing was,” the Commander pointed at the screen with a freeze frame of the alien spacecraft, “but that would be stupid.”

An alarm buzzed, indicating an object that could pose a threat to the second satellite.

“Ma’am, we have a small spacecraft in an unstable orbit near an asset,” warned another technician, “moving it out of the way and getting a visual on incoming.”

The screen lit up with a live feed of the alien pod trying to maneuver itself for a landing. It very slowly but confidently stabilized and began its descent. A red electromagnetic shield lit up as it hit the densest layers of the atmosphere and faded as it began making lazy spirals for a soft touchdown ten miles away from the human outpost. It came to a rest after landing just a bit too hard for comfort with its engines shut off and absolutely no further activity.

Two drones swiftly left the outpost and started patrolling the area around it. The humans on this planet and the world where the massive vessel that brought 7,000 of them to this solar system more than a decade ago landed and reshaped itself into a self-contained city, waited for the aliens to make a move. But whatever was in the pod was silent. As the hours ticked by, surprise was replaced by curiosity, then concern. Obviously, something went horribly, horribly wrong. Could it be that there were no survivors?

In the dead of night, the Outpost Commander was listening to a message sent to her by the Chief of Security at home base. He had serious concerns about trying to make contact with an advanced alien species after an incident they knew nothing about.

“They might think we’re attacking them,” he would shrug, “and you’re not equipped for any sort of military action, you’re just surveying… up close. But we understand the urge to help because it does look pretty grim. The question we all have is whether the help we can offer will be welcome.”

The Commander brought up the feed of the pod. Still motionless and silent. If anything was still alive inside, it desperately needed assistance. If the occupants, provided the pod ever had any, were dead, there was a lot to learn about it. Even an empty pod would’ve been by far the most valuable thing on the planet. And they did come to do scientific research. While home debated and twiddled its thumbs, they would do what was right.

extrasolar base approach

Making critical decisions when every exchange took half an hour was extremely difficult, but there was no way to get around the laws of physics. Home base would argue that it was far too dangerous to try and investigate the pod up close and personal. The Mission Commander’s reply was that the extraordinary events meant that she couldn’t wait for a month until backup would arrive and had to know what they were dealing with sooner rather than later and wait 17 minutes until home base would point out the power of the explosion and question if it was wise for just 30 people to deal with the aftermath something like this.

After nearly a day of this, the Commander made up her mind. They would try to open the pod and recover what was inside for further study. There was more risk in not knowing than there was in trying to examine an alien ship. Home would see them trying to do this with the remaining satellite, but it was going to be better to ask forgiveness than permission. It’s not like they could actually stop the crew and this was not a military mission, so the worst that could happen to her would be a stern talking to and probation.

Just an hour after her decision was made, two rovers and two volunteers approached the pod, broadcasting a live feed to the outpost from which the robots were controlled. As the humans got closer, the pod very obviously scanned them, let out a soothing sequence of beeps, and opened a door that suddenly flashed into existence.

Slowly and carefully they walked into the gloomy alien craft, entering what looked like a spacious, minimalistic airlock chamber, shocked to find that they may as well have wandered into one of their own vessels apart from the strange, sharp, angular runes on the walls and doors. One of those doors was opened, leading into a large room where they saw three shapes strapped into large, reinforced bucket seats facing a large screen displaying the conditions outside in real time. Puzzled, the humans followed the pod’s hints.

The bucket chairs contained what at first resembled mannequins or crash dummies. All three looked very humanlike at first glance, but their skin was jet black and eyes were much larger than they should’ve been. All the small, quirky features of a human face were smoothed out in the dark gel; their noses were small and well defined, their lips thin enough to almost be a slit where their mouths should’ve been. Their heads were covered by crystalloid hair that formed what looked like a thin but sturdy helmet around their heads. The only marks they could see on their faces were jagged, sharp lines stretching from their temples to where their cheekbones should’ve been.

One of them was obviously male, the other two definitely female. All three were dressed in military uniforms made of red, gray, and black honeycombed, flexible suits covered by black armor plating. The right plates on their chests were stamped with a red seal depicting a flame symbol surrounded by the same sharp, angular runes they found all over the ship.

All three were unresponsive and limp. With fascination, the humans observed that the male didn’t have fingers as much as flexible, finger-shaped claws that ended in a geometric point. Moving them a certain way locked them in place, making the underside of the claw sharp enough to slice into the metal handle of his seat.

“Commander, what should we do with them,” asked one of the rescuers.

“Let’s bring them back to the outpost for analysis,” came the reply.

After banishing the curious crew members swarming her lab to a room behind a two-way mirror, the Doctor continued her examination of the three humanoids in relative peace. Her scanners whirred and brought up image after image on holographic screens that surrounded their bodies on examination tables.

Stripped out of their armored uniforms, they seemed even more human. Their gel skin looked and behaved like human skin with muscles under it, but with both being clearly artificial, there was no fat between the two, making the humanoids incredibly lean and defined far too symmetrically and uniform for a human. It was as if an anatomical chart was adjusted for their body types, with no deviation or imperfection any organism would have. Weirdly, they had just two individual toes. Their big toes lacked cuticles and were a little wider than normal, the rest of the toes were fused together into a single, smooth structure.

Much larger versions of the jagged markings on their faces stretched from their shoulder blades, around and over their shoulders, and terminated about an inch past their collar bones, traveling towards their sternums. They looked very similar to each other, but each pattern was unique, almost like a fingerprint. The humanoids also had individual designs like tattoos on their bodies, done in the same style as their identifying markings.

Moving them was no more difficult than moving a human body because they were articulated exactly the same way, and weighed exactly what one would expect a healthy human their size to weigh. As their armor and suits came off, the humans observed that their genitals seemed identical to that of humans, except the total lack of anything even remotely resembling body hair. Preliminary readings from sensitive tools showed that touching the humanoids did produce some sort of electrical response inside their bodies, just not muscle movement.

They were covered in what looked like bleeding cuts, although the “blood” was burgundy and solidified into scabs over the wounds. Carefully, the Doctor picked off a little of the scab with a scalpel and a pair of tweezers from the male and put the alien material in a Petri dish she set aside for later. In response, his bleeding resumed, stopping as soon as the wound was filled again. The Doctor pursed her lips, weighing theories as to what this substance was.

“Well, the good news is that they’re alive,” she finally said.

“How? How do you know that?” came the confused replies.

“Look at their scans,” she began, touching the floating screen to present the same image on both sides. “Doesn’t all this look awfully familiar? There’s the brain, and the rest is shaped an awful lot like human organs. The brain sits in some sort of gel that’s obviously carrying oxygen and nutrients. The rest is mechanical but really simple. Just membranes and carbon fibers that respond to electric stimuli. No motors to fail or get stuck.”

“But how do you know they’re alive?” asked the Commander.

“Because I can see the damage to their brains healing. And I can collect faint EEG readings. They’re exactly like the ones we see in trauma victims in a coma.”

“Will they wake up?”

“I don’t know, but I can’t see why not. I’m actually surprised they’re comatose because the damage isn’t that severe from what I can tell. It’s almost like… It’s as if their bodies just put them in a coma to repair the brain and prevent more trauma…”

“What are those webs around the brain?”

“Not sure, but it looks like a neural link mesh, kind of like the ones we use for connecting to prosthetics. But it’s going really deep into the brain and in some areas, it looks like it’s forming its own connections, like alternative neural pathways…”

The Doctor threw her hands up in the air after examining several more scans that were baffling to those without medical training and seem to show utterly inhuman features that seemed very familiar at first, but curving and twisting in the wrong direction at a second glance.

“Holy shit people! It’s a full body prosthesis made into a spacesuit. They’re entirely self-contained, self-supporting, and designed to be simple enough not to need the same kind of constant maintenance life support systems do. Everything recirculates, everything is sealed, and everything sips the tiniest amounts of energy to keep working. There’s even a magnetic field to protect them from radiation and bacteria that produce oxygen for the gel that acts as their blood, and feed on carbon dioxide. It’s amazing.”

“So, you’re telling us that under all that, they’re as human as us?”

“No, not like us” the Doctor zoomed in on a scan of the humanoids’ brain cells. “Look how large the soma is and the myelination is much thicker than normal. And there are clumps of what look like dormant stem cells trying to turn into new neurons and glia. That’s how they’re repairing themselves. They’re definitely were human at one point, but now, they’re results of genetic engineering.”

“Don’t human brain cells regenerate naturally?”

“Not at this rate. And they don’t look like this either. I can’t tell you how extensive the gene edits were and if I’m seeing the end result of a few tweaks early in the embryonic development process, or a whole lot of work without looking at their DNA, but they were definitely, without a doubt, engineered.”

“What do you recommend we do now?”

The Doctor looked at the sample in the dish and the scans.

“We wait. We take them to sick bay, and we wait for them to come to,” she finally replied, nodding her head more and more as she mulled it over.

sci-fi base bridge

In a softly lit room, a group of humanoids just like the ones who crash landed on a nondescript rocky world being studied by human explorers gathered. Holographic screens floating around them on one side of the room displayed data and images from numerous solar systems. On the other side of the room, a twelve-foot-tall panoramic window showed sleek towering buildings on top of an asteroid turned into a large spaceship city, and a gas giant with sweeping auroras dancing around its poles.

The room would’ve seemed far too gloomy for such an important meeting to human eyes, but the creatures’ large, complex pupils drew far more light, so to them, the lighting was perfect. All of them were dressed in duty uniforms and all were, without a doubt, military officers. Tens of thousands of ships under their direct command were now in orbit around the gas giant, waiting for further orders.

“Five ships from the 4th Expeditionary fleet went missing three days ago,” one of them began. “We have no telemetry, no emergency reports, nothing. Their last whereabouts were in hostile territory, but we’ve cleared that and found no sign of them.”

“If they escaped and had to abandon the Dragons, the bridge pod should’ve sent an SOS,” piped up another humanoid.

“That’s the problem, it didn’t.”

“So, we have three officers MIA?”

“Unfortunately. We have ERCON creating a search plan now. We need to know who they fought, what happened, and if they’re alive. And of course, EXCOM is very concerned that we don’t have this information. We should always, always, always know these things. If we don’t find anything useful soon, they might escalate all the way to the High Command.”

A silent panic gripped the officers. Half of their civilization’s top leaders were military and gave those lower in the hierarchy a little leeway. But the civilians had little tolerance for mistakes and many of them could be relieved of their command instantly. By custom, if the civilians were upset enough, the top brass got out of their way. Their appeals would rarely be successful. They had to find the missing soldiers before the High Command got concerned…

With a deep, tired sigh, the Scientist put down an empty cup of coffee on his table and touched a few icons on his computer as the Commander pulled up a chair beside him.

“All right, so like I said, the runes we saw on the ship?” he started. “It all looks alien, right?”

“Very much,” agreed the Commander.

“Not alien writing at all,” he chuckled. “It’s just a stylized Pigpen cypher. We thought it couldn’t be because the letters wouldn’t add up, but then we ran it through the translator anyway and it was obvious we were looking at disemvoweled shorthand.”

He opened a few documents showing the angular text in plain English letters.

“We think it probably started as a way to save bandwidth broadcasting through space and then turned into a full-blown language with rules that took common abbreviations, contractions, and keeping letters to a minimum. So, they spell ‘enemy’ as ‘nmy’ and ‘telemetry’ as ‘tlmtry’ keeping the one vowel that makes it obvious. And they use ‘w/o’ and ‘w/’ for ‘without,’ and ‘with,’ see? It’s efficient to a fault.”

“Where did you find so many samples of their writing?”

“Oh that. Their computers. Apparently, they’re a lot like ours, just heavily encrypted. But there were some things left in memory that were just plain text. We found a bunch of really weird words like ERCON, EXCOM, and SAGCARTER. But then we saw a few that were a lot more familiar like SIGINT and ORCON, which, duh, Signals Intelligence and Originator Controlled Top Secret Information.”

“So, these are military acronyms and designations,” nodded the Commander. “Do you know what those other acronyms mean?”

“From the context, we have some educated guesses. EXCOM sounds like the command to which they answer. SAGCARTER probably stands for Sagittarius-Carina, which is the closest arm of the galaxy to us.”

“But that’s all you know?”

“Yeah, military jargon can be very dense and branch specific. Unless they tell us, we’re more or less just guessing. And I have no idea if they’d tell us. Are they awake?”

“Not yet. I need to speak to medical. Keep plugging away at anything you think may be even remotely interesting.”

With every step to better understand the strange humanoids, the Commander and her team seemed to raise more questions than answers. They were humans, but maybe not exactly. It was obvious they were a military force, probably gathering intelligence for whatever EXCOM was, but what was it and where did it exist?

The sophistication of their technology implied thousands of years of advancement and hundreds of years using a slightly different language, but there was no way they were older than the first missions to the stars and still human. Maybe the Doctor had some definitive answers. Unfortunately, she too just found more bizarreness.

“I analyzed the ‘blood’ I took off the bodies,” she was saying, bringing up the data from her research which was almost meaningless to the Commander. “It contained some DNA from them. The male had XY chromosomes, females had XX, standard fare. But the Y was even more shriveled than it should be, as if it was weaker. And when I tried to read their genes, well…”

She brought up a screen filled with colorful splotches.

“I… I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean,” said the Commander defensively.

“Me neither,” growled the Doctor. “It’s like all the normal human genes should be there, but nothing lines up. I sent the sample data to our biologists back home. Guess what they told me.”

“I… I couldn’t,” the Commander irately countered.

“All life on Earth has three codons to signify a start read or stop read command during gene transcription, or a specific amino acid. They have four. Only one other creature we know of has a four codon genetic signal and only for making one amino acid.“

“Why would they need four codons?”

“We think it’s to make more amino acids and proteins to protect themselves from mutations caused by radiation, and constantly generating new stem cells. It’s like their bodies never stop developing and start actually aging. We’re not sure how long they live, but from what we’re seeing, it’s probably a very, very long time. Maybe thousands of years.”

“Did you find anything else?”

”We also tried to bombard their cells with radiation. They created a weird, glass-like structure inside them that’s immune to alpha and beta decay. That’s not totally unheard of either. Tardigrades, the little extremophiles, do that. But not humans. We tried to do that with genetic engineering but it only sort of worked. They perfected it.”

The Commander rubbed her eyes with a tired grunt. Home base was right. What did she get herself and her crew into?

“In your current opinion, based on everything you know, given all input from your resources, who and what are they?” she asked.

“They’re extensively genetically engineered cyborgs created for deep space exploration,” the Doctor replied. “They live extremely long lives, are almost immune to radiation that would melt a human, and based on an engineer’s analysis of their artificial muscles and joints, are at least 20 times stronger than the strongest humans on record. They’d be faster too, but speed is limited by joint length and muscles so they’d probably top out at around the same speed as a professional sprinter.”

“And considering that they’re obviously soldiers, could they be even stronger and faster than that?”

“Absolutely. These were low-end estimates. With training, they could be much stronger and more dangerous. They probably couldn’t kill a human with one punch, but it wouldn’t take them much more than another two or three blows if that’s where you’re going with this. If they couldn’t get the job done then, the fangs we saw in their mouths are just like a snake’s.”

“You’re shitting me. On top of all that, they’re venomous too?”

“Yes. And you don’t even want to know what they inject into their victims.”

The Commander immediately dialed a number on her phone. “No, I really don’t.”

“Please tell me the guys we have watching the patients are armed,” she immediately barked into the microphone. The reply quickly relaxed her. “Good, make sure they have the safety off and keep an eye on them at all times.”

“Hope it’s not small arms,” mused the Doctor.

“Why not?”

“Wouldn’t do any good. The bullets would just bounce off the gel. Stabbing them wouldn’t work either. Nanotech gel. Hit it with a sharp point and it turns into armor. Hit it with a fast, blunt object, it turns into dense jelly. You need at least a .50 cal.”

“And that will hurt them?”

“No, but it will get their attention.”

“I don’t want to hear you talk for the next twelve hours,” finally snapped the Commander. “I’m completely serious.”

With that, she quickly walked off towards the medical bay with the cyborgs, first making a quick detour to grab a gun-shaped device originally meant for basic seismic testing, but which would work quite well as a large caliber armor-piercing rifle in a pinch.

space sci-fi special forces

The soldier standing guard to the small room containing the male cyborg was trying to check an alert on his phone but was distracted by a flash of red on the slanted top of the nook housing the bed and various emergency and life support devices. Tiny red runes and glyphs scrolled at high speed in the tiny projection.

Finger on the trigger, he slowly approached, looking at the cyborg and the scrolling projection. After what felt like an hour but was really just 30 seconds at most, the characters disappeared. The cyborg’s eyes were wide open but completely blank. They softly closed. The soldier sighed in relief.

Suddenly, the markings on the cyborg’s cheek lit up with a bright red glow, his eyes opened as a glowing, red image of a pupil and iris stabilized itself in the center of the black eyeball. He flew off the bed, snapped the gun out of the solder’s hands with a motion that could’ve been confused for an attempt at clapping his hands by an observer, and drove his knee deep into the soldier’s groin.

Without a millisecond’s hesitation, he hit his guard with the handle of the gun, tossed the weapon aside after disarming it in one fluid motion, and shoved the solider into the wall. Before the solider even had time to wheeze in pain and fall, the cyborg’s devastating punch smashed two of his ribs underneath his armor and a hammer blow to the back of his head turned the world dark.

The cyborg tried rifling through the various drawers and cabinets but found nothing useful except a scalpel. He examined it and tossed it aside, picking up the gun and loading it. His guard was starting to groan, recovering consciousness, but too hut to get up.

As he opened the door and stepped into the hallway, another solider flew out of the neighboring medical room, slumping to the floor as he bled out of his nose and mouth. One of his female companions dove out to grab her guard’s weapon and quickly aimed it at the male cyborg, but only for a moment before realizing who it was.

They looked at each other bewildered, but didn’t bother to cover up.

“Why are you naked?” he whispered.

“I have no idea,” she replied, shaking her head. “Why are you?”

“I don’t know either.”

“Freeze!” the Mission Commander screamed, stepping out into the hallway with the seismic gun aimed at the cyborgs who quickly aimed their guns at her center of mass.

“I’m warning you! Drop your weapons,” the Commander growled.

Before she could even react, a cyborg hand grabbed her device and smashed it in her face with a crack. The Commander dropped it right on her foot. The second female cyborg stepped out of her room.

“That’s why rifles have stocks,” she said, delivering a powerful jab to the Commander’s chin.

“Why are you both naked?” she asked her comrades, turning around to face them. “And where are we?”

“We don’t know either,” responded the other female cyborg. “The last thing I remember before this is… oh… shit.”

The male rubbed his face in horror.

“We are in so much trouble…” he sighed heavily.

The world still shook and spun around her, the soft female voice speaking to her echoing but just like her vision, coming into focus. She couldn’t discern the words, but that wasn’t all that important. She had to stop the… ow, shit! What was that? Her foot was useless and her face hurt like someone took a metal bat to it at full swing. Standing up wasn’t going to happen because even fighting through the pain, her sense of balance quickly vanished when she changed her position.

“Easy, easy now,” the voice said. “Just lay back and breathe. You’re fine, you’ve been out of it for a little less than a minute.”

A quick, sharp jab in her arm made her wince. She saw a cyborg’s hand inject her with something and tried to jump up. This proved to be a very unwise decision as her world spun again and she collapsed back to the floor, her head hitting a pillow this time.

“Don’t worry,” the cyborg said, holding up the clear syringe. “Just a painkiller from your supply. Another little jab will be an anti-nausea agent so you start feeling like yourself again,” she warned right before another injection.

The male cyborg appeared in her view, handing a damp towel to the female watching over her. She put it on the Commander’s head. The cool, wet sensation was exactly what she needed. Her foot was expertly bandaged and sealed in a mobile cast. Obviously, the seismic probe broke it when she dropped it. Her face was also covered with special tape where she was hit and hollow splints were inserted in her nose.

“Did you fix me up?” she finally managed to cough out.

“Yes,” replied the cyborg. “We’ve been treating the guards too. Don’t worry, we know what we’re doing, we had basic medical training. And I should bring this up now, you probably all have concussions and will need to get checked out.”

“Who are you?”

“My name is Meiko. My companions are Alex and Emma. We’re soldiers.”

“EXCOM…” muttered the Commander.

“Yes, Expeditionary Command,” Meiko raised her brow just for a moment. “Just relax now. You’ll be fine. We smoothed things out with your crew.”

“Zoe,” said the Commander. “I’m supposed to be in charge around here, technically.”

“And I’m supposed to be in charge of those two,” Meiko smiled as she shook her hand.

One of her crew members arrived with clothes for Meiko, who Zoe just realized was still naked and not at all bothered by it. She gratefully accepted the clothes and quickly got dressed, saying that she didn’t want to break any customs while their uniforms were being cleaned.

Alex walked into the room adjusting his uniform, rolling up his sleeves to he could keep an eye on a device that looked like a flexible wristband with wildly complicated patterns in what had to be its face slowly changing by the second. He bowed to Zoe and Meiko.

“Major, permissions to establish contact with EXCOM.”

“Granted,” allowed Meiko. “Make sure you keep our guests in the loop.”

“Yes ma’am,” nodded Alex, folding his hands behind his back.

“Dismissed.”

Inside a dark bridge of a massive destroyer, just like the one that crashed into a planet human explorers were investigating, there was a soft ping as a red symbol lit up on a console in the arm of a large, comfortable bucket seat. A holographic screen appeared when a cyborg’s finger softly tapped it. Lines of technical shorthand in a stylized Pigpen cipher exploded as the message was received and decrypted.

The cyborg lazily scanned the message until she saw the serial number of the missing ship and the details of the crash landing. She scrolled with her finger tip, until she saw the pictures and schematics attached at the end of the message. With a wave of her hand, a keyboard shot out from another arm of her seat and she quickly began to type.

“ERCON, SIGINT Station Delta Epsilon 88G confirming broadcast from EXF 3 SQ 33. Docs for COMDIR 81 verified.”

An animated icon indicated the message was being encrypted for broadcast, then sent to the intended recipients. The cyborg sat back in the seat and stretched. She brought up a search screen and typed in “COMDIR 81” to see a list of reports which she began to study with great interest. What’s the fun of having a top secret clearance if you can’t use it to check in on what’s happening in the galaxy around you, she thought.

“COMDIR 81 seems like a big deal,” said a technician looking at the signals sent and received by the cyborg who went by Alex.

“How’d you even intercept these?” asked his colleague. “Aren’t those encrypted?”

“I have a lot to teach you about quantum hacking,” scoffed the technician while going through the messages. “So, it looks like their ship was shot down by some alien species that managed to ambush them and they ended up here on accident. But that doesn’t seem to bother them all that much, they seem to have it handled. They’re much more interested in us and what we’re doing here. So then why…”

The technician noticed movement behind him and turned around to lock eyes with Alex. The cyborg was holding a device that looked like a USB key between his claws, his icy red stare filling the humans with instant dread. Both of them heard what he did to the armed guard who was supposed to keep an eye on him.

“I understand your curiosity,” Alex finally spoke. “But we’d appreciate if you didn’t mess with our equipment.”

His fingers effortlessly snapped the small device in half as he turned around the left the room. An alarm dinged on the technicians’ boards. Their screens brought up images of very large, sleek, jet black spacecraft enveloped in a red aura, just like the one that brought the cyborgs to this planet. All of them seemed to implode into existence, sending out ghostly shadows of themselves in into space only to see them vanish in moments. At the top of each ship was the same seal found on the cyborgs’ uniforms.

Humans across both outposts were now very aware of the fleet entering the solar system they were exploring. They tried to count the craft as they warped in, but quickly lost track as dozens of destroyers turned to hundreds, and hundreds were quickly becoming thousands. On the bridge of the main human outpost, the Mission Commander looked at the screens in quiet horror.

“This was supposed to be a recovery mission, just a few ships to pick up a few officers,” he said almost under his breath.

“It looks like an invasion to me,” replied the Chief of Security.

# sci-fi saturday // entertainment / science fiction / space exploration


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