Oculus

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The First Contact has gone wrong: an armada of unidentified spaceships enters the cozy part of the Galaxy the humans claimed for themselves and the carnage soon follows. The proud people from the planet Earth decide that they aren't going to tolerate the presence of the ugly and ruthless alien monsters who act like they own the place... But there are always two sides to every story.

Submitted: March 24, 2016

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Submitted: March 24, 2016

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"Come on, take cover! What the hell is wrong with you?!" corporal Oswald Reeves yelled at his squadmate, dragging him out of the line of fire.

He pushed the man behind one of the many weirdly shaped columns that held the ceiling of the room their team has just secured. The private - Oswald seemed to recall that his name was Saide Amari - collapsed against its smooth surface, visibly unharmed, but breathing heavily.

"Dammit..." Oswald cussed under his breath. "You're trying to get yourself killed?!"

It all went down too fast. Only a couple of days ago the disturbing news reached their humble colony world of New Hope: humanity had encountered another race of sapient beings capable of interstellar travel. But there was no celebration to honor the First Contact, no establishment of diplomatic relations of any kind... No, instead legions of unclassified alien spacecrafts coming from beyond the charted region of the Local Arm flooded the frontier star systems.

The unknown enemy launched an unprovoked assault on the military forces stationed in the quadrant, decimating entire fleets. The broadcasted list of casualties was shockingly long and the high command wasted no time preparing a counterattack. Gathering an armada from the reserve units they struck against the invaders, disorganizing their ranks and claiming one victory after another despite being outnumbered at least three to one.

Oswald recalled being woken up by the sound of sirens earlier this morning. Apparently a group of alien vessels managed to break through the human ranks and jumped directly into the system he called home. The orbital defenses successfully repelled the assailants, but several dropships attempted to reach the planet's surface despite being fired upon from all sides. Most were vaporized long before they even reached the upper levels of the atmosphere, but at least two miraculously survived the barrage of hot plasma and old fashioned nuclear missiles, crash landing dangerously close to the capital city.

The colony's securities were put on red alert and as a member of the Planetary Guard Oswald got assigned to one of the teams dispatched to deal with anything that might try getting off those shuttles. Arriving at a landing site of one of the dropships corporal Reeves noted that it looked like giant mechanical version of an Earth hornet if it decided to start flying backwards. He and his men faced the difficult task of driving the horrifying alien crew back into their spacecraft. Although the monstrous green freaks seemed undisciplined they fought back with appalling ferocity. On the other hand the group of Guardsmen Oswald commanded were well-equipped and trained by frequent drills, but lacked any real field experience. He lost many good men and women in an effort to infiltrate the downed vessel.

Eventually the battle shifted in their favor and the attacking side was able to get inside, securing what appeared to be a cargo bay from hostiles. An order came to push forward and take the ship's command center and just when the corporal commanded his subordinates to regroup he noticed one of the privates just standing there, gazing absent-mindedly into an opening from whence a sniper shot could come at any moment.

Oswald looked down at the careless squadmate who struggled to remove his headgear. Finally the man was able to take off his helmet and the look of genuine terror in his eyes made corporal forget about the breech of protocol.

"It's... It's in my head" Saide mumbled and his dark face turned unnaturally pale. "I-I can feel it squirm inside my thoughts!.."

Oswald felt a chill go down his spine: nobody said anything about those monsters being able to take over a human mind! He watched silently as his fellow Guardsman pressed his palms against his temples as if trying to keep something out of his brain and slammed the back of his skull repeatedly into the column.

"No! Get out!" the man screamed through clenched teeth. "Get out of my mind!.."

Feeling his blood begin to boil Oswald opened the comlink and instructed the rest of the team to get ready and follow his lead. Corporal snatched a smart grenade from his utility belt and sent it flying into the gaping archway where the enemies entrenched themselves. As soon as he released the grasp on the explosive a microscopic indicator on its side lit up and the little destructive sphere changed its trajectory mid-flight, aiming for the closest baddie hidden in the shadows.

The corporal imagined that the entire spacecraft trembled when the detonation resounded throughout its interior. The enemy didn't fire back so he assumed their watchmen to be dead and rushed out of cover, weapon at the ready. He ran through the cloud of dust and smoke raised by the blast relying on the sensors in his visor to warn him if anything alive still lurked in the darkness. The tech highlighted some movement to his right and Oswald sprayed the spot with fire. He turned to continue onward and suddenly found himself face to face with one of the loathsome invaders.

Corporal Reeves was a man of considerable stature, but the horrible creature towered over his head, balancing on its long serpentine tail. Its body covered with asparagus scaly hide, a multitude of strong tentacles protruded from what Oswald assumed was its torso. Above them hanged a tubular appendage resembling a proboscis of a butterfly or a mosquito's nose and a single enormous yellow eye with pulsating catlike pupil that stared unblinkingly at the human before it.

Momentarily paralyzed by the shock of the encounter, Oswald was able to make out a peculiar tiara that rested on the creature's abhorrent head the likes of which he didn't see on any other of these fiends. He heard someone's panicked cries behind him and recognized the voice as Saide's. The corporal realized that this metallic object must've been what the enemy used to fry the poor man's brains and raised his deadly rifle with cold determination.

"No! Please don't!.."

Oswald pulled the trigger and the gun's beam cut through the horrid beast's flesh. The private's pleas turned to inhuman shrieks of pain, but they drowned out in the loud screech of the plasma weapon. The walls of the corridor turned dark purple with the monster's fluids and pieces of soft tissue. Its lifeless body collapsed on the floor and corporal Reeves kicked it aside.

There were the sounds of footsteps as the rest of the team caught up to their leader.

"Wow. That's a big one. Nice work, sir!" a private commented, surveying the mess Oswald made.

"What a smell... Wonder if the stench of burnt alien meat is poisonous to humans?" the other jested, poking the dead carcass with the barrel of his gun.

"Remove your helmet and let's find out" corporal snapped and quickly remembered about Saide. "What happened to Amari?"

"He passed out I think. What caused him to go nuts anyway?"

Oswald wanted to warn his squadmates about the mind controlling technology the enemy appeared to possess, but just then there came a loud swoosh caused by a huge door sliding open somewhere ahead of them.

"Lights everybody!" the corporal barked the order, switching his own tactical flashlight on.

The others adhered to his example, illuminating the space before them. Only a few meters away the corridor ended in an open doorway and behind it...

"Dear God..." one of the privates gasped, recoiling instinctively.

The combined energy of their torches revealed another chamber like the one they captured minutes ago, albeit somewhat smaller. And this one was crawling with slimy horrors. Nauseating alien forms of all sizes and shades of green were clumped together on the floor or hanged on the columns and even from the ceiling. Attracted by brilliant glare a hundred of inexpressive eyes lazily turned to the incomers and an uncountable number of writhing limbs simultaneously reached out to them menacingly.

"Take that you ugly sons of..." Oswald couldn't hear himself finish the sentence under the storm of plasma shots that ensued.

Rapid flashes and the tumult of gunfire, the wheeze of the dying monsters and the hissing of molten metal... Chaos and destruction reigned supreme for a few lengthy minutes as the Guardsmen didn't stop shooting until their weapons ran out of charge. When they finally seized and lowered their rifles the room before them was full of charred and deformed corpses.

"We got all of them, sir."

Oswald nodded in acknowledgement, looking over the scene of the massacre.

"Don't let your guard down yet. We still need to locate the bridge..."

 

 

 

 

 

"...refugees, fleeing from the genocidal war of our home stars. Didn't know these systems were populated and had no way to communicate. We approached with all defensive systems powered down, but your people thought we were a menace. They attacked and wouldn't stop firing at us. We were running out of resources and had to make a decision. But the decision we made was a wrong one..."

With shaky steps Saide followed the river of blood left behind by his brothers in arms. In the unlit corridor he stumbled upon the cold remains of the being corporal Reeves ruthlessly shot at point blank range. The ideas the alien transmitted to him echoed in the man's mind as if he'd actually heard them spoken out loud.

"...refugees, fleeing from the genocidal war..."

The extraterrestrial mistook him for the leader of the squad and tried to establish contact. The creature's thought pattern was strange and infinitely foreign, yet something about the similarities of concepts it operated and hopelessly tried to make him understand felt comforting...  Even endearing.

But it sent him a lot more than just an appeal to end the hostilities. With painful clarity Saide remembered the animalistic fear and desperation he experienced while watching through the alien's eye as his commanding officer took up his plasma gun. And then came the terrible maddening pain that knocked him out cold…

He crouched down before the fallen sapient and with quivering hands took the universal translator off of it.

"...didn't know these systems were populated and had no way to communicate..."

Delirious and with his vision clouded by what the interlocutor was seeing, Saide attempted to stall his squadmates. He shouted and begged them to stop; he tried to find his helmet by touch to use the radio, but all in vain. Was there anything else that could have been done?

"We fired at them on sight. Never gave them a chance..." Amari heard his own lips whisper. "How stupid... Nothing of this would've happened if we only listened. They were just trying to... Just trying..."

A lump came in his throat and Saide took a deep breath, bracing himself for what he already knew he was going to find in the next room. The private detached the flashlight from under the barrel of his trusty rifle and hurried along the dark passageway. Soon he found himself at the threshold, but at first dared not to click the light on.

He strained his ears struggling to make out the sounds of battle still going on in the distance, but everything was silent. Mustering all the courage he had left, Saide turned the torch on and what its dull beam unveiled struck him like lightning.

A hundred of eyes vitrified by death looked at him reproachfully. The faces of the lifeless aliens were distorted by expressions of agony and dread (how could he not see the emotion in them before?) and in a moment of awful realization Saide noticed that most of those poor things were very short - smaller copies of their adult congeners.

"...we brought to your planet the last hope for survival our clans have. We implore, we beseech you not to extinguish their flame..."

The weapon Amari still clutched in his hand slipped from his fingers and fell to the floor with a loud thud. Those people were just trying to protect their young! He became aware of the paths of hot tears that scorched his cheeks like red-hot metal and had to fight the urge to sob. The merciless voice of his own conscience told Saide over and over that it was his fault that so many innocent lives came to an abrupt end today. If only he didn't panic... But what could he have possibly done?

An overwhelming sense of guilt weighed heavily on his chest making the private gasp for air: alongside the other members of his team Saide partook in the atrocious act of slaughtering barely armed civilians like a cold-blooded butcher. Filled with unbearable self-loathing he wanted to fall to his knees and ask for forgiveness, cursing the higher ups for their shortsightedness… They were the ones who were supposed to know better! Exhausted and sick to his stomach Amari hunched next to a wall suppressing the compulsion to throw up. He stood there tormented by remorse until his tortured psyche couldn't take it any longer and sunk into apathy.

The private lost track of time, but at the very least several long minutes had passed before a soft rustling caught his attention, returning Saide to reality. Unsure whether the noise was a product of his imagination, the man ignored the sound at first, but then another one joined it: a kind of barely audible whimper or the meowing of a kitten.

Forcing himself to his feet, Amari searched the room for the possible source of the disturbance and discovered a nook in the corner farthest from him. Saide made his way among the mutilated bodies, trying not to meet their reprehensive gaze. The niche might've been a blocked out ventilation duct or a storage compartment blasted open during the firefight and something was definitely moving inside. As the man crouched besides the aperture and illuminated it with his flashlight, the movement stopped and a single eye the color of amber looked at him wide with fear.

The little alien's lime skin was very smooth and it wore a piece of fabric that Saide recognized as some kind of protective gear. Judging by the creature's tiny size he guessed that it must've been only a small child... A helpless, terrified child petrified by the sight of one of the monsters that it just witnessed killing its kind without pity.

Amari held out an open palm to show that he meant the little one no harm, but the kid retreaded deeper into the alcove, retracting its arms and shrinking into a ball. The man felt incredibly sorry for the poor thing, but it was improbable that the aliens with their vastly different physiology understood even the most basic of human gestures.

Saide backed away, completely at a loss as to what to do, when he remembered about the universal translator he picked up earlier. Producing the communicator from his pocket, the private attempted to put it on the strange child which proved to be a difficult task, not because it protested, but as a result of the violent shaking that took over the petite scaly body.

The private was afraid that the tiara would be much too big for the youth, but thankfully the device automatically adjusted itself to suit the new wearer the moment he pressed it against its forehead. Instantly the man's mind flooded with extraneous thoughts and the same sensation of joyous familiarity returned, caused by the merging of two fundamentally different, yet inexplicably similar personas.

Saide sought to soothe the child creating simple images he believe the little one would understand, all accompanied by a simple message: "I will not hurt you". It took a while, but eventually the young alien calmed down, convinced by his genuine grief and regret over what has transpired. Amari didn't know if the notion of gender even applied to the species they encountered, but for some unaccountable reason he assumed that the tender individual he shared his ideas with directly was a girl.

She inquired about what happened and where all the other weird two-tailed folk like him went and Saide described the today's events to her as well as he could, leaving out the details of what've become of the people she travelled with. He told the youngster that all of this was a result of a horrible misunderstanding, but that now everything would be fine and promised to take care of her. Amari asked for the girl's name, but the mental reply he received puzzled him. Sensing his confusion the other repeated the answer and just like the first time a myriad of teeny appendages on her head wiggled simultaneously. Realizing that it had something to do with the way the aliens exchanged information among each other, Saide dropped the subject for now and instead extended his arm to the little one once again.

"It's okay. I won't let anything bad happen to you."

The other hesitated briefly and then slid towards he huddled man and latched her tiny tentacles to his hand. The long tail coiled around his wrist and Amari rose from the floor. He walked back the way he came, shielding the child he carried from the horrible theatre of death his ignorant comrades left behind them. Saide was careful not to let any negative feelings to intrude upon his thoughts under the curios glance of the inquisitive yellow eye.

The private could hear the Guardsmen calling for him from afar - he's been gone for too long and never rendezvoused with the rest of his squad. No doubt the others will have a lot of questions about his actions... But he was going to do whatever he could to protect the little one who was now his responsibility.


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