What would you do?

<Translated from Galactic Common>

<Special Galactic Council meeting, galactic date 45293.2735, will now commence. This meeting was called to address the latest planet that was attacked by the Tickchik.> , Council High Speaker Abragam announced to start the inquiry.  Abragam is a Corvian, one of the twenty races that founded the Galactic Council ten galactic rotations ago.

 

<Why call for a special meeting for something that happens so often that it has become routine?>, said council member Bradoc Pridam from the Koruvian race.

 

<Because in this case there were not only survivors, but they drove off the Tickchik before they razed 33% of the planets flora and they did it after more than 99% of their species had been eliminated from orbit.>, said Abragam.

 

Chatter erupted from the council members, as there have never been survivors let alone the Tickchik being driven off before consuming all resources.  <What kind of species is powerful enough to beat the Tickchik?> <How did they beat them?> <What can they tell us about them? No one has ever survived an encounter with them.> <The Tickchik avoid species that are equally as powerful as themselves, so why did they attack one now?> Abragam pressed a button that indicates the council needs to quiet down and within a few moments they were quiet again. <We have brought in one of the survivors to answer those questions and many more. The species call themselves “human”, and their planet “earth”. They have just entered the 4th level of technological advancement, having started to send probes and individuals off planet.> More murmurs were heard and Abragam glanced in that direction to give his disapproval. <They are at a 7 on the galactic size chart though there are some who do not exceed 6 and a few who reach 8. The planets gravity is 96% galactic max for a spacefaring species without access to Quoniton mines, though our scans did indicate a small sample located within the rubble in one desert area. The “humans” are a warm blooded, live berthing species that is adaptable to a wide range of environmental conditions. The can breathe in galactic standard environmental atmosphere with the addition of a small amount of oxygen.> More murmurs are heard as oxygen in high quantities can be dangerous. <Please bring our guest in.> Abragam said as he gestured to an attendant by the door. The attendant opened the door and motioned to someone inside. Out walked Jim Williams.

 

Jim had been waiting in the room worried about what to say. He was not comfortable speaking in front of people, so he was not sure he can get through this. He kept going over what he wanted to say to explain the start of the invasion. He had only been given a day to prepare, so he could not get a lot done.

 

Jim was an unassuming man, standing at 5’6” and weighing 150 pounds. He was wearing a worn pair of bluejeans and a faded flannel shirt. He had a earpiece that connected him to the universal translator in his right ear and a tube connecting his nose to a small pack on his waist providing him with extra oxygen. He strode toward the podium looking in awe at the hundreds of different species in the room. As he neared the podium, Abragam reached out with an appendage to greet Jim with as he learned it was the human custom. Jim was unsure as to how to grab Abragam’s “hand” as it has only three “fingers” arranged in a “Y” shape. He gingerly grabbed it and lightly shook it up then down, trying to be careful to not hurt him as his hand looked rather frail. Abragam says <First let me thank you for coming here today to brief us on the attack by the Tickchik that happened on your world and how you were able to drive them away. We have never been able to communicate with them. Any attempts were either ignored, or the Tickchic would attack and destroy the vessel. If we attempted to investigate them on a planet they were currently occupying, they would attack us in space until we were destroyed or they would drive us off. We do not know anything about them. The only report we have is from a world they razed and left one primitive lifeform who’s only word was Tickchik before succumbing to death. We ask that you tell us everything about them, starting with their first contact.>

 

<We scanned in all the data that was available from your surviving records into the universal translator so it should be able to understand you, but if the red light in front of you turns on, it means there was something you said that could not be translated in the proper context. The display will show the last part of your message, and will have the questionable section highlighted. Just tap the section and say “clarification” and then explain what it means in the context of the rest of the statement.>

 

Jim was glad to see the display in front of him, it gave him something to focus on instead of having to look out at the people in front of him, help with his fear of speaking in front of people.

Jim started speaking, looking at the monitor “Their ships appeared one day and circled the earth slowly, then they left just as quickly as they arrived. Our government said there was no contact made, but they did scan the planet.”

 

<What kind of scan was performed?> asked Abragam.

 

“The government did not specify.” answered Jim. After a brief pause he continued. “Ninety days later, they returned and started firing on us from orbit. They targeted the most populated areas first, hitting them with large kinetic weapons. They were killing animals along with humans, any large quantity of creatures.” Murmurs started among the attendees. Abragam raised a hand to quiet everyone, then asked “They killed the animals, not harvest them?” Jim answered “No. We never saw them eat meat, just killed ‘em.” After another pause Jim continued “They blasted us for four days straight that I could hear. Then it was quiet for a few days. I ventured out and ran into a few other people saying they were going to meet up with a bunch of others. I told them I may come later, I just wanted to check on someone first. After I got to my friends house and found him not home, I heard an explosion coming from the direction the meeting was to occur. I made my way in that direction and saw that the place had been hit with a small projectile, only destroying the building they were in and a small circle around it. I realized that any people will have to stay in small groups else they are a target from space.”

 

“After a couple more days they started sending down shuttles. They are an insectoid species that look similar to a praying mantis on earth, but with different head and arms depending on the job of the individual. The first to land would be what we called the warriors. Big heads, one big claw, one small claw that fit in a gun, and blue in color. We would find that they color coded their species, blues was for the fighters and security.”

 

“Browns were the builders, the lighter the color the softer the material. The tan ones built using wax, the brown ones build with a paper/wood mixture. The dark brown ones make panels that the shuttles are made of, we suspected a carbon fiber type of material. They would land after the warriors and start building hives. The browns would build the walls and floors and the tans would coat them in wax to waterproof them and build cells for eggs.”

 

“The greens were the harvesters, light green harvesting the grasses and dark green the trees. There was a yellow ones we called a mules. It was low to the ground and had protrusions sticking up on its back making a cage of sorts. The grass harvesters would stack the grasses on the back of the mules to haul to a hive.”

 

“The reds were the feeders and waterers. They would go around and spit up food that the others would eat. There were also pink ones that were the firefighters. They had a swollen abdomen that was full of water. If a fire broke out they would squirt a gel like substance on it to extinguish it. The gel was sticky, so it worked well. Whenever we set a fire, they would have it out in minutes. If the saw smoke they would investigate it immediately. We used that to our advantage many times.”

 

“There was a translucent type that produced a type of alcohol. We guessed they used it as fuel. It exploded easily and when we blew up a whole hive full of it, it would spread a fire for 100 meters in every direction.”

 

“The queens were color coded too. The would be black or white with highlights that indicated the type of egg it laid. They were guarded by sapphire colored guards that were extremely fast and nimble. They were also nearly bullet proof, all but the biggest calibers and highest power.”

 

“There was also the thinkers, they were gold colored. Any time they encountered something new, a gold one would investigate it and then issue orders on what to do.”

 

“In almost every transport, there would also be the cleaners. They were grey in color and less than half the size of the others. We never saw a hive that produced them.”

 

“Then finally there is the big queen, pearlescence in color, and twice a big as the others. Her guards were also twice as large, and purple in color. They were bulletproof to even the big guns.”

 

<Thank you for that thorough description. What can you tell us about their behaviour?> asked Abragam.

 

“I initially just watched them, gathering information about them, avoiding their warrior patrols. Eventually I joined up with a couple of others and we started setting traps for the patrols. If we trapped one, the others would not try to free them. If one was seriously wounded, they moved to the side of the trail and would wait until they died, fighting if necessary.”

 

<You said ‘trail’?> asked Abragam.

 

“Yes, they patrolled using existing trails, either human or animal, and did not cut through the brush unless they were chasing something. They stayed in the same patterns and were predictable, even when something changed.”

 

<How did you avoid detection?>

 

“Well, being a hunter, I had a lot of camo to wear.”

 

<Camo?>

 

“Camouflage. Clothing that we wear when hunting that causes us to blend in with the surroundings, so the prey cannot see us. I have three different sets for the different seasons. So long as we were still and in a good spot, they would not notice us up to 20 yards away. Heh, there was one time I was going to scout around a rock quarry, so I wore all grey, including a hoodie, uh, a coat that has a hood on it. As I rounded a corner near the formans shack, I ran into a patrol. I ran around the shack out of their initial view and crouched down around a bunch of large boulders. They could not see me and they were within a few feet from me! I nearly shit myself, but I think that would have given me away. Eventually they left and I was able to get some explosives from the shack.”

 

<So their vision is limited.> said Abragam.

 

“Well, they could see animals pretty easily, so I don’t know. There was several times they would start shooting at a deer that we didn’t see, until they moved.”

 

<What type of weapons did they use?>

 

“Their guns shot some kind of energy. When we would get one, it would only have 2 or 3 shots in it, but the warriors could shoot as much as they wanted, it seemed. We thought they charged their guns with their bodies. Each warrior would spend an hour or two sitting in the sunlight each day. So we reckoned they were charging up. The energy they shot would kill an animal and probably most humans, but I did see a couple of military men in combat gear that shrugged off a shot.”

 

<Your military did engage with them?>

 

“Most of the military was destroyed in the initial bombing. A group of soldiers came through, around a hundred of them scattered in the surrounding woods for miles. They said that a few submarines were able to get a few missiles shot off and took down one ship over the ocean.”

 

<What kind of missiles did they use?>

 

“If it was from a sub, it would have been a nuke.”

 

<A nuke? As in nuclear weapons?>

 

“Yes.”

 

<You used them against yourselves?>

 

“Just once, well twice, days apart, and they were small ones. Quickly the largest countries had them and then nobody would use them, so they were just a deterrent. They called it MAD, mutually assured destruction. The name was appropriate.”

 

<I see.>

 

“We explained to the military men what was going on in the hollow we were at, their patterns and schedules, and they decided they were going to clear the area of the bugs. They planned for two days and on the third, they went in and attacked. They had us stay back as we did not know their signals and they thought we would be in the way. In just a few minutes, they managed to destroy everything except one shuttle that took off as they started the attack. About the time they were done and every hive was on fire, I noticed a ship coming in. We took off running down the ridge away from the area and just made it to a small cave at the bottom, really just a rock overhang. It protected us from the fallout from the mass they dropped in the hollow. It levelled everything and debris fell for several minutes. We waited a while and then checked on the damage. The entire hollow was scoured clean, just bare rock. We ended up finding one survivor who was on top of the far ridge and was thrown far enough to survive, but injured.”

 

“We left that area and headed east and came across another little hollow that was full of hives. We started watching them and their patterns and eventually set up traps and started causing the same kind of trouble as before. Eventually I made my way to the other side of the valley and up to the top of the ridge and when I peered over I saw that we were wasting our time. On the other side of the ridge was a large flat expanse filled with thousands of hives. They did not care if we killed a few, they were breeding faster than we could ever kill them. I realized they were never going to leave by us killing them, we were going to have to make them want to leave.”

 

“During our scavenging around we found some chemicals, bleach and ammonia, and knew if they were mixed they produced a gas that could kill. We didn’t have much luck trying to throw it in glass containers, as they would move away when the glass broke and the gas would not get to them. We did find that if we filled two water guns with them and shot both of them onto the back of one of the bugs it killed them quickly. We didn’t have a lot of the chemicals so we planned to use them for a special project. We also found some turpentine that seems to cause them to go to sleep or at least get sleepy when it was splashed on their backs.”

 

“We found a house that had a large basement and set it up as a hidden shelter, and soundproofed an area in it. We then made plans to capture a queen. We laid traps out to cover our escape and help with our getaway. Once we were ready, we waited until a queen entered a hive to lay eggs. We created a diversion with a small attack to draw away the warriors, and at the same time we set several fires on the other side of the valley to draw the firefighters and others to that side. This basically left the queen and her guards alone in the middle. We stormed in and used the chemicals to take out her guards. We splashed the turpentine on the queen and it had the effect of knocking her out. We had to kill a couple of the smaller cleaner bugs using blades to insure our clean getaway.”

 

“We carried the queen away and got to the top of the ridge on the path before one of them saw us and made a noise that brought the warriors. We made our way through the trail arming the traps as we went. They were very successful and we were able to stop most of the pursuers with them. We took out the last few of them with well placed shots and splashed some more turpentine on the queen who seemed to be rousing awake. We got her into our hideaway and tied her up in the soundproofed room. We had also set up some recording devices to record the sounds she makes.”

 

<You are not about to say you tortured her?>

 

Pausing for a second, “No…Sorta…I knew that torturing her and making her scream and yell would do no good. Those sounds would only make warriors mad and want to kill us. What I needed was different sounds.” Pausing for a few seconds before continuing, “I had set up a grill in the room.” Noticing their confusion he elaborated, “a portable cooking device that uses propane gas to generate heat. I started it up and prepared a few items and started the recorders. Once I was ready, I reached down with my left hand and grabbed onto one of her knees and grabbed her foot and yanked it up at a right angle to direction it is supposed to bend. I twisted it a bit, but it would not come free so I had to grab a knife and finish cutting it free. She screamed a bit from that.”

 

With that several of the members of the council had to excuse themselves.

 

“I tore off the foot, having to cut it free, and then placed the leg on the grill. Then I just stood there, staring at her. After about seven minutes or so, I turned the leg. They were triangular shaped having three sides. I continued staring at her for about seven more minutes, before turning the leg again. After about five minutes, you could smell that it was cooking well and I inhaled deeply and licked my lips. She started making a chittering noise, like she was getting nervous. After a few more minutes, I pulled the leg off the grill and got a old timey can opener that I found in the basement and used it to cut open the leg, slowly, about a half an inch at a time, staring at her the entire time. I spread it apart to get to the meat then grabbed a knife and fork and cut a piece and looked her directly in the eyes as I put it in my mouth and ate it.”

 

Several more council members had to leave and several were not able to make it before expunging body fluids.

 

“I continued cutting and eating and as I did she started making a new noise, a almost panic sounding noise. The more I ate the more frantic it got and after a few more minutes, she just… died.”

 

<You do not consider that torture? Eating a sentient being? While they are still alive? In front of them?> Abragam said incredulously.

 

“Humans have come up with many ways of torturing someone. Lots of horrible ways. But in this case this wasn’t physical torture, it was all a mind fuck, a means to an end. And it worked.”

 

<Continue then with how this worked.>

 

“We found that the frantic noise was ignored by the warriors, but the screams she made when I cut her leg off would bring them running. We quickly realized they were stupid, I mean really stupid. We set a speaker up about half way down a fifty foot cliff and the idiots would just run right off the edge and crash down at the bottom killing themselves. It was funny. We spent several days luring them in just to watch them kill themselves.”

 

<You found humor in their death?>

 

“Not in their death, but in how they died. Mindlessly following instincts. We just thought it was funny being a species that can travel the galaxy and they are stupid enough to just fall to their deaths. Plus, in the middle of all this death, anything to help us feel better was appeasing.”

 

<Celebrating the small victories even though you are losing the war, can be a morale booster.> Abragam said as if he had experience in that area.

 

“As we continued our campaign of setting traps and causing mayhem, we found a remote controlled flying drone. We loaded it with some explosives and a timer and waited until they were making another fuel run. As they were loading the fuel we created diversions just like we did when we took the queen and flew the drone into the shuttle carrying the fuel. We had set the timer for 30 minutes hoping that was enough time for the shuttle to go inside the main ship and detonate there. Luckily it worked, and apparently they stored the fuel near the shuttle bays, because when it went off it took out the back quarter of their ship. After a few minutes of us celebrating, we realized that the ship was coming down.”

“We took off running. As we ran, I looked back at the ship and could see that it was falling slowly, like it was still under some control. We ran for nearly ten minutes and managed to make it to one of our cave hideouts before it landed. It landed quite hard and threw up a lot of debris as it scraped the earth. We waited for an hour before heading out and had to cover our face to keep from breathing all the dust in the air. We walked back to the valley we had been at and found almost all of them dead. The few that were still alive were acting like they could not breath. We guessed the dust was too much. We put the few survivors left out of their misery and headed over the next ridge to the large plain that the ship landed in. We saw the same thing, almost all of the bugs were dead. We wandered through headed toward the big ship, killing anything living as we went. As we started to get closer we saw some movement coming from the ship. It was the big queen that was twice the size of the others. She was surrounded by her guards. We could see that they were headed to a large shuttle north of their position. We attacked, but found they just shrugged off our weapons. We had also picked up some of their guns and they also had no effect. Her guards never left her side, they just fired on us as the made their way to the shuttle.”

 

“As we got closer we found even the queen was unaffected by our guns. Before we got to the shuttle, I pulled out the recording of the queen making the frantic noises and played it at full volume. This caused the big queen to stop. Her guards also stopped firing on us. I stood up and held up the phone playing the noise after restarting it, and stared at her. She stared back. After it finished the second playing, she made a noise and they continued moving toward the shuttle, but did not resume firing on us. A few of us made some more shots but they did no good and the guards did not react. They made it to the shuttle, boarded, and took off.”

 

“After a few hours we start seeing shuttles come down in the distance, and a few minutes later going back up. By the time we got to the end of the plain, past the downed ship, there was no more shuttles nearby, but we could still see an occasional one in the distance. We made it to another area and found it abandoned. As we continued looking, everything was abandoned, it appeared that they left. We didn’t know what the recording said, but it worked, it scared them enough to make them leave.”

 

As soon as Jim finished, chatter erupted from the council. Talk of the barbaric nature of humans. Accusations of war crimes. Others defending the act. One wondered if they should go ahead and finish off the humans. This irked Jim and Abragam noticed. He asked <Jim, is there anything else you would like to add.>

 

Jim said “We have a saying, all is fair in love and war, and this wasn’t just war, it was our extermination. We could not leave, and no one was going to come to our rescue.” He paused and looked around at the entire council with several members turning to avoid eye contact. “If you were in my situation, with no hope, what would you do?”

 

The council sat in silence for a few seconds before Abragam said to Jim <Thank you for your account of the events, you may go rest while we continue deliberations.> and then motioned to the attendant at the door to see Jim out.

 

Jim was led to a small room with a few seats and a table. There was also a replicator that he was shown how to use to get food. As he waited three representatives from three different insect species showed up and ask for a copy of the recording of the queen so that they may be able to translate it. After a while he climbed into a large chair and fell asleep. When he woke he got some food and sat to eat it when Abragam entered.

 

<As we debated, we started getting reports from other survivors. It seems you were not the only  one to resort to those type of tactics. Others reported that playing the sounds a queen makes in distress causes the other queens to evacuate. You seem to be the only one that brought down a ship and encountered a big queen. We think that was the final catalyst that caused them to leave.>

 

He continued <After your admonishment of our inaction, we would like to ask you and other survivors to help in setting up a group to go in and rescue survivors of the worlds the Tickchik are attacking and maybe driving them off. In return we will help in rebuilding your world.>

 

“I could do that, I wouldn’t mind killing a few more bugs.” Jim replied with a smile.

 

<One other question, off the record, what would you have done if it did not work?>

 

Jim somberly replied, “It would have gotten much, MUCH, worse.”

 

That reply sent a shudder down Abragam’s spine as he wondered about how far a human will go to survive.

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