This is another standalone piece of microfiction from my upcoming book, “I Hate Your Time Machine: Terrible Tropes in Fantasy & Science Fiction”.
CRIME: “Kill the mothership and every other alien either dies or becomes nonfunctional”.
Submitted by: “Stratus Strong”, aka @stratus_strong_____________
In some ways, the very nature of film and television is against this trope in the first place. It’s generally assumed that if we’re going to see something more than two or three ships blasting against each other (and let’s not, for just a moment, talk about ‘blasters’), then the audience probably wants to see some sort of massive armada. If, as is the norm in science fiction, the Human Good Guys are outnumbered by the Bad Guys (human or otherwise)—then we might want to see some sort of tricky victory. But what we’re likely to want to see is some special cleverness, some heroic sacrifice, or the ever-popular unlikely-and-yet-somehow-against-all-odds-it-happens Victory of Destiny. There are times when it makes sense that losing the main ship would destroy everything else, and to be fair, motherships can be quite difficult to take out. Still, if we’re imagining aliens of a technology which is, if not necessarily like ours, at least not so far advanced that we can’t send out some kind of force against them, then I somewhat suspect it would go like this…
For a moment, everything seemed suspended there (despite the fact that, in a situation with little or no friction from wind resistance, and no gravity because it’s in space, things out to continue moving until another force acts on them; but I guess the force in this question is the all-pervasive “plot convenience”)—
for one brief instant, everything seemed to stop, as the vast Zorblaxian mother ship, penetrated by Human laser fire, slowly, like a vast space crab receiving the expert attentions of someone with gigantic hands, a lobster cracker, and a waiting tub of hot butter, ripped in two, its (somehow flaming, despite being in space) wreckage quickly falling into a thousand shreds.
Then, through the radio (radio? What kind of far-future is this?) came the nearly simultaneous whoops and hollers of the Earthlings, and the screams of dismay from the Zorblaxians.
The Human General cut in on the celebration. “Okay, team, good work, but now we need to press our advantage. We’re still out numbered twenty-five to one, and—“
An all-circuits Zorblaxian missive cut through the (lack of) air. “My fellow Zorblaxians. Today is a day which shall forever live in infamy. We have lost our beloved Leader, Dictator Fthloop, and—”
An angry screech, both mechanical, and generate from thousands of Zorblaxian throats. A babble of voices. One particularly strong transponder cut through. “Dictator Fthloop? Dictator Fthloop? That shill! He’s been in the porbleegle of big business interest from the beginning! He hates Zorblaxians who aren’t his exact tinge of greenish-blue, and his tax policies are a disaster. DEATH to Dictator Fthloop!”
Another voice. “He’s ALREADY dead—”
Another voice still: “And GOOD RIDDANCE!”
The human General tried to cut through to her troops via the Command-Only circuit, but the level of chatter and interference from thousands of Zorblaxians all bellowing at once reduced it to garble. “NOW, human troops, NOW, this is [hisssssss, crackle, static]—”
“—suppose you’re one of those slinking, treacherous Tyrant Glomp supporters, aren’t you? Going to bring Zorblax back to the electro-barter economy, where you’ll never find enough blood to even wash your uniforms, because the Government will—”
“You smurpling Creditons hate our planet! You want to see all of us on debt until the even our great-fleebchildren are still paying for your steal-and-eat financial policies!”
“I won’t take that from a dirty Baterian! It’s well-documented that your party eats Zorblaxian younglings without cooking them properly first!”
There is some quiet chatter across some very shortband human comm circuits. A small piece of the human interstellar navy begins peeling off, preparing to try to assault the enemy flank. But it’s futile.
“You are RUINING the Zorblaxian economy!”
“The economy? Zorblaxian undead roam restlessly through the streets, unable to find insufficient nutrition, and you’re worried about the smorkling money? If you were in this cockpit, I’d punch you right out of it!”
And more voices. The human translation devices begin to overload, but that didn’t matter, as the alien voices rose to piercing, almost inaudible pitch. The great Zorblaxian fleet swept into a vast orbit-shaped pattern, as if ‘circling the wagons’, only that’s a rare maneuver when you have vast superiority, and ordinarily, you aim your weapons outwards….
As the humans watch the gigantic alien armada blasting itself to Glory, or wherever it is that aliens go, the human commanders on Mankind’s flagship, the vast cruiser Polk, turn to look at each other. The Sky Lord says to the General, “I think Humanity has learned something today.”
The General doesn’t answer. She just points at her screen.
On it is a picture of sweet, green mother Earth, suddenly brightly aglow with the orange-yellow flame of incredibly compressed detonations, each topped with a mushroom cloud primarily familiar to us via the history books. Her surface-to-air radio has been muted; she turns it up, the tiniest notch. All they can hear is human voices, each full of conviction and fury, all crashing over and onto each other, each one increasingly difficult to hear as background explosions.
“Yeah, I think we did,” she says. They look at each other in silence, and then shift the central viewscreen to Earth. New Zealand is just in the process of making a violent descent to the bottom of the ocean.
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities, put on events, and make stories come into being. I also tweet a lot over @darklordjournal.