Science Fiction, Short Story

HorizonLoud voice of the sirens echoed inside her head, as she looked through the visor of her weapon towards the horizon. It was a bit hard to concentrate with all this noise. It seemed ironic; the most obvious measure of security in an emergency situation like this, had a slight chance of decreasing the efficiency of the key element of security, which was her.

In the past three years, which she had been the commander of the small defense unit of this remote colony, she had been through this process many times. A hundred maybe. This experience perfectly guided her eyes as well as her hands, as she looked towards the crimson color of the setting sun at the horizon through the visor. She knew what she was looking for, like every single member of her unit.

Soon enough, a silhouette appeared. Than another, and another in a matter of seconds, just before her radio screamed;

“We have visual!”

The hostility of the creatures of this planet showed itself in a regular basis, as they assembled to attack the colony every now and then. Although they were no more intelligent than a pack of earth wolves, they posed enough threat for the colony to assume an all defensive situation. Those who were unlucky enough to be out on expedition or harvesting, had only some time to make themselves inside before the hell had broken loose. Although rarely, the colony have given victims among them to these attacks.

As the creatures approached, their skin started to gain its dark yellow color, inside the rising smoke they left after them. Smell of dust was filling her nose as she was breathing deeper and deeper with rushing adrenaline in her veins. Hot climate was not a thing she was not used to, but mixed with the tension, a drop of sweat fell from her forehead on her weapon. Each shot had to be precise, as the bunkers of the unit was not enough to withstand a direct physical assault by these strong creatures.

An impatient, but formal voice came out of the radio;

“Sir! Awaiting your orders to open fire!”

“Hold it sarge! Just a few more steps.”

She responded. If she could catch the right moment, all this tension could end in seconds.

She pulled her weapon into her cheek, squeezed the trigger and made herself ready to fire. In the very moment she was about to give the order, something strange happened. The creatures stopped! All the motion, except the dispersion of the dust cloud after them, just stopped in a split second! This never had happened before, thus no one could think of any meaning.

“Are you seeing what I am seeing?”

Said the sarge from the radio. The creatures looked like they suddenly decided not to attack the colony. They stopped just outside the effective range of her weapon, just as if they knew! A sign of intelligence? Something that they had seen but the unit could not see? Unknown to her. They were just standing there and observing, but not retreating either.

After minutes, which felt like hours to her, there was a voice on the radio. It was the mayor of the colony.

“Captain, what’s going on over there?”

“Sir, they just stopped attacking, and are wandering just outside our firing range!”

It was hard to believe, at least in the first hearing.

“How can they determine your firing range?! We’re talking about a pack of dumb animals here!”

“I don’t know sir, may be a coincidence, but they seem to be observing us.”

“What in the world is happening there captain? What is your plan? We cannot take a lot more of this tension!”

“Sir, I recommend the colony to go into silent alarm state. Everyone should stay in and wait. We will continue observing the creatures and act if they resume their attack.”

This was all she could think of in the past brief amount of time. The annoying voice of the sirens were not helping, and the primary thing in her mind as she said that, was to make this noise stop as soon as possible.

After ten minutes, the noisy panic state of the colony was replaced by a dead silence. She ordered her unit to stay on trigger and keep their eyes on the creatures. They could not afford any surprises.

As hours past and the night fell, the creatures still did not move. They were awake, observing and wandering, but they did not show any sign of attacking or retreating. It was undoubtedly a siege now. She knew that these creatures could live for a week without food or sleep, and they could not wait that long; as the colony had to go outside for harvesting, especially water, for the few people that live in to survive. Seemed she was not alone with the impatience, as her radio sounded again with the voice of the mayor;

“Captain, we cannot afford to wait. First light in the morning, your unit will attack and terminate these creatures!”

“Sir, I understand your concern, but I have to report that our mobile weapon range is much shorter. We will have to approach them very close, leaving the colony defenseless.”

She knew that this had been the inevitable action to be taken, and seemed most reasonable. But this whole thing was not right. How could these creatures use something that looked frighteningly like a siege tactic? Did they develop intelligence? Did they learn from their casualties? For decades, they had been acting no different than a pack of wild animals back on earth, and attacking the colony occasionally. The pre-warning systems stationed at a large perimeter had been almost always able to warn of the attacks in time, using the detected rising body temperature, correlated with approach vector and speed of the creatures. They had always attacked head on, and eventually fallen victim to the stationary weapons of the defense unit. What was different now? A mystery. But her senses told her not to make the obvious move. Mayor, on the other hand, seemed to disagree.

“I know captain, but if there were more of them around, they would have been detected by the pre-warning system. Besides they would have attacked by now.”

Now she had to explain her senses, which did not make any sense even to her.

“I don’t know sir… I sense… Intelligence!”

“What?! Nonsense! We cannot afford this captain, you WILL attack and finish this!”

“Understood, sir.”

Continue : The Habitat 2