“Sir, I just want to say what an honor it is to be chosen the Pidcock.” The Pidcock simpered. “I really didn’t think I had a chance to make the cut.”
“Nonsense!” the General smiled at him. “I wouldn’t have allowed any other candidate!”
“Thank you again, Sir!” The General never smiled. Maybe this was a good sign. Maybe he would be able to get things running smoothly very quickly.
“Oh, by the way, one of your first official duties will be to open up communications with the satellites so the first shipment of humans can arrive for the celebration; it’s a very big deal, as you know, so let me know if there is anything I can do for you.” The General was positively beaming. “Shall I give the order for the first shipment to be allowed in?”
“Uh, yeah, sure.” The Pidcock said and he wondered why the General was being so helpful. But the General pulled out his pad and typed in the commands. The Pidcock wondered why the man never used voice commands. Typing was so backward. This was a man who could never see the future. The Pidcock was looking forward to the General being eaten. First he had to establish himself as the one human with any authority anywhere and as long as he could keep the shipments coming in he could have his choice of anything, or anyone, at any time, until the day he died. Every actress, every singer, every woman who was beautiful would have to come here, to this planet, to present herself to him. Just five years ago he was feeding pigs in Nebraska and now he was going to rule over earth itself, with the creatures’ help.
The General stood smiling at him as if he were going to be a part of all this too.
“General, what part in this do you think I will allow you to play?” The Pidcock said and he sounded majestic, even to himself. He would work on that. He was going to be more powerful than any Pharaoh who ever lived.
“Me?” The General rocked back and forth on his heels. “I think I’ll put a bullet or two in you before I die, but there’s some things you’re going to have to see before they come in here and tear you apart.”
“Wha-what-what?” The Pidcock didn’t sound majestic at all now.
“That shipment of humans aren’t a million souls to be served up for supper, oh no. They’re a million strong army, armed to the teeth. They’re landing now.” The General pulled out an antique pistol and it made a metallic noise when he pulled part of it back and let go. “We’ve been waiting three hundred and fifty years for this day, and we have you to thank for it.”
There was an explosion far below. There were humans, hundreds of them, maybe even thousands of them. They were launching explosions, there was laser weapons being fired. Pink dots were being fired into the air and they zipped down again and everywhere one of them landed fire leapt up.
“My, my army, they will land on earth and wipe you out to the last person!” the Pidcock screamed in rage. “Call this attack off or you will all die!”
“You think you were picked because you were the best qualified?” the General laughed hard. “We picked you because you stole food from your co-workers, you cheated on every task given to you, you lied about what others produced so you could have more, yes, you were the best qualified because you’d let someone else starve in the time of famine so you might grow fat, oh yes, you were picked alright.”
“We chose you from a thousand other self-serving people like you. You were the worst. You were the one happiest to hurt someone else for your own good. You were the one who lied the most easily to others to get what you wanted, and you wanted to be The Pidcock, not to help protect our species but to live off it as if you were one of them. Did you ever stop and think about how it was we came into contact with these things after so many years? We knew if they hit us they had to have hit someone else. After a century of rebuilding we started sending out probes to find out where else they had been, and that’s how we met the Arachnids. They were our first contact with a benevolent species. They tried to make peace with the creatures that nearly wiped humans off the earth. We spent the next one hundred and fifty years setting up this ambush.” The General went to the window and nodded at the flames that were spreading everywhere.
“You haven’t spent the last five years in Brazil.” He said. “You were actually on a small moon outside one of the Arachnid planets. There aren’t any humans there at all, there never were, the Arachnids set up a hologram that you played in while you tried desperately to become the next Pidcock. When the creatures go there to destroy you they’ll pop out into a barren world of empty space and they will all die. But that isn’t the best part.”
“Oh no, oh no” the Pidcock moaned. It couldn’t be true.
“The fun part is once they leave, wherever they are, that’s where they’ll stay.” The General said. “We destroying their homing beacon. Bastards were so arrogant they only have one on this planet. That’s the fires you see north of here. The weapons the Arachnids gave is eat through their metal and burn it.”
“What-what-what about those on earth?” The Pidcock knew there were many who had gone on vacation to feed there.
“That’s something else the Arachnids helped us with” The General heard the sound of the creatures pounding on the inner wall. Yes, they would get in and get him, but he had to make sure they read this bastard’s mind first. “because every human on earth has been vaccinated. We’ve injected a virus that attacks the navigation system of every creature that eats humans. If they try to go anywhere at all they’ll wind up somewhere else. Maybe in the sun, maybe underground, maybe the Arachnid home world where they’re about to launch an invasion fleet.”
“No!” screamed the Pidcock.
“I wanted you to be the one to tell them.” The General said, and he put a bullet in the right leg of the Pidcock as part of the wall crumbled. He waited and then put another bulled in the man’s groin. The wall gave way entirely and a host of the creatures poured through the hole.
“Stop fire!” all of them screamed at him silently. He had spoken to this things before but he wasn’t ready for this sort of blind fury, this level of anger, and the amount of terror each and every one of them emitted in waves.
“Surrender” The General said. “Leave every planet you are on and return to this one. Do this now.” He knew that all of them would hear this. He knew that the fear of losing their ability to travel through space would draw them to him like a magnet. He knew they would all come, every one of the creatures, all of them, the entire population of the species would arrive in a few seconds.
He had spent nearly twenty years in Tibet. He had learned to wall off his mind, put parts of it in one compartment, put thoughts away, hidden, and he heard the explosions outside, by the thousands, by the ten of thousands, and he heard the sounds of laser cannons and plasma weapons. The Arachnids knew these weapon wouldn’t be enough. But there were a million humans on this planet.
“Tell them now, traitor, tell them now what I’m thinking.” And the General opened up his mind. The one million humans each carried fifty pounds of an explosive that was supercharged when minded with the chemical in the creature’s scales. As hundreds of thousands of them poured in to save their navigational beacon from the humans that assaulted it, a signal went out from the pad in the general’s hand. As one, the explosions the humans each carried detonated. The explosion, vaporized all it touched, turned metal into soup, turned the scales of the creatures into bombs and the atmosphere of their planet caught fire. From a point dead center on the equator a bright white light spread from one end of their earth, circled to both poles, and extinguished all life.
“How many are left alive?” The President asked. “Here on earth?”
“As far as we can tell less than a thousand, Ma’am.” The man who served as her chief of staff was connected to the Arachnids so she could speak to them at the same time. “As per our agreement, our friends get to take a shot at them first. They’re mopping up even as we speak. They’ve assured us they’ll contain the smoke, also as we agreed.”
“How many left in other places?” She savored these facts, tasted them in her soul. She had sent three million humans off planet to be eaten. She had to be the one to give the order to have the last of these things exterminated. “How many left in total?”
“Less than a million” said the chief of staff. “There’s an earth like planet that they’ve more or less cleaned out. The Arachnids want to know if we’re willing to take it over, the natives there are begging for help. There are too few there to start over again without a lot of help.”
“That’s damn generous of them, tell them I said so, exactly as I said it” The President said.
“They also want us to send some of our people to their home system.” Said the chief of staff. “They want to start training our engineers.”
“We’re overwhelmed by their generosity, really, yes, that’s a good way to put it.” The President couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“They believe in peace. And they want us to learn their ways of achieving it without weapon of war. But at the same time, they realize we’re better at it than any other species they’ve ever met. Those damn monsters damn near cleaned out a galaxy. We’re going to be very popular for a very long time, ma’am. The Arachnids want us to send a diplomatic team to their capital to meet some of the other species who have survived and who would like to thank us.”
“Tell them we’re ready when they are.” The President sat down in her floating chair and allowed the tears. They had done it. They had killed the monsters that had laid waste to Earth.
“Uh, ma’am, I’ll uh,” The chief of staff began,”I’ll go.”
“No, please, stay,” she sniffed, “we’re at peace for the first time in three and a half centuries. You know, I’ve worked with you day and night for seven years and I don’t remember your first name”
“Uh, Thomas, uh, my family called me Tommy,” he said.
Tommy,” and suddenly she saw him as someone’s son, and she knew she could see that in people again, “please sit, and when we’re alone like this, feel free to call me Shelia.”