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|The Swarm (standard:science fiction, 2143 words)
|Author: Gavin J. Carr
|Added: May 17 2005
|Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
|The Swarm - biological killing machines that will stop at nothing to conquer the universe.
THE SWARM The squeal of the intruder alarm filled the palace keep, making Torok jump and spill the silverberry snuff which he had been indulging in. ‘Here already?!' he said to the empty room. ‘So quick, so quick.' He pushed himself off the suspension cushion and slithered to the balcony. Below, beyond the paddy fields, he could see the workers hurrying to the gatehouse and the relative safety of the fortress. He tasted the air with a probing tongue and drew back in alarm. There was the cloying, burnt taste of hydrocarbons mixed with the peppery flavour of plastic explosives. Landing craft, he thought. They're here, the Swarm is finally here! He went to the communications console and dialled the operations room. ‘This is Torok. What is the situation?' ‘Twenty craft, Majesty, descending from low orbit. It looks like a mass attack; we've had reports of landings at Durpar, Mangascow and Trell. Casualties in the tens of thousands...hold Sire...more information coming in...Durpar has fallen, the privy government has been massacred!' Torok groaned. Not Durpar, not his beautiful Durpar, not the city of light. ‘Why wasn't I notified?' he raged. ‘I left orders that the alarm was to be given immediately!' The officer swallowed hard. ‘You were informed Magesty. T-The invasion begun two minutes ago.' Two minutes! Two minutes to capture one of the best defended cities in his realm! A frigid shiver ran through him from top to tail. Damn them. Damn the Seraph Empire and damn the Swarm! He moved away from the consol and back to the balcony, letting the officer drone on. The crafts were in sight now, following the contours of the land like slick, silver fish. He leaned over the balcony rail and looked down at the gatehouse. It was chaos. The workers were bottlenecked in the opening, pushing and punching, trying desperately to fight their way through the gate. The guards were trying their best to control the crowd, but as Torok watched, a worker sprang at one of them, driving his fangs into his neck. The crowd surged as the guards fell back, closing the palace gates. A young mother screamed in horror as one of her eggs was sent spinning from her grasp, cracking on the stone flags. ‘Cowards! Why don't you fight? Filthy cowards.' Torok turned from the balcony in disgust. Was it any wonder that Durpar fell when his own people would do nothing to help themselves. Give me a single legion of Swarm troops and I could win this war, he thought. But the Swarm were not for sale, they were fanatics, totally devoted to the Empire and their Seraph masters. There was a scream from the console and the whirring rattle of small arms fire, intermixed with static. ‘Security breach!...' ‘-all back to...' ‘- Swarm Commandoes...' ‘- All dead...' The consol went silent, then came to life again with the blunt tongued chatter of the Swarm. Torok thumbed the communication switch and screamed down the mouthpiece, ‘Filthy animals! We'll never be your slaves! Do you hear me – Never!' There was a deep chested laugh from the consol, barbaric, and so different from the elegant hissing of his own people. He switched off the consol, unable to endure the sound any longer. The palace battery opened up, sending shells whistling towards the landing craft. They're finally in range, he thought, and returned to the balcony. There were ten ships, their landing doors open, just beyond the paddy Click here to read the rest of this story (184 more lines)
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