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Settlers

by Aldo Palaoro 12 months ago in Sci Fi
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A short story in which an interstellar species has invaded Earth, placing humanity into slavery.

Settlers
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Levi awoke forcefully, his chest heaving in search of breath as he shot upright, his hand finding its way to clutch at the sterling, heart-shaped pendant draped across his neck. His thumb rotated around the gem set in the center of it, a stone resembling the color of a clear day’s sky, slowly calming him from the nightmare he had once more escaped until later when he would lay his head down once again. His regular night terrors are a never changing, rapid collage of fiery streaks across a rural night sky, men and women dressed in respirators and sterile white full-bodied suits, the thunderous clatter of human beings in horror, and a woman’s delicate, brown arm reaching towards Levi’s adolescent outstretched hands, her pendant, now his wrapped between his tiny fingers. It had been a little over 19 years since he had been given these nightmares, memories of June 30th, 2021. The day in which humanity in its entirety had its course forcibly changed for the worse, now soberly remembered as “Settler’s Day''.

It was the day that the Urbarra came. The singular day that any hope of man being in charge of his destiny, for better or worse, was torn from its hands with the ease of a schoolyard bully beating on the quiet, smaller kid that simply wants to be left alone. The Urbarra invasion began with an overwhelming force of drones dropping from orbit, ripping brilliantly across the skies on target to power infrastructures across the planet, crippling us immediately with some sort of EMP capabilities. The Urbarra followed this up directly with an unimaginably colossal spaceship appearing seemingly out of nowhere that is, at all times, orbiting Earth, lording its power over humanity’s head with its cold shadow casting a dismal blanket for miles in every direction. The Urbarra used this sinister supercarrier as their metallic curtain, cloaking themselves from the masses as they grasped Earth’s leading governmental bodies hostage, tasking their militaries as their own to keep the general population in check. The Urbarra had dug their roots in our home.

The interplanetary predators had no want for what we traditionally considered resources like water, precious metals, or gems. They wanted something far more sinister. They wanted slaves, and what better place to find them than a planet of nearly 8 billion beings with a more than healthy proclivity for reproducing, beings with a sexual drive the Urbarra had never before encountered. Since that day, we were no more than cattle, either put to work producing food and goods for the Urbarra or auctioned off in droves to be sent off-planet.

As Levi’s breath was caught, his heartbeat slowing to a common standard, he grasped the slick metallic bar that ran the length of his 3rd level bunk, flung his legs over, and lowered himself to the concrete floor quietly. He turned left, facing the seafoam green lockers fastened to the even uglier, cloud grey cement wall. He popped the far left locker open, grabbed his drab fern green overalls from the hook inside, and put them on, the words and numbers 104C-36 CLASS-1.3 stenciled in white across its back. Dominick, a man in maybe his mid-forties, popped his head from the second tier bunk just below Levi’s and, stifling a groggy yawn, said, “Hey kid, ya know you don’t need to be getting up extra early to work for these E.T.s, don’t ya? It’s not like they’re gonna give you any extra privileges or anything.” Levi looked up at him and gave him a weak smile, “Yeah, yeah, I know. You say that every morning Dom, and then I tell you-” Dominick cut him off while rolling his eyes sarcastically, “working is better than dreaming, yeah, I know. I was just giving ya a friendly reminder, kid. I’ll catch you in the lunch hall later, Lev.” Levi nodded as he turned to enter one of the main factory hallways, leading him to the assembly floor.

He sat down at his usual station, a little larger than most, consisting of a wide table, specialty tools organized on its far left corner, and metallic racking with ocular lenses arranged on each tier. Levi grabbed one of these lens covered alloy eyes and got to work, inspecting and fidgeting with the now not-so-alien technology. He worked in one of a few on planet drone facilities scattered across North America, although he had heard of there being a couple located in Japan, in which they manufactured the very drones that day and night patroled population centers, farms, and just about every mile of Earth itself save the factories themselves. The Urbarra were more than capable of understanding that humankind, for all of its stupidity, tended to be incredibly resourceful in times of need. Solely having drones watch over those with bits of knowledge on how they work could ultimately lead to them having to quell an uprising, killing anyone expected to be involved. And to the Urbarra, wasting product like that is a terrible waste of resources.

The day continued to move along like any other, the sounds of metal clinking against metal, feet shuffling across the concrete, and the occasional guard, dressed from head to toe in black with an M4A1 automatic rifle strapped across his chest parading past Levi’s station. Just like any other routine, monotonous day. As noon approached, Levi began cleaning his section and placing his tools back where they belonged. The time in which a female’s automated voice would ring across the factory’s announcement system declaring group 1A’s lunch break was only a few minutes away. But something was different; at first it seemed only to be a feeling in Levi’s gut, some sort of primordial ability that something in his environment had changed. Something was Off.

Only a few moments had passed since Levi had begun to discern that something was amiss when he could, somewhere away from the heavy machinery, outside and obstructed by the concrete walls surrounding him, hear erratic, faint booms and pops. Before Levi could understand what was happening, a klaxon alarm erupted over the PA system, and the familiar female voice spoke over it. “Attention, workers, we are currently experiencing irregular activity. Please return to your living quarters until-” and just then, the northern wall disintegrated spectacularly, an explosion louder than anything that had ever graced Levi’s ears, splintering the concrete into a shower of shrapnel that completely obliterated a couple of nearby guards. A handful of strangers poured into the room; rifles pressed to their shoulders as they covered corners and now ruined machines, the last remaining guards falling to the gunfire from the strangers before they even had a chance at grasping what was happening.

“Howdy, ladies and gentlemen!” One of the strangers shouted. “If I may have your attention,” his head scanning the room until arriving on Levi, “we are here on behalf of the Century Men, and we’re busting y’all out of this shithole. If you feel as though you’d like to remain here, you will be treated to our first-class collaborator treatment,” he briefly paused his speech to unholster his pistol and double-tap a downed guard. “If not, congratulations, you get to be involved in the long and arduous process of freeing the human race. Time to choose as time is never on our side,” he finished, flashing a toothy smile across his stubbly jaw.

Levi took his eyes from the strangers, looking around at the other workers as confusion turned to resurrection, their eyes lighting up with what can only be construed as salvation. They had been propelled into a revolution already taking place, whatever its outcome being utterly irrelevant. Levi felt a hand smack his shoulder; it was Dom, holding one of the fallen guard’s rifles, his excitement visible. “C’mon kid, you heard the man, let’s get outta this pit and into the fight!” Levi nodded in both elation and angst, and along with the other now free men and women, dashed towards the now ruined prison wall. Levi stumbled his way across the debris, entering the open ground of his newly given life. His hands shot to his face to protect him from the unfamiliar sunlight stinging his hazel eyes, the blue sky showing between the gaps of his fingers as beautiful as the stone set in his mother’s locket.

It was time to throw away Settler’s day and look towards a future steeped in the unforeseen, finding those once dead and giving them the unfamiliar hope the stubbly-faced Centuryman had just gifted him.

Sci Fi

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Aldo Palaoro

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