Author : James Zahardis
Ambassador Xiao, with decades of political service and negotiation of the Nigerian Treaty still evoked an inauspicious “Is this the best we’ve got?” when it was Worldcast that he would be sent to Arizona. He was a paunchy sexagenarian, whom one would expect to find on the golf course–not stepping off a combat glider into a Red Zone.
Xiao saluted General Allistar who pointed to the monumental basalt a quarter-mile away. Xiao switched his aviator sunglasses to binocular mode and shut his eyes. The preceding week reeled before him: his office with its shadow boxes brimming with medallions; his cup of Masala chai that went cold; and the live-feed of the sky over the canyon lands south of Flagstaff, as spacetime was broached.
Xiao opened his eyes. Cathedral Rock encompassed his field-of-view. He walked toward the rock.
“You want backup?” the General asked.
“It’s best if I do this on my own.”
Within three-hundred meters of the rock’s base the invaders appeared. Xiao retained his composure despite their crab-like forms, and multitudinous, undulating feelers.
“We expected Grays–not creatures out of Lovecraft or Bosch…” Xiao thought as they approached. Intelligence suspected they were foot soldiers. A larger one had a ‘boom-tube’ strapped across its back: it looked like a flute, yet a pulse from it disintegrated a jet squadron. Several horseshoe crab-size aliens clamored at Xiao’s feet. He noticed a red glow near his breast pocket originating from a stylus-shaped object in the tentacles of one of the aliens.
“Scanning for weapons? A bio-analyzer?” he wondered.
The aliens vanished. A downdraft wafted an odor into the canyon that reminded Xiao of cheap plastic Halloween costumes.
An eight-foot tall monstrosity materialized in front of him.
“A chimera!” the ambassador thought, staring at the alien’s reptilian-looking body, humanoid posture, and tufts of tentacle in place of a neck. Its face was mouthless and covered with obsidian disks. A cat-sized, spider-like creature was at its feet. It strode forward and looped a chain around Xiao’s neck. The tentacles of the chimera undulated and Xiao felt an odd sensation in his brain.
“Qan-tho’manos, representative of Dis–sympathies for battle-fallen offered,” the chimera-like being communicated.
“I am here on behalf of the President of the Republic of Sino-America and the United Nations of Earth. We welcome you and regret our unfortunate initial encounter,” Xiao replied.
“Dis from fringes observed–great cruelty of your race did learn–darkly dream of your humankind Dis spawn and minds of artists poisoned–a relief over Qlz’drn City on Great Sky-Vault your races brutality depicts,” Qan-tho’manos communicated.
Qan-tho’manos paused. The ambassador saw his reflection, like tiny tadpoles in oily pools, in the representative’s obsidian disks.
“Blended all Dis from galaxy sentient creations–life-code sacred in mutability infinite–last war humans–soldiers bearing life-code corrupted–killing efficient–abhorrent–now Dis came must.”
“But we negotiated peace an–eh–”
The ambassador’s mouth fused together.
“War for generations Dis not have–this peace to you extend we.”
The ambassador fell to the ground. His arms and legs were contracting and his epidermis hardening.
“Myranx your race becomes–humility learn will–servitude to Dis.”
Xiao was now a crab-like creature with the vestige of a man’s face. His final human memory was of the Nigerian Conference, when he negotiated world peace and ended the deployment of genetically enhanced troops; his final human emotion was compunction, realizing it had come too late.
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