Author : Clint Wilson

They ate. They ate everything they could. It was as simple as that. If a solar system contained even one planet with significant life forms in abundance, they came. They landed and they ate, every tiny scrap of organic material in their terrible paths.

Giant gray machines ravaged the landscape. Trees and fauna stood no chance as they were mulched at will… and the beings that ran, crawled, swam and slithered faired no better as machines eventually caught up to all of them. Each and every living organism was pureed into food for the Gluttons. This was the name mankind had given them, once the fact of their approach had been revealed via the galactic network of communicating species.

To actually transverse between star systems physically as opposed to communicating by light-language was nearly unheard of, except for parasitic beings such as the Gluttons, who existed only for conquest and further gluttony. A species so devoted to their ways that they sacrificed generations of their already long-lived individuals to transverse the gaps of nothingness over centuries, with no other purpose than to find more food.

Mankind learned of their approach with nary a decade to spare. Earth would be on her own now as any chance of communicating with another intelligent species for assistance as to how to deal with the invaders was long past. Earth’s leaders gathered. Together they analyzed the information package that had been sent in light-language from one helpful alien race some fifty-five light years distant.

This was our only hope, a life preserver tossed to us just in time to, “head ‘em off at the pass” so to speak.

In the end it was a tiny probe, a mere three meters across that sailed out on the solar wind to meet the approaching horde. In truth the Gluttons never gave it any mind, a useless weather satellite to be tossed aside with indifference, they let it cruise by without concern.

As it spread its tiny cargo amongst the fleet of marauders its self-destruct clock began to count down… and by the time the little probe exploded into oblivion the nano-bots had already breached several hulls, and were now burrowing into whale sized gray beings with rough rocky skin. Each tiny android had a series of compounds aboard, so small some elements contained but a scant few molecules. Once inside their hosts, they began to experiment… until the chink in the armor had been discovered. A message was sent back to Earth as the invaders slowed and fell into orbit around their blue prize.

When the first wave landed they met what they expected, the resident intelligent race surrounding their landing party with what looked to be primitive war devices. Unconcerned they launched their armored mulching machines into action.

The first trees began to die as the grey goliaths raped the land. The Gluttons followed close behind, gorging themselves on the organic exhaust of their leviathan food processors. Forest animals and lake fish began to add to the invaders’ menu when suddenly…

The humans unleashed, directly into the intakes of the machines, a boiling spray of the most glorious shimmering sunshine. And as the spewing feeding snouts began to exhaust the deadly element into the hungry mouths of the approaching aliens, they started to die by the thousands.

Who could have guessed that the Gluttons’ one and only yet deadly allergen would be one of the solar system’s rarest elements? Luckily for mankind we had now had the ability to turn lead into gold for more than a century.


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