Author: David C. Nutt

“Are you insane? This was supposed to be a negotiation of terms for surrender. You made it a slaughter!”

COL Mikalelan holstered her weapon and gave her two aides the command to stand down. “I’ve been fighting them for twelve years, Ambassador Nieves. This was no delegation. We specified three, they brought six.”

“Three extra and you kill them for that?”

The Colonel walked forward and kicked the closest alien with the tip of her boot. “This one here- look at its caste mark. Not branded and dyed as their political caste should be, but painted on. It’s really a warrior caste.”

Ambassador Nieves growled in frustration “They told us because of their heavy losses their delegation would be unusual, I thought I made that clear.”

“Indeed you did Ambassador. That’s why when I saw them walking in twice the numbers, I knew they would betray us.”

Ambassador Nieves gritted her teeth. “You military types are all alike. All you see is a threat. We’ve already beaten them. Clearly, we’ve won and they have to come to terms. In time, who knows what we can do together”

COL Mikalelan laughed. “Ambassador, neither one of us is white nor male so spare me your white man’s burden guilt speech. They don’t think like us, have the same standards that we do, have the same values. They are totally alien. Hell, even their math is different.”

Ambassador Nieves was livid. “Of course they’re different! I’m not a child. They have only two fingers, different thinking, alien minds, I get that, but there are still universals. Things that alien and human can and do share.”

“Cut them and do they not bleed? Guess what: they don’t. In fact, we don’t know what the hell they are exactly- reptile, mammal, insect- who knows? All we know is even after extensive negotiation, our first three encounters ended in the total obliteration of our contact parties followed by an all-out assault on our most populated systems with the extermination of ALL human life wherever they took our colonies.”

COL Mikalelan looked at her watch. “SGT Zander call in the air strike. 1LT Ives, engage our shields.”

Nieves looked stunned “Shields? We told them we wouldn’t bring any! Air strike? You had no intention of negotiation at all- you used me! When I get back to HQ you’ll lose your head.”

COL Mikalelan roughly pulled Ambassador Nieves into a huddle with Zander and Ives. Ives pressed a button on his belt and the tell-tale sign of shields crackled in the air around them, encompassing the group of four. Mikalelan and Nieves were almost nose to nose.

“Look over there at the ‘delegation’.” COL Mikalelan tilted her head toward the six bodies. “Their ‘ambassador’ had a transponder which has just turned on, giving their command our exact position. We win or lose with them. We occupy the dirt we stand on or they do. Us or them. In twelve years of contact it has never been different. Binary fingers, binary thought, binary decisions.”

1LT Ives spoke up. “Ma’am, message from command. Our nuke just destroyed the remainder of their forces and 46 of their inbound missiles including two targeted to our position. Advised to stand fast, shielded, until the shock wave from our nuke passes.”

A mushroom cloud appeared over the horizon. A great roaring wind rolled over Nieves, Mikalelan and the Colonel’s aides. Nieves could barely keep eye contact with the colonel but when she did COL Mikalelan raised one eyebrow and spoke.

“Safe or Sorry?”