Author: Rick Tobin

“But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…” Luke 14:13

“Colonel, we can’t hold the line. Radars don’t work. The bastards have taken our coasts and Rockies. If Kansas falls…”

“Drop it, Major.” The aged Colonel McDaniel leaned over battle maps while dripping sweat in his dirt bunker, studying alien strategy. Invaders destroyed civilization’s support: satellites, power plants, and transportation, paralyzing resources, causing riots, hunger, and widespread heat deaths. Invaders didn’t destroy cities…they simply let inhabitants perish by violence or exposure. Land-based systems still worked in the heartland while enemy forces moved slowly with a reserved intent. This let human military defenses migrate inland.

Shortness of breath impacted speech from squat Major Covington, as he stared over tactical considerations. “Five days without downing a single ship. What can possibly change anything today? Anything?” He left sweaty palm prints on the wrinkled, dusty map.

“One prayer might be coming on an Osprey from St. Louis. If she’s onboard, and that pilot can find us without GPS, we might have a fighting chance.” McDaniel stared through his bleary red eyes at Major Covington.

“Who the hell could fly that far without guidance? We don’t have…”

“We have one from the Vietnam War. He flew WWII planes to airfield shows all over the Midwest. Charlie Pringle will make it…I’m sure.”

“Pringle? Really? He’s an alcoholic relic in some nursing home. What were you thinking?”

“I don’t need a glass-half-full guy, Covington. I…listen to that. Can’t mistake an Osprey landing. He’s got to have her…got to!”

“Who the hell is this ‘she’ you keep going on about? Did we finally get a new weapon?” Covington shook his head, wondering if heat exhaustion made McDaniel unfit for command.

“She is one of three known. Canada and Russia found two teen girls. Our old woman is half paralyzed, but she’s also a pentachromat. She can see parts of the spectrum we can’t. Reports came in that their mutated vision could spot enemy ships as ghostly ripples. Canadians shot a ship down their military couldn’t detect without their pentachromat. We think that’s why aliens bypassed Canada, for now, trying to repair their error.”

“Ridiculous!” Covington pointed his finger at McDaniel. “You’re not going to risk any more of my men with some geriatric cripple doing hocus pocus on our last battlefield. I think it’s time I took command. You obviously have lost your capacity…”

There were no more words from Covington after McDaniel fired a round into his forehead. Guards outside joined the Colonel as he rushed to meet a gray-haired woman under a white shawl being whisked off the plane’s rear ramp. She squeezed into McDaniel’s command vehicle, heading to his artillery batteries. Without time for formalities, he motioned her caregiver to wheel her under webbed canopies for camouflage. McDaniel begged her to look westward, pointing out anything she felt was abnormal. She immediately identified three areas, including one almost overhead. McDaniel gave coordinates to a captain nearby wearing headphones. Missiles whistled past from carefully concealed positions. Officers watched…praying. In seconds, orange explosions filled skies with gigantic ships falling, cascading in flames and detonating while striking ripe wheat fields.

She motioned again, further downrange, but close enough for another volley. A cry of joy and hope rose as those celebrating realized her skills were turning the tide, at last, and if nothing else creating a delay in further conquests by an invisible foe.