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Time of Extinction


T.J. Kinsella

Copyright 2017 T.J. Kinsella

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The massive battle fleet of the Mearmexxan empire was preparing, as it had done many times before, to completely exterminate another race. Across the colossal swarm of ships, millions of soldiers readied themselves for war, as the fleet raced towards the home-world of the species that their queen had sworn to eradicate; A species that had the audacity to violate the empire’s most sacred region of space with a pornography-carrying probe. Queen Lukta’s planned retribution for the crime was to be swift, massive and, above all, final.

As the flagship of the fleet, the battleship ‘Temperance’, led the way, as the massive armada sped through hyperspace. After almost a year of travelling at beyond the speed of light, the fleet was fast approaching its ultimate destination; a small blue-green planet in a system situated in one of the outer spirals of the galaxy.

It was, for the most part, an unremarkable world, apart from one particularly strange detail. All the evidence they had gathered, suggested that, on this world, mammals had evolved further than insects. And it was one such order of mammals, that had invoked the wrath of the queen, and brought a death sentence upon their home-world.

As the queen’s chief advisor, it was Armenn’s job to supervise the fleet as they made their final preparations for the battle to come. He scuttled, hurriedly onto the bridge of the temperance, as he went about the task of collecting data for the queens next briefing. After checking several view-plates around the huge, hexagonal chamber, he made his way to one of the navigator stations.

“What is the status of the fleet?” Armenn asked Navigator Clopp.

“All ships operating at full efficiency, sir,” answered Clopp, “apart from one of our hive ships. They encountered a technical hitch as they manoeuvred into the wormhole.”

“What kind of hitch?”

“Its shielding failed as it passed the event horizon, causing an immediate implosion with the loss of all claws.”

“I see,” said Armenn, “How many fatalities?”

“Just over six hundred thousand, Sir.” replied Clopp.

“Nothing too serious, then?” Armenn remarked, “How long until we dropout of hyperspace?”

“About a schlong and a half, Sir.” said Clopp as he checked the view-plate in front of him.

“And have all the probes deployed successfully?”

“Yes sir, the data streams are coming through now.”

The microdrones on Clopp’s view-plate were busily swarming into columns of information, their precise formations displaying letters and images, before dissolving away a moment later, only to reform into fresh data. Armenn watched intently as the drones started to shape themselves into the reconnaissance report from the target system. The report, strangely, was a lot shorter, than he had expected.

“That’s odd,” said Armenn. “why is there so little signal data?”

“I don’t know,” said Clopp, “the probes are currently holding orbit around the fifth planet of the system. The scans show that it has a huge magnetic field. Maybe the signals are being blocked,”

“Maybe,” said Armenn, not entirely convinced by the suggestion, “Move the probes to within scanning distance of their planet, there should be no interference there.”

As he pondered over the strange results of the scans, the massive figure of General Parmett entered the bridge behind him. Parmett, was one of the longest serving, and largest, of the warrior caste, had been tasked with leading the ground assault. The clattering of her mammoth armour, was all the chief advisor needed to alert him of her formidable, and somewhat unwelcome, presence.

“You look stressed, Armenn.” said the general as she approached Clopp’s station, “is the prospect of going to war, getting to you?”

“Organising the extinction of a species is no easy matter, general,” replied Armenn, “monitoring the fleet is a full-time job, stocktaking the munitions is a nightmare, and don’t even get me started on the catering.”

“All you have to do, chief advisor, is get us there,” snorted Parmett, “It’s me and my soldiers who’ll be doing the real dirty work.”

Armenn gave an unconvincing hum of agreement.

“Do we have any intelligence about their defences, yet.” asked the general.

“We are just waiting on a secondary scan,” said Armenn, “it should be through, any moment.”

As they waited, the general asked, “You’ve seen the aliens’ probe, right, Armenn? What are they like?”

“Bloody ugly,” he replied, still looking at the view-plate, “they’re a kind of ape-like creature, but with hardly any fur. Imagine an upright monkey with mange, and you won’t be a million miles away.”

“Good gods! Really?” exclaimed Parmett, in obvious disgust.

“And they’re stupid too,” continued Armenn, “I mean, imagine sending a probe into deep space, covered with porn, then leaving coordinates to your home-world on it...bloody asking for trouble, that is.”

“Hideous and dumb,” scoffed the general, “Not exactly the best genetic combination. It doesn’t sound like they will put up much of a fight.”

“I hope not,” said Armenn, “we really can scarcely afford another drawn-out affair. the fleet is still understrength since we eradicated the Alphardians. We lost over a quarter of our ships on that campaign...bloody murder, it was. Still...at least there are no Alphardians around to ever joke about the size of the queen’s abdomen, again!”

As Armenn finished speaking, a series of shrill chirps sounded out from the microdrones, alerting the three, to another batch of incoming data. They scrutinised the view-plate as the drones began to change pigment and rearranged themselves, until they had reformed themselves into the latest report from the probes. Whilst the results of the first report had been surprising, to Armenn, the results of the second were nothing short of dumb-founding.

“Good gods,” said Armenn, puzzling over the information before him, “this can’t be right...are you sure the data hasn’t become corrupted?”

Clopp started rubbing his antennae together, causing the microdrones to swarm around the plate, once again, before settling into banks of fresh information.

After scanning the view-plate for a couple of moments, Clopp replied, “The data is clean, sir, all of the probes are functioning normally.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said the general, still staring in shock at the view-plate, “the queen isn’t going to be happy about this.”

“I had better go and tell her,” said Armenn.

“Good luck with that,” said Parmett sympathetically.

“Thank you, general...I think, I’m going to need it.” Said Armenn, as he reluctantly started to scurry away.

It was a well-known fact amongst members of the royal court that the queen, when receiving bad news, tended to lose her temper. Often, the bearer of such bad tidings, would become the focus of Lukta’s rage and be eaten on the spot. This tendency had led courtiers to popularise the phrase; ‘Don’t eat the messenger.”

For that reason, it was with some trepidation, that Armenn made his way from the bridge to the throne room. Although he was her most trusted advisor, he wasn’t necessarily exempt from her bouts of rage...or, come to that, her bouts of hunger.

When he reached the throne room, he announced himself, then apprehensively waited for the mammoth doors to open. Once the huge amber doors slid apart, Armenn, scurried inside, bowing as low as he could, in reverence. He was not prepared, however, for the sight that greeted him, when his lifted his head.

The queen was slumped on her throne busily devouring a male drone who had, only a short time earlier, been her most recent romantic interest.

“Forgive me, my queen,” said Armenn, as his carapace turning pink with embarrassment, “I did not realise you had company.”

“It’s alright, Armenn,” mumbled the queen, as she hurriedly swallowed the last of her suitor’s limbs, “I’ve almost finished.”

Armenn scuttled forward towards the giant plinth on which the throne, and the majority Lukta’s titanic bulk were situated.

“How are the battle preparations coming” asked the queen, as he approached.

“Well, that’s the thing, my queen,” began Armenn, nervously, “It would seem that there isn’t going to be a battle.”

“Whatever do you mean Armenn?” snapped Queen Lukta, “Of course there’s going to be a battle. I have decreed that the entire species be exterminated.”

“Of course, you have, my most mountainous matriarch,” replied Armenn hurriedly, “and your word is law, but there is one small matter which has come to light...one that prevents us from executing this particular order.”

“Oh, really,” boomed the queen, “And what exactly is that?”

“They are already dead, my queen,” said Armenn.

“They’re what?” said Lukta in disbelief.

“Dead, my queen,” he continued, “All of them...our scans indicate that the aliens’ planet is nothing more than a burnt-out husk, devoid of almost all life...and the only transmissions we could detect were automated signals from a claw-full of probes and satellites, probably centuries old.”

“But what about the probe that we found?”

“Tests results show that it was anything up to a thousand years old,” replied Armenn, “Our scans were unable to extrapolate the exact time of extinction, but the data suggests that the planet was devastated no more than two or three centuries after the probe was launched.”

“Understandable I suppose,” said the queen, “those disgusting perverts probably insulted half the galaxy before us. I’m not surprised somebody beat us to it.”

“Oh, no, my queen...you misunderstand,” said Armenn, “there is no evidence to indicate that any other race was involved.”

“What was it then?” asked Lukta “A comet strike?”

“No, my queen,” replied Armenn nervously, “the data suggests that, either through internal conflict, massive self-pollution, or a combination of both, they somehow managed to destroy themselves.”

There was a long and uncomfortable silence, as the queen took a few moments to digest the news, as well as her former lover. Then, to Armenn’s great relief, the queen began to laugh. It began only as a slight snigger, but soon escalated into thunderous, ground-shaking hysterics.

“So, what your trying to tell me,” said the queen, as she tried to compose herself, “is that we’ve travelled half-way across the galaxy to wipe these creatures out, only to find the silly bastards have already done it to themselves?”

“I’m afraid so, my queen,” replied Armenn solemnly.

“You see Armenn,” said Lukta, as she wiped the tears of laughter from her six eyes, “I told you they were bloody idiots!”

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