Intelligent Species (Flash Fiction)

Sparks flew from the metal surface as the laser torch seared its way through. Bob watched with an unwanted anxiety through the lens of his helmet. Those around him, his squadron of space marines, held their weapons at the ready.

“How’s it coming, private?” Bob asked.

“Almost there.” The laser sent plumes of green and red smoke into the alien sky. Hot slag rolled down the freshly cut chasm like molten tears. Sparks hissed and popped into the toxic air as the laser burned through various pockets of dirt and imperfections.

“What is it, Sarge?” a voice asked.

“Damned if I know,” Bob said. “I don’t particularly care.” He eyed the black metal, its surface as smooth as a still lake, with a growing distaste. After all this time, after all these years, did mankind really endure so much just to find another god fearing race? He kicked the alien corpse at his feet. The layer of mucous from its purple skin stuck to the metal toe of his space suit.

The torch stopped. The ebony metal shifted and sent a ripple along its surface.

“Alright,” Bob said. “You four,” he pointed, “push.”

The marines fell in as the others collapsed into covering positions. Bob took a deep breath as the men shouldered into the door. He gripped the handle of his gun, waiting, hoping for another fire fight. One thing was certain, killing these damned things was a wonderful boost. They had no notion of tactics, no means of defense. They just fell over dead. “It’s nice to finally shoot something,” he said under his breath.

The door made a grinding squeak along the ground and then slowly swung open. Rifles pointed up and in as the marines swarmed. Bob casually walked in, his temperament fading. The soldiers were bathed in a brilliant light. Magenta and soft blues, golden yellows and glowing aqua. The color poured from fabulous, hand-carved crystals that spanned upward nearly one hundred feet. Carvings of the alien creatures extended from pillars and the walls and danced with winged angels that circled the ceiling in still beauty. For one horrific moment, Bob felt his heart stir.

“It’s amazing,” came a whisper.

“Shutup!” Bob said. He pointed fingers and marines quickly dispatched further in. He waved in the rear support, the boys with the big guns. They slammed their heavy weapons to the ground. The gray dust of the world clouded around them. That thick metal of brute force brought Bob’s smile back. “Get to work, maggots. Bring the fuckin’ thing down.”

A marine hesitated. His face wore nothing but questions from inside his clear visor.

“Do it,” Bob ordered. “I didn’t come half way across the galaxy to find something better than me.”

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