News from all over the globe streamed onto the viewscreen of SPACOM HQ. So voluminous was the flow that a split-screen was necessary in order to take it all in.
In Italy, the creatures scaled and crawled over the Tower of Pisa while fighter-bombers streaked by, disgorging their ordinance.
In Washington D.C., the Secret Service fought a desperate rear-guard action against the things so that the President and her family might be evacuated while the White House burned.
London and Nairobi were likewise in flames, people by the hundreds and thousands turned into savaged, electricity charred corpses by the one-eyed creatures. Eventually, even the CNN news studio was overrun and the desk anchors ran from the tentacled assailants. It was the rout of humanity.
“All we know is, as soon as they begin to move...no more news comes out of that area,” Curtis said as he emptied nearly an entire container of sugar into his coffee. He sipped the java and grimaced. “Still tastes like feet.”
The metal of the console felt cold to Cmdr. Rankin’s touch as he leaned on it. Gen. Thompson stood next to him, arms folded and eyes turned down. Flatulence escaped from Rankin’s posterior with the sound of a balloon losing air. Thompson’s eyes jolted open. Both men looked at each other...and then simply nodded their heads in understanding. Times of crisis can bring such an understanding between brothers-in-arms.
“Turns out Halvorsen was right,” Thompson said of the research doctor who perished aboard Gamma 3 at the clawed tentacles of the creatures. “It doesn’t matter what it is. Exposure to ANY energy source causes these things to grow out of even a drop of the slime substance. And we still got that flippin’ alien ship hovering over the Himalayas, spewing out that goofy signal all over the globe! I do not need this shit! I DO NOT NEED THIS SHIT!”
“Calm down, chief,” Rankin said plainly.
Command and Control erupted into chaos. Electronic alarms sounded, techs rushed from console to console, and a nonstop babble of voices ensued. Mercifully before Thompson could blow a gasket or have a stroke, Curtis dropped the bottle of honey that he was squeezing over his coffee to elucidate on the situation.
“That thing just launched a smaller object. Pod-shaped,” he said.
“Fine. Where’s it headed?” Thompson asked.
Curtis delayed a moment and wiped the sweat from the bridge of his nose.
“That’s just it sir,” he began. “It’s on a direct heading for SPACOM.”
Military forces and biohazard teams converged on SPACOM while as many government officials as could be rounded up did the same. Thompson and Curtis escorted the only dignitaries who could be located (which consisted of a UN consultant on agriculture, the Japanese Cultural Minister, and an aging Bono) to a hastily built, laser-proof shield from which to watch what was to be mankind’s first contact with an alien race.
The pod, shiny red and with a multitude of pulsing orbs of light encircling it, dropped in a slow and effortless pace to come to rest on its designated landing area: an open area of SPACOM encircled by hovertanks. Then the pod seemed to fold outward until becoming a flat circle of metal on the concrete, like a bloomed flower. In the center of the unfolded circle stood a bulky, robotic construct.
It stood on two legs that were ridged and rippled. Floppy, accordion-like arms that ended in what could best be described as gloved claws hung at its sides. Its head was bulbous and housed a single red sensor in the center of its forehead. Just barely visible behind the sensor, a network of circuitry hitherto unseen by human eyes hummed and surged. What looked like a green vinyl surface formed the hide of the entire robot.
“Holy crap, it looks just like one of those things,” Thompson remarked. The Cultural Minister agreed with a sharp hai and without removing her eyes from the mechanical construct.
“Greetings people of Earth,” the robot spoke in perfect monotone. “Apologies for our delay in contact. Time was needed to learn your various languages.”
Dead silence fell over the observers.
“I am Stereotype, robotic emissary of my race. The creatures that are currently decimating your world...and doing a fine job of it I might add...are a weapons system developed by us. Yes, they are demons of our own planet’s creation. The creatures were created to be the ultimate in portable, durable engines of destruction for interplanetary war. Our initial experiments with the green slime were carried out on what you termed the asteroid Flora. When a comet passed the asteroid belt at a near right angle, Flora was ripped from its location and sent on a collision course with your planet. As you know, the slime went with it.”
“Why the hell did you people create something so dangerous?” spat Thompson.
“Why did your race create nuclear warheads and mustard gas?” the robot pointed out.
Thompson’s eyes ping-ponged back and forth as he considered the question.
“That’s completely different,” he said.
“It may interest you to know that a genetic failsafe was built into the bio-weapon. Should the mutated creatures stop receiving a signal from our ship, they will revert back to slime form.”
“Amazing,” Curtis said as he stirred marshmallow fluff into his coffee. “Our genetic scientists have tried to get something like that going. Never could make it work.”
All assembled waited for the robot to provide the logical extension to its revelation. Nothing came.
“So, uh...when you all thinking about cutting off that goofy signal?” Thompson finally asked.
“What’s it worth to you?” the robot replied in monotone.
“The man’s talking about human extinction,” Bono said and took three steps closer to the robot. “And that affects the whole damned planet!”
Just then, a French junior grade officer ran through the lines to reach Thompson. Between gasping breaths, he informed the General that the monsters had overrun Tokyo and were now headed for SPACOM.
“Well, gotta go,” the robot stated.
The metal pod structure expanded and then reformed itself, encapsulating the robot. With no visible propulsion or exhaust, the pod lifted off once more and then shot off into the sky.
“Where the hell is Rankin?” General Thompson asked.
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