Pure, unbridled terror. That is all that was felt across the planet on the day They came. It was too cold, the brass had said, the days were too short. The first of the two claims was proven false two months ago when an unknown object impacted the planet’s surface, and the planet’s temperate forests began to be overwhelmed by a plethora of invasive species, all native to Their homeworld, destroying the planet's food supply and making it dangerous to travel far outside of any settlement. Then came the daily salvos, in which missiles would rain from the sky, evading aerial defenses every time, and delivering their payload of viruses and toxins to the population centers below. Millions had become infected over the weeks, with every manner of terrifying engineered disease. Finally came the final phase of Their plan – full on invasion of the starved, plagued planet.
This was where Corporal Phillip Mare found himself at only twenty years old, suited up in the battle armor of the Eukairan Stratocracy, holding an ancient pattern weapon and huddling in a trench on the outskirts of the colony’s capital, as Their dropships fell from the sky in even greater quantities than Their missiles. Something hit the ground far too near Mare, and someone shrieked as a yellow gas drifted over and seeped down into his trench. He raised a gloved hand to his respirator, hoping to God that it worked against Their kind of toxins. Guns began to fire around him as his comrades – childhood friends that he had grown up with – frantically attempted to stop Their onslaught. Mare hugged his rifle closer to his chest as he heard the sickening sound of someone’s head quite literally exploding on impact from a projectile, along with the dull thuds of several men and women simply falling to the ground, paralyzed. Someone was even screaming about ‘something inside his suit’. The shouting and gunfire suddenly stopped, and Mare gingerly opened one of his eyes; he was met with the sight of several of his comrades breathing peacefully in a comatose state among a greater number of corpses.
Then he heard it. The whispering. Their whispering. Thousands of overlapping hums and hisses, produced from God knows where out of Their bodies as they approached with soundless footsteps, growing in volume and burrowing into his skull.
Tentatively, Mare stood, rifle still tight against his chest, and looked out over the top of the trench. He saw two boots, less than a foot away. His eyes traveled upwards, following the green trousers that seemed to be made of a smooth, almost leaf-like material, to a lighter green-clothed abdomen, in front of which a long, wooden handle was held by black gloved, six fingered hands, attached to brown, thick, arms; to the forest green bandanna, jumping to the crimson, white-spotted, almost mushroom-like cap resting atop an unnaturally smooth, brown head. His eyes fell below the cap, and he met Its gaze. Two large, glowing crimson orbs shrouded in the shadow of the cap’s rim, which filled Mare with unspeakable terror. It placed a hand on Its bandanna, pulling it down around Its neck, revealing nothing but more smooth surface, which then blossomed into eight petal-like shapes, all leading to one central point. Mare screamed at the top of his lungs as the petals simultaneously opened like a blooming flower, revealing a dark maw filled with hundreds of razor-sharp teeth, accompanied by an earsplitting screech. A massive sickle was swung down on top of his head, piercing clean through his helmet and then through his head, permanently silencing the corporal as countless other soldiers were gingerly picked up by more of Them and ferried out of the trenches, away from the city, the whole time whispering and hissing in Their horrible way.
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