The Scourge [Flash Fiction]
Chuck Wending said write about an invasive species in less than 1500 words. So, I wrote about an invasive species in about 1200 words. These are letters from a soldier, and I hope they prove suitably entertaining. Pic source.
Please forgive me. Last night, as my soldiers lay exhausted and bleeding in an impromptu reprieve from battle, I realised it has been almost a month since my last letter to you. Though you are in my heart and mind every single day, reminding me of what I am fighting for, nothing can excuse my negligence. For that, I can only beg your forgiveness and understanding.
The fighting here is intense. The General pushes us hard and fast… but not as hard as we’re pushed by The Scourge. Sometimes, it feels that for every quadrant of land we reclaim, we lose twice as much the next day. Fields and farmlands, forest and fells; I’ve crisscrossed them so often that they’re becoming as familiar as the back of my hand.
Three days ago, we lost Barreen en Salo. He will be a hard man to replace, and not only because of his skill and experience as Captain of the First Defenders; I also counted him a good friend. He isn’t the first good friend The Scourge have taken from me, and it weighs on my heart that he won’t be the last.
Sometimes, I wonder why we fight. No matter how hard we hit them, The Scourge keep coming. Their numbers are great, with a seemingly endless supply of fresh soldiers ready to replace those we kill. Sometimes, I wonder. But then I picture your face, and the faces of Neera and Jestia, and our beautiful hatchlings, and you give me back my purpose. I will fight until my dying breath to protect you. All of you. I fight because to do otherwise would be to willingly allow The Scourge to devour our colonies. We cannot allow that to happen.
I must cut this letter short. One of our satellites has detected an incoming troop transport belonging to The Scourge. If our pilots can’t bring it down, we soldiers will have more work to do by the end of the day.
All my love,
Tarlis en Drogo
My beloved Malisia
I write this letter knowing you’ve already heard the tragedy on the news. Landfare has fallen. Our most beautiful and prosperous colony… gone. The last view I had of it was from the back window of the troop ship that whisked us away before The Scourge could overrun our position entirely. The General is in a foul mood, and rightfully so.
We learned yesterday that the Carrick are withdrawing from the defence pact we made almost a century ago. When we put aside our differences after generations of warfare, I celebrated the assistance of our ancient enemies in battling The Scourge. And while the Carrick are a formidable force, they believe they have over-committed and left their own defences short. They believe they can return to hiding in Dark Space and be safe, but I know—we all know—that eventually, The Scourge will find them. The shadows of their ships will darken the Carrick skies as they have so many of our worlds.
We travel now to Dunsien, where evacuation is already underway. Dunsien is less than six light-years from Landfare, and it is rich in minerals. It will undoubtedly be the next target of The Scourge. My men and I will fight to keep our enemies at bay until every last civilian has been evacuated. Where the colonists will go, I am unsure. Is anywhere safe from The Scourge?
Tarlis en Drogo
Is it true?! The General told me this morning that Kandree has signed up to the First Defenders. Whilst it warms me inside to know that my eldest hatchling is willing to lay down his life in defence of our people, I can’t help but feel the icy grasp of terror at the thought of my eldest falling at the hands of our enemy. Part of me wants to contact Kandree and praise him for his valiance. Part of me wants to beg you to change his mind.
I will try to respect my hatchling’s wishes, but part of me wonders if he truly understands what it means to leave home and fight against an enemy we know nothing about. Doubtless he’s seen the footage of the worlds The Scourge has left behind. The lifeless husks of plants stripped of every resource and every tender shoot. Wouldn’t Kandree rather become a Planter, and work on trying to breathe life back into these raped worlds?
Please, talk to him. Tell him of the terror every soldier feels when he faces the masks of The Scourge warriors in battle. The darkness our foe brings when their ships fill the skies. The way their warriors desecrate the dead by taking trophies. How they will even dig up the graves of our fallen to fulfill their twisted desires! I met a young soldier several moons ago who’d had the scales stripped from his back by Scourge warriors who believed him killed in battle—or perhaps they simply didn’t care that he still lived. After all, they ravage our worlds, so why not our people, too?
I’m sorry for the dark and gruesome images this letter must bring, but I want you, and Kandree, to understand what it is to face The Scourge on the battlefield. I love my eldest and want what is best for him, but if his mind is made up, I will do all that I can to see that he’s transferred to my regiment. This, I promise you.
Tarlis en Drogo
I write to you today with two happy pieces of news. First, Kandree has been promoted, and now commands men of his own! He has taken to warfare in a way few do, and is an inspiration to even the most battle-hardened of soldiers.
The second piece of happy news may prove to be our salvation. A few days ago, one of the science teams working on a captured Scourge fighter ship finally made a breakthrough in compromising the computer defences and deciphering the language The Scourge use to communicate. We now have access to their defence codes, their communication logs and, more importantly, their star maps.
Finally, we know where The Scourge come from. We know of the worlds they’ve visited, and the locations of their defensive sensor buoys. Even now, the General is devising a plan to attack right at the heart of The Scourge: their homeworld. We have not only its name, but its spacial co-ordinates. We finally have a chance to strike back.
It’s a risky plan. Casualty projections are high. But for too long, The Scourge have infested our galaxy. For too long they have moved from planet to planet, stripping it of resources, obliterating all signs of life. We don’t know why they do it, but now we have a chance to stop it. If we can cut out the heart of the beast, felling it permanently will be a much easier task.
This will be my last letter for a while. I have much to do, and plans to put into place. If all goes well, I will speak to you in person after our final battle. I will hold you in my arms after the Earth has fallen.
With all my love,
Tarlis en Drogo