The Space Invasion
What is humanity to do?The invasion started with a sound. The frantic buzzing of the telephone awoke astronaut Ace Dangers from his nightmares. Even then, in the confusion that comes from reentry into the waking world, Ace could swear the phone sounded different, as if it was ringing with unprecedented importance. Ace answered the phone next to his bed with his right hand while using his left to gently rub his sleep worn eyes.
"You're calling at a pretty crazy hour, whoever you are!" he grizzled into the phone. "This better be important."
"Ace, this is Tom Davies over at the NASA Crisis Center. You know that scenario we always talked about but never thought would happen?"
"My God," Ace said in a stone cold voice. "It's started, hasn't it?"
"I'm afraid so. It's only a matter of time before they breach atmosphere, and a short time later before they land."
"We have to stop them! Surely there is a way to stop them, Tom?"
"Get down here right away. We're working on a solution as fast as possible, but we need you here!"
"I'm on my way. Tom, you can count on me!"
"We've sent a car. It should be there any minute. We'll see you then, Ace."
Ace crawled out of bed with urgency, something he had not done since that regretful weekend in Mexico. There was no time wasted getting dressed, as Ace was still wearing his astronaut uniform. He had been for some months, too depressed to take it off let alone do anything but sulk. He had not even been bathing in anything other than his own backwash and spilt alcohol. Ace was a man whose better days were far behind, like a frozen flag resting on an empty moon. Any purpose he had in him died when that airlock opened and sucked his world away, leaving him to wither in an empty vacuum that would haunt him until death.
He glanced at the picture of his family looking for a clue that would put some meaning into everything. In the picture, his wife, his son, and his daughter all smiled with the kind of glee so few people know. He was in the picture, too. He stood in the back with arms around them like the rings of Saturn, like a proud father. When Ace looked at the picture he saw something very different. He saw the horror on their faces the moment they were sucked out of that airlock. It should have never happened that way, Ace thought, and thought, and thought, and thought. But there was no going back now. They were all dead, and nothing would ever change that.
Ace heard a honk from outside, signaling the arrival of his transportation. And so Ace gently set the picture down, took a small swig from his flask, and exited the house not knowing if he would ever return. NASA had a policy of retaining men like Ace for special purposes. When all hell breaks loose, you want a man with nothing to lose on your side. You want a man who is already dead inside and unafraid to die again. Ace was such a man. He had seen and done it all, and lost everything. Now he was like a rocket, waiting to be spent on one final mission. Like so many other young men who went to work for NASA, Ace believed space was his destiny, an attainable dream reached with hard work and a little boost from a rocket. Naïve dreams, sure, but there was a commendable aspect to them. These men would ride an explosion all the way to heaven, and gaze down on a world so big surrounded by absolutely nothing for infinity. What else was there after that?
Upon arrival at the Crisis Center, Ace was overwhelmed by the myriad of activities. It had been quite some time since he last set food in a NASA facility, and he had grown unaccustomed to having so many people buzzing about with such frequency. Hundreds of workers swarmed around hopping from monitor to monitor, printout to printout, reporting and analyzing every little detail, shouting new insights and corrections, hearsay and objections, all throughout the crowded nerve center.
Tom approached swiftly, extending his hand outward. "Ace," he said in a concerned voice as the two shook hands. "Glad you made it." The look on Tom's face was grave, not just because of the situation, but because of how bad Ace looked.
"Tom, how bad is it?" Adding, "What is it?"
"Come with me, I'll bring you and some others that just arrived up to speed."
Tom led Ace and a few other scientists and engineers to a cramped office adjoined the main nerve center. There, Tom began an informal presentation that was to decide the fate of the world.
"What we know is that a number of UFOs are very close. Within hours, they will be hovering over our country. They have made no attempts at communication or responding to ours. We truly believe their intent is hostile."
"So what do we do then?" Ace asked.
"When the UFOs enter atmosphere, they will undoubtedly maintain a presence in the skies. We can count on them attacking from there. We don't know how they will attack. They might bombard us with atomic rays, nerve gas, nuclear weapons, or they might send out attack vessels. We just don't know."
"So it's a matter of blasting them out of the sky before they have a chance to do anything?" asked an engineer in a voice that showed no fear or concern.
"That would be our best strategy. I don't need to tell you how grave the risk is here. We're looking at a catastrophe that could easily claim the planet. We're talking megadeaths, if not outright extinction!"
The X1 Mobile Laser Base"And this is where you think the X1 will come in handy?" responded the engineer.
"Yes," said Tom. "The X1 represents are best chance at fending off the invasion force. And Ace here, well, he represents our best pilot."
"Now hold on," interjected the engineer. "I've read Mr. Dangers' file, and not only is he in no kind of shape to pilot the X1, it's not even his type of craft. The X1 is a Mobile Laser Base!"
Ace listened calmly before speaking, careful not lose his temper at a time like this. "I'm a pilot. I can fly shuttles and I can drive laser bases. And I ain't afraid to die trying."
Tom, having worked with Ace a long time, was quick to defend. "I assure you, Ace is the man for this mission. No one else has what it takes."
The gang moved to a large hanger outside the facility where they were joined by a small army of uniformed engineers clutching clipboards and tools. It was a huge mammoth hanger that could swallow entire worlds whole, but all it housed was the X1, a small tank-like contraption. The X1 was rather shabby looking, like a large block with a cannon mounted in the center of the top. The cannon seemed a bit awkward, too, as it pointed only straight up. It lacked the articulation to aim in any other direction.
"What the hell is that supposed to be?" demanded Ace.
"It's the X1 Mobile Laser Base, and it's the most advanced craft of its type."
"It looks like a coffin with a cannon on top."
"Mess this up, and that's exactly what it will be."
Tom, agitated over the bickering, declared, "That's enough! That'll be enough!"
"Just get me under those UFOs and I'll do what I have to do."
"We've arranged some fortifications for you to take cover under, but they won't last long. You'll be on your own for the most part. We'll keep you advised from headquarters and let you know your progress. Ace, this is the mission you've been waiting for."
"I'll do my best, you know that." And with that Ace Dangers, American astronaut, strapped himself into the belly of the sophisticated X1 Mobile Laser Base and prepared for his role as Earth's final defense.
Future ruler of Earth or cannon fodder?It was like a storm at first. The clear blue skies died and withered away, leaving a bloating corpse of clouds to block out the light of the sun. Then, eleven of them appeared all lined up. They looked like crabs and squids floating in space. As they descended from the clouds, Ace saw with horror that there was another row above them, and another, and another. They were hideous creatures, moving in perfect synchronization.
"Dear Lord!" Ace exclaimed, seeing the space invaders for the first time.
"Stay strong, Ace!" urged Tom, radioing in from the NASA Crisis Center.
Not wasting any time, Ace began by quickly moving the X1 back and fourth, shooting a barrage of lasers up at the beasts. He was briefly relieved once he saw that no matter what, the invaders stayed in their formation. He was even more surprised by their attack pattern. Right, down, left, down, repeat ad nauseam. Then he started worrying.
"They're toying with me! They've got to be toying with me!"
"Stay on target, Ace! This is no time to lose it!"
"You don't understand! Tom, this has to be a distraction, a decoy! They can't be this stupid!"
"Stay on target, all data shows this is how they're attacking!"
Ace stayed on target, plowing through row after row of aliens, but they just kept coming. Before long, his fortifications were gone. Leaving him alone against an endless matrix of enemies. They were slow and prodding, methodical in their movements, and completely random in their attempts to attack. Ace was able to evade their fire easy enough, but the tedious nature of the invasion was beginning to wear on him.
"God damn it! This is never going to end!"
"Stay on target, Ace! They can't keep this up forever!"
"Every time I clear them away completely, another wave comes out of the sky!"
"They have to break sooner or later!"
"Ace!" Tom interrupted. "There is a UFO flying over head, try to take it out!"
The Alien Mothership"I see it, Tom! It’s red... must be their mothership!"
"You've got to destroy it!"
"I've got it in my sights! Here it goes, Tom!"
Tom breathed in heavily, not sure he'd ever breathe out again. "Godspeed, Ace! Godspeed to us all!"
Ace's eyes, all bloodshot and watery from an endless incendiary fog, chased that final shot as it tore through the sky. It seemed to burrow a tunnel through the air, through the clouds, and straight into the heart of the UFO. And then everything seemed to stop. There was a second of indescribable peace when the laser penetrated the underside of the saucer. There was no sound for that second, no worries, no pain, and no death. It was a moment of pure transcendence that seemed like it would last forever.
But then time, never one to stay out of the picture for long, quickly came into focus. The craft tore to pieces, debris echoing outward from a center of smoke like a ripple in the sky. Silence still, then a bang. The invasion ended with a sound. It was a deafening roar, perhaps the loudest sound ever heard. It ripped through the sky and shattered glass, shook the ground, and made the entire world seem fragile. The skies, all cloudy and smoky, were now raining chunks of debris down on the surviving invaders, and on the X1 as well.
Ace looked up, seeing everything blocked by a giant black plain that seemed to shadow the entire sky itself. It grew bigger and bigger. It may have been dark, but it looked like home, like space. Ace looked up and saw his family smiling at him aboard the space capsule. Then little Billy, his son, pulled open an airlock. The smiles were sucked off their faces along with everything in the capsule except for Ace. It was that tragic accident that caused NASA to reevaluate the practicality of letting astronauts take their families on space missions. It was a bad idea to begin with, they reasoned. In that final moment, Ace let go of everything and was sucked out of the airlock into the all-encompassing blackness that swallowed the X1 and most of the ground around it.
"Ace? Ace!" cried Tom over the radio.
"Ace, you did it! You did it, buddy! Answer me, damn it! You did it!"
Throw Some Ninjas In There, and It's a Date!
Hey everyone, it's Ben "Greasnin" Platt here with another horrendous failure - I'm mean, another movie. This time around it's "Vampires vs. Zombies," a movie that sounds like it can do no wrong. Oh well.
Unfortunately for himself, as well as for just about everybody else on the planet, screenwriter Vince D'Amato said, "Oh ho! I know just the thing to jazz up this premise! I shall stuff this movie full of senseless, incomprehensible plot, much like I stuff my anus full of rabid, ebola-ridden spider monkeys that are also on fire." But he didn't stop there. "Oh ho," said Vince, grimacing slightly as he sat uncomfortably on his latest rabid-diseased-flaming-monkey wounds, "Now that this movie is full of good, rich, completely pointless storyline, I will direct it myself, so that I might personally ensure that no one who sees this movie will ever have any idea what's going on!" So sadly, Vince D'Amato took a premise that was basically guaranteed to make his movie an instant hit with the indie horror crowd in spite of his nonexistent budget, and he fucked it until it bled.
Read the review. Do it. Do it now.
The difference Sims 4 players will face if they're not willing to pay for a monthly subscription.
How can we better be sold to by multinational corporations?
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.