Fight Smart; Come Home
By E.S. Wynn
Orientation Briefing Transcript
Major K. Ellis
07:32 Hours / May 12, 2532
You don't know what you're fighting. You think that you do, but you don't. You've heard stories, that's all. Until you've seen the Weavers first hand, until you've stood six yards from one of their drones and watched it soak every round in your therm-rifle without even flinching, you won't really understand how fucked you are. These things, they exist for one purpose. They exist to consume, to feed, and you-- you are the tastiest thing on their menu.
Now, I know that most of you are civilians pulled in by the draft. Most of you are soft and pasty, a bunch of cubicle drones from the core who have have never even held a gun before today. Most of you don't even know what it's like to really get your hands dirty. I'm sure some of you think you're pretty bad ass, that mastering a top-tier difficulty in a VR shooter game makes you hot shit. I'm here to tell you that kind of thinking is going to get you killed. As far as I see it, I don't care how many hours you've logged in sims. Unless you've stood toe-to-toe with a swarm of Weavers, you're useless in a real fight.
Roll your eyes all you want, soldier. Same goes for you in the back. Think I'm just blowing hot air? There's the door. Sergeant Martinez is just down the hall, third door on the left. When we're done here, walk right down there and tell him you want a post on the next ship hitting the front lines. He'll be more than happy to slap a slug-driver in your hands and pack you in with the rest of the sardines. If you're in a hurry to die, that's a sure way to get there by tomorrow. Otherwise, I suggest you keep your eyes up here, keep your ears open and listen to every word I say. I'm not giving this briefing for my health. I'm giving it for yours.
Now, you've heard that the Weavers "eat people," right? That's only part of it. That's like saying people eat chicken. When the Weavers descend on a world we've claimed, they devour everything organic they can wrap their meaty bodies around. Dirt, grass, crops, people. Doesn't matter. The Weavers leave nothing they cannot convert into food or fuel, and when they leave, there's only sterile, airless stone left in their wake. Ever seen stills of Harkus Prime before and after the invasion that hit there in 2526? Lush, green hills rolling toward a purple sky, miles of vines growing the best wine grapes humanity has ever engineered. It's all gone now. Gone overnight. The Weavers took everything in less than sixteen hours. With one ship, one volley of polyps, they turned a paradise into a barren rock before the brass back at the core even received the message that they'd hit.
That's what you're dealing with. An enemy that is merciless, hungry, highly destructive and very quick.
But make no mistake. The Weavers are not unstoppable.
For those of you who don't already know me by my reputation, I was originally stationed on Mirab Kappa, one of the first colonies that fell to the Weavers. I've seen them first hand, seen the way they drop from the sky and dig into the soil, flash waves of light that ripple through everything. Their way of sniffing, tasting. The individuals, they are like seeds. We call them polyps. That's how it starts. Hulking, twelve-limbed monstrosities of surging, glistening meat that burn in from orbit, uncurl where they fall, immediately seek out the nearest material they can consume. Chances are, that's going to be you. If you're lucky, it'll be someone you barely know.
There were over three hundred of us on the ground when I first faced the Weavers. Within an hour, there were only a dozen of us left. I watched knots of our soldiers line up, spraying Weaver drones with HE rounds, but the drones just kept getting bigger, kept sucking up the heat and lead, kept turning it into meat. They'd sweep up whole swathes of us, five, six at a time, liquify every soldier they caught before the poor bastards could even scream.
One hour. The dozen of us who were left by that point were only alive because we'd been smart enough to run, to keep ahead of the wave of meat that flattened the colony with unbelievable speed. The colony only had two shuttles for orbital work, and by the time we reached the pad, we were probably the only twelve people left on the whole damn world. I count us as lucky that we even escaped. The mass of Weaver meat kept growing, kept sweeping out toward the fields and forests of Mirab Kappa as we rose. By the time we broke through the exosphere, every inch of dirt was covered in a layer of writhing meat. Hell, we barely even made it out of the system. Damn Weaver ship chased us all the way to the nearest belt before we lost them.
That's the kind of speed you're dealing with. That's what you're going to be fighting. We have weapons now that can slow them, hurt them, even kill them if you know what to shoot and where, but you're still going to lose a lot of people out there. Odds as they are now, only one in ten of you is going to survive your first mission. One in ten.
Look around you. Memorize the faces. Imagine yourself at all those funerals.
And make a pact with each other here, now, to change those odds. Make a pact with each other to fight smart and survive, so none of us has to attend any more funerals.
Check your displays for training assignments. Remember: never underestimate your enemy. Stay alive. Dismissed.
- - -
E.S. Wynn is the author of over fifty books in print. During the last decade, he has worked with hundreds of authors and edited thousands of manuscripts for nearly a dozen different magazines. His stories and articles have been published in dozens of journals, zines and anthologies. He has taught classes in literature, marketing, math, spirituality and guided meditation. Outside of writing, he has worked as a voice-over artist for several different horror and sci-fi podcasts, albums and ebooks.
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Fight Smart; Come Home
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