Written by shadar :: [Monday, 19 March 2018 03:28] Last updated by :: [Monday, 19 March 2018 09:09]
Draft: April, 2012
Final: March, 2018
(This is one of a number of stories I started but then abandoned and am now restarting. This story-space is set in the near future, and is influenced by a variety of events and movies over the last few decades, including Starship Troopers.)
No one doubted that the insect-like aliens were going to return.
The Earth had been on the ropes last year, losing every battle before the bug Command Ship was destroyed and they withdrew back into space to lick their wounds. Or whatever insects did when wounded.
Now it was the time for rescue efforts to be completed, casualties counted, and rebuilding to start, all under the watchful gaze of the alien enemy. Their small scout ships were frequently sighted in orbit and sometimes in the atmosphere, often circling over major cities. Watching, judging, preparing, testing. The military tried everything to shoot them down, but we’d already learned that it took a nuke to penetrate their shields. And after China, no one was advocating that.
The Generals said the first strike had merely been a probe to to determine our technology level and our resilience to damage. Still, eight million people had died. The US and Canada lost many of their elite troops. The Europeans and Russians fared even worse, percentage-wise. But it was the Chinese who had it the worst, thanks to their desperate launch of a strategic nuclear weapon against the alien Command Ship while it hovered high over Beijing. That last desperate counterattack had saved Earth, but at the cost of millions of Chinese lives. We all owed them a huge debt.
While they were here, the aliens had made it abundantly clear what they wanted — a temperate water-world teeming with available protein on the hoof, paw, fin… or foot. Earth was a garden ready for harvest. No one doubted they would come prepared to conquer us the next time. Next time they’d replace man as the apex predator. They’d turn us into cattle. Food for a hungry population of monster-sized bugs.
Of course, we humans aren’t the type to lie down and just die. Driven by the genetic hatred every mammal felt toward carnivorous insects, most of the citizens of Earth were engaged in building defenses, buying weapons and digging shelters in their backyards. The rest of the world’s economy suffered as we focused on one goal: arming ourselves for the next attack. If we were going to go down, it would be with guns blazing and if it came to it, fists and clubs swinging. Our only hope was to make Earth too expensive for them to fight for. They were going to have to kill billions of us. We’d kill many millions more of our own people by deploying our entire nuclear arsenal against them. But if we won, if we destroyed the aliens, even if only a half million of us survived in the end, that would be enough to repopulate the Earth.
Assuming, of course, that we completely destroyed them. Which was very doubtful after their first attack. We had no idea how many ships they were willing to commit to the battle. We had no idea where their homeworld was located or had any ships that could travel there. Or how many warheads we’d have to expend to stop them, each time killing more of our own, poisoning our planet with radiation.
It was during this daunting and depressing period that a glimmer of hope arrived. A strange message was received by the last operating SETI listening station. The signal was very faint, barely detectable, but when decoded, it directed scientists to dig under the ice in Antarctic at the exact location of the south pole to find an ancient “gift for mankind”.
We dug and and dug… nothing. Then someone had an Ah Ha moment — the SETI signal had come from two-thousand light years away, which meant it had been sent that long ago. The geographic south pole had moved during those centuries, the magnetic south pole far more. A smaller group of scientists began digs where they calculated the south pole had been located in the past. Not just two thousand years ago, but much further back, assuming that the aliens who’d visited Earth had taken a very long time to travel home and send their message back. They dug in dozens of locations, and eventually found a cluster of strangely glowing meteorites buried deep under the ice. The rocks glowed with a blue light that was so intense that even the briefest glance would cause temporary blindness, yet they gave off no infrared radiation, nor any measurable alpha, beta or gamma particles. Whatever the strange, blue radiation was, it was unknown to human science.
The meteorites were quickly encased in lead containers and transported to three research centers, one in the US, deep under the Nevada desert, one near Paris and one in Beijing. When computer-imaged, the rocks proved to be composed of identically shaped crystals, each with thirty-seven sides — a prime number. How this “gift” was going to save mankind remained a mystery until a young French intern by the name of Amy Lorraine, who worked in the Paris research lab, was found staring at one of the crystals without her dark glasses. She appeared to be in a trance, her body stiff, her eyes white and completely blind.
Amy’s colleagues put her in an ambulance, only to have the girl awake in a panic to rip the doors off the back of the ambulance before diving out. The ambulance attendants braked frantically to a stop to go back and retrieve her, only to watch her run blindly into the path of a huge truck traveling at more than 100 kph. And that’s when things got really weird.
The truck that hit Amy was nearly cut in half, the driver killed. Inside the wreckage, Amy was found convulsing violently, her eyes glowing with a blue light, but there wasn’t any sign of blood or injury on her.
By the time they got her to the hospital, her convulsions had became violent enough to injure the attendants. She knocked the doctors and nurses away when they tried to treat her. Her eyes blazed so brightly that the ceiling over the Emergency Room caught fire, and then she levitated through the flames to crash upward through the five floors above her to burst into the night sky like an ersatz firework. Before anyone could take a breath, she crashed through the upper level of the Eiffel Tower, bending that iconic landmark visibly to the side. Then she was gone, up and away, apparently into space.
No one saw or heard from Amy for two weeks, and then, without any notice, she walked into her old research lab dressed in an eclectic outfit that combined striped tights with leather army boots. Her black hair was streaked with blonde as her hair grew lighter. Shockingly, her fellow researchers at the Paris lab found themselves facing a girl who might as well have walked from the pages of a comic book.
Tests revealed that she now had fantastic strength — yet she looked mostly the same as before. Except for the blonde hair. It took all the power of their most powerful CT scanner to image her well enough to see that new and unknown organs had formed in her body. Unfortunately, her unbreakable skin prevented them from obtaining biopsies to examine the cellular structure of those new organs, leaving researchers to conjecture whether they were responsible for her amazing powers, including her ability to levitate.
They used every weapon they had short of nukes to test her invulnerability, gradually working their way up from BB guns to howitzers. The most powerful shells and bullets just dimpled her skin before bouncing away, even the sabot rounds from the latest generation of heavy tanks. They boiled her in oil, dumped her in acid, wrapped her in anchor chain and dropped her to the bottom of the ocean, shoved her into a blast furnace, immersed her in liquid nitrogen. They put her in an altitude chamber that simulated outer space. They employed lasers and diamond drills and even plasma welders, but could not make a mark on her skin. No matter what the challenge, it was always the same — she’d sit calmly until the testers gave up and told her to get dressed and go home. Her longtime girlfriend was always waiting for her at the door, the two of them embracing as they danced off down the streets of Paris, or wherever the testing was being done.
They tried to test her strength by inventing a massive machine that was essentially a single-arm biceps pull-up, but until they hung a hundred-ton block of granite on it, she wasn’t challenged. Even then, she did twenty reps with each arm before she felt the burn, her biceps unnaturally defined given her normally slender arms. They never did figure out how strong her legs were, but not for lack of trying. Their most dramatic test involved two railroad locomotives attached to each ankle with cables thicker than her thigh. With the engines roaring, wheels slipping, the diesel-electric locomotives tried to pull her legs open. She let them think they were winning, letting the engines spread her legs wide into a perfect split, only to slowly pull all four locomotives toward herself, sparks flying from the wheels, as she closed her legs without apparent effort.
A single hair from her head was stronger than a ship’s hawser. She could see through twenty feet of steel and a foot of lead, not to mention fifty feet thick concrete. She could project enough heat from her eyes to melt that same concrete. Not to mention read a newspaper from a distance of two miles.
Just as remarkably, she could now work around the clock, never tiring, pushing the research on the meteor rocks forward, exposing herself to them again and again, even consuming a small glowing rock. She was the one who first discovered that she needed to carry a tiny piece of blue crystal with her to avoid gradually losing her powers over time, which led to a painful, wasting sickness. She came up with a tiny star-shaped device that would trap a tiny granule of rock deep inside herself, safely nestled against her otherwise invulnerable cervix. She would have to carry that tiny bit of meteor rock as long as she lived. Which for all they knew, could be forever.
The French called her SuperFemme. And she truly was, in all the ways.
Dr. Andre Panachian in Zurich was the first person to develop a coherent theory on the meteorites and Amy’s transformation, but the French government classified his work as Top Secret. He defied them and went rogue with his theory, passing it on WikiLeaks for all to see. According to him, the purpose of the meteorites was a “Gift” that gave us the ability to create a cadre of warriors who could defeat the aliens the next time they came. He speculated that there were competing groups of aliens out there, and one group was trying to help humanity against their foes.
Dr. Panachian was arrested soon after releasing his work to WikiLeaks, but it was too late now — the word was out. Researchers in the other labs quickly performed their own experiments. Distressingly, they found that anyone else who exposed their eyes to the crystals was permanently blinded but did not develop any new abilities. Many died. Amy appeared to be unique in some way. That nearly led to the end of experiments before a young woman at the Beijing lab responded the same way Amy had in Paris. Then another in Nevada. Given all three women had previously undergone gene sequencing, they were able to scan their original DNA to find an unusual but shared gene sequence. Further testing revealed that only women with that special sequence, passed down the maternal blood line, would respond positively to the meteor rocks. They found no men with that particular sequence in their DNA.
The various governments and military forces around the world began scanning the ranks of female intelligence agents and soldiers and law enforcement officers. They discovered the gene sequence in one out of every thousand women they tested, but on a global scale, that was enough to begin creating a small army of super humans. They brought in Colonel Peter Jacobs to establish a training program for these so-called Ubers, located initially in the US. As an ex-SEAL instructor in the US Navy, Jacobs knew as much about special forces combat as anyone on the planet. He knew that physical power was relatively useless without proper training. But he was completely unprepared for the challenge of training someone with thousands of times his strength — not to mention someone who could fly. And that’s without mentioning the bulletproof thing and all the rest.
He mostly hired his old Navy buddies, some of whom were still active in the SEALS, along with a group of military pilots and other Special Forces soldiers. They initially worked with Amy to establish a group named UberGround, which quickly grew into a multi-national organization with dispersed facilities that trained and tested the growing cadre of Ubers in a half dozen countries.
Amy became the ultimate celebrity. She and her beautiful girlfriend, a Parisian model, appeared on TV in dozens of countries, and were constantly in the News, with Amy performing feats of strength and power for the public, often standing before Army units as they fired anti-tank rounds at her. Rounds which either exploded harmlessly against her body or bounced away, the only casualty being her clothing, which in the sensual style of Brigitte Bardot, didn’t seem to bother her. More importantly, each dramatic public appearance gave hope to the entire world. Soon, she claimed, there would be an entire army of women just like her.
The media, in their usual hyperbolic way, began calling them StarTroopers, for the Earth had never seen warriors like these before.