Fiction: Infiltration

- Dawn DeBraal


Miriam Stoker was a shelter mate in New World, on the planet Braxet. Her husband Bert arrived home every day precisely at six o'clock in the evening. He worked on the line putting spaceships together that would be used to defend Braxet against ugly creatures called humans from a planet called Earth.

All his life, Bert wanted to be a spaceman. He longed to fly to faraway places like Earth and take over the planet, but he hadn't been able to get into the academy. The World First Order Academy only took the brightest. Five seasons of education were needed to be able to be a spaceman. Bert just didn't make the cut, scoring within parthos of the lowest attainable score to become a student. His family laughed when they heard he was going in for the fifth attempt at the school. He was already five seasons older than the other Braxet males and females who had trained for this honor.

Miriam put down a slice of mana in the laser toaster. When it popped up, she used the space spread, Bert's favorite. He made himself like the green stuff because if he ever got the chance to go to Earth, he would need to live on it for months. It was a long journey, and the spaceship had a limited amount of weight they could carry. Green space spread would be their primary food. Bert spent all last night up quizzing himself for the big exam today. They offered up goods to the Great One, for intersession on Bert's behalf, to pass the exam. Today would be the last time he was allowed to take the test. If he couldn't do it in five, he would never be granted a sixth effort.

Bert was unusually sour this morning. Miriam felt sorry for the man. He was either going to achieve his goal or lose his dream of being a spaceman with today’s test. It was a tough decision, and she admired her husband for his perseverance. They even abstained from coupling last night so that all his mind cells would be intact, and his animal instinct of survival would kick in when he most needed it.

Bert kissed his mate goodbye. She watched him jump into the transwarp and fly off. He could come back a changed or broken man. She was uncertain of which she would see, tonight. Bert knew all the answers. He just had anxiety when it came to taking the test. Without his knowledge, she did slip him the tiniest amount of calming fluid. It would take the edge off. She hoped that she had dosed him the correct amount. Too little would have no effect, too much he would fall asleep during the test. Miriam was taking a big chance, but she knew her mate so much better than anyone. She knew he knew the stuff, and he could be a marvelous spaceman if he'd only calm down enough to think his way through the test.

Miriam opened the little trap door that allowed the cleaners into the house. They scrambled out and began devouring everything that should not be in their tidy home. Mana crumbs, green spread on the spreading wands. She would have to watch all of them so that they wouldn't devour things they shouldn't. They ate the skin and cilium sheddings. They ran rampant through the house, eating out of every nook and cranny. She bid her time. When they finished the job, she sounded the return, and they scurried back into the metal trap door. Miriam sealed them in.

She prepared the evening meal and waited for her husband to come back home. Miriam wouldn't admit to herself that she was bored and unfulfilled. Taking care of Bert wasn't a fulltime job. She turned to the portal for entertainment. She went places she shouldn't have, but it filled her day with new excitement.

The transwarp flew into the yard. Bert had a spring in his step. She had a good feeling about this.

"Miriam!" He shouted when the slider opened.

"Yes?"

"I made it!" He was breathless. She put her arms around him. "It was amazing for the first time in my life. I wasn't nervous! I sat down and remembered everything. I passed! I start school next week!"

She was so happy for her husband. She did not tell him what she had done. For the next five thousand parthos, Bert was studying his lessons. Now that he passed the test, he was confident he could make the team. Miriam watched her husband blossom for the first time in his life.

Graduation day, she couldn't be prouder. Even the older generation came to watch him parade to the front and be tapped. They gave him his assigned ship. He was going to be Earthbound.  The Braxet's continually monitored Earth to make sure they stayed on their planet. He would be watching Earth for a good amount of time in the next seasonal rotation.

Suddenly it wasn't a dream anymore. Bert was going to go away for a long time, and Miriam was not going to see him for many parthos.

It was the day he was to fly out. Miriam had anticipated this day with trepidation. Would he return safely? How long would he be gone? She was afraid of what their futures held and regretted her part, if any, in getting him to pass the test. They were sitting at their morning meal when something shook the ground. Bert instantly recognized what it was.

"Get down! The Earthlings are invading!" Miriam crawled under the table. Until this time, Bert had only heard of Earthlings during his education days. They were so far behind the planet Braxet, Bert hoped he would never see them on his home planet, but the day had come.

He pulled out his ray gun, scouting the perimeter of their shelter. Through the lookouts, Burt could see their primitive ships. Hundreds of them hovering overhead. They were near the space station. Earthlings were attacking the base. Part of Miriam was relieved. Bert couldn't fly a disabled ship. There would be no mission to Earth, that they were here.

Bert aimed at one of the ships near their house. The ray gun blasted a hole in the closest one. He felt victorious until they received a ray back that took half of their dwelling out from under them.

"Not a good idea, Bert," Miriam shouted at him. All their things destroyed in a blink of a parthos. It just seemed so surreal. The Earth ships continued to pound on the base until there appeared to be nothing but rubble. Bert and Miriam snuck out of their shelter, disappearing before the final blast from the ship reduced their home to a hole in the ground. How had the Earthling's come up with the technology required to do this? Bert wondered as he dragged Miriam to the dwelling next to theirs. The neighbor's let them in, they hid in the underside of the dwelling.

"Bert, why did you shoot at them?" Shouted Mr. Tron closing the door behind them.

"It was my training. I have to defend our shelter." Mr. Tron shook his head.

"All you've succeeded in doing is drawing attention to this neighborhood. I think you should go. Miriam can stay." Mr. Tron stood at the sliding door sending Bert out into the fray.

He ran between transwarps and transwafts, rolling over and under things. His training had been thorough and all-encompassing. Bert was a machine. He made it to the base intact. Taking the tube, he was able to transport himself to the lower level. There, finding all the ships were still intact. The Earthlings rays could not penetrate the forcefields that contained Braxet's ships. He saw several other pilots had managed to get to the base, just as he did. Their commander shouted to them to ready themselves.

Men and women entered their ships, prepared to save their planet. Bert was not yet a pilot. He was a weapons expert. He operated the console. They were waiting for their ship's turn to materialize at one of the entrances to the underground shelter.

Many ships loaded into the materializers. At the openings, ships started to pour out. Thousands were escaping the base attacking the humanoid ships that were primitively built. The Braxet ships were better equipped. Earthlings were out-numbered and out-gunned. Those that didn't fall left the planet heading back to Earth with their tails tucked between their legs. The Braxet ships returned triumphantly to the battered base.

Bert was wired. He had been turned into a fighting machine. They had beat the humans in less than two parthos. It was a fantastic victory. Half the crews were kept on high alert at the base, and the other half were excused for the day. Bert was allowed to leave when he told his pilot he had no shelter and needed to find one.

Bert walked back to where his shelter used to be and knocked on the door of his neighbor. Mr. Tron was astonished to see Bert had returned.

"I will collect my mate," Burt told Mr. Tron, who snickered.

"She's not here. She ran off with a human! One that crashed in a ship." Bert couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"Where did they go?" Tron shrugged. He didn't know, and he didn't care. Bert was angry, and he tore through the nearby shelters screaming for Miriam. How could she betray him? He was loyal to the Braxet's. He would find this human and tear him apart. Bert had been trained in the art of warfare. Miriam was everything to him. His mate.

The stayover place was cheap. It's what Bert could afford. Several transwarps parked outside. His transwarp had survived the explosion luckily.

Bert turned on the communication tube, watching the victory replay itself before his eyes. He was both sad but exhilarated because of what they had done today. He was angry with his mate. How dare she run off with a human? And how could they tell, humans looked just like Braxetonians? There were rumors that they were descendants from them, which was ridiculous because humans were further down the food chain than the Braxton's.

He communicated with Mr. Tron, who said he hadn't seen Miriam, she never returned. Tomorrow he would search for her. Did the human take her back to Earth? Were they hiding out? And how had Miriam found a human in the first place?

Bert pulled up their history on the portal. He couldn't believe his eyes. Miriam had been conversing with a human all this time. It was there, in plain sight. He had been so busy with his schooling and training he had neglected his mate. Some guy named Buck Rogers, an Earthling had sent daily messages to Miriam. The whole messy affair detailed in front of him.

 Bert was upset to find out that the whole attack on planet Braxet had been a ruse to take his wife away, and the worst of it, by contacting this Buck guy, Miriam had allowed two-way access. All his training on the portal, everything he had learned over the last five thousand parthos, Buck had access too. No wonder the humans were able to advance so quickly. His mate had taken Braxet down a slippery slope.

Bert was ashamed. How could he tell his superiors that he had allowed human infiltration on his beloved planet Braxet, because he cared about his schooling more than he cared about Miriam?
Bert left the stayover place and walked down to the imbibing site. He ordered mind-altering substances. Bert felt betrayed by his mate of many parthos. She was just a dame, like any other dame. But he'd fallen for her, hard. And now, he would face a firing squad for treason.

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