Fifth Column6 min read

A tale of the beginning
Of the end of Man

by Guddog
Who was there when it happened.

Digitally enhanced, up-to-date, real-time world map. Very impressive.

On that screen, an ominous amount of the planet was looking very dark.

“That can’t be good.” Four stars on the shoulder. Chest full of stripes. Loyal dog sitting quietly by his side. A Siberian Husky, of course, because small dogs were for the attention-starved. “I need a sit-rep.”

“We… well. Um.” Nervous answer, dressed in a lab coat, glasses pushed back on nose. Deep breath. “We’ve lost control of most of the major cities. About a quarter of China. North Korea might have blown itself up. Europe is on lockdown, like us. Russia is anyone’s guess. Africa… not pretty? Maybe better than we think. South of the border, definitely pleading for help. Antarctica’s probably okay.”

The general wasn’t looking for jokes. He frowned up at the screen, leveled down his sunglasses, glared at it as if that would somehow change the situation. “How the hell did it come to this?”

“We’ve got some answers on that front.”

“Give me the two-cents version. I’ve got five-stars I need to brief in…” a quick check of the watch, “—twenty-seven minutes.”

“We’re fairly certain it started with the incursions, sir.”

“The incursions?” The general wasn’t happy. He wanted specifics.

“The incursions. Have you been briefed on those?”

“Son, I have Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot clearance. There is nothing I don’t have access to.” The general frowned. Cleared his throat. “Give me a summary.”

“The first one was Grover’s Mill, 1938.”

“Those Incursions. That one was covered by the radio broadcast, right? Orson Welles. War of the Worlds.”

“Yes, sir.”

“What took them down? Wasn’t it microbes or something?”

“That was the cover story. It was artillery. Lots of heavy artillery.”

“And the second?”

“The Battle of Los Angeles, ‘42.”

“More artillery?”

“Not quite as successful. It drove them off, though.”

“You said there was a third?”

“Roswell, 1947. New Mexico. Jets and lots of missiles.”

“Didn’t we get survivors from that one?”

“No, sir. But we did recover their suits.”

“Their suits?”

“Grayish, form-fitting, big lenses over the eyes. Small speaker-hole in front. Mike Godwin; he, um, he works in research, sir? Alpha-Tango-Mike division. He proposed the pilots were chupacabra.”

“Chupa- what?”

“Goat-suckers. First public sighting, 1975. The height’s about right, suit dimensions work and it correlates with Godwin’s second law.”

“Which is?”

“The longer a search takes, the more likely a target will appear where least expected.”

“How does that…” the general waved his hands at the screen, “—sync up with this?”

“We think they were building a colony, until communication technology advanced to a point where a person didn’t have to conduct business face-to-face. That’s when they struck.”

“How?”

“A company out of Puerto Rico. Providing vitamin supplies for the world’s feed supply. We keep an eye on any business that can compromise the world’s food. But their stuff was really cheap. And good.”

“What ties it to this?”

“Are you familiar with CRISPR, sir?”

“Something to do with bio-tech, right?”

“Yes. It allows for easy, bulk, genetic editing.”

“Holy hells.”

“They used a variant of the avian flu as a base. Introduced it into the supply chain as part of their vitamin supplement. There was an initial inhibitor, in the yolk, but once the target population went fully on feed, they… they changed.”

“Mutant chickens.”

“Returned to an atavistic state.”

“Dinosaur. Mutant. Chickens.”

“You have to understand, sir. Over 40 billion chickens churned out by factory farms in a year, alone. We estimate that less than a quarter of them reached the adult stage but even then…”

“An army of the apocalypse.”

“The avian T-739 virus works to reinforce successful traits in every generation, so the next generation, even more dinosaur-like. And smarter. We had no idea dinosaurs were so smart. We’re talking corvid-level intelligence.”

“Which means?”

“One of the chicken farms was next to a drone factory.”

“So?”

“They compromised it, sir. Maybe… under instruction from the aliens? But they began churning out drones.”

“The dinosaurs control the drones?”

“Not… exactly. The drones are autonomous robots and the dinosaur-chickens act as their spotters. Kind of how vultures will follow larger carnivores to grab a share of the kill.”

“The kill being us, in this case. That’s… sobering. We’re safe here, though. Correct?”

The lab tech’s gaze shot anywhere but the general. The general frowned, which was enough to get an answer “All of our long-term complexes, like Cheyenne Mountain, have sustainable supplies that are divorced from the main grid. Which, um, means we had a fully functioning farm.”

“And chickens. My god.”

“And a drone factory. Before we lost the feed, we spotting them making something like robot procompsognathi. Really small. Poisonous bite. They might have gotten the idea from our media archives. We lost levels C-9 through E-12 today. It turns out air ducts were perfect for the little monsters.”

“We have the strongest military on Earth. What’s the plan?”

“Sir, we’re dealing with an army that is omnivorous, smart, and outnumbers the entire human population by two to one. And that’s just this generation. By this time next year, they could outnumber us ten to one. And it’s an avian flu. We’re already getting scattered reports about other infected bird species.”

“So, what can we do?”

“The lab boys and I… well… we might have a solution.”

“Spit it out!”

“Are you familiar with the Kyoto procotols? The Pleistocene project?”

“No.”

“It’s about resurrecting mammoths. We’ve reverse-engineered the T-739 virus and figured it could give the project a swift kick.”

“What does that have to do with the mutant chickens?”

“We figure if it’s viable, we could bring back Smilodons.”

“Smilodons?”

“Um. Saber-toothed cats, sir.”

“Let me get this straight. You want to bring back saber-toothed cats and unleash them on civilization?”

“With respect, it’s either that or the end of the world, sir.”

“What about us? What the hell are we going to be doing while the Smilodons and the dinosaur-chickens battle it out?

“Well, we’ve got some thoughts.”

“I’m afraid to ask.”

“It all depends, sir.” The lab tech looked at the fierce Husky that never left the general’s side. “How do you feel about cybernetic dire wolves?”

The general smiled. “Now we’re talking.” He patted his dog on the head and looked down at his pet. “We’re going to save the world, aren’t we boy?”

The dog’s tail thumped happily.

“That’s right! Who’s a good dog? You’re a good dog.”


Here ends the first testimony of Guddog.
May we always remember.

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