Cut Off The Head

This Science Fiction short story is a lead-up to the book titled, Onyalum Wars. The book is part of the Science Fiction Onyalum Series written by NB VanYoos.

Picture of AcriendThey say, cut off the head and the body will die. Swirtoo was hoping it held true for the Acriend Subjugation Force occupying his home planet. He had been an ordinary citizen until the invasion, the occupation enlisting him into the insurgency as they stung the invading horde of monsters. His previous life had been filled with science and technology, a fine life despite the lack of socialization so many others enjoyed. At this point, those fanciful musings were long gone.

Swirtoo had been a weapons designer for his country’s military, creating new ways to kill in the name of protecting their precious borders. Now those borders had been shattered by the Acriend, a brutish race whose savagery was only eclipsed by their perversions. Swirtoo had watched many of his fellow Andanaens ravaged by the sexual assaults these beasts inflicted on those they captured. Swirtoo made a promise not to let that happen to him as he carefully stroked the suicide device strapped to his chest.

His race was not one to take life lightly, but since the invasion, little could prevent them changing into the savages they now faced. They simply would not be subjugated, young men and women picking up weapons dropped by those generations before them. But did it make a difference? Could they defeat such a massive force with so many overwhelming technologies and an army filled with monsters that could survive nearly everything they threw at them? Cut off the head, Swirtoo thought darkly.

His home world, a planet called Woorlta, was just another conquest in the Acriend’s merciless march across the galaxy. Before the brutes had arrived, everyone on Swirtoo’s world had believed they were alone in the Universe, a tiny island of life in a swirling galactic sea of hostile stars and deadly radiation. But they were wrong, and now they were nothing more than a prison planet subjugated by those more powerful and less moral than the people they crushed beneath their boots. He would do anything to strike back.

He and his people were the dominant species on their world, a rare, six legged mammalian species that had evolved in the equatorial forests encircling their planet. Over time, they had spread across their world, filling every niche possible as their intelligence grew in exponential leaps and bounds. They had believed themselves evolved to the highest level possible, capable of controlling the very world around them. But they soon learned they were nothing more than worms just crawling out of the mud looking to the stars in awe.

But these worms had teeth and they would use them to bite at the offenders occupying their rightful place on this planet. And they would not stop until they were all destroyed or their enemy chased from their soil. Swirtoo crawled through the dense underbrush quietly, his stealth camouflage hiding him from all but thermal sensors. Thankfully, he’d been given a map of those sensors and currently positioned himself on the hillside in a gap between them.

The hill overlooked the massive base camp of the Acriend Army. In the distance, a large field was filled with landing craft, the carriers of the beastly horde now silent as they enjoyed unencumbered access to the resources of this planet. But today, the rightful owners of this world would strike back, disabling as much of their craft as possible in one brilliant raid. But he was the key, the linchpin that would set their plan into motion. Cut off the head, he murmured silently to himself.

His six limbs pulled him through the grass, his primary weapon strapped to his back, fully charged and ready for its debut. If it worked, a whole arsenal of the weapons would be deployed, a new terrorist device with which to attack their enemy at the heart of their subjugation.

He heard a sound to his left and stopped. The deep voices of two Acriend security guards held him breathless as they moved nearby, ignorant of the threat nearly beneath their feet. He wasn’t a soldier, but he’d been instructed on how to move without being seen. His commander, a wonderful leader of his insurgency team, had not wanted Swirtoo to take on this mission. He’d seen the value of Swirtoo for his brilliant mind and weapon’s designs, but Swirtoo had insisted on getting a chance to finally get back at the monsters that had destroyed so many he had known. He might survive, but the odds were not in his favor. In any event, his coworkers could carry on his efforts. He’d left behind a whole raft of designs for even more deadly weapons. One way or another, they would chip away at the beastly horde occupying their world.

The sounds of the guards splitting up and moving in opposite directions made Swirtoo relax. With both so close, he would have to take them out before completing his final mission. He moved a bit further up the hillside, stopping at a large boulder that would make an excellent position. He carefully removed his weapon and placed it on the ground before preparing it for firing. It was a bulky weapon, but using the Acriend power sources easily acquired through inside sources made its capabilities far exceed its bulk. Without the Acriend technology, its size would easily be that of a small vehicle.

His four hands quickly ready the weapon, a green light signaling it was at full strength. He turned to his right and searched the area for the first guard, his thermal scope easily piercing the gloom of night. Within seconds he spotted the hapless brute standing on a large outcrop surveying the plains below. Swirtoo swept the area around the soldier looking for anyone or anything that might detect his attack. It was clear.

He attached the scope to his weapon and lined up the soldier in his sights. Once the large head was in his crosshairs, he pulled the trigger, a slight hum the only indication the weapon was working. Swirtoo watched through his sight as the soldier began to notice the initial tingling effects of the microwave radiation entering his cranial cavity. Unfortunately, by the time you detected the effect, you were dead. The view of the head popping from the boiling fluids was silent yet showy through the scope. The body fell from the outcropping into a small boulder field below. Cut off the head, Swirtoo said silently.

He swung the weapon back around to his left and removed the scope once more, quickly scanning the area for the other guard. Damn, nothing! The guard must have found a position of concealment, forcing Swirtoo to either ignore him and focus on the primary mission, or hunt him down to remove the threat. He eyed his watch and didn’t like how little time was left before sunrise. In daylight, the Acriend were deadly. The mission had to be completed before sunrise. He repacked his gear, deciding to let the guard be. It would probably cost him later, but he had to get the attack underway.

It took another fifteen minutes before he had found a satisfactory position wedged between two boulders overlooking the command bunker. As usual, many of the officers were gathered under a small tent awaiting their leader for the morning debriefing. Swirtoo would give them a surprise this morning. Cut off the head, he repeated one more time as he setup his weapon, steadying it between the two rocks. Although he had slipped into their sensor net, the boulders were hiding him from detection.

He remembered his many briefings, the picture of his target clear in his mind. The specially colored sash, the brutish features, and the overwhelming gray hair the seasoned veteran sported. He might as well have been holding a lit beacon as far as Swirtoo was concerned. The beast had no chance of surviving this attack. He put down his binoculars and pulled up the thermal scope, eyeing the area for the guards and snipers that surely were surrounding the area.

He quickly spotted two snipers on another ridge overlooking the base. Each was several kilometers away, but still capable of killing him if given the shot. Unfortunately, his microwave was ineffective at that distance. He turned to the plain below him and surveyed the forces on duty. He counted four regular guards and two towers manned by the slave aliens the Acriend employed. Would they attack or let their masters die? Time would tell.

He pulled up the binoculars once more and eyed the officers. Finally, their commander was coming up out of the bunker with his slave aide to begin the briefing. Swirtoo put the thermal scope back on his weapon and checked to make sure it was ready to fire. The dull green glow confirmed its readiness. He put his eye to the scope and took aim as his target sat down at the head of the table. Perfect, Swirtoo thought darkly as his target’s stationary position would make the shot easier.

With the beast’s head in his crosshairs, he pulled the trigger releasing the deadly radiation that would superheat the cranial fluids to deadly pressures. He watched intently, the drama stretching the time out in what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the leader scratched his head as the sensation was detected too late. Once again, the popping was silent but sweet as the body fell off the chair in the midst of a confused crowd of officers.

Job one done—now to signal the attack. He took aim at a large fuel tank near a collection of vehicles. Once his weapon was charged, he pulled the trigger. He wasn’t certain if it would ignite the fuel, but he was hopeful. The metallic container would absorb much of the energy, but he was banking on some of it superheating the fluid inside. He ignored the sounds of the base coming to life as they realized they were under attack. He kept his focus on the fuel tank in what appeared to be a vain effort to ignite the fuel.

He didn’t give up despite shots firing into the dark near, but not at his position. He was about to give up and flee when the tank exploded in a fantastic fireball lighting the base in an explosive fireworks caused by a chain reaction of explosions through the nearby vehicles. It was more than he had hoped for. He packed up his gear as shots ricocheted off the rocks around him. They had found his position.

He moved back up the hill towards his only escape, ignoring concealment in favor of speed. Shots came close to his retreating form, but none could find their target as he dodged and jumped to evade. He was nearing his final route, a backside cliff with a dark crevasse he could climb down when a sudden pain ripped through his side quickly followed by the loud retort of a nearby rifle. He felt his energy drain away as he fell to the ground, his lifeblood spraying out in fountains his feeble hands could not suppress.

The red of blood blurred his vision as a dark figure appeared above him blocking out the starlight now fading in the red sheen of his life draining from his body. He smiled at the dark shape, his lips moving in an attempt to say something witty. He wasn’t certain anything came out as a dark coldness swept through his body. He laughed inwardly, his mission complete despite costing him his life. Even now, the rest of his insurgents would be sweeping through the base, his distraction the necessary ingredient to conceal their sabotage. This sting would be significant.

He sensed more than saw more figures surround him as they stood proudly observing the death of the assassin of their leader. Cut off the head and the body will die. It was Swirtoo’s final thought as his heart stopped beating, the absence of electrical impulses triggering the device on his chest. The Acriend standing around him didn’t even know what happened as the fireball lit the top of the hillside sending thousands of pieces of each back to the base below.

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