So That Our Banner

(This was part of an Xmas present, so now I can post it here! A humans and aliens story.)

Warnings: war, blood, angst, Les Mis reference (does that need its own warning? |D )

MK-GL-2654 surveyed the broken ground with distant satisfaction. Troops lined up behind them, row after row of shining armor and laser weapons gleaming under the weak sunlight of this dying world.

There were not many of these pesky Terrans left. It had already taken far more resources than the United Leaders had planned to get this far, to have forced the Terrans into these last few, meager hiding places. More time. More troops.

Far more troops.

The whole planet had turned out to be less hospitable than the Terrans’ civilization had led the Unified Mklak to expect, but they had encountered such physical conditions on other worlds and still prevailed without trouble.

No, it was the Terrans themselves who had been the real trouble.

MK-GL-2654 felt safer admitting that now that the strange little creatures were about to be exterminated at last.

Orders from the ship in orbit above passed through MK-GL-2654’s implants, and MK-GL-2654 triggered the thought which would send them collectively to the troops stationed at the ready.

As one, as it should be, they stepped forward, marching toward the broken fortress in which the Terrans had chosen to meet their end. They had fought long and hard to protect this piece of harsh land, though MK-GL-2654 only now saw the pattern of Terran offense and defense over the many sun-orbits they had been here.

No matter. All the Terran efforts had failed, and today this stronghold too would fall just as all the others had before. The only thing standing between the Unified Mklak troops and the Terran stronghold in the broken stone cliffs and red hills was an even rougher barricade, made of earth and rock and broken Terran vessels.

MK-GL-2654 halted the troops just out of firing range of the Terran weapons. Although this terrain was not comfortable for the Unified Mklak, it was not comfortable for the Terrans either. Movement on the barricade told him that the Terrans had noted their presence.

They would have a short time to contemplate their end.

A Terran, one with black skin, rose to stand tall at the center of the barricade. MK-GL-2654 knew that to be one of the remaining Terran leaders, and again felt distant satisfaction to know that it too would meet its end today.

Others appeared, skins of different shades mingling as they stood together, ragged and unpleasantly discordant in both the nature of their skins and the coverings they used to protect those soft skins. MK-GL-2654 turned to survey the perfect uniformity of the troops, a much more pleasing sight.

“Your time is over, Terrans,” MK-GL-2654 said then, broadcasting the words through the mouthpiece of their armor. “If you surrender now, your deaths will be swift and merciful.”

Terrans rarely surrendered. MK-GL-2654 was not surprised when this group showed no signs of doing so.

What was a surprise were the words that suddenly rose from the black-skinned leader, rising and falling strangely…this must be the Terrans’ much-vaunted “music.” MK-GL-2654’s implants provided a translation, though they understood only some of it.

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Other Terrans began to make the same “music”, their voices rising in imperfect accord.

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free…

Slowly, following their leader, still making their “music” (“singing” the translator implants called it), the Terrans began to descend on the near side of barricade, moving toward the Unified Mklak troops.

What were they doing? Even armed, they couldn’t hope to win.

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Behind the barricade, more and more Terrans were coming out of the cliffs, far more than MK-GL-2654 had realized were still left alive in this place.

MK-GL-2654 gave the troops the order: engage laser weapons.

Terrans fell, their strange red blood staining the soil.

But some survived, and they came on, picking up speed, still singing, still with more pouring out of their stronghold and up and over the barricade and into certain death.

Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance?
Some will fall and some will live
Will you come up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs
Will water the meadows of Earth!

The troops employed their laser weapons, and now the larger ballista launched at MK-GL-2654’s order.

Many Terrans fell. It did not stop the rest.

MK-GL-2654 did not acknowledge the distant twinge in their mind as even concern, much less something as ridiculous as fear. It was simply confusion, over why each and every one of these pathetic creatures scrabbled and endured so much just to stay alive for a few more moments. Some of those injured but not killed were crawling forward like the lowest forms of life, dragging themselves closer to death. They did not even have the basic survival instinct—

That was the moment when hills rising behind the cliffs cracked and split open. Terran missiles launched, and as fast as MK-GL-2654 could signal their own ballista to intercept, half a dozen of the Terrans’ fission explosives fell on the troops.

Many troops perished as the brightness flared among them. MK-GL-2654 had hoped to finish at least one battle with fewer casualties, but it was not unexpected now. Truly, the Terrans must be down to their last hope, to be exposing the truth of their fortress.

Still the Terran troops advanced, with no pause for their dwindling numbers.

A deeper rumble shook the hills…and then a larger missile, dark and oddly shaped, shot skyward at incredible speed.

What folly was this? The ballista were all behind the Unified Mklak troops—

The light of a miniature sun flared into life overhead, and MK-GL-2654 felt their implants’ connection to the ship die.

MK-GL-2654 felt their eyes widen. Was this why the humans had fought so hard to protect this one, insignificant outpost for so long? How could they possibly have—

The Terran troops still advanced, nearly upon the Unified Mklak troops now, and still they sang.

MK-GL-2654 reached to order their troops…but with the ship gone, the communication interfaces were not working.

The last thing MK-GL-2654 saw was a Terran soldier, covered in dirt and blood and wielding a projectile weapon that was old even by Terran standards.

The last thing MK-GL-2654 heard was that Terran soldier’s voice.

Do you hear the people sing?

United Leaders. Message.

Two ships in Sol 3841-13 system destroyed. Third ship in system damaged. Ground troop status unknown.

Withdrawal recommended.

                **

Ship MK-ISMS-5345. Message.

Cost outweighed projected gain.

Withdrawal approved.

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