Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Mess of Arms and Legs and Limbs by Cora Buhlert

Release date: November 23, 2017
Subgenre: Space opera, Alien invasion

About A Mess of Arms and Legs and Limbs


Humanity thought they were alone in the universe. They were wrong.

When aliens attack Hyams II, a small mining colony on the galactic rim, all that stands between the attackers and the terrified civilian population are a handful of underpaid and underequipped security guards.

However, two of those guards, Cally and Matt, use all their skills and their knowledge of the colony's layout to fight back and hold the invaders at bay. And in the process, they also manage to uncover the biggest secret of all: Why are the aliens attacking human outposts at all?

This is a short science fiction story of 6500 words or approximately 25 print pages.



Space-suited creatures stream through the airlock. At least, I think they’re wearing space suits, since those sure as hell don’t look like any space suits I’ve ever seen. There are too many arms, too many legs, too many limbs. Even looking at them hurts and makes me doubt my sanity.
More and more pour into the station, until the entire corridor is just a mess of arms and legs and limbs. Closer and closer they come, relentless, unstoppable.
My finger tightens on the trigger of my plasma rifle, itching to shoot, itching to blow off some of those arms and legs and limbs, blow them to smithereens.
“Hold your fire,” the voice of Security Chief Burnett echoes in my ear, “Hold until they’re at the bulkhead.”
Intellectually, I know he’s right. After all, we’ve only got one shot at this, just one chance. But though my mind knows he’s right, that doesn’t mean that my heart does.
After all, I’ve seen what they can do. I’ve seen the aftermath, the bloodstained floors and mangled human bodies, the charred remnants of outposts where not a single soul was left alive.
At first, we didn’t even know what it was. All we knew was that along the rim, outposts and space stations suddenly went dark. And once the galactic government got around to sending someone to investigate, all they found were wrecked stations and decomposing bodies without a single clue as to what had happened.
Bodies and wrecked outposts piled up, as the attacks increased. And gradually, we found clues. SOS calls, breaking off in mid transmission. Marks and scratches on walls and bulkheads that nothing human could have made. Traces of organic substances that matched absolutely nothing in the known universe. And finally, grainy security cam footage of multi-limbed horrors the likes of which no human eye had ever seen.
We’d thought that we were alone in the cosmos, that the universe was ours for the taking. We were wrong.
But though we knew what we were up against, we still had no real way of stopping them. And so outposts and stations continued to go dark, their crews torn to pieces. Central Government increased patrols along the rim and sent marines to guard and defend endangered stations, but it was to no avail. The enemy continued to strike, evading the patrols and killing the marines along with everybody else.
The enemy. That’s what we call them, cause we don’t know what their proper name is or if they even have one. We don’t know what they want, why they attack us and why now, we don’t even know what they look like. Until now…
Cause I’m seeing them, seeing them with my own two eyes, these creatures with too many arms and legs and limbs. I see them advancing towards us, scurrying like oversized spiders, scuttling like lobsters or starfish, different, terrifying, other.
Very likely, it’s the last thing I’ll ever see.
Cause unlike the other colonies and stations that were hit, we don’t have a large crew. Hyams II just a small outpost, a handful of miners extracting tantalum ore from an asteroid plus support personnel and families. We don’t have marines to protect us, just a bunch of underpaid and underequipped security guards. We’re outnumbered and outgunned and we know it.
And yet we fight, make a stand. Because we have to. Because we’re humans and we don’t just lay down and die. We fight and even if we go down, we’ll make sure those monsters regret ever having come here.
The first of the creatures, the vanguard, are almost at the bulkhead now. It’s the perfect spot for an ambush, a natural bottleneck. Just a few more feet and then…
“Fire. Fire at will,” Chief Burnett yells, his voice echoing in my head.
I press the trigger. I see the flash of fifteen plasma rifles discharging all at once, hear the roar. I see a blast hit its mark, see one of those too many limbs blown off, see green alien blood — of course, it’s green — splatter onto the bulkhead.

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About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. 
Cora has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. She is the author of the Silencer series of pulp style thrillers, the Shattered Empire space opera series, the In Love and War science fiction romance series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and plenty of standalone stories in multiple genres. When Cora is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher.


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