alien, cowboy, dark horse, duel, fiction, flash fiction, science fiction, scifi, short story, standoff, story, surprise, twist, victory
Today’s Flash Fiction is TV Tropes. Random TV Trope, Darkhorse Victory. 1000 words. Enjoy 🙂
Three full moons rose to their apex in the night sky. It was high-midnight, and they reflected brightly. The dusty city appeared all in greys, with only the most muted dark colors peeking through the gloom. Masses of onlookers gathered at the windows of the tall buildings that towered over the clouded ground. This was as close as they dare get.
In the haze of swept up earth, two warriors stood to face each other. They opted for the protection of black ten-gallon hats. They were more concerned about shielding their eyes from the ruminating moons than their heads from bullets. After all, only one of them would come out of this alive, anyway.
They waited on opposite ends of the streets. Through the murk and shadow, they could only make out the distorted form of their adversary. Still they were expected to hit their target square enough to cause instant death. The weight of the survival of their kind resting on their shoulders, or what passed for shoulders.
John Smith stood at one end. He had a good, Earth born name. While he was descended from humans, he had never once stepped foot on the lost planet. His kind had run from their world almost a millennium ago, and he had spent all of his life in the artificial gravity of the space fleet. Even now on this alien world he wobbled, trying to find his land legs.
With his innate talents for weapons and strategy, John had ascended to the rank of Admiral quicker than anyone before him. It was no surprise. Generation after generation of the finest soldiers and military minds combined genes in order to create him.
His life force was tied to the rest of his species, as was his foe to his own. If John lost this battle, if his body laid rot on the ground, then all of humanity would perish with him. But this was their only chance against the Colony. The insect-like beings systematically extinguished all life in the universe. They were extremely territorial and desired to rule alone.
Humans attempted to welcome them when they arrived at their borders. The first intelligent life they had ever known. They only wanted to conquer. Since that initial contact, and the homo-sapiens escape to the stars, they had met, and lost, many other cerebral creatures.
The Colony are not complete beast. While they demand combat and destroy until another race is gone, they will also entertain a special battle. The organisms stake their entire genus on this one on one, honorable fight. The Colony preferred fisticuffs, making great use of their powerful mandibles. Yet, they realize that they have an unfair advantage to most specimens, and allow the attacked to choose the venue and weapons.
John requested to settle the conflict the way his ancestors did. Specialized pistols were created, with bullets that could penetrate even the hardest shell. This was to be their only weapon. After a countdown, their guns would be drawn at once. One shot, and the quickest and most accurate would win it for his kind.
John was well aware of the meaning of honor and how important such a concept was, but he was raised under the religion of survival at any cost. He carried a second firearm concealed in his sleeve. This gun was small, but powerful, and had an auto targeting system. John was good, but he couldn’t gamble humanity on his skill.
While the Colony was good to its word, they were evolved far beyond human kind. They were able to learn quickly, and had additional senses and powers that were unknown. Having faced many foes, in many different arenas, they had never lost, even when the odds were stacked against them. John knew they must have their own way of cheating, so he did not fret over his decision to do the same.
The countdown began. Refracting off the partials in the air, a clock made of light ticked down the seconds.
Ten, nine, eight.
Sweat began to bead on John’s forehead. He shifted his weight back and forth, and saw the insect do the same.
Seven, six, five.
His heart pounded so hard inside his chest that it hurt. His mind began to swirl with anticipation. He stretched his fingers open and closed, losing his grip so it could quickly gather the guns.
Four, three, two.
John was on the edge of his sanity. In mere moments it was kill or be killed. He was so focused on the alien in front of him that he almost missed the movement that sprang in his periphery.
The motion came from something swift and large that flowed like liquid. But it moved with purpose. John could barely make out the deep blue coloring of its immense form as it swallowed up the buildings and all those that dwelt within.
As it approached the dueling pair, it broke apart and formed hundreds of smaller drone creatures. They were nearly shapeless in their blob-like appearance.
John recognized them at once. Here was another life form that the Colony had attempted to destroy. They had gone on the run and had not been seen in two hundred years. Shocked, John and the ant both opened fire on the unexpected foes.
However, this new rival was strong. The bullets went straight through the gelatinous creatures without effect. As the mob rushed towards him, he heard the squeal and death rattle of the bug. A million voices filled the air as the rest of his race met its doom.
John was swallowed up by the brutes. He felt his breath catch as he lost all access to oxygen. Above him, he saw the shiny surfaces of his ships as they fell from their orbit to the ground below. He had lost, and all was lost with him.
In his last thoughts, he wondered how this unforeseen foe could have come back to win. The universe their prize, their victory unchallenged.
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