Challenge #02020-E196: Strange Bedfellows

in fiction •  2 years ago 

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Humanity as a whole is known as many things to many different species. Yes, while they are terrifying deathworlders more than capable of destroying everyone and everything, they’ve always been willing to lend a helping hand to all those who ask, and even those who don’t. So was it really that big a surprise when, after a powerful warmongering race declared war on humanity that half the universe flocked to humanity’s aid? -- Anon Guest

For every bully, there is a bigger and meaner one. Some may even have a higher intelligence. More often than not, they just fight dirtier. This one called themselves the Mighty Catrapy of Zorjesh, and were apparently offended by anything not Zorjeshi in general and humans in particular.

Humans had a knack for being everywhere and, what with Sol's abundance of one-way wormholes, there before anyone else could lay claim to the territory. The Zorjeshi had a similar definition of 'paradise' to Humans and, as more-or-less equals on the Deathworlder ratings, decided they could probably beat them in a fair fight.

Except there was one little thing that Humans did that the Zorjeshi did not.

Humans made friends. Humans spread their pack-bonding far and wide. With species that were not even remotely like their own. With objects. With artificial intelligences. With engineered intelligences. With hive minds, and lizards, and saurians, oh my. With almost every form of intelligence that they could even halfway communicate with. There were even rumours that they were working out how to pack-bond with the Xyrak'l, creatures that were literally from another dimension.

So when the Zorjesh declared war and attempted to annex significant portions of known Human Space... the most incredible thing happened.

Other species turned up to help. Havenworlders. Fellow Deathworlders. Every species of every category in-between the two extremes. Often outfitted with weaponry that the Humans had gifted to them. Because Humans loved to teach others how to defend themselves to a point where nobody with a decent sanity score would bother to attack.

It was a rout.

The attacking Zorjesh didn't stand a chance. Their warships were a brief flash of fireworks in the eternal night, and then they were gone.

Humans didn't have to fight dirtier than the Zorjeshi. They had allies to help make up the numbers.

They dropped the word 'Mighty' from their self-appointed title shortly thereafter, and maintained a neutral zone around their accepted territories. And learned better than to mess with Humans ever again.

In a handful of decades, they would tentatively attempt to learn this... 'pack bonding' tactic. With varying degrees of success.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / AlgolOnline]

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