Challenge #02242-F052: A Critical Lack
"I won't talk even if you torture me."
"Then talk or we'll execute the hostages."
"If I don't talk you'll execute unarmed civilians, including women and children ?"
"That's the first time you're dealing with Humans, right?" -- Anon Guest
"What does that even mean?" Kyarth frowned at the Human Leader. They were captive. They were all captive. Held helpless and under watch by the strongest of the Ryhijov. They were without any kind of escape, any kind of hope. The mightiest of the mighty had brought them all low in a genius surprise attack. They should be trembling in terror and begging for their continued existence.
"You haven't heard about us," said the Human Leader. They had their rubbery, flexible mouth upturned in a manner that displayed their teeth. "Sure, you gave us a bit of a surprise, but we've had time to think, by now. Those of us who can are already working on plans to get the helpless among us out of danger. There's several by now who have plans underway to mess up your crew. They're going to wait until the helpless are free."
"Impossible. We defeated your strongest warriors! You should be intimidated for the rest of your lives!" Kyarth felt a growing rage at the Human Leader's barking. A sign of Human amusement. "You're beaten! We won! We're stronger! We've proved it."
"You're cute," said the Human. "We're not that easily impressed." There was a distant boom. A shaking of the ground under their feet. "Unless explosives are involved."
"How did you get explosives?"
Now the bared teeth showed further. "Made them. Ordinary household chemicals. Common reactions. A little bit of simple chemistry, a lot of disregard for enemy safety... Hell, the hard part is convincing the little ones to not play too."
A cascade of alarming snapping noises. Kyarth turned away for just a second, and when they turned back, the Human Leader was free from their bonds, upright, and had possession of the guard's stunner gun.
"Of course," said the Human, "kids can be real helpful." Then they fired.
Kyarth woke up in a room with eighty percent of their crew. Defeated and overthrown. The Humans watching them never dropped their guard. Not for an instant. They didn't look away. They didn't relax. They never assumed that their former captors were definitively defeated. Kyarth didn't get it. They were defeated. Yet the Humans had not remained defeated.
Kyarth and his crew passed their time in submissive obedience. Somewhere, wheels were turning and Kyarth expected them to grind them to powder soon enough. Eventually, the Humans took him away to a very similar room where the roles were reversed.
"Why?" said the Human Leader. "There's been no conspiracies, no plots, no attempts... why are every single one of you just... waiting?"
"We're defeated," answered Kyarth. "You have proven yourselves the victors. There is no point in resistance."
The Human snorted. "If we thought like that we'd have never got up to the stars."
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / ekostsov]
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