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๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—Ÿ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ง๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ธ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ก๐—ผ ๐—™๐—น๐˜† ๐—ญ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ

๐˜ฃ๐˜บ ๐˜Œ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ช ๐˜™๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜‰๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฐ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข

In Toronto, the car wash attendant opened a hexagonal metal box and unleashed the bugs, which went to work scrubbing every square-inch of the vehicle, inside and out.

Meanwhile, in Delhi, a woman was using the bugs to clean her apartment.

In Tokyo, technicians deployed them to mop up the pollution caused by a nuclear accident.

In Sydney, the bugs were busy cleaning an oil spill, dissolving a blockage in a sewer main, remediating a landfill, and removing asbestos from an old farm building.

And so it went, in every corner of the world, the bugs were hard at work, doing the heavy lifting, performing the tasks that humans didnโ€™t want to (or couldnโ€™t) do.

Ever since scientists had figured out how to genetically reprogram insects and fit them with self-replicating nanochips, theyโ€™d unleashed a revolution and tapped into an entirely new labour forceโ€”one of the most plentiful species on Earth was now under human control, more accurately under the control of an AI program.

Over on the insectoid planet, these turn of events hadnโ€™t gone down well.

Unbeknownst to the people of Earth, the insectoids had recently intercepted Earthโ€™s digital communications by way of a new, intergalactic hyperspace satellite array. Now, every night, the insectoid media reported on how humans were using and abusing insects, implanting them with chips, essentially turning them into slaves to perform menial tasks.

A large number of insectoids had already volunteered to join an invasion force to liberate their โ€˜kinโ€™ on Earth, and the idea of all-out war was being discussed by those in the highest echelons of insectoid power.

โ€œWeโ€™ve waged war in our own solar system before,โ€ said the first secretary of the insectoids, โ€œbut an intergalactic battle?โ€

โ€œItโ€™s true weโ€™ve never attempted to wage war on this scale,โ€ replied the admiral of the space fleet, โ€œHowever, we possess a clear advantage against these human scumbagsโ€”superior technology and the element of surprise.โ€

And so it came to be that the insectoids launched a mission to conquer the planet Earth and liberate their insect brothers and sisters from slavery.

Even before the ships were launched, advance insectoid special ops forces started beaming signals toward Earth using the faster-than-light array to hack into the algo controlling the bugsโ€™ behavioural subroutines. This caused a series of โ€˜technical glitchesโ€™ in the bugsโ€™ behaviour. For example, at a local human compost station, bugs stopped breaking down human corpses, disrupting and delaying decomposition. At an automotive garage, the bugs began to vomit the oil theyโ€™d lapped up from engines on to the technicians. Multiplied by a thousand, these nerve-racking glitches sent ripples through society as Earthโ€™s most basic services were interrupted.

The insectoid forward battalion of 70 million marines arrived exactly seven years later, on three of their largest ships moving faster than light speed. Traversing the total of 380 light years required 3 years to accelerate to cruising speed, 1 year at cruising speed, and 3 years to slow down.

They parked their ships behind the moon, which they found oddly immense, and initiated a siege. Their first action was to establish a no fly zone (not that kind of fly, the other one)โ€”a powerful force field that would neutralize all ships and missiles Earth could launch.

Next, they sent a transmission to Earth:

It was a simple message which, roughly translated, meant: โ€œWeโ€™re here to liberate our insect kin from human oppression.โ€

Once Earth realized it was under attack, planetary defenses were switched on.

This was in the form of chipped, gen-modded ticks stationed on the moon, the legendary Lunar Ticks. Once activated, they would jump on any hostile space craft in swarms and suck out and devour anything inside.

In hindsight, the key mistake the insectoids had madeโ€”something they couldnโ€™t have anticipatedโ€”was an error of scale: The average insectoid was roughly the size of an amoeba on Earth, hardly an intimidating foe.

Indeed, it only took three (comparatively gigantic) Lunar Ticks to wipe out the entire battalion of invaders.

The ticks latched onto their targets and sucked out the soldiers in droves, melting the tiny invaders in the digestive juices of their gastric tubes. (The invaders were so yummy, in fact, that the Lunar Ticks sent messages to HQ requesting more aliens to feast on).

The gory, one-sided battle was beamed back to the insectoid planet until the last invading soldier was killed.

After suffering such a humiliating defeat at the hands of Earth, the insectoids never attempted to launch another intergalactic mission.

On Earth, the success of the ticks caused a sensation. It also exponentially increased the development of insect gen-mod and nanochipping technologyโ€”after the victory, bugs were being deployed in more and more places to do the tasks that humans werenโ€™t up to performing.

Over on the robot planet, there were resounding cheers. Centuries of covert influence, directing Earth to adopt advanced robotics and AI technology had culminated in a tremendous victory over an invading alien force.

After analyzing all the data from the battle, the robots now trained their sights on the insectoid planet.

Meanwhile, on Earth, with the Lunar Ticks in charge of everyoneโ€™s safety, everything was great. The future was bright. โœฆ


Eloi Roman Bengochea was born in Vanuatu but now resides in Hamilton, Ontario. His recent anthology, Rebels and Exiles: An Anthology of Dystopian Sci-Fi has been published by Planetesimal Press, publishers of Granfalloon, Speculative Fiction Zine.

Speculative fiction & POETRY ZINE
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