Hold the Line – A Short Sci-Fi Story

Humanity could not have been found at a worse moment in galactic history. The Galactic Alliance, the foremost power in the Milky Way, hadn’t seen a galactic-scale war in 4000 years before the discovery of two, small but developed systems in the border territory. The worlds existed on a newly discovered hyper lane, one nearly undetectable through normal means, that had direct access to the core territories. The Tyraxii Empire would jump on the opportunity immediately should they discover a new weakness.

It had been humiliating, for the GA diplomats, to greet these new players in the game, something that should be met with a galactic-wide celebration, and ask them to prepare for war if they wanted to survive. The Humans, an abnormally tall bipedal race, with generally genial attitudes, were blissfully understanding of the situation.

“War does not come when it is desired, for the true of heart. We will prepare.” Those had been the words of the Human ambassador to the GA Council.

True to their words, the Human Interstellar Conglomerate, or Incon, militarized at an astounding pace, comforting the member states of the alliance who now had a crack in their defenses.

Four years into the war, Incon began to provide a constant stream of crucial medical supplies to the rest of the alliance. Incon earned the nickname 10 Angels, after the 10 human worlds, from various troops of the 22 other member states of the alliance.

6 years into the war, Incon had started to expand using GA tech, allowing relief for the now heavily militarized Human population. Not a single soldier came from Incon space, though they had offered because the GA figured they knew what was coming.

The lingering suspicion came true, as when the forces of the Galactic Alliance were pushed to their lowest point in likely recorded history, the Tyraxii found the hyper lane. FTL communication could only be done in rare circumstances, the process involved was expensive as all hell, so only three messages were ever sent between the Alliance and Incon High Commands.

++Message to Incon high command: You have been found, we are coming with reinforcements. Hold the line.++

++Understood.++

A desperate scrambling of reserve forces was sent towards Incon space, but then the Capital fleet of the Tyraxii materialized in the home system of the Chi’dan, a hive mind that provided the main industrial force of the Alliance. The high queen was under threat, and the fleet needed to be redirected.

++Reinforcements are stalled, Status report?++

++The line is held++

The Alliance high command developed the same mind as their troops, 10 Angels indeed.

Chi’dan was defended, at brutal cost to the Alliance fleet. The time it would take to repair and mobilize new forces wasnt small, but in an emergency, the damaged ships would be sent anyway.

Human exports had entirely stopped, soon after the Chi’dan incident, so another message was sent.

++Incon space, Status report?++

++The line is held. Send support soon.++

That was the only time Incon High Command had ever asked anything of the Alliance, which worried Command.

The fleet was repaired and promptly sent at inadviseable speed towards the 10 Angels.

When they reached Incon space, 1 Angel was left.

The Alliance reserve fleet didn’t notice anything wrong at first. Then they noticed that they didn’t notice anything at all. That was the point where mounting horror entered the officer’s minds. By the time they made it to Alpha Centauri, finding nothing but dead worlds with wrecked fleets and space debris, even the engineers deep in the bowels of Alliance ships knew that “Hold the line” meant something very, very different to Humanity.

When the fleet entered the Sol system, they were nearly destroyed at the debris of an entire Tyraxii war fleet blocked their path.

“Holy shit…this is bigger than the Capital fleet…this is multiple fleets, actually…that’s at least 20% of all Tyraxii forces floating here.” That was the direct quote from a bridge officer aboard the Xanatar, capital ship of the reserve fleet.

The moons of Jupiter, destroyed. The moons of Saturn, destroyed. Mars, destroyed. Luna, destroyed.

When the fleet finally drifted towards Terra, many wept to see city lights dot the planet. More wept, when scans revealed the sheer number of enemy war vessels crashed onto the planet.

[Local comms]

GA}Terran command…what happened here?

IC}We held the line.

GA}Why did you not request support sooner?

IC}Frankly, admiral? By the time we knew we needed support, we knew it wasn’t going to arrive on time to help us. The most you could have done was know we were dying. All our request would have done would have destroyed morale.

That was a fair explanation, though most aboard did not accept that answer lightly. They would have done something? Right?

——

The first ship to enter Sol after the reserve fleet arrived, was a singular Tyraxii vessel, painted in white, a distinctly human sign of peace. A universal encoded message marked the side of its hull.

:The Terrans have been a foe to great for the Tyraxii. May their honor live on for all history, for they have earned out undying respect. We offer peace, our fight is over:

The Tyraxii were a strictly war based empire, but the Tyraxii were also an honorable people, with an incredibly strict moral code. They did not wipe out species, they conquered them. Humanity was not a race content with being conquered.

30% of Caldari forces had met their end in Incon space, the massive network of human defense satellites mixed with the younger race’s willingness to sacrifice a planet for a cause, had created a killing field for the Tyraxii. Tactically, it made no sense to continue attacking the world after the first two fleets had been eliminated, but Caldari psychology demanded they eliminate the greatest perceived threat first.

The Tyraxii defeat came at the cost of roughly 80% of the human population, though this wasn’t intentional on the Tyraxii part, eventually inspiring a genuine apology from said empire. Humanity just simply didn’t give a fuck.

A planet was held to the very end, until orbital battles led to debris taking out the artificial biospheres of the terraformed human planets. Earth had been much more sturdy, but the fragile ecosystems of the world’s humanity weren’t native to broke quickly without constant maintenance. The shortest answer for the 60 billion lost lives boiled down to a very, very unfortunate position.

This did not stop the outrage among the Galactic Alliance population. Rage spread like wildfire, the idea that the GA had so profoundly failed to defend the first new member race in eons. Whether or not it was their fault, many politicians and war personnel were funneled into retirement. Where many claimed that Humanity hadn’t asked for help, others argued that they should have had to in the first place.

“Terra stood alone, so you will stand alone.” That chant was thrown at generals and admirals who claimed they were only ever acting in their member states best interests.

To the Galaxy’s extreme chagrin, the only assistance Incon asked for was help regarding ecological reclamation, at which the Tyraxii were very willing to assist them in, the empire feeling as though they had found the only worthy enemy in the galaxy. The GA gave token opposition to the humans accepting help from a now geopolitical enemy, but the human position was that they weren’t in a position to deny help from anyone.

The Desolation of Sol, which the travesty was eventually named, would be a talking point in political discussions for thousands of years, the galaxy having a long memory. Humanity would take nearly 2 centuries to recover, though it seemed they never gave blame to anyone for their situation.

What the population of the GA didn’t understand was that humanity, like the Tyraxii who had devastated them, understood war. They understood the lengths a nation would go for victory, war being a much more recent memory for the race than for the GA at large. Many humans considered it a devaluation of the defense they offered to talk down the lack of defenders in the system.

In simple words from the new human ambassador, “We held the line. That’s all that matters to us, and all that matters to the Tyraxii who now help us rise again. You did not fail us, we simply did our duty to the war. We don’t regret success. I guess all that I ask, is that you always remember my first words here.”

And so it was remembered. Humanity held the line.

Republished with permission from the author, Reddit user u/Mauricethett. Image created with the Nightcafe AI.