The Zeroth had brought a single ship.
One ship with the capacity to deploy an army of drones, and swarms of fighters. One ship that was the size of a city and could blot out the sun for those below. One ship, with a vast array of weapons the likes of which humanity had never even dreamed of. One ship that had shields that could survive a nuclear blast, for even to use one nuclear weapon was surely a sign of desperation. One ship that could seemingly repair itself on the fly and build even more drones and even more fighters. One ship that with the push of a button could evaporate a military outpost and slowly drift towards another.
To the Zeroth it made sense. One ship had been enough to pacify previous pre-FTL species. Fear would consume them, and their planetary leaders would bow and accept defeat. The defeated species would spend their lives as slaves, serving the Zeroth Empire. It had worked dozens of times. And should the native species put up a fight, then it would be a simple demonstration of power, and by the time the planet had spun on its axis once, the population had surrendered. To the Zeroth this was the easiest way to deal with things, and then that one ship would move on to another planet to subjugate it when they needed to. It would take all the resources it would need, and soon Zeroth settlers would arrive and take their rightful place as the leaders of the planet and the people would be made better as slaves.
The Zeroth had sent only one ship.
It was an insult, really, as far as most humans were concerned. A single ship? Where was the armada, the invasion, the skies full of saucers that threatened an entire planet and all major governments at once? And when it arrived over Chongqing and ultimately murdered 32 million people in a single moment it had shown it was willing to use violence. So, for a brief moment, the nations of the world stopped and agreed that maybe oil rights and international disagreements over types of rule were not worth continuing. At least until we sorted out this whole affair with a single ship.
Who could have guessed the Zeroth would need more than one ship?
The Zeroth had been introduced to a planet that seemed uniquely equipped for war. Their fighters were small, and fast, but they only had small laser weapons that required being within a hundred meters to work, and had no idea what a “beyond visual range” missile was, or what being radar locked looked like. And yet, when American F-15s equipped with swarms of AIM-120 missiles flew alongside Russian SU-35s and Chinese J-16 equipped with their own BVR missiles, the small alien fighters didn’t even know they were about to be destroyed. On the ground Canadian snipers coordinated with British intelligence and German engineers to pick off the armies of drones from distances that were impossible for the drones to comprehend. They were stronger in every way than the flesh of the humans but died the same to .50 caliber hole in their center mass. All the while Pucará kept them distracted with constant ground attacks backed by American A-10s. And then, there was the matter of the shields, for a single nuclear weapon was no problem. But a dozen Indian Agni-P missiles slammed into it, supported by B-2 Spirits and TU-160s and their payloads, bringing hellfire that overwhelmed the alien craft.
Humanity watched as from the skies fell one ship.
The ship mostly survived, as did most of its crew. Engineers set to work quickly reverse engineering the technology, and beginning the construction of their own ships. Soon the land rush to conquer the stars began by the various nations, and colonies popped up all over the Sol System and beyond. Eventually, through careful interrogation and learning to navigate the stars, humanity found the homeworld of the Zeroth.
And they didn’t only send one ship.
Republished with permission from the author, AloneDoughnut. Image created using Stable Diffusion