Translator: Lucia Rose
Editor: Nine Knights
Back then, no one actually believed the world would end. Not until the year 2012 happened.
That was the year an enormous airship from outer space plummeted down to the Earth’s surface, bringing about a 7.7-magnitude earthquake with seismic waves that could be felt more than 1,000 miles from its hypocenter and a gigantic tsunami that was like the reveille of a war bugle.
Following this event, extraterrestrial beings swarmed the planet like a pack of angry hornets, devastating the world’s metropolises and taking its unprepared denizens by surprise. In the blink of an eye, the human population was cut by more than half, and everyone struggled for survival.
Such was the time when skeptics finally began to acknowledge that once ‘too-absurd’ prophecy; that one prophecy which the vast majority used to dismiss as a conspiracy theory, an old wives’ tale, or just a story to scare mischievous children to sleep.
Doomsday loomed upon the world, and humanity’s fate was reduced to just one of two futures: one in which they survived… or one in which they all died.
As always, the desire for survival was stronger than the feeling of hopelessness.
Pandora’s box was opened! The leaders of the world lifted the sanction on nuclear warfare, and the remaining half of humanity banded together to develop stronger nuclear weapons that could beat back the invaders. Many years later, humanity finally succeeded in pushing its unwanted visitors to the moon.
However, the war didn’t end simply because there were no longer aliens on Earth.
For one, the alien invaders continued launching attacks on the human race to get ahold of Earth’s resources. Due to the constant fighting, humanity lost many of its elite soldiers. The truth of the matter was that humanity’s state-of-the-art machinery was no match for the far more advanced alien technology, and it was apparent that with each passing day, the alien invaders grew more relentless while human forces continued to weaken.
The last remaining foothold humanity had between the Earth and the moon was a space station placed near the latter. It housed humanity’s last resort — 3 thermonuclear warheads.
The War Department planned to use these warheads to bomb the alien mother ship stationed on the moon to annihilate the enemy once and for all. However, were these warheads really to be launched, the Earth would also suffer catastrophic consequences. Hence, the military was unable to use them no matter how desperate they were.
Thereafter, staggering amounts of labor and resources were expended and piled up over the decades to preserve the stalemate between humans and aliens. After suffering countless failures and sacrifices, humanity finally established a dozen or so fortress-like cities, and the world’s capitals were remodeled into airtight structures sustained by biological circulation systems. Technology seemed to be advancing by leaps and bounds; however, compared to the inhabitants of the moon, humanity was still far, far behind their alien adversaries.
One day in the year 2052, the sky was riddled with explosions as friendly forces engaged in battle with alien aircraft above K11 Air Base. Lieutenant General Montel, the base’s commander, was forced to make a difficult decision.
Five allied jets were fighting against twelve alien aircraft. To expect the allied forces to win was unrealistic, if not impossible — not only were they hopelessly outnumbered, but the current speed of alien aircraft exceeded that of human aircraft by over ten percent.
“Lieutenant General Montel! Shouldn’t we open the entrance to let them in? They won’t be able to hold on for much longer!” The extremely nervous liaison officer looked towards the imposing lieutenant general with fearful eyes.
Silence blanketed the entire control room. Every pair of eyes was glued to the display on the large screen. Mere seconds later, one of the allied jets was hit by an enemy attack and spiraled to the ground, exploding in a wreath of flames.
At the sight, Lieutenant General Montel shook his head.
“Let them in? If they can’t throw off the intruders, then those alien aircraft tailing them will enter the fortress, and the consequences would be catastrophic. We won’t be able to guarantee the safety of the citizens. Do you want us to repeat the tragedy that happened at Fort Shesmin two years ago?”
Lieutenant General Montel tightly clenched his fists; his nails dug deeply into the calluses of his palms.
He needn’t say more. Between the lives of four allied fighters and thousands of citizens in the air base, it was clear to everyone which was more important. Helping the allied fighters was a mistake; a tragedy waiting to happen.
A resounding bang signaled another allied jet was hit, and someone in the control room cried out in alarm.
Now, only three of the five friendly fighters remained.
It was apparent to everyone the fighters’ annihilation was only a matter of time, but it seemed this time would arrive sooner than anticipated as the enemies closed in on them.
The control room was deathly silent. Everyone mourned the lives of their comrades. As if to spare the lost souls one last act of kindness, Lieutenant General Montel said, “If they can create enough distance between themselves and their pursuers, I will let them in.”
This was the biggest concession Lieutenant General Montel was willing to make. However, it was one which was most likely never to occur.
The liaison officer relayed this message verbatim to the allied forces, and the other side responded curtly. “Understood.”
This one-word answer was like a knife being plunged and twisted in the hearts of everyone present, and the officers in the control room all lowered their heads.
Having compassion and, at the same time, prioritizing one’s duty had always been an impossible feat. More often than not, those two virtues stood at opposite ends of the spectrum, and the scales almost always tipped towards the latter.
“If our fighters can return in time to assist them, perhaps they might be saved.” Montel felt a little lump of saliva clogging up his throat.
Suddenly, from behind Montel there echoed the sound of unhurried footsteps, and with it, a cool voice sliced through the suffocating atmosphere in the room.
“What would change even if our fighters did arrive? We were never a match for the aliens. All we would be increasing with reinforcements is the amount of live target practice alloted to the enemy.”
What was said by their visitor was true.
Whether in terms of speed or machinery, the aircraft they had today were worlds beyond the ones they used back in 2012; however, as per their recent data, the mortality rate sustained by each team of fighters dispatched to the battlefields repeatedly peaked at one third. The remaining two thirds who were able to survive and return after each mission proved to possess incomparable skills and were even considered invaluable elites.
However, even the elite teams couldn’t be sure of their fates come the next battle.
Montel looked at the young and handsome major general and inadvertently revealed a bitter smile as he greeted the visitor, “It’s you. Major General Claude Sien.”
Claude Sien was only 28 years old, but his ability to achieve great heights in the military field at such a young age was due neither to a well-established family background nor to his elegant and handsome appearance. Instead, it was attributable to his intelligence and the talented team of specialists he led.
Two years ago, Claude Sien obtained his third PhD in space physics. Coincidentally, this was the exact year humankind stumbled upon its first intact alien aircraft, but the mechanism of the aircraft couldn’t be easily analyzed since its technology was far beyond the capacity of the human mind and imagination.
The then young Claude Sien and his team took on the project and shocked the whole world when, as a result of their research, they were able to boost the speed of human fighting aircraft to ninety percent that of alien aircraft.
They also upgraded the functionality of human fighting craft, and, as a result, both the defensive and offensive models were able to reach capacities nearly as high as those of alien aircraft.
Blue Crisis was the name of the fighter craft his team had designed, and it was currently being used extensively by the air force in all parts of the world. Thanks to his contributions, Claude Sien was promoted and jumped from major to major general. His standing improved to the extent that even the other major generals and marshals who were older than him had to show a little courtesy whenever they saw him.
“Our allied forces cannot hold on for a minute longer.” The corners of Claude’s mouth were curved up into a subtle smile. Though such an act initially looked elegant, it carried with it cruel implications. However, no one could rebuke him, for what he said was the truth.
It was at this moment one of the allied fighter jets engaged in battle swiveled and flew in a dexterous and beautiful wide arc; it flashed by like a snap of lightning, and in that split second, two of the alien aircraft formerly circling it collided together and created a massive explosion.
“Oh!” There was a cry of disbelief in the control room.
Two seconds later, someone began to clap.
Though they all knew the fighters were doomed to perish, the fact that one of them had managed to bring out such a beautiful counterattack had earned all their sincere admiration.
Claude raised an eyebrow, “So, there is finally someone capable of piloting the Blue Crisis well. For the return fire just now, I give full marks.”
“Is now the appropriate time to be making sarcastic comments? The Blue Crisis was your creation, after all. Perhaps you know something — anything at all — that can help them survive this situation?” Even though Lieutenant General Montel had long ago familiarized himself with Claude’s cynicism, the indifference that the major general was displaying at present infuriated him nonetheless.
“It’s no use,” Claude’s words had barely fallen when they lost another fighter. Now, there were only two allied fighter jets left.
“No…” A small, distressed sound filled the control room.
Everyone wanted to do something to help their two remaining comrades. However, they were equally as helpless.
Suddenly, the fighter jet that had previously performed the counterattack began to hurtle, nose first, in a spiral trajectory toward the ground. Doing so, it narrowly avoided the laser missiles fired by the two alien aircraft tailing behind it, and right before it hit the ground — at an unprecedented speed that was faster than the blink of an eye — it executed a large ninety-degree turn; its tail swept the ground and left behind a large cloud of dust.
Everyone exclaimed in wonder.
In a synchronized motion, the two alien aircraft that had once been furiously pursuing it crashed straight into the ground like a well-played duet. All of this happened before them like magic.
“Unbelievable!” The liaison officer’s eyes almost bugged out at the sight on the screen.
“Lieutenant General… can’t we save them?”
“As long as they can throw off those enemy aircraft, I will let them in,” Lieutenant General Montel reiterated.
He was now approaching seventy years of age and had experienced many things in his life. He was a veteran, one of those soldiers who had survived the great calamity that befell humanity in the year 2012, and though the allied fighter’s counterattack just now had been very beautiful, it was not enough to move him to abandon his duties. He could not risk endangering the lives of civilians just to save two people.
“It’s a pity. The allied forces have a very talented pilot.” Claude, who was standing beside him, relinquished his smile.
“However, there are still eight alien aircraft left; the odds of their survival are too low,” Claude added.
He had just finished speaking when one of the friendly fighters was hit by an attack. It exploded with a loud bang, and the people in the control room closed their eyes with resignation.
“He is the only one left now,” Claude said as he walked behind the liaison officer and removed the communicator.
“Tell us your name.” Claude directed this into the microphone.
“D*mn it! If I tell you my name, will you send a fighter to save me?!”
The party on the other line sounded agitated; his youthful voice barely concealed his fury.
“I won’t. We only have three fighters left at the base; the rest were dispatched to St. Louis. They are hundreds of kilometers away. That place also needs assistance.” Claude’s reply was merciless.
The only remaining fighter was now surrounded by alien aircraft.
Amid a barrage of laser missiles, he narrowly evaded each one, slipping through the cracks among them like a thread through a needle hole. Each attack he successfully evaded became more perilous than the last.
“Your name?” Claude’s face remained unperturbed. It was as if this conversation was only meant to distract the young pilot.
In the next second, the fighter circled around an alien aircraft and brought it down with one missile. His aim was noticeably remarkable.
“Livy… Livy Van Perle! You better f*cking remember my name!”
At an extremely fast pace, Livy maneuvered his plane in a giant circle that swept across the air; he then veered in an unpredictable upward and downward motion while ejecting two missiles in succession. The alien aircraft he had been targeting evaded the first one but was hit by the second one. No one knew if it was just a coincidence or if Livy had deliberately led their enemy into a trap by firing two shots.
“Splendid! Six more left. You alone were able to take care of half the enemies, so I presume you can defeat them all by yourself.”
Hearing Claude’s statement, Lieutenant General Montel suddenly spoke in aghast.
“Claude! Don’t be like this! What that young man has achieved is already beyond impressive! If… if…” Lieutenant General Montel suddenly choked on his words; the emotions he was feeling was making it hard for him to breathe.
“If he can survive this time, he will be the elite of the elites.” Claude had not yet finished speaking when Livy’s fighter jet turned sideways and soared through the cracks between the rocks in the canyon. Although it was a beautiful maneuver, it wasn’t enough to stymie the enemies’ pursuit of him.
Livy cursed. “D*mn it! If only this sh*tty fighter could go any faster, I would have already smashed those idiots into pieces!”
Exasperated, he added: “It’s so hot! I’m going to die of heat first!”
“That’s because once the Blue Crisis flies at max speed for over five hours, it starts to overheat, and within the next twenty minutes, the oxygen reserves will also run out. To be honest, I don’t know if you will be able to hold out.” Claude informed Livy.
…That howl sounded almost tragic. “Who the h*ll designed this sh*tty piece of crap?!”
“Apologies, it was me.” The corners of Claude’s eyes were twinkling, as if he found chatting with this young man who was currently teetering on the brink of life and death quite amusing.
“……I’ll kill you!”
As if having given up on everything, Livy suddenly charged ferociously towards the fortress. Those watching the display in the control room couldn’t help but lean back; their eyes widened in unison.
However, just as Livy was about to hit the solid walls of the fortress, he soared around it like a comet, drawing out a graceful line akin to a dance, while the alien aircraft behind him, which also tried to veer away, smashed against the aircraft that had come up behind it. They weren’t able to change direction in time and fell towards their demise. Both aircraft crumpled up against the top of the fortress’s outer wall, and the deafening noise created by the friction of metal scraps caused everyone to hastily cover their ears.
“When the f*ck are you guys going to open the passage and let me in?!”
Livy’s voice boomed from the communicator. It sounded like his patience had run out as well.
Outside the fortress, four alien aircraft remained.
“Lieutenant General Montel, there are only four enemy aircraft left now,” Claude informed him. He looked towards the solemn-faced lieutenant general with a smile, as if somehow hinting at something.
“Prepare Alpha Missiles I and II!” Lieutenant General Montel’s command seemed to rouse the entire control room from a deep slumber, and everyone gathered back at their workstations.
“Livy! Hold on!” Despite knowing Livy would not be able to hear it, the liaison officer still decided to utter this statement of encouragement.
Alpha I was launched, but the alien aircraft dodged it swiftly. The missile was only able to graze the aircraft’s left wing; nonetheless, it caused the aircraft to wobble unstably, and Livy took that opportunity to shoot it down with a well-placed missile.
Alpha II was then loaded, but before the command to fire it could be given, Claude said, “I will calculate the coordinates of the launch myself.”
He sat in front of the computer, and everybody wore a surprised expression. Quietly, they waited for the results of this time’s launch.
“What do you intend to do?! I’m hot! I can’t breathe!”
“I want to take care of the rest of the enemies at once, with just one missile. Can you help me do that?”
“Just say that you want to blow me up together with these alien b*tches! Fine, then! Try it if you have the balls!”
Having said his piece, Livy whirled his fighter in an S-shaped trajectory before his bearings could catch up with his sight and aimed precisely at the skies. He raced towards it without any hesitation as if forsaking everything, including his life, in his mad rush towards the sun.
Just as Livy’s ‘performance’ had drawn out the remaining alien aircraft into a straight line, Claude pressed the button in his hand that launched the missile.
Alpha II tore through the skies and went through the bodies of the alien craft. The ensuing explosion seemed as though it could ignite the skies as fire spread through the air in a wide embrace.
“Oh, my God! Where’s Livy?” A voice in the control room asked, and everyone quickly stood up and moved closer to the screen. They searched for Livy while waiting for the smoke to clear.
Could it be that that young man had also been caught up in the explosion?
Just then, the dense smoke faded away, and a fighter plane glided through the skies and traced a pitch arc through the air as if it were severing space itself.
“Open the passage, Lieutenant General. That child is dying of heat.” The smile that tugged at Claude’s lips was now bright and genuine.
The passage was slowly opened to welcome the young hero, but it had barely parted wide enough to allow for the fuselage of an aero craft to slip inside when Livy’s fighter jet rushed in. It scratched against the runway and caused sparks to fly in all directions. Ultimately, it left trail marks as it slid down the passageway before finally stopping with a loud screech.
“Hurry up and lower the temperature!” A command was released, and mechanical officers hurriedly ran towards the aircraft and sprayed the surface of the warplane with cooling fluid.
The hatch door opened, and a young man drenched in sweat crawled out from inside and collapsed to the ground as he struggled to breathe.
Livy felt nauseous. He started spilling his guts on the pavement while stars filled his eyes.
After vomiting, Livy suddenly couldn’t keep his bearings.
He felt as though he were about to faint. It seemed as if something was choking his throat and preventing his lungs from expanding. Before he could sink deeper into the ground, a pair of hands grabbed his arms and steadied him.
“Calm down! Don’t be afraid!” Someone told him as they pressed an oxygen mask against his face. Another medic ran towards him and injected him with a drug.
“He stayed in the overheated cabin for too long! We should immediately begin emergency treatment!” One of the medics spoke, and Livy was carried away in a stretcher. It was just as well, for the young man no longer had any more strength left to stand up.
Watching from a distance, Claude observed as every single person exhausted all their strength in trying to rescue and attend to the young man who had, against all odds, successfully evaded death and even defeated twelve alien invaders on his own.
“I think I’ve found the right candidate,” Claude whispered.
Beside Claude, Lieutenant General Montel looked at him in surprise and uncertainty, “What?”
“I think I found the perfect candidate to pilot the Pure-Hued Lady.”
The author has something to say:
The science fiction background of this text is just for show; aliens won’t come out of the cabin……
It’s just like how the bomb disposal elites have never told us exactly what the rebels look like……