Didn’t Bleed Red

I’m trying something different for the serialisation of my current work in progress. Didn’t Bleed Red is being serialised at Tapas, a comics and prose platform for mobile and web readers. As usual, supporters on Patreon get to see episodes around a month before they’re generally available.

Here’s the prologue-

The ships appeared from nowhere, or so it seemed. The world’s governments had known there was something coming for a month, but no-one could tell them what it was. They were as surprised as everyone else by the shapes that arrived in orbit. Simple platonic solids from a distance, up close the scoring of heat dissipation trenches and hangar doors, and the dimpling of sensor arrays and weaponry became clear.

They hung over the planet for half a day, visible from the ground as they caught the sun. Then the smaller ships arrived, and the attack began.

Space Force lasted seconds, its satellites swatted away before the order had been given to release their nuclear payloads. Conventional forces fared better. In the air, fighter pilots became aces as they met the first wave of the attack. But the alien ships kept on coming, and were joined by larger, tougher vessels. Despite mounting losses, the air forces of Earth kept on downing invaders, but could not hold the mass of them back.

On the ground, as the landing craft disgorged all manner of armed creatures, infantry and armoured divisions fought as bravely as their comrades in the air. The aliens had more powerful weapons, and were heavily armoured. But they weren’t invulnerable. If they could be made to bleed, then there would be a way to kill them. Many did die, but they took at least as many human soldiers with them, and were soon replaced.

Earth was losing the war of attrition. Prime Ministers, Presidents and dictators around the world considered launching nuclear weapons at the key landing spots. It seemed their only means of rebalancing the battle on the ground. Hopefully it would be a harsh enough blow that their remaining forces could repulse the attack.

The decision was made. A timetable was hurriedly agreed, and fingers hovered over the launch buttons.

Just then, the invasion fleet started to drop from the sky. The gigantic ships in orbit went dark. The spherical one had a bite taken out of it by a huge explosion. On the ground, the menagerie of troops fell into disarray. Many collapsed, or froze in place, trapped inside the armour that had protected them moments before. Some threw down their weapons and cowered in surrender. Others turned their guns and blades on creatures which had, moments before, been their comrades. A number fought on, but their depleted and confused ranks were soon bested. A large number fled, and a significant number of them have yet to be tracked down.

A disc shaped ship, smallest of the first arrivals, dropped from orbit and tumbled into the Western Pacific. Belly flopping into the ocean, it drove a minor tsunami toward the Chinese coastline. It floats in international waters, a new island of exotic alloys and unknown technologies, circled by ships from all the world’s navies, awaiting investigation.

No-one in power knows why the invasion came to such an abrupt end, though many want to take credit for it. Supercomputers and intelligence analysts are working hard to crack even the slightest bit of the spike in communications amongst the aliens that presaged the collapse. It must have some bearing upon what happened, but they can’t yet tell what. Everyone awaits the rebooting of the orbiting platonics, a second wave of fighters and troop carriers, or some other terror that they cannot imagine. Something must be set to happen.

Until it does, the clean up must go on. Rubble is being cleared, plans are being made for cities to be rebuilt. Refugees are being found shelter, and provided with food and water. Elsewhere, dead aliens are being dissected, and live ones are being examined. Their languages are being learnt, where possible, and they are being questioned. Their craft and weapons are being gathered up and dismantled. Reverse engineered and reworked, some of their equipment will be used against them, should they try again.

As yet, the question of where the fleet came from has not been answered. The reason for the invasion is unknown, the wide array of differing morphologies and biologies of their army unexplained. But humanity defeated them once, surely it can resolve all of these questions in time.

Meanwhile, a tiny group knows some of the secrets of the invaders. They, with help, were the ones who halted the invasion and saved the planet. But they dare not reveal themselves, because they also know that the aliens arrived years before, and have implanted their agents, and cultivated traitors, at the highest levels of Earth’s governments.

They must lay low until they can be sure they and the world are truly safe, avoiding the alien and human forces hunting them down. And they have to help a friend who is no longer completely human, and is fearful of losing her identity, but who could hold the key to the ultimate safety of the planet.

This is their story.