The alien Travalkalanar and Earth were at an impasse. The aliens wanted slaves for their asteroid mines and humans didn’t want to be slaves. The Travalkalanar needed slaves with a certain degree of intelligence to operate their machines. Humans had that. While life-bearing worlds were common enough, sufficiently evolved life-forms were rarer. The aliens needed the humans.
Until the Travalkalanar encountered Earth they’d never seen a species with a tech base more advanced than say, Earth during 1911. During most of their exploits they’d enslaved stone-age peoples. So when they launched collection shuttles to just “harvest some workers” they were quite surprised when the shuttles were destroyed by Earth’s high-altitude interceptor missiles.
Earth didn’t…yet…have missiles to destroy the Travalkalanar spaceships in high orbit, and the alien slaver shuttles couldn’t survive a landing. Travalkalanar could’ve hurled some city-killing asteroids to make their point, but that didn’t fit their mindset. To them, that would be like burning part of your crop to begin a harvest. It didn’t make sense. The Interstellar Cold War had begun.
All this meant the Travalkalanar needed to do something they weren’t used to. They had to get tricky.
Their scientists fabricated a new type of orbital shuttle with Stealth characteristics. They had never done this before but the boffins claimed it couldn’t fail. Sure enough, when the shuttles landed safely it appeared the scientists were correct.
One alien Special Ops team dismounted their craft in the farmland of Eastern Washington state. Quickly they laid their “human” trap. If they couldn’t harvest Humans en masse, they could still acquire them piecemeal.
“Okay, so how does this trap work?” asked Avinkerata.
“It’s simple,” grinned Team Leader Heranatar. “The trap mimics a simple trading stand for rural Humans. That sign there translates to ‘Free Stuff.’ Apparently, this will draw Capitalistic Humans like flies to honey. When they stand before this ‘mini-market’ a trap door opens and the human falls into a harvesting container where it is sedated. In mere seconds the trap cycles and is ready for another customer. It’s beautiful!”
“Will some die while piled in the harvester?”
“It’s a good way to strain out the weak slaves.”
“Won’t the humans realize there’s a trap present when tribe members start disappearing.”
Heranatar scoffed. “That’s why we’re in a rural area. Trappings will occur without anyone else seeing the operation. Besides, these backward humans won’t figure it out before about a hundred have been harvested.”
“Backward Humans? Aren’t these the guys who destroyed our orbital shuttles?”
“If they were advanced they’d have spaceflight!” growled Heranatar.
“I’ve been reading the intelligence briefing. It seems that humans possess all the technology for spaceflight. They’ve just been spending all their on efforts on ever better ways to murder each other. Maybe they’re just good at war.”
“Listen to me, son. Advanced peoples colonize nearby planetary bodies as soon as they are able. Slaves waste time fighting amongst themselves. Humans don’t have spaceflight, ergo, Humans are slaves!”
“I suppose you’re right.”
“I am right!”
“I sure hope the humans can’t see us. That would give the game away.”
“Not a chance. The boffins say our disguises precisely mimic terrestrial animals.”
Avinkerata watched a rabbit hop past. He scratched his head. “How can we be sure?”
“They got us on this planet safely didn’t they? Stop worrying. You’ll strain your carapace.”
About two hundred yards away, Lieutenant Jason Hill joined a small team of Green Berets at their hidden position. “How we doing Swenson?”
Sergeant Swenson never moved his binocs. “Just fine, sir. Still observing.”
“You ever find their shuttle?”
“Not exactly. Damned thing must be invisible.”
“Oh, that really sucks.”
“Not really. The idiots stayed in constant contact with their ship the whole way down. I think Stealth is something new for them. It was easy to track them by their radio transmissions in the clear. We stopped looking for the shuttle because we know where it is to within twenty yards.”
“Excellent work, Swenson! Okay, the alien troopers might still be hard to find. HQ says they’re disguised as animals.”
“Yeah, they are disguised,” confirmed Swenson.
“Well, that just sucks again,” sighed Hill.
“Not really. We’ve got them in sight.”
“You do? How can you be sure?”
Swenson offered the binocs and pointed. “See that six-foot tall turtle standing beside the seven-foot tall rabbit?”
Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-69/