Challenge #01323-C228: We'll Let You Terraform Mars For Free

Both from this post:

1) I really want a science fiction story where aliens come to invade earth and effortlessly wipe out humanity, only to be fought off by the wildlife.

They were expecting military resistance. They weren’t counting on bears.

2) (Description of monstrous animal, weighs 3 tons, runs 30kph, bites 8000 newtons. Just as fast in water. Only some crewmembers who dropped all their gear and ran survived.)

"You later describe the creature to one of the humans you captured, wanting to know the name of the monstrosity that will haunt your nightmares for cycles to come.

The human smiles as it speaks a single word, slowly and distinctly, in its barbaric tongue.

“Hippopotamus.” -- Gallifreya

[AN: I love that post. I contributed to it a couple of times, too :D]


Biological warfare is as old as the concept of hurling corpses over an enemy's fortifications in order to spread disease. And it was certainly nothing new to the Tyrvaki. They had honed it to a razor's edge. They had selections of plagues that would wipe out all intelligent life on a planet so they could move in.

It was the ultimate in weapons that killed the people yet left the buildings standing.

Or it was. Until they picked on a small, blue-green planet in orbit around a lacklustre star.

First... the chosen plagues they seeded into the planet didn't quite work. Pandemic after pandemic, the native cogniscents had procedures to curtail it. That is, when they weren't just plain immune.

It was infuriating.

The Tyrvaki settlers were impatient, of course, so the waiting colony ships sent down the military to pacify what natives were left and send them running out of the cities.

What they found was that the natives had already fled the cities and the majority were staying in isolated pockets and subsisting off the landscape. The few that remained behind surrendered. Seemingly already docile.

They had a multitude of barbaric tongues. Nothing like the musical ululations of Tyrvakk. But they did seem eager enough to please.

At least they were... before the very wildlife attacked.

Without the native cogniscents to keep them in check, the fauna proliferated. Omnivores lived off their garbage. Herbivores lived off their wrecked gardens. Carnivores lived off the herbivores. And all of the above seemed willing to try the Tyrvaki out as a new food source.

And worse, there was a plague spreading amongst the settlers that seemed to originate from blood-sucking insects. People were dying because of insect backwash.

Then they came. Large as some of the primitive human vehicles. Covered in fur. Growling and snarling and made of pure muscle. Their claws tore easily through Tyrvaki fortifications. No food store was safe from them. And it took an entire squadron and their accumulated firepower to stun it enough to dump in back in the forest from whence it came.

The humans found this amusing. But of course, they gave their young these... bears... as childhood playthings.

Invading Earth may have been a mistake.


The humans insisted that their bears enjoyed forested areas. Except for a polar variant that liked vast expanses of ice. Therefore, it was entirely logical to resettle in an area that was as far as they could get from both.

The Tyrvaki chose a river delta roughly near the equator, situated in one of the larger land masses and conveniently without very much in the way of foliage.

They thought they could terraform the area to suit themselves. After all, the Tyrvaki were the most advanced and civilised people in known space. They had conquered all planets they came across. They would bend this one to their will as well.

Security patrols began to go missing. For months. Rumours abounded of a silent killer that struck without being seen. Even robot probes vanished.

One lucky survivor returned. Without his armour. Without his weapons. Without his pack. She was bruised and battered and near to exhaustion. But finally, the mysterious killer had an identification.

They came from the water. They were large and grey. Rounded, not furry. But they had a groaning, growling call. They could run at a little over eight Distance Units per second, and they crushed the Tyrvaki vehicles under their weight. They had to weigh more than twenty-seven hundred Weight Units.

Sor'keth had witnessed the beast biting through Tyrvaki combat armour to crush the leg of an unlucky soldier. Scientists calculated that their bite pressure had to be eight thousand newtons.

The water was not safe. The riversides were not safe.

They confronted one of the giggling humans in their midst. These cogniscents seemed to delight in the misfortunes of the Tyrvaki.

"What is this beast?" demanded the colonial commander.

The human spoke in their barbaric tongue. Just one word. "Hippopotamus."

This planet was going to be one of the difficult ones.

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