The Galactic Hegemony has been around a long time, and it likes stability—the kind of stability that member species like the aggressive, carnivorous Shongairi tend to disturb. So when the Hegemony Survey Force encountered a world whose so-called sentients—"humans," they called themselves—"humans," they called themselves—were almost as bad as the Shongairi themselves, it seemed reasonable to use the Shongairi to neutralize them before they could become a second threat to galactic peace. And if the Shongairi took a few knocks in the process, all the better.
No Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanity's cities like in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, more than half the human race has died.
Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevshy, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize scattered survivors without getting killed. And in the southeastern United States, firearms instructor and former Marine Dave Dvorak finds himself at the center of a growing network of resistance—putting his extended family at lethal risk, but what else can you do?
On the face of it, Buchevsky's and Dvorak's chances look bleak, as do prospects for the rest of the surviving human race. But it may well be that the Shongairi and the Hegemony alike have underestimated the inhabitants of that strange planet called Earth...
The Aliens Have Conquered Earth. That's Just the Beginning of Their Troubles.
Fleet Commander Thikair looked at Ship Commander Ahzmer in astonishment so deep it was sheer incomprehension.
"I'm... I'm sorry, Sir." The flagship's CO sounded like someone trapped in an amazingly bad dream, Thikair thought distantly. "The report just came in. I'm... afraid it's confirmed, Sir."
"All of them?" Thikair shook himself. "Everyone assigned to the base?"
"All of them," Ahzmer confirmed heavily. "And all the test subjects have disappeared."
"Dainthar," Thikair half-whispered. He stared at the ship commander, then shook himself again, harder.
"How did they do it?"
"Sir, I don't know. No one knows. It doesn't look like anything we've seen the humans do before."
"What are you talking about?" Thikair's voice was harder, impatient. He knew much of his irritation was the product of his own shock, but that didn't change the fact that what Ahzmer had just said made no sense.
"It doesn't look like whoever it was used weapons at all, Fleet Commander." Ahzmer didn't sound as if he expected Thikair to believe him, but the ship commander went on doggedly. "It's more like some sort of wild beasts got through every security system without sounding a single alarm. There are no bullet wounds, no knife wounds, no sign of any kind of weapon. Our people were just... torn apart."
"That doesn't make senese," Thikair protested.
"No, Sir, it doesn't. But it's what happened."
The two of them stared at each other, then Thikair drew a deep breath.
"Senior officers conference, two hours," he said flatly.