by Gary Ross Hoffman

Earth: 2095 CE

It was a beautiful day for a picnic in the park. Casper Lang and his wife Shiela had opted to spread a blanket on the grass instead of using one of the park's dilapidated wooden picnic tables. They'd had their sandwiches, coleslaw, and iced tea (Casper alone had delved into the pickles), and were now relaxing. At least, Casper and Shiela were. Their daughter Tessa was giggling and running around with the family pooch, a mongrel with the unlikely name "Champ".

The Langs, and indeed, everyone else on the planet were completely unaware of the deadly menace that was watching them.

The immense Procyon warship hovered above the Earth, lethal, but invisible. It's mission was not a friendly one. It was there to make a final determination regarding the humans on the planet below.

The warship's captain left his command shell and slithered across the command deck to the shell occuppied by the scientist/philosopher.

"Well? Report!" the captain demanded.

"I'm afraid that the scouts were correct," replied the scientist/philosopher, peeking cautiously from his shell. "The humans are a potential threat to us. They have potent weaponry and they are on the verge of space travel. Prudence demands that we destroy them."

The captain's antennae twitched as he considered the scientist/philosopher's advice. Prudence may demand such action, but the ultimate decision was his alone.

"Obliterating the whole planet would be wasteful" the captain mused, more to himself than the scientist/philosopher.

He activated his intercom nodule and spoke. "Weapons officer! Deploy the Mutation Device!"

Turning back to the scientist/philosopher, he spoke in a softened voice. "The Mutation Device will destroy mankind quickly enough. It might even give some more benign species an evolutionary boost. Our Procyon colonial forces can return in a few millenia. Perhaps the planet will be useful to us by then."

The belly of the warship slowly opened. The blackness inside was slowly replaced by a horrible dull redness. The weapon was launched. The redness decended. It was without form, but spread wider and wider as it approached the Earth. Once it entered the atmosphere, everything on the planet capable of screaming in pain did so.

Mankind died.

Life on Earth went through feverish mutations.

Time passed.

Procyon 4: Several millenia later

The massive Earth fleet continued to bombard the planet's surface. The plasma and debris that had once been Procyon's mighty warships could no longer protect the home world.

Much of the surface of Procyon 4 was now uninhabitable. The power grids, transportations hubs, and other infrastructure systems had all been obliterated.

And yet, the bombs continued to fall. Rockets continued to smash into the planet, wreaking even more destruction.

Being especially hardened, the Supreme Headquarters Shell was just about the that only place that still had power. Inside, the communications officer, wounded, but still in his personal shell, called out to the Leader.

"The Earth fleet commander is sending us a vid-o-vox! He demands that you reply in person!"

The Procyon Leader slithered to the communications officer, whose shell was being patched by a medic. He steadied himself, then spoke: "I am the Leader of Procyon 4. Most of us are dead. Your assault upon us was viscious and unprovoked! We do not understand your intentions nor your motivations! Why have you done this?"

The vid-o-vox image of the Earthling gave an electronic shudder, then steadied. The Earth fleet commander spoke. "Our intention is to kill every last one of you, destroy everything you have created, and then eradicate every vestiage of your existence. Our motivation? Revenge! This is retribution for what you did on Earth thousands of years ago!"

The Procyon Leader, shocked, quickly regained his composure. "Our use of the Mutation Device was responsible for your evolution into sentient beings!" he countered. "We wiped out Mankind, which cleared the way for your own development! You are not humans, how can you claim retribution?"

"It's a matter of loyalty. True, we are not Mankind." The face on the vid-o-vox screen split into a grim smile, showing dazzling pointed teeth. "We were, however, Man's best friend!"

Grand Admiral Woofie Lang abruptly closed the communication channel. He looked down at the treasured antique he had brought with him, a carefully preserved photograph of the Lang pack: Three humans and a canine.

"Beloved ancestor Champ," he said softly. "Your vow is about to be fulfilled."

"Communications! Signal Vengeance squadron to pull back and re-arm. Have Good Boy squadron take up position and continue bombardment with planet-busters!"

© 2022 Gary Ross Hoffman
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