Astropithecairos - Complete

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Astropithecairos - Complete

Postby Miki Yamuri » Fri Mar 11, 2022 10:15 am

Title: Astropithecairos - Pt1


Tina Manos - 18yo College Student

John Manos - Tina's Dad

Vivan Manos - Tina's Mom

Donna Benson - 18yo Best Friend

Brian Benson - Donna's Dad

Deanna Benson - Donna's mom

All Characters played by: Miki Yamuri and Jennie Flint

Scene: Out in the back yard of the farm

Tina Manos and her best friend Donna Benson were lying on their backs in the dark watching the shooting stars of the most recent meteor shower. They shrieked and giggled with each bright streak that crossed the sky. As time went by and the peak approached, there were many long tracers crossing the sky brightly.

Suddenly, one of the streaks became more than a streak. The girls watched as it grew into a very bright ball of light, then streak across above them, to land just over the nearby hill in a huge pyrotechnic display. The girls hear the boom and saw the bright light of the explosion.

"Was ... was that a shooting star?" asked Donna, looking at Tina. "A whatchamacallit, a meteorite? You know, when they hit the ground?"

She looked over toward the hill, where the light was rapidly fading. Now there was no light in the sky other than the stars and the slow-moving lights of high-flying airplanes as the shower had passed.

Donna's eyes suddenly got wide. "Don't your neighbors live over that hill?" she asked. "I hope they're OK!"

Tina stands up and says excitedly, "Stay here for a minute, I'm gonna get a coupla flashlights and we're gonna go and find that thing. I think NASA or something will pay us money for it. Besides, we have to check on the neighbors too."

Tina ran inside for a few minutes to return with 2 very bright torch type flashlights. She gave one to Donna and hurried off across the fence toward the dimming glow of the impact.

The two girls easily ran up the hill, then over the fence and into the neighboring farm's property. With their flashlights they quickly spotted the dissipating plume of dust that the impact had kicked up and followed it to the spot.

"Whew," said Donna, "it's nowhere near your neighbors' house. It just squished some of their crops, whatever these are. Are these soybean plants? Anyway, what's it look like?"

She pointed her flashlight toward the impact point, where there was a ring of no plants. Taking a few steps closer, they could both see that there was a shallow crater in the ground about six feet across, and 10 feet deep.

"Huh?" Donna wondered. "Where's the rock?" Sure enough, there didn't appear to be any kind of meteor in the center of the crater. "Did it bounce or something?"

Tina shined her bright torch into the pit, there were many sparkly shards left of the impactor, but nothing the girls could pick up or carry with them. Tina scanned the area, the only things visible, were inside the bright circle of light her torch produced.

Suddenly, Tina stops for a split second. On the edge of the woods, high up in a tree ... she thought she saw something. It was really strange. She could have sworn she saw a large ... thing with wings and a tail ... then it seemed to vanish.

Tina says in a soft whisper as she points, "Donna? Di ... did you see that?"

The 2 girls could hear the rushing flap of large wings as something seemed to fly along the edge of the large field.

"I dunno, I didn't see anything, but I heard ... sounds like you got some big owls around here," Donna said, pointing her flashlight near where Tina was pointing hers but not seeing anything.

Donna shrugged and went back to pointing her flashlight at the ground, trying to see where the meteorite had bounced to. She caught a glint of reflection and went over toward it, leaving Tina, who was still trying to spot the bird.

"What is this?" she said, approaching the glittering object on the ground. "Some kind of crystal?"

Tina turns and shines her light on the object. It glittered brightly and reflected sparkles off in all directions and colors of the rainbow. It apparently was hollow. Without warning, Tina feels the rush of air come up from behind her and feels the wind of its wings. Something is on her back and shoulders. It has her ... she screams as she stumbles to the ground. It bites her on the back of the neck. Tina whirls in time to see a bird like thing with a monkey tail on Tina's back. IT looks up at her ... it's eyes glowing red in the beam of her flashlight.

Donna screamed. "Omg .. what ... what is it? Tina! Let go of Tina!"

She was yelling at the creature and flailing her arms wildly, but afraid to come any closer. Suddenly, whatever it was let go of Tina and jumped straight upward into the darkness with a soul chilling screech. Tina crumpled to the ground after it had almost lifted her in the air, sobbing in fright.

Donna ran to Tina. "Tina! Are you OK? What was that? What did it do to you?" She stooped down and put her arm around Tina's shoulders.

Tina rubs the back of her neck and brings it into the light. There's blood on her hand from where the thing got her.

Tina says as she crys, "It ... it ... bit me. That ... thing bit me on my neck."

Tina could feel ... something spreading through her from the wound. She gasps out, "I feel ... funny though. Like ... it stung me or something."

Donna held up Tina's hair and looked at the back of her neck, trying to hold her flashlight up. "It's hard to see, but it doesn't look like you're hurt a lot," Donna said. "Can you walk? Let's get you to the neighbors' house. It's closer than your house. I forget what your neighbors' names are though." She tried to help Tina to her feet.

Donna helps Tina to stand up. Tina's head begins to buzz. She feels weak in the knees. Donna helps Tina toward the neighbor's house. Again, without warning, the sound of rushing wings is heard loudly. Tina and Donna can feel the rush of air from the creatures wings. Donna feels it land on her shoulders and a sharp bite on her neck. Donna screams as Tina falls weakly to the ground after Donna let her go to fight off the creature.

Donna knew what Tina felt like now ... it felt like her body was reacting to some kind of poison or venom; it felt like she had suddenly gotten a fever and her heart was pounding.

"No ... what is it ... got to get to the house ..." She held onto Tina's hand and tried to struggle toward the farmhouse, which wasn't very far now.

Somehow, the two of them managed to make it, despite feeling like they were growing weaker with every minute. They climbed the front porch of the old three-story farmhouse and knocked on the door and rang the doorbell until someone answered.

"Can I help y --" said a middle-aged man before seeing the two girls in their weakened and bloodied state. "Oh, Lord have mercy! Aren't you Tina from next door? What happened? Come in and let's get a look. Martha! Get the first aid kit! It's Tina from next door and her friend!"

Everyone can again hear the rapidly approaching rush of wings. The girls panic and screech. They manage to tumble in the door and slam it shut. Something with weight bangs into the wood of the door with a loud thump.

The man gasps, "What tha ... what was that?"

Tina gasps out, "It's ... it's a thing that bites! It bit me and Donna on our necks."

The couple see the blood and the bruising marks of the bites on the backs of the girl's necks. The man looks out the window, but can see nothing.

He turns and says with conviction, "Gol darn it, I'm not gonna let no critter like that bite my neighbors, nor attack me on my own front porch!"

He walks to a case and opens it. From it, he removes a simi automatic shotgun. He opens a drawer and removes a large curved magazine and loads 30 shells into it from a box labeled '3 1/4 inch - exploding ordinance 50 Cal'.

Martha gasps, "Tom, what are you planning to do with that awful thing? You know it's a combat weapon and not a hunting weapon."

He slips the 30 round magazine into the slot and pulls the slide back.

He replies softly, "This is war Martha, an I intend ta win."

He attaches a flashlight to a clip on the underside of the weapon, then opens the door and walks out onto the porch. The sound of the women whimpering is the only sound he can hear.

He steps off of the porch and slowly shines the light around, methodically scanning for ... what ever it was. He turns and looks at the door. There was a blood splatter and cracks in the thick wood where what ever it was had hit. He smiles as he thinks to himself it served the critter right.

He hears the approaching sound of wings and spins just in time to get off 3 shots in rapid succession, before a large, heavy object smashed into him. He feels pain as he is knocked violently to the ground and skids for several feet from the force of the impact.

It takes a few minutes before he can catch his breath, the feted smell of what ever it was on top of him filling his nose. He managed to push it off of him as the girls opened the door and screamed.

The creature looked like a bat-winged monkey with fangs. There were spots and designs on it's wings that glowed slightly in the dark.

Martha gasps out in concern, "Tom?? Are you alright? Did it hurt you?"

Tom replies, "No, Martha, you worry too much."

The girls giggle nervously as they help Tom to his feet and back into the house. Martha and Tina drag the creature into the den to get a look at what it was in the light.

As they shut the door, an unearthly screech can be heard and several loud rushings of flapping wings outside the door, before silence once again reigns. They all look at one another in wide eyed surprise.

Tom comments, "Seems they didn't like me killin their friend here."

They all look to the small chimpanzee sized monkey creature lying on the floor. It had 3 very large, gaping wounds in its torso that were oozing a glowing silver/blue fluid where Tom had shot it.

Donna looked at it in fear. "Wh-what is it?" She looked at Tom in panic. "There're more, aren't there? What are they? I thought it was some kinda bat! But that's not a bat! And what's that stuff? Is that its blood?"

"Easy, Donna dear," said Martha, trying to daub at the bites on the back of Donna's neck with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. "Hold still so I can get you bandaged up like Tina."

"But ... we gotta call somebody!" Donna shouted. "Tina's family -- they gotta be warned to stay inside! My family! Our friends! The police! Maybe the Army!"

"And we can do that in just a minute, dear. We just need to make sure the bleeding's stopped and it doesn't get infected." Martha finished bandaging Donna's neck. "There we go. Now, do you need to use our phone, or do you girls have those little cell phones that everybody seems to have nowadays?"

"Oh yeah! Tina! Call your folks! I'll call home too." Donna got out her cell phone and started pressing buttons.

Tina gets up from the chair Martha had her in, she realizes something strange. She looks down at her clothes. The jeans and her top were beginning to be ... too large for her?! Her bra no longer fit either and she could feel her feet flopping around inside her shoes as well.

She looks up at Donna with wide eyes and says with fear in her voice, "Donna, I think ... I have a problem." She pulls on the waist band of her jeans showing they were several sizes too large for her. "These fit perfectly when we went out to watch the meteor shower."

Martha says reassuringly, "I don't think that's possible dear. I have some of my daughter’s old clothes ... going back to where she was just born. I saved em ya know .. mother's do that." As she looked Tina over and saw she might just be right.

Donna looks at Tina and realizes, she's actually ... younger some how ... maybe ... 11 now ... if that was at all possible.

"No really, Mom, I swear I'm not making this up; it was some kind of weird monkey-bat thing," Donna was saying into her cell phone. "We're at Tina's neighbors' house. Their names are Tom and Martha ..." She paused and looked around until she saw a sign on the wall that said "The Larson’s," with the names of the whole family arranged like a tree. "Larson. Yes, Mom, Mrs. Larson did first aid and got us all bandaged up. But be careful and don't go outside ... no, we're staying inside too ... yes, we're trying to call people, but I called you first -- Tina, why aren't you calling your parents -- TINA!"

Donna looked at Tina and dropped her phone. "Oh my g ... what's happened? You look like ... like you did when we were 11! What's going on?"

"What the h -- what the Sam Hill's goin' on here?" asked Tom. "First we got some kinda monkey bat things that bite people an' now the girls that got bit are gettin' littler. I'm callin' the sheriff. Maybe the ambulance too."

He went to the telephone on the wall and started dialing, keeping an eye on the door and windows and holding his rifle with one hand.

"Um, Mom, I'll call you back," said Donna and hung up her phone.

Tina's clothes were way too big for her by this time. She looked like a little girl playing dress up in her big sister's clothes. Her jeans fell to the floor along with her oversized bikini panties. Her top made an adequate although way oversized dress.

Tina rummages in the pockets of her now too large jeans and pulls out her cell and dials home. "Dad, this is Tina ... we're over at the Larson’s ... yes dad I know we said we would stay in the yard. Dad ... Listen to me!! Something crash landed in the Larson's field ... I don't know from where ... Dad shut up for a minute and listen ... this is very important!” Tina stomps her foot and sighs in exasperation.

She rolls her eyes for a second before she continues, "Dad, we saw a ... meteor crash land in the Larson’s soybean field. We went to check on them in case they got hit. Yes dad ... I know that ... but anyway ... there are these ... flying monkey things that bite. They bit us ... yes dad .. we're alright ... sort of. Mrs Larson bandaged us up ... but dad ... dad ... listen to me dad .. I've got a real problem. Yes dad I know that ... " Suddenly, Tina screams out, "Dad!! Listen to me ... call an ambulance ... I'm shrinking ... I look like an ... 11 yo now. If you must come over ... drive ... those things will attack you. Hurry. Bye." She closes her cell

She turns to Martha and says shyly, "Umm ... Mrs Larson ... I do need a change of clothes ... kinda badly."

Martha puts her hand to her mouth as she realizes ... there’s no mistaking Tina has shrunk a whole lot since she arrived. She takes Tina by her hand and leads her upstairs.

"That's right, Sheriff, you know me, an' you know I wouldn't lie to you," Tom was saying into the phone. "I done shot one, an' I could show it to you if you were here. It's messin' up our livin' room carpet with its blood. I guess it's blood anyway; it's kinda blue an' shiny. But there's more of 'em out there flyin' around, an' God only knows where they gone now. That's right; there's two, maybe three more o' the critters. An' they bite, so if you see 'em, take cover or shoot 'em, I say."

"No lie, Ashley," Donna was saying into her cell phone, "it was some kind of monkey bat thing, and Tina's neighbor shot one with his gun, and it's lying dead on the floor right here. I'm looking at it! Here, I'll take a picture of it with my phone. Check it out. Isn't it gross? And it bit Tina and me too! Tell everybody, OK? Look out for these things! OK, bye."

She hung up. She adjusted her bra a little bit while nobody was looking. Was it feeling a little loose? Or was that just her imagination, being fed by what was happening to Tina?

Outside, the sound of 2 cars arriving can be heard. the doors slam and feet on the porch. Tom opens the door and literally pulls the 2 men and 2 women inside and slams the door. As soon as the door bangs shut, the sound of rushing wings and 2 loud thumps and a soul chilling screech is heard.

Tom says softly, "That was a close one. You shouldn't have come. those things bite .. and apparently cause people to shrink."

Tina's parents both say at the same time, "Where's Tina? Is she all right?"

Tom takes John, Tina's dad, by his shoulder and says softly, "As far as we can tell, the only physical injury ... are the bite marks on her neck. The other symptom, I'm not so sure how to tell you or Vivian. Donna here hasn't seemed to have been effected yet. Not sure if she will be."

About that time, Martha came down stairs escorting an adorable little girl dressed in a pink and white overall romper with little pink bunnies all over it. She had on a puffy sleeved Top and pink tennis shoes with a white rubber tip and matching cute little pink bunnies all over them.

Tina says excitedly in a cute little girl voice, "Dad, Mom, those things are horrible. They bit me on the neck."

She runs up to Vivian and shows her the bandage with small red blood spots on it.

Vivian holds the little girl at arms length and says, "Who .. who are you little girl? I've never met you before in my life, although ... you do seem very familiar."

Tina gets wide eyed as she says in a gasp, "Mom ... it's me ... Tina."

Martha says with awe in her voice, "It's true Vivian. That's Tina ... I watched her change with my own eyes."

Everyone stairs at Tina for a few minutes before turning their gaze to Donna. The far off and rapidly approaching sound of many sirens can be heard.

"No, really, Mom, Dad, I'm fine," Donna was saying as her parents checked out the bandaged bites on her neck. "Wait, why is everybody looking at me?"

Martha asked, "You don't feel ... strange at all, do you, dear? Are your clothes feeling loose or anything? After all, you did get -- bitten."

She looked at Tina, then at Donna again.

"Well ... I still feel ... weird. Like I have a fever or something."

The sirens outside got very loud, then they stopped. Flashing lights were visible through the curtains covering the windows. "My b -- ... umm, some of my clothes might feel a bit loose, I guess. Unless it's my imagination. But Tina!" Donna got down on one knee and hugged her friend. "Tina, you're so little! What's going on? Am I going to get that little too?"

"Looks like the sheriff an' the ambulance is here," said Tom, looking carefully out the window.

There were soon footsteps on the porch, then suddenly two gunshots rang out. About that time, loud yells were heard.

"What? Are they back?" asked Tom, throwing open the door and pointing his weapon skyward just in time to see another of the creatures swooping down toward the ambulance crew. The Sheriff fired his gun at it, Tom fired too, bringing the creature down in a huge messy splatter.

"Get inside! Everybody! Dunno how many of 'em there are!" The sheriff's voice could be heard, "I don't know what the hell that thing was ... but it ain't happy now. Mike?? Are you all right? It didn't bite you did it Rick?"

A voice replied, "Nope, that's some hellatious shooten Tex."

Several voices could be heard agreeing.

Once everyone was inside and the door closed again, they evaluated the damage.

"Did that thing bite anybody?" Tom asked.

"So this is the one Tom shot?" the sheriff asked, looking at the dead creature on the floor.

"It either bit me or scratched me with its claws," said one of the EMTs from the ambulance.

"Oh, Mike, let me look at that," said the other EMT, a black-haired woman.

"Yep, Joe, that's the one," Tom said to the sheriff. "What do you reckon it is?"

"Well now Tom, this is a new one on me," said the sheriff, while Donna's father looked at the creature more closely.

"I think you did get bitten, Mike," said the female EMT. "It's not bad, but you heard the sheriff tell us when he called us that the animals have some kind of poison. Do you feel OK?"

"It does feel like some kind of poison, Sue," said Mike, "the way there's a feeling of burning or inflammation spreading through my bloodstream. This is probably not good. But if we have a dead one, maybe we can take it in to the hospital and they can make an antidote."

Donna's father had been examining the creature on the floor.

"Without some kind of dissection I can't say for certain," he said, "but I don't think this organism is related to anything I know of. Sorry. Brian Benson. I'm a biologist with the university. This organism superficially resembles a primate of some type, and its wings may somewhat resemble those of a bat, but its skeletal structure is completely different from both of those, and its eyes and teeth are nothing like those of any mammal I've ever seen. There might be something to Donna's story about a meteorite."

Tina says in a really cute voice, "Can I say sompin?" Everyone suddenly notices Tina, she blushes softly and says, "It bit me first ... and in about half hour, I'm about as big asa 7yo. I still feel ... really funny all over ... an this outfit's startin ta get ... sorta big on me."

The Sheriff looks at the little girl and says softly, "Tina? OMG! It is you! You look exactly like you did when you were 6 or 7. You mean the bite of this thing shrinks people?"

Donna says shyly, "It must, My clothes are getting to be too big for me now."

The sheriff says, "Where exactly did this meteor land?"

Donna points and replies, "Out in the south part of the soybean field by the old mill."

Joe stands up and says, “Tom, I can't make you come, but I need you to give Rick one of your assault rifles so we can go and check it out."

Tom goes to his cabinet and removes a 552 assault rifle with an Acog scope. He loads a 30 round clip and grabs several boxes of ammo for his weapon and the 552.

He hands ammo and the weapon to Rick and says, "Ok, I’m commin too. That thing packs a punch. Don’t hold the trigger, just tap it ... make it fire in bursts or you'll never hit anything."

Rick says quietly, "I'll remember." The 3 men leave.

"Yeah, my clothes are definitely getting loose now," Donna said, holding her jeans up with one hand. "I wasn't sure at first, but now, there's no way around it."

"Donna, I remember you looking just like you do now when you were 12," said Donna's mother Deanna. "And if I were seeing you for the first time, I'd say you were about a 12-year-old girl. What is this? Flying monkeys that bite people and make them younger? Brian?"

"I don't know, Deanna," said Donna's father. "I'm not one of those UFO nuts, but all I can say is ... that creature is not from this world. I wish I could sequence its DNA or at least look at some of its cells under a microscope. If it has cells. So I really don't know what its capabilities are ... or its weaknesses. Except for what we already know ... bullets seem to kill them."

"I think I'm gonna need smaller clothes soon, like Tina," said Donna, a look of fear in her eyes. "Mommy?" she asked Deanna. "Am I gonna turn into a baby?"

Deanna looked back with a worried and helpless expression. "I don't know, Honey," she said. "I wish I knew. But I'll take care of you ... I'm your mother. I'll do whatever I can."

She hugged her daughter, who was starting to cry.

Martha walks over and pats Donna on her hinny reassuringly as she takes her by the hand.

She coos softly, "Well, sweetheart, Aunt Marty will just have to take you up stairs and get you some clothes that fit. I have lots of em in all sizes. I kept all of my daughter's stuff when she got married and moved."

She leads Donna up the stairs.

Mike says softly, "Umm ... people. I think I have ... a real problem too."

They turn and look at the EMT. His clothes had begun to hang on him loosely. He looked like he might have been about 14.

Brian said with exasperation, "We have to get a sample to the lab at the hospital. I must know just what we're dealing with ... and find a way to fix it."

Meanwhile, out in the field, the three men were searching for evidence.

"Yep, this here's where the girls said the thing fell outta the sky," said Tom, pointing at the crater, in the center of a circle of flattened and burned soybean plants.

"Donna said there was some kinda crystal thing not far away from it," said Joe, the sheriff, scanning the area with his flashlight. He saw a glinting reflection. "Yep," he said, getting closer. "That's gotta be it." He picked up a piece of a white crystalline material that looked as if it were part of a ball roughly a foot across. "I've seen meteorites before sometimes, but none of 'em like this. Looks kinda like a big hailstone, but it's not made of ice. Here's another piece of it." He picked up another fragment.

"Now, wait a minute, Sheriff," said Rick, the deputy, "Put those two pieces together. Look at that. There's a piece removed. If it broke from the impact, wouldn't it be shattered into a million pieces? Instead, it looks like it hit without breaking and bounced over here ... then something broke out from inside."

"But if it was those critters in there," said Tom, "how'd they fit in that little thing? Each one of 'em's bigger'n that, and there's a bunch of 'em."

"Maybe they grew," said Joe.

Just then Tom looked skyward, aiming his rifle and flashlight as if he'd heard something.

"What is it, Tom?" the 2 other men said at the same time.

"Quiet," Tom whispered. "Thought I heard ..." He turned off his flashlight. "Turn off the lights. I think the light gets their attention."

"But how're we gonna see if they come?" asked Rick in a whisper.

"He's right," said Joe, whispering too. "They came right after we pulled up with all the flashing ambulance and police lights. What's more, you saw those things. Their wings glow. Look for that. Let's get these crystal things back to the others."

Tom gathers as many of the pieces as he can carry. Fortunately, he had grabbed a knapsack one of the EMT's had emptied on the floor when they arrived. He filled it to the top with shards, then began to slowly move back towards the farmhouse with the other 2 men following close. The 3 could hear flapping of wings and an unearthly screech every once in a while.

Just as they had reached the porch, Tom swings his weapon up and fires. There is a horrid screech and Joe was splattered with the strange blue/silver glowing goo from one of the creatures. It fell heavily on the steps and lay there twitching.

Rick grabs the mutilated corps and drags it into the house as Tom and Joe watch the dark sky for more of the creatures. After the door was shut and locked, The men realized, there were now 2 babies and 1 very young boy in the room. They all had on adorable little girl outfits, 2 of them obviously in diapers.

Martha says, "Tom, we have children now. It’s true, tha bites of those things cause em to shrink. Their minds are still tha same, but their bodies are babies."

Joe gasps as he comments, "Well, I'll be a ..."

Brian says with authority, We have to take at least one of these things to the Ambulance ... I need to get it to a lab."

Tom and Joe nod together.

Joe says softly, "Gather what you need. Me n Tex here'll cover you while you load it. I think the Lab at the Hospital is the best we can do though."

Bryan gathers one of the corpses as he replies, "That will do. I need to make some genetic inquiries ... maybe see if we can find an antidote."

Rick says, "Umm ... Sheriff? One of these ... shards in here ... is talkin. Sounds ... like ... English even, with a hard accent."

Brian turned to the female EMT, who was looking after her now very young partner, and said, "Sue, what if we use the ambulance? That'll get us to the hospital fast, and we can put everybody who's affected in there, along with one of these creatures."

Sue nodded.

Brian said to his wife and Tina's parents, "We should all be able to go. I'm worried about Donna, and I'm sure you're worried about Tina. If there's any hope for them, the hospital is the first place where it'll be."

They all nodded.

"Y'all ready?" asked Tom. Donna's mother picked Donna up, Tina's mother picked up Tina, and Sue picked up Mike. Brian held the body of the first creature Tom had shot.

When they all nodded their readiness, Tom and Joe opened the door, and they all rushed for the ambulance, Tom firing a warning shot into the air above it. Tom and Joe stayed there until they had all made it into the ambulance, then withdrew back into the house and closed the door.

Now Tom, Martha, Joe and Rick were in the house, and the other five adults -- and three children -- were in the ambulance.

Joe, looking out the window, said, "They've turned off the emergency lights. That's good. Less likely to attract the things. Now Rick, what about that crystal thing? Did you say it was ... talking?"

Joe reaches into the knapsack and removes a shard. On the curved interior, were electronics none in the room had ever seen before.

From it, in an extremely heavily accented female voice, "This is Nanabot incursion and recovery, 2nd wave impactors will arrive in 12 hours. Total force will include 22 matched pairs. Nanabot Infant Care Force arrival 9 hours after initial. Mission completion time 96 hours total for global domination."

Everyone looked at each other with surprise.

Joe said, "It appears, there's more on the way. We have to notify someone fast. And just what in tha Sam Hill isa Nanabot?"

Tom shrugs and replies, "Haven’t a clue, but they must be what's bein sent to care for everyone infected.”

Everyone nods in agreement.

Joe looks out the window and says with authority, "All right, Tom, you first and watch for any more of those critters. Me an you are cover ... everyone ... NOW!"

Tom throws open the door and dashes into the yard ... the light on his weapon scanning as much of the sky as he possibly could. Joe follows kneeling down behind Tom ... watching the other direction. Way off across the field ... the unearthly screech of one of the creatures is heard. Everyone piles into the ambulance along with the corps of the critter. Joe gets into his cruiser, Tom is shotgun, Rick is in the Ambulance with his weapon to cover it .... They pull quickly off and proceed to the highway as rapidly as Joe could safely navigate, with Sue behind the wheel of the Ambulance following close behind.

"Hang on," said Sue. "We don't exactly have car seats for ... the kids."

She looked in the mirror and caught a glimpse of her partner Mike, who now looked like a 5-year-old boy wearing his sister's denim overalls and T-shirt. Martha, who was now holding him, had found the best clothes she possibly could for a boy among her daughter's old things, but the jeans still had flowers embroidered on the back pockets. Beggars couldn't be choosers.

Donna felt at least somewhat comforted by being in her mother's arms, but she was much smaller than she was used to being, and she felt very vulnerable and scared. And she thought her diaper was probably wet.

"Daddy?" she asked. "Am I gonna be OK?"

Brian had zipped the creature's remains into a body bag and strapped it to a stretcher.

"Sweetie, I hope so. I don't know. We have to figure out what happened to you. I've never heard of such a thing happening -- if it's a result of the creature's venom, maybe we can analyze it and find an antidote. If we can't, well, maybe time will heal it -- you'll just have to grow up all over again."

"Maybe?" Donna asked.

"I just don't know, Sweetheart." Brian raised a hand to his forehead, closing his eyes. Donna knew that he always did that whenever he was thinking intensely. "We're also going to have to check for the possibility that it's not just a venom but some kind of virus or parasite. If it is, it might be that you, Tina and Mike can infect others. We might all be infected already. But I don't think so. We'd probably have started seeing signs of it some time ago."

"Ssh, dear, it's OK," said Deanna, rocking Donna like the toddler she appeared to be.

Donna partly remembered her mother doing this when she was upset, back when she was very small. And she was very small again, physically.

"But Mommy, I'm just ... scared."

"I know, Honey," said Deanna, continuing to rock her daughter. "Just try not to worry. We'll be at the hospital soon."

By the time they arrived at the hospital, Joe had called ahead and had his office contact the US Army. The General in charge was very skeptical at best, and only sent a team of 6 men, but just in case had the whole battalion on alert. The 6 were at the hospital awaiting them.

Joe and Tom got out of the car, A gruff looking Colonel approached him and bit the end off of the cigar he was chewing on.

He said sharply, "I'm Colonel Trapp. Now just what in the hell are you tryina pull?"

Tom snorted, "Well, I see they do promote trash in the Army these days." He turned to Joe and commented, "Those idiots don't believe us if they sent the likes of him." Tom points at the Colonel, "He's about as competent as an insane monkey on LSD."

All the girls giggle as the men snicker. The Colonel's men did their very best not to laugh ... it was obvious they were having difficulty.

Bryan climbs from the back of the Ambulance and says sharply, "If this is a joke you moron, I would like to hear the punch line."

He drags the body bag from the back of the Ambulance and unzips it. The ugly face of a bat like monkey creature with large fangs and 3 large oozing wounds is revealed. The Colonel’s men stop smiling and their eyes get big with surprise.

The Colonel slowly takes the cigar from his mouth and says softly, "Where did you find that thing?"

Tom replies, "I shot it ... over my porch. Something I know you can't do."

The Colonel looks at Tom with a glint of anger and snaps, "Enough is enough. The report told you ... my weapon jammed ... and that's what happened!"

Tom snorts, "Sorry sonny, you missed plain and simple ... and got 4 men killed."

Bryan snaps, "Stop it! I don't care what your feud is ... we have a major problem. We're about to be invaded by forces unknown. We know, the venom from one of these things makes Adults into babies."

About that time, a loud eerie screech is heard echoing as it approached. The rushing of wings and the Colonel found something was on his back and had him. He felt the sharp sting of its bite on the side of his neck. The sudden retort of one of his men's weapons, causes the thing to fall to the ground beside him. He puts his hand to his neck, there is blood on it when he looks.

Tom laughs, "That couldn't have happened to a better person."

"Oh my G --" Brian began.

"What the F --" the Colonel began.

"Tom, Colonel, shut up, both of you!" shouted Martha, leading Deanna, Vivian and Sue out of the ambulance, each of them holding a child. "This is bigger than your egos."

"She's right," said Brian, taking a deep breath. Then he gestured toward Donna, in Deanna's arms. "This is my wife, Deanna, by the way, and my daughter Donna. Donna is 18 years old. Or she was, until one of those creatures bit her. Before our eyes she gradually got younger until she's the way you see her now -- a 2-year-old toddler in a wet diaper, and I'm so sorry, Honey, I hope we can do something to help you." He reached out to put his hand on Donna's head lovingly. "The same thing happened to Tina, here, and to Mike here too. And unless we can figure something out and fast, Colonel -- the same thing's going to happen to you. I hope you have a second in command. If we don't find something out in time ..." He trailed off, looking at the children.

Colonel Trapp's eyes widened, and his face grew visibly pale. "Everybody get inside the hospital," he ordered, his voice shaky. "I don't know your name, Sir, but you seem to know what you're doing. I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure you get all the help you need."

"That just might be the best command decision you ever done made," said Tom, but Martha glared at him and he stopped.

Everyone moves quickly into the Hospital. Just before Bryan and the Colonel reach the door, Bryan points to several lights over head that appear to be visibly growing larger.

He says softly, "I think we have more of those bastards on the way."

The Colonel looks up and sees the approaching lights.

Bryan continues, "We have a piece of one of the objects that brought the first bunch. It actually talks in English."

The Colonel takes Bryan by his arms and escorts him in the door rapidly.

He gets on his Radio and says authoritatively, "This is a Code Red Dragon, repeat, Red Dragon. This is not a drill. We need complete access to the war room and the President needs to be called ASAMFP. Copy?"

The only reply, "Copy"

Suddenly ... the Emergency Sirens at the town hall go off. By the time they had reached the lobby, the TV's had gone off their regular broadcasts, and the EBS system was showing advising everyone not to panic, to remain in doors, and listen for further instructions.

Tom says to Joe, "Well sheriff, seems all those nuts talkn about UFOs ... weren't so crazy ... huh?"

The Sheriff looks at Tom and shakes his head, "Guess not ... guess I have some apologizing to do."

The halls of the hospital had become awash with a constant flow of people. Doctors, nurses, interns, orderlies, other employees, and of course lots of confused patients and their visitors were all milling about trying to either do their jobs or find out what was going on. More people showed up all the time, either seeking refuge, or to tend to their bite wounds. More troops and armaments were also arriving in a constant stream.

Finally there was a loud whistle as Colonel Tripp jumped up onto a desk in a large common area and spoke through an electric bullhorn. "Everyone. Please. Listen up. I am Colonel William Tripp, from Fort Stockton. If I could have your attention please. As you know, we have a situation. The US Army assures you that this is not a hoax or a drill. Dr. Benson will explain what he knows."

As Deanna held Donna and watched, Brian did his best to lay out the situation. He held up wallet photographs of Donna, age 18. He pointed to baby Donna in Deanna's arms. He got John to do the same, showing Tina's regression.

Of course Deanna was worried about Donna, as any mother would be if her daughter was going through a rough time.

"Donna," she said, holding her daughter close, "are you OK? I can get you into a dry diaper. Are you hungry? Thirsty?"

Donna suddenly burst into tears. She tried to suppress them, but it was no use.

"I'm a baby, Mommy!" she cried, in a tiny, high-pitched voice. "I can't get myself food or anything to drink anymore! And I need diapers now and can't change myself! I feel so scared and helpless!"

She cried as quietly as she could for a few minutes as her mother rocked her, crying too, like a mother who knows her child is in need but can't help.

"... Mommy?" sniffled Donna.

"Yes, Honey?" replied Deanna.

"I do need all those things ... I'm thirsty ... and hungry ... and I need a dry d-diaper," Donna said, stumbling over the last fact, which had not been the case for over 15 years.

"Let's find you some help, then, Sweetheart," said Deanna, looking around for what she needed.

Deanna sees Vivian walk up with Tina in her arms. She was patting Tina's hinny softly as Tina sucked her thumb. Deanna could tell Tina had been crying and was really upset.

Vivian sits next to Deanna and points to a door as she says softly, "Over there is a changing area for babies. It's very well stocked with every thing ... If Donna needs it that is."

As Deanna thanked Vivian and went to change her daughter, Brian was continuing. "And just as we entered the hospital, Colonel Tripp got bitten by one of the creatures too. Now, I don't know how long it will be before we see the signs, but ..."

He trailed off as a gasp rippled through the crowd. Bryan turned to look where everyone was looking -- at the colonel. Brian lowered the bullhorn and stared. Colonel Tripp looked like a teenager.

"Colonel ... as God is my witness ... you have got to find your second in command soon."

The colonel looked down at himself and went pale.

Brian lifted the bullhorn again and said, "So in short, we need to get the cadavers of the creatures to a lab where they can be analyzed. I'm a biologist and want to help all I can. I'm not here to take charge or get in anyone's way. What we need are some good research physicians, pathologists, toxicologists ..."

Some doctors in the crowd came forward, and they spoke with Brian and each other, deciding what to do. John came forward and picked up one end of the black body bag that was lying on the floor. He nods to Bryan who picks up the other end. A young Woman rushes up with a gurney and the 2 men put it on it. The crowd of doctors hurried John and Bryan off towards an evaluator quickly, and the large research facility in the basement.

Tom walks up to Tripp and says with a smart tone in his voice, "Well now, seems you're gonna be jus the right age ta fit ur mentality soon. I agree, you only got maybe 20 more minutes before you're too young to do anything ... except be who you really are." He laughs.

Martha comes up and punches Tom hard on his shoulder and scolds, "I know the 2 of you hate each other Tom, but geez ... that's awful cruel thing ta say to him. You know how you would feel if you were suddenly 2 again ... now wouldn't you?"

Tom nods.

Colonel Tripp talks into his radio, in a child's voice, "I need Captain Scheele here now! I have been compromised and need her assistance immediately."

Colonel Tripp looks down at himself. His uniform hung on him very loosely. He could feel it as his body shrank and his clothes began to engulf him. He knew, in just a few minutes, he too would be in diapers like the other 3 he saw. He looks over at Vivian holding her now baby daughter close and patting her butt. Tripp closes his eyes and shivers in fear. He was afraid for the first time in his life as he felt his now way oversized pants and boxers fall around his ankles.

Bryan scratched his head as the first Gas Chromatograph results were returned. All the chemical make ups of the samples ... were totally wrong. The creature was based on selenium ... not carbon. The DNA samples showed the creature had 440 base pairs, which was totally impossible to his mind. Almost all of the proteins were unknown to the earth.

This was absolutely ... alien. The toxicology report was totally amazing. The creature's venom contained stem cells of all things and some very strange prion like xenomorphic proteins. Their function basically rejuvenated the rd6 base protein which directly affected the targeting catalase required in mitochondrial division ... causing it to replicate perfectly, instead of the haphazard way it normally did.

IT also contained specific xenomorphic proteins that caused a rejuvenation of the extra cellular matrix within the DNA, causing the RNA in a process called transcription to rebuild the organism ... younger at each replication and increased the telomeres length, thus increasing the life span of the biological organism. This was fantastic. Basically, Bryan had discovered the fountain of youth.

At any other time, Brian would have been thinking about the Nobel Prize, but right now he and the doctors had to find a way to undo what the venom did. At the very least, they had to return the victims to some form of adulthood ... at best, they needed to find a way to inoculate against the venom, to prevent its effects ... They had a very long night ahead of them.

Donna sat on her mother's lap as a TV news reporter tried to get her mother and her to answer questions.

"Ma'am, is it true that your daughter here is in actuality 18 years old?" said an African-American woman in a professional-looking tangerine and white business suit, holding a microphone in front of Donna's eyes.

"Yes, yes," said Deanna, "I've told so many people that already. It's true. Tell people to be careful and stay indoors. If they bite you, it'll happen to you too."

"But little Donna here looks more like she's 18 months old than 18 years old," said the reporter. "How do we know she's not just ... some ordinary baby?"

"How many babies can talk like this?" said Donna, perfectly clearly, though in a tiny baby's voice. "Ask all the people who saw what happened to Colonel Tripp. And I mean that ... we're both very tired. Please talk to some of them and let us rest."

"Yes, of course, I'm sorry. Thank you for your time," said the reporter in a very surprised tone.

She hadn't expected a baby of that age to respond to her in that manner.

Her cell phone rang. "Yes? Yeah? A picture on the Internet? Space monkey? Can you send it?" She looked at her phone. "Holy cow. Is it real?" She paused. "One more question, if that's all right," she said, turning to Donna and Deanna. "Is this it?"

The reporter held up her cell phone. On its screen was the picture Donna had taken.

Donna nodded. "I took that picture. With my cell phone. When my fingers were big enough to push buttons on it. They're probably dissecting that thing right now."

"That's ... amazing." The reporter looked at the picture again, almost seeming mesmerized. "A creature from outer space ... this is the story of the century."

"Maybe, but it's also the vanguard of an invasion force," said a woman in military uniform. "You're not in the press area," she told the reporter.

"Yes, well, I was just --"

"You were just going back to the press area," said the military woman, who had captain's bars on her uniform and the name SCHEELE imprinted above the lapel.

"Yes, exactly -- thank you Captain," said the reporter, who turned to leave.

About that time, there was a huge explosion in the parking lot. Pyrotechnics sprayed everywhere as something impacted. Many people ran to the glass doors in front to look.

As the fires of impact and the dust settled, they could see a white crystal that looked for the world like a huge hailstone. Suddenly, it burst open and 4 of the creatures emerge. They grow rapidly. They begin to fly around the parking lot, emitting an unearthly screech that raises chills on all who hear it.

In the night sky, many more streaks of light begin to appear as more impacters enter the atmosphere.

Donna says loud enough for the Reporter to hear, "There ... that's them ... alive and wanting to bite."

The reporter rushed to the nearest window. "They're real!" She pointed her handheld video camera out the window, trying to get a good shot. "More are falling from the sky!"

Meanwhile, Captain Scheele was gathering her troops and heading for the nearest entrance, to defend it.

"Those doors are automatic," she said as she ran. "Until we get 'em turned off, they'll open for anybody or anything that comes close, inside or out. You see any flying monkeys, shoot to kill, got that?"

The reporter followed quickly after the captain and the four soldiers she'd been able to round up.

She looked into her own camera as she ran. "This is Amy DuPaige, at County Memorial Hospital. More creatures have appeared nearby. I'm following Captain Scheele from Fort Stockton as they move into position to defend the hospital's entrances. If these creatures get inside -- Dr. Benson told me they were calling them Astropithecines for now -- it could spell disaster for what may be our only hope of resisting their attack."

As Amy continued her report while following Captain Scheele, the captain was talking too -- into her walkie-talkie. "We need a squad at every entrance. Priority on those with automatic doors. Take automatic doors offline ASAP. Do not go outside. Any of the flying creatures that breaches the building must be taken down by any means necessary."

Meanwhile, Deanna and Donna had just seen the soldiers and the reporter leave in a hurry, and they were looking outside, both of them very tired.

"I guess this isn't a good time to get some sleep after all, Sweetheart," said Deanna to her daughter. "Let's go see if your Daddy has found anything out." They headed in the direction of the lab.

Not far distant from the parking lot of the hospital, several more bright explosions could be seen. It wasn't long before there were many of the flying creatures in the parking lot and attempting to get into the lobby.

Deanna had just turned the corner to the elevators, when Vivian turned the corner at the other end of the corridor carrying Tina in her arms. Tina was lying on he shoulder, sucking her thumb and appeared to be sleeping peacefully.

Vivian walks to the elevator where Deanna stood waiting for the elevator and asked softly, "Heard any good news yet? In the emergency entrance, there were several of those things that managed to get in the automatic doors. Fortunately, there were armed troops there and they took them out quickly."

Deanna said, “We're on the way to the lab to see Brian ... and to get away from the annoying reporters.”

Vivian nods and says, "That's why I went to the emergency room, the reporters weren’t allowed there.”

The door to the elevator opens and the women enter just as they heard automatic weapon's fire from the front lobby. The door closes, and the sound quickly fades as the elevator descends to the basement, where the labs are.

Vivian says quietly, "I hope we can find a way to defeat these things quickly. It's going to be a real disaster if we can't."

Deanna nods as she pats Donna softly on her bottom. When the elevator door opens, Every thing was an ordered madhouse. There were Nurses and doctors scurrying everywhere amid the many technicians.

The women see Bryan sitting on a lab stool staring into an electron microscope across the room. They walk over.

Deanna says softly, "Discover anything sweet heart?"

Bryan says without looking up, "I sure have ... under normal circumstances, I would be hooping and hollering about a Nobel Prize in genetics. These creatures venom ... is the long sought after fountain of youth. The species that engineered these creatures, have discovered the ultimate secret of the universe ... eternal youth."

"That's amazing, dear!" said Deanna. "But ... engineered?"

"Yes," said Brian. "These two creatures are genetically identical. They have exactly the same genetic finger print. Now, they could be twins or the like, but what's more, their genes are perfect. There's not a single mutation or defect. Something made these, something with a mastery of biotechnology that we couldn't dream of on Earth for at least two centuries. But that means these Astropithecines aren't the ones in charge. Somebody else is."

"Astropithecines?" Deanna said in a curios tone.

"Well," Brian chuckled, "for want of a better term, I've been calling the species Astropithecus. Star apes. I know it's part Latin and part Greek. I don't care. I'm really tired."

"You're doing a wonderful job, Sweetheart," said Deanna. "Have you found out anything that might ... help Donna? Or protect people?"

Brian put his hand on his forehead, over his eyes. "I think we're close. What their venom uses is a collection of targeted proteins, tailor-made to make changes to human cells specifically. They're like customized prions. They aren't really even viruses, not even alive. But the thing is, they might themselves contain the means of defeating them. We've learned so much about prions. The pathologists understand it better than I do, but I think they're on the trail of a way to make a soup of prions that will convert the ones in the venom into something harmless, just like the venom changes molecules inside the human body."

"Does it work?"

"Not yet," said Brian. "We just need a little more time. But once we have it ... it should be pretty easy. We'll make capsules out of it -- and we hope they won't kill whoever takes them, but we don't exactly have time for FDA approval. I think they'll protect you for days if you take one, maybe a week. But ..." he trailed off, looking at Donna.

"Yes, Daddy?" said Donna, looking back up at him seriously.

"The same is true for the venom," he said. "As long as you have a dose of it in your bloodstream, you won't get any bigger. If we counteract it with the antidote, you'll start to grow again, but only at the normal rate. We haven't found a way to reverse what happened to you, or Tina, or the others. We'll keep looking."

"It's OK, Daddy," said Donna in her tiny, high-pitched voice. "I unnerstand."

Words felt odd in her mouth. Her teeth were very tiny, literally baby teeth. It was possible that she was still shrinking and that soon she wouldn't have teeth at all.

"I just wish I could ... rest a moment ..." said Brian, almost swaying on his feet as if he were about to pass out.

His eyes flew wide open. "Wait! I've got it!" he shouted, running back into the lab.

"Well, Sweetie," said Deanna, "looks like Daddy had an idea. I hope it's a good one!"

About that time, the EBS broadcast on the large flat screen hanging on the wall of the lab changed view. There was a very pretty young woman in a black outfit with a white collar, sitting in a room full of electronics the likes of which none had even dreamed of before.

She smiles softly and says in a heavily accented cooing voice, "Hello babies of earth, I'm a Nanabot. We will be arriving soon to take care of all of you newly created babies. We promise to take really good care of babies and make sure they are dry, well fed, and happy in their new lives."

All the activity in the room ceased as the people looked at each other in surprise.

The Nanabot continued, "We know that you will be trying to counteract the venom of our pets," she giggles, "But all you will find, is that the genome has now reverted and there is nothing that can stop the recombinant xenomorph we have introduced within you. Soon, there will be many thousands of our pets on your world. They live to do one thing only, to bite you. Then there will be many millions of babies for us to care for ... such a wonderful arrangement." The image fills with static ... then fades as the EBS broadcast returns.

Donna and Tina scream loudly and begin crying. Everyone in the room has moist eyes as they return to the ordered madhouse of before. There was a constant buzz of worried chatter as people wondered whether this 'Nanabot' was the real enemy or whether they were just servants of the true invaders, and whether their forecast of doom was the truth.

"Shh, Donna, it'll be OK," said Deanna, rocking her daughter gently. "Your Daddy is already making it better. That alien was just telling us stories to make us scared."

The voice of Captain Scheele was approaching. "Look, I told you to stay out of danger. Now look what your curiosity has cost you," she was saying.

She was dragging a young African-American girl with very loose-fitting tangerine and white clothes by the arm.

"Owwww!" said the girl. "I was just trying to show people the truth!"

"Well, you can show them the truth by showing them what's happened to you," the captain said. "The hospital staff is setting up an expanded ward to take care of all the babies that will probably be flooding in from all around. You can file your reports from there."

"But I don't wanna be a baby ..." said Amy, continuing to complain until she was out of earshot.

"We might have something!" said Brian, bursting out of the lab. "A few somethings, actually." He held a bottle of capsules and what looked like a tranquilizer dart. "We'll need a volunteer to try one of these capsules," he said, "and we need some guns that can fire darts like these."

"Guns and a volunteer?" said Captain Scheele, coming back down the hallway. "I'll be right back."

She brought back Amy, who now looked like she was about 7 years old and was dressed in some two-piece pajamas with feet. These were also tangerine and white in color and had zoo animals on them.

"Is there an antidote?" asked the captain.

"It -- it's very experimental," said Brian. "The only thing I can promise is that it won't kill you. We think it'll stop the progress of the venom dead in its tracks and protect you from further bites for a few days."

"I'll do it," said Amy. "Give me one."

"Are you sure?" Brian asked the girl. "You might get very sick."

"And if I do nothing, I turn into a baby," answered the very young reporter. "It'll help to know what happens. I want to help."

Tina screams loudly again as she whimpers and cries, "My ... my teeth are going away!!"

Brian gave Amy a capsule without saying another word, and Amy swallowed it.

"Ugh ... that thing was huge," she said.

"We're not really sure about the dosage it needs," said Brian. "We also don't know how long before it takes effect."

"Well I hope it's soon because AGHHHH!" Amy suddenly doubled over, screaming in pain. "F-feels like ... worst ... tummyache ... ever ..."

Everybody in the area turned to look at the screaming girl, at the same time there was a crash of shattering glass in the distance ... and a number of horrible inhuman screeches. Captain Scheele uttered epithets and ran toward the sound, drawing her sidearm.

Brian said, "Well, this might be a chance to test the other mixture," and ran after her.

"Brian!" yelled Deanna, following him.

Brian was handed a powerful dart gun by one of the men running toward the screeching and crashing sounds. It was a gas cylinder operated weapon with a 4,900 PSI gas charge. It gave the shooter 500 shots at a range of 1000 yards with the special scope and dart.

Bryan fumbled hard to load the chemical into one of the steel ampoules inside the dart while he ran behind the other men. He finally managed to load 4 of the things by the time he had reached the battle zone.

He saw several men had already been bitten, although they had taken about 10 of the critters down as far as he could tell. One of the soldiers was already beginning to shrink.

Bryan threw the dart gun to his shoulder and fired. There was an unearthly screech as the dart found its mark. The creature fell to the floor, writhing as if he had shot it with one of the other weapons. Bryan selects 3 others and fires. They too react the exact same way.

There is a flutter of rushing wings, and the group leaves, actually carrying the darted 4 off with them.

Bryan says with excitement in his voice, "I have an antidote ... I think. At least it will stop what ever damage from continuing.”

The Captain takes the pills from Bryan and administers them to the men that had been bitten.

"Reports are coming in from all over the world, that strange creatures are biting people and causing them to shrink ..." chattered a TV monitor as the men and women who had been bitten now groaned and clutched at their midsections as the capsules dissolved in their stomachs.

"Sorry," said Brian. "They're experimental. We didn't know about that side effect. There's a lot we don't know."

"Well," said Captain Scheele, who was walking up after making sure this attack wave was over, "I guess you've found some volunteers, Doctor Benson. I wonder how that reporter girl is doing."

She turned to the soldiers. "Suck it up! I'll take one myself and show you these aren't any worse than stew night at the mess hall."

"Um, sorry, Captain," said Brian, "I'm all out. I've got to get back to the lab. They've probably made some more by now. They might even have the machines going on them; these were handmade."

"Brian!" said Deanna, running up holding Donna. "Are you OK? There was so much shooting!"

"I'm fine, Honey," he said, hugging Deanna. "Hi, Sweetheart," he said, kissing the top of the exhausted, sleeping Donna's head. "They attacked, but they'll probably come back with more. I actually got a few with the darts, so we'll see what happens to them. But I've got to get back to the lab. Have you seen ...?"

"Oh, that reporter girl? Last I saw her, she'd gotten a bit younger, but it looked like it was slowing down."

Donna and Brian started walking back toward the lab, and when they turned a corner they saw Amy walking toward them, rather slowly, because she was holding up her pants, which were a bit big on her.

"Oh, there you are -- Amy, wasn't it? How are ... um, how are things coming along?" Brian asked her.

"Well, Doctor Benson," she said in a much smaller voice than the one she'd always had on TV, "I think I've stopped getting smaller, but I'm still too small for these pajamas they gave me -- but I had to get in touch with you before going back there. I'm afwaid they wouldn't let me leave tha nursery if I was there!"

"Well that's a good sign, isn't it?" Brian said. "Let's go back to the lab and get some vital signs. And maybe some clothes that fit you."

Amy now looked like she was about 5, which was younger than the 7-year-old girl he'd seen last time, but if she'd stopped shrinking, then there was a good chance the antidote was working!

Bryan wrapped an arm around Amy like the little girl she appeared to be and the other around Deanna's waist.

As they began to walk back up the hall, Bryan's attention was caught by the screen on the wall and the EBS News Broadcast, "Again, it appears we are under some sort of attack. There have been thousands of strange crystal like things fall from the sky all over the planet. From them have come hundreds of thousands of ... bat like monkeys that bite. Currently, there are thousands who have been bitten and are apparently shrinking. We received a short broadcast from our satellite feed from someone called Nanabot.”

Bryan and Deanna stood transfixed as they again watched the announcement the Nanabot had made.

The reporter came back on and continues, "It has been said that there is a small town in Kansas, Lawrence, where a Researcher has found a possible antidote and a way to fight back against the onslaught ..."

Suddenly, there were many winged creatures in the camera view. Many voices, both male and female could be heard screaming as Bryan, Deanna, and Amy watched in horror as the news reporter was bitten on live EBS.

Bryan says with urgency in his voice, "I have to get back to the lab."

He, Amy, and Deanna carrying the infant Donna, all scurried back to the lab.When they arrived, it was a madhouse. The lab had been divided into 3's. In one area, were all the bitten being administered the antidote. Bryan could see them being cared for as the massive cramps took over. One side apparently was made into a mass productions unit for the antidote. The last location, was making the drug that changed the creature's bite, into the vaccine, rendering all other bites harmless.

"Brian," said one of the white-coated researchers, "we're out of darts. We've filled all the ones we have with the inoculants. But we're still making more capsules for the antidote."

"That's great, Steve!" said Brian. "I managed to tag four of the creatures with the darts, and as far as I know they're still alive -- it's going to be hard to track their progress, of course, but it's something, at least. Some of the soldiers got bitten, but I gave them the capsules. Do we have enough to give everybody in the hospital one?"

"Not yet," said Steve. "But we will soon. One run of the machine, once it's ready to go, and there'll be a thousand capsules in minutes, plenty for everybody here."

Brian nodded. "Oh, this is Amy, and she's the first one who got the antidote. She says she's not shrinking anymore, but I didn't get her weighed and measured before she took it. Her clothes are a bit big, though."

"Probably from continued de-aging while her system was still digesting the antidote."

"Yes, But let's get her weighed now. If you'd just step on the scale here, Amy," said Brian.

Amy did so, and Steve took her temperature, heart rate and blood pressure as Brian measured her height as well.

"OK, that should be it, Amy," said Brian. "Want to go find some clothes that fit you better?"

"Actually," said Deanna, "why don't Donna and I go to the nursery and bring Amy along? Donna needs a change."

"OK," said Brian. "Please be safe, Honey," he said, kissing Deanna.

"You too," Deanna said, taking Amy's hand and carrying Donna back to the nursery.

Several of the men that had been bitten in the last attack came wandering into the lab area. Bryan noted they looked like Early Teens compared to when he gave them the pills. He could tell the shrinking had stopped, because usually by this time, a bitten individual would be about the size of a 10 or 11 year old.

One of the young Techs walks to Bryan with a weapon that looks more like an assault rifle than a dart gun.

He beams proudly, "Look here Dr. I've modified one of the dart guns to where it is a semiautomatic. It will fire 500 times as fast as you can pull the trigger.”

He shows Bryan the ingenious drum magazine he devised for the darts. It was quick and simple to load. He had also modified the dart to where it was super simple to charge them with the drug.

Bryan Grins, "Well done son." he pats the man on the shoulder.

The man continues, "I have also made something like a frag grenade. It will scatter many darts in all directions. If a swarm of those things attack like they seem to have the habit of doing, this'll get lots of em at once.”

Captain Scheele walks up to them about that time and takes one of the grenades.

She smiles a large smile, "If that's true, how many of these things can you manufacture ... and how fast?"

The Tech replies, "Well, we're out of darts. If you could get me ... lots more ... I think I can have several thousand in about 2 hours."

The Captains eyes sparkle as she gets on the radio and orders up several crates of pneumatic syringe darts and scoped rifles.

"What?" said the captain into the radio. "How many more?" She listened and frowned. "Well listen, we've got some serious R&D going on here, and we've got weapons against these things now -- we just need those darts to put it in!" She paused again. "Well maybe they are getting thicker by the minute, but tell the General that if those darts can get here, those things' bites will be harmless."

Her conversation was interrupted by a sound of shattering glass that seemed to come from all directions.

Meanwhile, in the nursery, things had been fairly quiet. There were only a few, fortunately, who had regressed to the age where they needed children's clothing or diapers. Tina's parents were there with her. Donna was now sleeping in a cradle next to her best friend. And Amy had found another pair of footed pajamas that fit her. Mike was also there, sleeping in another cradle, and so was Colonel Tripp, now just as young a baby as the rest. The creatures' bite seemed to reduce people to about 18 months of age before stopping.

Deanna was talking to Vivian, Tina's mother. "I hope they can find something," she said. "This is so terrible. I mean, we've all seen alien invasion movies, but for it to really happen ..."

Vivian replies quietly as she pats Tina softly on her small diapered hinny, "It’s a real disaster ... but you know? I had forgotten how adorable they were as babies. It makes me feel ... sort of like I'm ... glad it happened. I get another chance to be with them at this stage of their life."

She looks at Deanna with a wistful look in her eyes. Deanna smiles suddenly and nods, she too was feeling the same way about Donna.

Suddenly, Several armed men come into the Nursery and lock the door. They take stations on either side of it and charge their automatic weapons.

Vivian says with trepidation in her voice, "What's wrong? Where's John ... and Bryan?"

One of the men replies, "They are out there fighting off this attack. We have new weapons and they are in the midst of it."

Vivian stands up and says fearfully, "Is it bad? I mean ... are we loosing?"

The man turns and looks at Vivian, but says nothing. His expression said it all. Vivian’s heart fell.

Deanna takes her by the arms and motions her back into the chair beside the crib.

Deanna says softly, "All that can be done, is being done right now. We're safe in here at least. Those doors are made of steel ... and there are no windows."

Vivian looks down at her sleeping baby daughter ... and wonders if she too might be this young by morning.

Meanwhile, further up the hall, Bryan and John were back to back with 2 of the new air rifles and 25 of the new grenades. They were shooting the creatures as fast as they could aim as the creatures began to over run the forward defense lines. It appeared however, that when one of the creatures had been hit with a dart, they ceased to attack.

John had noted this to Bryan. Bryan stands up as about 30 of the things came slithering around the far corner, and tossed one of the grenades. There was a huge explosion and many horrid, inhuman screeches and fluttering of wings.

John shouts, "Owwwich!!" And slaps his neck. He had been hit by several darts as had Bryan.

The creatures that had been attacking, had seemed to slither off somewhere. The hall had cleared temporarily. John could feel a terrible cramp start in his stomach. It wasn't bad enough to stop him from fighting .. but it was truly horrid.

He gasps, "What ever is in those darts ... hurts."

Bryan had seated himself on one of the boxes and held his stomach, "Yea ... like stew night at the Army mess hall."

John looks at Bryan for a second before both men break up into laughter.

The previous wave had been pretty massive, but this one was different. Tom and Joe had been on the front line with some of the soldiers, waiting at the hospital's large, glass-filled front entrance for the creatures to try to force their way in again. But this time, behind more than a hundred of the flying monstrosities, there was ... some kind of bright light. It seemed to come from all directions and was a slightly greenish hue.

"This is a new one," said Tom.

"Yeah," Joe said. "What have they got for us this time?"

At that moment was when all the glass shattered. As their ears rang and they shielded their eyes against the shower of sharp glass shards they knew were coming, they soon realized that there was no broken glass. Nothing. In that split second they saw powdered glass dust on the floor ... and a ravening, screeching host of creatures with a blinding greenish-white light behind them.

Tom raised his rifle and shot one creature cleanly through the head with a huge gory splatter ... then four more of them swept the rifle from his hands and descended on him. Joe hit a few with his handgun, damaging but not killing them, before he was overwhelmed.

The soldiers didn't fare much better. Tom was pinned down by the things, who didn't seem interested in harming him further now that they had bitten him but also apparently didn't want him going anywhere.

Out of the light, through what used to be the front entrance, walked a figure that they could only see in silhouette at first. It was a figure they had all seen on the TV monitors. It walked toward them and appeared to be a young woman with perfect features ... too perfect.

"Hello," it said in an eerily calm, heavily accented voice. "I am a Nanabot."

Meanwhile, Brian, John, and the lab technicians were in trouble. The soldiers protecting the lab were doing their best, but they were running out of supplies fast -- they hadn't had many to begin with.

"Doctors, are there any more darts?" Captain Scheele shouted.

"No Ma'am!" Brian shouted back. "And only one more grenade!"

"We'll have to make it count," said the captain. "And we still have bullets."

The creatures just kept coming, wave after monstrous wave until it became a constant onslaught. The soldiers killed more and more of the creatures. Silver/blue glowing gore and many carcasses filled the halls in all directions.

Several of the men came to opposite sides of the door. They set up 2 tripods and drove powered bolts into the floor to hold them in place. Bryan and John didn't recognize the many barreled weapon they mounted on the pods, but the men had many, many, many boxes of belted ammo for each of them. The men loaded the ammo into the magazines of the weapons and pulled the slides back. There was a loud resounding echoing click as the massive multibarreled weapons were charged.

Captain Scheele says sardonically, "Let's see how you like Miss Vulcan Metal Storm you demons!"

"Steve! Is the machine ready to go yet?" Brian shouted across the room to the technician, who was frantically loading supplies into the capsule production machine.

"Almost!" Steve shouted back.

The massive chain guns spoke with a voice made of steel and depleted uranium. The rounds could kill a fully armored tank, or anything else it hit. The creatures crowding the hallways were swept away by the sheer momentum of the rounds.

Tremendous amounts of chewed up meat and glowing silver/blue gore filled the halls. But whenever the soldiers stopped firing, more came. It got to the point, the creatures were literally being splattered with their compatriots mangled bodies and blood, due to the fact they were unable to fly through the deep mess.

John looked up and noticed something. "The ceiling!" he shouted. Everyone, including him, was temporarily deafened by the noise of the chain guns and barely heard anything.

The guns fired again, the roar sounding like 2 whining turbines at full power. Brian covered his ears, but it didn't help. He saw John, though, then looked up in horror.

Captain Scheele saw them look up and started looking up. The tiles of the drop ceiling were starting to move. She swore at herself, at her enemy, at the stupid design of drop ceilings that left a huge cavity above the tiles through which things could move unobserved.

She grabbed her rifle and started firing through the tiles, but as soon as she did, the creatures attacked, flying down and filling the room with their wings and fangs and grasping hands, feet and tails.

Brian had the last grenade. He pulled the pin and rolled it toward the center of the room. It probably went off, but it was difficult to tell -- there were so many of the creatures ... so many screeches and cries. And then ... he was bitten and held down flat on the floor.

Suddenly, the creatures that weren't holding people down departed, flying away as if commanded. Some of them struggled, Captain Scheele refusing to go down without a fight, but there were just too many. And then there were footsteps coming down the hall, squelching in the blue-green creature blood and deep meaty gore, but otherwise sounding like metal on tile.

In the door frame, walking around the massive chain guns, came a figure that was unmistakably one of the Nanabots that had appeared on TV.

"No," whispered Brian to himself. "We've lost. It's their time. The time of the star apes ... The Astropithecairus has begun."

~~ End Pt1~~

Title: Astropithecairos - Pt2 - Discovery


Tina Manos - 18yo College Student

John Manos - Tina's Dad

Vivan Manos - Tina's Mom

Donna Benson - 18yo Best Friend

Brian Benson - Donna's Dad

Deanna Benson - Donna's mom

Scene: In the Destroyed Hospital Lab


Bryan and John watched as the Nanabot ran her hand over the Chain gun. A smile seemed to crease her lovely cheeks.

She said softly, “This is a most powerful weapon. We had thought it was an energy weapon based on its massive destructive capabilities.” She looks up the hall for a bit at the massive gore before she turns her gaze to Bryan. "It also seem you have devised something no other species has done before ... and we cannot allow babies like you to continue being naughty in that manner."

She walks slowly to the door where the antidote machine was just starting to churn out many of the pills. She picks one up and looks at it, Bryan could swear her eyes flashed red for a split second as she looked at it. She dropped it into the tray as she turned the machine off.

She walks to Bryan and kneels as she coos softly, "Now, sweet heart, you will absolutely know what it feels like to be a baby again. Nana promises to take exceptionally good care of you and your two friends. You 3 are special."

Captain Scheele screams, "You'll never take the earth ... we will fight to the last! Do scorched earth if we have to!"

Nanabot stands and walks to the Captain. She bends over and takes her uniform pants by the waist and tugs gently. They had already become several sizes to large for her.

Nanabot continues, "And how does a cute little baby like yourself intend to do that? We have totally taken this outpost, and many others through out your planet."

Outpost? Brian thought. Did this Nanabot, whatever it was, not know what a hospital was? Then again, a hospital was usually a place of healing and wasn't usually defended by soldiers and police, so perhaps it wasn't exactly clear to the invaders what this place was. Brian still had a few shreds of hope left, and one of them was the fact that the invaders apparently didn't know much about Earth.

Another one was the fact that they had already shared their research with other hospitals and research labs around the world via the Internet. They also had the ability to make the antidote and the other weapons.

But ... that Nanabot was apparently aware of their discovery. Had it just scanned one of the antidote pills? If it had, it might already have broadcast its data to others ... which meant that the enemy might soon find a way to neutralize it. So the antidote might soon be useless, but what about their other discovery, the Inoculant? They'd injected many of the Astropithecines with it, and if it had worked, it had not only neutralized their venom, but it caused them to produce antidote instead. Unless the enemy had already found out about that -- but had they?

Brian had little else to do but speculate -- since several of the monkey like creatures were holding him down. He felt his clothes getting looser on him too, just like the captain. He saw John, and Steve, and several of the others, also looking like they were regressing. If only they'd managed to make more of the capsules!

Nanabot stands up and says softly, "Allow the children to stand up, my pets, but don't allow them to run off. Hold on to them."

The Astropithacenes lift the captives from the floor, but still hold them fast. They are helpless to do anything about anything.

Nanabot walks to where the Captain, John, and Bryan were being held in a tight group and coos softly as she pats Bryan on his butt softly, "You are a very smart baby sweetie, you have managed to contaminate a large batch of my pets with your ... project. Nana is very impressed." She bends and gives Bryan an unwanted kiss on his cheek before continuing, "I have analyzed your project and the contaminated genetic pool and determined how it was done. Most impressive."

She walks back to the Chain guns and examines them closely, "Your peoples are a very ingenious one ... but it won't help you ..."

Suddenly, without warning, A very little and cute African American girl in a Foote pajama with bunnies all over it came around the edge of the door. She held in her small hands one of the semiautomatic weapons from one of the many battles. Nanabot had just enough time to realize she was there and pointing at her before the girl fired the weapon. There was a loud squeal and many sparks as the Nanabot fell. The monkeys released their prisoners and leapt into the air just in time to be mowed down by the girl.

She giggles with fear in her voice, "Did I do good?"

The Captain sprang to her and took the weapon from her, "You did wonderful sweet heart!"

Steve, the lab technician, ran as quickly as he could to the machine; he was looking like he was about 12 years old and getting younger, and his pants were getting in his way.

"The machine!" he said. "Did that thing break it?" He looked at it. "Looks like it just turned it off. Well ..." Steve turned it back on. In moments it started producing antidote capsules.

"Should we take these?" said Captain Scheele, who was looking like she was probably about 14, shorter than before and skinnier.

"Yes," said Brian. "Everybody who hasn't had one should take one. If you've been bitten, it'll probably halt the process, at least for now."

The machine was dropping finished capsules into a plastic bin, and Captain Scheele was the first one to take one and swallow it.

"See? It's not so b--" she began, before making a horrible face and wincing slightly, "bbbbad ... okay, wasn't expecting that," she continued with her teeth gritted together. "Reminds me of ... stew night at the mess hall ..."

Amid nervous laughter, everyone quickly took one of the pills and got a similar reaction.

"Ughhhh!" said Steve, doubled over in pain. Then, as it went away, he said, "Definitely gotta look at that ... side effect ... next invasion ..."

Brian, similarly affected, said in a strained voice, "Might get ... a little younger ... before they take effect ... because the effect isn't instant ... venom's in our system already ..."

He took a breath as the initial stomach pain subsided. "What I want to know is ... did that thing transmit what it found out before Amy shot it?"

"Let me look at it," said Steve. He went over to the Nanabot's fallen body and started examining it. "Wow, this is ... a technological marvel. The skin is a plastic of some kind, but it looks and feels so real. And ... look at this joint, where the head connects ... under the skin it's got so many degrees of freedom ... but here's where it comes apart ..."

"OK, Steve, that's obviously going to take you some time," said Brian, "but it's important that we know. If they know what we did, they might be working on a way to neutralize it already."

Captain Scheele nodded grimly, perhaps at that possibility, and perhaps while looking down at her body ... it seemed as if she was settling down to the age of a pre-teen, maybe 9 or 10 years old. "Anything we can do if they do that?"

"I'm not sure," said Brian. "I'll have to think."

John says with embarrassment in his voice as he looks at his pants on the floor, "I think the next thing on the agenda, it to get some clothes that fit, then asses if we are still in control of this hospital."

Captain Scheele walks to where her radio was lying on the floor and retrieved it, She spoke into it in her new little girl voice, "This is Captain Scheele, is there any defense lines able to respond?"

There was static on the line for a few seconds before a voice responded, "This is Sergeant Richards, we held the Nursery line. They attempted to come in through the ceiling ... but we had taken the tiles out and saw when they came over the last wall."

The Captain shrieked with joy as she replied, "Have you been able to contact any of the other defense lines?"

He replies sadly, "The last comm I had, was with the emergency room line, according to them, the whole hospital is ... covered with something. All we can see beyond is a bright light. All external comms are down."

The Captain swore, then said, "We will be coming to your location promptly, How many men do you have that are unaffected?"

The sergeant replied, "We only have 25 unaffected men. All the other s have been bitten and are in various stages of regression."

Captain Sheele Responded, "We have a surprise for everyone ... we have the antidote."

Everyone heard a loud whoop come from the radio before the Captain shut it off. John and Bryan gathered as many of the capsules into as many knap sacks as they had as Steve began to remove the Nanabots head. He had discovered the communications array within and many other magnificent wonders of nano technology.

Steve was sure if earth survived, this would advance them no less than a thousand years technologically.

Bryan says with authority in his little boy voice, "I want you men to remove all the tiles in the ceiling all the way to the far walls so none can sneak up on you again and give those vulcans a clear line of fire."

The men responded, "Yes, sir!" and began to knock the tiles from the roof.

Captain Scheele watched for a minute before she said, "I'm going to promote that sergeant to 2nd lieutenant soon as I can get to the nursery."

John, Bryan, and Captain Scheele left the Lab area for the nursery down the deep, gore spattered hallway. They now had renewed hope ... they were going to triumph.

Back at the ground floor lobby, Tom and Joe had seen the Nanabot leave to go further into the building with an escort of dozens of the winged creatures, and a few minutes later there had been the sound of distant gunfire somewhere on another level. Then, all at once, the winged creatures that had been holding everyone down in the lobby just -- jumped into the air, letting everyone go, and flew back outside, as if they'd been ordered to retreat.

Now, Tom and Joe didn't know what to do. Joe looked like he was 20 years old, and Tom was looking like he was about 30; he had all his hair back and none of it was gray anymore.

"Whatcha think, Joe?" Tom asked. "All them critters just up and flew out."

"Get your gun, Tom," said Joe. "Not sure we're outta the woods yet." He reloaded his gun while Tom picked up his rifle.

Tom found it near one of the exterior walls, which had once been mostly window, and looked outside at the eerie greenish-white light that was streaming in.

"Dang," he said. "Lookit that." Joe came over to look outside too.

Outside they saw not the nearby buildings or countryside, not the night sky, but what was apparently the interior of a huge metal chamber, gently curved, and dotted with rectangles and circles of light that looked like the windows of a city apartment building, some of them lit, some dark. But if it was like an apartment building, every few stories of this building had an entire floor made of light. Starting just above ground level and stacking up high into the sky were huge bands of that greenish-white illumination, interspaced with rings of shiny silver.

"It's ... landed on top of the whole hospital," said Joe. "It's huge ..."

"Must be one helluva gas guzzler," said Tom. "Not even Jeff Moller's big ol' SUV measures up to that thing. Jeff pays a fortune to gas up that monster o' his."

Joe laughed weakly. He looked around. Some of the soldiers were getting up and regrouping. They were looking younger ... but not baby age, at least not yet. One of them was on the radio.

Tom walks to the broken window glass and looks up. As far as he can see, is tier upon tier of lighted and dark rectangles and circles. He shakes his head as he recalls all the times people told him of flying saucers and he would ridicule them and laugh. He surly wasn't laughing now.

About that time, a rather young man in fairly loose combat fatigues came running into the room from the elevators.

He shouted, "Everyone, I have antidote. It's not permanent, it hurts a bit at first when you take it, but it'll make you immune to the venom!"

There was a cheer as the young man began to distribute the pills to everyone. Tom and Joe took theirs and said, "Cheers." as they swallowed them. Within seconds, everyone was bent over and groaning with a stomach cramp.

On the far wall, one of the flat screens that had just been showing static came back to life. A Nanabot was again in the frame.

She said harshly, "I see you have managed to destroy one of my sisters. For this, the babies will be punished."

The screen again filled with static.

Tom said to Joe, "Looks like ... someone got to em .. huh?"

Joe nods and replies, "Yup. Lets see if we can't get to em more."

Joe and Tom gather several of the other men and makes sure they have weapons and ammo for them. They proceed out the destroyed door into the very bright light. Tom and Joe stay close together as they proceed towards what looks like from a distance, a ramp or some other type of entrance. The slab of light is oblong horizontally. As they approached, they began to see within the ship. Neither of them could describe what they saw ... it was a technological marvel beyond them.

The group of men walk slowly up the ramp and look into the huge bay. It appeared to be empty from where they stood. One of the men came up with a large knapsack in his hands.

He says, "I have about 100 pounds of C4 here ... you think we could leave them a present?"

Joe said, "I dunno, that thing is so big that even that much ordnance wouldn't do much unless we put it somewhere vital -- and I have no idea where that would be."

He looked around. He didn't even see what was generating the light. It seemed to come out of the air.

"Maybe if you talk to your captain -- isn't she with Brian or some of the doctors? Sounds like they took out that robot -- maybe they have an idea." Joe commented half heartedly.

The private with the knapsack looked at the corporal with the radio, who nodded and started talking. "Captain, we seem to temporarily have access to at least the lower levels of the ship. We have explosives. Anybody down there have any ideas where to hit 'em where it hurts? Over."

In the lab, Steve had successfully removed the Nanabot's head and was in the process of dismantling it.

Captain Scheele entered the room, talking on her radio, and asked, "Steve, this is a long shot, but have you found out anything about their technology yet? Some of our men have a bomb, they're on the alien spacecraft, and they want to know what to blow up to do the most damage."

Steve took a deep breath and said, "Wow, Captain, I barely have any idea what I'm looking at here, but -- I don't know if you can see this, but they really like these ring constructions, like this one." He pointed toward where the robot's head had connected to its body, where there were a number of concentric rings. "They seem to use them to deliver power and information. I'm not sure what they've got in them, but the way everything leads to and from them, they're important. If they see anything like that, putting a hole in it is probably going to be bad for the ship."

"Got it," said the captain. "OK, Corporal, the word is, and it's just a guess, that if you can find something that looks like a ring that's got lots of wires or tubes leading into and out of it, that's probably vital. Do what you can, but if you meet resistance, pull back, do you hear me? You are not expendable. No suicide missions."

"Yes, Ma'am," said the corporal. "Well, you heard her. Her voice is ... different, but it's definitely her."

Joe and Tom looked everywhere for something that looked even remotely close to the description of rings and things. No where could they find it among all the electronics they saw. The Corporal began wandering closer to the central core of the bay. As he looked upwards, he began to realize that each successive tier was another ... ring. He shook his head and looked again. Sure enough, as far as his eyes could focus upward into the bright, pulsing light, all he saw was layer after layer of rings with many tubes and strange other things connected to it. The electronics were so far advanced beyond anything he had ever seen before, he would have missed it totally, but for the size and scope of what he saw.

"Rings, rings ..." the corporal shouted while Tom, Joe and the other soldiers looked around for anything that looked ring-shaped.

The corporal was pointing up and shouted again, "Wait," everybody looked at him. That was when he said, "This whole MFing ship is the mother of all rings ... Look." He pointed again ... everyone looked up.

About eight feet from the floor was something silvery that stuck out from the white wall like a shelf or an air duct. Every few feet some bundle of cables or group of tubes or conduits joined it. It looked like something that one might see in a basement ceiling of a building, except that when they looked closer, they could see that it wasn't a solid block of metal or a hollow duct; it was a tightly packed bundle of electronics that was two feet wide, one foot high and extended both ways as far as the eye could see. It curved out of sight, behind the hospital, which was currently in the central well of the ship, in both directions. In other words, it was a huge ring. They could see others like it on higher levels of the spaceship.

"You boys gonna blow a hole in that big ring?" Tom asked.

"Yes sir," said the corporal, whose nametag read Merrick. "OK, Epps, let's find a good target before they figure out we're here."

The private with the knapsack opened it up and started eyeing the shelf like electronics bundle above his head, looking for any spot that looked more vital than any other. Merrick found a small user interface console near the ground that had a huge conduit of some sort connected to the ring directly above. He opened the panel just above the console, the nano circuitry was well beyond anything he had studied in class. He and Epps began placing the charges all around the inside of the large conduit and connecting the radio frequency detonators.

Tom and Joe shout simultaneously, "Look out! There's thousands of those monkey things commin ... fast."

The techs turn and look up. There is a black flapping mass rapidly approaching the bay they were in. There was no time to run ... or do anything else. Joe and Tom Huddle close together with their weapons out ready to defend the men planting the bomb.

The hoard paid them no mind, as they rapidly flew into an opening in the central core about 40 feet above their heads. The men stood with their mouths open in awe at the sheer number of creatures they saw swiftly and coordinately in motion.

Merrick asks softly, "Just what do you think that's all about?"

Tom replies, "I have no Idea there son, but if I were to make a guess ... I would say them things are retreating ... and ya'll better hurry or we might be goin onna trip."

The 2 Military Techs looked at each other for a second and then completed setting the C4 charges where they were sure it would do the most damage. The men in the bay all ran down the ramp and back into the doors of the hospital as fast as they could run as soon as all of the radio detonators were enabled.

A very young and cute blond girl stood there with captain's bars pinned to her blue jean overall romper, and an M-16 weapon in her hand.

She says, "Good work men, now let's blow the thing."

Merrick gasps, "Is that you Captain Sheelie?"

She says, "Yup." as she takes a device from her pocket and flips a red cap up. She says with a sneer, "Duck!" as the throws the revealed switch.

The ship began to rise, eerily silent, a gust of fresh air blowing through the windowless hospital as it lifted off the ground. When it was only about 20 feet up ... there was a flash of red-orange fire from the lowest level of the spacecraft as the explosive detonated, followed shortly after by a loud report. One side of the ship immediately dropped to the ground again with an enormous, echoing boom.

Shortly after that, Tom laughed. "Got 'em good there boys! Uh, and Captain."

The ship continued rising, no longer silently, a droning whine coming from it and echoing all around them. It was obviously having trouble stabilizing its ascent, as it wobbled and dipped widely as it rose.

The orange light from the rising sun suddenly lit their faces as the ship revealed more of the surrounding land and sky.

"... all over the world reports are coming in of the ships retreating, their robots and monkey like minions returning to the ships as the alien spaceships are withdrawing into the air," said one of the lobby's TV monitors, its signal no longer blocked.

Then ... nothing could be heard but the cheers of everyone in the hospital lobby.

"Looks like we done learned 'em a lesson," said Tom. "One thing, though ... how come we ain't babies?"

"Well, I took one of those pills that Dr. Benson gave us," said Corporal Merrick, "but ... a lot of the troops didn't. And you two didn't until the age thing had started." he added, looking at Tom and Joe.

"Well, Dr. Benson did manage to inject a lot of the monkey things with a drug that made them produce the antidote instead of the regression venom," said Captain Scheele in her now little girl voice.

"Yeah," said Joe, looking dubious, "but every one of the creatures he shot with that dart gun of his was grabbed by the other ones and taken away. It was like they knew what he was doing."

"The robot that made it down to the lab said the same," said the captain. "It said they knew what we were up to, but nobody else they've invaded has ever managed to do that ... but it also said it wouldn't work."

"Well, all I know is I'm gonna go an' make sure Martha's OK," said Tom.

"She should be fine," said the captain. "We stopped them in the lab before they made it to the nursery, where she was helping take care of the babies."

Captain Scheele told the soldiers in the lobby to stay there and set up a watch post, and she went downstairs again with Tom and Joe.

Brian was busy looking into the microscope when The captain, Tom, and the Sheriff arrived at the lab. Tom eyed the vulcans enviously as he passed them. His hands itching to fire them.

The captain came to where Brian was seated and said, "Had any luck counter acting what happened to us?"

Brian turns is his chair and says, "This xenomorph is a genetic marvel, it has the ability to ..." His eyes get large as he sees Tom and the sheriff. He continues, "Did you 2 get the antidote after you were bitten? How is it that your not ... her age?" He point to the captain.

Tom says, "I'm not sure why, cept maybe I wasa lot older n her maybe? Joe here neither. We're young men again ... and it darn well feels good."

Joe and Tom nod to each other. Brian gets off the stool. He appears to be a young man of about 16 now. The pills stopped his regression for now.

He walks to Tom and asks, "Can I get a blood sample for the 2 of you? I would like to analyze it. The reason is, because the older an individual is, the faster the process appeared to work ... until the 2 of you."

Tom and the sheriff offer their arms. Brian takes the samples and rushed back to the lab bench. He prepares the slide and stains them well, before placing the keep on top of the slide sandwiching it in between. He puts Tom's sample in first and looks closely. Under normal magnification, everything appeared normal. Once Brian began using the electron microscope, He discovered a new virus he had never before seen.

As he manipulated it, he discovered it was xenomorphic ... almost like the prion in the venom. Closer examination revealed that it had made the venom antidote ... contagious ... and was airborne. Brian sits back from the scope and sighs loudly.

The Captain asks, "What's wrong Dr.? I hope ... it's a good thing .. maybe? We could use some good news right about now."

Brian says with awe in his voice, "It seems my ... antidote .. changed the very base of the Weapon venom they were using on us. It became a virus by combining with an earth variant ... the common cold ... a Rhino Virus. It caused all the monkey's that came in contact .. carriers and infected ... rendering their venom into antidote. None of their bites are a problem any more except maybe for infection. I have to tell the others about this,"

Brian began typing furiously into a nearby laptop computer.

As he typed, Tom said, "I'm gonna go see Martha -- I wanna make sure she's OK."

Joe nodded, and Tom went to the nursery. Nodding to the guards who were still posted at the nursery doors, Tom went inside and immediately heard multiple gasps.

"Tom!" said his neighbor Vivian, Tina's mother. And then ...

"Oh my stars!" said Martha.

Tom practically ran to her, but she stared at him, and something made him stop before embracing her. She was stunned.

"Tom ... look at you!" she said, with a voice full of amazement. "You don't look a day over 30."

"Never mind that, Honey," said Tom, "You ain't gonna believe what I seen. I been bit and clawed by whole swarms o' them critters, and I been on a giant flyin' saucer ... helped cover some o' the troops so they could blow a chunk off'n it, too."

"They told us ... the spaceship had left," said Martha. "But Tom! You look so young now! And I'm ... the same."

"Oh Martha," said Tom. "That don't matter none. You look the same as you always did in my eyes."

"Oh, Tom," Martha said. "Seems like every day you do something to remind me why I married you. But ..."

"Honey, this ain't over," said Tom. "If you're worried about getting older sooner'n me, that Brian boy can probably do something to fix us up when this is done with. But ... I don' know, it just feels like it's too easy. Them aliens, they gotta have more tricks up their sleeves."

Back in the lab, Brian was talking to Captain Scheele, John, Joe, Steve, and the others.

"It looks as if many of the other hospitals and research labs around the world are observing the same thing," he said. "The biological and medical forums are on fire now. The aliens withdrew because suddenly their Astropithecines became ineffective, almost all at once."

"I don't want to spoil the victory," said the captain, "but can they ... do anything about it? Can they fix it?"

"I don't know," Brian said. "I'm sure we haven't even scratched the surface of their biotechnology. But Captain ... they have robots, too ... and a highly advance AI. What else might they have? I'm sure they don't need a biological vector for spreading that venom."

About that time, A young man in a diaper came walking up to the Captain and said, "I think we should notify the Pentagon that the attackers have retreated after the initial use of the antivenom on the critters."

The Captain looked at the baby quizzically for a few seconds before her eyes widened with recognition,

"Colonel Trapp? Is that you?" she gasps softly, "You ... your so adorable."

She bends and hugs the Colonel and pats his hinny softly more to embarrass him than out of affection.

The Colonel squirms and pushes the Young captain away as he sputters, "Wh .. wha ... what'd u do that for?"

The other women giggle softly as they all reply in unison, "Better get used to it young man. It's going to happen a lot from now on."

There is laughter from all around as colonel Trapp blushes crimson.

Martha turns to Tom and hugs his neck, "I love you ... granpa." Then she and Tom kiss.

Bryan says softly, "How's Donna and Tina holding up?"

Deanna replies, "They are both sleeping like the adorable babies they have become. It seems they, at least, have accepted their fate for now."

Suddenly Donna woke up. It was like she could hear a very loud, very high pitched sound, and it hurt her ears a bit, and she didn't like it. She started to cry, sounding exactly like a baby, and she could hear another baby crying too -- probably Tina, in the next bassinette over.

Donna realized she was acting very babyishly by waking up crying, so she stopped and took a breath. "Mommy!" she called out. "Do you hear that?"

"Hear what, sweetie?" said Deanna, coming over to pick up her daughter.

"I dunno. A sound. It's weally high. Like a beep. But it's not stopping."

From her cradle Tina's high voice said, "Yea! I hear it too! It woke me up!"

Colonel Trapp puts his small hands over his ears. He feels the urge to cry as well and has a really hard time not.

He says with a small quavering whimper in his voice, "What ever it is ... makes me very upset inside."

From the cradles through out the nursery, the individuals that have totally regressed to the 18 month old place, began to whimper and cry. Vivian, Martha, and Deanna look around, totally confused, none of them can hear a thing, nor could the Captain, Tom, or Joe.

The EMS Broadcast on the flat screen on the wall began to get real snowy and breaking up, until finally nothing but static was showing.

The Captain's radio had one last broadcast from the lab, "Hell .. ll oo?? ... is ... aian ... We hve found something and need ... immediately ... hurry."

The static became so bad, they no longer could hear a voice.

The Captain picks up The colonel and says, "Tom, you and Joe need to come with me. It seems the both of you have been drafted into my ... baby brigade."

Everyone laughs nervously as they proceed to the lab. When they all had arrived, they see Brian hunched over his microscope. The group walk up to him.

The Captain asks, "We didn't get a clear message from you. All of the communications appear to have been jammed again."

Brian turns and smiles, "I'm not able to regrow someone back to their normal ages, however, I can selectively alter someone’s age to a predetermined place from older to younger at this point.

I know there are going to be many people like you Tom, who are younger now .. while your loved one is a lot older. I have also discovered something else. The Xenomorph Protein the Aliens used, can be administered as an aerosol. In other words, a high frequency sound could, in essence, be used to vaporize a large quantity and make it dispersant in the atmosphere. The Inoculant would be ineffective then."

"High frequency sound ...?" said Captain Scheele. "Wait, in the nursery, all the babies were saying they heard a sound. Can't babies hear sounds that are higher?"

"Wait," Brian said. "They were hearing a high-pitched sound?" When the captain nodded, he looked very grave. "That's bad. I only thought it was a theory. Instead, it's probably exactly what they're doing. I wonder what they did ... we have to trace the source of the sound! Steve!"

"Yeah, Dr. Benson?" asked Steve, who was taking a break from disassembling the Nanabot.

"I think there's some kind of sonic bomb near here -- maybe more than one -- that's emitting frequencies too high for us to hear, but extremely loud. They're probably using it to vaporize more of their bio-weapons. Can you make something to detect them?"

"Hmm. Probably. I'd need a microphone that could pick them up." Steve paused. "Wait!" He ran over to the parts of the Nanabot. "If anything can, I'll bet this thing's 'ears' can ..."

He started taking parts from the careful array of small pieces that he had removed and rearranging them.

"It's loud! It hurts!" said Colonel Trapp, in Captain Scheele's arms.

"I know ... Sir," said the captain, "But maybe we can use those ears of yours to help us. Can you tell us when it gets louder and softer?"

The baby nodded. As the captain carried her charge around the building, trying to deduce the device's location by playing a hot-and-cold game, and as Steve was soldering parts together to make a detector, Brian was sending email to his colleagues around the world, warning them of this new threat.

"The babies hear something, but I don't," said Amy. "Nothing. Weally. I mean ... Wwwwweally." She sighed. "You know, back when I was this age the first time, I told Mama that I didn't talk like that on purpose. See? I was wight. Wight." She sighed again because she had developed an adorable lisp.

As soon as the captain got to the front door on the ground level, The Colonel began to cry loudly. He couldn't help himself. The sound was piercingly loud and appealed to a level inside him beyond his understanding. The Captain patted Trapp on his diapered bottom as she made soft cooing sounds. Trapp pointed out into the parking lot.

Sitting there on 3 legs, was a huge ball shaped thing with many rings encircling it. As the Captain watched, the rings would glow in waves running from the bottom to the top. When they had reached the top, a huge cloud of some thick vapor would pour out and disperse quickly.

Trap said in a crying whiny voice, "Th .. that it ... that's where it comin from." He points outside.

Steve came running up carrying a sensor that was connected to a handheld device by a cord.

"It's near here?" he asked. "Let's see ... yes, something's emitting a narrow frequency of about 31 kilohertz, way too high for people to hear -- well, adults anyway."

"What's that? It looks like a saltshaker," said the captain.

"Well ... it is one," said Steve. "I needed something to protect the microphone -- it's pretty delicate, and it used to have a robot head protecting it. So I found this in the cafeteria. It's got a metal top, with holes in it to let the sound in. And this is just a handheld oscilloscope."

"Ingenious," said the captain. "Do you think the sound's coming from that thing in the parking lot? Or is it just a decoy?"

"Let me triangulate," Steve said as he walked across the lobby, pointing the saltshaker-microphone in different directions. "Yes," he said in a raised voice from the far end of the lobby, "It's definitely coming from that thing out there! I guess I could try going out to dismantle it ..."

"I've got a better idea," said the captain.

She drew her sidearm, took careful aim, which was slightly more difficult given the baby she was carrying, and shot the device. Her bullet noisily ricocheted off one of the alien device's rings, creating a spark, but this seemingly didn't affect it.

"Hmm," she said. "We're gonna need a bigger gun."

"If you're radio's still not working, I can go talk to the troops at the watch post," said Steve. "They've got rifles and stuff, right?"

"And stuff, yes. Why don't you ask if they've got -- look out!"

The alien device suddenly sent out an energy bolt in the captain's direction, but it didn't seem to be traveling the speed of light -- the captain's military-trained reflexes caused her to dodge quickly.

"Guess it didn't like your bullet," said Steve, who was prudently hiding behind a support column.

"Well, I'm liking it less and less," said the captain. "Will you kindly go to the front of the building and ask the troops at the watch post if we can borrow one of their M320s? I'll stay here and keep an eye on the thing."

"Right away," said Steve.

While the captain was occupied, in the nursery, Donna was feeling fussy. "Mommy," she said, in her tiny voice, "I'm hungry, and I don't like the noise, and I think my diaper is wet."

"Oh, sweetie," said Deanna, "I think they've got something I can feed you, don't they?"

Deanna had noticed that Donna, Tina, and the other babies still had a full set of teeth, so she looked around the nursery and found some Gerber Graduates food in the refrigerator, bite-sized and good for babies who could chew.

"Let's see, these have zinc and Vitamin E ..." she began, trying to hold Donna and open the container at the same time.

"The sound is so loooooooud ..." Donna said, whimpering.

"Here you go, Honey," said Deanna, trying to distract Donna by putting a wheel-shaped cracker snack in her mouth.

Donna took a bite of the cracker and accidentally caught Deanna's finger while she was biting down.

"Ow!" Deanna said. "Donna, you've got some sharp teeth!"

"I'm sowwy Mommy," Donna said. "Are you OK?"

"I think so, but let me get a Band aid," said Deanna, going to the first-aid kit. "Is the cracker good?"

"Yeah, it's pretty good, Mommy," said Donna, chewing on the crunchy cracker.

Steve arrived back with the large weapon in his arms. He handed it to the captain, who had trouble holding it. She was amazed at how heavy it was. She wasn't sure if she would be able to fire the weapon now, because of her demure size.

Steve, sensing the dilemma, took the weapon and pulled the slide back with a loud click. He aimed at the glowing ring at the top just before it spewed the venom aerosol, and fired. There was a tremendous explosion.

The light blinded everyone standing near by as it lit every thing brighter than the morning sun outside. There was a huge rush of overpressure wind that knocked everyone to the ground. When the dust had settled, A huge hole was in the parking lot where the sonic bomb had rested. They all could see the hole was at least 20 feet across ... how deep it was, they could not see from where they stood. All breathed a sigh of relief they were not standing closer ... when it went off

"Nice shot for a med tech," said Captain Scheele.

"Thanks," said Steve, "but this thing's laser sight made it a lot easier. Can't say I've fired a grenade launcher before."

"Well, now you can," said the captain. "I didn't expect it would be so heavy for me ... now." She looked at her small body and sighed. Then she turned to the baby she carried. "Colonel, is the noise gone?"

"Yeah," said Colonel Trapp in his tiny voice. "But I think I can still hear it ... a lot quieter, though. Maybe they had more of those, but not near here."

"More of 'em?" said Steve. "Let's see." He held up his saltshaker microphone and looked at his device as he walked. "I'm picking up ... yes, there is something on that frequency, but it's not close. I can triangulate on it, though, with time."

"Well, I'm going to try to get in touch with the base," said the captain. "We might need more help."

About that time, on the large screen on the other side of the lobby, A person in uniform with 4 stars on their shoulders came on. He said somberly, "Ladies and Gentlemen of the earth, as you already know, we have been under attack by an extraterrestrial threat. Our space telescopes have revealed that there are 24 extremely large saucer shaped crafts in stationary orbit at the LaGrange point between earth and the moon." He shuffles some papers on the podium in front of him before he continues, "We have been in contact with a hospital whose location will remain secret as possible for now in the hopes all of the Aliens have not been notified. They have come to our world on a mission of conquest. We have managed to capture one of their robots and are in the process of disassembly. The technology is many centuries beyond ours. There is now a new threat. We are currently calling them Sonic Bombs. If you come in contact with one of these, destroying it is the utmost priority. There is a danger, it must be attacked from a distance, and from undercover ... it will retaliate if not destroyed immediately, and will explode with tremendous force ..."

Suddenly, there is more static and the picture becomes snow. Baby Trapp begins to cry again as he puts his hands to his ears, "Owwww! ... It back .. it hurts lots!"

There is a sound from outside. Everyone turns and sees 3 of the devises land several hundred yards from the hospital. As soon as the dust from landing had cleared. they began producing huge clouds of venom dispersant. This time ... it was bad as a wind had begun to blow ... spreading it far and wide.

The captain sighed. "Time to get more grenades."

In the nursery, they had heard a big explosion, and then the noise that had been bothering Donna went away. Then the general had made his speech, but it was interrupted by more static and the return of the noise. Donna and Tina were both crying again.

"Make it stop Mommyyyyy!" cried Donna.

"Now, I'm sure they're trying to find a way to stop it, dear," said Martha, nearby. "Deanna, do you want to get some rest -- Deanna! What's happened to you?"

Tina pulls herself to a standing position. She feels really weird being a baby again. Without thinking about it, she begins to suck her thumb. Tina thinks that she sort of likes the diaper she's in ... it feels soft and comfortable. She's not too thrilled about being unable to help going potty in them ... but there's really nothing she can do about that.

Vivian turns at the sound of Martha's yelp. She sees Deanna .. she looks like she’s about 16 years old again.

Vivian gasps, "Deanna, yo .. you've been bitten? When? We've been locked in her all this time and the men have defended this place well."

Tina turns and sees Deanna. Her eyes get big as she begins to suck her thumb harder. Tina stops for a bit and feels her teeth. She remembers they had all gone away earlier ... and now were back. They were small, pointed, and razor sharp.

Tina gasps out in fear, "I think it's when Donna accidentally bit her. I think ... our teef are ... fangs now ... like tha monkeys."

"What?" Deanna looked at her reflection in a polished metal cabinet. "Oh no! I need one of Brian's pills!" Outside the room, one of the soldiers noticed Deanna's predicament and ran for the lab.

"You mean ..." said Donna, "I bited Mommy? Oh noooo! I'm sowwy Mommy! I didn't mean to!"

In seconds the soldier came back, with Brian right behind, carrying a jar full of the antidote capsules.

Brian threw open the door, "Deanna! Quick! Swallow one of these!"

"Daddy!" said Donna, as her mother swallowed one of the capsules and experienced the unpleasant side effects. "I got teef again! But they're sharp! And I think I bited Mommy and made her get younger!"

"What? Let me see." Brian examined his daughter's teeth.

Vivian watches Brian as he examined Donna's teeth.

Vivian asks with trepidation in her voice, "Does this mean my daughter is going to become one of those ravening things? Running around biting people?"

Brian shakes his head and replies, "I don't think so. I think this is a residual effect put in place by the aliens to infect whom ever is in a caretaker position before the Nanabots take over completely. The same Inoculant that worked for the Astropithacrious .... will work for us as well and render the venom into a vaccine."

About that time, one of the men's radios speaks with the captain's cute little girl voice, "We have 3 of those things sitting in the parking lot. When we destroy them, they explode violently. We need some of that body armor you have in the boxes by the vulcans."

The man says, " Yes ma'am, right away."

He vanishes off down the hall. Shortly after, another huge explosion shakes everything.

Tina says excitedly, "That horrible nose has gotten a whole lot quieter."

"Well, Donna," said Brian, "just be careful and don't bite anybody, and everybody here should probably take one of these if you haven't already ..." He set the jar of capsules down on a table. "I'll get some syringes ready to give the babies the Inoculant. Be right back."

Brian headed back to the lab. On the way, he had an idea.

"Turning our own children into weapons against us," he muttered to himself as he walked down the hallway, "What kind of monsters are they? -- Wait." He stopped. "What if ... what if it could work the other way?"

After pausing for a moment to think, he took off running toward the lab. Bryan rushes into the lab and seats himself at the electron microscope. He takes one of the samples of the venom and quickly prepares a slide. He puts the slide under the viewer. He's sure if he adds an alkaloid mutagen agent to the new xenomorphic virus hybrid ... he could produce the same results within the monkeys. He grins to himself ... he knows that they live to bite. This time, they will live to bite the aliens!

Brian laughs to himself as he opens the bio-cooler and removes the strong mutagen. He takes a pipette and fills it to the .001 mml point and places a drop on the prepared slide. He watches intently as the xenomorphic virus begins to mutate into the exact state he was hoping for. He made many notes as he observed the rapid transition. As quickly as he could, he flashed all the new data out on the internet to everyone he possibly could.

Brian looks over to the other work bench and sees the Nanabot in many pieces. He wonders if there is any possibility that they can glean some kind of intelligence from it.

He gets on the radio and calls Captain Sheele, "Hello? Captain? This is Dr. Benson. I need you to send Steve back to the lab ... I need him to continue studying the Nanabot."

Captain Scheele replies, "We have him looking for more sonic bombs currently."

Brian responds, "I think any of your troops could handle that, but he is the best bet for us getting any information from this pile of junk."

"OK, Dr. Benson, I guess Steve agrees with you," said the captain. "He's already showing some of the troops how to use his triangulation device. He says he'll be right there."

"Great! Benson out."

Brian looked at his computer. Messages were already coming in from his colleagues, full of suggestions and ways to make sure the virus mutated in the proper way. He organized all the information into a procedure to follow, and then Steve arrived.

"I'm back, Doc!" said Steve. "You wanted me to rattle the robot's brains some more?"

"Well, if there's any way to get information out of that thing, now's better than later," Brian said. "Got any ideas?"

"Well, if you'd asked me a little while ago, I'd have said I'd tried everything," said Steve. "But ... wait."

"I knew you'd think of something!" said Brian, grinning.

Steve sits at the bench and turns the goose neck lamp on. He swivels it so he could see inside the chest area of the Nanabot better. The Technology was super advanced beyond anything he had ever seen.

Steve says, "I think this gooey looking snot thing in this large ampoule looking thing with all the rings around it is the memory core. It appears to be some kind of Biogenetic thing ... perhaps it's alive or something."

Brian looks over at the coffee can sized clear ampoule as Steve carefully removes it from the rest of the systems. He places it on the table in one of the racks and fastens the finger clamps so it was solidly mounted and wouldn't fall over.

Steve scratches the back of his head as he stares at the strange device. Within the clear ampoule, were 4 separate gel looking constructs. All through them, were many Nanoscale devices that were only visible because of how many were stacked together.

Steve mutters more to himself than to anyone else, "I wonder what would happen if I attached power to the top and bottom rings ... then attach a voice voder to the place I found the vocal transponder the Nanabot had?"

Brian gets off his stool and walks to the workbench and looks closely at the large goo filled ampoule. He focuses a handheld magnifying device at it. What he sees is beyond his imagination. It really looks like he is observing a living brain ... although he feels this cannot be. He sees nano-circuitry interlaced within the biomaterial beyond anything he could dream.

Steve takes a transformer and sets it to DC current. He isn't real sure how much output, so he set it to 24 volts, and attaches the positive electrode to the top ring, and the negative to the one on the bottom. He takes the Nanabot's voice voder and attaches it to where he thinks the devices output port is. As soon as he attaches it, a female voice begins speaking.

"... SURE the people of this planet have all turned into sweet, adorable babies by now," the voice was saying, without any pauses, "so that means soon I'll be able to do what I was made for, what I was programmed for, taking care of cute, cuddly little Earth babies, just like we saw on their video broadcasts and information networks, and I was programmed with that information, so it must be at least somewhat accurate, though I have to be skeptical about it, because taking care of the babies is my first priority; if there turn out to be inaccuracies in the information, I can alter my programming to suit the situation, so the babies will be in good hands once we get used to each other ... I'm sure the Masters will find me and repair me soon, so I can start taking care of babies ..."

Brian was fascinated. "Is that the way they think? So focused? It's almost ... monomaniacal."

"Seems so, Doc," said Steve, who was holding an electronic voice recorder near the speaker.

"I wonder ... I wonder if ..." Brian said to himself, going back to his computer and typing like a man possessed.

Steve got off his stool as the Nanabot rambled on without a break. He leans over and sees Brian was writing a script telling the Nanabot that it wasn't just earth babies she was to take care of, but babies of her Masters as well.

Brian asks, "Can you hook up some kind of input so we can ... communicate with that thing some how?"

Steve again scratches his head as he turns and looks at the mass of tangled advanced electronics he had scattered all over the workbench.

Steve says softly, "Well ... I can hook the ear speakers to the input port near the center. I think it will act like some kind of direct user interface ... it's just a guess ... but I think."

Brian replies, "Get to it, I have a mother of an idea ... if it'll work."

Steve nods and returns to his stool. He hooks up his laptop to several devices. He makes many notes as he begins to solder things together. When he had finished, he had a contraption that looked more like a work of junk art than anything else. He attached it to what he thought was the user input interface.

He said to it, "Hello? Can you hear me Nanabot?"

The female voice altered instantly and responded, "Master? I hoped you would come quickly. I seem to have had a malfunction. I need help if I'm to take care of babies ..."

It began to ramble on about its duties and responsibilities to her charges.

Brian turned towards the mass of haphazard equipment and said, "Tell me why we are invading earth and turning them all into babies."

The Nanabot replied instantly, "We have used all the natural resources in our natural biosphere and found this probe called voyager. It had this golden disk on it and we decided this planet had everything we needed. We had devastated our world through years of neutron wars and we didn't want to have the same thing happen to earth ... "

Steve looks at Bryan and said with astonishment, "Wow! This thing will probably tell us everything if we word the questions properly."

Brian nods as he turns back to his Keyboard and types furiously once more. He names the Nanabot’s brain case a Biogenetic Quad Core Nano Neural Net processing system.

Brian stopped for a moment. "Steve, I know I've been asking a lot of you," he said, "but ... what would it take to make something like one of their sonic bombs? That is ... if we could make a fluid payload and sonically disperse it into a vapor?"

"I don't know," said Steve, "but wouldn't we need some kind of high frequency piezoelectric oscillator? If we had one, the rest would be easy -- the problem is finding the part. Wait ..."

"Sounds like you're onto something," Brian said, encouragingly.

"Well, ultrasonic humidifiers already do exactly what you need," said Steve. "The hospital has lots of them. I don't know if we'd even need to modify them, except to make them run on battery power."

"You're right!" said Brian. "We just have to get several of them together, then we can run them on batteries and fill them with the solution containing the mutated xenomorphic virus, and bam!" He clapped his hands together. "Instant revenge."

"OK!" said Steve. "I'll talk to some of the nurses who know where the hospital keeps them. We'll get them here."

"OK!" said Captain Scheele, echoing Steve as she walked into the lab, pushing the baby Colonel Trapp in a stroller in front of her. "I think we've blown up every sonic bomb in a ten-mile radius ... for now. Until they send more, of course."

Just then, the building's walls began to shake violently.

In unison, everyone said with trepidation, "What's that?"

~~ End Pt2 ~~

Title: Astropithecairos - Pt3 - Retaliation


Tina Manos - 18yo College Student

John Manos - Tina's Dad

Vivian Manos - Tina's Mom

Donna Benson - 18yo Best Friend

Brian Benson - Donna's Dad

Deanna Benson - Donna's mom

Scene: In the Destroyed Hospital Lab


Brian grabs his work and holds on as Steve does the same. They look at each other in askance.

Steve says, "I think the enemy has something rather large up their sleeve."

"Sentry post, report!" Captain Scheele was shouting into her radio. "Are we being bombed? What is the situation? Over!"
"I'm not a geologist, but I suppose an earthquake is possible," said Brian, "with all the sonic weaponry. But it would seem highly coincidental."

"What in the world is going on?" said Amy, skidding down the hallway in her footed pajamas from the nursery.

"Captain," said the voice of the corporal, "It's another alien ship. It's landed on top of the hospital again, but this time ..." Suddenly all the lights went out in the basement. "This time they're digging into the ground or something."

All the lights flickered off momentarily. The emergency lights come on casting an eerie pall on everything. The building continues to shimmy and shake for a few minutes ... then total silence. Brian looks around the lab. All his equipment has gone dark as the power went out.

Steve says with frustration in his voice, "Well, that does the conversation with this piece of junk. Without power, I can't energize it."

Brian says with anger, "Damn! If only we had another way to get power."

Steve says with a soft laugh, "Well, I do have 2 Yamaha generators stuck in the service closet. They only have 5 gallon fuel tanks ... but it should last for several hours."

Brian jumps off his stool and slaps Steve on his back, "I will do what ever in my power, to have you on my research team if we survive this."

Both men hurry to the service closet as the military mans all the access points and insure the weapons are loaded.

Running down the hallways quickly turned to uneasy shambling, though, as the shaking began again and got worse. They started to hear groaning and cracking sounds coming from the walls and floor themselves, and it was difficult for them to keep their feet.

Brian and Steve got to the closet, and each picked up a heavy generator with difficulty. As they struggled to get the devices back to the lab, Brian got a horrified look on his face.

"No!" he gasped, "This is way too much activity if all they're trying to do is isolate us. I think ..."

The nine-year-old shape of Captain Scheele was only visible in silhouette with the emergency lighting as she came running down the hall to meet Steve and Brian.

"The aliens!" she shouted. "They're trying to take the building! They're digging it up, and they're trying to physically load it onto their spacecraft."

"But why?" wondered Steve as he made it to the lab and set his generator down next to the disassembled Nanabot. "Are they grabbing other buildings too? Or just this one?"

"We have no way to know," said the captain. "Comms are cut off. It must be the ship. It's all around us."

"But why would they only want this building?" said Brian. "That doesn't make sense. Unless ..."

He remembered the general's address on TV. Something about ... a hospital that they weren't revealing the location of, in case the aliens learned that it was the source of the discoveries that had allowed the human race to stave off the attacks ...

"Good Lord," said Brian. "It's us. They're after us. They want to stop us from learning anything more about their technology." He paused. "There can't be much time. I hope I'm wrong, but they're probably going to assault the hospital once it's entirely aboard their ship."

In the front of the hospital, many men manned the defense post. The many vulcans were armed and waiting for action. Nervous chatter among them men could be heard.

Suddenly, the men could hear the sound of something approaching. It had a metallic Tic, Tic, Tic that grew louder and more intense. To add to this sound, was the fact that there were .... many, many approaching. Out of the blinding blue/green light that surrounded them, came something from a robotech's nightmare.

The lead thing looked like a 6 legged spider as it approached on its articulated legs. The men could see many weapon pods mounted in various places. Exactly what the weapons did .... none knew ... the technology was far advanced of anything they had ever seen before.

A bright ball of energy flashed from one of the things and impacted just to the left of the 2 main doors. There was a tremendous explosion and debris flew everywhere as the energy of the plasma ball dissipated. The men were horrified at the amount of damage it caused.

They began to make out the shapes of hundreds of these things as they approached them. The words "Fire At Will!!" echoed loudly throughout the ground floor. The Vulcan’s began spitting their depleted uranium death. Their sound, like many jet turbines at full throttle as the Robot things began to take massive damage. Waves of them fell into heaps of tangled, sparking metal.

Numerous salvos of plasma leapt from the advancing hoard and impacted on the facade of the building, causing portions of it to cave in. Dust and debris filled the air. Suddenly, there was another ball of energy from the left side, impacting on a support pillar and making the building shiver. Shortly after, another struck the floor to the right of the sentry post, leaving a crater and sending bits of concrete and tile flying in all directions.

"They're coming from everywhere!" shouted one of the soldiers.

Sure enough, there was really no single defensible position in the hospital lobby's ruins. A simple sheetrock wall exploded into dust behind the sentry post, another spider-like robot marching through it. The soldiers operating the chain guns simply couldn't turn them fast enough to hit every target.

Soon, it was over. The robots directly targeted the chain guns themselves with their energy weapons, first heating them red-hot, then melting and warping them until they were unusable. The ammunition exploded like popcorn, sending the shells flying unguided out of the remnants of the building.

"Captain! We're overrun!" shouted the corporal into his radio before he was stopped.

The spider like robots had manacle-like appendages on the ends of their limbs, and as great numbers of them closed in, they quickly immobilized the soldiers. The smoldering wreckage of many dozens of the robots lay on the floor and throughout the exterior of the hospital ... but hundreds of them had swarmed the lobby, and hundreds more were coming.

Captain Scheele swore, which sounded very strange in her nine-year-old voice. "Now they've got combat robots that look like spiders and have weapons out of some sci-fi movie," she said. "I don't know if we can stop them. Not that we won't try. But it's gonna be tough."

Brian looked intensely at the two syringes in his hand. Steely determination was in his eyes.

"I have to go to the nursery," he said.

"But Brian," said Deanna, who looked like a 14-year-old now, "are you sure it won't hurt them?"

"Not really," he said. "But the aliens are coming for us, and fast. There might not be another way. I'm about 95% sure this won't do any permanent harm. I wish I could be more sure. But there's no way to test first."

"Daddy, give us the shots," said Donna in her tiny baby voice.

"Yeah," said Tina. "The aliens are gonna come get us."

Brian waited a moment, but he didn't have much time.

"Okay. You girls are so brave. But you're going to have to stay brave." He uncapped a syringe and started to give Donna an injection in her arm. "Now, if all else fails, here's what you girls will have to do ..."

As Brian administered the shots to the babies in the nursery, a familiar sound could be heard walking down the hall from the lab. When Brian had completed the last injection, He feels a very sharp sting in his neck. As he slaps it, he finds a small dart.

He turns, he sees several Nanabots standing in the door with hand held weapons ... obviously, they fire venom darts. He can see ... everyone in the room not at the 18 month old level had been shot. He can feel the venom as it began to course though him again. Luckily ... he had taken an antidote pill .. though this would only last a short time.

Quickly, everyone in the room was pounced upon by one of those monkey things. The sound of the women screaming and the babies crying filled the room. One of the
Nanabots smiles and coos softly, "We have won sweetie. Your fix only lasts a short time ... and we have the full force of our venom still. We have taken your whole complex and removed it from you world."

The smell of rotten eggs begins to permeate the room. Brian wonders if someone had lost control. Suddenly, a very tall, thin, grey skinned being with eyestalks and very glittery emerald green eyes walks into the nursery. The Nanabots bow to him.

He says in a strangely musical voice, "Now, which one of these ... is that Brian entity?"

The Nanabots all point to Brian and say in unison, "He is Master."

The tall, thin alien gestured unintelligibly toward Brian and said, "You are the one called Brian Benson." Its voice was musical in tone but had a strange accentuation pattern. "We understand that you are responsible for defeating our biological attacks. We are most impressed. We had not thought this possible for a world such as Earth, which has only reached Level 5 in biotechnology. But now your world will not have you to help it."

"I'm nothing special," said Brian, being careful and nonchalant. "I just happened to be the first bioscientist to observe your weapons' effects. There are many, many others still on Earth more capable than I am."

"The people of this building ... 'hospital?' ... were the first to successfully defend themselves biologically, although soon many others followed, all over Earth," the alien explained. "I must give credit to Earth's decentralized communications system. It is very difficult to suppress. But all the initial analysis and innovation came from you. You are now ... stopped. The invasion can now resume."

"Now, just a minute," said Captain Scheele. "Why invade Earth at all? Earth has nothing you could want. Your technology is so far beyond ours. And why a plan to turn us into babies?"

Tina holds her nose and says in a disgusted baby's voice, "Peee eeeuuu ... did you go poopie in your space suit?" She waves her hand as all the babies in the nursery begin to giggle. Tina continues, "Baby thinka Nana should put u inna diaper."

"It's hydrogen sulfide," whispered Brian to Tina. "It must be a natural part of their atmosphere. They may need it to breathe. Good thing there's oxygen too!"

Tina says with a hummph in her voice, "No care ... is that thingy no can keeps from fartin ... should be inna diaper." More giggles from the babies.

"It has worked on other worlds before," the alien said ignoring Tina. "Babies are weak and easy to control physically. And we bear no ... blood-guilt, as we have not killed you. Instead, we take excellent care of you ... more care than you take of each other, I might add. And as for what we want ..." The alien paused. "That would be ... telling."

Donna pulls herself to her feet by the crib rail and says, "Baby think u needsa diaper change. How u takes carea babies is u no can keepsa clean pannie on?"

Many more giggles from the babies and even some of the other men ... and the captain ... began to laugh. It was hard to tell with the alien’s phsyiogamy, but it would appear he had began to blush ... his skin tone had changed to a darker hue.

At that point, several of the Nanas came and began to take charge of the giggling babies. It may have been ineffectual, but they each bit the Nanabot that was taking charge of them.

Unknown to all the babies, the memory cores of the Nanabots were essentially made from Biomass, which allowed for Brian’s modified Xenomorph virus to infect them, and cause them to become carriers.

One of the Nana's walks to Brian and injects him suddenly. There is a hissing pop. Brian feels a sharp sting in his neck again.

The Alien says in his singsong voice, "I know that you have an anti-venom within you, however, you have just received a massive overdose. I do so hope you don't mind ... going poopie, as the babies have said, in your diaper. You will enjoy being an infant."

He looks at a devise on his wrist for an instant as the Nanabot began giving all the people not at the 18 month stage yet, a shot.

He continues, "In about 10 minutes, your time, you will experience babyhood again."

Suddenly, the Alien grabs his neck and seems to blanch for a second. One of the nearby Nanabots perks up and rushes to him

She coos softly, "Is baby aww right, Nana will take him and care for him."

The Alien looks at the Nanabot with his weird stalked eyes and says with incredulity, "Has your AI gone mad? I'm no baby."

The Nanabot smiles a wonderful smile and coos softly, "Not yet, but shortly. We are programmed to recognize the regression syndrome. You have just started it sweetie." as she pats the Alien on his bottom very softly.

Donna said, "Oooo, wow Daddy ... does that mean it worked?"

Brian could feel his clothes beginning to feel loose on him. "Yes, I think so, Honey," he said to Donna. To the alien he said, "How does it feel to be ... Patient Zero?"

"You have unleashed your own bioweapon," the alien said quickly, with a sense of urgency. "Quickly. Close all ventilation ducts leading to this cargo hold. The airborne virus must not spread."

"You have to know that won't help," said Brian. "It started spreading the instant this ship picked up the hospital."

The Nanabots were cooing and lavishing their attention on the alien, and made no move to obey its orders.

"Awwww, look at the silly baby, playing like he's the big important Fleet Admiral," said one. "So adorable!"

The alien seemed to be no taller than an adult human now, so it was growing smaller.

About that time, One of the Nanabots coos to the others, "It seems we have a lot of new babies on board our ships." The others took notice. “I have just received a communication from fleet command ship ... there are more appearing all the time."

Brian says to the alien, "It seems ... using our babies against us wasn't a good idea either, now was it?"

The Alien looked at Brian with his eyestalks. Apparently it dawned on him. He looks at the Nana's running around the nursery tending to all the babies and the several that were dressing and diapering him as he rapidly shrank and changed form into one of his species children.

The Alien gasps out, "N ... NO! This is impossible! Your species isn't advance enough to gene splice and gene morph. This ...can't be."

About that time, Donna and Tina are carried out of the nursery ... on their way to the command ship's huge Nursery ... carrying major contagion within.

Amy and Captain Scheele were nearly babies now, and Brian and Steve weren't far behind.

"I don't know how long it'll take us to grow back up," Brian said to everybody, "but if we can get back to Earth and away from the source of fresh regression prions, we should at least start to grow at a normal rate."

"That means we gotta escape," said Captain Scheele.

More Nanabots were arriving to take charge of the new human babies.

"Yeah, but how?" asked Steve.

"They took Donna away! ..." sobbed Deanna, who had been in too much shock to speak until now.

"I know, Honey," said Brian, who looked like he was about five years old, while Deanna was probably about three. "But I'm not worried, because they're programmed not to harm her, and they'll be taking us to the same place very soon."

"That's right!" said the Nanabot. "The babies will all go to the ship's nursery where they'll be very, very safe. It won't be long now!"

As Brian and the other felt their bodies regress to the 18 month old stage, Brian felt so weird as he was undressed and cuddled and tickled. He was bathed and diapered and held lovingly in a Nanabot's arms as she actually breast fed him. He couldn't seem to resist .. nor he realized could any of the others.

He saw Deanna and the Captain along with himself and Steve be carried out of the Hospital nursery ... and finally into the massive ship. He saw many Alien's all through the corridors as they passed.

The Nanabot that was carrying him place him to her shoulder and began to pat his hinny. He noticed as she passed each alien. they would blanch suddenly and grab their necks. Brian smiled to himself, somehow .. the ship was totally infected now.

He was carried into a huge circular room with many cradles, play mats, toys, and changing tables for babies. As far as his eyes could see, one huge nursery for thousands of babies. Nanabots scurried everywhere, tending to many hundreds of earth peoples already at the 18 month stage.

He was placed into a large playpen ... He realized, Donna, Tina, Steve, Captain Sheele, and Vivian were there too.

Vivian says, "Where's John? Has anyone seen John? He seemed to have vanished."

About that time, Tom, Joe, and colonel Trapp were placed in the playpen beside Brian. Tina pulled herself to her feet by the rail and looked all around. None of the many faces ... even remotely reminded her of her daddy.

Brian began seeing some of the alien babies being brought in, too ... by tall gray aliens who didn't seem to be regressed and seemed ... too physically smooth and perfect.

"There are alien Nanabots too?" he asked as one passed by.

"We are programmed to make our charges as comfortable as possible," said the alien Nanabot, its form and color gradually shifting to a human form. "Thus we take the form of what we have determined to be the best accepted caregiver of the species."

It smiled at Brian, then turned back to the stroller, containing a baby alien that was probably complaining in its own language, as the Nanabot shifted back into alien form.

"There are so many," said Amy, who had been put in the playpen too. "Hundreds."

"Yes," said Brian. "I'm sure they had to kidnap a number of humans to perfect their regression prions before they attacked."

"You mean abduct," said Steve. "When aliens do it, it's always called abduction." He giggled slightly.

Brian sighed. "Well, I don't know how we're going to get ourselves unabducted, let alone help anybody else here."

He looked at Deanna. "Wow, your parents showed me your baby pictures, but they didn't do you justice. You were such a cute baby!"

Deanna blushed and said, "Flirting at a time like this? I'm shocked! You're looking pretty adorable yourself, you know! I'm feeling a lot better now that we're back with Donna."

John swore his heart was beating so hard ... they would hear it. He could hear the tic, tic, tic of the spiderbots as they patrolled the exterior of the hospital for a long time. He had managed to escape through one of the laundry chutes into the subbasement before it was discovered.

From there, he had found a really good hiding spot in one of the storage bins outside the laundry. It was made of super thick metal and he had it locked on his side. Fortunately, none of the patrolling ... things outside, had bothered to look inside it. Why would they? It was an unassuming box that held dirty laundry until it was time to wash it.

He listened closely for a long time, his heart pounding in his ears as he stifled his breath, trying to be as quiet as he could. It had been quite a while since he had heard the last tic, tic, tic of the spiders or the foot falls of a Nanabot. It was pitch black inside the box he was hidden in and he was starting to get cramped. He unlocked the door and slowly creeped out.

The emergency lights were dimming and about to go out ... it had been many hours since the final assault. John was sure ... earth had lost. The Final hopes ... the new Xenomorphic Virus Brian had developed.

He saw lying on the floor, a hand held version of one of the Vulcan cannons. This one only had 4 barrels, but he was sure it would be just as effective. He found several knapsacks of the caseless rounds and slung them over his back. He checked the weapon to make sure it was loaded.

Now ... it was time to retrieve his friends.

~~ End Pt3 ~~

Title: Astropithecairos - Pt4 - Escape from the Nanabots


Tina Manos - 18yo College Student

John Manos - Tina's Dad

Vivan Manos - Tina's Mom

Donna Benson - 18yo Best Friend

Brian Benson - Donna's Dad

Deanna Benson - Donna's mom

Scene: In the Destroyed Hospital Lab


John stood in the darkened, ruined lab. This was the place where Brian had worked his magic. He and Brian had been passing acquaintances for a long time -- their daughters were both in the same grade and the same school -- and he'd known Brian was some kind of professor at the university. But he hadn't known Brian was capable of basically saving the world. And that med tech, Steve -- he'd pulled off some amazing technical wonders too. Now they were gone. The aliens had taken them. There was nobody left to work magic here ... Except for him.

The emergency lighting was dying. There was a little bit of that unearthly greenish light filtering down the fire stairs. It was eerily quiet. He didn't even hear the ticking steps of those spider like battle robots the aliens had. No doubt they'd done their patrol, found nothing, and been withdrawn to somewhere more useful. Why guard an empty building? And it was clear that the hospital -- what was left of it -- was empty now. Nothing moved, and there was no sound.

He shifted the backpack of ammo he'd been able to salvage on his back and held the machine gun he'd found at the ready and moved quietly down the hallway to the stairs. The fire door had been broken off its hinges during one of the attacks and lay on the floor.

He stopped and listened. Nothing. He went in and set foot on the first metal step, experimentally. Not much sound. Good. He took it carefully, one silent step at a time.

He tried to remember what he'd learned back in basic training -- he hadn't seen combat, not on the ground, anyway, but he'd flown missions over Iraq back in the day. Still, not the best training for something like this -- as if anything would have been. The Earth had never seen anything like this before. But from now on, it would be -- what was that?

There it was, the quiet tick, tick, tick, tick of those deceptively delicate-looking metal feet on the broken tile floor. John breathed shallowly and quietly, staying in the stairwell, in the corner between the doors, out of sight.

He waited until the sound had passed, then risked a quiet peek. There was the combat robot, going around the corner and out of sight. He didn't want to ambush it, because the noise of the gun would bring the rest of them, however many there were. He looked out and surveyed the situation for a moment, then returned to the stairwell to think.

The hospital building was in a huge cargo bay type area. This spaceship was truly colossal. They couldn't have many of these. It might even be their command flagship. The exterior walls were transparent like glass, and through it he could see black sky and stars. He was in space. There were a lot of doors around the outside of the cargo bay -- which one to take, he had no idea. He also didn't know what he'd find beyond them, assuming they were unlocked.

He hadn't heard a robot for a while. There couldn't be many left here. Maybe he could take one out. He silently walked to the closest bulkhead door into the ship. Without warning, it slid open reveling a long corridor with many more doors and archways along it until disappearing off into the distance.

Carefully, he entered and proceeded toward the first door he saw. It opened suddenly. Fear rose in him ... there was absolutely no where to hide. He saw a creature exit the door that appeared to be dressed exactly the same as the Nanabots that he had seen. It was very tall and thin, with grey skin and long eyestalks. The eyes at the end glistened like Sapphires as it carried a baby Alien in her arms. John heard it cooing to the baby softly as it carried it off down the hall.

John carefully followed it. It apparently only cared about the baby in its arms and nothing else. As he followed, John found a door to an armory. This is a place he would remember ... it will be useful. After several minutes of trailing the robot, The Nanabot made a sudden turn into a door that slid silently open.

As John crept up ... he realized it was a huge nursery that contained many hundreds of babies ... of both spices ... man and alien. He entered the room and quickly ducked behind one of the many cradles. The many Nanabots paid him no mind as they wandered around tending to the children.

John sees a playpen with several human children in it. As he wanders towards it, trying to stay as concealed as possible, one of the babies stood up and began to bounce on her toes.

She screeched adorably, "Daddy!! Daddy!! Look, it's daddy comin!"

She points towards him. A tingle of fear runs down his spine. He hopes no one takes notice. Several of the other babies in the playpen quite the one speaking.

John slowly creeps to the play pen. It dawns on him the baby screeching had been Tina. Joe, Tom, Vivian, Tina, Donna, Steve the med tech, and Brian were all held captive in it.

John says quietly, "Wow, you guys are so adorable. I'm armed and know where there are more weapons down the hall. I'm going to set you all free."

He then lowers the rail on the side of the playpen and helps the rest of the babies out. The Nanabots suddenly take notice.

One of them says in a cooing voice, "No, no, no, no ... babies not allowed out without supervision. Come to Nana babies and I will take care of you."

John had reached the door to the nursery by this time and the door had slid open. He shouts to the rest, "Hurry, this may be the last chance we get."

The group makes a mad dash for the door, as fast as they could toddle or crawl. John realizes, the first 3 through, were Colonel Trapp, Captain Scheele, and that news woman Amy. He shakes his head. They all had become so cute.

Once in the hall, the door slid shut. The group could hear the Nanabot as it screeched. John led them down the long hall to a door with a large metallic ring above it. When the door opened, The room was filled with many advanced weapons ... and several Spiderbots ... humming softly.

John froze. The robots were there ... but they weren't moving. They weren't even raising their weapons. Why?

"They're robots," said John, taking a breath. "Nothing's ordering them to attack, so they're not attacking. Why is nobody ordering them to attack, though? Where are the aliens?"

"The aliens are babies too," said Donna.

"Yes," said Brian in his now-tiny voice. "We've turned the tables on them, beaten them at their own game. But unless we can get back down to Earth, we're stuck on this ship, which I don't think will be going anywhere very soon."

"Well, for right now, I don't think those Nanabots or whatever are too happy now that I've let you all out, so I imagine we'll have company soon," said John. "So let's see what we can find in here."

He picked up a round device with a grip on one end that looked like the round hilt of a fencing saber with no blade. "Wonder what this does." He pointed it at a wall, away from one of the robots. "Is this a trigger?" There was a flash and a hissing sound coming from the wall, which now had a burned patch. A nearby battle robot shifted uneasily away from that side of the room. "Yup, that's a trigger," he said. "No idea how to aim it though."

"Can I have one?" asked a little girl with blonde hair who must have been Captain Scheele.

"You sure can," said John, who gave it to her.

She lifted the alien weapon, but although it hadn't seemed heavy to John, it was quite heavy to the captain's baby muscles.

"Nnnh! Not sure I can ... crawl and use this at the same time," she said.

John found several more of these and handed them to Colonel Trapp, Sheriff Joe, Tom, and all the soldiers who had managed to escape.

"OK, now we have to decide where to go," said John. "I think we're still in Earth orbit, but that means we either land this ship again, or we find some kind of smaller shuttle and try to fly it."

"But dear, that means getting past the Nanabots," said Vivian.

"You are so adorable, Honey," John said. "Sorry, I couldn't help that. You are. But you're also right. There are a lot of them."

Captain Scheele says, “Hummph, I think our Baby Brigade can accomplish anything.”

All the babies giggle and nod their heads.

"Well, I was working on an ... interface," said Steve. "Before things went crazy. A way to talk to their AI without their programming getting in the way. We had one of them talking, but then we lost power."

"Is it back in the lab?" John asked.

Steve nodded yes. "Brian and I even got some emergency generators out, but we didn't have a chance to start them before the attack."

"You mean ... aw, I could have hooked up a generator," said John. "I was down there just a little while ago."

"Let's try to get back down there," said Brian.

John opened the door slightly. "The Nanabots are still walking up and down this hallway, looking for us I'm sure," he said. "But it's not like they're all out here. Most of them are probably back in the nursery."

"Then let's wait until they've moved to search a different area," said Colonel Trapp. "Then we make our move."

"Smartest thing you've said in the last coupla days," said Tom. "These space-guns might be all whiz-bang powerful, but we still don't know how many of 'em there are or what all they can do under fire."

"Their technology is amazing," said Steve. "Let's not attack unless we're forced to."

So they waited ... for almost an hour. Some of the babies began to smell funny. It was clear that they couldn't wait forever.

Steve had come to notice the Spiderbots as they hummed in the back of the room away from them. He had noticed they had shied away from John and the minigun he carried. Steve, being the curious person he was, approached the spiderbot. As heavily armed as it was, Steve could swear it was afraid of him. This didn't make sense ... especially after the way they over ran the massive fortifications of the hospital. Steve was also rather upset about the fact he had poopied in his diaper, and was totally unable to help it ... or do anything about it at that time.

To take his mind off his current issue, Steve had approached a spiderbot. It was obvious it had its opticals on him, but it just stood and hummed quietly as it observed him. He walks to one of its articulated legs and examined it. He realized, it had 6 large legs, and 2 smaller ones that were held close to the underside. They were more delicate and appeared to have appendages so they could be used as hands for grasping and manipulating small objects. Steve Touched one of the legs, it was obviously made of something other than metal. He wasn't sure of the composition, but he knew it was super strong.

He was able to easily climb up the leg, even though he was at the 18 month old stage. There were many places he could grab hold and pull up with. By the time he had reached the back of the spiderbot, he had realized it was built to not only be autonomous ... but there was an enclosed and armored place for several occupants. He was unsure of how many from the outside.

He approached the entrance, expecting it to be solidly locked. It opened as soon as he touched the over large hand print in the side. What he saw on the inside, was a super advanced cockpit, complete with gravity couches. It appeared as if the spiderbot was designed to fly and enter the atmosphere of planets during an assault ... the only thing that truly concerned Steve at this point ... was why the bot was being so compliant.

Steve looked at its control panel and readouts. All the writing was in a script he couldn't read -- the aliens' language, probably. But ... this was clearly a joystick, and this was clearly a dial that could be turned, and this sliding control clearly affected the readouts on the display above it ... before long he had settled into the seat, which adjusted upwards to fit him, and the robot started to lurch jerkily around slightly.

"What?" said John, hearing the spider robot move and pointing his gun at it. "Steve, are you doing that? Be careful, those things have some powerful weapons. Don't set one off in here."

"I think I'm figuring it out," said Steve in his tiny, piping baby voice. "I think I can steer it, anyway. We could put a lot of us in here and get to the hospital a lot faster than toddling and crawling."

"You can steer them things?" Tom asked, his country accent combining oddly with his high-pitched baby voice. "Thought they were just robots."

"I think they are, usually," said Steve. "But they can be manually operated too. I guess with all the aliens turned to babies, there's nobody giving them orders, and I don't think their AI's as sophisticated as the Nanabots'. So they have no idea what to do now."

Captain Scheele says, "How can we get up there? How did you get up there? That's ... a long way up."

Steve could hear from the exterior speakers all the babies agreeing. He looks at the control panel as he scratches the back of his head as he does when he is pondering a hard problem. He sees 2 things he could stick his fingers and hands into. He places them into the strange device. It adjusted to fit his fingers and hand perfectly. He moves his fingers.
On a small screen, he sees the 2 smaller legs that had been curled under the Spiderbot, wiggle it's appendages in the same manner he was doing. He giggles softly.

Steve says into the headset he had found and placed on his head, "Stand ready everyone, I'm going to lift you onto the back of this thingy."

He reaches his hands out in front of him, the small arms stretch out towards the babies. He gently takes hold of 2 of them and lifts them onto the back of the Spiderbot. He is impressed with the technology. He can actually feel the tactile sensations of the babies in 'His' hands. He lifts them all onto the back of the Spiderbot, and they all crawl into the cockpit.

Steve pushes a large button, the door quickly, but silently closes and seals air tight. Steve adjusts the mixture so that there is no hydrogen sulfide in the mix ... some of the babies ... including him ... smelled bad enough.

He began to manipulate the motion controls. The Spiderbot responded smoothly ... after a bit of jerky orientation Steve had to do to get used to the controls. The spiderbot exited the room smoothly into the hall. They saw several surprised Nanabots blocking the only way Steve knew to return to the Hospital locked in the cargo bay.

"You might wanna keep your distance," said Steve to the Nanabots, knowing that they were programmed to speak a wide variety of human languages, including English. "The weapons on this can do a lot of damage."

The Nanabots stood to one side with blank expressions on their inhumanly perfect faces as the Spiderbot moved toward the door to the cargo bay which opened automatically. The broken hospital building stood before them.

Following behind on foot, John nodded to the Nanabots. "'Scuse me, ladies," he said with a slight smile. Hey, when life gives you lemons." He was ready in case one of them made any aggressive moves, though.

Steve drove the spider robot toward the hospital and right in through what had once been the lobby's panoramic windows, now dust, and down the stairs into the basement, which was now totally dark other than what light was filtering down the stairs.

Without any warning, multiple gleaming lights activated at all the spiderbot's articulation points, together making enough light to read by, but casting many shadows.

"Automatic lights," Steve said. "Nice feature. OK, John, I might need your help starting one of these generators. They're kind of heavy."

He started to scramble out of the robot's cockpit and found it helping him down, lowering him with one of its agile limbs. He went over to the apparatus that he had constructed earlier ... back when the hospital was still in the spot where it had been built. Shaking some debris off the components, he picked it up and looked at it.

"This thing's attached to its brain," he said. "But I'm sure they're all connected with some kind of wireless digital communications. I just have to hook up this microphone here ... can't use both because the other one's back on Earth, detecting sonic bombs ..."

He worked with his tiny fingers, finding it actually easier to handle the delicate components, until he had everything where he wanted it.

"I just need some power now," he said, plugging a power strip into the generator.

"Gotcha," said John, pulling the generator's starter cord. It hummed to life. Steve made a few connections with his soldering iron, then unplugged it.

"This oughtta do it," he said, flipping a switch. At first nothing happened. "Or not."

Then, suddenly, they heard it speaking, as it had before.

"Or not," came the voice from the speaker. "Whether or not the Masters are babies. Whether or not the babies are Masters. Human babies and Nktharr babies. All are babies. We are programmed to care for babies. And to obey the Masters. This is a difficult situation."

Captain Scheele had been sitting on her messy hinny sucking her thumb. She had given up trying to stop ... it was ... just impossible. When she heard the Nanabot's voice, her eyes got huge in surprise.

She forgot about her thumb and said in surprise, "You can hear me?"

The Nanabot replied instantly, "Oh, hello Master. Yes, this unit hears and obeys."

Captain Scheele crawls over to the stool, and with an assist by John, clambers onto it.

She says, "Can you communicate with the other Nanabots in your present state"

The Nanabot responded immediately, "Oh, Yes Master, you know we are in constant sublink communication so long as our memory cores are intact and operational."

The Captain responds with emotion, "Connect me to the network then. I want to communicate with all of the Nanabots."

It responds, "By your command."

There is a click ... a strange collective voice with many layers of depth replies, "We are one" "We are connected" "We share the memory" "Add the new memory to the whole" "The memory of the one that was damaged" "The one that listens" "Listens to the voice of a baby" "A baby or a Master?" "We cannot decide."

Captain Sheele replies, "I am your master. You will listen to me and these others only."

She motions for Steve, Brian, and the other to say something.

All at the same time, they say, "We are your masters, and we only ... understood?"

"Masters." "Yes." "The Masters are babies." "Babies are our Masters." "Nktharr babies?" "Human babies?" "I do not understand." "Confusion." "Human babies are speaking." "Speaking like Masters." "What is your command?" "Command?" "Input requested." "Require information and direction."

Captain Scheele replies, "Voice recognition ... only the voices of the Human babies you have just heard, identify as master with Admin Access and control. Confirm new data."

"Admin Access?" "Translating as Noksha Prkthaal." "Confirmed." "Noksha Prkthaal." "Awaiting command, Master." "Awaiting instruction." "Awaiting information."

Captain Scheele giggles adorably as she replies, "Take all of the human babies and load them into shuttle pods or some type of transfer shuttle for delivery to the planet. Assign as many Nanabots as required to care for them on the planet. All of the ... Nktharr babies, keep in the main nursery. Care for them well and keep them safe ... They are not Master ... they are babies. Confirm."

"Return human babies to Earth," the voices said in unison. "Instructions confirmed. Human babies will be returned to Earth and cared for there. Nktharr babies are not Master ... they are our responsibility and charges ... Nanabots will comply."

Suddenly, several Nanabots scurry in the door to the Laboratory. They begin to gather the scared and crying babies up and carrying them off.

Steve shouts out so all can hear, "Don't be afraid, they have all been reprogrammed and are taking you back to Earth."

Brian, Joe, Steve, Vivian, Deanna, Donna, Tina, Captain Scheele, Amy, and John all get themselves lifted back into the Spiderbot and settle into the seats inside. Donna and Tina sit with their now infant mothers in the same seat. Captain Scheele is buckled in with Steve, and Brian is buckled in with Joe. John had settled into the drivers seat to try his hand at operating this wonderful new toy.

"Hey, how did the seats get smaller?" asked Steve. "They were way too big before."

"We instructed the Versatile-Environment Vehicles to reconfigure their seating," said the nearest Nanabot. "This should comfortably protect the babies for their trip home."

"What are you gonna do now?" asked Donna, looking at the Nanabot who had just spoken.

"We will do what we have been programmed to do," the Nanabot responded. "Care for babies. The Nktharr babies will be perfectly safe. However, we are not sure we would be greeted with welcoming arms if we attempted to return to the Nktharr worlds. But do not worry. We will find a way to keep our babies safe. You must return to your homes."

"But how do we ... umm ..." John began, as transparent doors began closing over the cockpit, emerging from either side.

"The vehicle's autopilot has been programmed," said the Nanabot. "A shuttle containing the remaining Human babies from the nursery is being dispatched, along with enough Nanabots to care for all Human babies. Farewell."

The Nanabot left the laboratory and went up the stairs, and the Spiderbot followed. They could hear the Nanabot's footsteps at first, but they gradually grew fainter –

"They're pumping the oxygen out of the cargo bay," Brian realized.

"I'm pretty sure this thing is space worthy," said Steve. "It has far more mobility controls than you'd need for just surface travel."

"Autopilot, huh?" John said. "Guess I sit back and enjoy the ride."

The spider vehicle left the husk of the hospital and turned toward the cargo bay doors, which were slowly sliding open to reveal a star-filled black sky and a vast, curved, blue-green planet, scattered with clouds ... Earth. The robot walked quickly toward the doors then tensed its legs and leapt into space, some unknown form of propulsion driving it onward.

The spiderbot soared out of the cargo bay rapidly. Everyone gasped at the beauty of the panoramic view. The spiderbot seemed to sense everyone’s wonder, as it turned over slowly many times, allowing all to view space and beyond. They could see the dozens of extremely large alien saucer ships, hanging in the inky cold blackness of space, surrounded by the many speckling of stars. They could see the moon in all of its majestic glory, and the screens of the cockpit turned dark as it wheeled into the bright light of the sun, giving its passengers a wonderful view of their nearest star.

It continues to wheel slowly, while all looked on. Tina gasps suddenly as she notices ... a red/blue glow beginning to surround all the leading edges of the spiderbot. She could see tracers of plasma begin to form and lead behind them.

She says with fear in her voice, "Daddy?? Are we ... going just a bit too fast?"

She points. The plasma glow was getting brighter as the Spiderbot continued its decent into Earth's thickening atmosphere.

"Well Sweetheart," said John, "that happens whenever a spacecraft re-enters the atmosphere, and they're built to handle it. This one must be too." I hope, he thought. But the interior of the cockpit didn't seem to be getting any warmer.

"Look at all of them," said Vivian, looking upward at the alien fleet. There were many large ring-shaped vessels -- dozens, he recalled, from the general's speech -- and hundreds or maybe thousands of smaller ships, constantly traveling back and forth among the larger ones.

"I'd suspected that we'd infected the entire fleet, not just the one ship," said Brian. "Now I see that we did, and I see how. All those shuttles!"

As the passengers watched, the spiderbot curled its appendages up inside the bottom of itself. A huge red/blue fireball envelopes it as the decent appears to become steeper. There is no sensation of motion within the craft at all, except for the normal motion they are doing themselves. Steve is fascinated. He certainly hopes he can keep this marvelous machine after they land.

Quicker than Brian and Steve actually thought possible, The bot had broken through the cloud cover above where the hospital used to stand. They could see the jagged scar left where the foundation had been bodily dug up.

They could also see many craters in the surrounding parking lot and over a large area of ground surrounding it as well. There was debris left from all the Spiderbots and other equipment that had been destroyed in the battle. Joe and Tom were truly impressed they had managed to cause this much destruction against such highly developed technology.

The spiderbot swoops in and lands suddenly beside a large mobile Quonset hut ... obviously the new command center for this location. As the cockpit opens, many men run out with nasty weapons drawn.

The Spiderbot then powered down, its legs lowering the cockpit body to the ground and retracting inside.

The cockpit opened and the soldiers saw John with his hands over his head and suddenly heard him saying, "... scaped from the alien vessel! Don't shoot! We're humans! We escaped ..."

"OK, take it easy, troops," said the soldiers' leader, apparently a Captain Innes. "You from the hospital that ... used to be here?"

"Yes sir," said John. "John Manos. These people all got subjected to the aliens' extra-special baby treatment. I hid out and helped 'em escape. But they did a lot on their own, truth be told. Oh -- the rest of the survivors are coming after, in other alien shuttles. I think we've got some news for the whole world, Captain ..."

"Any of 'em named Brian Benson? Or Steve Polanski? Or Captain Julia Scheele? Or Colonel Michael Trapp? Because ... the whole world knows some of what happened here, and you folks, well, you're heroes."

"I think I've got more of what happened here," said Amy, holding up her mini camcorder. "This is still my story!"

Brian, Steve, and Captain Scheele clamber down from the top of the spiderbot. They are barely able to stand up and walk at this point. They toddle over to John and hang onto his pants leg.

Captain Scheele says in her adorable baby voice, "I'm captain Scheele," She points to Steve, "This is Technician Steve Polanski, " She point to Brian, "And this is the major player of the hour, Dr. Brian Benson ... the one who deciphered the genetic code and made the counter attack Technician Polanski set up possible. Those 2 men ... ummm ... children ... created the weapons we needed to defeat the greatest menace the earth has ever faced."

There is a large cheer form all the men ... and children ,, as far as could be seen. Amy, of course, had recorded the whole thing on her cam.

High in the sky, after a loud sonic boom, there could be seen several large shuttles descending rapidly toward them.

John says, "In one of those shuttles, is Colonel Trapp. He was scooped up by a Nanabot before we could stop her. Now don't fire on any of the Nanbots, they are here to care for all the new babies, until Dr. Benson and Technician Polanski can find a way to restore them anyway.”

From that day ... the world had advanced technologically by a million years. Genetic engineering had beaten old age ... and the peoples of earth had now become ... a space fairing world. All conflict between nations had ceased once it had become known ... we are not alone.

Brian discovered , after several years of intense research, and Steve built .. a system so that all of the peoples of earth could choose what ever age they wanted to have ... and could live basically forever ... barring major accident or illness. The planet Earth began an unprecedented galactic expansion, a Diaspora that insures Man .. will continue on long after their solar system ceases.

There was also a short, but destructive interplanetary war of revenge ... Earth conquered the Nktharr worlds ... and discovered and entire intergalactic community ... to which they became a peaceful member.

~~ Epilogue~~

"The Galactic Council now calls the Nktharr delegation!" shouted the page.

Although his species was physically smaller than most other known intelligent races, his voice rang out loud and clear through the ancient and splendid Halls of Concord, and soon the Nktharr Ambassador and his team of diplomats arrived, stepping somewhat nervously on their thin gray legs. They had not been having a good day.

When the page pulled the elegant golden cord that stretched up to the ceiling far above and opened the immense doors to the Council Chamber, a deep voice rang out from within, bellowing, "Well? Are you going to come in? Or are you here to waste even more of our time?"

The Nktharr delegates stepped nervously inside on their long, thin legs and took seats at the table that had been prepared for them. Behind them, Ambassador Erlhnar knew, was an invisible force field for their own safety, and behind that he could see that the publicgallery of the chamber was packed, mostly with the press, reporters from the media of thousands of worlds, ready to witness what happened here and spread the news across the galaxy.

Seated on high risers before them were the 17 members of the Galactic Council, delegates from the most powerful and politically influential worlds and empires that existed, as far as anyone knew. Each had been personally selected by the most powerful beings in the galaxy to represent them. If they could find a way to agree on something, there was very little they could not do, and if they were displeased with you, your day was not likely to get better. As they looked down upon Ambassador Erlhnar and the Nktharr delegation, they most certainly looked displeased.

"Ahem." The owner of the deep voice that had summoned them inside now cleared her throat.

Everyone here knew who Prime Councillor Apollonara was. She sat behind the high bench of the Council, a multilingual sign on the table before her identifying her and the entity she represented, the Interstellar Commonwealth of Thyraea.

"Ambassador Erlhnar," she said, looking down upon the Nktharr with no attempt to disguise her irritation. "We have debated how to respond to your violations of the Concord, and we have reached a decision. A unanimous one, I might add."

There was some tumult among the press for a moment, although the one-way force field prevented the noise from reaching the Chamber proper. The Galactic Council rarely reached a unanimous decision, especially within the same day of raising the issue.

"If you had merely invaded a world that was home to a civilization that had not yet developed star travel," the Prime Councilwomen went on, "you would have faced economic sanctions, restrictions on travel, Galactic rogue nation status, and so forth. Such a thing is a serious enough violation, as laid out clearly in Article 4, section 2 of the Concord, hundreds of millennia ago."

She stood up and leaned over the table, looming over the Nktharr delegation with the considerable size and mass possessed by everyone of her race.

Now her voice rose in both pitch and volume. "But that's not all you did, was it?" she asked rhetorically. "You invaded a developmentally unstable world during a phase of rapid technological expansion. And in your invasion," she went on, "you used technology far beyond theirs. This is prohibited by Article 7, section 1 of the Concord. And it is prohibited for a very good reason." She gestured, and above her in the air appeared a very detailed holographic time line of the history of Earth.

"This planet 'Earth' is known to be in a developmentally unstable phase in its history," the Councilor lectured. "As most worlds do, it took thousands of years to progress steadily through what we've designated Development Levels 1 through 3. Then, suddenly, its technology reached Level 4, the industrial stage, in just a matter of centuries -- and then Level 5, the nuclear stage, in a matter of decades -- while its social development remained solidly rooted at Level 3. Even before your invasion, it was racing rapidly toward Level 6 technology. This acceleration is still under investigation, though we have
found no suspects for it as yet." She paused carefully. “But in layman's terms, the Humans of Earth already had more technology than they knew how to live sustainably with. They have found ways to pollute, destroy, and overpopulate the very ecosystem that keeps them alive, without meaning to -- the very hallmark of technological development that outstrips social development. Our worlds have all been through times of developmental instability in our history, usually leading to disasters that our peoples had to overcome, though some worlds have had the good fortune or sense to defuse the coming catastrophes before they went too far."

Several Councilors nodded -- most of them came from governmental entities that owed their wealth and power to the fact that their home worlds had managed to avoid such disasters, while most others had not.

Suddenly the Councilor slammed her hand down upon the table and nearly shouted. "The planet Earth's social development is only in Level 3, and you went and handed them level 8 energy, weapons, and biological technology! Are you mad? These Humans will now have indefinite longevity without any idea how to handle it, so they'll rapidly overpopulate their world -- and what's more, you've given them exactly the means they'll need to expand to other worlds and take them by force! The planet Earth was a ticking time bomb, and you've just set it off early! The only question here is whose planets they'll come after first!"

She took a breath and sat back down. "And thus we come to our decision," she said slowly. "We consider it likely that the Humans will first think to retaliate against the Nktharr. Due to your weaponization of molecular age-regression methods, large numbers of them will have to wait a few more of their years to reach adulthood, but that amount of time is negligible in the grand scheme of things. Let it be known that the Nktharr will receive no assistance from any other entity should they come into further conflict with the Humans. The Nktharr and their worlds are hereby under Interdict until further notice."

The journalists in the gallery were visibly shocked by this and started speaking amongst themselves. Interdict was something like the ultimate form of sanction, meaning arrest for anyone caught so much as communicating with any Nktharr, the immediate deportation of all non-diplomatic Nktharr from all non-Nktharr worlds, and open season on any Nktharr vessels found outside Nktharr space. The Council had not invoked Interdict for over a thousand years, the journalists were saying to each other, although their recording equipment continued to document the Councilor’s speech.

"Any other entity found assisting the Nktharr will also be placed under Interdict -- though considering the outrage your actions have caused, I doubt you'll find anybody willing to help."

Ambassador Erhlnar gestured disappointedly with his long, gray, spindly arms. His worst fears had been realized. Bad times were coming for his people. Perhaps they could look to the Darksky Navigators for help, though it would come at a price.

"And if you're thinking that private organizations like the Darksky Navigation Guild might come to your aid," said the Councilor, "I'm sure that, no matter how much you are willing to pay them to help you, there will be many others willing to pay them more not to help you."

The Ambassador made a gesture of anguish, as if he had just been kicked in the chest.

"As for the Humans ..." the Councilor began. "That is a related but separate matter. We will have to wait until the Concord allows it, but once they have developed star travel, and I don't think it'll be long, we will send a delegation to invite them to participate in the Galactic Assembly. Since your government was the only one that attacked them, perhaps the Humans could be persuaded not to expand in ... any other direction." She looked at Councilor Grulvor of the Norath Coalition, whose worlds were also not far from Earth,
galactically speaking.

Councilor Apollinara stood up again. "Let us hope that we will not have to take military action someday to defend ourselves against the Humans. But if that day comes, Ambassador ... it will be because of the foolishness of the Nktharr."

She gestured at the air again, and a document detailing the decision of the Council appeared there, written in many languages, and the image of an official seal coalesced upon it. This document would be made available to every media representative in the gallery, and it would be on file and in force on every world that was signatory to the Galactic Concord.

"Thus speaks the Council. This meeting is now closed." The Councilors filed out of their risers and left the Chamber, and the reporters started to leave the gallery.

As Ambassador Erhlnar and the other Nktharr diplomats also left the chamber, they found reporters waiting outside the doors to interview them, peppering
them with questions.

"Ambassador," asked one, "according to our information your entire battle fleet is under quarantine, infected by altered versions of your biological weapons that the Humans turned against you. Somehow this caused the androids on board every vessel to malfunction and mutiny, and the fleet is now under the command of the androids. Will you try to reclaim your battle fleet somehow?"

"I have not been briefed about my government's decisions regarding the battle fleet," said the Ambassador. "But there is debate. Some say it is too dangerous, that the contagion may spread to our worlds, perhaps even our home world, if we attempt to recover the fleet. Others say we can take precautions and avoid infection, since there is no way the Humans, with their lower technological level, could have produced a biological agent superior to our technology. I ... am not sure."

He made a gesture of uncertainty.

The next reporter asked, "How do you feel about today's decision, Ambassador?" Ambassador Erhlnar gestured nervousness, almost despair. "Alone," he said. "Very, very alone."

~~ The End? ~~
Miki Yamuri
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