The war ended when the sky exploded like a month of sunrises, turning from blues and yellows to violets and poisonous greens. A second sun shone before the blast wave hit, bending the trees, shaking the ground.
His instruments glitched as the magnetics swirled outward from the imploding FTL drive. Sammy shut down, disconnected his power cell and curled his armor around him like an old-earth armadillo. Life or death, regardless, he'd know in a few minutes. The shadow of Tobald the Warrior intruded.
"You want to meet Death, Tobald?" Sammy asked.
"You will meet Death before I do, earthman."
"Death just appeared in your sky and he's going to reach down and take you and me both," Sammy eyed the giant lizard. Tobald pulled the trigger. The gun sputtered and burnt his hand.
"What sort of earth magic is this?"
"Not magic, science. Your rockets destroyed the battleship's shell but the heart of the battleship, the FTL, is imploding. When you burn the heart of a sky warrior, it burns the sky."
"And so you curl up to die."
“Technically,” Sammy said, “I'm curling up to live. Feel free to meet the blast wave head-on like a warrior, though. I'm sure your ancestors will be impressed.”
Tobald turned away, staring up at the neon stormcloud of the exploding warship. “Your Death-magic is puny. I feel nothing.”
“What you're not feeling is neutron radiation. Give it a minute.” Sammy found the seldom-used manual control switch inside his left gauntlet. He clicked it two positions down, thought about the sequence he'd memorized years ago in boot camp, then moved it one more notch. He raised his arm.
Tobald's laughter was a guttural clacking. “Typical earthman warfare. Noise and light. You have no--”
To his credit, Tobald didn't cry out when the synthetic neutronium round from the slugthrower on Sammy's left forearm punched through his chitin armor. The bipedal lizard stumbled forward with a grunt, falling through a cloud of his own blood as he toppled into the knee-high alien sward.
Sammy strained up onto his feet, fighting the sluggish artificial musculature of his armor that was only just starting to come back to life after the EMP burst. The slugger was an effective antipersonnel weapon in a pinch, but with his suit's electronic fire control suite knocked offline by the battleship's electromagnetic death throes, it was only good for one shot against a close, stationary target--a tribal warrior who turned his back on a live threat and looked up at pretty lights in the the sky, for instance.
“Been nice talking to you, Tobald,” Sammy said to the still form in the flattened grass. “But where I come from, we call that a Close Encounter of the Twenty Millimeter Kind.”
Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Sean