It wasn’t the first time Chelik had seen fire fall from the sky. It bid fair, however, to be the last time he saw it. The alien insectoid Cholgachi overlords had come to exact their tribute from his people. The tribute was always the same…twenty of the clan’s strongest and most healthy young adults.
In anticipation of their arrival, Chelik had known better than to journey too far away. As one of his peoples’ most-skilled hunters, it was not unusual for him to spend days, if not longer, away from his home. Not all of that time was spent satisfying the need for game. Instead, he spent considerable time in the Tainted Lands…there where his clan had, most unsuccessfully, risen in resistance so very long ago. Though legends held the land was so virulently-poisoned as to spell certain death to anyone, experience had shown him this was no longer true.
While he did suffer headaches and nausea for days after departing the Tainted Lands, he was obviously still alive. He considered it an acceptable trade for what he found there. The shards of metal, he surmised, could only be of alien origin as his own people had no such skill in metalworking. Regardless, they provided him arrowheads of such surpassing strength and quality they might well serve his needs.
With every step closer to home, dread was replaced by resolve and an unwavering sense of purpose. He would not…could not allow himself to submit to the will of such beings as held his future….his very life in their unfeeling claws. Consequences and doubt must be set aside. No other option remained to him.
Crouched in the brush on a promontory overlooking the village, Chelik knew he was at long albeit effective range for his bow. His consciousness faded as he devolved into hunter mode. The villagers…the aliens…all else mattered not a whit. His target became all as he nocked his first special arrow and aimed…not at the invaders but at their ship.
Certainly, that which flamed when it came down from the sky could obviously be made to burn by other means. His star-metal arrow hissed downward, piercing the shell of the craft and a slow but steady stream of greenish fluid flowed from the breach. Dipping his second arrow into the coals he had kindled at his side, he set the shaft aflame and sent it after the first only seconds later.
He had no more than tossed himself face down when an explosion shook the ground violently. Burning debris rained down narrowly missing the young man. Without rising, he already knew he had destroyed not only the ship but its crew. With two arrows, he had possibly sealed the fate of his entire planet but he could not find it within him to regret his decision.
If he and his kind were to die, was it not best to do so with backs straight, heads up and eyes wide open? No man should ever die upon his knees…ever.
This story was written for the weekly Finish That Thought flash fiction challenge.