The Lad Who Poked the Devil in the Eye
Chapter 7: Fallout

Copyright© 2016 by Vincent Berg

The government's response to the attack on the aliens was immediate.

Today, at 2:23 P.M., an unprovoked assault was launched against a top-level negotiation between the President of the United States and the aliens. Select members of the press corps were in attendance, so there should be reports of the devastation by them.

The Secret Service is unable to identify who initiated the attack. The President expressed our regrets, and assured our alien allies that we played no part in it. We are, as yet, mystified how anyone could have learned of the secret location, time and agenda of the meeting. We're conducting a thorough investigation of everyone involved.

We lost a lot of people in this attack, both from the initial assault and in the reprisal. We hope they don't hold us personally responsible. For now, we're recommending people seek the nearest shelter, because if they respond, the potential destruction will be enormous.

"Do you think it was Otis's doing?" Kelly asked. She and her extended family watched the news unfold. The household had increased in size, and everyone was curious what her son was involved in.

Liam rubbed his chin, considering the scant information. "I'm afraid it's likely. After all, he's the only one who knew the attack on Chicago was coming. I imagine he knew when this parlay with the aliens would occur."

"Should we contact the authorities?" Kelly asked, glancing at the others. "This was a criminal act which could put everyone in jeopardy."

Jack turned, waving his hands in protest. "I wouldn't. Obviously, he knows more than the government. If it was him, I'm sure he had valid reasons. Given his personality, I can't picture him as an interstellar terrorist."

"But what happens when they respond?" Kelly protested. "Millions more could die because of his thoughtless actions."

Liam shrugged. "Otis understands what's at stake, while no one else does. This peace accord the government was putting together might have been a complete sham, and he knew it."

The conversation was shelved as more news appeared on the screen.

We've interrupted our normal programming to bring you the latest on the attack by unidentified forces on the President's negotiation. We've been receiving periodic reports, and we're trying to weave a coherent story from them. We're not sure whether someone attacked the aliens—as the White House insists—or the aliens attacked the president and reporters. There were multiple deaths at the scene, but as of now, there's no evidence they suffered any losses. One source insists they recovered several bodies, but we can't determine if these were their own or human corpses.

President José Taylor was wounded in the attack, though we don't know the severity. Initial reports indicate the aliens opened fire, hitting both journalists without weapons and the Secret Service, who were attempting to defend the chief executive. However, when a second alien craft landed and removed bodies, the Secret Service got the president into the surrounding forest. The majority of the dead appear to be journalists. A few escaped, and some claim to possess video footage of the carnage, though we haven't obtained any yet.

The White House is locked down. They've been removing personnel, anticipating a retaliatory strike, though they haven't issued any warnings to the public. The D.C. Police are warning city residents to seek shelter. There have been reports of alien crafts buzzing the city, but none of any further attacks.

Liam turned to the others, as the other family members began drifting into the room. "I don't understand. Did someone strike them, or did the aliens fire on the negotiating party?"

"I couldn't tell," his wife, Kelly, said. "But I suspect the White House is trying to refocus blame. They're either lying or were responsible for the assault in some way."

This just in, there are descriptions of a mass exodus from major U.S. cities. Everyone is terrified of a repeat of the Chicago attack. Given the random nature of the assault on the president's party, few trust the aliens to keep their word in negotiations. We have initial suggestions that President José Taylor suffered 'severe' injuries to his arm, but is otherwise unhurt. We're not sure what that means, but assume they're non-life threatening. It's believed the president is en route to a secure location, so we probably won't hear anything further until they're established.

We've managed to gain access to at least one video of the incident. It was streamed wirelessly from the camera crew to their station, though there have been no reports from the news team. It's feared they're dead. We also have a cell phone recording of the events.

A video of the negotiations began playing, featuring President Taylor speaking at the podium in a large open field. As he spoke, the camera panned over the alien representatives and their shuttle craft before returning to Taylor.

"Ladies and Gentleman, after careful deliberation, we've decided we have no choice but to accede to the alien's demands. This was a difficult decision, but we feel it is best for everyone involved. As we've seen with the attack on Chicago, we have no defense against the weapons at their disposal. We hope that by voluntarily surrendering control, we can negotiate a better deal for all U.S. citizens and avoid another catastrophe.

"I will sign over authority of the nation's resources to them, though they have graciously allowed us to retain control over the country. However, they've also insisted that our military stand down and we clamp down on legally purchased weapons by U.S. citizens. When this statement is signed, local police departments will conduct voluntary collections of firearms. Although this runs counter to the nation's Second Amendment, keep in mind the aliens will not be generous to anyone found hoarding guns. We will also be issuing warnings to all U.S. citizens with valid licenses to turn over their arms. As part of our negotiations, we've turned over these records to the alien authorities.

"That doesn't sound like a negotiation," Liam said. "It's a flat out surrender to the Aliens' demands."

"I'm not sure they had any choice," Kelly said. "Where are your hunting rifles?"

"They're locked in my gun cabinet, though I'm planning on hiding them. I'm not sure I trust these aliens."

"What if they come after us?"

"I'm not convinced they have the resources for a house-by-house search."

"Which is why they're sticking the police with that responsibility," Jack said.

The video continued, showing the president taking out his pen to sign the treaty. A murmur broke out. President Taylor glanced up and was tackled by Secret Service. The camera pulled back, revealing the aliens firing indiscriminately. As the news crew dove for cover, the image drifted, only recording part of what was occurring. The audio consisted of screams, cries and the sounds of explosions and gunfire.

Liam tilted his head. "I didn't see any attack on the aliens. It looks like they opened fire with no provocation. There wasn't any gunfire beforehand."

"I agree," Kelly said. "I'm not sure I trust the president on this. They're aware the aliens have us over a barrel, so they have to roll over even after being attacked."

The dead were mounting on screen, while the rest hunkered down, trying to avoid stray gunfire. An explosion beside the camera caused it to swivel, showing the aliens firing at the few survivors.

"I think I've seen enough." Kelly stood and backed out of the room. "This is gruesome."

"It is, but it's hard to ignore if this is what we can expect in the future."

The footage ended as the camera toppled to the ground, the lens shattering before the screen went dark.

"I think you need to find a better hiding place for your hunting rifles," Jack said. "Maybe we should buy some new weapons, in case we're forced to turn over your legally-purchased guns."

Kelly hugged her husband. "From what I've seen, I'm not sure they'll do much good. We may need something stronger. I sure hope Otis understand what he's doing."

"I'm sorry, but this is an abomination!" The talking head, a commentator on a national broadcast station, left no doubt where he stood. "This attack on a race which can easily wipe us from the face of the Earth is a personal affront to every man, woman and child. One man has taken it upon himself to dictate whether millions of us will live or die."

"But what about the aliens?" the show's host asked. "They're attempting to conquer the entire world, and none of us will be free once they dismantle our defenses."

"I don't care. You can't treat the lives of others so cavalierly. They might not want to surrender their liberty, but they can't dictate that view on the rest of humanity. Families with small children are more concerned with feeding them than with who's in charge. While I doubt things will improve under the alien's control, it's better than being dead.

"This individual has condemned each of us. There's no way the aliens will allow this affront to go unavenged. If you poke the devil in the eye, you won't hurt him. You'll infuriate him. Do you actually believe he won't respond? The devil might say 'Ouch', but you and everyone else will burn in hell!"

"I agree," the other panelist said. "Put this into a different context. Imagine the U.S.'s response if, after having destroyed two Japanese cities, a Japanese citizen tried to assassinate President Roosevelt? Heck, we'd have leveled Tokyo, regardless of whether the assassin had any association with their government."

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