As we loaded our own dead on our dropship, a few of the human-sized flying beings landed nearby and talked to one another in what sounded like squeaks and chatters. This was the first time I got a well-enough view of them. They had tails and eyeless helmets like the giant ones. It was obvious they weren’t human but were these and the giants of the same species or something? That did take as low priority on my list of questions, as it was for E and the others. All but one already flew off when we decided to approach. The last was about to take off when I called to it. “Excuse me!” I yelled out.
It stopped and turned around to face us. E spoke in Spanish, taking over the conversation and thanked it for aiding us in battle.
“Yeah, sure, you’re welcome.” the being said through a machine producing a voice that sounded a bit resentful, which drowned out the other noises it made.
“You speak English?” asked Xandra.
“No,” it responded curtly, “I’m speaking my language and my translator interprets it to your individual earpieces. Same concept with the A.I. units. What do you want?”
Various EPC militia members launched into questions like, “Why did our rifles malfunction?” and “Why didn’t you help us in the assault from the beginning?” Before the air started getting filled with a cacophony of questions, the being held up its armored hands and interrupted.
“Hold it! Hold it! I’m the wrong person to ask about this. I have nothing to do with planning or even creating any of the technology we’re all using. I’m a native to this planet like you, so I’m not familiar.” it said.
We all looked at each other and the being confused. With an exasperated sigh, it ran a hand over the front of the face to the back of the neck, making the helmet retract in the same motion. Standing in front of our stunned expressions was a dolphin’s head, in the armored suit with hand and feet. “Yeah,” its machine translated from the squeaks, “Forgot you shared this planet, didn’t you?”
It closed the helmet back up and turned its back to us saying, “Welp, got to go. Have fun gathering your dead.”
It flew off ending the conversation, leaving us with more questions than answers.
Our time packing up back at camp was quiet. After I finished packing, I sat by myself thinking over all that what transpired. One thing that did occur to me was the sound I heard the giants make, which reminded me of my childhood. Occasionally on the weekends with my parents in Hawaii, while swimming underwater in the cleaner parts of ocean, we would hear whales in the distance communicating with each other. The one that breached the entrance, those giants that beat the Minare champion, they were all whales. Why the hell did whales and dolphins receive hi-tech, top-notch equipment, yet the rest of us got trash? Plus, why did their language get fully translated into human languages, while there was no translation between our own species?
While I was brooding, Xandra came up and sat beside me. After a moment, she broke my train of thought by beginning the conversation with, “So…dolphins.”
We discussed the thing about the dolphins and whales until we figured dwelling on it wouldn’t do any good. Xandra told me about her concerns afterwards. Although rejoining the effort, she felt ashamed, as if she betrayed the trust of the EPC by initially opting to stay out of the fighting, coming off as flaky and unreliable. The girl felt she’s been trying too hard to prove herself and forgot her own feelings are not the focus when helping others in need. Because of that she was more determined now than ever to stick with her plan to return to Max’s secret villa, free the slaves and end her stepfather’s enterprise. She admitted though that she didn’t feel right doing it. She knew her inexperience would be a considerable hindrance in achieving the goals; that and she didn’t want to become a living white savior trope. She knew of the bounty on Max, so she asked me to join her out of a mutual agreement.
By now, I didn’t care that much anymore. I survived the worst, violent day in my life. My debt was fulfilled, and it drained me. I wanted to be taken back to Mexico so as to continue on my merry way, and maybe enjoy some time off. However, I was close to broke when my favor was called upon by the EPC, and this whole thing was based on goodwill, not the promise of personal gain. If I wanted that time off, I needed a big payout, which meant I had to make a visit to somebody I’ve been searching for anyway. With some reluctance, I agreed to join in on her mission. She let out a small squee, gave me a big hug and thanked me profusely, until I reminded her that she still owed me two boxes of breeder bugs.
Upon the surrender of the outpost due to the defeat of its champion, out of the estimated 751,000 human fighters were about 150,000 still ready for deployment or on their way to the battlefield. Around 25,000 opted out of joining, with a portion null and voiding their agreement with the Apiary. There were approximately 538,000 casualties with 520,000 being fatalities. An estimated 245,000 of the fatalities were due to incidents of unintentional and malicious friendly fire, or equipment malfunctions. As for the Cetaceans, there were 66 fighters and very few with only minor nonfatal casualties.
This single-day war would become known to the Humans as the Battle of Antarctica, while it was known to the Apiary as the War for Tir-Torzor.