This morning I verbalized my on-going writing frustrations in a Twitter thread. Basically I feel like I'm stuck in a void without any new ideas. The general advice I got (which I've probably given others at one time or another) is to just write. It's a course of action that is both simple and yet quite complicated. So okay, let's try to figure this out.
I've been trying to start small and just come up with little ideas for things I'd want to see in a story and see where things go. Maybe it'll help things along somehow. So let's go back to the comforting realm of science fiction and see what I can come up with.
This was something I was thinking about on my way home tonight.
Planetary Defenses did not detect the invaders before it was too late.
Meteor showers are common on Altus V at this time of the year so no one thought much of the fiery stellar display once it began. Very few meteorites were expected to reach the planet's surface and those that did were projected to be harmless to the population. This was the critical mistake.
When the meteor shower began, a few meteorites were tracked across the planet but there was no significant property damage. But then the glitches started to occur across the defense grid as planetary scanners started to report minor failures around the planet. Technical reports were logged but the severity of the failures were deemed to be minimal and thus work crews weren't alerted right away. Instead repair orders joined the general queue of all other requests and would be addressed during the next work shift.
By the time duty crews started to investigate the minor drop-outs in the system, the problem was more nefariously pervasive than expected. Small drones had infiltrated the planet using the meteor showers as covered and quickly worked their way to Planetary Defense relays. The drones were able to take over the system in time for the main invasion force.
While Planetary Defense monitors showed nothing out of the ordinary, any Altusian could see that something was wrong. The sky was filled with large black cube-shaped vessels of unknown design slowly descending without resistance. They simply did not show up on any of the scanners and so the invaders were practically on the door by the time the defenders were able to rally defense forces.
Each ship landed near major population centers and quickly deployed robot combat units in droves. All of the attackers were colored black without any identifiable markings to indicate clues to their origins. They simply came like a wave of darkness spreading across the planet.
Altusian Planetary Defense scrambled air assets to try and take out the alien ships but were quickly met with fierce resistance around each of the landing sights. The cubes themselves seemed unarmed but each also deployed swarms of larger combat drones that were highly maneuverable and difficult to hit. Each defense swarm operated as a single unit and quickly mowed down defense fighters with a combination of efficient energy weapon use and simply running through defense fighters. The drones were armored sufficiently to survive several such maneuvers and quickly gained air superiority.
The ground forces were more diverse, ranging from humanoid warriors to spider-like walkers. There were armored vehicles running on treads and others that hovered. They did not travel in clear divisions based on their designs but still somehow moved as a single unit. As with the swarms above, the moved with an eerie machine-driven intelligence that pushed inexorably forward towards the Altusian cities.
The few survivors that escaped the carnage all spoke of one aspect of the invaders that stood out the most - the silence. Beyond the occasional noises of treads toppling trees or robotic limbs maneuvering across the landscape, the invaders said nothing. No demands were made nor any warnings given. There were no pretenses of negotiating nor were any surrenders accepted. They simply moved forward and killed any sentient being in their path.
The lucky managed to pilot space-capable ships to escape the genocide of the Altusian people. The invaders did not seem interested in any of the ships leaving the planet for as long as they made no aggressive moves. Everyone else left on the planet, whether a civilian or a member of the Planetary Defence force, was killed without mercy.
This is how Altus V died.