“Here they come!” The warning sounded. “They’re throwin’ everything they got at us this time!”
“How are the science teams doing on those dirty bombs?” I asked.
“They’re almost ready to test,” the general answered.
“They better work,” I warned, “because we only have one shot.”
“Preliminary tests in the lab were positive,” he looked at me, “the chemical agent killed the parasite inside the captives we gained from the last clash.”
“And the hosts?” I queried.
“It killed them as well,” he stated dryly, “that was the only drawback.”
“Or, maybe,” I smiled, “it was more merciful that it killed them as well. Who knows what kind of side effects the poor devils would have had if they had survived.”
“Side effects?” He inquired.
“To the alien parasite,” I clarified, “they could have been crippled from the death of the parasite. Or, perhaps, it wasn;t the vaccine but the death of the parasite itself that killed them.”
“You mean like a toxin released by a dying parasite as a last ditch effort?” He questioned.
“Precisely,” I nodded, “which has been known to happen with certain nematodes here on a rare occasion.”
“Never thought of that,” he mused, “want me to test your hypothesis?”
“Do we still have live subjects to use as a comparison group?” I asked.
“Of course,” he nodded, “and samples from those who died in the tests.”
“Have the scientists run the tests,” I averred, “I’d like to see what they find.”
“Now that you mention it,” he grinned, “so would I.” As if knowing, one of the scientists appeared. He turned to him. “Run an experiment for us. Run tests on blood and tissue samples from both live parasitic prisoners and the ones killed by the vaccine.”
“The purpose?” The scientist inquired.
“Look for any spike in toxins in the blood not related to the vaccine’s chemical makeup. Like some nerve toxin that, when in small doses, allows the parasite to control their victim yet, in massive doses, kills.”
“You mean like toxins released at massive levels due to death spasms,” the scientist nodded, “good call.”
“Did you need something?” He asked as the scientist turned to leave.
“I was sent to tell you that we believe the vaccine is ready for use as a chemical weapon on the field,” the scientist averred, “but that the missiles are not quite ready. Something to do with the remote detonation mechanism.”
“Distribute vaccine grenades to the generals,” he commanded, as well as any other form you might have. They will be welcomed additions to their arsenals.”
“Sir,” the scientist returned, “you won’t believe this!”
“Well?” The general looked at the man. “Out with it, then!”
“Your idea about the toxins,” the scientist began, “you were right!”
“Go ahead,” he nodded, “what about it?”
“In the living hosts,” the scientist began, “there is an almost imperceptible level of a foreign toxin. It acts almost like a tranquilizer. This toxin, in small amounts is hard to detect as it seems as if the victim’s physiology, their bodies, absorbs it and breaks it down almost immediately after it is emitted by the parasite and has done what it is meant to do.
“But in the subjects used to test the vaccine, the toxin is in such massive amounts that it is unmistakable. When the vaccine kills the parasite, the parasite involuntarily releases massive amounts of the toxin! In that massive of an amount, it kills instantly.”
“Interesting,” I stated, “now run a test of the vaccine after giving the host beta blockers and immunosuppressors. Let us know what that does.”
“You should’ve been a scientist,” the man responded, smiling.
“I thought about it once,” I replied, “but life just seemed to get in the way of all my plans.”
“It does that, sometimes, doesn’t it?” he asked.
“It sure does,” I nodded, “and you’re never the same after.”
“No, I wouldn’t think so,” he shook his head.
I watched him leave. The man was proving a hypothesis for me. If the parasite released toxins to control, and if it involuntarily released them when it died, beta blockers might prevent that release.
It was worth a try. Especially now that the war had gone into high gear. Perhaps it would prove to be more important than I believed. perhaps….
“We need to set up a test of the cure on uninfected humans and aliens from our ranks,” I suggested, “we need to form an extra layer of protection for the men and women fighting out there. We need to know that the cure won’t kill our soldiers while killing the parasite.”
“I would suggest starting with less than a cc of vaccine,” the general added, “then work slowly from that.”
“Understood, sir,” the scientist averred.
“We don’t need any deaths from among our own,” he warned, “we can’t afford to lose anyone. Not to some experiment.”
“I understand,” the scientist nodded.
“Don’t mind him,” I smiled, “he’s been on edge since things escalated. I believe that what he was trying to say is that he doesn’t want any accidents.”
“Oh,” the scientist mused, “I’m not worried about him. His suggestion about the dosage might be dead on. In fact, I believe that we might have to give small doses to build it up in our immune system slowly.”
“Then proceed as you see fit,” I nodded, “you don’t think that our men are getting residual off the bombs, do you?”
“They might be,” he shrugged, “wouldn’t know that until we did blood tests.”
“Please do,” I requested.
He nodded, saluted, then walked away. I watched him go. We knew that the cure, the vaccine, killed the parasite. We only hoped that it wouldn’t kill everything else. This was why I had suggested the experiments.
Our cannons and guns were now lobbing dirty shells at the enemy as the war escalated. The smaller air-to-air missiles were the first to be released. These were attached to the converted warcraft and our limited aircraft.
The larger missiles were presenting a problem. Humanity’s crude technology was hard for our alien allies to work with. The ones that were to be transported to the parasite’s homeworld were not so hard to create.
The cluster bombs were the simplest. They worked on the simple principle that the WWII/Vietnam era cluster bombs worked on. A simple casing holding multiple bombs that were released in mid-air. These smaller bombs would, then, spread out. Sanitizers, we called them.
These were designed for the parasite’s homeworld. Our extraterrestrial allies would carpet bomb the planet with these in order to cover every nanometer with the cure. At the same time, we would carpet bomb earth and other planets in hopes of eradicating the parasite completely.