by Stewart Wilson
Nobody noticed it's arrival. The night it came to Earth, every monitoring facility on the planet had no idea that it was there. Of course, that's what it wanted. It didn't like being bothered by the petty enquiries of host planets.
The impact site was just south of Lancaster. Unremarkable, even for space rock. Nobody cared because nobody could see it, a combination of generated ignorance and willing blindness saw to that. Within hours of landing, it had subsumed half of the city. Within a week it held parliament, and through them it put laws into place to cement its power. America and Europe were infected, and it spread over the planet, making the whole world into the perfect colony.
There are, as always, exceptions. Dave Carpenter is one of these exceptions. He is not a superhero. Nor are the thirty-odd people hidden in tunnels under London. They're just people who want their country back. People who could not be a part of the colony. They didn't know what was going on, they just knew that their country was a parody of what it once was.
Dave knows because he's been out in it. He, like the others, is invisible to the colony so he walks amongst it every chance he gets. Everyone is unfailingly polite, all the cars obey speed limits and if ever Dave or one of his gang start causing trouble there are police on the scene in seconds. Sure, people can't think the way that they used to, but that's a blessing in their own eyes. They've lost the existential worry about their lives, the niggling doubts and momentary pains and had it replaced by the certainty of the colony. Certainty that stems from a hive-meme that spans the cosmos, searching for planets to pacify for it's master.
Dave's girlfriend became part of the colony late on, and he knows all of this because she told him. Originally she didn't want to join but as time drew on she went to it willingly. It was a cluster of ideas with certainty. It took the niggling fears and replaced them with a sense of purpose, a higher goal. Something a community could work for, and everyone could be a part.
To Dave's well trained ears this was bollocks. She was dumping him for some shared experience that sounded way too much like a cult that he couldn't buy. Dave didn't know the reason he couldn't get into it, it just felt wrong.
The master has no name pronounceable in the human tongue. It is a creature that has outlived stars and has no language of the form humans would recognise. His physical body requires ten extra dimensions of space to describe in all his glory, it's thoughts are utterly alien. The colony is something between his pet and his weapon, a tool to allow the master to harvest the homogeneous psychic energy of a planet all at once. Other beings such as him needed to do so in order to live. The master does it for the sheer joy of killing. Even alien minds can be fucked up.
What neither the colony nor the master knew is that Dave and people like him were going to mount a counter-offensive.
Every living thing on Earth thinks. Not just humans or what humans consider "smart" animals. All animals think, as do just about all of the plants. Many rocks think as well. Together, this thought-power becomes the entelechy, the actualisation of planetary-level consciousness. Weakened by the loss of so many humans the entelechy had to act through those that remained. Trees grew at a rapid rate, siphoning more solar energy and slowly hyperoxygenating the air, drugging people to help them break the colony's hold. Animals across the globe worried at the colony's signal pylons, from which it would signal the master. And slowly, from underground tunnels and idea-proof shelters, the human avatars of the entelechy emerged.
There was no bloody revolution. No meeting of vast mind-controlled armies in the ultimate metaphor for natural against unnatural. The Earth doesn't work like that. Every person was capable of freeing others from the group mind, awakening them to the global consciousness. but rather than forcing control, the planet gave a simple link to knowledge and ideas and communications. Each free human was a free agent, acting on his own in the name of a planet. Just like they should be doing.
The colony tried. Flocks of the possessed tried to complete a spire in the middle of the Kenyan savannah. Dave had got to the site in time to free people from the colony, dropping psychic mind-bombs to blow them free. Wherever he didn't manage it, one of the other animals that had come joined him would ensure the colonist's freedom by more permanent means. The spire was disrupted as the ground itself shook and winds blew fast enough to pick up cars, shattering the signalling device.
High above, the Master reaches out to a colonist mind, sending him immediately mad. It does something that on a human might be considered a smile. It had wondered what had happened to it's old girlfriend.