Armada Chapter 21: The Epic Battle Continues

Armada Chapter 21

Everything is being destroyed by the enemy, and Zack tries to escape. He is confronted by a confusingly described alien weapon.

It was a Basilisk— sort of a giant metal praying mantis with enormous scythe-like blades in place of its front legs, along with an extra pair of clawed, telescoping robotic hands, and twin plasma cannons standing in for its mandibles.

Why would you call this thing a Basilisk if it looks like a praying mantis? What a confusing decision. This would be like if Pizza Hut started selling a hamburger but were like, “We will still call it a pizza in its current form, for this place is a hut of pizza and for no other.” The world would simply be turned upside down!

A pack of eight-legged Spider Fighter drones detached from the Basilisk and began to skitter toward our capsule as yet more Spider Fighters poured into the tunnel behind them.

Now that is an appropriately named piece of alien weaponry!

There is destruction and mayhem as Zack and the surviving members of his team are pursued. Graham (who?) is slaughtered right before their very eyes. Things are about to go from bad to worse when the Basalisk (that is repeatedly described as “insect-like”) is about to crush Zack and co when…LEX SAVES THE DAY…and then immediately fucks off????

After she set us down, Lex waved goodbye with a massive hand. “Everyone here at Sapphire Station has already been reassigned to drones back on Earth,” Lex said over the comm. “I stuck around to see if you guys needed any help, but Shanghai is getting totally hammered. I have to roll!” There was a whine of servos as she stood her Sentinel perfectly upright. “Good luck!”

Oh, okay, bye then. She and Zack couldn’t even hug real quick? After her departure, Zack’s father sobs over Graham’s dead body, and I continue to be unaffected by anything happening in this story. Zack tries really hard by telling me it’s the only time he ever saw his father cry, but he hasn’t seen that man his whole life, so duh. Zack could literally say, “That was the only time I saw my father eat nachos” and it would carry the same weight here.

The head to an underground bunkers where there are conveniently more ships for everyone to pilot. I think maybe they are special ones, but I can’t keep the names of these things straight anymore. I think what is supposed to be thrilling is that they are actually the pilots instead of conducting drone warfare from afar.

“When these ships are in flight, each of them is enclosed in a spherical no-inertia field,” he said. “So flying these ships from inside won’t seem any different than piloting them remotely. Except for one thing, of course— if you get shot down piloting one of these, you won’t be able to take control of another drone. Because you’ll be dead.”

tracy morgan gasp

The stakes have never been higher and simultaneously seemed exactly the same as before.

To kick things up a notch, these are only prototypes, so who knows what kind of wacky things could go wrong. Apparently they’re supposed to eject the pilots when they’re hit, but who knows what could happen?

They head towards earth and discover the aliens have divided their forces. Half are attacking China while the other half are with the Disrupter (the biggest, scariest weapon that will be the death of us all). Chen (who?) wants to go fight in China because his sister will be fighting there, but Zack’s dad insists they go fight the Disrupter. Somehow by piloting these prototypes that weren’t part of the plan, they realize they’re the only ones that will be able to stop it.

“They’ll try,” he said. “But the Disrupter knocks out all wireless and radio communications, too. It alters Earth’s magnetic field and plays havoc with GPS satellites, too. Our conventional aircraft will all be flying blind. And they might as well be going up against Godzilla. Conventional fighters won’t stand a chance. It’s up to us.”

Just as my father finished his sentence, we received word that the Disrupter had already made landfall, before our ships even reached the edge of Earth’s atmosphere.

But the Europans didn’t activate their ultimate weapon then, even though they could have.

For some reason, they waited.

They waited until the five of us got there to switch it on.

Holy fuck. You can feel the importance because of the dramatic line changes! What a Divergent move.

Once at the Antarctic Peninsula, they find the Disrupter straight away, which makes sense because it is very big. The Disrupter activates, and all the EDA drones fall out of the sky because they are now powerless.

Zack grows increasingly suspicious as he and his friends are able to just fly through all this craziness and not be killed by the aliens. Debbie (who?) is then hit by an enemy and has to eject from her ship and Whoadie (who?) goes to make sure she’s okay. Maybe the aliens are just trying to get Zack and his father alone because they are really moved by the power of a father and son reuniting and bonding over an intergalactic war.

Chen then has a breakdown when he finds out that China is fallen. He detonates his ship close enough that the Disrupter’s shields go down. This greatly assists my theory about the aliens wanting to get Zack and Dad alone.

Zack’s dad knows they only have a couple minutes while the shields are down, so he decides to strike:

“Are you nuts?” I shouted. “The shield won’t be down long enough!”

“It will, Son,” he said. “Because they’re watching, and they want my heroic gambit to work. Just like I told you. Watch— I need you to see this.”

The shields even stay down longer than they’re supposed to, and the aliens continue to miss every time they fire at Zack’s dad. Oh, aliens, what do you want?

Zack’s father self-destructs as well and manages to destroy the Disrupter in the process, but it’s possible he ejected in time, but we don’t have confirmation yet. Zack goes to search for him in the depths of the ocean!

I swung my Interceptor across the darkness of the ocean floor, peering into the emptiness, ignoring the increasingly loud warnings from my TAC telling me to surface, and to do it now, or I would die, too.

Because that sounded fine to me. Just fine.

This is probably what the aliens have been waiting for all along! I bet they just love the drama of it all.



  1. wordswithhannah Reply

    Wow, I can really feel the impact of losing all this cannon fodder that we were barely introduced to. It’s jacking up the stakes something fierce.

  2. Utsutsu Reply

    Did anyone here read Under the Dome? It’s like the aliens there – except that actually managed to make a point about the dangers of power in the hands of a force that exists for it’s own entertainment, and the insignificance/significance dichotomy of human lives. Or something. At least there was substance there.

    I feel like the twist in Armada is that… the aliens saw science fiction movies from Earth, and wanted to watch a space soap opera, but Earth’s science fiction now is such bull shit that they had to make their own.
    Is that the point?

    Is Cline just trying to make us think about how bad science fiction pop culture is in modern times?

    Does he realize that that includes his own work?

    (Oh look I can make things dramatic too! Writing is easy!)

  3. callmeIndigo Reply

    I’m no physicist, but I’m pretty sure altering Earth’s magnetic field would have way more serious consequences than just messing up some satellites.

  4. Judy Reply

    Wait… With all the pop culture references, Cline uses Basilisk and doesn’t reference Harry Potter ?? Then describes a Basilisk incorrectly…..what????


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