Short story. Probably appeared in Astounding or Analog, read in the 1970s or 1980s.

Earth gets invaded by aliens. The aliens (or their soldiers) are like giant tarantula hawks that capture people and take them back to their caves where they implant their eggs in the victims. The hero is a hunter who works with a telepathic eagle or hawk who tracks them to their lair and then has to keep them in the lair until help arrives.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Any idea when you would have read this? Please check out the other suggestions for story-id questions.
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 2:33
  • Thanks. Probably 1970s or very early 1980s. Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 5:15
  • I really want to read this story
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


The Killers by Karl Hansen. It was published in Analog September 1975.

Earth has been invaded by the wasps - they are only ever referred to as wasps:

That was all you could do with the wasps, kill them. It had taken us a long time to realize that: for a long time the Mindmech had tried to contact them and communicate with them and had always failed. Gradually it became clear that the wasps were not the intelligence that had built the ships that crossed the space between the stars. They were only passengers sent the long way for one purpose, to destroy us. For what reason no one knew. Or what the others were like, the ones that had sent the wasps; no one knew that either.

Now for the first time since the dark ships had dropped from the sky that night that seemed so long ago we were gaining on the wasps. But progress came slow. There was no way to really be sure how many men had died, how many the wasps had taken. But we were stronger now, we who survived, not the same as we had been before even though there were fewer of us. Now we knew what to do. The whisper-birds taught us that; they taught us the joy of the kill. The Mindmech chose the genes wisely when he made the whisper-birds, the genes that remembered to kill.

The birds used to hunt the wasps are the whisper-birds. They are not telepathically linked but instead use a radio link:

There was a bulge in the skin over my left ear where the med­ mech had wired an encephalowave transceiver into the temporal lobe of my brain. The whisper-bird had a similar transceiver implanted in her skull. With the encephalowave there was almost instantaneous communication between a man and his whisper-bird partner - on a ver­bal level, usually - but when there wasn't time for words, when the wasps were being hunted and sud­denly the sky seemed full of their high-pitched humming and they were coming fast from all direc­tions, then the thoughts and feel­ings and instincts would be per­ceived. No longer hidden underneath, our unconscious minds could fuse, and each could see as the other and know what to do.

At the end of the story the protagonist finds the wasp queen and his whisper-bird, Dardanis, attacks and delays it until it can be killed by a shot fired by a warmech, but the whisper-bird is tangled with the falling queen and is mortally injured when the queen strikes the ground. As Dardanis dies the protagonist sees her through the encephalowave link as a woman:

Through the pain I suddenly saw her face and then she stood before me, as she had been. Her hair was long and dark and her eyes hidden. Her face was too long and the cheek-bones too harsh to have ever been called beautiful. but I knew when she smiled you would feel good watching her. She was lovely standing there. Smooth curves with long legs and soft skin that glowed with youth. She reached for me.


For a long time after I would re­member her face, the human face I saw only briefly in my mind as the fire washed memory clean. But underneath that face would always be the cruel yellow beak and the beady black eyes of the bird. And I would remember the joy in her mind as she fell from the sky to kill. The joy would always re­main.

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