As they exited the remains of Garrick’s apartment building, they emerged onto a street that he didn’t recognize: bodies lay wherever they had fallen in their flight for their lives, pockmarked holes littered the streets where rounds from the weapons had impacted, cars were either scorched or turned over for cover and filled with small holes where the aliens’ guns had shot through them. There was a thick smoke that filled the air with the pungent smell of burning plastic and flesh. Julia took the lead and wound them through the obstacle course of destruction that Garrick’s neighbourhood had become. They met up with the other people Julia had been scouting with, a young Latina woman named Mariana came over to Garrick and examined him, she told him she had been the one to find him on the floor before running to get Julia to try and help. Mariana was paired with an older man who Garrick found out was her father Joseph, Garrick thanked both of them for their help and they introduced him to the rest of the party: There was John, a mechanic who had owned his own shop before it was destroyed in a battle between the army and the aliens; Natalie, a school teacher who had worked just three blocks from Garrick’s apartment; Thomas, a former criminal who had been paroled not two days before the invasion had happened and Marie a cardiologist from the hospital in his town. They all huddled behind an overturned truck and ran through everything they had found on their scouting raid. Canned goods, batteries, medical supplies, and ammunition were the main focuses, but some of them also found luxuries like alcohol and cigarettes. “Alright, we have as much as we can carry and we even found an extra man, let’s head back to the camp and drop what we have, the Colonel will want to meet Garrick” Mariana said to the party.
“The Colonel?” Garrick asked Mariana, sounding a little scared, “Who’s the colonel?”
“You’ll met them when we get back to camp. Don’t worry, she’s not overly mean” Mariana replied with a smirk as the rest of the party stifled a small giggle. The walked between two completely burned out houses down a small alleyway that Garrick guessed children used to get to the school Natalie worked at. They emerged onto a street in a small cul-de-sac and hurried over to a large van that was parked in one of the driveways on the street. It, along with every other vehicle they had passed on their way there, was riddled with holes from either bullets or those alien weapons. They loaded up the gear and climbed in on top of it, Garrick sat with his back to the driver’s seat facing the back of the van. Julia started the van, but Garrick couldn’t hear anything.
“Did she even star….” he began to ask before Joseph shot him a warning glare and held a finger up to his mouth indicating for silence. Garrick nodded his agreement and they drove in silence to the camp. He kept his eyes down the whole time they drove. As he drifted in and out of consciousness, he realized how exhausted he was but sleep, true restful sleep, not exhaustion, wouldn’t come. He tried to sleep but he kept seeing the faces of his neighbours in the stairwell every time he closed his eyes. He resolved the try and count the turns and time the trip to approximate how far they had gone and in which direction, his attempt was futile. With Julia having to weave around battlegrounds and debris it was impossible to tell when they were actually turning or just maneuvering around an obstacle. After what felt like an eternity the van stopped and everyone began moving towards the door in silence. They all exited the van grabbing the supplies they acquired in silence and moved around the far side of the van. As far as Garrick could tell it was just a mall, one he didn’t even recognize which meant they were in a completely different neighbourhood from his own. They walked past several abandoned cars and through doors missing several panes of glass. They entered the mall and it, like the streets they had traveled down, looked like a battlefield.
Crater’s covered the floor accompanied by scorch marks and, what Garrick could only surmise, was dried blood. The party veered right down a maintenance hallway between a sporting goods store and a photography shop. They pushed the door open hard and ventured through. As they went into the maintenance hallway Garrick looked behind the door and noticed a lot of bedding and sleeping bags that had been placed behind the door to stop it from making noise. The door slid shut but was stopped by several small bean bags on the ground at the side of the door frame, again to stop it’s sound. Julia took the lead and walked briskly down the hallway while the rest followed in silence, down the hall, right turn, left at the next intersection then another left and another right. Finally, they came to a steel door with a keypad, Julia keyed in a code and the light above the panel switched from red to green. The door opened to reveal two heavily armoured marines with their weapons pointed at the door. Julia walked right by them as did the rest of the party. Garrick was followed by Joseph as they moved past the marines and down the stairs they were guarding. They went down what felt like 4 stories and came to another door, Julia entered another code and this door, rather than opening outward as with the previous door guarded by the Marines, slid to the side to reveal a small room. They all squeezed into the room with their gear and the door slid shut behind them. It closed with a faint hiss and then there was the sound of air escaping from a cylinder. The massive light above the door on the opposite side from the one they entered switched from red to green and the door beneath slid open to reveal an underground bunker.
The bunker looked like a cross between a large corporate facility and a military installation. There was a long hallway that led to a large atrium with doors and various hallways on its sides. along the floor were multi coloured lines mapping the way to various crucial areas like the mess and hospital wing. There were several desks lining the hallway staffed by a hodge podge of different people. some military some obviously not. The lighting gave off the weird yellow glow to simulate sunlight even though everyone in the bunker knew it wasn’t.
As they moved into the bunker they were met by a group of kids who ran up to Natalie and started gushing about their school projects they were working on. Natalie stopped and bent down to look the kids in the eye, she smiled and told them to give her a minute to unload the supplies and then she would have something to show them. The kids let out a chorus of cheers as Natalie stood upright and began walking again.
As Natalie went by their attention was turned on to Joseph, “Papa Joseph! Do you have any candy?” they asked him as they surrounded him like a pack of small wolves. Joseph chuckled to himself as he reached into his pocket and pulled out some caramel candies. He gave one to each of the kids and told them to run along, which they did. As the party continued to move down the hallway towards a door to the right side of the large atrium, people started to notice Garrick. There were whispers and stares as Garrick moved with Julia helping her to carry the supplies. They arrived at the door with a small sign that marked ‘Briefing Room’ and Julia turned the knob, opening the door. They all filed into the room and put their supplies on the tables that were set up on the far side of the room. Once they had unloaded their stuff, they took seats along the side of the room, some on the chairs provided and some opting to sit on the floor. They waited for maybe 30 seconds before the door opened and a young woman wearing a camouflage military uniform entered the room.
“Welcome back” she said as she entered the room. She closed the door quickly and managed a fast glance at the supplies on the table, She smirked and then turned back to the group of them; “Excellent work guys, this stuff will really help. Who’s this?” she asked as her gaze came to rest on Garrick.
“Hi, I’m Garrick,” he said as he stood up and shook the young woman’s hand, “your party found me in my apartment and patched me up.”
“Well, welcome to the Resistance, Garrick” She added as she shook his hand. “If you don’t mind me asking, what did you do before the attack?”
“I was a lawyer” Garrick replied, “I worked in Corporate mostly” he added.
“A Corporate lawyer? We got ourselves a big wig here!” she said as she looked around the room and was met with a couple of snickers from the rest of the party. “ah, I’m sorry for the bad joke Garrick, but someone has to try and keep the morale up. I am Lieutenant Banks, Earth Air Force”.
“No she’s not, she’s the colonel!” Mariana said from the back of the room. The group all began laughing, including Lt. Banks. Garrick stared around awkwardly as the laughing died down waiting for someone to explain the joke, nobody did.
“Well Garrick, this is the resistance. It’s not much, but somebody has to make sure that the Drift don’t end humanity, and that’s us. We don’t care about your past or what you may have done, we care about skills and what you can bring to help us because frankly, there aren’t many of us left and we can’t afford to be picky.” Banks said as she gestured for the party to follow her out of the room. She opened the door and proceeded into the atrium, clipboard in hand. “This bunker was built in 2029 as a secret VIP bunker during the second Cold War, we re-purposed it as soon as the first attack came. It’s been a rough 12 hours, people have been coming in all night. Some areas were hit harder than others, your neighbourhood was the middle of the pack, several survivors but not many. I know you just got here and it looks like you got hit a bit”, she gestured to his bandage on his shoulder, “but Recon team #2 is down a man so we could move you there, or if you would rather stay with these folks we can arrange that too. I am curious as to what happened though.” By this time they had walked across the atrium to a small security table where Banks had handed in the clipboard.
“I woke up to the sounds of my neighbours dying in the street and I got attacked by two of them, what did you call them? The Drift?” the security staff, also dressed in air force camouflage, began listening intently. “I didn’t do much, they mostly did it to themselves.” Garrick admitted. “They shot my faucet so water was spraying everywhere, I used a water jug I had frozen in my freezer as a club and a kitchen knife. One of them fell into the water and basically dissolved. The other didn’t go down as easy, ended up tackling it to the ground and stabbing it, a lot, then it dissolved too.”
“Wait, they dissolved?” Banks asked.
“Ya, in the water. They writhed and smoked up, it smelled like rotten eggs a bit and then they just dissolved.” Garrick added. Banks looked the security workers and they nodded as they both picked up a headset and began relaying the information to someone on the other end.
“That’s great Garrick, we had our suspicions but we weren’t sure. Julia will show you to your bunk area, where you can catch some rest. It’s not much, but it’s better than the surface. I’ll just go ahead and add you to her team, and move Dustin from facilities to team #2. Get some rest, you’re going out again in 6 hours.” Banks said as she turned her back to the party, signalling for their dismissal. Garrick turned away from the Lieutenant to see only Julia standing there, the rest had disappeared rather quickly. Julia took him to a small room that Garrick suspected had been a janitor’s closet but somehow had a cot with a pillow and blanket shoved into it along with a small barrack box.
“Get some rest Garrick, I don’t want that wound opening up on our next run. I saved your ass once, I don’t want to have to do it again so soon!” Julia said as she left him in his small room.
The next few days were a blur.
They saved people. They saved a lot of people. They lost some too. Joseph died saving a family from a crumbling building. He got the last of the children out but the supports couldn’t handle the weight of the rubble. The whole building collapsed on him before he could get out himself. Mariana was a wreck, she was trying to dig the debris away herself. She had stripped her fingers raw and bloody before John convinced her to stop. A small service was held for Joseph, a candle was lit and his photo was added to a wall of the known deceased. The world spun on.
They raided a small military outpost for ammunition and supplies. They made off with a lot of gear and supplies but when they went back the next day there was a large crater where the outpost had been.
The next week when they went out, they were ambushed. The aliens were waiting for them. They barely made it out, but the other crew that had come with them was decimated. Banks suspended all operations until further notice. They mourned their dead, but didn’t have the luxury of stopping, the people needed them.
Banks lifted the ban on the raids when a bout of the common cold spread through the bunker, every team was tasked with finding medication and other supplies. They found the supplies, but began finding fewer and fewer survivors.
The ambushes became more and more frequent. But the need for supplies outweighed the potential risks, until it didn’t. The ambushes were moving closer and closer to their base, Banks theorized that the aliens were trying to locate their base to root them out. Garrick thought she was right, but when some of the children who had the cold began getting really sick, he and the other members of the raiding party didn’t care. They left in a torrential downpour to get more medication, thinking the rain would give them protection. They got maybe three blocks from the mall, and they were ambushed. The vehicle was destroyed and the run back to base while firing blindly behind them hoping to hit something was nerve wracking.
As they sat in the small room, Banks entered looking very shaken. “The other teams didn’t make it. You’re the only raiding party we have left. “
Dust fell from the ceiling and landed on Garrick’s pack and rifle he had adopted as his own since joining the Resistance. His head shot up, he knew that sound all too well. It would appear that the Drift had found their location at last.
“Forward Security, report in!” Banks called into the headset that she wore everywhere, Nothing came through. Another resounding boom could be heard. Screams from the rest of the people, the young and old fearing for their lives. Banks left the room and they could hear her yelling for calm. The screaming stopped and angry shouting was being made at the Lieutenant. Garrick couldn’t make out what was being said, but it didn’t sound nice. She came back into the room, her face a bright red, Garrick couldn’t tell if it was anger or embarrassment. She took three quick breaths and looked at them, “Alright soldiers, it’s time to defend the bunker. I need you to get out there and help divide up the citizens into defense teams. They’re coming in and we don’t have time to argue. They need us.” She held up a drawing done by one of the kids in Natalie’s class, it showed them all as heroes, complete with the capes and tights. “These people need heroes and right now, you’re it.”
“We are not soldiers! And we’re definitely not heroes…” Garrick said, his voice quiet.
“I know! But right now, with everything going on, those people out there, they need someone… something to believe in, right now..they need heroes. Now, you can sit here and pity yourselves, or you can stand with me and be the heroes those people need. That’s the choice I leave to you.” She turned and left the small meeting room closing the door behind her.
“Let’s go” Julia said as she stood up, picking up her pack, medical bag and her rifle she always carried on their raids out onto the surface. “Those things are coming in here, and I will not be caught cowering in a room hoping they pass us by while the others outside fight and die for us. I wanted to help people, that’s why I became a paramedic. I will fight to protect these people because that’s what I can do. I couldn’t help Joseph, I couldn’t help those kids we lost, but I can help defend these people. So I’m going out there and I’m going to fight. The rest of you can hide here, but that’s not me.” She strode over to the door and opened it. Without even thinking, Garrick and the rest followed her out into the atrium, their defacto leader.
As they strode out and took positions behind Banks, the people gathered in the atrium silenced their objections. Banks moved fast, dividing up the people and assigning them to a member of Julia’s party. Each party member was responsible for a group of people to arrange and set up however they saw fit to defend the door. The defenses were set up in silence, not because they needed to be quiet now, because everyone knew this was it. There was no way out of this bunker except through the Drift, and that was a fight they probably wouldn’t win.
They took their positions, weapons trained on the door, waiting.
More dust falls making a slight cloud that hangs in the air, the lasers from the rifles visible as they shine against the dust. “You were a lawyer right? Before all this happened?” one of the recruits that was assigned to Garrick asked him as they watched the door.
“Uh, ya. But that was a long time ago” he replied.
“So you must be good at giving speeches? Care to give us a rousing speech?” He asked as his eyes slid over to focus on Garrick while his head remained facing the door.
“You want a speech?” Garrick asked as he looked at the young man.
“Ya, let’s see what you’ve got.”
“I’m not giving a speech.” Garrick replied.
There was a crackle over the PA system and Banks voice came through echoing throughout the bunker, “This is it. This is our final stand. I would like to thank you all for everything you’ve done in the past few weeks to help turn this old dust filled bunker into our home..” She trailed off before coming back stronger, “.. this our line in the sand. We can’t go back so we are going forward. We will push them back and we will get these people out of this bunker. We are their only hope! Through Blood and Sand!”
“Through Blood and Sand!” they all echoed back. As their voices died, there was an eerie silence that filled the bunker, broken only by the coughing of one of the children hiding in a room off the atrium.
The door burst open and the first two teams, headed by Julia and Mariana, opened up. When they emptied their magazines, they ducked to reload and the next two teams emptied their mags. They leapfrogged like that all the way back until everyone had emptied one magazine and reloaded. The only thing was, they weren’t being shot at. “Cease Fire!” Banks called out. The silence came back with deafening force. Then he heard it, the faint metallic clink, like a dime on a stone floor. There was a loud “Whoosh”, and all the electronics in the bunker died; the lights, lasers and ammo readouts on the rifles disappeared. Then it started. The screams.
Julia’s team went down first, then Mariana’s. Back and back the screams came, until John’s group in front of Garrick’s went down. Through the smoke he could barely make out a large hulking shape cutting through the resistance members.
He looked up and fired at the exposed sprinkler head that was part of the fire suppression system in the bunker. The sprinkler head broke and water began raining down. There was a sizzling sound coming from in front of Garrick’s group and they began firing. Small bursts at first and then turning into fully automatic. The young man that had asked for the speech was grabbed by a long tendril that looked like a demon of saome sort from the depths of an abyss. He was pulled into the darkness in front of Garrick and his scream echoed through the bunker. “Keep firing!” Garrick shouted without realizing he was the only one left from his group. The tendril came back for him. It grabbed his shoulder that had barely healed. Garrick let out a scream of pain as he was lifted off his feet by his newly healed shoulder and into the darkness.
The one that held him was bigger, much bigger than the ones that had come into his apartment. While it had large tendrils for gripping, there were many more extending out of it’s back with several of the weapons he had seen attached to them. It pulled him close to it’s body and just stared at him as its tendrils streaked out towards the remaining defenders. Screams of pain and fear accompanied every dash of the tendril and eventually Garrick heard Banks shout to fall back. A red flare was ignited behind him which provided some light as the red glow illuminated the creature holding Garrick. The weapons all pointed towards the defenders and began firing. there were no screams this time, just the sounds of bodies falling and rifles clattering on the ground.
The alien’s weapons stopped firing and it held Garrick for a moment. It let out a deafening shriek, the sizzling could still be heard from the water falling onto the creature. One of the weapons on a tendril began glowing white pulsing in a strange succession, then the rest began glowing white in the same pattern. Garrick was dropped roughly to the ground. As he scrambled for a rifle, the creature just stood there, the weapons glowed brighter and brighter. As Garrick grasped the handle of a rifle, he hefted it and pointed at the target. There was a blinding white light.
Far away on a Drift ship orbiting the planet, a view screen showed hundreds of bright lights all over the world. The drift operating the console reached forward and swiped through the display, the picture of the Earth vanished to show several smaller ships entering the Earth’s atmosphere.