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Smoke and Fire - LF2021 --non.writer--

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posted on Oct, 18 2021 @ 11:43 PM
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Smoke and Fire


Before

It is the winter of the fourth year of the pandemic. In the third year the world lost half of its population to disease, and then famine. Martial Law was declared in the United States, and many other countries. In the beginning of the fourth year the Vespid arrived from deep space, and made landfall in Canada, laying waste to what was left of the country in mere months. Preferring the cold weather, they were not expected to move from their conquered lands. Soon, however, the invaders began to appear in the northern states, and the mass migration of citizens to the Southern states and beyond began in earnest. Most of the south has chosen to stay put, where local governments are engaged in a brutal fight with the rebel secessionists. Texas has been hit by the in-fighting harder than most.



Ronan

Ronan arrived at the distribution center later than he had hoped for, and was forced to park well outside of the perimeter fence. There were easily a thousand people milling about the ice covered parking lot, waiting for the food trucks to begin unloading. The Travis County Sheriff’s Department were checking passes at the gate, and the Guard were watching the unruly congregation from an observation post on the roof of the abandoned Wal-Mart. Their long barrel rifles were clearly visibly, nestled on small bags atop the air conditioning units, shooters waiting for word from the spotters crouched just beside them.

Having passed through the checkpoint without incident, Ronan worked his way through the dense crowd of shivering bodies towards the container trucks. The food was finally being unloaded onto tables by FEMA workers in government issue winter gear, who would administer the meager supplies to his hungry neighbors. Those waiting in the back of the crowd were becoming quickly impatient, and began to hurl obscenities and push forward. Ronan felt a surge from behind and was pressed bodily into the man before him. He looked up at the roof of the building, half expecting the National Guard to fire a few warning shots over the throng, but they were gone. That’s strange, he thought, and scanned the rest of the roof but saw no sign of the overwatch.

The skin on the back of Ronan’s neck began to tingle with an all too familiar sense of dread. Head on the swivel, he forced his way forward, intent on grabbing a bag as fast as possible. The Guard were nowhere in sight, and there were not enough Deputies on the perimeter to hold this crowd if they chose to riot. The tables were in view now. His stomach began to growl in anticipation of food in hand, but that was before the screaming started.

Behind the tables, the FEMA workers suddenly and without explanation began to retreat to the trucks, not even bothering to shut the doors to the trailers. Engines roared to life, but were quickly drowned out by the cries of the confused and enraged onlookers. Large tires spun on the icy pavement, and the trucks lurched away from the tables to exit the parking lot, the contents of their open trailers spilling out onto the cold ground below. The crowd erupted into an absolute panic, knocking over the tables and each other, scrambling to grab whatever they could. Ronan turned to look for the Sheriff’s contingent just in time to see them make the same hasty exit as the FEMA workers. He couldn’t help but stand and stare at the retreating SUV’s as masses of crazed people shoved past him. Where the hell are the Law going, he wondered.

The gunshot behind him startled Ronan out of his shock, and he turned to find men and women pushing away from a man holding a revolver in the air. A small circle formed around the gunman as some screamed in fear, but most just kept grabbing at the scattered food at their feet. The man with the revolver pointed it at a young boy clutching a bag of supplies, demanding that he hand it over. Defiant, the boy turned to run just as the man pistol whipped him from behind. The boy crumpled, and the man snatched greedily at his food bag for himself. Against his better judgment, and fueled by his own rage, Ronan moved on the gunman from behind. He tackled the large man hard and fast, and the two crashed onto the icy parking lot as the wild eyed gunman twisted to face Ronan. They wrestled furiously, both cursing the other amid blows and struggles to control the gun. The ensuing muzzle flash was abrupt, and illuminated the man’s face briefly before he collapsed onto Ronan, dead. Startled, Ronan ran his hands over his own body, but felt no wound. Did I just kill a man? Oh God, oh God…

Ronan grabbed the food bag and ran, slipping twice on the slick terrain before gaining his footing. When he arrived at his truck outside the fence, his heart was pounding so hard that he thought it might explode out of his chest. He climbed into the driver’s seat, locked the doors and just sat there panting for a moment, his foggy breath hanging before him in the cold. Adrenaline fading, he thought to put the bag on the floorboard. It was only then that he realized that he had the man’s revolver in his hand. When did I grab that? Why did I grab that? Surprised, and fearful, he opened the glove box and hid the revolver deep, behind loose papers.

He knew he couldn’t allow himself time to think; if he stopped to consider what he had done he might be overcome with guilt. There was no time for that, he had to get the food home to Lara. He keyed the ignition, put the truck into drive, and pushed away from the fence. There were hundreds of vehicles speeding away from the distribution center all around him, and his truck blended in with the traffic easily. Ronan felt sick, but he pushed it down. He had to get away. He had to get home.

Ronan exited FM 620 and turned onto Quinlan. His escape from the chaos had gone by in a blur of lights and paranoid terror, and he was thankful to almost be home. The road through Steiner Ranch was dark, as were the neighborhoods on the left and right of him. A lot of the expensive houses in Austin were vacant these days, and the blinking yellow traffic lights were an indication of just how empty the neighborhood really was. He turned off his headlights just before turning into the trailer park at the bottom of Quinlan, adjacent to the river, and eased his truck as quietly as he could into the snow next to his home. He put the keys and his Vaxx Pass into the glove box, doing his best not to think of what else was in there, and jumped out of the cab into the crunchy snow. Cradling the food bag like a newborn baby, he kicked the truck door closed and made his way to the wooden steps of his home. The lights were on inside, and Lara was surely wondering what was taking him so long.

edit on 18-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Correction



posted on Oct, 18 2021 @ 11:43 PM
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a reply to: DreadKnock

Just before his knock landed, Ronan saw the blood on his hands. His heart began to beat wildly again, and he forced himself to calm. He sat the bag down on the elevated porch, and went back down the steps to clean his hands in the snow. It was abrasive and painful, and he welcomed the discomfort. Satisfied that he had rid himself of the evidence of his deeds, he turned to go back up the stairs but was stopped by a loud noise coming from the river, some 100 feet on the backside of the trailer park. He heard quite a few vessels passing by- large ones if he could judge from the sound of the motors. It never occurred to him that the boats were going in the wrong direction, upstream towards Mansfield Dam, as he was shivering now and more concerned with warming himself inside.

Lara

Lara was stringing Christmas lights across the wall in the small living room when she was startled by a knock on the front door. Her uneasiness passed quickly; she knew it was Ronan. His knock was always the same- one, followed by three quick. She looked at the clock on the wall as she moved to let him in. Ten p.m., he’s late. She unlatched the deadbolt and opened door to let let her lover in, finding Ronan standing in the cold.

“Hi, Bab...” He shoved a large brown paper grocery bag into her hands before she could finish. Not deterred by his blunt manner, she continued. “You got the food. Was there trouble?”

“No trouble,” Ronan muttered, closing the door and locking it. Shrugging out of his wet jacket, he let if fall to the floor. Lara gave him a look that said You know better than that. Her blue hair, illuminated by the soft red holiday lights, looked purple now, and fell across her face. He moved it back behind her ear with his hand. “Sorry,” he said, retrieving the jacket and hanging it on the proper hook this time. Lara let loose a small grin.

She began unpacking the bag and lining the contents out on the kitchen counter, all the while eyeing Ronan with concern. “Eggs, milk, red meat, pasta,” she began, then held up the pasta for him to examine. “What’s this? Blood?”

Ronan froze. He grabbed the package from her with ice cold hands, and wiped the blood away with a sink rag, “The red meat must have leaked out. You know how they throw those bags from the trucks.” It killed him to lie to her, and he couldn’t bring himself to look at her.

“Baby, did something happen? Your hands are ice cold, and shaking. Come here.” She put her thin arms around Ronan and pulled him near, drawing out the embrace for a long time. He was shivering, and it concerned her. Ronan was the strong silent type, she knew, and decided to let it go. If he wanted to tell her about it, he would do so in his own time. “Let me run you a hot shower, and then we can eat something. Hmm, does that sound good?” She didn’t wait for his response, but instead moved for the bathroom. Looking over her shoulder, she called to him, “come on then, you big oaf.”

Ronan followed his love, and watched her from the door as he slowly undressed. Lara was small and thin, but well curved. She always reminded him of a cat when she moved; her motions were controlled and graceful, like the dancer she once was.

Naked and unapologetic, he stood behind her while she arranged towels for him. Reaching around, he kissed her cheek. He would do anything for her, and kept repeating that to himself, in hopes of rationalizing what he had done earlier. Lara smiled, gently ushering her man into the steaming shower. She closed the curtain and shut the door, leaning with her back against it thinking of Ronan inside, her worry, and his inability to look her in the eye since coming home.

She looked down at his clothes, picked them up and moved to the hamper. Something metal fell from his jeans, and rang out on the laundry room tile. It was his 2 year AA chip. He always carried it with him, as long as she had known him. Is that it, she wondered. Did he slip up and have a drink tonight? No, he has been too proud of his sobriety. It has to be something else. Lara put the coin in her jeans pocket, and pushed the curiosity out of her mind forcibly. She went back to the kitchen slowly, turning one last time to look at the shower door before finally moving on.

Together

Spaghetti was easy, and near the limits of Lara’s culinary skill. Ronan wouldn’t mind, and she knew it. Hot food in his belly would renew him to the man she loved and enjoyed. Two years they had been together now, since that day at the hospital. Two years alone together in this empty city; two years protecting and caring for one another. The pandemic had brought them close, and the ensuing dangers even closer. There weren’t many people left in the world now, and she needed Ronan more than she dared to admit.

Dinner on the counter, Lara resumed her decorating. There wasn’t much to work with: a scavenged Christmas tree, fake of course, and a smattering of corded lights. Times were tough, and there would be no presents under the ratty tree, but she would do her best to bring the spirit of it all into their home. She still had her Mother’s box of silver ball ornaments, and she began to place them on the tree one at a time; delicately and with careful measure.

The sudden and low rumble above the trailer shook the ornaments on the tree before her, and Lara looked up at the ceiling wondering what could possibly be going on this late at night. She heard helicopters, lots and lots of helicopters, all crossing the river and heading North. The airport was the opposite direction. “What, now?’ she muttered, and shook her head. It was probably the secessionists
edit on 18-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Correction



posted on Oct, 18 2021 @ 11:45 PM
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a reply to: DreadKnock

causing trouble again, but they normally blew off steam downtown, by Camp Mabry. The helicopters were going the other way. Strange, she thought.

The shower had stopped running quite some time ago, but Ronan had yet to emerge. Lara knocked on the door but got no reply. “Your dinner is getting cold, handsome,” she called through the door. Still, there was no reply. Curious, she tried the knob and found it unlocked. She stepped inside the bathroom to find Ronan, wearing only a towel, bent over the sink, hands on the counter and staring at himself in the mirror. “Ronan. Ronan!”

Slowly he turned to look at her. He had a strange look in his eyes, and seemed to not recognize her for a moment. Something is definitely wrong, she surmised. I have to do something to shake him out of it. She took one of his large hands into her own, and led him from the humid bathroom to the back bedroom, and turned off the lights. He still did not speak, and only stood there looking at her numbly. Lara stood before him. There you are, she thought, and moved to put her arms around his large frame. “You are trembling, are you still cold? Here, let me…” She moved closer, her body fully against him and warm. Nuzzling his neck, she took his arms and put them around her, feeling his shivers subside just a little.

“What about dinner?” he asked.

“He speaks,” she replied. “Don’t worry, it can wait.” She smiled in the dark, knowing that failing all else, there was always one way to retrieve a man from his thoughts. Ronan pushed her away gently, just far enough so that he could see her face before his.

“I’m sorry, sometimes its just so much… out there,” he whispered.

“I know. Trust me, I know. But you are home now, and you have me. You will always have me.”

He began to say I love you, but Lara put her mouth over his and kissed him passionately. Let the world disappear, just for us, just for an hour, she thought. His face in her neck now, he gave a low growl for her ear, and she gave a little squeal, trembling now, herself. The two became one.

Time passed in a blur for Ronan the second time that night. Sometime later, the two lovers lay together in an embrace, spent. Ronan fell asleep quickly, but Lara was still glowing and could not still herself. She lay next to him, sheets a mess, staring out the window through the parted curtains. It was snowing just a little, she could see it in the starlight. The night outside was serene, and simple. That was all she needed, that and him. She was with Ronan. Finding peace in that, Lara fell asleep.

Stars

Ronan awoke to the sky tearing open; he could clearly hear multiple jets flying overhead, low and terribly fast. He slipped to the edge of the bed and sat up, all the while watching the still sleeping woman beside him, careful not to disturb her. Free of the warmth that she had provided him, he realized that it was near freezing in the little room. His feet on the bare floor gave him a cold start, and he had to feel his way to the closet in the dark. Once there, he tried the light switch and cursed, assuming that the breakers had flipped again. Fumbling to find his wristwatch on the top shelf, he checked its luminescent radium dial. It was just past 1 a.m., no wonder my head is still so fuzzy, he realized.

Dressed for the winter that he knew waited for him just outside, he exited the bedroom and walked to the front door, trying a lamp on the way. Nope. Definitely the breakers, he thought. Ronan steeled himself, and walked outside to tend to the breaker box.

The night was bitter cold, and very still. The whole neighborhood was blacked out and eerily silent. He pulled his leather jacket tight and zipped it up to his neck, standing on the wooden porch, he looked to the sky. Something was not right, and the back of his neck tingled. His spidey sense, he called it. Scanning the night sky in a slow turn of his head, it came to him in sudden realization: he could not see any stars. He moved into the driveway for a better look, standing in fresh snow that reached to his ankles and into his socks.

“Ronan, what is it?” Lara asked from the doorway behind him, and single lit candle in her hand.

“Go back to bed, love, its just the breakers. I’ll take care of it.” But he did no such thing, and continued to stand and stare at the sky. Lara was having none of his aloof BS this time. She placed the burning candle on the railing, and darted to stand next to him. She wasn’t dressed warmly enough for the weather, even in the windless reprieve. Ronan pulled her to him, and they stood together looking at the strange sky. Relenting, Ronan invited her into his thoughts, “Is something moving up there?”

Lara rubbed her eyes with balled fists, and gazed all around, finally landing on the same spot that her man was transfixed by. “I don’t know, maybe… Wait, where are the stars?”

“Exactly!”

“Oh God, you don’t think-.” Before she could finish, she was interrupted by a distant tearing sound coming from the West, like paper but different, and much more fierce. They turned in unison as the sound increased in volume, both squinting in the darkness at the horizon beyond Quinlan. The sound became almost unbearable, and a little painful, just as two military style fighter jets broke into their view and streaked across the sky. They were so low, and so close, that the trees bent and lost snow in their wake, disappearing to the East just as suddenly as they appeared. Lara’s candle rolled off of the porch railing into the snow, winking out.

“Inside. Now!” Ronan barked, and the couple moved in unison for the trailer. Just as Ronan had placed his foot on the first step, the front of the trailer before them was illuminated by something from above. They looked up to find the source, and gasped as one. An impossibly bright and narrow beam of blue light was shining down from the sky, and tracing a path in the distant woods along the direction that the jets had flown, as if tracing their path. Lara cried out at the light, and Ronan began pushing her up the steps bodily. He knew there was little time, now. They had to move quickly.

edit on 19-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Correction



posted on Oct, 18 2021 @ 11:46 PM
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a reply to: DreadKnock

At the top of the steps, Lara stopped short, straining to hear. A scream of terror from the other side of the river broke the silence, and then a loud boom from the same direction. Something on the other side of the river had exploded. Lara broke free of Ronan’s grip, ran back down the steps, and around to the side of the trailer. There, her face was lit with the orange fire of the explosion, so close that she felt the heat of it. Ronan pulled her from behind, but it was too late.

Above them, another beam let loose upon the ground, the same electric blue color, but this time wider than the first and farther away. Ronan judged that it must be striking near downtown, on the other side of the river. The beam was unrelenting, and held its place for a long time, before disappearing. In its absence came a sudden surge of wind across the river, low and whispering, and then building into a deafening roar. Lara and Ronan shielded their faces, and pressed against the side of the trailer. The wind subsided, but only a little, but it was enough for them to turn and run.

Behind them, a large dome of the same crackling blue energy rose up from downtown, miles in diameter, and quickly collapsed back in on itself in a flash as bright as the sun, but instead blue and electric. The two would have been blinded, had they not been facing the opposite direction in their frantic escape. A low and building rumble from behind chased them as they ran. The rumble quickly rose to an unbearable intensity, and culminated in a thunderclap-like boom that shook the trailer and set off car alarms in the distance. The boom brought with it more wind this time, much more intense and filled with debris of all kinds. It was so strong, that both Lara and Ronan were knocked bodily into the air several feet, falling to land on their backs in the snow next to the truck.

Stunned and unable to move, Lara and Ronan lay in the snow and watched the sky as a nightmarish scene unfolded before them. Lara reached for his hand, but he was too far, and she found only cold snow instead.

Ash began to fall in dense clouds from the sky, visible in the multiple towering fires of the wasteland that was once downtown Austin. High above the carnage, the unknown destroyer became known. A large black triangle, miles to a side, hovered silent and motionless, high above the city. Its ominous and horrifying outline could be seen clearly now in the moonless night, cast orange by the devastation below.

The sky tore open with the noise of more fighter jets approaching, visible now in the same light as the triangle. They were F-35’s, most likely from Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio. Muscling through her shock, Lara counted at least 3 pairs of them, coming in on slightly different paths, all leading to the black triangle.

Narrow beams, many of them, began to emit from the center of the hovering ship to track the incoming fighters. One blue arc caught an F-35’s on its wing and set it to a horizontal spin. It struck its companion fighter, and the two exploded in a fireball just under the hull of the black ship.

Another set of fighters closed in on their target, avoiding the beams by skirting the bottom of the smooth, black hull of the triangle from below. They let loose with missiles, two each, then banked in opposite directions. The missiles struck the ship with bright fireballs, but did not seem to damage it in any significant way.

The black triangle responded by spinning slowly, then coming to an abrupt halt as some type of massive panels began to unfold from the hull, like a flower opening its petals. From inside the now lowered panels, small white lights began to shine from within, in rows of dozens and dozens. Suddenly the small lights began to burst forth into the night like a starburst, to fill the sky below the triangle ship like hundreds of angry fireflies. The drones engaged the F-35’s in groups of two and three, employing their own smaller blue beams. Arcs of blue light leapt into the sky from every direction with dangerous intent, some seeking out the fleeing fighter jets, and some letting loose on the neighborhoods below. More explosions and accompanying fireballs littered the ground below as multiple groups of drones spread out to attack a larger area. One trio of drones, fast and flying low, followed the river away from the battle and towards Steiner Ranch.

Lara saw the white lights moving towards them. Still in the grip of a terrific fear, she managed to crawl on her belly to Ronan, who lay motionless by the truck. Reaching him, she saw that his eyes were open but wild with the same fear. Climbing atop his body, she slapped him once, twice. He stirred abruptly, and looked at her. “Get up,” she screamed over the roar from above.

“I can’t. I think I’m…” he trailed off. She looked him over quickly, finding a large piece of jagged wood protruding from from his jacket at his abdomen. As she handled the debris, she found that the leather of his jacket was soaked through with blood. Pulling her hands away, she was shocked at how bloody her own hands now were. Her fear was quickly replaced with the urgency of need, and she raised the wincing man to sit upright.

“We have to move, Ronan. Get up. I will help you.”

“Alright. Yeah. Yeah, we need to go, now…” he groaned. Lara helped stand him up, bracing him with all of her strength. She leaned him up against the bed of the truck, and held him there with one hand as she fumbled with the door handle. The door was difficult to open, but she managed it, and pushed him into the cab with one deft motion. Quickly, she jumped in next and shoved him over into the passenger seat. Lara slammed the door closed, and fingered the ignition.

“Ronan, where are the keys?” she screamed. Barely able to move, he motioned to the glove box with his hand. The simple act almost drained him as he sat leaning against the opposite door, bleeding out onto the upholstery. Lara opened the glove box and tore through its contents. Papers spilled out, and a revolver. There was no time for her to consider the gun, or its implications. She grabbed at the keys, now visible, and reached to start the truck.

She spun the ignition, but it did not turn over. She tried it again: still nothing. She cursed, as panic began to set. Her breath was coming out in short gasps now, and she jumped when Ronan grabbed her arm. “Look,” he whispered.

Through her tears Lara saw one of the drones split off from the others and approach over the roof of their trailer, dwarfing their home with its unexpected breadth as it flew closer. Gunmetal grey, and shaped like a walnut, it moved to hover in front of the truck. The cab, and its two occupants, found
edit on 19-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Correction



posted on Oct, 18 2021 @ 11:48 PM
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a reply to: DreadKnock

themselves suddenly illuminated with a stark white light. This is it, Lara thought. She reached over to Ronan and found his cold hand.

Before she could close her eyes to her imminent death, a long and low projectile flew through the air to impact and blossom out in fire along the side of the drone. The explosion shook the truck and its passengers, and blew in the windshield in a hail of glass that covered them both. The drone stumbled visibly, and slowly turned to face the river, and the direction of its unknown assailant. Lara watched the drone fly away with dilated eyes, spying strange movement in the trees along the riverbank where it headed. Whoever you are, run, she thought to herself. She took in a long breath, adrenaline coursing through her veins. “Try it again,” Ronan said, nodding to the ignition.

This time the engine lit up and roared to life. Oh thank God, Lara thought. She put the truck into a hard reverse, tires spinning in the snow before finally gaining traction. Lara floored it without looking, narrowly missing her own car. Shifting to drive, she pointed the truck towards Quinlan and began to pray.

Them

“Punch it!” Ronan roared, and Lara depressed the accelerator to the floor. Ronan’s very survival depended on her now. Thinking of him alone, she pressed her abject terror as deep down as she could and roared up Quinlan like a woman possessed. A few scattered cars burned on the two lane road, and as they sped past Lara saw dead bodies on the ground next to the vehicles. Ahead, in the convenience store parking lot, she saw one of the drones on the ground, its rear hatch open, dark figures moving about. “What do we do?” she screamed.

Ronan bent over in obvious pain to pick up the revolver, and cradled it in his lap. “Just keep going. Whatever you do, don’t stop!”

They roared past the drone and beyond it. In the rear view mirror, Lara saw the drone take off suddenly. It turned on its axis and began following their truck, gaining distance impossibly fast. A bright blue beam shot out and narrowly missed the truck, exploding the road in front of them. Lara swerved back and forth, avoiding more beams. FM 620 was coming up, and she knew that she would have to slow down for the turn. They’ll nail us for sure if I do, she decided.

Suddenly the massive drone overtook them, flying ahead of the truck. “Don’t slow down,” Ronan directed, and Lara obeyed. In front of them, the rear hatch of the drone ship opened, revealing a dim red light from inside, and many shadowy figures. One of the figures jumped out and seemed to float through the air to land on the hood. This was the first time that they got a good look at one of their attackers, and when they did Lara almost fainted.

It was at least eight feet tall, and completely black- a glossy black that reflected in the truck’s headlights. Its body was segmented, like an insect, but much broader and thick. The creature’s legs and abdomen were still in the air, held aloft by fluttering oval wings, its lower arms crossed over its body. Long talons at the end of its upper arms pierced the metal of the hood as it gained purchase, and leaned forward through the shattered windshield. A large triangular head, twice the twice of a man’s, moved close to gaze at them with unblinking compound eyes. Small antennae at the crest of its forehead bent forward and stiffened in anticipation. So this is what they look like, Lara thought. She finally laid eyes on a Vespid.

Three successive flashes, and loud pops filled out the interior of the cab with concussive force. Lara saw the wasp-like Vespid straighten up, its chest exploding with a spray of yellow liquid and glossy black debris chips. Lara thought that it looked surprised, as it let go of the hood and rolled off of the truck and onto the road. She looked at Ronan, who was holding the revolver, and saw him finally pass out, dropping the gun to the floor. “Ronan!”

She only took her eyes off the road for a second, but that was long enough. The drone ship had come to a stop above the road, only 50 yards ahead. Turning to see, Lara pulled the wheel hard to avoid it, and felt the truck hit the outer curb, tires popping. The truck ran up a steep hill as she desperately tried to regain control. At the last second, she saw the tree, and then everything went black.



Smoke

The air outside the hospital was smoky, and dense. Moving more slowly than she would like, Lara stepped outside the doors onto the sidewalk. There was an orange band on her wrist. She tried to rip in off, but had no strength in her hands. Looking around, she spied a tall, broad shouldered man standing near her. He had an orange band on his wrist as well, and was smoking a cigarette. That sounds good, she thought, and moved closer to him to ask if she could have one. He looked at her with dreamy, dark eyes, smiled, and said nodded a hello. He looked so familiar, had they met earlier in the hospital?

She forgot all about wanting a cigarette, completely lost in those dreamy eyes. I wonder if he knows what we are supposed to do now, and started to ask him, but no words escaped her lips.

Moving towards her in a blur, she found that his arms were on hers, shaking her. His mouth was moving, but again she heard no sound. She strained to understand, and thought she heard a deep voice inside her own head. ‘Lara, you need to…’

So he does know me. What is he saying?

In her head, ‘Lara, you need to wake up,’ and he shook her even harder. ‘WAKE UP, LARA. WAKE UP!’

The world began to spin, and she lost her footing…

Coughing blood, Lara awoke to a start. She was confused, and cold, and in so much pain. She pushed herself away from the steering wheel, and saw that she was alone in the cab of the Ronan’s pickup truck. But where was Ronan? She called out to him, but got no response. Smoke from the engine block began to enter the cab. Memories began to come back to her like a foggy nightmare. They were being chased, and she crashed the truck. She looked forward, and saw that yes, the truck was wrapped around a thick cedar tree. But where was Ronan?

edit on 19-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Correction



posted on Oct, 18 2021 @ 11:49 PM
link   
a reply to: DreadKnock

She opened the driver’s side door, and fell to the ground on her hands and knees in the snowy grass. Crawling forward, every inch an ordeal, she saw a dark mass ahead of her some twenty feet away. As she moved closer, she saw that it was a man lying prone on the ground at the end of a long trail in the snow. Her heart began to race, and she called out to him. Closer still, she saw that it was Ronan, and moved quickly next to him.

“Ronan. Ronan, wake up! Oh God, oh God no!” He was so cold, and still, and she could not wake him. Lara struck him hard across the face. Nothing. She leaned close to check for breath, but there was none. Crying now, she climbed on top of him and sobbed uncontrollably. This was her doing. She had killed him., and now she was all alone. It was more than she could bare.

Consumed with grief and guilt, she did not notice the Vespid who moved to surround her. Three of the monsters circled her close, and one raised his abdomen high. The last thing that Lara felt was pain. Pain and electricity, like nothing she had ever felt before. She leaned into it, and was thankful for the sweet release that it promised. I don’t want to be here without you, she thought, and faded into unconsciousness.

Wind

Lara awoke in a haze, unable to see much. She sensed that she was moving, but could not discern here surroundings immediately. There were dim, blinking red lights above her, and a smooth wall at her back. She tried to move, but found that she was strapped to the wall in some kind of harness, unable to move anything but her head.

There were clicking noises all about, and a pervasive smell akin to oil. Slowly her eyes adjusted, and she saw tall black shapes to her left and right. Somewhere, she heard a woman crying.

Suddenly a door or hatch opened to her left, exposing her to a harsh wind. Shocked, she saw a Vespid fly through the hatch to stand before her, an unconscious woman in its larger arms. He pressed the woman to the wall, where sinewy fibers grew out of the smoothness to envelop her body. I am in a drone, and that smell must be the monsters. The winged warriors moved about the cabin, she could see them clearly now, touching heads and clicking to one another.

Their visage sickened her, and she looked away to her left, out the still open hatch. Lara could see the river far below them as the drone ship seemed to lower in altitude. Before long, the Mansfield Dam, and the Lake it contained, came into view. To her dismay, she saw dozens of drones parked along the hills next to the water, and a massive works project underway. There were Vespid on the ground and in the sky all about. From this height, they really do look like wasps, she thought.

They arrived at the Dam, and the drone ship set down in the snow with an audible thump. Lara watched the creatures begin to unharness the captive women around her, and carry them out of the ship. Did they know she was awake? She closed her eyes tight and feigned unconsciousness as she felt herself released by her restraints, only to be picked up by one of the clicking warriors.

Outside the drone and on the move, she allowed herself to open one eye and look around. High above the Dam was one of the huge black triangles, silently monitoring the activity below. Moving along an icy path, she saw human prisoners being taken to a mound set into a hill on the backside of the dam, near the top. There they disappeared into a tunnel lit by dim red lights. Soon, her captor headed for the same tunnel on the side of the mound. Lara closed her eyes, and held her breath. She would join the others now, and had no way to stop it.

Fight

Moving through the tunnel was an altogether different kind of horror. Lara found herself encompassed within a completely alien landscape. Still in the arms of her captor, she noted that they were going very deep into the ground. The tunnel was lit by the same dim red lights used in the drone ships, the walls and ceiling were smooth in comparison to the earthen floor. Occasionally they would pass openings to large vaulted boroughs, open and filled with the shadowy movement of the Vespid. The farther down they went, the more she began to choke on the thick acrid smell of oil all around.

Worse yet were the cries and screams of her fellow humans in the distance, all female. What are they going to do with us, she questioned.

She found out soon enough, as the tunnel spiraled down and emptied into a large, grand chamber. A ring of dim red lights illuminated the space from above, occupied by many of the warrior wasp caste, and dominated by a smaller, wingless Vespid in the center of the room. Lara wondered if this new wasp creature was a female, being so much smaller than the others. Maybe a queen. There were many holes in the ground set before the smaller creature, and she looked over them, running her longer antennae along them, as if inspecting.

A line of the warrior caste spread out before the queen, depositing human females one by one into holes. Soon it was Lara’s turn, and she was thrown into her own hole without regard. Lara pushed as far down into the shallow pit as far as the could, chancing a peek around from the limited cover. The Vespid that carried her, noticing her stir, pushed Lara deeper into her hole and held her there with its larger arms. It hurt, and she squirmed, only to find that her movement made it dig into her shoulders deeper with its sharp talons.

The other warriors had left now, leaving Lara, her tormentor, and the queen alone in the semi-darkness. The other women were still unconscious in their respective holes, as far as Lara could tell.
edit on 19-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Correction



posted on Oct, 18 2021 @ 11:51 PM
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a reply to: DreadKnock

The queen finally moved, venturing atop the nearest captive. Lara could see how different that she really was now. She was more waspy, really. Closer to 6 feet tall, and much thinner, this female looked to be a dark brown, as opposed to the glossy black of the males. She was much more savage looking, and wingless. Her antennae were longer than the others, and they seemed to move around with a mind of their own.

Lara watched the queen move over the woman beneath her, and raise her up to meet her with her smaller arms. The queen smelled the human up and down, and raised her above her triangular head, which tilted backwards now in an expression of pain. The queen moved her longer, more segmented abdomen up through her legs towards her prey, and began to shudder as a long, dripping tube emerged from the tip. The queen pushed it towards the woman, the ovipositor disappearing between the woman’s thighs. She jerked bodily in response to the intrusion, and Lara saw the woman’s abdomen literally begin to swell before her eyes. Unable to control herself, Lara threw up in her hole.

Done with the host, the queen let her fall into the hole, and began to cover the impregnated woman rapidly with dirt, using both sets of arms at once. Patting the ground firmly, and clicking in rapid succession, the queen stood.

Lara let out a long scream, one of bloody murder and abject horror. The queen turned its head ever so slowly to look at her. Her large black compound eyes seemed to smile and look right into Lara’s, and right through her. Lara began to shudder violently, as the queen skipped over much closer holes, making her way to Lara.

Flight

The queen was almost upon her when the entire chamber rocked with a large explosion from above. Lara felt dirt falling on her, and so did the Vespid. The queen jumped backwards with a start, easily clearing 50 feet, to stand with her back against the far wall. Her large triangle head looked back and forth for the unseen danger. The male warrior let his grip on Lara loosen a bit as he straightened up to look at his queen across the chamber.

That was just enough for Lara to gain the purchase that she needed to leap from the pit. As she did so, she felt the talons rip through her shoulder tissue with intense pain. The male looked down at her, but too slowly; Lara was already crawling through his long legs and beyond him. Another explosion thundered above, and Lara rolled to the chamber opening as more dirt began to fall around them, this time in thick clumps.

The male warrior turned and lifted from the ground, his wings struggling to flutter in the earthen debris. Turning, Lara saw him approach from behind. She had made it to the tunnel entrance, and braced herself against its lip to stand up. The chamber was collapsing now, and she had to choose: stand and fight, or run. Her indecision might have cost her her life, had the decision not been made for her. A large chunk of rock loosed from the ceiling above her, and fell to crush the rushing warrior in a sickeningly wet crunch at her feet, knocking Lara backwards into the tunnel. There was only one way out now, and she ran like the devil himself was behind her.

The tunnel was filling rapidly with smoke and the grit of falling dirt as Lara followed the spiral upwards. The red lights were flickering now, near failure, but there was enough light for her to see many dead Vespid along her path, crushed like the one before. To her left and right she heard the occasional human scream, but continued to run, knowing there was nothing that she could do to help them. She had to think of herself now, and only that, or she wouldn’t make it.

Another boom shook the tunnel, this time from ahead, and Lara fell to her feet. The smoke was less thick down there, and she caught a little of her breath back. The lights went out in a flash, and she found herself in the pitch black. She felt along with her hands, hoping to God that she was staying on the path.

A pinpoint of yellow light appeared ahead through the smoke, and she wondered if she was imagining it. Regardless, she crawled towards it at a fevered pace. As she neared, she heard the sharp staccato of automatic gunfire ahead, and froze in place against the wall. One of the human captives must have a gun, she surmised. Stupid wasps, you deserve it. The singular joy of that thought spurred her to continue forward, towards the flickering light.

She was near the entrance when she paused one last time. She could see now that the light was a large fire, and there was more gunfire ahead. Gunfire and screams. Watching and listening, she wondered if it is any safer outside than in. Remembering the queen, the holes, and the warriors behind her, she chose the unknown danger outside.

Outside was a chaos of smoke and fire. Visibility was limited to a few feet, the fire dancing in the distance like a fever dream. Above her, she could hear the clicking of the wasps in the sky all around. Lara, still on hands and knees, dared not stand, too frightened that a Vespid might see her. Occasionally, a human female darted by in the smoke, screaming for help, drowned out by gunfire and explosions. Lara heard a hissing, and turned to look over her shoulder in fear. A stream of fire was uniquely visible near the Vespid hill, arcing low and into the tunnel. That was enough for. She chanced standing on two feet and began running away, mindless of her destination.

A running and panicked woman crossed her path, screaming loudly for help. She saw Lara and began to turn towards her, just as a Vespid swung in from above, grabbing the woman with its talons, and disappeared with her into the smoke above. Lara heard her screams quickly fade into the night sky and beyond.
edit on 19-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Correction

edit on 19-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Correction



posted on Oct, 18 2021 @ 11:52 PM
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a reply to: DreadKnock

The white lights of the drone ships still on the ground began to shine through the smoke directly ahead of her. Oh no, they are going to see me, Lara worried. Stepping to alter her path away from the lights she twisted her ankle and fell to the ground hard, just as the closest of the drone ships exploded in a massive fireball.

She felt the concussive force move through her body, and the heat wash over her like fiery wind. Her eyes felt like they were going to pop out of her head, and something in her ears popped painfully. Reaching up to her ears to feel for debris, her hands came away empty, but bloody. She knew instantly that the last explosion had ruptured both of her ear drums. Looking around, she could still see, but Lara was now totally deaf. The only sound available to her was a powerful ringing, and that was in her head.

Lara lifted her mangled body from the ground with a final reserve of desperation, and began to run, weave, and stumble away from the remaining drone ships. One of the ships took off from the ground, its unseen propulsion swirling the smoke beneath it like a whirlwind. For the briefest of moments, Lara saw the Dam not too far ahead, and absent a better choice, made her way for the familiar concrete.

As she neared the top of the hill leading to the crest of the spillway, the sky above opened a little to the relentless black smoke, and she paused to catch her breath and see what she could see. Above the Dam the large black triangle hovered high in the sky. The bottom of the mother ship was open, and drones from the ground were retreating to within it without any kind of order. They seemed to Lara to be running away.

Bright flashes lit the hills, and Lara was once again enveloped by smoke from more explosions. Her head was raging with pain, and her eyes were filled with tears. Wiping them away with a tattered sleeve, she picked herself up and moved once again for the spillway at the top of the Dam. If I can just get across and to the other side, I can find a place to hide in the wooded hills, she hoped.

She reached the crest, and the skin on the back of her neck began to tingle. What did Ronan call that, a spidey sense, she asked. Lara looked over her shoulder to see tall black shapes moving towards her in the smoke, illuminated by fire from behind. “Vespid,” she groaned, as the dark shapes increased their pace towards her. Lara hurried away as best she could. Recapture was not an option.

Deaf, nearly blind, and in shock, she stepped onto the concrete of the spillway. It was narrower than she had imagined. The smoke was thick and moving, carrying across the Dam. She tried to look over the edge, but could not see the bottom hundreds of feet below. Behind her, the black figures of her pursuers were closing the distance rapidly, and moved onto the spillway. Lara dared not chance a glance in their direction.

When she reached the center of the spillway, she stopped dead in her tracks. Before her were more dark figures moving through the smoke, across the Dam towards the center. The Vespid were in front of her, and behind. There was no escape; she was trapped. Realizing this, a deep stillness took her, and her breathing slowed. She found the new silence of her world strangely comforting. The smoke rolled by in dense sheets, and the ominous silhouettes were mere feet away, reaching out for her. Lara took a step back, realizing that she was on the edge now, her heels hanging over into the air. She only had seconds left, and she chose to close her eyes in these last moments.

Lara let out one final whisper. “I’m coming, Ronan.”

Taking a final step backwards over the lip of the spillway, she pushed off and fell silently to the unseen depths below. She fell to her death.

Fire

Sergeant Jameson screamed from just behind the woman. “Stop! Stop!” He was too late. Failing to grab her in time before she leapt, he watched her step over the lip and fall. He had almost had her. “No…” he whispered, as he fell to his knees onto the concrete spillway. Why? Why, he wondered. Didn’t you hear me? I almost had you.

More shadowy figures moved through the smoke from both sides to join Jameson, and stare down at where the blue haired woman had disappeared below. The corporal let a long moment pass before putting a hand on his comrade’s shoulder. “Sergeant, we have to move out. We have them on the run.”

Sergeant Jameson took his time standing, and adjusted his helmet. “Set the final charges, and signal the Fire Teams to start the final Evac. How many did we get?”

The corporal slung his M-4 and turned away to reach out on the comms. He looked back at the Sergeant soon after. “37 survivors. All female.”

“Not enough. Not nearly enough. Alright, let’s start pulling out. The men began to file off of the spillway as Jameson looked on. He spared one last glance down below, and noticed something on the lip of the spillway that he hadn’t seen before. It glinted in the firelight. Picking it up, he saw that it was a coin. He squinted to read the text on the bronze circle. “Alcoholics Anonymous, 2 years.” he mumbled, confused. Slipping the coin into his pocket, he followed his men off of the bridge.


Sergeant Jameson and his Special Forces Team from Camp Mabry began the steep descent to the river below, and the quick boats waiting for them there. Soldiers were helping women onto the boats from the bank as they arrived. The smoke was clearing, and he saw that the black triangle mother ship had departed the scene. Two F-35 raptors streaked low across the sky, giving chase.

We never thought that they would venture this far South, he thought as he stepped onto one of the boats. There will be more Vespiaries, and there will be more fighting in the days ahead.

The last man was aboard, and Jameson gave the nod to the pilot. The black boats began to throttle downriver, one at a time. Behind them the Vespid stronghold imploded with one final, grand explosion. The sun was breaking the horizon now, revealing the devastation above and all around.

Below them, Lara slept peacefully. She was with Ronan.

End

edit on 19-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Correction

edit on 19-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Correction



posted on Oct, 19 2021 @ 12:54 AM
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I was fixated on the story. I couldnt stop reading it!

Well done!



posted on Oct, 19 2021 @ 02:46 AM
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You took me to some weird and wild places... and I liked it!


Congrats for getting it submitted in the nick of time (no extra points, but I tip my hat on the effort).


Good Luck !
Johnny



posted on Oct, 19 2021 @ 06:04 AM
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I absolutely loved your story. I lost count how many times I realized I was holding my breath while reading it. It was like every apocalyptic scenario and horror movie I ever feared all combined into one.



posted on Oct, 19 2021 @ 06:42 AM
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a reply to: DreadKnock

Very, very nice.
Please tell me there is more coming.
This would make a great movie!
I love the storyline and you have so many directions you can take it from here.
Heck, this could be premiere movie for a series or even a multi movie like The Avengers……😃
Very well done, love your imagination.
Your on a roll, don’t stop now!!!!!!

Da Pirate. 😎


PS: Life kept me from finishing mine in time for the deadline………Good Luck!










.


edit on 08-19-2021 by PiratesCut because: PS



posted on Oct, 19 2021 @ 03:22 PM
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a reply to: visitedbythem

Thank you kindly, my friend. I am so happy that you enjoyed it!!!



posted on Oct, 19 2021 @ 03:23 PM
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a reply to: JohnnyAnonymous

Thank you, Sir! I imagine that some of those weird and wild places that I took you were from well before the story posted lol. Thank you for your help in those matters.



posted on Oct, 19 2021 @ 10:40 PM
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a reply to: PiratesCut

@PiratesCut Oh my gosh, thank you very much! You must like the same kinds of stories as me lol. I suppose that this is what a lifetime of science fiction, comic books, and anime will inspire smh.

Its funny that you should mention what you did. There is a soundtrack that goes along with my story, as I originally intended a multimedia experience, but I thought it would be too much, so I just went with the story. If anyone is interested, here is a link to the music playlist on youtube:

www.youtube.com...

It times along pretty well with the story, if not for those pesky ads and commercials. Its a good playlist in general. I mean how can you beat Lana Del Rey, Mazzy Star, Filter, Bjork... lol

Thank you again.

*Yes, there will be a sequel

edit on 19-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Cuz Whiskey



posted on Oct, 20 2021 @ 09:45 PM
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a reply to: DreadKnock

This is a long read, commented so it stays in my feed. I’ll get back to you when I finish and have time to think about what you got going on here.



posted on Oct, 20 2021 @ 10:02 PM
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a reply to: Brotherman

Yes, its a good 30 to 40min read, for sure. Its the first piece of fiction I've ever written, and I really went all the way with it lol. Thank you, Brotherman, I would love to hear what you think of it.


*There is playlist that pairs well with it, if you are so inclined.


www.youtube.com...
edit on 20-10-2021 by DreadKnock because: Addition



posted on Oct, 20 2021 @ 10:09 PM
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a reply to: DreadKnock

I got through the first paragraph and couldn’t stop thinking to myself, I wonder if cold beer thinks about me as much as I think about it?




posted on Oct, 20 2021 @ 10:15 PM
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a reply to: Brotherman

Bwahahahahaha


And the answer is Yes, probably more!

Great, now I am looking for the whiskey lol



posted on Oct, 20 2021 @ 10:32 PM
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a reply to: DreadKnock

Your writing invokes thee mostest philosophical quandaries out of me apparently.




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