|Attack From Above By C.S. Michaels|
As much as I wanted to go out and have a good time, I also knew I didnâ€™t need to get into any kind of trouble and if I continued drinking alcohol all night, who knew what kind of trouble I would find. It was probably best that I have another drink or two then go back to my hotel, making sure I had a clear head for tomorrow.
I was a newly commissioned Lieutenant in the Coalition Space Force which was the military for the International Coalition of the Countries of Earth, or ICCE for short. ICCE was formed over a hundred years ago by all the countries of Earth to bring peace and harmony to the planet. It worked because the people of Earth could work together instead of battling each other. Of course, that didnâ€™t happen overnight, but it did happen over the course of several decades.
Once ICCE was formed, there was only one government and one military for all the countries of the Earth, making sure that the countries worked together and were united in everything they did.
I happened to be a fighter pilot in the Coalition Space Force. Well, Iâ€™m not an official fighter pilot yet, but I will be in the next couple of days. After I graduated from college a year ago, I entered the Academy and went through various courses and rigorous training before finally graduating nine months ago. Once I graduated from the Academy, I was sent to fighter school and graduated from there a little over a week ago. I was given ten days of leave before I was to join my carrier as a newly commissioned pilot.
I come from a very well-off and some would say rich, family. Saying that I was rich was probably an understatement. Most people would probably call it filthy rich. In fact, we were one of the richest families in North America.
My parents put me through one of the best universities on Earth and my father had dreams that I would join the family business as soon as I graduated. I was never thrilled with the idea of joining the family business, but figured it was my destiny and something I had to do, no matter what I desired. It had been the same way for him and my grandfather.
All through college, it kept bothering me, knowing what was in store for me for the next several decades. I kept contemplating doing something different, but I didnâ€™t want to disappoint my father and quite frankly, I didnâ€™t know what else I wanted to do.
After graduating from California City University, which had become one of the most prestigious universities on Earth, I thought about my future. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had no desire to join my fatherâ€™s business. I wanted to make my own way in life and I wanted to do something that I felt was important. I wanted it to be my decision and not have other people decide what I should do for the rest of my life. Not only that, but I wanted to do something that I enjoyed and I knew the family business was not going to be enjoyable for me.
After putting off the call to my father for a couple of weeks, I finally got the nerve to call him so I could try to explain my decision. I had no doubt he was going to be disappointed because it was always expected I would come work for him, then eventually take over the business. It was never discussed. It was just assumed.
Imagine my fatherâ€™s shock and surprise when I informed him that I was joining the military instead of the family business. I knew he wasnâ€™t going to take it well, but I had no idea that he would take it so poorly.
As I spoke to him on the holo-phone which was a device that allowed holograms of each other to display to the other person, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He had never considered that I would say no to the family business because I had never given him any indication otherwise. He just assumed I would follow in his footsteps and take over the business sometime in the future. The business had been in our family for five generations and he certainly didnâ€™t expect it to end with me.
I tried to explain to him that I wanted to do something that I enjoyed and I didnâ€™t think the family business was right for me. The fact that it was something I didnâ€™t want to do was irrelevant to him. At first, he wouldnâ€™t even listen to me as I tried to explain what I wanted to do with my life. Although I was twenty-two years old at the time, he told me I was a young kid and had no idea what I was talking about. He ordered me to come home and start working for him immediately. Because the business had been in the family for generations, he felt like it wasnâ€™t even up for discussion.
I told him I had already made my decision and there was nothing he could do to change it. At first, he thought it was just a phase and that I would eventually change my mind. However, after I went to the Space Force Academy, he soon realized I wouldnâ€™t be changing my mind any time soon. Not that it would matter anyway because once you joined the ICCE military you had to stay in the service for ten years. There were no exceptions, not even for someone that came from a well-off family.
My father was furious, knowing I couldnâ€™t get out of my commitment. He called everyone he knew in the government, trying to get me dismissed from the military. He didnâ€™t care how they got me out he just wanted it done one way or another.
There were a lot of high ranking people in the government that were good friends with my father so they were more than happy to help him out. I was furious when he told me what he was going to do and I kept insisting that he not do anything about it, but he ignored me. In his mind, he wasnâ€™t about to sit back and let me join the military when he felt I should be by his side. I let him rant about it, thinking there wasnâ€™t anything he could do since I knew there was no way out of the military, but I was wrong.
One day I received a call from a General telling me to report to his office. Once there, he informed me that there was a minor mistake on my application and if I wanted to get out of the service, it would be no problem. Once I got over the surprise of talking to a General, I figured out what was going on.
I knew there was no mistake on my application, but this was their way of allowing me to get out if I wanted to. Iâ€™m sure my father had pulled a lot of strings to find the â€œmistakeâ€ on my application. I asked what the mistake was, but he avoided the question and kept directing the conversation to whether I wanted to get out.
At first, I thought I was going to get forced out of the military. However, that wasnâ€™t the case. I was happy that the General told me that the mistake wouldnâ€™t force me out of the military because I wanted to stay. The General told me it was my choice on whether I wanted to get out.
I told the General no thanks and that I wanted to stay in the military and if they wanted me to fix â€œthe minor mistakeâ€ then let me know and I would take care of it. I never heard back from the General or anyone else for that matter, which indicated to me there wasnâ€™t any mistake.
My comments about not wanting to get out of the military and my willingness to fix the mistake was relayed back to my father, making him even madder. Enraged, he told the military to kick me out, but they wouldnâ€™t do it since I hadnâ€™t done anything wrong. Finally, they told him that if I wanted to stay in, they couldnâ€™t force me out.
Changing tactics, my father called me one day and threatened to cut me off from the family money and inheritance if I were to join the military. Iâ€™m sure he thought that would do the trick because the family money was an incredible amount. Our family was one of the top ten richest on the planet, but I told him that it was fine if he wanted to cut me off and his threats werenâ€™t going to change my mind. I meant it too because I really wasnâ€™t interested in his money and it wouldnâ€™t bother me if I didnâ€™t have access to it.
After that, we went a few months without talking to one another, but my mother finally made him call me, hoping we could rebuild our relationship. We tried, but we wanted different things for my future so our relationship was never the same.
Since then, we have talked a few times. Certainly, we kept the calls cordial, but they werenâ€™t the same as they used to be. He still had ill feelings towards me and it was evident every time we talked on the phone.
Sitting in the bar, thinking about that, I pushed those thoughts out of my head because they were only making me depressed. I told myself to be happy because in a few days my job was going to be flying fighters around the galaxy. What could be better than that?
Sitting in the bar by myself, getting a little buzzed, I thought about what my life was going to be like forty-eight hours from now. In two days, I was to report to a base that was approximately thirty miles from where I sat. After indoctrination, which took about a week, I will board the Space Carrier Constellation.
Along with that carrier, there were destroyers, cruisers, and ground ships for the Coalition Ground Force as well as many other supporting ships. These ships make up the Eleventh Armada and we will be leaving for a five-year cruise to different star systems.
It would have been nice to spend my ten days off with my parents instead of being by myself since I wouldnâ€™t be back for five years. That was my plan when I called them to tell them I had ten days before I shipped out, but I guess I was expecting too much of them.
They were still hurting from my decision not to go in to the family business, so they decided to spend time at their second home which was located on Mars. I told them that I could take a shuttle to visit them, but they said they were busy and wouldnâ€™t be able to spend much time with me. I guess they didnâ€™t want me to be around them because it would remind them that I was a disappointment.
We had other houses on some of the moons in the solar system as well. As I said, we were very well-off so we do not want for anything. This is a fact that I must make sure I hide from my fellow crew members. The last thing I need is for them to get wind of my wealth because I will never hear the end of it. People always treat me differently when they find out Iâ€™m rich, so I always make it a priority to keep my identity hidden from them.
Anyway, I guess I canâ€™t blame my parents for being upset. Iâ€™m the only child in my family, which made my decision hurt them even more. Because of being the only child, it was even more important that I go into the family business because there was nobody else in our family that could do it, unless I have a child of my own and then they could go into the business. That doesnâ€™t seem likely since Iâ€™m not even dating anyone right now. Who knows what the future will hold. If I have a child, there may be someone that will follow in my fatherâ€™s shoes, but only if my child chooses that path. I will not make him or her do something they donâ€™t want to do.
While my father was mad about the whole situation, my mother was worried about my safety. There havenâ€™t been any wars for almost two hundred years, but being a fighter pilot is still a dangerous job. I can understand her point about not wanting me to join, but it still would have been nice to see them and to have their support before I leave.
Tired of thinking about it, I decided to turn my focus away from my parents and on to my new life. I was excited to see new worlds. Sure, I have been all over the solar system with my parents, but I have never been further than that. I knew it was going to be exciting to see what other moons and planets are out there.
Weâ€™ll be out there protecting ICCE from any threat, not that there has been a threat from anyone. Still, you never know, there could be other life forms that we donâ€™t even know about that are out there ready to battle us. I didnâ€™t really think there would be any danger in traveling through all the star systems, but I was young and most young people didnâ€™t worry about danger.
As I understand it, we will stop at space stations every four to six months then weâ€™re allowed to visit the nearest planet or moon. From what Iâ€™ve heard, some of the planets have been built up quite nicely and are great tourist attractions. I believe weâ€™ll get two to seven days to visit the area so it should give me a chance to see quite a bit before we ship out and head to the next destination.
As I thought about all that, the woman that had been waiting on me turned around from the bar and looked my way. I signaled for another drink and she nodded. I figured I had two more days before my life in the Space Force started, so I might as well relax and enjoy the moment. Thinking there was no reason for me to take it easy tonight I decided to have my fill of drinks, knowing I wouldnâ€™t have anything tomorrow night. I wanted to make sure I was clear headed when I reported to the base the next day.
I downed the last of my drink as she approached my table. I watched her make her way towards me, staring longer than I should have, but not being able to help myself as her hips swung side to side, hypnotizing me as I sat there. Knowing I should avert my eyes from that part of her body, I made myself look at her face, which was equally mesmerizing.
She was a lovely blonde with gorgeous green eyes. Her long hair was tied up so it was on top of her head which showed a long, slender neck framed with a petite necklace. Her face was round and she had the most perfect nose. It wasnâ€™t a small button nose, but it wasnâ€™t a large nose either. Thereâ€™s no other way to describe it, except to say that it was perfect. She was slightly taller than average and had a thin build, but still had the hour glass figure. She was probably in her early twenties.
I was awestruck the first time I saw her when I walked into the bar. Immediately, I knew that I needed to meet her so I could introduce myself to the vision in front of me. I stood at the doorway for several minutes just so I could see which tables she waited on. Once I saw the section of the bar she waited on, I made sure I picked one of her tables.
â€œExcuse me?â€ she asked.
â€œWhat?â€ I said as she interrupted my thoughts.
â€œI said will there be anything else that I can get you?â€ she asked again as she sat my drink down on the table.â€
I handed her a hundred-dollar mark as I tried to muster up the courage to talk to her. Considering I was somewhat of a loner, it was difficult for me to strike up a casual conversation, especially since I had no idea what to say.
Assuming she was used to men asking her out all the time, I didnâ€™t think there was any way that she would go on a date with me, but there was just something about her that made me want to ask her anyway, even though I would be leaving for my tour in space soon. I knew that if I didnâ€™t at least try, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Well, maybe I wouldnâ€™t regret it for the rest of my life, but I would certainly regret it for a few days. As I thought about it, I decided to make the effort. After all, the worst thing that could happen was that she would say no, which I figured was a good possibility.
â€œThere is just one other thing I would like to know,â€ I commented.
â€œWhat time do you get off tonight?â€ I asked then swore at myself for not coming up with something funny or witty before I just blurted out what was on my mind and asked her out.
â€œTen oâ€™clock,â€ she remarked as she gave me a big smile, which I took as a good sign. â€œWhy do you want to know?â€
â€œItâ€™s such a beautiful day and Iâ€™m sure the night will be even more beautiful,â€ I answered. â€œI thought maybe you and I could go for a walk on the beach after you get through with your shift.â€
She hesitated, clearly debating on whether to give me a chance. This was the moment of truth. Standing there with her hand on her hip, our eyes stared at each other. It seemed to me like she thought I was good looking, but maybe that was just wishful thinking.
I donâ€™t like to brag, but I think of myself as a handsome guy. Iâ€™m six-five and weigh two hundred and fifty pounds. Iâ€™m built solidly with a lot of muscle so I donâ€™t have much fat on my frame. Iâ€™m in the best shape of my life thanks to all the physical training Iâ€™ve recently completed at the Academy and fighter school.
Normally, my brown hair is longer than it is now, however since Iâ€™m in the military, they force us to keep our hair short. As a result, itâ€™s a little longer than a buzz cut, but not long enough that I can comb it so it just kind of sits there on top of my head.
I kept staring into her green eyes trying to give her my best puppy dog look, complete with my ice blue eyes. The silence was starting to worry me because I figured if she wanted to go out with me she would have answered by now. Hopefully, she was just making me sweat and would agree to go on a walk with me.
â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€ she finally asked, which I took as a good sign. It was better than her immediately saying no.
â€œMy name is Ty Wolf,â€ I said.
My full name is Titan Wolf, but I absolutely hate the name Titan so I go by Ty. For one, it was my fatherâ€™s name so I had always gone by Ty instead. Donâ€™t get me wrong. I love my father dearly. However, he and I are two completely different people and I had always gone by Ty to break away from being identified as being the same as him. Not only that, but if I told people my name was Titan they would associate it with the family business then they would start asking questions. Once that happened, they would know that I came from a rich family, which I desperately wanted to avoid.
I looked in her eyes hoping she wouldnâ€™t ask about my last name being Wolf. Usually, if I didnâ€™t use Titan, most people didnâ€™t associate Wolf with the family business. That didnâ€™t mean it hadnâ€™t happened from time to time. To my relief, she didnâ€™t react to the name. Hopefully, it wouldnâ€™t have mattered to her one way or the other, but I was still glad she didnâ€™t recognize the name.
â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€ I asked when it was clear that she wasnâ€™t going to volunteer her name.
â€œMy name is Peoni Haylon.â€
â€œItâ€™s nice to meet you Peoni,â€ I replied as I stuck my hand out.
She shook it with a firm grip then asked, â€œYouâ€™re in the military, arenâ€™t you?â€
â€œIs it that obvious?â€
â€œYes, your haircut gave it away,â€ she replied. â€œHow long have you been in the military?â€
â€œI just finished my training about a week ago, so not long,â€ I answered.
â€œWhat do you do?â€
â€œIâ€™m a fighter pilot,â€ I said proudly, expecting her to be a little impressed.
Unfortunately, I didnâ€™t get the response I was hoping for. She looked at me like sheâ€™d heard a thousand other guys tell her the same thing. Most of them were probably lying so it didnâ€™t look like it impressed her much, if she even believed me.
â€œAre you stationed at the base here?â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™m assigned to a carrier.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think it would be a good idea for us to go for a walk,â€ she said.
â€œWhy not?â€ I asked her as I saw my opportunity of getting to know her slip away.
â€œBecause youâ€™re not going to be in California City for long,â€ Peoni answered, much to my dismay.
I didnâ€™t say anything in response to that because she was right. I would be gone in two days and wouldnâ€™t be back for at least five years, maybe even longer. I certainly didnâ€™t want to lie to her and tell her I wouldnâ€™t be leaving. For one, I liked her so there was no way I was going to lie to her and that wasnâ€™t my nature anyway. I was a by the book person who never lied or cheated, no matter what the circumstance.
Rather than having to lie, I figured it was better to be quiet. Sitting in my chair, I was trying to figure out what to say to her that would convince her to go for a walk with me. Unfortunately, I couldnâ€™t think of anything to say and that probably made my situation even worse.
She sensed that I was avoiding her statement so she said, â€œI am right, arenâ€™t I?â€
â€œYes,â€ I answered as I started feeling a little dejected because I could sense she wasnâ€™t going to go for a walk with me.
It was strange that I was so concerned about her saying no to me. I never had many girlfriends and that never bothered me so I was surprised that I felt so strongly for her. For whatever reason, I really wanted to get to know this woman and it was starting to look like it wasnâ€™t going to happen. I could understand why she wouldnâ€™t want to get to know me when I was shipping out soon, but there was something about her that I really liked. I wanted to get to know her better, even if it was only for a couple of days.
â€œWhen are you leaving?â€ she asked.
â€œI ship out in two days.â€
She started to laugh when she heard that. Iâ€™m sure she was wondering why I even wanted to walk on the beach with her when clearly there wasnâ€™t going to be any chance of a future between us.
â€œWhere are you going?â€ she asked when she finally regained her composure.
â€œIâ€™ll be on a carrier, so I donâ€™t know where weâ€™ll go,â€ I answered. â€œWeâ€™ll travel to different star systems, but I donâ€™t know which ones.â€
â€œSo, you really are a pilot, arenâ€™t you?â€ she asked, realizing I had been telling the truth.
â€œSorry, you wouldnâ€™t believe how many men lie to me about what they do,â€ she replied. â€œThey always think it will impress me.â€
â€œI can only imagine,â€ I responded. â€œYou never did answer me. Would you like to go for a walk tonight?â€
â€œYou seem like a nice guy, but I donâ€™t think it would be good to go out tonight.â€
â€œIâ€™m not sure I follow.â€
â€œYouâ€™ll be leaving and Iâ€™ll never see you again,â€ she explained. â€œIâ€™m not going to be one of those women you have waiting for you on every planet so I donâ€™t think it will do us any good to go for a walk.â€
I started laughing at that remark and she raised her eyebrow then asked, â€œWhatâ€™s so funny?â€
â€œIâ€™m not the kind of guy that would have a different woman on every planet,â€ I replied.
â€œSure, youâ€™re not,â€ she remarked with a short laugh. â€œThatâ€™s what they all say.â€
Although she was saying no to me, I was getting the sense that she liked me because she seemed to be enjoying our conversation. She certainly wasnâ€™t in any hurry to leave my table as she continued to stand there talking to me. That seemed like a positive sign, but I could be misreading that. I didnâ€™t claim to understand women, but one thing I knew was that I couldnâ€™t let this woman leave without having the opportunity of getting to know her a little better.
â€œIâ€™m not asking you to marry me or do anything else,â€ I said with my hands up defensively while also giving her a big grin. â€œI just want to go for a walk, thatâ€™s all.â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ she replied, hesitantly, still trying to decide if she should say yes.
â€œAll I want to do is go for a walk and enjoy each otherâ€™s company. Thereâ€™s no harm in just talking with one another, is there?
â€œI guess there isnâ€™t,â€ she answered, laughing. â€œIâ€™ll think about it.â€
â€œThat sounds good,â€ I said.
Just as I was getting ready to say something witty and smart to her, all the tables in the bar came to life with an important announcement. A message was beamed a foot above my table as well as every table in the bar. A hush fell over the room as everyone in the bar looked at the message, waiting expectantly for what was about to be said.
It was an announcement that was about to change my life forever.
Every table in the bar flashed the same bright red message along the bottom of the image. It was breaking news that said we were being attacked by the Gorlanians. Not only were the settlements in other star systems under attack, but they were attacking us in our own solar system as well. I immediately wondered how they could launch a surprise attack on all our colonies in the various star systems without us knowing about it. It seemed farfetched.
We had all kinds of early warning systems that were supposed to detect an attack. However, that system was designed using the technology we had many years ago and probably hadnâ€™t been updated for quite some time. Maybe the Gorlanians had technology that could make our warning systems useless, which apparently must be the case if they were able to launch a surprise attack.
My next thought upon hearing that the Gorlanians were attacking our settlements was that our military would fight back and destroy them. Our military was spread throughout the galaxy. I couldnâ€™t imagine that another species would dare attack the Earth and its colonies. We had gone a long time without war so the mere thought just didnâ€™t compute.
â€œOh no, this is horrible,â€ Peoni said as she slid into a chair at my table.
She had set her tray on my table so she could watch the hologram, ignoring the fact that she was supposed to be working. That was okay because everyone had stopped what they were doing so nobody was interested in a drink now. They were too concerned with what was happening.
Watching the image above my table, the news footage was showing one of our settlements and I saw they were indeed attacking. The image showed a live shot of gunships attacking our colony on one of Neptuneâ€™s moons.
I was horrified as I watched the image as the settlement was being bombarded by large gunships. They were hovering high above the moonâ€™s surface and firing massive energy rays towards the planet. Energy rays were extremely powerful and could do a lot of damage. The bigger the ship, the bigger the energy ray and the more destruction it could inflict on a target.
As the ships bombed the settlement, people were running everywhere, trying to take cover wherever they could. Fiery explosions were clearly seen as the settlement was being blown up before my very eyes.
â€œTheyâ€™re killing everyone,â€ Peoni said softly as we watched the images.
â€œI canâ€™t believe this,â€ I commented.
â€œWhy are they attacking us?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ I replied numbly as we watched the inhabitants try to defend themselves.
Our military was fighting back, but we didnâ€™t have much of a presence there. No doubt, the leaders of Earth didnâ€™t think we had reason to worry about such an attack so they probably had most of our forces in other star systems, thinking our solar system was safe. One of my concerns now was that we were spread too thin. Surely, there was no way we could have a big military presence on all moons and planets, not only in our solar system, but in all the star systems, which meant they were all vulnerable to an attack.
The image flashed a news update from one of the news stations. There was a reporter standing there, ready to say something, but his lips didnâ€™t move. He was inside a building, but there was a huge glass window behind him so we could see out over the settlement, indicating he must have been ten or more stories up. I couldnâ€™t tell which settlement he was reporting from. If I had to guess, I would say he was on one of the moons around Neptune.
He was looking at something in the distance, but we couldnâ€™t tell what it was. He was obviously mesmerized by whatever he saw. Finally, he averted his eyes from what he had been watching then looked straight ahead.
As I watched the image, the reporter looked like he was looking directly at me while he struggled with what words to use, not knowing what to say. It was evident that he was shaken up by the events that were taking place around him. Looking in to the image enhancer that sent his image everywhere, including above my table, he focused his gaze and finally the words came to him.
â€œAs you can see, the Gorlanians are attacking the Toony settlement,â€ he stated, confirming my assumption that he was on a moon around Neptune. â€œThe military is trying to defend the settlement, but it doesnâ€™t appear as if theyâ€™re having much success.â€
There were explosions everywhere which caused him to jump. He paused and turned around, probably wondering if the explosions were near him. He turned back around and continued his report.
â€œWeâ€™re trying to get word from,â€ he said then there was a massive explosion and the image went dark before he had a chance to finish his sentence.
A few seconds later a woman was shown at a desk as she looked at us with fear and shock in her eyes. Everyone, including her, knew that the reporter had just died from the explosion and it took her a few seconds to regain her composure.
She stumbled trying to get her words out, but finally she said, â€œWe just received word that the Gorlanians are attacking different settlements in a massive coordinated attack, including the settlement where Lanner was located.â€
Lanner must have been the reporter that just died. She knew he had died and I could see a tear running down her cheek as she tried to continue reporting the news. It had to be difficult for her, but she tried to continue.
â€œAn unidentified source with the military said they were expecting the Gorlanians to be within striking distance of our moon and Earth soon,â€ she commented, then stopped as that sunk in. â€œOur source didnâ€™t know how soon the Gorlanians would be here, but he said they were on their way.â€
Those words sent a panic throughout the bar as people started talking loudly to one another, trying to figure out what that meant for them. With everyone talking and some people crying, I couldnâ€™t hear the image.
â€œThis canâ€™t be happening,â€ Peoni said. â€œWhat are we going to do?â€
â€œSurely, theyâ€™re not going to attack the Earth,â€ I replied. â€œThat would be stupid of them.â€
â€œThe reporter said theyâ€™re on their way. What if she is right?â€
â€œWeâ€™ll be fine on Earth,â€ I said, trying to sound as confident as possible.
â€œHow do you know?â€
â€œWe have a lot of military bases on this planet,â€ I said, knowing there was a base in California City. â€œThere are a lot of fighters that can defend the planet.â€
There were also bases like that everywhere around the Earth. We probably didnâ€™t have as many bases as we would like, but there were still bases located in all the major cities, so I assumed we would be able to fight back.
The comments about attacking the Earth seemed ridiculous because we did have a large military just for such a defense. We also had a couple of Armadas patrolling the area around the Earth so the Gorlanians were going to have to get through all those ships before they could attack the Earth, which would be no small feat.
Looking away from the image, I was just trying to process the information as was everyone else in the bar. Each face was in shock, trying to comprehend the severity of the situation. We had all been led to believe that we had the greatest military in the galaxy. We had nothing to base that on since we hadnâ€™t fought any other species.
How could anyone dare attack us? It would have to be a huge military because the last census I saw had the human population approaching one hundred billion people. That included everyone that inhabited planets and moons in other star systems. Still, I think the population numbered sixty billion on Earth so I assumed it would be extremely difficult to attack the Earth. With sixty billion people on the planet that was a lot of people that could possibly defend the Earth against an invasion.
I looked back at the image, watching the destruction and for the first time, I started to doubt the strength of our military. The news station had switched from the reporter to showing other settlements getting bombed by the aliens. The way everything was getting destroyed it appeared the Gorlanians had a superior military. Either that or the surprise attack was allowing them to easily destroy everything. I realized it was probably a combination of both. If they were having that much success against our military on those planets, I wondered what was going to happen on Earth.
At that moment, another news flash came across the image. The settlements on Mars were being attacked and destroyed. There were four settlements on Mars. My immediate thought was about my mother and father. They were on Mars vacationing so I was watching the image intently, hoping the military on Mars could hold off the advance.
It wasnâ€™t looking good because the settlement was getting hit hard by the aliens. With all the smoke and explosions, it was difficult to tell which settlement it was. Since I couldnâ€™t tell, I didnâ€™t know if it was the settlement where we had one of our houses.
â€œTy, what are we going to do?â€ Peoni asked.
I barely heard her question because I was too focused on watching the report on Mars, concerned about my parentsâ€™ safety. It didnâ€™t seem possible that it could be happening, but I knew it was and there was nothing I could do to help my parents.
Watching the image, I could see there were enemy space ships hovering high above the planet, firing huge energy rays toward the settlement, bombarding the dome that covered the settlement. They must have been the equivalent to our battleships, which were big gunships, capable of inflicting massive amounts of damage. I could see the reinforced clear dome getting blown apart and knew anyone that wasnâ€™t inside one of the many air tight buildings would immediately die.
My only hope was that my parents had time to make it to the underground city that was below each of the settlements on moons and planets. On every planet and moon that didnâ€™t have a compatible atmosphere where we could breathe, there were underground tunnels and shelters. It was an extension of the city that stood above ground.
For those worlds that didnâ€™t have the right atmosphere to allow people to breathe, the settlements were constructed so there was a city above ground that was protected by a giant dome. It was clear so people could see outside, but was designed not to allow any of the harmful rays from the sun to reach the inhabitants, the way the ozone layer protects the earth.
There were three separate domes that surrounded the city, one on top of the other, just to ensure that if one dome were to break or crack there would still be two more domes for protection. The three domes were designed to provide redundancy in case anything happened to one of the other domes.
The engineers that designed the domes wanted to make sure that if a small meteor or some other small object hit the outside dome, which was a real possibility, then the other two domes would keep the city safe. However, if the planet was hit by an asteroid then it didnâ€™t matter how many domes there were because they wouldnâ€™t be able to keep the city safe. They had determined they needed another solution to keep the citizens safe in case a situation like that presented itself.
As a safety measure, the engineers built an elaborate underground city, certainly much smaller than what was above ground. If there was enough notice and the danger was great enough then everyone would be able to go underground and be protected there. There would be plenty of food and water to sustain thousands of people for several weeks, which they hoped would be plenty of time for ICCE to send help. However, that underground city would only help if they had enough time to get there before the bombings started.
In this case, I hoped there was enough warning so that my parents as well as the other citizens could make it underground quickly. If they did make it to the underground city then they should be able to withstand the bombardment. I knew the city was reinforced with a lot of metal and dirt, but I didnâ€™t know if it was enough to keep the energy rays from penetrating it.
Although, if the Gorlanians deployed ground troops then I didnâ€™t know what would happen to them. I had to assume that if our military didnâ€™t fight them off then the ground troops would be deployed. They would have to be if they were going to take over the planet.
My hope of my parents surviving was quickly fading since there didnâ€™t appear to be much notice. It was like the aliens appeared out of nowhere and were destroying everything. As I watched the images, I could tell the domes were proving to be no match for the gunships the Gorlanians were using. Nor were they intended to.
I could see our large guns on the planet firing back at the Gorlanian ships but they were getting overwhelmed. The guns were stationed outside of the domes and were firing at the massive gunships that were sitting above the city. It looked like they could take out a few ships but then they were destroyed, leaving the city unprotected. I watched as the large gunships continued to pound the cities, destroying everything they could.
Suddenly, the bombing stopped. I was surprised the device that was sending the image to us was still working. Apparently, it was sitting on a building that hadnâ€™t been hit.
With the city unable to defend itself, I could see the Gorlanian ground forces deploying. Large troop transports were landing outside the destroyed cities and aliens wearing space suits were storming out of the ships. It looked like millions of troops were landing on the planet. My heart suddenly sank as I knew it wouldnâ€™t take long before they overran the underground city.
As everyone in the bar watched the images above their tables, the image of Mars suddenly disappeared. Apparently, the device that was transmitting the events was knocked offline, most likely getting destroyed.
An image of the reporter sitting behind the desk took its place and she tried to speak but like what had happened to her the last time we saw her, she didnâ€™t know what to say. She eventually regained her composure and talked about the events that we had already seen, not sure what else to do then she must have been told they were switching images because she said they were going to switch to other settlements.
The image switched to a moon in the solar system and they seemed to be in the same situation as Mars. More gunships rained terror down on the citizens of the settlements, destroying any defenses that they had. The news started switching between different moons in our solar system, but werenâ€™t showing anything that was happening in other star systems. I didnâ€™t know if that was because it was worse here or just because it was in our solar system so it was closer to home.
In a few instances, we had some ships in the area and they tried to mount a counterattack, but they were clearly out matched. They tried to attack the enemy gunships but they were destroyed rather easily. Several more fighters were launched, but they werenâ€™t effective either.
Obviously, the Gorlanians wanted to orchestrate one deadly and coordinated attack to take us over and they certainly seemed to be succeeding. As settlements were destroyed, the image would change to other battles, but they were all ending the same way.
Certainly, the Gorlanians must have been planning this attack for decades to have that many ships across the different star systems, attacking every settlement at once. It was clear to me they wanted to destroy our civilizations and I started to wonder when they were going to make their way to Earth. The reporter had said they were on their way, but they didnâ€™t say how long they thought it would be.
At least we were going to have a little notice before they attacked the Earth so hopefully our military was already planning on how to defend the planet. I wondered if we had the necessary defenses in place to stop them. As I thought about that, another image appeared above my table.
Now the image of the president of ICCE was shown and he prepared to address the population.
The President was in his sixties which was middle-aged because of all the medical advancements that had been made over the years. Although he was in his sixties, his skin made him appear to be in his late thirties. It was obvious that he had had a lot of work done on his face to appear younger, which wasnâ€™t unusual, especially for someone in politics.
He had gray hair that was slicked back. His green eyes were red around the edge as if he had been a little teary eyed after seeing the events unfold. He was tall which wasnâ€™t obvious since he was sitting down, but his height was well documented.
Several people in the bar had gotten up and were preparing to leave, but stopped when they saw the President appear. As the bar came to a hush, every pair of eyes was on the image that hovered above their table. The President looked like he had aged five years in the last five minutes. He stared ahead for several seconds then cleared his throat and took a deep breath.
â€œAs you no doubt know, all our settlements in this solar system are under attack,â€ he stated. â€œAs far as we know, our settlements in the other star systems are also under attack, although we havenâ€™t been able to communicate with them since all of this began. We can only assume that all communication centers have been destroyed and the people are hiding in the underground cities.â€
He paused for a second while he tried to regain his composure then continued, â€œFrom the reports that we have received, our defenses on all the planets and moons are fighting back, but not making much progress. All of our Space Group Armadas that arenâ€™t currently engaged with the enemy are on their way back to our solar system to intercept the advancing forces.â€
ICCE had thirty Armadas, spread throughout the galaxy, with only a few of them in our solar system. It would take them several weeks, months or years, depending on where they were located, to get back to the Earth, even with the technology that we had today. That meant the war was most likely going to be over by the time they made it back to Earth.
Looking at the sheer size of the Gorlanians military from the images I had seen, I wasnâ€™t sure if the two or three Armadas in our solar system would be able to fight off the Gorlanians. In fact, I wasnâ€™t sure if all our Armadas combined would be enough to destroy them.
If the aliens attacked us with the same ferocity that they had on the other planets and moons, everyone on Earth may be dead by the time the Armadaâ€™s arrived. Iâ€™m sure thatâ€™s what everyone in the bar was thinking about now.
â€œThey will take the fight to the cowardly Gorlanians,â€ the President said, referring to our military.
As soon as I heard the President make the comment about the Armadas, I knew I needed to get to the base where I was supposed to report in two days. I needed to get there so I could take a transport to my carrier. I desperately wanted to get assigned to my fighter so I could start shooting down these aliens and help with the defense of our planet because I knew we were going to need everyone to do their part if we wanted to have any chance of surviving.
I stood up, getting ready to leave when the President stopped me in my tracks. â€œThe Gorlanians are close to attacking the Earth,â€ the President said. â€œWe think they will be in our atmosphere in the next couple of minutes. We are currently trying to get our fighters scrambled to fend off the dastardly aliens. However, our military is going to need your help. I need everyone to pick up a weapon and prepare to fight. Men, women and children must all fight. We all must defend our home, our planet and our way of life against this horrendous attack.â€
Staring into the image enhancer, he paused then continued. He looked like he was talking directly to me, although I knew he was talking to everyone on the planet. Looking around the room I could see everyone was feeling the same way. They were scared at what was happening, but knew we needed to do something.
â€œNow go fight for our freedom,â€ the President instructed us. â€œWe must all fight for our survival and we must not lose. We cannot, we shall not, and we will not let them win. We shall persevere! Our very survival depends on it.â€
The image of the president faded and wasnâ€™t replaced with anything else. We all just stared ahead as if this was all a bad dream, but we all knew it wasnâ€™t. It looked as if nobody could believe that this was happening. Everyone seemed to be frozen in fear.
As I sat there staring straight ahead, waiting for another image to appear, someone screamed, â€œLetâ€™s go kill those aliens!â€
Everyone cheered and hurriedly made their way to the exits, trying not to get trampled. â€œWhere are they going?â€ Peoni asked.
â€œI donâ€™t know, but I need to get out of here too,â€ I responded.
â€œWait for me.â€
I ran to the door to my right and made it through before the throngs of people started pushing and shoving their way through. The bar was on the first floor of a twenty-story building so as soon as I exited, I was on the boardwalk. It wasnâ€™t like the boardwalk from centuries ago. The boardwalks werenâ€™t made of wood anymore. They were made of a metal that had been developed a few decades ago.
Once on the boardwalk, I looked around as everyone was running around. I wasnâ€™t certain how they thought they were going to fight the aliens. I guess if they brought in ground troops then everyone was going to need to do everything they could to repel them.
I couldnâ€™t worry about that now. I knew I needed to get to my cruiser, which was our transportation vehicles, as soon as possible if I wanted to make my way to the base before the aliens attacked. I had parked a few blocks away in the parking garage so I sprinted towards it.
The cruisers were designed to drive or fly. When in the city, we were supposed to use them only in the ground mode. We could use them in flight mode only when we were in places that were designated as fly zones, which usually meant we could fly them outside of the city limits.
However, I knew that if I could get to my cruiser, I would be able to fly it to my base which was only thirty miles away. Although this was a no-fly zone, I didnâ€™t think anyone was going to say anything at this point. In fact, looking up in the sky, I could already see dozens of cruisers flying, not worried about the law.
Flying the cruiser rather than driving it, I knew I could be at the base in just a couple of minutes and hopefully I could get there before the enemy attacked the planet. If I could get to the base then I hoped I could find a way to get to my carrier. As I thought about that, something occurred to me. I didnâ€™t know where my carrier was located. I knew it wasnâ€™t close to the Earth. They were planning on having me do my indoctrination for a week or two while we waited for it to make its way back from wherever it happened to be.
It still may be several days away and it may be fighting the aliens so it wouldnâ€™t be close to the Earth anyway. Most likely, it had been directed to attack the advancing aliens so I feared that it was nowhere close to the Earth. Even worse, it might be destroyed. Well, I knew I couldnâ€™t let that stop me.
I still needed to get to the base so I could help in any way possible. There might be some other way I could help fight the Gorlanians. I knew we had fighters all over the Earth to help with the defense. Maybe I could get assigned to one of those. One thing was for sure. I wasnâ€™t going to stand around and do nothing.
At that moment, I felt a tugging on my shirt so I whipped around to see Peoni standing there. I had been so focused on getting out of the bar so I could make my way to the parking garage that I hadnâ€™t realized that she followed me outside.
â€œWhat is it?â€ I asked, surprised she was standing there.
â€œWhere are you going?â€
â€œIâ€™m going to get my cruiser.â€
â€œCan I go with you?â€ Peoni asked.
â€œIâ€™m trying to get to my base,â€ I explained. â€œYou need to find someplace to hide because the Gorlanians will be here soon.â€
â€œI need a ride.â€
â€œIâ€™m sure someone can take you,â€ I said as I looked around and saw people running in all different directions.
Some people were yelling, ready to fight. Others were screaming in terror, afraid that the aliens were going to kill them. There were still others that looked like they were just trying to get away from here, probably wanting to get to their family.
Suddenly, there was an explosion not too far away and I heard someone yell, â€œTheyâ€™re attacking!â€
Looking up at the sky, I didnâ€™t see any fighters yet, but I could hear the explosions as they bombed the city. They were probably only five or six miles away so I knew they would be making their way here sooner or later, which meant I needed to leave quickly.
Now that the enemy was bombing the city, it seemed to change everyoneâ€™s mind about what to do. Two minutes earlier several of them were all ready to fight off the enemy, but now that the Gorlanians were attacking, everyone feared for their lives. They were screaming as they ran, trying to get somewhere safe. Everyone was trying to save themselves and probably wouldnâ€™t stop to help Peoni, or anyone else for that matter, get to wherever she needed to go.
â€œI canâ€™t stay here,â€ Peoni pleaded.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, but I need to get to my base.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re starting to attack,â€ Peoni stated. â€œPlease let me go with you.â€
â€œI really donâ€™t have time to drop you off,â€ I said as I shook my head.
â€œYou donâ€™t understand,â€ I said. â€œI need to get to the base as soon as possible and I donâ€™t have time to take you where you need to go.â€
â€œIt wonâ€™t take long.â€
â€œDonâ€™t you have a cruiser?â€
â€œI ride public transportation and something tells me it wonâ€™t be running today,â€ she replied as we stood outside the bar.
I had to admit that I was surprised that she was staying so calm. Most people were running around, scared, but she seemed to be keeping a level head, just wanting to get home, knowing it was going to be too dangerous to stay here.
I looked around, hoping I could ask someone to take Peoni where she needed to go. Unfortunately, the answer was going to be no because there were too many hysterical people running around.
Feeling bad for her, I wanted to help but I really didnâ€™t have the time to do that. Now that the aliens were starting to attack the city, I knew they could be here within the hour. However, I also knew nobody else would give her a ride since they were too busy with saving themselves, which I didnâ€™t blame them.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ I said as I debated internally about what to do. I didnâ€™t want to leave her stranded here, but I also didnâ€™t have time to help her.
â€œI donâ€™t live very far and you can drop me off on your way to the base,â€ she continued, hoping that I would eventually change my mind.
I hesitated, not wanting to take the time to drop her at her place. On the other hand, I didnâ€™t want her to be left to fend for herself now that the aliens were attacking. I debated it for a second, but it was an easy decision. There was no way I would leave her out here while we were being attacked.
â€œHow far away do you live?â€ I asked.
â€œItâ€™s less than ten miles away.â€
â€œFine, letâ€™s go,â€ I said, sighing, knowing that if I used the flight mode on my cruiser I could be there in just a couple of minutes. Once I dropped her off, I could make it to the base in less than ten minutes.
â€œThank you,â€ Peoni replied gratefully.
â€œFollow me,â€ I instructed. â€œMy cruiser is in a parking garage several blocks away.â€
We started running for the parking garage, trying to avoid the panicked people as they were running then I collided with an older couple that was headed in a different direction. The woman fell to the ground so I stopped and helped her to her feet. She was about to say something then became hysterical as she pointed to the sky and started screaming.
I looked behind me, gazing into the sky and couldnâ€™t believe what I was seeing. At first, they were little black dots scattered around the sky. However, they started getting bigger as they approached and I soon realized it was hundreds of enemy fighters making their way towards us.
Seeing the fighters make their way towards us, I suddenly worried whether I could even get to my cruiser.
There were hundreds, maybe even thousands of fighters making their way towards us. There were so many fighters they blocked out the sun, casting us in shade. I watched as everyone started running for the nearest buildings, hoping they could escape the fighters, but I didnâ€™t think that was the most prudent thing to do. Being stuck in a twenty or thirty story building while fighters bombed it certainly wasnâ€™t the place I wanted to be. Although being out in the open probably wasnâ€™t the best plan either.
They were shaped like triangles with curved edges. They were much bigger than our fighters. They were approximately forty feet long, maybe even more. Ours were slightly more than twenty feet long. Also, their fighters seemed to be ten to twelve feet tall whereas ours were only six feet tall.
I watched as the fighters approached and started firing on some of the buildings a couple of miles away from us. They swept down from high above, fired at the building then proceeded to the next one. The energy rays that were shot from the fighters had a devastating effect on the buildings and explosions rocked them.
Looking around, I tried to decide where we should hide. Unfortunately, I couldnâ€™t think of any good options. We would be in danger no matter where we went. Suddenly, as I looked to my left, I had an idea.
â€œLetâ€™s go this way,â€ I said to Peoni as I grabbed her hand and started leading her across the boardwalk and down the beach, away from the buildings.
â€œWhere are we going?â€ she shouted above the screaming people.
â€œWe need to take cover.â€
â€œI realize that, but weâ€™re heading away from the safety of the buildings.â€
â€œWhere are you going? Weâ€™re going to be exposed on the beach.â€
â€œJust follow me,â€ I said, not taking time to explain what I was doing.
I let go of her hand so we could run faster then I started running down the beach as fast as I could, making my way to a pier that extended a couple hundred yards into the ocean. If she didnâ€™t want to follow me then she could go wherever she wanted to, but I was heading for the pier because I knew it would be the safest place to be, at least for now.
â€œWhy are we running to the water?â€ she asked from behind me.
Running through the sand, I kept one eye on the sky and the other towards the pier, hoping we could get there before the fighters descended upon us. As my feet churned through the sand, I turned around and saw Peoni falling behind. Slowing down, I let her catch up then we quickly made our way to the pier.
The pier was made of metal and was used for people to walk out and look over the ocean. In centuries past, piers would have been used to fish from, but fishing was illegal now so people would just watch the water and hope they could catch a glimpse of something swimming under the surface. The chances werenâ€™t good since humans had virtually wiped out the fish population, but people were always optimistic that they would make a comeback.
Right now, the last thing on my mind was whether we were going to see any fish. I was thinking we needed to get to safety because the fighters were going to descend any second and open fire on the buildings around us. I wanted to be as far away as possible when that happened.
â€œCan you swim?â€ I called back to her, knowing that a lot of people didnâ€™t know how to swim anymore.
â€œThatâ€™s good,â€ I replied.
Running into the water, we swam under the pier which was held up by huge columns of a new metal that had been developed recently. It was stronger than any metal that had been developed before and it was lightweight, weighing less than a fourth of what metal used to weigh.
As strong as the metal was, I knew it wasnâ€™t enough to hold up against the fighters. One shot from them and it would blow a massive hole in the pier. However, that wasnâ€™t the reason I wanted to swim under the pier. I wanted to hide from the fighters, thinking they wouldnâ€™t have any reason to bomb the pier.
Swimming further out, we stayed underneath the pier, using it to shield us from the aliens while explosions started appearing in the distance. It was evident that the explosions were getting closer to us, making me glad that we were under the pier.
Hiding under the pier I hoped the fighters that were barreling down on the city wouldnâ€™t shoot at it. I didnâ€™t think they would because they didnâ€™t have any reason to. I assumed they would focus on the buildings.
I hoped they hadnâ€™t seen us because if they started shooting at the pier we would never survive. However, we didnâ€™t have any other choice. I knew our chances were better here rather than trying to hide in the buildings or being in the open, running through the streets.
We could hear the screams from people as they ran with fear, hysterical as they also saw the fighters swooping in towards them. From where I was, I had a good view of the beach and the buildings surrounding the beach. The people were running, trying to find cover and protection and I wanted to yell out to them to come here, but they wouldnâ€™t be able to hear me.
â€œDo you think weâ€™re safe here?â€ Peoni asked as she choked back some tears.
â€œI donâ€™t know, but I certainly donâ€™t want to be out there in the open.â€
â€œWhat about all those people?â€
â€œThereâ€™s nothing we can do for them,â€ I replied, probably sounding colder than I wanted.
Swimming a little further from shore, the water was too deep for us to touch so we had to tread water as we watched the events unfolding in front of our eyes. The fighters flew overhead and started firing at anything and everything, causing massive destruction.
Now that I could see the fighters up close, I knew there were thousands and thousands of them. While some fighters fired on everyone running on the beach and in the streets, other fighters started unloading on the buildings that everyone had been running into. The fighters had massive energy rays that would explode as soon as it hit something. This was evident as I watched the rays hit the buildings, blowing huge holes in them and sending debris crashing to the ground.
For the unlucky people running along the beach, a fighter flew a hundred yards in the air and let loose with one blast that disintegrated everyone within a hundred-square foot area, sending sand into the air and leaving a huge hole in the ground that had once been pristine beach. The only thing I could think about was that at least they hadnâ€™t suffered because I was sure they didnâ€™t feel a thing.
There was nothing Peoni and I could do as we were horrified watching the scene in front of us. The fighters continued to fire their rays on the buildings, causing one of the buildings to come crashing violently to the ground. There was a huge rumble as the building fell sideways, hitting another building before hitting the ground. I knew that everyone that had run into the building when they first saw the fighters were no longer alive.
I knew right then that trying to hide in a building might not be the most logical thing to do, especially if they were going to continue to fire on the buildings, intent to bring them down. One blast from the fighters wouldnâ€™t bring down a building, but if enough blasts hit the building, it would eventually tumble to the ground.
We continued to tread water as we watched the fighters take out everything they encountered, including any cruisers that were in the air. The cruisers were no match for the fighters so they were destroyed with relative ease then sent crashing into the nearest building or straight down to the street.
â€œI canâ€™t believe whatâ€™s happening,â€ Peoni said as she watched the destruction. â€œTheyâ€™re killing everyone without mercy.â€
â€œI know. I donâ€™t think anyone ever thought this could happen here.â€
â€œWhere do you think our fighters are? Why arenâ€™t they fighting back?â€
â€œI have no idea.â€
â€œYou said there were a lot of fighters at the base,â€ Peoni commented.
â€œThen, where are they?â€
â€œMaybe theyâ€™re engaged somewhere else. This is a big city and they might be fighting the enemy somewhere else right now. Donâ€™t forget, the base is thirty miles away so they could be in that area fighting the aliens.â€
I certainly hoped that was the case and it very well could be. If we saw all these fighters above us, I knew there had to be more fighters all over the Earth. As I thought about that, I knew that meant they had to have brought several carriers to the Earth.
We were silent for a few minutes as we watched, not sure what else to say. There really wasnâ€™t anything to say at this point because nothing was going to change what was happening. The main thought going through my mind was that the aliens were well coordinated and they were trying to deliver a decisive blow, wiping out as much as they could as quickly as they could.
â€œHow long are we going to stay here?â€ Peoni asked, knowing this wasnâ€™t a long-term solution. â€œWe canâ€™t stay here forever.â€
â€œHopefully the fighters will move on then weâ€™ll decide what to do.â€
â€œWell, I hope itâ€™s not too long because Iâ€™m not going to be able to tread water for much longer.â€
â€œIâ€™m sure theyâ€™ll move on soon,â€ I replied.
â€œWhat if they donâ€™t?â€
â€œIf thatâ€™s the case, then I donâ€™t know how long weâ€™ll stay here,â€ I remarked. â€œWeâ€™ll need to keep treading water until they leave. If we go back to the beach before they leave then weâ€™ll die too.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll eventually get too tired to tread water,â€ Peoni responded.
â€œI realize that,â€ I snapped then immediately felt guilty.
We were both scared and didnâ€™t know what we should do. Right now, I was just trying to keep us alive and this was the only way I knew to do that. However, she was right. This wasnâ€™t a long-term solution and I was going to need to figure out what our next move was going to be. Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do.
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ I said, regretting my outburst. â€œLetâ€™s just watch from here for a while before we decide what to do. Hopefully, it wonâ€™t be too much longer.â€
â€œOkay,â€ she said.
â€œCan you tread water for a little while longer,â€ I asked, trying to be sensitive to the fact that she wasnâ€™t in as good of shape as me.
â€œOkay, if you start getting tired, just let me know,â€ I remarked.
â€œI will,â€ Peoni commented then fell silent for a few seconds. â€œI feel so sorry for all the people out there. I wish there was something we could do for them.â€
â€œI do too,â€ I replied as I watched another fighter swoop down on several people running out of one of the buildings. They were in the street, trying to escape when the fighter fired down on them, killing them and blowing pieces of the street everywhere.
Shaking my head in despair, I just couldnâ€™t believe my eyes. Everyone was defenseless and I couldnâ€™t comprehend that another species would fire without mercy on defenseless people. I knew that was something humans would never do. Well, not now. I knew humans did that sort of thing in the past, but we had evolved and there was no way we would do that now. Apparently, the Gorlanians werenâ€™t as evolved as us humans.
â€œWhy do you think theyâ€™re doing this to us?â€ Peoni asked between labored breaths.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ I replied. â€œMaybe they want the resources of the Earth or maybe they want the resources of all the other planets and moons that we inhabit.â€
â€œThey have a lot of their own.â€
â€œMaybe they donâ€™t want to share the galaxy with us,â€ I replied.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t make sense.â€
â€œI know it doesnâ€™t. To be quite honest, I have no idea why they would do this to us.â€
We stayed there for the next hour, treading water and watching the fighters. I was in great shape from my training at the Academy and fighter school so I didnâ€™t have much trouble treading water, but Peoni was struggling and started sucking in water and coughing. I instructed her to just lie on her back and try to float which seemed to help a little. She alternated between treading water and floating on her back which seemed to help keep her from getting too fatigued.
We stayed there, not saying anything as we watched the fighters destroy everything in sight.
The fighters continued bombing the buildings for a few hours but were starting to disperse a little. Now that they had inflicted a lot of damage and killed almost everyone they encountered, they were starting to move to some of the surrounding areas. That didnâ€™t mean there werenâ€™t fighters around because there were. There just werenâ€™t as many as when they first arrived.
â€œIt looks like most of them are leaving,â€ I said as my muscles ached from treading water for so long.
Peoni had been floating on her back for the past twenty minutes. She changed positions and started treading water so she could get a better view of the city. What we saw was not good. Smoke was billowing from several of the buildings as fires raged.
â€œThere are still a few of them around,â€ Peoni commented just as a fighter chased down a cruiser as it tried to escape.
The fighter caught up and shot down the cruiser. The cruiser was hit hard and the person operating the cruiser couldnâ€™t control it while it headed for the nearest building, crashing into it, immediately killing everyone in it.
â€œI know, but there arenâ€™t as many as there were before so I think now is a good time for us to move,â€ I replied.
â€œI donâ€™t know about that,â€ Peoni remarked. â€œWe should stay here a little longer.â€
â€œWe have to use this opportunity to try to get to my cruiser,â€ I said as I looked up at the sky.
â€œI donâ€™t think thatâ€™s a good idea. Theyâ€™ll either shoot us while weâ€™re on the streets or theyâ€™ll shoot us when weâ€™re in the air.â€
â€œI donâ€™t have any other choice,â€ I explained. â€œThose fighters might come back so I would rather try to make our escape now instead of later.â€
â€œMake your escape to where?â€
â€œI have to get to my cruiser so I can get back to the base,â€ I answered.
â€œAre you crazy?â€ Peoni shrieked. â€œLook at what theyâ€™ve done to all the other cruisers. Theyâ€™re shooting them out of the sky with ease.â€
â€œThere arenâ€™t as many fighters around now so we might be able to sneak my cruiser past them without being detected,â€ I responded.
â€œThatâ€™s if we can even make it to your cruiser,â€ Peoni responded in between her breaths as she struggled to stay afloat. â€œLook what theyâ€™ve done to everything. I think weâ€™ll be killed if we go out in the open.â€
She was right; they had done a lot of damage. The bar where we had met a few hours ago was no longer there. It was covered by thousands of tons of rubble because the building had collapsed. There were other buildings that had been reduced to rubble as well, but there were still buildings that were left standing, although they were heavily damaged.
We could probably stay close to the remaining buildings to help hide us so we could make it to my cruiser, but there was no doubt about it. If we tried to make it to where I was parked it was going to be dangerous.
I wasnâ€™t looking forward to the thought of going out in the open, but I knew we couldnâ€™t stay under the pier any longer. First, I didnâ€™t know how much longer Peoni could tread water. She looked like she was about to go under and I knew I didnâ€™t have the strength to try to save her. Second, I wanted to get to the base and that wasnâ€™t going to happen if I continued to hide here.
â€œWe need to get to my cruiser,â€ I repeated. â€œItâ€™s our only hope.â€
â€œItâ€™s probably under a building right now,â€ Peoni pointed out.
â€œIt might be, but it was parked in a parking garage underground so if the building is still standing Iâ€™m hoping we can get to it.â€
â€œWe should hide somewhere and wait for the military to help.â€
â€œWell, we havenâ€™t seen the military yet and Iâ€™m not sure when we will.â€
â€œWe should still hide and wait.â€
â€œWhere do you think we can hide? It doesnâ€™t look like any place is safe.â€
She didnâ€™t say anything in response, probably knowing I was right. The buildings obviously werenâ€™t safe. We had seen that firsthand. I couldnâ€™t think of anywhere else we could go that would be somewhat safe. The base was our only option.
* * *