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Shock and Awe

Chapter Text

It’s now thirteen weeks since we lost the war. We’re still fighting, but it’s mostly habit. The aliens have spread from the original impact sites and there’s no real hope of stopping them.

There are anomalies in most of the major cities now; the death toll is in the billions. Before satellite communications went down for good, the estimate was that one third of the Earth’s population – the pre-contact human population, I mean – were dead or dying. The 14th and units like us had done what we could, but just when we thought we had them on the ropes, we found ourselves surrounded. Professor Sharp’s theory is that they don’t just bury their towers to ambush our convoys; they actually spread underground through networks of burrowing cable. While we were cutting off their heads, the roots stretched out until they had a stranglehold on the planet. Then they emerged to pick us off.

We were in Australia when it happened, taking down a blister in Melbourne. Surrounded, low on gas and bullets, and cut off from command, we did the only thing we could; we pulled back to wait for reinforcements. Obviously, they never showed up.

It was three days after that that we began picking up chatter on the emergency broadcast frequencies, and eight more before the Prof found us. She brought word that there were towers all along the coast – Sydney was gone, Canberra a scorched warzone – but she also brought hope; she brought the Train.

Before the Melbourne command post was completely overrun, the Prof must have moved heaven and Earth to organise an evac, because she’d loaded a couple hundred tonnes of supplies, parts, fuel, ammo, alien samples, research equipment and even a damned machine shop onto the back of a road train, driven it through the blockades and hauled it all the way out to us.

Back in the fight, we tried to take Melbourne, but although we brought down three dozen towers on the outskirts, there were too many of them. We retreated to lick our wounds and prepare for another strike. That was when it started to get cold.

It was late-November, pretty much the height of summer, but the temperature started plummeting. Professor Sharp put it down to infrared shields in the upper atmosphere, designed to make the place more alien friendly. Whatever it did for them, it told us we had to fall back and find a way to make it through a winter that might never end with nothing but desert gear. We weren’t fighting a war anymore; we were fighting to survive.
The aliens don’t have limitless resources, or they’d have found us by now, but they know how to hunt us; that’s why we keep moving. If we stop, they close in like the jaws of a trap, and so we don’t stop. We’ve been on the road twelve weeks, scavenging fuel or converting to alien power plants that we can run on the parts we pull out of their machines.

They came to consume our world, now we consume them to run our vehicles. I guess turnabout is fair play. They hunt us; we root them out, striking hard and fading away before they can send reinforcements.

It’s been thirteen weeks since we lost the war, but the battle goes on.