Thursday, September 22, 2011

11. Defending Earth-To ask why

By the nods of approval, Helena figured she had nailed all the major points.

"Why?" Colonel Maillaro asked once she had finished her summary.

"Why what, sir?" her response was automatic.

"Why are they forcing us to fight them on the ground?  They may have some kind of weakness.  And we could exploit that weakness and maybe have a chance of blasting them off our planet," the last word hissed from his breath as if invading Earth had been an affront to him personally.

"That's why you are here.  I want a list of potential candidates from your previous location.  We are looking for the best.  My orders are to build missiles.  Your orders are to help develop a defensive strategy.  You will also examine our different fighting styles and try to determine the most effective form of combat for these aliens.  Do you understand," he bore the weight of his steel eyes down onto her small frame.  No need to glance around at the others.  They were all withstanding the weight.

"Sir, yes, sir," and she saluted.  His face broke with a smile.

"Very good.  Captain, show her around," and they were dismissed.  She followed the Captain back out into the underground concrete tunnels.

"You ever wonder about any of that why business?  Why did they come here?  Why did they attack?  Why don't they use weapons or bombs or armor?" he asked.  She slowly shook her head.

"Ask why about to many things and you just want to cry.  This is the way things are.  All I can do is keep fighting to try and change them back to the way they were," as they walked, they passed other people in uniform.  She kept looking for someone out of uniform, for a matted stuffed lion to be taking space on the floor.   And then she'd remember this was a military base.  Those things would not be found there.

"That's one way to look at it.  A warning though, next week you may have a bunch of people asking why.  The Colonel's rounded up some scientists.  They'll be arriving next week," he kept chatting as they walked.  And then the alarm sounded.

25. The Dreamer-Once asleep, one must Dream

There was that door again.  Birds chirped merrily as the sun dropped gold onto the hillside.  The grass bent under the wind's light touch.  The grass all bent towards the top of the hill.  Every emerald blade was bowing before the door.  The sun was at its zenith and centered over it as well.  And the birds circled above.

"Not this time," she said.  The wind grew stronger, insisting she allow herself to be swept upwards.  There was a promise of rest, peace, and flying above the world.

"No," she repeated with more will.  The sky grew cloudy.  The birds left.  And the wind whipped her hair, tugging the locks towards the door.  A scythe ripped through the scene.  Twisted remnants of sunshine were devoured by darkness.  Nothing was left.

"You been enjoying yourself?" Aislinn's voice tinkled from all around.  A dim, red ribbon glow appeared three feet in front of Anna.  Aislinn faded into existence.  Today her highlights and uniform accents were neon green.  Her body was at an angle, ankles crossed, arms folded, and her scythe was leaning as well.

"Enjoying myself?" Anna repeated.  The sounds were familiar, the way they moved across her lips was not new, and she knew what they meant.  However, "enjoyable" was not a word she would have used to describe recent events.  Something in her expression must have given her away.  Aislinn laughed.

"I thought as much.  I would not advise Dreaming for a while," a tree faded in behind her.  She was leaning against and had never moved.  Suddenly, her eyes focused solely on Anna.

"Of course, you already figured out that much.  Ah, but how to stop that thing from finding you again?  Those were your thoughts, right?" a smile glittered over Aislinn's lips.

"And that Nick is a cheating bastard," Anna flashed her teeth in return.  Both women held their expressions for ten seconds before dissolving into laughter.

"I'm here to protect you.  But that doesn't mean you have to make my job harder.  Do you understand?" Aislinn said quietly after the laughter had subsided.  Anna nodded.

"Good.  Let's start the training," and a different, almost feral, grin reflected off the scythe.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

10. Defending Earth-An Explanation

"It is very simple really.  We are going to make missiles," the Colonel then marched into the command center.  Helena tilted her ear towards him and frowned.

"Make missiles?  Here?" her words bounced off the closed door.  The lights flickered and she swallowed.  It couldn't be what she had heard.  Smiling, Captain Clark reached for the door handle.

"It'll make sense inside," and he opened the door.  There were flat screens with crisp resolution.  Lights from monitors and LED's lit up the room like a meteor shower.  There were about twenty workstations, each containing a computer, chair, and headset.  There were more than twenty people milling around and shouting.  In the center was a man.  His arms were crossed, his shirt stretch slightly over the athletic frame.  He barked questions from all those running around the room.  Running around him.

"C-16 is being attacked.  The number of attackers is within normal range for that area,"

"And the time frame?"

"About a half hour earlier than the projected time,"

"Again.  Dammit!"

The Colonel, Captain, and Sergeant made their way to the center of the room. There was a temporary pause as salutes were given.

"At ease.  Sergeant Weaver, we are able to monitor every single stronghold left in the United States.  Numbers are crunched and we figure out the best way to distribute military supplies.  Now, tell me about our experiences using long range weaponry," the Colonel leaned back on a desk.  Her first instinct was to laugh.  No one else had cracked a smile.

"It didn't work.  No matter what we launched at them, they could always tell it was coming.  And they always destroyed the missile, bomb, rocket, or whatever is was before it even came close to the target.  They have long range weaponry as well.  For some reason the Peregrinies only use it to destroy what we launch at them.  Oh yea, they also attack and demolish any location where we try to make more long range weaponry," she paused.

"I think that's it.  For some reason they want to fight us on the ground," she shrugged.

Monday, September 19, 2011

24. The Dreamer-Before you dream, you must sleep

"Well?" Michael pressed.  He slowed down and other cars blasted by with their horns.

"Speed up," she groaned and covered her ears.  The horn blares were hammers beating inside her skull.  Their speed increased.  Cars stopped passing them and the drivers stopped slamming the middle of the steering wheel.

"If there was nothing to it all before, I know there is now," he told her after her hands had left her ears.  Red, green, yellow lights melded into one stream.  Something wet splashed on her arm. Then on her hands.  She sniffed.

"We're almost back to your place.  I'll find your medicine and you can lay down, all right?" his left arm stayed on the wheel.  His right arm fumbled around the glove compartment. There, buried under stacks of insurance cards (none of them were current), was a travel package of tissues.

"But..." the tissues were outstretched.  Blue light from a restaurant caused a halo to appear around his head.  She took the tissues.

"It's...I'm not crazy.  You know I'm not.  I started having these dreams..." and she told him the story.  Of seeing his conversation with Julie.  His throat tightened at Anna's knowing that particular memory.  Then again when she was attacked.  The Scythe Girl.  Her father.  The Club.  And now Nick.  When she stopped talking, he pulled up to her apartment.

They sat.  There were many ideas and thoughts running through his head.  It was cool she had that ability.  But something out there wanted to kill her because of it.  Which was bad.

"Huh," he finally said and unbuckled.

"That's it?" she asked.  He shrugged and shut the car door.

"For now.  You need some sleep," and he helped her inside.  The stove hissed with scrambled eggs which she ate before taking her medication.  The James Bond theme song, barely coming from her television, serenaded her to sleep.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

9. Defending Earth-New SO

"Here we are.  The team is still being assembled, but half of us are here.  Once everyone arrives well have a briefing about what this is all about," his eyes flicked around to the guards as the jeep rolled to a stop.

"The rumors have it almost perfect.  So much for need to know," and he winked before saluting.

"Colonel Maillaro, sir," the salute went towards an approaching man.  His uniform was slightly rumpled.  Jet black hair poked from under his beret.  The legs had a purpose, each step meant something as he marched over towards them.  Quickly she saluted as well.

"Captain Clark, at ease.  You must be Sergeant Weaver.  I have a cousin who had the benefit of being your pupil.  When this operation began, you were on our interest list.  And now you're here," he stuck out his hand.

"Sergeant Weaver," she offered hers in return.

"Colonel Maillaro.  Good to meet you," his hands swallowed hers.  The pressure was firm, but the giant palms had not crushed her tiny bones.

"How much do you know?"

"She has not been briefed yet," Captain Clark answered.

"Walk with me then.  As you know, the enemy has neutralized our long-range weaponry," they turned towards a small building.  It was a brick garage with an elevator.  Once inside, they began to descend underground.

"Just so you know, this isn't a community like Boulder.  The Denver Metro Area hasn't been family hospitable in almost thirty years.  We don't have cushy skylights here.  This is a strategic military location," Maillaro interrupted himself brusquely.  The concrete walls and floors were bare.  Doors didn't seem to be in evidence.  And the lights flickered.

"Before I show you the command center, let me explain what we are doing here," and the Colonel had returned to his original train of thought.

***Next Tuesday, find out why we can't bomb the shit out of the aliens***

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

23. The Dreamer-Someone Makes an Observation

"Oh hell no!" Julie exploded.  The cheating bastard looked up from his kiss.  His eyes grew wide.

"You'll cheat with this slut and not with me?" she screamed.

"If I were up to it, I wouldn't be screaming that loud," Anna chuckled.  Now all the times when Julie's eyes had skipped over Anna to solely focus on Nick were worth it.

"Julie, calm down.  This is between Anna and I..." but Nick was to late.  The woman whose name we hadn't learned yet was walking away.  She took the long way around Julie.  There might be some kind of disease the screaming woman had and distance was necessary.  But then she looked at Anna.

"You're that girl from the news.  God, I had no idea," she said and dipped her head so their eyes could not match.

"And me!  God this is so like you!  When you have no one else, you'll sleep with me.  I'm your masturbation tool.  But now I'm  not even good enough for that.  Who gave you the money to cover your cell phone bill last month?  Who took you grocery shopping?  Who gave you money to buy flowers for your girlfriend in the hospital but you actually gave your mistress the flowers!" the candles on the table all shivered as her tirade reached a crescendo.  It crashed, pulling heads and eyes to the floor.

"Bastard!" all three woman said at once before scattering.  Michael half-carried Anna outside.  Julie grabbed a glass from the family of four's table and tossed Mountain Dew onto Nick's suit.  Then the storm moved outside.  The other woman was already gone.  None of them would ever see her again.  Nick never said what her name was.

They dropped Julie off at a bar.  Tonight she was going to drink mai tai's until her eyes washed her makeup away.  Of maybe she would drink the mai tai's because she was crying.  Her best friend met them at the bar and hoisted Julie out of the car.

With Julie gone, there was a void.  Michael waited before filling it.

"How did you know?  And the bomb?  What's going on?" is was quiet.  It was a demand.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

8. Defending Earth-Pass Into Memory

Laughter trumpeted through the air.  Mugs were handed and grabbed, shots lined and poured, beer frothing into glasses, and then it was time.  Silence ran amongst the soldiers who had gathered.  This was the last time they would see her.  Soldiers died.  It happened.

Every morning they said hello for the last time.  Each bite of breakfast might be their last.  Did they want their last meal to be dry toast?  The question was never asked.  But when the attacks come and through the dust and blood someone realizes that toast was the last thing they ate.

And now here was a strange event.  This was the last time they were saying goodbye, but she wasn't dead.  Something else was stealing her away, kidnapping their friend, comrade, and mentor.  And the champion drinker.  Tonight, someone new would emerge with the title.

"Are we gonna just stand here letting the beer get cold?" she finally snapped.  Laughter rippled as she opened the night with a chug.

"I still don't understand..." Captain Clark watched her even gait and the absence of sunglasses the next morning.

"What's there to understand?"  she heaved her dark green duffel bag into his jeep.

"That was..." his sentence died at her glance.

"Last night was a party.  That's it.  We don't talk about what happened the night before," unless something life altering had happened.  And those things weren't talked about or announced.  Children were born without know who the father was.  It happened.  Everyone living here was a parent to some child, whether it was genetic or not.

"But how did you guys get the Volkswagen..." once again he tried to talk.  She punched the radio and turned the volume all the way up.  There were no lyrics, synthesizer or guitar.  There were many instruments with multiple people playing the same type of instrument.

"Been a while since I heard this," she leaned back into the seat and closed.  Next time she opened them she would meet her new team.  The soldiers left behind had become only memories.