Fourth Day, Two Days before the landing on Nemesis
The image of the young Korean girl standing near an alien who was holding a sketchpad depicting the ravaging of Earth's resources and the new planet leaving under power like a space ship had spread around the world at the speed of a meme.
The crippling of some of the swarms by EMP weapons was also a big news item. This was sort of good news but there weren't many EMP bombs and lasers in operation. The US had only built a few for testing and had only fielded one airborne EMP laser in the middle east for a short time to test it in battlefield conditions.
“Once we secure North America, we will help the rest of the world fight these swarms.” The President had said on a tarmac near where a swarm was destroyed, a burned out husk of a landing vessel serving as a backdrop. The image was supposed to convey that the President landed Air Force One because we were now winning, but it looked like the end of the world behind him.
When a journalist asked the President about alien plans to strip Earth of all useful resources before leaving to find a new victim, he answered, “We are not going to let that happen. We are just starting to beat back this invasion and when we can we shall take the fight to them.”
It was as close to a public mention of Operation Doolittle as had been made up to that point.
“All signs say that North Korea has ceased to exist as a country because of the invasion. A highly militarized country like that has apparently fallen to these invaders, silence from some other countries troubles people too.” A journalist pointed out, before asking, “Can we win this war?”
The President took a sip of water. Then he said, “We are going to win this war. We do not really have much choice at this point.”
The government was also trying to get a handle on rovers, large groups of internal refugees that would not stay in one place. Temporary shelter and food was offered to them, but they wanted to go from one place to another. They all had their own reasons, but these large transient groups of people often sparred with locals over precious resources.
These civil conflicts caused a lot of problems because there were simply fewer and fewer things that could be done about them. Much of the country had become lawless in reality, if not in theory and it was likely to get much worse as time wore on.
There were reports that at least one band of rovers had been absorbed by a swarm. This might just have been a rumor created by the government to try and frighten people to be wary of moving around much, while a government refugee camp that had been destroyed by swarms was kept out of the news as much as possible.
Marshal Tucker had crawled onto the muddy, rock-strewn bank of the river. He didn't know where Samantha was. His one responsibility in a world torn apart and he had lost her. He rolled over onto his back and scooted to get away from a stone stabbing at him.
“Sam.” He barely managed to groan out loud, tears threatening to form in his eyes. No, he wouldn't lay here sniffling and crying. Marshal reminded himself that he didn't even know if he was safe yet. Using his energy reserves he looked around. Woods. He might as well be inside of Yellowstone National Park for all the good that looking around did.
He would have to lie there, take a nap, to give himself some rest and some energy. So he closed his eyes. Something touched him on the forehead and he thought about this in his half-sleep mind for a bit before deciding to wake up.
Marshal opened his eyes to the sight of some ugly thing messing with the top of his head. He gave a frightened shout and rolled over and into a sitting position. Instead of some alien monster trying to eat his head, he was staring at a baby moose... no a bison. His mind was still a bit foggy. The baby bison looked at him inquisitively.
Maybe he really was in some national park. If tourists had been feeding the animals then they wouldn't be scared of humans. Which was not really a good thing, objectively, but at the moment he was glad mama bison hadn't trampled him.
Where was mama bison? Where was the herd? Now that he was almost completely recovered from his sleep, this baby shouldn't be out this far without a mama. It might be an orphan. If that were the case it would become a meal for wolves or something in short order.
“What am I doing?” he asked himself, “Anthropomorphizing a bison.”
Then he laughed, “I'm not ready to replace Samantha with you, yet, little guy.”
Even though it did have a pitiful, frightened look on its face and was likely to follow him for a long distance, Marshal had to put himself and his sister ahead of it. “Sorry about this, but I have bigger things to worry about.”
Marshal decided to walk upriver a ways to see if there was any trace at all of Samantha. Maybe she had gotten out of the water before he did. Or maybe he'd have to bury her. Either way he would do it because he had to.
Park Eun-Hee had grabbed her backpack and walked straight home after the alien had crashed through the wall because of the flash. She wondered if the alien might have Post-Traumatic Stress or something like that. Some of the buildings had been boarded up and many looked vacant. Her parents were outside and they embraced her.
“Where have you been?” Her father asked sternly.
“School.” She answered. Her parents looked at each other and then decided to forget it, They ushered her straight to dad's new car. Her younger brother had already been strapped into the backseat and he looked at her funny. “Hello stranger.”
“Not funny.” She told him as her parents slammed the doors and started up the engine.
“Where are we going?” Eun-Hee asked.
“This neighborhood isn't safe. The fighting is getting too close.” Her father said, putting the car into gear, “We have to head south towards Dajeon.”
“Not the train?” Eun-Hee asked, taking the KTX would be much faster.
“The train lines have been damaged in some places by fighting.” Her father told her, “We'll take the Gyeongbu Expressway. She hadn't seen him this talkative since the ROK won the World Cup the previous year. The Gyeongbu was the busiest highway in South Korea, she hoped there wouldn't be too many traffic problems.
“Hang on. You didn't say where we were going?” Eun-Hee asked.
Her mother replied, “Let your father drive. Don't ask so many questions.”
Then Park Eun-Hee noticed that tanks and other vehicles were clogging one side of the road ahead, tanks were much bigger than she thought. Looking up from the backseat they were like two-story buildings or something. At the end she saw a large truck with some kind of big round parabolic mirror, like a satellite dish but it didn't point up. That one had a US-flag on it.
“What is that?” She asked nobody in particular.
“Active Denial System.” her little brother said, hardly even paying attention to her. She thought he was too young to know something like that, but he was a boy after all. “Causes pain, not damage. Good for riots, not for zombies.”
Then he went back to his hand-held video game.
Pain, not damage. The words stayed with her. After a moment she understood. They wanted to capture an alien alive.
Her father tuned the radio to 94.5 FM, which broadcast the audio from the Yonhap cable news channel.
“Authorities in Wonju report that several evacuated neighborhoods have been hit by fires caused by propane cook-stoves that had been left improperly disengaged. Authorities in Suwon are asking residents to pack their bags and get to a relatives home in the countryside. Reports suggest that a military operation might be underway there....'
“That is what we were seeing back there.” Her mother said. Her father nodded.
“... authorities around the world are now trying to authenticate this image of an Asian girl taken with one of the aliens. Using computer enhancement it has been determined that the photograph was taken in a Korean classroom...”
Of course they had no idea what the image was that Yonhap TV was showing their viewers. There was no way her parents would think....
The car stopped. Both of her parents and her little brother were staring at her.
The AH-64 IQ unmanned attack helicopter focused on the six targets a few miles away. It assigned two of its AGM-114X Shockfire missiles to each of the larger robots in the midst of the alien swarm. It was believed that these were the ones guiding the swarm. Although evidence did not always back that up in the field.
Two at a time the twelve Shockfire missiles blasted out of their housing and arced into the sky where their boosters would stop firing and each warhead would find its target and then a second rocket booster shot it downward at high velocity. Each of the $200,000 missiles carried a 21 kilogram warhead that would detonate as the javelin-like point inserted into the target. All within a millisecond of breaching the outer skin of the target, armored or not, the explosion would kill a tank or about anything.
As soon as the first missiles were within about a mile and half above the target, it sensed the danger. These aliens really hadn't taken air-power much into account, it was one of their known weaknesses so far.
The larger alien robot managed to shoot down one of the incoming missiles with some type of laser but it was noted that the other larger robots did not engage this incoming threat. Of course within seconds they too were under the same attack.
“Without air power this war would have been lost already.” One of the ex-Generals who frequented the news channels had told viewers. “If the aliens had taken this into account, this would be very one-sided.”
Of course the host had to point out that we did not know that for a fact, that it was conjecture.
The unmanned drones in the area watched the attack unfold. All four of the larger robots in the swarm had been blasted to bits within a couple of seconds. As they watched the swarm of tiny chrome robots changed directions, then again. They engaged in some kind of intricate dance where ribbons of robots would meet at the middle. Within minutes it became obvious that they were rebuilding the larger robots.
---------- Go to Chapter Nine
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