Alien activity in much of North America has been curtailed. Of course much of the US had been leveled by the swarms. Industrial areas and infrastructure seemed to have been particular targets of the swarms in addition to cities. Society had pretty much broken down. Foreign nations that still had some way to contact the US government, what there was left of it, were asking for assistance.
The President wiped his face again. He had woke up too early and was now sitting in the compartment on Air Force One that served as his office. The Secretary of Defense sat across from him in what had become his normal seat. There was only one issue that mattered now: the invasion.
The Secretary of State was standing by the doorway in the cramped space trying to do his as a diplomat, knowing full well how futile this was likely to be.
“It will take time to send assistance to many parts of the world. Our experts are explaining to them how they might cause EMP's, but most countries are no longer organized enough to pull off even basic counter-attacks.” The Secretary of Defense was answering the top diplomat, “Frankly, even putting my people on the phone with most of the world is a waste of resources.”
The Secretary of State nodded. “I have tried to explain that the US is just as devastated as anyone else in this situation. Just because we have beaten back the invasion by the skin of our teeth, some think we have the capability of projecting that.”
The Defense Secretary shifted in his uncomfortable seat. “We are working on that. We might be able to deploy some EMP lasers on naval carrier aircraft in a few days. We are still keeping them as far offshore as we can right now.”
The President spoke up. “I want to get off this plane. The American people are not going to feel that the situation is improving while I stay airborne.”
“I'm not sure that's a good idea, yet. There was major damage in DC, you know.” The Defense Secretary told him. “Trying to get you back in the White House will inconvenience more people than anything. This is not the time to worry about PR. The war is not over, I don't think people should be allowed to forget that.”
The President sighed and addressed the Secretary of State, “Tell them we'll have that help on the way as soon as possible. Send in that space guy.”
Stan Jeffords entered and stood near the doorway. “Yes, sir?”
“Stan, any new develops on Nemesis?” The President asked.
“Yes, as I reported before, there are signs that another wave is being prepped for launch from the same sites as before. The alien vessels that carried the last wave are almost back to Nemesis, I expect they'll ferry another wave to Earth.” He told the President, “Very recent images show rockets being moved out of underground locations to the launch points.”
“Anything from Operation Doolittle?”
“I've seen nothing that would indicate that they made contact yet. We have people studying those images and if they see the ship, they are supposed to let me know.” Jeffords said.
“So, we don't even know if they have arrived?” The President asked.
“Physics tells me that they arrived already, Mr. President. We're just trying to figure out where they are.”
The President waved him off and rubbed his temples. The Earth was pretty near-devastated and another wave would finish it off. Although they had beaten back the swarms, at least in North America, the damage would take decades to repair.
“How am I supposed to prepare the country for another wave?” The President asked. “We don't even have contact with most of the country right now. Even if I wanted to draft everyone into the fight, we no longer have the resources to do it.”
The Secretary of Defense nodded. “It seems like an impossible situation. On the bright side, we have two more ships being prepared for launch. I don't think we'll be able to build any more for a while, though.”
The President thought about it. “Unless I see evidence that those men are alive on Nemesis, I don't think I can justify sending more. The proposal to launch nuclear bunker busters is more interesting to me at this point.”
The Secretary of Defense nodded again. There had to be underground cities near the launch sites and their satellite probes could be used to guide the bombs to their targets. There was no way to know the exact location of the cities under the ground, but the giant doors where the launch vehicles had been kept were likely locations.
Samantha huddled into the cave a little further when the rain started up. The cuts on her body had stopped bleeding but they still hurt. Her clothes were torn to almost complete shreds from the rocks and the rushing water. All she could think about was her missing brother and getting herself to a place where people were.
Samantha had tried to walk downstream for a while but her feet hurt too much, they bled enough to cause her concern. She had looked for something that could be tied around her feet but she had found a small cave instead. Actually, it had probably been a den for some hibernating animal at some point. There were bears in this part of the country, after all.
Samantha felt useless and weak because her injured feet kept her from doing things that needed to be done for the sake of survival. She was an outdoor kind of girl, if her feet were in better shape Samantha could probably even catch her own food.
Tomorrow. When the sun comes up, she planned to herself, go back to the river. Clean up. Start looking in the small pools, streams and eddies off the side of the river for fish or anything she could eat. Those little crayfish that looked like tiny lobsters usually lived in holes in the river banks. One just had to watch out for the pinch of their big claw. Maybe she could find a straight enough stick to rub on a rock to make a sharp point on the end to catch herself a real fish.
When the sun finally came up she crawled out of the cave, relieved to see the rain had stopped during the night. Then she hobbled along toward the river. There was a feeder stream nearby and there she started looking for fish and other edibles. Suddenly she noticed the fat leaves in the water and picked them up.
“This looks familiar.” She told herself. Then she sniffed it and took a small bite. It had a peppery taste to it. This is watercress! Yes! Samantha collected as much of this as she could and put them into a pile before going back to search for other edibles.
There was a very small fish in the tidal pool, like it had been trapped there. She stalked it as it swam in circles and then it tried to avoid her. When it tried to keep swimming at the edge, she struck at it with a pointed stick.
“Mama's going to eat tonight.” She told herself.
After eating what she could she started to hobble back to the cave. After reaching the tree line she looked back across the water. The first thing she saw was a baby bison and then the human it was following. It had to be her brother. They were a ways off and she couldn't very well run in her condition.
“Marshal!” she shouted. The figure didn't seem to hear her. So she took a deep breath, arched her back to where was almost looking up and screamed “MARSHAL!”. Suddenly there was a big hand on her shoulder and another covering her mouth. She was pulled backward into the trees. She tried to twist away from the grasp but the hand on her shoulder then put her into a headlock. She was dragged deeper into the woods.
Samantha was no wallflower, having learned martial arts. but knew when she was at a severe disadvantage. She heard the voices of two men, including the one holding her. Samantha did not understand their language. Then she heard a familiar phrase that sent her blood running cold.
A cloth bag was placed over her head and tied into place and then she felt her arms being forced around the trunk of a tree, as if she were hugging it. Samantha tried to mentally prepare herself, surely she was going to be raped. Her brother had been so close, but unless he had seen her this was it. Even though she fought it, the tears came and she sobbed as quietly as she could.
The two men continued to talk and laugh somewhere behind her, she could hear the popping of a campfire. Then something moved in high grass somewhere, the men seemed surprised, maybe even pleased. She could hear them talking excitedly and then footsteps.
Then there were shouts and running and groans that sounded like fighting. Then quiet.
Then she heard a snort-grunt of a small animal. Footsteps and someone was untying the cloth over her head.
“Marshal? Is that you?” She asked and then the sack was off. It was her brother, dirty disheveled, abrasions on his arms and face, but alive. He was already cutting the rope that tied her to the tree. When she was loose, the first thing was to wrap her brother in a big hug.
The two men who had abducted her were dead and one of them had close to the same size foot she did. He wasn't going to complain about losing his boots. Marshal looked through the camp but found pathetic little that was useful. Finally they left the camp and he told her his story since they got separated.
“That baby bison is following you?” She asked, smiling.
“I don't know why!” He said defensively. “Think I should name it?”
“We could name it Steak.” She said. He pretended to look offended.
“I know where the closest refugee center is now.” He told her, “We might reach it by tomorrow.”
It wasn't much of a plan, but it was a plan.
Park Eun-Hee had to tell her story at least a dozen times. First to her parents, then to a local official, then to some military types and politicians and finally at a press conference. It was all too much and it wore her out. Everyone asked the same kind of questions, the whole thing was scary at first but it got to be boring.
Not that her story was going to make people feel any better. Sure, an alien had seemed friendly more or less, that was a good thing. It was dwarfed by the plans that the aliens were carrying out though. To strip the Earth of anything useful, even the minerals in the ground and the water in the oceans and take it all to their world. Then they'd leave.
This would take a long time, it would seem. Although they had done a good job of invading Earth, so far, in only a few days. Eradicating humans would take a bit longer. Their world had caused all sorts of tidal waves, flooding, hurricanes when it passed by, but for some reason they hadn't parked their planet-ship closer. Why?
The South Korean government had put her family on an Osprey and flown them to Jeju Island, where no alien activity had ever been reported. It turned out that a lot of wealthy and politically connected people had gone to Jeju Island. It was a resort, after all.
Park Eun-Hee was then escorted into a small building nestled against the side of a mountain. Taken into a tunnel and then to an underground chamber.
“I don't know what's going on.” She said to everyone. Soldiers, scientists and others were working in this place. Then she reached the end. Behind a thick transparent wall was a small chamber, a cell, and inside of it was the alien. The splotchy marks were the same, this was the same alien she had spent hours with in her school.
A scientist-looking person came to her. “We're trying to communicate with the creature. We thought maybe you could help.”
She looked at the man as if he had lost his mind. “What makes you think I can help?”
The man pointed at the wall in the chamber. A sketch was there, apparently drawn by the alien and it was unmistakably a drawing of Park Eun-Hee.
---------------- to be continued
I might try to rewrite the prologue next. It doesn't need to be all exposition and I think there will be some big changes in the story flow too. If I write in the Prologue Beta that we lost the moon, don't wonder why this hadn't been mentioned before. You can bet it will be mentioned several times in the second draft!