The war was old, and we knew our enemies well– perhaps almost as well as they knew us. That’s what the captain said, at least.
They were reptilian bugmen, with a hive mind that they could connect to and disconnect from at its will. Tough leathery skin on the outside, and unnatural organs on the inside made these beasts, and they were deadly, with built in explosive cores, long claws on hands and feet, and sharp teeth. They lacked eyes, but had strange antennae atop their heads.
None of us doubted that the enemy knew us. They seemed to read our plans before we planned them, and although we never found any spies, they were always a step ahead of us. Their campaign brought them systematically around the world, and this was our last stand, this plateau by the sea that housed an unusual facility within.
The fortress that was visible on top was for show. Only a tiny fraction of us lived and defended up there, while the rest of us lived inside, fortifying and working on our ultimate weapon.
I wasn’t high enough on the ladder to need to know, and I didn’t question, but I did research our enemies with the vast libraries available to even the newly enlisted man– any chance that humankind might survive, even though we were assured that it was a mere safety precaution, rather than the main plan.
There were too many escape tunnels for me to believe anyone with power expected the weapon to work, and people moved in pairs– one man, one woman– or in groups of mixed genders. I walked alone as I read my books. Let them run off and live– I planned to go down fighting, so that they could, if need be. Hopefully, we wouldn’t fail this too badly, and I wouldn’t have to die at all, though.
The attack of the bugmen came suddenly, and conflicted with what we believed to be a hard-wired diurnal sleep schedule. At midnight, they climbed our plateau and devoured all who were stationed there before anyone could sound off an alarm. We were not prepared when explosions rocked us, or when the monsters began to pour in from all sides.
I was in the library, reading. A commander threw a nearby scientist toward me and told– no, ordered– me to take her and run. She stared up at me, dazed from the blasts, and I gripped her hand. “I don’t like this,” I grunted as I dragged her toward an escape tunnel I was familiar with.
The tunnel was collapsed, but near it, the bugmen had broken the wall in, and outside, I could see water. They hated water. I dragged my companion into a shadowed area with me and held her tightly. She was warm, and moved willingly into my arms, fast as anything, and easily reactive to my every nudge. We remained silent, waiting.
Once the bugmen cleared the hole, I picked the scientist up and sprinted out. It was a clear shot, and there was no cover. The water was shallow, and the dropoff was far. More bugmen started coming, so I pulled my charge into a corner, only to hear voices from the plateau’s innards.
“We’re turning it on!”
“I want this thing set to worldwide range yesterday!”
“Sir, the bees-!
“Fuck the bees, we can clone them later!”
A loud thunk was our only warning, and our weapon activated. I held the lady scientist’s face against my chest– a shield to protect her from whatever horror might happen. A nearby bugman looked upward as it connected to the hivemind, and then gripped its head and let out a scream like a steam whistle on a train. The others joined, and it was deafening.
We ran. Something was wrong with their hivemind. It should have given them intense pleasure to connect. I didn’t want to be nearby when everything went wrong. My previous selfless thoughts were replaced by a selfish reality, and together with that single scientist, I ran out towards the ocean. A peninsula that jutted out, riddled with caves, would serve as a shelter… when we arrived. If we arrived.
A few explosions sounded off behind us. When I looked back, I saw shuffling bugmen, and some were suddenly erupting in fire and guts, with enough force to break through rock and metal. The sound of stone falling and metal warping was as bad as the screeching.
I set our pace, and nearly pulled the little lab woman along with me. She seemed not to care being treated so impersonally. I assumed she thought it meant survival, if I dragged her along like a rag doll.
Behind us, the blasts gained power, and debris barely missed us as he continued onward. I spotted some clothes hit the water just ahead of me and grabbed them on instinct. The feel of the cloth was unmistakable. They were mine. My eyes glanced upward as I hugged my clothes– my only belongings now– and continued on through the water.
I was glad it wasn’t very cold. Suddenly, something bumped against my arm, and I looked.
It was one of the black and white whales that lived around. Terror hit me. They were called killers. My hand tightened around the lab girl behind me, and she gasped. I stayed very still and just stared at it.
It was a lot smaller than I imagined– only the size of a dolphin. In the water, I was sure it was much stronger than I was. I set me jaw and reached for my gun. Water. I was in water. It wouldn’t fire.
A voice behind me, very quite, spoke. “It isn’t going to hurt you. It eats fish, not people. It’s not a shark.”
“It’s a killer-“
She cut me off. “It’s a baby, and its sick.” She pulled me away, and I slowly followed. My eyes never left the black and white whale until a shadow fell over me. I looked up. Stone. We were under an overhang. I looked around. Shelter. I looked down. We were out of the water. “Thank god above.”
The lab girl looked at me. “What’s a huge guy like you doing, being so scared of a baby animal?” She laughed, and I reddened.
“Just never mind it.” I shook my head. “I’m Addams.”
“Jessica Parker. Do you have a first name, or are you a soldier to the point you forgot you have one?”
I glared at her for a moment, then laughed. “It’s David. David Addams. Sorry I was so rough earlier.” The tension finally left, and the two of us laughed in relief as our minds struggled to comprehend what just happened.