7 of 7 | Chapter 4

 

The reporter tried to block the noise of the gunfire by covering her ears, and even so, felt the deafening report of Steersman's gun rock her skull, echoing in her head. Frank was surprisingly cold, seemingly in his element, doing all he could to maintain his satellite connection and keep broadcasting. He had wrapped the body of the camera in his coat to protect it from being damaged by debris and continued to film the battle, panning across the scene of soldier and commandos locked in a battle of attrition. The fight seemed to level out when the commander decided to evacuate, but his decision came too late. The emergency exit doors were damaged and couldn't be opened. They were trapped!

The deafening noise and frenetic activity made each second seem an eternity. Soldiers trapped between two sources of gunfire were unable to react quickly enough and began to drop, falling to the ground with their fingers still on the trigger, as they tried to take out as many of the black cloaked mercenaries as they could.

Natalie felt numb, the stasis of shock overcoming her, even as Frank's attention veered from filming to survival. Steersman felt that things were turning nasty as they crouched together behind the cover of a concrete support.

A bullet caught Frank in the shoulder and jerked him backward to land on Natalie, jolting her out of her almost cataleptic state. Steersman knelt and tried to return fire, aiming and shooting wildly back at the enemy soldiers, but without the precision of a trained soldier he had no answer and succumbed to a flying bullet. He could hear explosions and shouting, but the voices seemed to get further and further away. Bullets hit the satellite equipment and pieces flew off, the dish shattering into flying metal shrapnel.

The broadcast went dead. Televisions all over the world went black.

*

Karen sat in front of the vibrant image of a home theater system, the speakers and subs resonating and vibrating the furniture as if the events were taking place in the living room. Then suddenly a monotone hum, gray noise, the live broadcast lost. The studio flickered on again and the commentators were hardly able to speak, let alone comment on what they had just seen.

They began to analyze events and promised the viewers at home new images as soon as their reporters, now en route, arrived in Excolopolis. Karen couldn't even swallow. She just sat, wide-eyed, stunned. Then she stood up, picked up her coat and car keys, and marched out of her house, slamming the front door behind her.

As she drove down the hill along the winding streets she gazed across the city at the lights, flashing concert venues and fireworks of celebration, the participants paying little attention to the distant explosions and the sound of the machinery of war.

She had no idea what to think. This was the first time she had truly felt fear.

She arrived at the police cordon near the tower but was unable to get close. Along with EBI agents, ESF soldiers had arrived to secure the area. Karen left her car behind and walked up the block. There was gray smoke coming out of Steersman's tower building, rising up into the illuminated sky. Army helicopters were cruising overhead like angry swarms of wasps. At the entrance to the tower there was a fleet of emergency vehicles, amongst them, ambulances lined up in a row, barely able to keep up with the flow of wounded.

Two ambulances arrived and Karen stepped aside. There was only one regional ambulance center so it wasn't too difficult to figure out where they were taking the victims.

 

***

 

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CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
CHAPTER 5 | THE SOURCE
CHAPTER 6 | THE SCIENCE CENTER
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 9 | SECTOR TWO
CHAPTER 10 | THEY KNOW WE ARE HERE
CHAPTER 11 | GRAVITOR
CHAPTER 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH