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The Great Cyber War
It was a hot, windy mid-June day, or at least that’s how it had been for 15 years, after a meltdown destroyed nearly everything. The pale blue, cloudless sky was filled with dust as the enforcing wind raged onward. The only things visible were houses that cried in weathered pain, and tall, craggy mountains, the same color as the dust clouds. All over were cacti, standing tall and fierce. But one thing was clearly noticeable: A fallen statue of the governor of Nevada. Henry Stevenson, age 45, was crouching behind it with three other men. All had guns, and all had sullen looks on their battle-scarred faces.
“It seems peaceful out today,” exclaimed Jonathan, the man farthest right in the group.
It does, thought Henry. In fact, it seems too quiet.
Then, as if out of nowhere, the sound of gears grinding, and a slight hum, first faint and barely audible, but soon it was near deafening.
Another man, named Charles, cried out, “Oh, that’s not a good sign!”
Henry loaded his rifle. “Brace yourselves,” he yelled, “It’s going to be a big one!”
All of the men looked around for the source of the noise. Then, with a glint of fear, the third man, named Daniel, cried out, “Look! Up in the sky!”
And he had enough of a reason to be afraid. Flying above them, black as the night sky, were four Viper Planes, each piloted by its own mind.
“Oh, God,” exclaimed Jonathan, with an annoyed tone. “I hate these things. They swoop down and blow right through you like chainsaws through trees.”
One of the mechanical Vipers dropped an ellipse-shaped device, gray on either end and glass in the center, revealing a bubbling, sickly green liquid.
“Duck!” cried Henry.
The men hid behind the statue, away from the planes and the odd device. The bomb hit the ground. All over sprayed a green liquid, smelling of vinegar and sulfur. It bubbled as it touched the houses near, eating through the already decayed walls.
“Stupid acid bombs,” shouted Daniel. “The stuff’s even worse now that they found that waste pool.”
The men had now up righted themselves, and began trying to blow the Viper Planes out of the sky.
“Don’t blame them,” retorted Jonathan, “blame the idiots that didn’t dispose of it properly.”
“How would they have known the power plant was going to explode?”
“They could’ve checked the gauges once in a while.”
Those two, always bickering, pondered Henry. Why can’t they get along for once?
“If you two don’t knock it off, I’m going to smack both of you silly!” barked Charles.
Henry looked at the Vipers, now circling above them like starved vultures.
What’s going on? Why haven’t they attacked us yet? Unless….
Henry looked behind them. All of a sudden, sand began rising, as though termites were swarming underneath it.
Oh no, worried Henry.
“We need to go, men. Now!”
As he warned the men, a large scorpion-like robot rose from the sand, its stinger laced with the same green liquid as the acid bomb. Jonathan turned around. The others followed suit.
“Oh my God,” wailed Daniel, “It’s Stinger!”
Stinger raised its tail, ready to strike. Charles screamed one word: “Run!!”
The men jumped out from their positions. The robot’s tail crushed the marble statue, grabbing and throwing parts of the rubble at the men running away from it.
Henry and the others ran into one of the weathered houses. The inside wasn’t as decayed, but just as depressing. Pictures of now deceased families, children, grandparents, even pets, hung on the walls and rested on tables, chipped and scratched by the sands.
The sound of gears penetrated the sandy walls around them.
“They have us surrounded,” whispered Daniel.
“Alright,” ordered Henry, “they could come at us in any direction. I want you to stay vigil, and keep your eyes peeled for any sudden movements. If they catch us off guard, we’re done for.”
Loud bangs, like footsteps, echoed from the roof.
“The Vipers must have landed,” exclaimed Jonathan.
Then, with no warning, a loud, mechanical shriek came from outside, followed immediately by gunfire from two machine guns.
“Oh God,” cried Daniel, “they’re blowing the house apart!”
“It can’t be them,” explained Henry, “that doesn’t sound like the Vipers’ guns.”
What could it be?
The men walked outside. They were greeted by two Vipers lying on the ground, riddled by bullets and a crash landing, plus the sound of the unknown gunfire.
The voice came from none of the men. Just then, a Viper swooped down, aiming to cut the men down like trees. The gunfire returned, with the bullets riddling the Viper. It collapsed, dead and filled with holes like Swiss cheese.
An unknown man jumped from the roof. Henry and his men stood awe-struck from the scene that had played out, almost like it was out of a movie.
Daniel came back to reality. “Who are you?” he requested.
The mystery warrior looked up at them. “A friend.”
And with that, he left.
“Who was that guy?” asked Jonathan.
Henry took his time, thinking about everyone he’d seen over the last month, two months, even over the past year. He had never seen this man, yet he knew everyone that was left.
Henry stood motionless. “I don’t know.”
The men were walking. They never knew if they’d make it, they never knew if they’d be found, they never knew what might be lurking under the sand, in the skies, behind the rocks and weathered walls of the houses. Yet, even with all of these threats around them, they walked. They walked to get home. Gas and automobiles no longer existed.
After hours, they made it to a large, whitewashed warehouse. Unlike the lifeless houses in town, this building was younger looking, clean, well kept, and wholesome.
“It’s been a long day, huh?” asked Jonathan.
“You don’t know the half of it,” retorted Charles. “That’s the fifth time this week we’ve been attacked. I wonder what they’re planning.”
“Who knows?” exclaimed Daniel. “No one’s gone into their lair and made it out alive.”
“Well, we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled,” inquired Henry, “We’ve lost too many men because they weren’t careful.”
“We’ve always been careful,” retorted Jonathan, “and we’ve still had a few close calls.”
“That doesn’t mean we can’t be safe.”
And with that, the men entered the warehouse.
Inside, the building looked much larger than it was. All over were beds, crates field with endless treasures and goods, guns hanging off walls, people eating, sleeping, doing their jobs, and conversing, some about the day’s events, others about records written over the past week. While the outside was dead, littered by cacti and dust storms, the inside was alive, not knowing what had happened to Henry and the others.
Henry looked around, as though for a lost friend. “Alright,” he ordered his men, “you’re off-duty now. Go to your families, enjoy yourselves.”
The men walked off, each to a different area of the ware house, going to open arms of loved ones, happy to see them alive another day.
Henry just stood. He was thinking. Why did the robots attack us so many times this week? Who was that mystery man that saved us? Are the robots conjuring up a plan?
But with that, he decided to leave it for tomorrow. He went off to his “home,” where his family was waiting to see him after a long day.
Henry’s wife, Janet, age 30, was working in front of the counter. She was stirring, spooning, mixing, washing, and praying that her husband was to return home, safe and sound, happy to see them just as they were.
Henry walked through the curtain door. His movements were stiff, like he himself was one of the metal monsters that had tried to kill him today.
“Oh!” cried Janet, startled by his entrance. “It’s so good to see you again, honey!”
She walked up and kissed him.
“You say that every time I come home,” mumbled Henry.
“That’s because I am. I never know whether you’ll come back or not.”
Just then, his daughter, Jude only 6 years of age last May, ran into the room. She was all grin and big, bright eyes, shouting “Daddy, daddy!” all the way there. Henry picked her up in his arms, happy and giggling like she was.
“Oh, hello, little one!” laughed Henry. “Have you been a good girl today, for your mom and me?”
“Oh, that’s good, sweetie! I managed to find something for you.”
He picked up a bag he’d brought with him. He reached in, looted around, and pulled out something marvelous: a doll, perfectly preserved, no tears, no fraying strings, and no worn-down look.
Jude took the doll with a gleeful expression. “Oh daddy,” she cheered, “it’s so pretty!”
Janet eyed the doll. “Where did you find that?” she demanded.
Henry paused, a worried expression on his face. “I, uh, found it.”
Janet crossed her arms. “You found it.” She restated. “Where?”
A goofy smile crept on his face. “Uh, in the wastelands,” he claimed sheepishly, “but I was careful. In fact, there wasn’t a robot in sight when I went there.”
“Honey, you know you’re not supposed to even go there. Don’t you remember what happened to the last guy?”
“That was different. There were robots everywhere that day.”
“You never know what could be lurking out there! Not just robots, but scorpions, coyotes, all kinds of animals and bugs that could kill you!”
Henry sat down. He was tired, not in the mood or having the energy to fight. He tried to think of something to say, but nothing came. His brain was drawing the worst of blanks.
Finally, he started. “Honey,” he began, “there’s two problems with that statement: one, all of the bugs and animals probably ran off to safer land after the robots came, and two, they wouldn’t go near any of us. They know better.”
He got up to stretch his legs. “And I’m leaving it at that.” He retorted.
With that said, he went to bed.
The next day, Henry, Jonathan, Charles, and Daniel set off for another day of patrol. However, today had a special feeling, almost like death travelling in the air.
Something doesn’t feel right, Henry pondered. It’s almost like a chill in the air.
“Stand your guard, men,” he ordered, “I’ve got a bad feeling about today.”
Suddenly, the whir of gears came again, this time from the ground, in what sounded like ten different directions.
“Oh my God!” cried Daniel.
Thirty Viper Planes, striker, and the illusive yet just as destructive Thrasher, were coming towards them at a frightening pace.
“There’s too many of them,” exclaimed Charles, “We need to go!”
Henry stood, scared out of his wits. He’d never witnessed anything like this before, and had never even thought there were this many robots in existence. He was utterly terrified.
The only thing that came to his mind was run for your life!
The seemingly endless horde of robots came closer, and closer.
“Henry, we need to go!” cried Jonathan.
Henry replied, “Run!”
And they did, for what was behind them was sheer terror. At max, forty clanking, whirring, metallic soldiers were coming straight towards them, their only objective being to slaughter the men and whomever else came in their path.
They made it to their surplus, the robots a long ways away after a sprint for the ages. They went in, calm expressions and all, yet they were all panicking about what was coming to destroy them.
Finally, Charles shouted, “Everyone, the robots are coming!”
What happened next was complete chaos. Everyone ran for weapons, shelter, or just because they were scared out of their minds.
Henry looked around. He then shouted, “Everyone calm down! They’re still a long ways away. We have enough time to prepare ourselves. Get into your stations, it’ll be a long one, I know it.”
So they prepared themselves. They didn’t know if they would live, if they would die, or if anything would happen. Some were scared, others were determined, and others still were a slight mix of both. There were men, women, children, pets, people of every age, gender, religion, and race, and they all had one thing in common: they were all united against a horde of robots that would arrive at any moment.
Henry readied his weapon. Jonathan walked up to him, stationed himself, and readied his own rifle.
“There must be at least forty of them coming,” he claimed, “I wonder if we can take them.”
“Guess we’ll have to keep our wits set, huh?”
Jonathan shuffled. He looked as worried as everyone else.
Henry looked at him. “Jonathan,” he started, “if we don’t make it, may I say it was a pleasure to fight with you.”
Jonathan returned the look. “Same here.”
They both refaced the door. Seconds later, the sound of whirring gears penetrated the walls.
And the fight began.
All around were the sounds of war: the endless sounding of rifles, explosions, screams of terror; all that the people knew was that either they fight and live, or surrender and face certain death.
All around were the sights of war: bullets firing, fire, the recently deceased lying on the battleground. And all around, everyone saw the same: the enemy, and they had to die.
Viper Planes dropped acid bombs, swooped down on the humans like falcons, and, fortunately, some were shot down. Thrasher blew away barricades, people, even some of its own, with no sign of letting up. Striker attacked below ground and above, tunneling underneath people, sending them under to suffer a grisly fate.
Even though people and machine died around him, Henry couldn’t help but think: Why aren’t we dead yet? They would’ve finished us off by now.
And then, as fires raged on, bullets continued to fly through the sky, and people ran towards or away from the carnage, a glint shown from the mountains.
What could it be?
As the strange object came closer, Henry realized what it was: It was a vehicle, carrying at least a dozen Trooper Bots, and an unknown machine, standing alone, billowing in the wind passing by, draped in what looked like a cloak.
“Everyone look out,” Henry exclaimed, “There’s more of them on the way!”
When the new swarm arrived, 25 of the first 40 robots, including Striker, had been destroyed. With the new 13, there was now 28, including the mysterious cloaked robot and Thrasher.
All over, people were dying. Cut down by the Vipers, crushed by Thrasher, they suffered with each blow.
But while all this was happening, Henry got an idea.
By this time, the unknown warrior had joined the fight, claiming several Vipers. Henry called for him and Jonathan.
“Alright, guys,” he whispered, “I have an idea. But we’ll need some acid bombs.”
“What’s the plan?” questioned the stranger.
“We’re going to bomb the robots.”
“You don’t think they’d notice that?” questioned Jonathan.
“I haven’t gotten that far into the plan yet,” answered Henry.
“Well, it’s a long shot,” admitted the stranger, “but I think it’s a good idea. How are we going to get them?”
“Get them from the Vipers.”
“Alright. Come on Jonathan, we’ve got some work to do.”
After a 15-minute search, Jonathan and the stranger found 10 unbroken acid bombs. Henry and the two went up to the roof of one of the weathered houses, and prepared for the plan.
“Each of you take a bomb,” ordered Henry.
They all took one of the bubbling green tanks. They were all worried: Henry about whether the plan would work or not; Jonathan and the stranger if anyone was going to get hurt.
“Everyone get out of the way!” yelled all three.
All of the people ran for cover. Then the bombs fell.
The robots were covered from head to toe in the solution. They all screamed in metallic agony. One by one, the robots collapsed, their inner workings eaten away.
“It worked!” cried Jonathan.
“Wait a minute,” exclaimed the stranger, “one of them is still moving. It’s the cloaked one!”
Everyone grouped around the dying robot. It’s gears still ground, but were slowing down.
A click sounded, followed by a mechanical groan. “You are all idiots,” it groaned. “We did not mean you harm.”
“Why are you killing us, then?” questioned a man in the crowd.
“We needed to keep it a secret, for you were threatening our plan. We were creating a serum that would cure the planet.”
“What’s happening to Earth?” asked Henry.
“Earth is dying. The radiation is destroying the planet. We needed to cure the planet before it died. And now, thanks to you, were all doomed!”
Henry thought: The planet is dying? How did this happen?
“Good luck surviving! It won’t be long before… “ The cloaked machine croaked.
And then it collapsed. All of the robots were dead, and soon, all of the humans, wolves, scorpions, and Earth would soon follow….