Chapter 2: The Vault
We'd locked ourselves in. It was the only chance we'd had. We thought we'd found a weakness we could take advantage of only to realize we were dealing with the first of probably many waves of those lizard like creatures. We'd had no chance. We had to utilize the secret Houdini's Path and bring ourselves to the Core. We enabled all the safety precautions and counted our numbers.
There were only 31 of us. We began with nearly 150, but a mere 31 men and women remained. Of those, not a single looked uninjured and at least half were battling major injuries. We remained quiet, listening to the loud commotions above us as our enemies likely looked for where we had retreated to. While they'd been able to crush through our walls with ease, I still had hopes for the bank vault like door trapping us in. Several feet thick of solid steel, this was the only entrance to the Core via Houdini's path. We could only hope that it was strong enough.
Even with that hope in mind, we were still in a dire situation. We'd pulled out the set of rations stored and recognized that it was enough for two days. Two days!? What good was that? I could feel myself getting frustrated, feeling the claustrophobia of our situation setting in. I knew the soldiers were looking to me for guidance, but I wasn't sure I had anything useful to say.
"See if we can ration the food and water even further to give ourselves more time. Do we have any technicians here?" One measly looking fellow slumped over. How he had made it through the slaughter up above was beyond him. He had yellowish blood smeared across his face and chest and quivered when he spoke.
"Aye sir. I'm a technician." I directed him to the full telecommunication board against one wall. I had little hope that we would be able to maintain any kind of contact with the outside world, but I had to at least try.
We immediately set up an infirmary, where the severely injured could be cared for and a soldier having gone through basic training was being treated as the equivalent of having gone to medical school. We were doing everything we could to preserve the small number of folks we had left. But as I looked on, and I saw the over abundance of bandages and a sickening amount of blood covering the floor, the hope I was trying to hold onto ebbed away.
This was truly hopeless. We'd trapped ourselves into the equivalent of a bank vault. We'd sustained nearly 80% casualty rate to a simply superior race of beings. It still felt ridiculous to
call them aliens, although I guess that's exactly what they were. Landfall Day (as I'd hear people call it) had only been four days ago, but with incredibly quickness and coordination this alien race had attacked our major outposts across the globe. We were supposed to be able to hold out and begin the counter moves. Instead, we'd locked ourselves into hiding and were licking our wounds, holding out for the few days we had supplies for with no hope of escape.
"Any luck with reaching out, Techie?"
"Negative, sir. I'm still trying to figure out how this whole board works... This is well beyond any of the small two ways I'm used to operating in the field."
I should have figured. Just as I was about to uselessly hurry this poor soldier along, a strong tremor rumbled through the cavern. Everyone fell silent and looked towards the vault door. The following resounding boom and accompanying tremor, however, filled everyone in the room with terror. As opposed to it coming from the door, which they all maintained could handle a nuclear blast, this was coming from directly above the cavern. The lights shook as the booms and tremors continued. This continued with a consistency that could almost be thought of as melodic, if it wasn't of course for the impending doom it foretold.
Recognizing that this was not likely soon to stop and there was simply nothing they could do about it, I ordered everyone back to work - continue with the care-taking, rationing, and whatever else it was people were busying themselves with. The terror was tangible amongst the soldiers and the continued booming and tremoring continued in that melodic rhythm.
Just as I was about to yell at him again, the Techie yelled out something I never thought I would here.
"We have contact sir. I can't confirm with whom just yet, but someone is coming in of the TelNet. The connections far from clean and I'm trying to clean it up, but someone or something is responding to our distress signals I've been blasting..."