Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta war. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta war. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, 6 de abril de 2018

No end


   As everyone celebrated on the streets and in their homes, Veronica wandered through the rubble trying to feel as happy as most people around her were. But it wasn’t possible or at least it was very hard to do so. Even smiling felt like a chore, like something you would do only to please people but not because you really felt it inside. There was a feeling of incompletion around, as if all the sacrifices of the war had not been enough to end every single type of hostility that many people harbored against one another.

 As she walked the streets, some lit and others not so much, she realized that the world after the war would be in chaos. Yes, everyone was cheering and celebrating right now, probably drinking stolen articles and launching fireworks that had been banned for so long. But after all of that happiness, a moment of truth and reflection would have to come and the atrocities of war would have to be addressed. For example, not everyone was on the same side, the winning side. Some people were not celebrating.

 Well, some of them were but just because they had to survive and keep on living. It was widely assumed that trials, of sorts, would emerge from the victorious side, condemning the losing side to many years in jail, banishment from the country or even death. Even if the maximum penalty had ever been enforced legally in the country, many of the victors would want the vanquished to be treated just as them treated others during the war. There were lots of executions, on the streets even.

 Veronica was actually just passing a street she knew very well, not only because it used to be a prime shopping spot before the war, but because many people were forced to stand in front of the former storefronts in order to be killed with guns. It was horrible to think about those moments, the images that would never going to leave anyone’s mind. That could never be overlooked, the fact that a large amount of the people now alive had killed at least one person over the last seven years.

 Everyone’s hands were tainted with blood; there wasn’t a single innocent, not even the children. They were used so many times to lure the kindness out of people, that all of their innocence had vanished. Many children were now celebrating the end of the war, just like adults. And the ones that were too small were orphans or just dead. Every single person had done something horrible during the war and now they chose not to remember that because it was a clear image of how disgusting and vile a human could get. So many atrocities in such a relatively short period of time.

 Veronica reached the gates of the Compound just as the night was darkest. She had to use a pocket lantern she had found days earlier, in order to go inside and check out the place for herself. The prison or camp or however you may call it, had been liberated only a few months before the end of the war but it looked as if it had happened many years ago. The place was covered in ash and debris, and the gates, doors and windows had been torn apart or had simply disappeared from sight.

 She walked from the entrance to a large yard area were she knew people had been selected. You see, not everyone was imprisoned in the same place. They had categories and each category had their own building in the premises of the Compound. The differences between each building were in the treatment given by the jailers. For example, former members of state entities and such would receive a better treatment there than homosexuals or blacks. Just the same as it had happened so many years ago, elsewhere.

 The Compound had surprisingly not been built by the losing side, as one would think. It had been built by the so-called winners, by the so-called heroes of the war. In some parts of the country, people were already designing statues for them to be put in every single park, in every single town. They had been the ones fighting for justice and freedom but they clearly didn’t respect their enemies’ rights at all. They were just as vile and vengeful as all the other people. They were not different.

 Veronica walked through the large yard in order to get to the only building that had been kind of spared by the last bombs the “enemy” had dropped from the sky. That was how the prison got its freedom. It hadn’t been an act of kindness. It was just the result of the last desperate attack from the would-be losers of the war. They had sent the few planes they still had and just bombarded the jail were their family members and friends had been imprisoned. They believed it was better to be dead that a prisoner.

 So pride made them act on that last move. And they succeed in destroying the prison and liberating some of their people from it. But only days later they would realize their days were counted and that their fate had already been sealed, well before the attack on the Compound. Veronica saw on the floor of the building some bone fragments, as well as fabric that used to be made into uniforms for the prisoners. There were also several metal plates and bowls, and a large assortment of cutlery. Maybe the prisoners had staged a mutiny as the bombs lit everything on fire.

 After a short time, she decided to leave the Compound through “the back door”, which was actually a large gap in the tall wall of the complex. She didn’t want to stay there too long in case the “winners” were patrolling the premises looking for someone to practice shooting with. She adjusted her backpack and walked on, towards very dark park covered with grand beautiful trees. The place was covered in shadows but even that way it felt like somewhere one would feel at ease.

 The park was one of the largest in the city and it was used to process many of the prisoners of the Compound. But apparently cold heads prevailed and no one ever really destroyed it on purpose or tore the trees down. Some of them had received damage from the bombs that were dropped in the nearby prison, but the building between the two sites had prevented the fire to really destroy the last green place in the city. It had been a miracle that most people were ignoring in that precise moment.

 Veronica walked along the central path of the park, hearing her steps on the stone and the wind blowing through the tree leaves. Everything felt so peaceful, and she was very glad to be there but even then she felt all of that could not be forever. She knew things were going to be bad for a while and she was alone and no one could just come and be with her. Her family had died during the war and those were not times of real friendship, just of convenient relationships that no one knew how long they would last.

 The best thing to do, maybe, was to leave the country altogether. It was a difficult choice to make and also a hard thing to achieve, but Veronica had nothing else to loose. She was carrying everything she owned on the backpack: some pieces of clothing and a couple of objects she had rescued from her former house. She had also stolen some food from a ruined supermarket, but that was it. She could easily walk her way towards the border and attempt to cross it. Or maybe get into a boat and sail away.

 Whatever she did, she had to do it quietly and carefully, as she had no intent of driving attention onto herself. No one was looking for her specifically, but everything around there was going to become very unstable and she knew that’s when unlikely things tend to happen the most.

 She decided to leave the city that night, taking advantage of most people celebrating the end of the war. As they raised glasses, told jokes, remembered family and friends, Veronica would banish into the night and attempt to forever disappear from that other night, one that would never end.

viernes, 15 de diciembre de 2017

Resistance and downfall

   When the dust settled, there was nothing to rally behind of, nothing to support us another day, not a rock or a person. There was nothing. When they blew it up, they destroyed everything we had believed in for so long. It was a strike deep in our hearts, resonating thousand of kilometers in every direction, where many others would also feel that hope had died and darkness had descended upon us to stay. We were in such disbelief, that they took advantage of our pain to come and destroy us.

 Those men and women were not the kind to take prisoners or to torture. They just killed every single person that tried anything against them and they had the best memory to ensure they would never forget how someone had wronged them. And that was what we had done. They had been the predominant power in the universe and we had tried to take them down, we had tried to stop them from making us penetrate into the abyss they wanted everyone to be in and they didn’t like us doing that.

 For a time, before all of this happened, we lived a life of relative peace and quiet. It would be a lie to day we all lived in harmony, because we didn’t. We just didn’t find interesting to disrupt someone else’s existence, unless it threatened our own. Our existence was not an easy one but we tried to make ends meet by using our wit and ability to cope with every single human thing that tried to tie our hands and prevents us from going forward. Maybe that’s how it started.

 At first, they were only a handful of people, but it started to grow exponentially when they made it into the media, into the information channels that every single intelligent creature used. You have to grant it to them: they used that in their best advantage and soon enough they rallied hundreds, then thousand of people in order to do what they wanted. It was one of those things you ignore at first but then they become so overwhelming and obvious, that you cannot just turn your head away.

 They started with fights and then with proper skirmishes. Now, we battle every so often with heavy artillery and our uniforms on, trying to change the tide one-way or the other. It has to be confessed that it doesn’t really seem to be working in anyone’s favor. We seemed to have stalled and it doesn’t seem like any of the sides knows where to look for the next step. However, with the destruction of our most sacred site, things will change in a new way, one that we haven’t yet seen and it’s very scary. Maybe they knew what to do all along and we were just pieces of a game.

 Being a prisoner is bad, of course, but we would prefer that option against the real one, the only one they give us: death. Facing that is not easy for all of us. Some have already decided they want to embrace it but others are too young or too afraid to actually walk into a battlefield and decide to die. So, when we were caught off guard by the destruction of our temple, they killed a big bunch of us but others ran towards the granite hills and hid there, moving through caves, trying to live another day.

 They eventually left, feeling there was no use in finding every single one of us to be killed. It’s obvious they realized that, without food, we wouldn’t be able to survive for long. And even if we did, such a small group of people had no power to overthrow the power hungry machine they had become. They were virtually unstoppable now and every other living being knew what they had to do in order to survive, and no other person could say anything about it, because we all wanted to keep living.

 The caves became our home and, as time passed, we were able to go outside and harvest foods we had never eaten before but we had to learn to enjoy them, for our sake. Many people had learned to grow other foods there and they also found water. In time, we had a small community that seemed to go unnoticed by the rest of existence. For a time, again, we were happy and we thought everything had gone back to what it was. We thought that, maybe, we had been given another chance.

 However, that was not the case. We were awaken one morning by the sounds of heavy artillery and then came the bombs. Our population was still small so two or three bombs easily killed most of our people. Those who weren’t killed, we tried to push them off for a while, in order to let others escape or maybe we thought someone was coming to the rescue, which didn’t make any sense at all. In time, they came through and the rest of our little group was almost completely destroyed.

 The only person that remained was I. Their leader in person came down to meet me and force me to bend the knee and sweat loyalty to him. He knew, very well, that it had been me who had started this whole thing; it had been my fault that so many brave men and women were now dead. It was my fault that our world had sunken into a deep darkness that would never go away. He knew how bad I felt about it all and he had come to make me say it out loud, not only to him but also to every other soldier on his side to hear. Because they had been on my side once.

 I did. I confessed my crimes and tried hard to redeem myself by asking forgiveness. But I didn’t ask him to forgive me; I did not ask that to his soldiers either. I was telling that to my people, to the ones that had been beside me for a long time and now they had paid with their lives. They had entrusted me with their faith and their lives and I hadn’t been able to correspond in any way, I had just grabbed their lives and used them as cards one uses in a cheap and lousy game of chance.

 As I cried, the man that had become the leader of the new world came to me, gave me his hand and carried me into his vessel. Inside, I was put on chains and treated like an animal, even worse. I was done and I wanted death to be forced upon me, but it seemed like he had finally realized that just death is not punishment enough. He wanted me to really need death, he wanted me to beg for it every single day of my life and he would be able to deny me that privilege.

 In time, I became something you cannot call a human anymore. I was much less than that. I was a shadow of everything mankind had ever amounted to. I just sat on my corner, in a dark cell, and thought about every single thing that had ever happened before my very eyes. There were happy moments but mostly fear and dread. I was haunted by the remains of the people I had failed to and the ones I had lead to their deaths. They blamed me and I could never disagree with them.

 I became increasingly weak and feeble, even to the point my mind started to go a little bit. The leader would come sometimes and watch me, ask me questions or just stare, as a disgusted costumer looks at a circus freak. He knew I wanted death and he would still deny it. There was something inside of him, something that remained from the past and seemed to be buried deep within him, some kind of grudge or maybe it was something completely different. I never really knew.

 Our vessel was destroyed one day, by armies that had been hiding and resisting the darkness that had befallen on the world. They had rallied, in silence, and their moment to attack had come in the exact moment I had been finally granted my death.


 I died anyway, but it was a different thing altogether. It was better. After all, it was them that needed to take revenge on me, after I had almost destroyed everything that they had tried to build. I had been the killer of their families and friends. So it was fair, in the end of the day, for them to kill me.

lunes, 11 de diciembre de 2017

The past is always present

   The whole space between Planet B43 and its moon was a huge graveyard. Pieces of different sizes and different materials, floated all around, doing some sort of dance between the planet and the satellite. Some pieces did fall into one of the celestial bodies but no damages were done to intelligent life, as there was none in that section of space. The whole system had been deprived of that for a millennia and it was considered to be a sacred zone, not one to venture into lightly.

 The battle that had taken place only a few months back had been a consequence of miscalculations and a clear disrespect for anything that reeked to the past. Somehow, all the peoples in the galaxy had absolutely forgotten their roots, their common ancestry and history. That planet, which was now classified as empty, with only a letter and two numbers, had been one of the largest hubs in the past, gathering every kind of creature in its heart, making every single one of them feel welcome.

 The temples that were still scattered all over the surface of both celestial bodies were now covered in plants and moss. They had been the key to achieving peace a thousand or more years ago. It was a time when battles didn’t existed, no skirmishes were ever registered, and people tried to live without any kind of conflict. They talked. When they had differences, they agreed on meeting on the planet, which they called Takrut, and solve it there, with the help of other parties.

 There was something similar to a sense of community, even when civilizations would be separated by million of kilometers, of light years and planets and stars. Even with that inconvenience, all of these different creatures had the knowledge to gather and just share what they had all been given. Commerce was key during those times, and it was fair and it made senses to everyone involved in the transaction. No one felt they were taken advantage of or that were loosing somehow.

 The debris that now fell to the planet, sometimes fairly close to the ruins of those temples, was the proof that whole galaxy had fallen away from all that it had once held dear. The battle, which had begun in another sector, had burst into the system with fire and blood and screams, breaking the silence that for so much time had befallen those ancient tombs and sacred places. Respect had died a long time ago and there was no way to get it back, at least not with the current factions fighting each other over beliefs that were up for interpretation, nothing really factual.

A scout ship called Valiant was send to the cloud of ruins in order to try and rescue a piece of one of the ships that they needed in order to continue their fighting elsewhere in the galaxy. It was a piece of a memory bank that the pirates and smugglers would probably find to be of no importance. That’s why coming back after so long was not really a problem. Besides, not running into unwanted company was important, in order to maintain the mission a secret from everyone outside of their own group.

 The Valiant passed by the cloud but realized soon they wouldn’t be able to penetrate it. Even being a small ship, the Valiant could easily be hit by the large chunks of debris and that would leave them stranded on that sector for who knows how long and they certainly had no intention to do so. B23 was a country shrouded in rumors and tales of monsters and dark wizards. Not many people talked about worlds like those, except for mothers when trying to scare their children from doing something wrong.

 The crew of the Valiant decided it was wiser to send an AI unit to do the work. They were always very eager to help and they had no need to breath, so they were the perfect candidates to take a walk in space. A special rope was attached to their charging port to get them back after they had found the object they were looking for. The first unit was sent shortly after arrival but it was soon lost to a large chunk of metal that destroyed it. Its arms and legs floated away, as the rope was pulled in to use on another droid.

 The next one was able to locate the piece they were looking for but was then pierced through the chest by a bar made of different alloys. It had been travelling at top speed, so it was just like being stabbed with a spear or something. They also used other kinds of droids, less humanoid in aspect but faster and better responsible to the commands coming from the ship. It was one of those, a little droid called IC2, who was able to finally get the part they needed to get back to their command center.

 The droid was being pulled into the ship when another piece of wreckage cut its rope, leaving it only a few meters away from the Valiant. The ship tried to indicate the droid how to get into the ship by itself but a surprise visit by a group of pirate ships was enough to make the crew of the Valiant realize they needed to get to safety first and then try to rescue the droid. Before jumping out of the system, the scout ship ordered the little droid to hide among the debris and stay there until another ship came to pick him up. He understood his command and floated, waiting.

 He waited for a week and then for another week but no one would come. As small as he was, his artificial intelligence chip was very well developed, so much so that he could even do things that larger droids couldn’t. The fact that he didn’t really have arms and legs but tiny wheels and some hooks, made him the last resource for any mission, and he knew that very well. But after waiting for so long, he decided something had to be done in order to get the information back to the command center.

As a droid, his priority was to serve, so that’s what he was going to do. However, debris was very difficult to avoid, even for a small droid that was able to avoid being hit with relative ease. One single piece, the size of a little ball, was enough for him to lose his stability and hurl down into B23. Luckily, they had made him with metals that resisted entry through different kinds of atmospheres in the case of an emergency. It certainly came in handy as he fell from the sky towards the jungle.

 The small droid landed in a patch of jungle that seemed to have no trees or plants. The place was rather circular and, in a glimpse, he knew that was not a normal occurrence in the universe. Geometrical shapes rarely happened like that, so randomly and it such vast proportions. He decided to walk away from there and head toward some sort of building he could see peeking through the tallest trees of the jungle that was before him. Those were ancient ruins, something he already knew from his scanners.

  He crossed the jungle rolling through it; trying to avoid any puddles of water and paying close attention to the sounds of various creatures that were probably looking at him, wondering what it was that they were looking at. When the IC2 arrived at the building, he noticed it was a pyramid and that it had an entrance on the base, a rather large one. He decided it was the best place to wait for his owners, so he rolled into the building as fast as he could, not realizing a shadow had moved inside the cavernous entrance.

 When he realized that there was a creature there, it was too late for the little droid. A weapon, similar to an arrow, traverse the droid through what one would call its eye.  The creature, which was humanoid, bent down and grabbed the piece of memory bank the droid was holding.


 The human looked at the piece for a while and then decided to keep it for himself, putting it on a pocket beneath his cloak. He gave one final look to the destroyed droid and whispered something to him, in a language that hadn’t been heard in ages. After that, he disappeared into the shadows.

lunes, 27 de noviembre de 2017

Deadland

   The mask Arnold was wearing was very tight around his head. It was a very uncomfortable thing to wear but it was the safest way to cross such a horrible place. The Deadland, as some had named it, was a huge marsh land that had always been there but, all of a sudden, had begun to grow and occupy more and more territory. Of course, this happened after the war, a time in which a faction had used the marshland as a hiding place for themselves and all their weapons, including experimental ones.

 It was rumored that an explosion had occurred a few months before hostilities had ended. The problem was, no one could really tell if such an explosion had happened. Some of the elders from nearby towns, people who used to get in their boats and fish on the canals crossing the marshland, were the ones that told the rest of the world about the explosion. As many satellites had been rendered useless in the fight, there was no way to confirm what they had seen or any detail related to it.

 According to the general story, a roaring sound preceded the actual explosion. Some said it was like a gigantic lion roaring in pain or a panther, about to attack its prey. They all agreed that the earth shook violently afterwards and that the water in the canals rose in the most dangerous manner. Some even said they had fallen of their boats. A mushroom cloud then rose from the marshland and it had a very specific feature to it: it was very elongated and the color of a ripe plum.

 The elders said the cloud rose to the sky for several days, until it apparently dropped back again to the ground. It was very strange that, if that was the case, no one had the idea of taking a picture. A woman on the other side of the marshland tried to show Arnold and his team a picture she had allegedly taken but it was as blurry as those UFO pictures people used to believe were real. The woman was obviously in need of much needed attention, so they left telling her she was right about everything.

 Penetrating into the marshland had not been the first idea of the government but, after testing the air and water, it seemed the place was really changing fast in a chemical way, at the very least. The toxicity had grown so fast, that some people had died when passing by the marshland and not even entering. That was what made the government decide to send the team inside and not only collect proof of how that ecosystem was growing and, at the same time, seemed to be poisoning itself by the minute. It was very important to know what was going on.

 Arnold’s team was made up of only five people. The military had sent their representative, as well as one from the department of National Security and another from the Ministry of the Environment. The other two people were him and his assistant Linda, who had asked repeatedly if she could join the team. She had always had a certain obsession with fungus and mold and every toxic thing in the world and she wanted to be a part of the team that went inside that awful place.

 They did so one morning, after eating a very light breakfast. They all put on their masks and carried a backpack, which was half a tank of oxygen and half scientific equipment. Even the military guy had to carry computers and other things to test plants and, if they found any, animals. He carried a large assault rifle and a gun on his thigh, which was clearly excessive. If he misfired or anything bad happened, guns would not be a match for toxins. But he didn’t seem to mind that detail.

 The place was flooded with water and it was right there when they found the first traces of heavy toxicity: the bodies of several small mammals floated all around them. There were rats and raccoons and also squirrels. Many tiny corpses of little colorful birds floated there too and it was clear the possibility of anything surviving such a catastrophe was not very high. They moved on, trying to find dryer land but they couldn’t. So they took out the inflatable boat and paddles and moved on.

 They had decided against bringing a boat with an engine because of the noise it made and because its movement could cause some unwanted reaction in the water. The best idea was not to disturb the environment, even if it was doomed for a prompt death. The woman from the Department of National Security was one of the two people paddling, slowly through the maze of trees and many other plants. It was her who gasped and made everyone look to the side. The boat stopped.

 There was a tree there, which was not very unusual. But what made them open their mouths in disbelief was that it was twice or maybe three times the size a normal tree was. This wasn’t a red oak forest or anything like it. Most trees in these parts would only grow to three or four meters, at most. But that one was huge and, not only that, it featured some of the brightest colors any of them had ever seen. It was almost as if the tree was glowing right there, during the day, with the sun very high in the sky. But it wasn’t. It was a strange mutation, result of some kind of event.

 Arnold began to realize that all reports about an explosion had to be true. Only a cataclysmic event of that magnitude could explain the strange changes that were now obvious all around them. Because there were not only dead animals and colorful trees, also huge bushes that had once been as tall as a medium sized dog and water that seemed to be colored blue. The scariest part of it all was when, out of nowhere, a bird flew from a tree and flew above their head, making them spent more oxygen that they should have.

 The creature was not only bigger than a normal bird from a swamp; it had also developed new features in its body. As a scientist, both Arnold and Linda knew that any other scientist would be thrilled to visit such a place, once they knew about the change that has been done. Mankind had been the one to blame here, that much was true. No creature evolves from one day to the next. So Arnold proposed a slight change of course, in order to look for the source of the explosion and any remains that could exist.

 After several hours of paddling, in which each person did a shift, they didn’t seem to find anything knew. According to their devices, they were about to hit the northern border of the growing marshland, which wasn’t where they wanted to go at all. They needed to go deeper, to the center of the whole ecosystem in order to see for themselves if there was some kind of remnant of the bomb or whatever it was that caused the explosion. It was essential to find the key to explain the existence of such a place.

 The boat moved around several canals and, finally, they seemed to be where they wanted. However, the sun was beginning to descend and that meant they had little time to go around and look for any evidence. Besides, their oxygen tanks weren’t eternal and there was no way to survive that place without them. Arnold descended from the boat and asked for the military guy to accompany him. His weapons could be of use after all. It was not a place to be taking things lightly.

They had barely started their walk when a roaring sound came from beneath the canal, not the trees. Something resembling a tree branch, but much thicker and mobile, appeared from beneath the boat, knocking it out of the way and sending its passengers flying.


 Linda fell close to the men and the other woman swam fast to the edge of trees where she could be rescued. However, the fifth member of the team was impaled by the branch, after he had landed on a nearby mangrove. They couldn’t scream, just run, hoping that thing wasn’t able to follow them.