Interlude Chapter – Part 5

“No thanks, I’m allergic”.

“More for me then” he said as he slurped back the rest of the can of peaches. The syrup overflowed from his mouth and ran down the right side of his cheek to his earlobe. He reached his uninjured hand up, tugging on the IV line and wiped the syrup away with the back of his hand.

“Stop tugging on that or it’s going to come out, and I don’t have the supplies to fix it.” Julia said, as he finished wiping the side of his face.

“Sorry”, he said sheepishly.

“What’s your name lawyer man?” She asked.

“How did you know I’m a lawyer?” he asked. She pointed to the ground between the kitchen and the living room, right near the door where his smashed BAR certification lay amongst his shoes.

“Oh… ya, that kind of gives it away” he said as he laid back down on the cool floor.

“Not going to tell me your name?” She asked again.

“Oh, right. sorry. My name’s Garrick.”

“Garrick…Garrick, what?”

“Garrick Whyte” he replied, as Julia stood up from her crouched position and began looking around the pantry.

“What kind of a name is Garrick, especially nowadays?” Julia asked with a small laugh as she checked some of the contents of the pantry.

“My parents liked old fashioned names. You should see my sister, her name is Katelina, but she goes by Kaylie…” he trailed off as he suddenly realized that he had no idea if anything had happened to her in this attack. Did they only hit his City? Had she seen it coming? Did she get away somehow? What about his parents? He had no idea what happened to anyone in his family, his dad, his mom, or his sister, and it made him worry.

“I’d probably go by Kaylie as well if my name sounded like an 1800’s Russian ballerina” Julia remarked as she began grabbing some of the undamaged canned goods and putting them in her bag.

“I haven’t spoken to her in weeks…” Garrick said as he sat up off the floor for the first time in a while. He could feel the throbbing in his head of his body not liking the sudden change of position, but he ignored it as he rested his back against one of the shelving units that lined the walls of his pantry. “I have to get a hold of them” he finally said after a few moments of uneasy silence as Julia picked her way through the canned goods.

“Ya, that’s not going to happen bud” Julia said as she continued to grab cans of all kinds, adding them to her bag which was beginning to bulge from the contents. She turned to him and looked him in the eyes for the first time since meeting him. Garrick turned his head upwards to look her in the eyes, locking her gaze as she started speaking. “There’s no communication. Internet, Cell phones, radios, hell…even the landlines are dead”

“Fuck” he said as he lowered his head again defeated.

“Ya, right now, we gotta grab what we can and move. Yours wasn’t the last building on this block and there might be some more people who need my help.”

“Okay, I understand. Give me five minutes to get some stuff together. Can I take this IV out now?” Garrick asked as he stood up using the shelving unit for support. Julia moved over and checked his pulse and blood pressure quickly before cutting off the IV and removing it from his arm.

“You should be okay for now, I can save the rest of this for someone else. If you start feeling feint or anything you need to tell me immediately though, okay?” She said as she cut the used end of the IV that had been in his arm and packed the rest of the bag away safely in her paramedic bag that had been holding the canned food. Garrick moved down the hall past his bathroom and into his fairly untouched bedroom. There was a fine layer of drywall dust that had fallen over everything from the explosions that had rocked the building. Had the world not been ending he probably would’ve cared but it didn’t matter now. He moved towards his closet on the far side of the room adjacent to his window. As he opened the closet door, he looked out the window and couldn’t believe what he saw.

It wasn’t the City or neighbourhood he remembered, it more or less resembled a war zone. Debris and craters littered the street. Chunks of his building were strewn about the front of the property completely covering the small bit of grass on an otherwise barren landscape. Cars were covered in concrete dust, chunks of buildings, or they were overturned in the street. Some of the street lights were ripped down and lay across the road while others were just missing with small craters where they used to be. Water was spilling into the street from a burst fire hydrant and there was a city bus missing then entire top half of the frame on fire in the middle of the street. Mostly though, he noticed the bodies. Not just a few here and there, dozens of people strewn about in various locations. Some had obviously attempted to flee and were shot down, some were blown to pieces and some looked like they had been burned. He saw a couple of dead police officers behind their cruiser which was parked diagonally in the middle of the road in front of his building. It looked like they had tried to defend the people around them and paid the ultimate price. He tore his eyes from the street and continued grabbing some clothing out of his closet and packing himself a large backpack. As he finished packing his bag and changing into a more acceptable, attire of dark jeans, hiking boots, and his favourite retro t-shirt of a concert put on by Iron Maiden nearly 80 years before, his eyes lingered on the long case at the back of his closet. Resolving he might need it, he grabbed it and left his room to meet up with Julia in the kitchen. She had found his hockey bag and upturned the contents on the floor. She had taken all of the canned goods she could find along with the extra jug of water from the pantry and stuffed them in the bag.

“What’s in the case?” she asked as she bent down and hefted the large bag of supplies while her paramedic pack was strapped firmly to her back.

“It’s my compound bow and hunting arrows. I haven’t used it in a long time, but it’s the only thing I have besides my kitchen knife.”

“It’s better than nothing” she said as she moved to the door of his apartment. She set the bag down and crept out into the hallway. Garrick set down his bow case and followed her, making sure to make as little noise as possible. She leaned against the wall opposite his door and held her breath listening for a few seconds. Not hearing anything she put her fingers to her mouth and let out a long, frighteningly loud whistle.

“What the fuck are you doing?!” Garrick whispered at Julia as he started backing into his apartment. There was a response whistle and Julia looked at him with a smile on her face.

“What’s the matter? I had to see if anyone was left in the building. Let’s go” she said as she moved into his apartment and picked up the bag of supplies again.

“How did you know that there weren’t more of them?” he asked as they made their way down the dark hallway towards the staircase past other blown open apartments while the bodies of his friends and neighbours littered the ground.

“I listened and didn’t hear anything. So I took the chance that they were gone or that the only two sent to clear the building were dead in your apartment.”

“That’s a pretty fucking big chance to take” Garrick growled under his breath.

“Zip it! I saved your ass! Don’t you forget that..”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s all good. Now help me carry this down the stairs and out to our truck. I’m strong but bot that strong”. Garrick placed his bow case on top of the supply bag and grabbed the one end with his good arm. Down the stairs they went, stepping over chunks of concrete, unknown bodies and missing chunks of stairs. They didn’t find any familiar bodies until they got near the bottom of the stair case. As they rounded the last small flight of stairs to the exit door,Garrick noticed the stairs were covered in bodies not just the nameless people on the street or farther up the stairwell, Garrick knew these people.

The entire Gonzalez family, that Garrick had dinner with on occasion, was at the base of the stairs by the door, Janet and David Thomas who hosted the building’s wine nights were between Jason and Tyler who lived the floor above Garrick, all of whom were halfway up the stairs their survival bags still clutched in their hands. The thing that hit Garrick the most was James Victor and his daughter Stacey who had been killed at the top of the final staircase as they tried to run back up to safety.

Garrick sank to his knees on the landing as he looked down at Stacey’s face. There was no pain in her motionless visage. If anything, she looked like she had been sleeping when she had passed. No pain, just a peaceful passing. The drying blood clotting in her auburn air, and the red stains on the back of her tanned neck and between her should blades showed it had been anything but a peaceful death.

“Is this your sister?” Julia asked as she moved over behind Garrick lowering herself to her knees and putting her hand on his right shoulder in an attempt to provide some comfort to him.

“No, this isn’t Kaylie, this is Stacey Victor. She lived with her dad James two apartments down from me. She was accepted to Stanford Medical School in the fall. I helped her study for the SATs… She was so excited to go…” Garrick whispered as he reached down to move a strand of Stacey’s hair out of her face, tucking it behind her ear. As he brought his hand back he noticed it was covered in blood and wiped it on his shirt, leaving large crimson streaks down his front. ” I knew all of these people” he said as he looked about the massacre in the stairwell. ” What purpose does gunning down innocent people have?” he asked the anger rising in his voice.

“I don’t know what they are or why they did this. But I do know that you can’t help these people anymore, they’re gone. There are people waiting outside who do need our help and who are in very real danger right now, so we need to go” Julia said as she stood up removing her hand from his shoulder.

“How can you be so callous?” he snapped, tears welling up in his eyes.

“You can’t save everyone Garrick. sometimes you can do everything right and it doesn’t matter, you lose someone. That’s just how it is. So you concentrate on the people you can save, the people you can help, and you mourn those you lost.” Garrick sat unmoving staring down at Stacey’s body and slowly panning his vision to look at the rest of his neighbours and friends who lay dead around him. He took mental snapshots of each person so he would be able to remember them and the times they shared; the new tenant mixer that Janet Thomas had thrown when he had moved in, helping Stacey with the SATs, Cinqo de Mayo with the Gonzalezes and Tyler’s 22nd birthday, all great memories that he could recall to bring a smile to his face. A lasting memory for these people he had grown to regard as a surrogate family. He stood up, taking his pack off and started his work. He began moving their bodies very carefully to the sides of the staircase, taking care not to cause any further harm to them. Eventually there was a small path he and Julia could walk down to get to the door.

Wordlessly, he walked up the path and grabbed his pack, he adjusted his bow case on top of the supply bag, moving it to the center of the bag, that he had discarded so he could move his fallen friends. Julia moved beside the supply bag and together they lifted the bag and made their way down through the veritable honour guard of Garrick’s fallen neighbours. Julia put her shoulder to the door and pushed with all her might. There was a loud scraping sound as the door swung open and blinding light filled the small space.

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Interlude Chapter – Part 4

It wasn’t harsh, it wasn’t cold, it was… peaceful. The darkness welcomed him like a long lost love and brought him into its warm embrace. There was something wrong though, it wasn’t how he had imagined it. Growing up in the Catholic belt of the Northern Regions, he had been spoon fed the same bullshit over and over; paradise, unending and eternal. This was a far cry from that.

It was warm sure, but there was no paradise. It was a darkness, a darkness that he had never fully believed in. It wasn’t the cold release of death, it was the darkness of the mind. The emptiness we feel when we are about to finally drift off to sleep. He spun around and sitting a few meters away was a small wooden table with a photo which was turned away from him. He moved over to the table, his limbs feeling very heavy, he reached out with his left hand and felt a sharp blinding pain, he looked down and saw the blood running down his arm. He gasped as he watched the blood leave his body falling to the ground, or more accurately the darkness he was standing on. He could hear some low clicking, and it caused the hair on the back of his neck to stand on end. He looked up from his bleeding arm and the table with the photo had moved farther away. He began moving towards it but for every step he took it moved farther away. He started moving faster and the clicking he had been hearing was replaced with the light pattering of rain on a roof. He moved faster. The table moved. He broke into a run ignoring the pain in his arm and reached out for the photo, the pattering was louder now like it was hitting a metal roof directly above him, he could hear the sounds of screaming and tires screeching but he still couldn’t see anything in the darkness but this table and the photo that was turned away. He stopped briefly listening to try and discern the sounds he was hearing.

He started running again, finally gaining some ground on the elusive table. The screaming and tires screeching became deafening and he couldn’t help but think that the voices screaming sounded familiar. He kept running, he was getting closer and closer, the voices becoming clearer and sharper. He reached out and grabbed a hold of the table. Instantly everything stopped. He kept his hand on the table not wanting it to take off again, he could hear the clear voice of a woman whimpering and calling out but he couldn’t make out the name she was saying. He reached with his injured hand and grasped the photo frame as his blood continued to drain off his elbow. The woman’s voice became clearer and he could make out what she was saying, it was one word, a name, “Shane”. He turned the photo over to find the last photo he had of him and Shane. He had his arm in a cast and Shane was signing his name in massive letters right across the top of it. He lifted the photo and looked at it closely, something was off… He remembered this photo being taken, it had been day time, but the photo showed it happening at night. He continued to examine the photo and the woman’s voice started again, “Shane? Shane? Shane?” just repeating the name over and over again. The voice was cut off by the sound of tires screeching as it got closer and closer. The woman’s voice said “I love you Shane” as a resounding crash cut off the last of her voice.

“NOOOOOOO!!!!” he shouted staring up into the darkness. “SOP THIS! WHAT IS GOING ON?”

The photograph in his hand began to shake and he looked down to see the night sky was oozing out of the photograph on his fingers that clutched the frame. The cold started at the tips of his fingers, as the ooze moved up his arm, the cold spread. It felt like he was standing outside in one of the terrible northern winters without any clothing trying to battle the sub zero temperatures. He dropped the photo and the frame shattered on the black of the floor. The entire space started to move, like a wave of black ooze. He tried to move but his legs were stuck fast in the black. He swung his free, injured arm, ignoring the pain for it to be grabbed by a tendril of the darkness so that it would be held fast. The ooze continued to move up his extremities to his core where the cold pierced his very soul. “WHAT IS THIS?!” He shouted as the darkness moved up his neck.

“We are the Drift…” a metallic voice answered, “..we are legion and we will not be stopped!”

The ooze was moving up the sides and back of his head, he tried to scream but he couldn’t make any noise. It enveloped his entire body and then went in his mouth and down through his entire body. He screamed silently as the darkness took over. There was a blinding pain in his leg and he awoke.

He wasn’t in the dark, he wasn’t covered in black ooze, he was in his pantry, soaked with a mixture of water and blood. He remembered fighting the aliens and he remembered barely winning, but he didn’t remember collapsing in his pantry. He tried to sit up but there was a sharp intense pain coming from his left shoulder which caused him to collapse back down.

“Don’t try to sit up, I have to patch your arm and give you some blood. What’s your blood type?”

” O- Negative… Wait who are you?!” he asked the woman who was crouched over him.

“Oh right, my name’s Julia and I’m the paramedic that just saved your ass. I’m with a group of survivors moving through the buildings looking for anyone alive. One of them found you and ran to get me. You flatlined, so I had to hit you with a shot of Adrenaline. I was worried it was going to be a waste on you but you perked right up. Lay down and don’t move, I need to patch this wound.” She replied as she set to work on him. She was wearing bright orange of the Critical Care paramedics designation and had jet black hair with a very fair complexion. Her movements were methodical and exact, like someone who had done this for years and was confident in their skills.

He laid back down and stared at the ceiling of his pantry as she set to work opening up an IV line and setting up a bag of blood to replenish what he lost in the fight with the aliens. “Well…”, he said out loud, “… this is definitely not how I planned on starting my day.” Julia looked at him with an expression that was equal ‘you don’t say?’ and ‘No shit Sherlock’ before cleaning up the supplies she had used reviving him. As he watched her clean up his eyes lingered on the larger needle that was attached to a syringe labeled Epinephrine. Julia noticed his gaze and smirked while saying “Ya, this is what I stabbed you in the leg with, so don’t fuck with me” she let out a small laugh and set back to work.

He looked around the small space and finally realized how much destruction his fight with the two aliens had caused. There were canned goods everywhere and coffee grinds scattered about the floor mixing with the leaking water and the bodies of the aliens. As he continued to look around the space he spied a small can underneath one of his shelving units. It was small and green, with a picture of a sunrise. He reached out with his good arm and tugged the IV in Julia’s hand.

“And just what do you think you’re doing?” she asked.

“Getting breakfast” he replied as he reached the can and pulled it out popping the easy open lid. He tipped the can back and let the delicious taste of peaches in syrup fill his dry mouth. After a long slurp where he downed half the can, he looked up at Julia gave the can a shake and asked “Want some?”

Interlude Chapter – Part 3

He collapsed in front of the sink, blood oozing out of the wound in his shoulder and what felt like 4 or 5 cuts on his back. He couldn’t tell for sure but when the projectile had impacted his skin he could feel it split apart into several smaller pieces, each one passing through his body and shredding out the other side. He was no paramedic, but even he knew, if he didn’t end this fast and get medical attention, he was as good as dead. The water being thrown around the room by the broken faucet felt nice on his skin and helped to wash some of the blood away. With the water falling on his skin he remembered the time when he had separated his shoulder as kid trying to  climb the cliff near his family’s cottage in northern Ontario during a terrible rainstorm. He had been there with his best friend, Shane, and his sister, Kaylie; they had decided to climb the cliff but once the rain started Kaylie had wanted to turn back while he and Shane wanted to press on.

Shane and he were inseparable. They had been mistaken for brothers on more than one occasion and liked it that way. They had grown up living three houses away from one an other and became fast friends at the ripe old age of 3. They didn’t remember this but their parents had told them that when they first met, they fought over who would get to go down the slide at the local park first. As they whined and threw temper tantrums their mothers put them both on the slide side by side, as it was big enough for both of them, and the crying stopped immediately. From that moment on, they were glued to each other. Through day care, elementary school and even high school. Shane’s dad had accepted a job on the other side of the country during their grade 10 year. They had kept in touch but it just wasn’t the same. It was like someone had cut a piece of him out and he wasn’t sure on how to cope. 

They made it to the summit and snapped a picture of victory against the high winds and driving rain. It was in that moment that he was happy, happier than he had been in a long time. It was the first time he had seen Shane in over 2 years and they had spent every waking moment together. It made this victory up on top of the cliff that much sweeter. Even despite her reservations against climbing in the rain, Kaylie had the biggest smile on her face. That was the last good memory he had. After that day, everything had gone to shit in no time at all. Not two days after their trip to the cottage, his parents told him they were getting a divorce. Kaylie would be going to live with their mother and he would be going to spend time with his father before he went off to college. He was six months away from his high school graduation when he got the call, Shane’s mother called him and could barely get the words out between sobs, Shane and his father had been killed in a car accident. When the phone call ended he sat there on his couch, staring straight forward tears welling up behind his eyes.

“Everything alright, Champ?” his dad asked taking his gaze away from the hockey game they were watching on the projector.

“Shane’s dead” was all he managed to get out.

The following days were a blur. His dad had taken time off work to fly him across the country to attend his best friends’ funeral. He felt numb the entire time, waiting for the feeling to come back… but it never did. He finished high school, university, and law school by himself, he got a job at a great firm by himself, he lives by himself, and… he might die alone he thought laying on the floor; the pain of his shoulder bringing the present back into focus. As the water continued to spray from the faucet that had been severed, he reached around for something he could use as a weapon, having lost his own when he had been thrown by the creature. As he scrambled around on the floor never taking his eyes off his opponent who had begun to lower its weapon again, his right hand closed around a can from one of his cupboards. Without pausing to see what it was he pulled his arm back, ignoring the searing pain in his left side, and launched it across the small space at the assailant. As the can flew through the air, it spun slightly throwing some of the water being sprayed into the air onto the attacker. There was a sizzling sound as the creatures shrieked. It had dodged the can but the water that had hit it caused the creature to recoil in fear. It moved around to the far side of the granite topped island and took cover lowering its weapon and firing off some more shots.

He slipped and slid around on the wet floor as he tried to slide closer to the island to get out of the path of the alien’s weapon. He slid through coffee grounds, broken dishes and glasses, some moldy bagels he had been meaning to throw out, boxes of Kraft Dinner, and non-perishable cans of all types. As he scrambled around on the ground he spied his trusty cooking knife he had in his hand before being thrown laying just in front of the island the assailant was using as cover. As he slid into the island with a thud, his hands gripped the handle on the knife as he grabbed it off the floor. He could feel the blood oozing from his wounds and sliding down his arm as he crouched against the island holding the knife in front of him. The alien had stopped firing, and was presumably, crouched on the other side of the island. He took the chance and slid around the far side of the island closest to the pantry and the hallway to his bedroom. As he made his way around the island, he held the knife in his right hand ready to strike at a moment’s notice. He came around the far side of the island and the creature had not noticed him. He got closer to the creature until he was nearly directly beside it. As he got closer it must have noticed him because it let out a shriek and its body morphed to face him. Not turned. Morphed. Rather than its body turning and bringing its weapon to bare, it shifted its entire mass so that it was now facing him with its weapon on the opposite arm. This time he didn’t hesitate, he drove the knife directly into the creature near the top of its mass, right where the neck would’ve been on a human.

His knife sliced into the creature and it let our a shriek. As he pulled the knife out, a substantial amount of the metallic liquid inside began to ooze out and sizzle. The assailant let out a shriek and began to move towards his living room to seek help from the other one that was still smashing its way through his possessions. “Oh no you don’t” he said as he grabbed hold of the creature’s weapon, making sure to keep the business end away from his person. With a searing pain he pushed/tossed the creature across his small kitchen into the counter right in front of the sink… right into the path of the spraying water. As the water made contact with the creature, it shook violently like it was having a Grand mal seizure and then fell to the ground in a smoldering pile of ooze and foul smelling fumes.

Amazed at what he had just witnessed, he stood for a moment staring at the smoldering remains of the attacker. When a grunt came from the living room and the sound of smashing had stopped he knew the other one was about to come into his kitchen. He moved into the pantry and pulled the water jug off the cooler.As he heaved the jug off the top of the cooler, he heard a growl of anger and the sound of one of their weapons being discharged. The sound of the spraying faucet ceased and was replaced by the sound of dripping and water pouring onto the floor.

As he held the jug of water from the cooler he was glad he hadn’t gone with his mother’s idea to get a bigger one. He was hing trouble holding the 10L jug with his injured arm as it was. He was biting his lip against the pain and he knew if it was any bigger he wouldn’t have been able to carry it. He moved out of the pantry and slid behind the island, the jug of water striking the side of the island causing a loud thud to sound through the small room. The other creature had been standing over the remains of the first as the water slowly oozed out across the floor from under the sink. At the sound of the thud, it morphed to face him firing its weapon instantly. The shots flew over his head and embedded in the wall behind him before dissipating. The can he had thrown at the first assailant was on the ground and he picked it up with his good hand, laying the knife he had been carrying on the ground in its place. He hefted the can once more and let it fly at the assailant. As the creature moved out of the way it stepped to the right which brought it into contact with the water making its way across the floor.

There was the sound of liquid being boiled off of a stove top as the creature growled in pain and anger. He swung the jug, ignoring the pain in his arm and shoulder and tossed it at the creature. The creature tracked the jug as it flew through the air and fired its weapon at it, as the rounds made contact with the airborne projectile, they stuck into the outside of the jug, causing cracks to appear in the receptacle. The jug struck the creature and broke apart at the cracks causing the water to spill over the alien.

He ducked behind the counter his hand finding the familiar handle of the knife as he stood up to move towards the alien. As he stood back up he saw the second alien had collapsed back onto the ground right in the puddle of water and was sizzling as it laid there. He rushed over and began stabbing it in the center of it’s mass, each stab harder and more vicious than the last. after about 10 seconds he stopped and watched as the metallic center made contact with the water and instantly boiled away leaving that foul smelling smoke in its wake.

Amazed at what he had done, he hadn’t noticed how dizzy he had become, he looked down at the arm to see it covered in blood which was still running from his wound. He moved towards the pantry his legs not cooperating with his brain anymore and he crashed to the ground inside the small space.

This is it, he thought to himself, this is going to be my casket, I’m okay with that. He laid on the ground, his body getting colder and his vision darkening, This is fine, I’ll be able to see Shane again… He could hear footsteps as the darkness took over his vision right before he lost consciousness he heard a gasp.

Interlude Chapter – Part 2

 

He stood there, immobile, leaning against his water cooler hidden in his kitchen closet in his boxers and t-shirt, waiting.

He heard it again, the screeching he had heard earlier coming from the street, only this time it was much quieter and almost guttural in its delivery.  Back and forth, a higher pitched shrieking and a low guttural sound for what felt like eternity; then he heard it, a soft barely audible metallic clink, like dropping a dime on a hard surface.  There was a whooshing sound followed immediately by the unmistakable drone of all electronics dying simultaneously.

An EMP? he thought. The military was far from being able to weaponize an electromagnetic pulse… This is bad! he thought to himself.  As the electronics in his apartment died the all too familiar high pitched whine came over his entertainment dock to notify him of power loss. It’s high pitched whine was unmistakable, like nails on a chalk board amplified. It was meant to signal him to reset the power so that he didn’t lose all of his files from his storage drive due to the drive overheating. Many a time he had been awoken at night when the power failed and his back up supply had depleted before they got the power restored. He hated that sound, hated it with a passion.

Whatever was in the hallway outside of his front door didn’t like the whine of the entertainment dock in the slightest either. He heard the floor boards creak slightly before a low angry grunt came from his living room/common area. The grunt was followed by several more and accompanied by the sound of his tech being tossed around as whatever had entered his apartment was looking for the source of the whine. A loud crack could be heard over the whine singalling his dock had been broken. As the whining stopped, the floorboards creaked again signalling that whatever had been in his living room had moved back to near his door.

The grunting and screeching came back in full force. Either this thing was talking to itself or there was another one with it, he thought to himself in a panic. He gripped his knife and the frozen jug of water tightly, his hand was beginning to slip on the handle from the condensation on the outside of the jug. He stayed in the pantry leaning against the water jug as he heard the assailants enter his apartment and begin their search.

He could make out the sound of his shoes being cast around as if the assailants were expecting something to be hiding inside of them, waiting to pounce. The floorboards creaked as one of the intruders entered into his kitchen. The creaky floorboards had been a point of contention with him and the realtor about the apartment. He had argued that he should be given a substantial break on the price because he would have to redo the floors within a few years, and real wood floors cost ‘an arm and a leg’. The realtor had fired back that while the floor boards creaked he would not find a place with ‘this much square footage south of the Nord river; and if he did find a place with this much space, it wouldn’t have granite counter tops or an island’. In the end he had agreed with the realtor and they had compromised on a small reduction in price. Now, he thought to himself as he hid in the pantry, he’s happy he had the floorboards. At least they gave him some sign of where these things were in his apartment.

BANG!

He heard the sound of his utility drawer being ripped out of the counter, its contents dumped on the floor. Then, one after the other, his remaining drawers we ripped out and their contents spilled. Once the drawers were done, they moved to the cupboards. Each one in turn ripped open and the contents thrown from the shelves to crash on the floor. They had started at the far end of his kitchen working their way counter clockwise around the small space, ending with the cupboards that were immediately adjacent to the pantry where he hid. He could hear more commotion coming from his living room as more things were being thrown around and destroyed, his heart broke a little with each crash. His most treasured possessions were in that room. His 16K TV, his gaming consoles, computer, stereo system, entertainment dock, all his photos of family and friends, not to mention his film collection…

That’s it! I am going to kill these bastards he thought to himself as he straightened up and moved towards the pantry door. He reached out his hand and grasped the knob to turn it but felt some resistance.

“NO! No No No No!” he whispered as he withdrew from the door, he hadn’t locked it. That meant the resistance on the knob could only come from something holding onto the other side.  As he stepped back from the door there was a shredding sound and the door was ripped off its hinges and thrown against the island in his kitchen.

He tightened his grip on both his knife and ice jug and the light from his windows flooded into the pantry temporarily blinding him. He could hear it before he could see it. It shrieked and moved in front to block some of the light allowing him to see the intruder for the first time.

It looked like someone had encased mercury in some sort of membrane. It had a vaguely humanoid shape but it’s interior was constantly in motion. There were no eyes or mouth of any kind and no ears or nose either. Attached to its arm was a fearsome looking gun that glowed yellow from between the overlapping plates that made up its exterior. It was long and sleek with no real edges and ended in two sharp points. There was no real handle or cartridge to hold rounds of any kind and it appeared to be fused to the alien’s body, giving the impression that this creature would have to die before it let go of its weapon. It let out a shriek and lowered its weapon towards him.

Not willing to die without a fight, he lunged forward out of pure fear and instinct swinging the frozen jug like a club towards the creature. As he was swinging the jug he noticed the weapon the alien was using changed from a yellow glow to a purple glow as three projectiles released from the end of the top point. One of the projectiles went through the jug in his hand as he was at the apex of his swing, the other two barely, missed him  and landed somewhere in the pantry behind him.

His jug made contact with the side of the intruders head and it was knocked back into the island shrieking as a faint sizzle sound could be heard. Knowing that he had the invader dazed he lunged forward with his trusty kitchen knife. He sliced into the alien with relative ease but causing little damage to the creature. He withdrew his blade from the torso where his lunge had carried it and noticed the blade came out clean but the incision began to leak some of the liquid that made up the creature. The creature let out another shriek as it brought it’s un-armed appendage down and  gripping his shirt threw him against his counter. As he hit the counter right in front of his sink, the creature brought the weapon to bear once more and fire two shots. Shot one, hit the faucet on his sink causing it to be severed from the counter and water to begin spraying out; shot two found its target, and it tore through his left shoulder.

 

Interlude Chapter – Part 1

I know I’ve been gone for a while, I’ve been working on a lot of things and this is one of them. This is a very rough first draft of an interlude chapter in a Sci-Fi story I’m working on. Not sure if it will be just for me pleasure or if I’ll see about publishing it after some serious editing. Enjoy!

 

“We are not soldiers! And we’re definitely not heroes…”

“I know! But right now, with everything going on, those people out there, they need someone… something to believe in, right now..they need heroes. Now you can sit here and pity yourselves, or you can stand with me and be the heroes those people need. That’s the choice I leave to you.” She turned and left the small meeting room closing the door behind her.

He stared around the small meeting room looking dejected. They weren’t heroes, not even close. There was a criminal, a doctor, a teacher, a mechanic, and him a lawyer; none of which had ever done anything heroic. He had spent his entire life working for the assholes of the world and saving them from million dollar lawsuits. When the skies fell, he fought to survive. He wasn’t skilled, but he was resolute that he wasn’t going to go out without a fight. He fought tooth and nail, using everything at his disposal to ensure he wouldn’t be another victim upon the mountain of bodies.

They came fast and without warning. The aliens swept across the planet and they wiped out everything that could conceivably be used to combat them. Entire countries fell in a matter of hours, continents went dark within days. The only thing they had been able to discern from these mysterious invaders’ communications was their name, The Drift. They looked nothing like the aliens they’d been putting in movies for generations. They were fluid, metallic looking creatures, the only solid part of them was a weapon that was made of solid unknown alloy attached to what would appear to be an arm.

The weapon itself was devastating. It didn’t fire conventional projectiles or even super heated plasma, as with advance military tech, it fired small star-like projectiles that when they came into contact with something warm, splintered and shredded. They could kill anything organic in one shot, but would embed in colder objects like walls and metal armour. The most curious thing was the projectiles didn’t last long, once fired they only lasted a few seconds until they would dissipate into nothing, making analyzing them impossible without a working weapon to fire it. The issue was, the weapon appeared to be surgically grafted to the aliens and couldn’t be removed without killing the alien, which in turn, rendered the weapon non-functional. The military, or what remained of it, was attempting to capture one alive to study and find a weak spot. They have so far been unsuccessful. Reports came in a few days before the attack stating that their military training outpost being wiped out, there were no survivors. He had sat and watched the reports at his desk on his computer screen, wondering what could wipe out their entire military and the planet that housed them?

He went home that night and spent his last normal night sitting in front of his TV watching reruns of his favourite sitcom until he passed out on his couch. He woke in the middle of the night to move to his bed. As he walked by his window he noticed a meteor shower across the night sky. Odd, he thought. The next meteor shower wasn’t due for several days. In his sleepy state he chalked it up to the scientists being wrong and finally made it to his bed before collapsing and drifting off to sleep.

He woke up in a world he didn’t recognize.

An explosion rocked his apartment and he sat bolt upright in shock. The sounds of screaming and gun fire from the street below were drowned out by another explosion that caused dust to fall from his ceiling. He sat there, frozen in fear as more dust continued to rain down on him; the sounds of terror in the street falling into nothingness and then being replaced by high pitched screeching the sounds of which he had never heard before. It sounded like a mixture of the screeching bats used to communicate and navigate in the dark mixed with feedback produced from having recording equipment too close to a sound system.

He sat there, frozen in fear, beads of sweat running from his temple down his cheek. This had to be a dream, it had to be.

“Alright..”, he said to himself, “…no more watching weird Sci-Fi shit before falling asleep.”

Just as he put his foot down on his floor to get out of bed, he felt the tremor run through the building, like something has just driven a truck into it. There was a deafening silence as he sat there unable to move, hoping this was some sort of vivid dream. Then, he heard it, the screams. The screams of people who had undoubtedly thought the same as him, that this was some sort of dream. He could hear them screaming in pain, in fear, in terror and then nothing. There was silence again, followed by another building rumbling boom and more screaming.

Oh no… they’re moving from apartment to apartment! he thought to himself. He had to hide or fight back! Ya, fight back how? He has no idea who or what is moving through his building. Fight back… that’s a smart idea he thought to himself sarcastically as he eased out of his bed onto the floor and moved to the hallway.

Another boom and more screaming, this time it sounded closer, maybe two floors below him, he needed to think fast. He made his way from the hallway to his kitchen and crept over to his cutlery drawer. He rummaged through looking for something to use as a weapon. Spatula? No. Cheese grater? No. Serving Ladle? Definitely not. Then his hand found it, that familiar cold steel feeling, his hands grasped it and pulled it from the drawer, his butcher knife!  His favourite cooking utensil, he mostly used it for cooking homemade stir frys, but today it could mean the difference between him being another body on the mountain of conquered foes, or a survivor. It was a folded steel knife he had imported from Japan many years ago, it has cost him quite a pretty penny, but it might pay off now. He took his knife and he looked for something else he could use if he had to fight, he opened his fridge, nothing. He really should stop eating take-out, if I survive this, I will cook more! he promised himself. He opened his freezer, nothing was in there either except for a frozen 4 gallon jug of water. ” Better than nothing…” he whispered under his breath as he hefted the jug.

BOOM!

He froze in place, that sounded really close… next door? Move! Move! Move Dammit! he pleaded with himself. He stood stock still, unable to move from fear and disbelief that this might be it… No! I’m going to go out like this! he thought to himself. He quietly crept from his kitchen around his island which had been one of the reasons he had purchased this apartment. Real granite counter tops were rare in this day and age and it had driven the price of the sale up quite substantially, but he hadn’t cared. He could host parties and maybe one day have his kids eating there before they headed off to school in the morning. They’d jump off the stools run over to his wife, a woman he hasn’t even met yet, and kiss her on the cheek before running out the door to catch the tram to school. He smiled to himself, that was all a pipe dream, that was gone, it was never going to happen. Not because he worked too much and didn’t date, though that was part of it, no, it was because he was about to die from an unknown enemy that was moving through and exterminating everyone in his building. He managed to hide in his pantry and leaned back against his water cooler, its low hum brought him a little bit of ease as he waited for what he thought would be certain doom.

BOOM! His front door flew of its hinges and slammed into the wall immediately opposite before sliding to the ground with a thud.

Mandalore – The Setting of the Next Big Star Wars Game

Recently a leaked schedule for E3 2018 has hinted at several new properties getting reveal trailers and teaser trailers at the fabled E3 conference in June. One such property is a new open world Star Wars game! The game that will be developed by EA in conjunction with Respawn (of Titanfall fame) is titled, Star Wars Bounty Hunters: Mandalorian Nights. It is rumored to be an open world, sandbox style game much like the Elder Scrolls and Witcher series. I know I for one am very excited for this type of game. Fans have been waiting for an announced title like this ever since Star Wars 1313 was cancelled when Disney purchased Lucasfilms.

Now, anybody who knows Star Wars knows that fan favourites Jango and Boba Fett are Mandalorian Bounty Hunters. Mandalore has had a rich history throughout the expanded Star Wars canon and recently got some more press within the animated show Star Wars Rebels. Though, the Mandalorians we’re shown in Rebels seem to convey a more Game of Thronesy feel than the famous warrior culture that nearly killed the Jedi; it was still great to get more stories involving them.  Star Wars Clone Wars also gave us some great stories involving the Mandalorians and the struggle of the warrior culture against the pacifist government. Now, for anyone who isn’t quite as familiar with the Mandalorian race… I’ll give a rundown of their history and culture.

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HISTORY

The Mandalorian Empire is quite extensive and has been a main player in the Star Wars universe for quite some time. Throughout Star Wars canon, Mandalorians have been known as Elite warriors, Mercenaries, Bounty Hunters, and Crusaders. Many of these people being in service to the home planet of Mandalore or its moon Concordia.

In ancient times before the Republic was formed, the planet of Mandalore was a vibrant and lush ecosystem. The various houses of the Mandalorian people went to war with each other to claim control over the planet and the opposing houses. The war and weapons used in the civil conflict as well as the war with the Jedi, devastated Mandalore’s surface making the home planet all but uninhabitable. This forced the people of Mandalore to create hermetically sealed Bio-domes or habitation cubes, to survive on the surface of the planet. Prior to the devastation of their lush home world, Crusader Mandalorians ventured forth from Mandalore and began to take over the planets that would eventually become known as “Mandalorian Space”. Due to their aggressive and militaristic nature this brought the crusaders into conflict with the Jedi and started the aforementioned Mandalorian/Jedi war.

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The Mandalorian/Jedi war went on for several years with Mandalorian tech advancing to specifically combat Jedi technology and force powers. In most of the engagements, the Mandalorians were victorious against the Jedi. Murals of these victories are on display on the home planet of Mandalore and its moon Concordia, in the capitals cities. Eventually despite the conflict between them, a single Mandalorian child was permitted into the Jedi order, his name was Tarre Vizsla. While he was in the academy, Tarre Vizsla created the fabled Darksaber. The Darksaber was a lightsaber that adopted a pure black colour and the shape of an actual blade, unlike other lightsabers which just sppeared as a cylinder of energy. Tarre would eventually leave the Jedi order and become ruler of Mandalore until his death prior to 1032 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin).Upon the death of Tarre Vizsla, the Jedi order retained ownership of the Dark Saber until the Fall of the Old Republic.

The Mandalorian Empire waged a war against the Old Republic for many years until, through many contributing factors, the Republic fell. During the fall of the Old Republic, the Mandalorian house Vizsla, broke into the Jedi temple and stole back the Darksaber, keeping it secret for many years.

Pre Vizsla with darksaber

Shortly before the invasion of Naboo, the second Mandalorian Civil War broke out. This conflict was between the pacifist New Mandalorians (supported by the Jedi order) and the militaristic insurgents working to restore Mandalore to its former warrior status. The Civil war was bloody causing many houses to lose their heirs or become extinct all together. Eventually Dutchess Satine Kryze and the New Mandalorians won the war, bringing an unsteady peace to the planet at last. Following the cease fire from both sides, Duchess Satine was nearly assassinated in several failed coup attempts. To protect her and the peace on the planet, Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan Obi Wan Kenobi were dispatched as personal protectors of the Duchess at the request of the Jedi Council. It was during this mission that Obi Wan and the Duchess fell in love, but neither of them could act on their feelings.

Duchess Satine reigned as the ruler of Mandalore throughout the beginnings of the Clone Wars before the insurgent faction, Death Watch, made its presence known. Death Watch was headed by Pre Vizsla, the last heir to House Vizsla, and the wielder of the Darksaber.  Death Watch allied with Count Dooku and the Confederacy of Independent Star Systems (Separatists) against the New Mandalorian government. When Count Dooku and Death Watch had a falling out, Death Watch allied with the still alive Darth Maul and his Shadow Collective. Darth Maul set plans in motion that ultimately ended with him taking control of Mandalore (for a brief period). He assassinated Duchess Satine, captured the remaining government officials, and beat Pre Vizsla in one on one combat to obtain the Darksaber and forcing another Civil War.

Mandalorian 1

When the Republic heard of what had happened on Mandalore, they dispatched their closest battle group to bring Maul in… their campaign was ultimately unsuccessful. Maul fled the planet leaving the young Bo-Katan Kryze, the new first lady of House Kryze, the Regent of Mandalore. She retained control of the planet for several years through the execution of Order 66 and the rise of the Galactic Empire. When she refuse to capitulate to the demands of the new Galactic Empire she was forcibly removed from her position as Regent of Mandalore and former Death Watch member, Gar Saxon,  was instilled as Viceroy and Emperor’s Hand on Mandalore. Saxon would reign unopposed for over 17 years until a third Civil War broke out between the Imperial backed house Saxon and Clan Wren who were fighting to remove Imperial influence from Mandalore.

The pacifist New Mandalorians were either exiled from the planet or executed as traitors to the Empire. Several clans would ally with the Rebels during the original trilogy with the soldiers loyal to House Saxon fighting for the Empire as Imperial Super Commandos. Sabine Wren of the Spectres rebel cell of Mandalore, would inherit the Darksaber when she found it on Dathomir following a confrontation with Darth Maul. Ultimately after an ill fated deal between Sabine’s mother, Countess Ursa Wren, and Viceroy Saxon, Clan Wren was branded as enemies of the Empire. Sabine was forced to battle Saxon in one on one combat and emerged victorious.

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House Wren returned to the planet Mandalore to do battle with house Saxon and the imperial force for control of the Mandalorian Empire. Backed by Clan Kryze, Clan Vizsla, Clan Rook, Clan Eldar and Journeyman Protector Rau, Clan Wren fought long and hard for the planet. Eventually it took the combined might of all the clans and the rebel alliance to finally defeat House Saxon and the imperials. Bo-Katan Kryze then assumed control of the Darksaber and the government of Mandalor. The remaining clans and Journeyman Protector Rau all pledged allegiance to the House Kryze and the new Mand’alor (Emperor/Empress of all Mandalorian people).

CULTURE

The overall Mandalorian clan structure is basically a pyramid with the Mand’alor at the top and their Protectors (government officials) enforcing their will. Just below the Mand’alor and the Protectors are the houses which can be made up of several clans. Prior to the execution of Order 66, House Vizsla was actually composed of Clan Vizsla and Clan Wren. The police force and secret service on Mandalore wielded electro-staffs and shields which were capable of stopping a lightsaber.

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Being some of the most feared warriors in the entire galaxy, Mandalorians were fiercely prideful and had a strict code of honour. One of the most recognized codes of honour that the Mandalorian people adopted was the honour of one on one combat to settle disputes. Whether it was to settle a disagreement or to prove they were better than someone else; Sometimes this tradition was used to settle leadership disputes as well. Mandalorians would often invoke the right of one on one combat the test their prowess in combat. Some Mandalorians even went as far as to challenge Jedi Knights to one on one combat to prove they were better fighters than the Jedi. Darth Maul invoked the right of one on one combat against Pre Vizsla for the leadership of Mandalore following the assassination of Duchess Satine. While Pre Vizsla wasn’t required to accept, the battle, his honour dictated he should, and he was killed by Darth Maul who then assumed control of the Darksaber.

As I previously stated Mandalorian weapons and technology were created specifically to combat Jedi powers and abilities. Mandalorians wore jetpacks that could launch rockets, wielded blasters and flamethrowers, used magnetic boots, and sonic canons. The favoured blaster of the Mandalorian people was the WESTAR-35 blaster pistol for it’s simple yet effective design, while the favoured jetpack was the Z-6 jetpack for its ability to launch missiles. One interesting piece of tech that was developed after the end of the Clone Wars by Boba Fett himself, was a neck wrap that was able to stop a lightsaber from taking off his head. Fans of the movies will remember that Boba’s father, Jango Fett, was decapitated by Mace Windu at the Battle of Geonosis.  The main fighting style of the Mandalorian people was a mix of ranged, close range and hand to hand combat techniques that utilized the technology and weapons in their vambracers and packs to surprise and overwhelm the enemy. This particular style of fighting was perfected after the first Mandalorian crusaders ran into the Jedi and began the Mandalorian/Jedi war.

Mandalorian Crusader

Cubism was the favored art style among the Mandalorian people during the Clone Wars. It was reflected in their murals, architecture, vehicles, clothing and even in their personal hair cuts. While some artists moved into more graffiti style following the rise of the Empire, Cubism was still the predominant art style. The main language of Mandalore is Mando’a with its written form being called “Mandalorian”, the people of Mandalore are also fluent in galactic basic.

 

There you have a brief rundown of the history and culture of Mandalore in time for E3 and the announcement of the new Star Wars game. I know I personally will be wary of the new title, given the abysmal game we got in Battlefront II. I have faith that this game may prove to be a great addition to the Star Wars catalog and with Respawn working on the project, it should prove to be something truly awesome.

E3 runs from June 12 2018 – June 14, 2018. Tune in to see some great reveals!

THIS JUST IN!!! As I was writing this post it was just announced that James Mangold (of Wolverine and Logan fame) will be writing and directing a movie centered on Boba Fett!!!!

Boba Fett