01643: Dystopian Young Adult Kaiju (Flash Fiction Challenge 08/16)

There's far too much going on today, so instead of ranting I'll try writing a story about other things instead. This is in line with Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge for this week. Unfortunately, my D20 gave me the very strange mash-up of Dystopian Young Adult + Kaiju.

I shall endeavor to do my best.

Dad's always grumpy when he's hungry. And these days, he's always hungry. Heck, we all are.

It feels like we’ve been constantly on the move for years, but I guess it’s only been a few months. It’s been hard to tell really ever since we lost sight of the sun because of the artificial cloud cover created by the aliens. Most folks figured that it was a weird attempt to starve us out or something. Others say that they’re just cruel by nature.

Food has been really hard to come by – but I suppose that’s only reasonable when you’re in a war – especially when you’re on the losing side. At least I think we’re losing, because we certainly don’t feel like winners right now.

They invaders had come without warning. One day my sister and I were just having fun at the park. The next minute, their massive ships were just there, hanging in the skies above us. I guess they teleported or something – we certainly didn’t see them coming closer to the planet or something. One minute clouds, the next evil starships.

They didn’t even talk to us. Their ships just opened up and spewed out smaller ships. It was like watching little workers emerge from a hive on a summer’s day. But of course they weren’t just workers – they were warriors on the attack. And we were their targets. I don’t know how many we lost on that first day, but it was pretty bad. We had no idea what to expect.

Their ships were small, but they were fast and pretty deadly. They worked in little teams, focusing their attacks on a single target. If they hadn’t been destroying our homes and killing hundreds and thousands of my people, you could have said that it was rather impressive, or even pretty. But no, those little ships were the stuff of nightmares and no child ever went to bed without having nightmares about the high-pitched whine they made when they fired their weapons.

We tried to fight back, but we didn’t have ships of our own. It’s just not something that our people had ever really thought about. All we had to protect ourselves was armor, which helped us survive their initial weapon strikes to a moderate degree. But really all we could do was run as fast as we could and hide from their almost ceaseless patrols.

I wish I could understand why the war started. What had we done to anger these invaders so much that they’d decide to hunt each and every one of us down. There was no negotiating with them and no reasoning with them. They were mindless animals determined to bring our civilization down.

I felt a hard tap on my shoulder just then – Dad was motioning for us to continue today’s march. My sister and I did our best to keep up with Dad as we moved through the night. I think only one of the moons was in the sky tonight, which could be a good thing in itself. It gave us just enough light to see where we were going but not too much to fully expose us to the invader’s patrols. Or it could be a moonless night and that odd glow breaking past the cloud cover could just be another of the invader’s ships.

I’m not sure what the big plan was. All we could do was keep on the move and stay alive as best as we could. We rarely interacted with other survivors – we were all scrambling for food and other essentials and it wasn’t beyond folks to take what they needed with force. And Dad was pretty determined to keep us alive.

Dad made that weird clicking noise that sounds like he has a bug caught in his throat – his quick way of calling for a halt. My sister and I froze, doing our best to hide in the shadows. But the night remained dead silent with only the sound of our breathing disturbing the peace. Dad had taught us how to slow or breathing down to minimize the noise that we made, but at times like this it felt like we were practically screaming our location. We knew well enough to wait for Dad to signal the all clear before moving again.

His tail twitched once, then twice, then a third time. All clear.

The three of us lumbered through the forest, many of these trees ten times older than Dad. It was the last refuge for us on this planet – the trees being tall enough and sturdy enough to provide adequate cover from the searchers. The trees were also resistant to the invader’s weapons, but it felt like only a matter of time before they’d find us here. It was hard to find reasons to hope given everything that had happened.

Recently we’ve been keeping close to the mountains, using the odd cave for shelter whenever we could. It was a sound enough strategy – our ancestors had dug out hundreds of caves across the mountains before they learned to use tools and build proper homes. It seems almost funny that we were relying on these ancient caves to ensure the future of our race. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

I really hope today is a cave day. I could really use a break from all this skulking and lurking among the trees.

There was movement coming from somewhere in the distance and so we all froze and tried to make ourselves as small as we could. Not easy at this point – there was little cover offered by this part of the woods. Dad took a few lumbering steps in front of us, putting himself between us and whatever was out there. I could hear my sister whispering a prayer to the old ones to keep us safe.

There was just enough light to see the  trees ahead shaking as whatever it was approached. I clutched my sister’s hand tighter.

It emerged from the gloom slowly -  a massive thing that towered above us. Despite the darkness, its four eyes seemed to glow a bit with a pale green light. As it got closer, more features became visible – the rows and rows of jagged teeth that lined its maw, massive foreclaws on all four of its arms, and even spikes emerging from behind. My sister and I didn’t know what to do.

Dad stepped forward, puffing up his chest and flashing his own claws. He only had three arms – the other one lost during the attack that killed Mom. He thumbed his chest once and beat his tail against the ground for good measure. The stranger did the same thing and bent his head low to the ground.

“Greetings from the Resistance” he intoned. “I am Kranix.”

“I am Renar and these are my daughters. We come seeking food and shelter.”

Kranix smiled, his teeth flashing in the gloom. “I can offer this and more.” He said this almost like a chuckle, that he had a joke all to himself.

“What more can we ask for in times like this?” Dad answered, clearly skeptical of Kranix’s mental state.

“I can offer you a future – a way to fight back against the invaders from the sky.”

I didn’t need to see Dad’s face to know he was smiling. “Tell me more, friend,” he said as he motioned Kranix closer. The two touched heads for a moment before we continued the march, this time with Kranix in the lead.

We walked perhaps another hour in relative silence. But there was definitely a shift in our mood. It had been too long since we had talked to others, and what more someone who Dad felt was worthy of his trust. Whatever they had shared when they had Touched was enough to convince him that Kranix’s promises were legitimate.

Soon the trees parted to reveal a small opening in the mountainside. The cave was a tight squeeze for the adults but in time the chamber opened up further. Now we were all navigating by scent, and this cave was rich with different odors that were like blazing lights guiding us into the safety of the depths.

The smells gave way to light and we soon found ourselves in a massive central chamber with many others of our kind already there. They thumped their tails in welcome – the shared kinship of survivors. But it was hard to appreciate the warm reception given the massive structure in the middle of the room.

It was like an arch made from stone – they were some pretty ancient-looking pillars.

“What is that thing?” my sister asked. She had saved me the question.

Kranix beamed once more, and surprisingly Dad was smiling too. “That dear children, is one of the ancient gateways of our people – a bridge to other worlds. Once we decipher the old runes, we shall reactivate this one and find our salvation. With this gateway, we shall bring the fight to the invaders and save our people.”

Everyone was thumping their tails now in excitement. This was old magic – the kinds that had been long lost to myth and legend. If what they said was true, then we would finally be able to destroy the little aliens who had killed so many of our great people.

I licked my lips in anticipation.