A turn for the worst
“Well, this is the last trip before my very well deserved time off” Marc mumbled to himself while holding a picture of his wife and daughter. Life as a Molochite transporter could get lonely, always away from loved ones. Reaching down, Marc put some tape on the corners of the picture and stuck it to the cockpit’s window. Getting back to his family was the only thing driving him. “Always the same shit, you land, load up, fly all the way back to Earth, unload and collect your paycheck. Rinse and repeat. Week after week. Month after month.” he grumbled.
He wondered how his family was doing, especially his daughter. He never forgave himself for missing her birthday last year. His prick of a boss denied him the leave he had saved up all year long, telling him that if he went home he was fired. Marc had to do his best not to punch his boss in the face out of anger. He needed his job to sustain his family. At least he was there for her first words and steps, he thought.
Approaching his company’s landing zone on Eclipse, Marc pressed the com button on his dashboard “This is Armac 703, requesting permission to land.” “Permission granted, welcome back. Please dock at section 19-B.” replied a female voice slightly distorted by static. Marc taxied his ship into the bay, signaling the loading crew. As he got out of his seat and exited the small vessel, he waved at one of the guys in the crew. “Hey, what’s up man?” a voice behind him asked.
Marc recognized the voice, it was his colleague Logan, who was like a friend to him. “Hey Lo, nothing much. Taking a break for a couple of days when I get back to Earth, seeing the wife and kid again.” he replied. “You’ve earned it man, tell Laurie and Hannah I said hi. Gotta run again.” Logan yelled while heading towards his ship. “Have a good one Lo!”
Marc walked to his cabin, just outside the loading bay, his mind set on the coming day. Opening the cabin door he noticed his holo-com had some unread messages for him. “Greetings, I am the representative of the well esteemed prince of Nigeria. His highness wants to share his royal coffers with you, all you have to do is transfer 1500 credits to account nu…” It was all spam, until he found a message from his family.
“Hi honey, how are you? Hannah and I can’t wait for you to get back home. You’re the only one she’s been talking about lately, it’s really cute. Please leave us a message too sweetie, bye! P.S. ten thousand kisses from Hannah.” Marc smiled as he typed his reply. “I’m doing good, can’t wait to see you too. Logan told me to say hi for him, so well… hi I guess, haha. Just one more trip back and we’ll have two whole weeks of vacation time! I’m thinking of going to Hawaii for a few days or so? Anyway, we’ll talk about it tomorrow, see you soon sweet cheeks and give Hannah ten thousand and one kisses back!”
The next day he woke up full with bliss, today was the day. His pager rang, “Armac 703, report to my office immediately.” It was his boss. “Goddamnit, what does he want now?” Marc murmured. He quickly threw some water in his face, a shoddy excuse for a shower, and hoisted himself into his jumpsuit uniform. Grabbing a slice of bread and a day old piece of ham, he exited the cabin. He’s probably going to deny me my vacation again. I swear if he does, I’ll break his fucking nose.
“I’m here to see mister Brink.” Marc told the front office receptionist. The look on her face turned from polite and friendly to dead serious. “Mister Brink. There’s someone here to see you.” she said while pressing a button. “Go right through this hallway and take the elevator on the left to floor 11.” the receptionist instructed Marc. “Good luck” she added with a whisper.
While the elevator ascended, Marc’s heart pounded faster and faster. What would he want with me? Is he going to fire me? Thoughts went racing through his head. The elevator stopped “Floor 11, mister Brink’s office” a robotic voice sounded. Marc stepped out of the elevator and knocked on the heavy metal door.
“Come in” a deep voice said. “Ah, good to see you’ve come so quickly” Brink said while keeping his back towards Marc, staring through his office’s window into space. “Seeing Earth like this, just a blue and green ball floating around in space. It’s humbling and leaves you to wonder whether all the wars we as a species have waged were really that important” Brink philosophized. “I get what you mean sir, but do you mind me asking why you paged me?”
“Please have a seat Marc, do you want anything to drink?” “I’d like a coffee, haven’t even had the time to shower this morning”. Brink rang up his assistant “Piotr, a coffee and a scotch. Now.” Marc wondered why anyone would drink scotch so early in the morning, but he figured it was probably not his business. “I’ve called you here to apologize for last year. It wasn’t easy to deny you going to your daughters’ birthday, but I didn’t think you’d understand at the time. You see, the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few. Last year this company was on the verge of bankruptcy and allowing you, or anyone else for that matter, to take time off would mean we’d be ruined.” Marc was so obsessed with his boss’s bad side that this confession threw him off guard. “So, as an apology, I’ve decided to give you a bonus. Here’s a check for 1250 credits and you may take two additional weeks off.”
“Wow, uhm… I’m not quite sure how to respond sir” Marc replied. “A simple thank you would suffice, you are dismissed. Enjoy your time off.” Brink sounded almost sincere, a side of him Marc never had imagined. “Thank you sir, you have no idea how much this means to me.”
The office door slid open, in walked a small and sleek young man holding a tray with a glass and a cup. “Here’s your scotch and coffee miste…” his sudden pause in speech drew Brink and Marc’s attention. An awe stricken gaze drew itself on Piotr’s face and his hands started trembling. He dropped the tray with the loud clang of shattering glass as his finger slowly pointed to the window. “L…Look…” he said with a shaky voice.
An enormous spire of molten rock, set ablaze by its sheer speed, violently penetrated the Earth’s crust. “Holy... Shit…” Marc uttered as he ran off through the open door and pressed the elevator button repeatedly. “Come on… come on you stupid thing!” Getting back to Earth was the only thing on his mind. Was his family still okay? How could this have happened? More importantly WHAT just happened?
After what felt like an eternity of standing in the elevator, Marc sprinted towards his ship standing loaded with Molochite and ready for take-off. Panic erupted throughout the loading bay as no one had a clue as to what just happened. In a blur of running and yelling Marc found himself inside his cockpit. Without thinking about anything else he took off and seared towards the disfigured ball of water.
The trip to and from Earth normally takes a full workday, time Mark couldn’t spare. But he had no choice. Chewing himself up, every worst case scenario appeared in his mind. Can this thing be any goddamn slower!? Come on you piece of junk! He realized there was the large shipment of Molochite draining his speed and, with a press of a button, ejected it in to the vacuum of space. That shipment was probably worth more than Marc’s monthly salary, but he didn’t care in the least.
Marc’s ship seared towards the Earth as all kinds of cuss words filled his mind. The closer he came, the more he could see the state of the Earth. Huge dust clouds engulfed the impact zone, obstructing a clear view of the spire. Luckily his family was thousands of kilometers away from the impact.
“LZ control come in. This is Armac 703, requesting clearance for landing.” There was no response. Goddamnit come in!” Marc altered his course and headed straight home, to Calgary. He’d make a crash landing if he needed to, he thought to himself. Countless GSA drop ships flew overhead, accompanied by mortar fire. “Why are they shooting? What’s going on?”
The more he descended, the more devastation he could see. Once mighty mega-structions now lay in ruins. The evening sky was illuminated with gun volleys and wild fires. The relative silence was replaced with unearthly roaring and explosions, enough to make Marc’s stomach churn.
When he finally reached Calgary his worries became reality. A towering insect-like creature releasing a thick black smoke from its back rampaged through the streets. The GSA military were giving their all to fight the thing, but it seemed that they were only provoking it rather than harming. Some buildings seemed to still be intact, with a few scratches and scathes. He landed his vessel in the lot at the top of his apartment block and ran for the elevator.
“Of course it’s out of order… why did I expect otherwise…” Marc murmured as he headed towards the stairs. Looking out of the window he saw black smoke coming nearer, it was that enormous creature he realized. As quickly as he could, he ran down the half torn up stairs until his advance violently came to a stop. Like cutting through butter, the creature smashed through the building, knocking Marc unconscious.
When he came to, he tried to move in a fit of panic, but couldn’t. He realized his legs were crushed by tons of debris. He collected his surroundings. Lying on the streets. Rubble and crushed buildings. The monster still rampaging. The soldiers still not making a dent. “Marc! Oh my god…” screamed a familiar voice. He lifted his upper body with all his strength and looked up. It was his wife’s voice, coming from the other side of the street. “Laurie… Where’s Hannah...”
Hold on, I’m coming over there… have to get you out!” “D…don’t… look at that thing…” Laurie ran across the street behind the soldiers’ gunfire. The blast of an ordinance strike caused the creature to flinch and it needed to regain its footing. From Marc’s point of view it all happened in slow motion. Laurie running towards him. The thing’s massive legs descending. “Laurie… no… please no…” Marc struggled with his speech. She was only a few meters away. She’d make it, he thought. The creature’s leg forcefully slammed into the ground.
Right where she stood.