First On Earth

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“After considerate amount of time and effort, sacrifice and loss, we now know that without full cooperation, mankind will only perish. Couple days ago, the commanders of the five Sectors agreed to merge the five settlements; sharing resources and feelings for losses and victories. But we all know that the battle that took place four days ago gave us deep grief. Families died without knowing what hit them. Comrades fell without living out the future. And people, our own race, the last of our race, simply dropped to the ground and ceased to exist.”

“We may feel regretful; regretful because we were not there to save them. We may feel sorrow; because it was the very people we talked the other day in front of our doorsteps that died on the cold muddy ground. We may feel anger; longing to destroy the merciless creatures that have not only damaged us physically, but cut deeply through our hearts and wills.”

“And yet, the whole lot of us, the entire mob of mankind lived through that day. Despite the Crusaders having to lose nearly half of their men, they still carry out orders. Despite the soldiers being depressed after seeing their companions shredded into pieces, they stand up again to protect us. And the citizens! They too must have lost their families, but still carry on efforts to recover our home.”

Commander Jerrod paused. From the huge balcony of the command center, directly facing the large square in front, he suddenly knelt down.

“As chief commander, all of the people, currently in this square, have my gratitude and greatest thanks. The settlements were not always for the commanders’, but were always the citizens’, the soldiers’, the Crusaders’. I kneel before you, for every soul listening to these words have my honor and respect.”

There was a long pause again. The commander had dropped his head downward so there was no know what his expressions were. The people in the square watched him. Some had tears glittering, hesitating whether it should roll down the cheeks of the moved citizen. Then someone started to clap. A couple of people began following, and soon, the entire population was giving passionate applause for the man kneeling before them. After that, whistling and shouts and cheers followed, filling the area with great enthusiasm. Everything gradually died out as Commander Jerrod slowly stood up. His expression was stern and very determined. He made a fist and drew it high up. The crowd went wild. Now, he was almost shouting when he spoke next.

“What I believe, is that all this was possible because we were united! The five sectors showed humans will not abdicate their planet without a proper fight! But! Are we fully combined? Are we an absolutely integrated society of mankind? No! We are here, as one but we still have names – people from Sector 3, soldiers from Sector 1, Crusaders from Sector 2 and all those useless names are still present. We, the last of our kind, must fight under one name in order to repel the enemy out of Earth! Even the Hunters know it and the latest attack did give a valid damage on us. Thus, as Chief Commander of the five Sectors, I hereby declare the establishment of Earth Dominion – a complete nation under one name and one flag, a banded society with more courage and valor against our enemy.”

The following was needless to say. I turned my back and left the square.

Inside my house, Michelle wasn’t present. Guessing she went on some mission again, I headed for the gym. As I strolled down to the gym, I saw the effect of the speech was quite noticeable. Unlike yesterday, many of them had smiles, cheerfulness in their faces. Even their movement, since most of them are striving for reconstruction, seemed lighter and quicker. As if Jerrod expected such reaction, and planned everything out just for today, a new flag started to go up at the top of the command center and major posts of the barricade. The flag had a simple design: a black background with a red planet-looking sphere in the middle and a blue ring around it. Small wonders what it had to do with this planet, but it was certainly a color that was noticeable from a distance. Even the soldiers wore uniforms that had a miniature version of it attached on their right arm.

Just in front of the gym, I heard Scarlet calling me from behind.

"Leon!” she shouted. I turned back. She ran towards me. “You left the hospital early.”

“I’d rather stay outside than lying down on that bed for another hour,” I said. She looked up at the building in front.

“You are not going in there. The doctor said to have absolute rest until tomorrow – at the least,” she said. I looked at my clock that was ticking almost 11.

“Scarlet you’re late, you should be going,” I said innocently.

“Come on, there’s no telling what can happen if you push yourself again…” she said hurriedly.

“Don’t worry; I have no need to push myself. Besides this is rest for me,” I said and waved back as I continued for the door.

Inside the Crusader section, the rooms were partially full. I took one empty room and entered. The large simulation computer stood at the end of the room. At one corner were wires and sensors. I went over to the main control and turned the computer on. As I designed my simulation practice, I found something interesting that triggered my curiosity. It was the data of all the kinds of Hunters known so far. Assuming that the five Sectors became one, I expected a great deal of increase in data. And I was right.

A diagram was shown in front of me, forming a pyramid like the hierarchy system of the medieval times. Only three kinds were shown but it was better than one.

At the very top, there was a reddish black colored Hunter. The caption read: controller of one hive. Only found through imagery from old satellite. Information insufficient.

The next was a Hunter very familiar. It was the purple one. The caption read something like this: commanding unit of normal Hunters. Expected to lead around 30 to 40 Hunters. Found during the battle for the collapse of Sector 1 and 2. Recently found during invasion of Sector 3. Expected to have another kind of chain of command within the same type.

Below the two was the black one. Most basic type of Hunters. First found on Earth Day two years ago.

I clicked the one at the very top. The simulate option wasn’t present. I clicked the next one. The simulate option seemed to blink as if it was taunting me. I mindlessly confirmed. Then, I walked over to the sensors and attached them all over my body. When I finally put the headset on, the surrounding rippled and changed into middle of a thick forest.

I was inside a forest. No spatial area of grass, not even the thinnest room for sunlight to pour inward. The leaves casted shadow dark enough to baffle someone of time. Some kind of insect; or bug, buzzed loudly, which echoed through the woods. The sword from my hilt reared its blade very slowly. The moment the tip of the blade reached the very end of the sheath, the sound of the wild stopped. My right arm stopped as well.

Only the soft wind blowing the leaves was heard. I took a deep breath, drew a crescent in front of me. The sword collided with the Hunter’s blade. The impulse blew out a strong wind around us.

It was perfectly recreated. Purplish skin. The huge fangs. Smaller in size but longer in blades. Incomparably faster than normal. And the red eyes that always seems to be filled with fury. Unconsciously I smirked at the creature. The Hunter, as if reacting, growled lightly. It charged at me with its blades pointing towards me.

The left blade slid past my shoulder. The other, I defended with my sword. I went low, gave a powerful stab against its abdomen. The Hunter jumped backwards to avoid. But my sword was faster, and it couldn’t avoid all the damage. Green blood trickled down. It took no notice – since it was more of a scar than an injury.

We both charged at each other. I swung the sword upward, and used my ability with it. The momentary force was not something anyone or anything can bear simply by trying to deflect with a weapon. The left arm blade was destroyed – so easily that I had to check again at the shards on the grass. The Hunter also seemed confused. It turned its back and tried to run away from me.

I looked at my sword, noticed there was a huge crack. The sword seemed to break at any moment. Without second thought, I threw the sword towards the running Hunter. The blade made a clean penetration and the lifeless Hunter collapsed.

The background shimmered back into the simulation room. My hand was slightly trembling due to a sudden release of mass force. I went over to the control monitor and rechecked whether I really chose the right one. The enemy was evidently classified as ‘commanding unit’. The small image perfectly correlated with the ones I saw when I went to save Michelle and several days before. But it was hard to comprehend how it was defeated so easily. On top of that… how I was able to destroy a Hunter’s arm blade, theoretically impossible to break with human weaponry, with such ease was also a mystery.

I tried two more times; one with two purple Hunters, the last one with three. The result was almost the same.

“What you saw four days ago was certainly the same kind of purple Hunter you fought with in the simulation center,” said Dr. Greg. Michelle was staring at me from the side. I tried not to notice but it wasn’t easy. “But why are you asking this?”

“Unlike the fight on the day, this one died like thirty seconds after starting to fight,” I said. “I want to be debriefed about this because I know there’s a difference between these two. Also I want to know how I’ve come to have such immense power after waking up from a faint.”

The doctor leaned back on his chair. He raised his glasses and rolled his chair sideways, revealing a large screen behind him. He turned it on.

“I can give the answer to your first question,” he said. An image of the purple Hunter came up. “The one you fought, when I mean the one, I mean it wasn’t the first time I saw the exact same Hunter, is called Roach.”

“You give names to Hunters,” I said distastefully.

“It’s a code name. The first commanding unit was seen about a year ago. At that time, Hugo Camell successfully defended off for several weeks. I recall… that was around the time when the Hunters’ invasion started to be organized and more… systematic,” said Dr. Greg. “The defense mechanism and system was fine with two settlements united. But problem happened with Roach.”

“Like an army, the commander unit types have their own status system. Apparently, though we don’t have a vivid theory to explain everything, Roach wasn’t a creature playing in the lower section. We predict this Roach has been active for more than fifty years, and like its name it never died in battle. Well… of course until you killed it.”

“Anything else?” I demanded. The doctor calmly shook his head.

“The rest is classified information only for the eyes of senior officials,” shrugged Dr. Greg.

“You have to be joking,” I scowled. The doctor didn’t flinch. He took out a cigarette and lit a light on. He stood up and started to walk away. “How about a deal?”

“Pardon me?” the doctor turned around. He let out gray smoke in the air. I looked straight at him. “Persuade me.”

“You give me every single piece of information you know. I want information whenever you know something in the future as well,” I said.

“And what do I get in return? I originally thought only about the Hunter, but this is quite a demand,” said Dr. Greg smiling.

“You said your offer was still on,” I said. The doctor almost looked surprised. “I’ll accept the terms and give you full aid for it.”

The doctor threw his cigarette in an ashtray. He stared at me and then at Michelle, who was most likely having no idea what was going on. He chuckled, which made me frown.

“I have to say I’m astonished by your request,” he commented. “Very well. We have a deal.”

He sat back down on his rolling chair. He pulled out a remote control and monitored the screen that was still displaying the image of Roach.

“Again, I say this is classified information. You cannot tell this to anyone,” he said. I nodded. The doctor looked at Michelle. She only shrugged back. “The rest of the information, I’ll give it to you in files – I’ll send it to your house. This piece of intel is related to another commanding unit; it’s still alive.”

A new image came up. The color of the Hunter was exacting the same, but it gave a completely different impression.

“Freaky isn’t it? This one is probably the first and the last Hunter that’ll look so… mutated and disgusting. We call this one Chimera. A bloody monster this thing is… well, we’ve only seen it once: just the day when the two Sectors were destroyed,” said the doctor. He stared at the image without a word for a moment. “Lots of people died. If we hadn’t retreated at the right time, the kill counts of Crusaders must have reached three digits. Of course, it went away alive and it could be living in the ruins of the settlement for all I know, but we have no information about it anymore.”

The third image popped up the screen. If the second Hunter was surprising, this was shocking. At that time, I couldn’t help gasping.

“We caught this image four days ago, from a satellite image. It was taken a click away from the battle ground,” said the doctor. “You’re actually the first person apart from my fellow researchers to see this. The Hunter’s code name is Adam. If you’re thinking about the Bible, you’re right about it. And you might be able to guess why it’s named like that.”

“That thing is…” Michelle lost her words. She walked over to the screen to get a closer look. “This is impossible.

“No fangs. No arm blades. No disgusting mouth, drooling with saliva. No huge size,” said the doctor. “We have no idea how this happened. But one thing’s for sure: if we paint that thing in skin color, give it a nice plastic surgery, I doubt anyone would see it as a Hunter.”

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