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Chapter 16

“So what do you remember?” he asks her. “Well, I remember we went to that restaurant at the mall, the Japanese one?” she explains. “Oh yeah”. “I remember breaking up with that…that douchebag and then talking with you, unexpectedly, I recall. Haha.” He can notice the change of tone in her voice and facial expression when she said that, even the laugh. But he understands, he also remembers that moment. How she suddenly came to him out of nowhere, crying her eyes out. Him of all people. But of course he understands more now. Well, sorta. He doesn’t wanna think like that anymore. “Yeah, but it was okay. Although, yes, I was a bit surprised,” he replies. “But I think it was worth it. I don’t regret what happened that day. What I did, I mean,” she says. All he can think about, still thinking about, is how this girl, this amazing girl, went to him in her time of need and stayed with him after everything that happened, even with the events that are transpiring now. “Unbelievable,” he thinks. “I remember we going out in the snow and just having fun,” she continues. “Yeah, that was…that was fun,” he adds. While they try to remember, the old buddies over on the other side exchange information on what they know as they try to come up with a plan. Sergey regales him with what he, what they, went through trying to get here to reach him. “You would not believe, my friend…” he says to him. They both share a laugh for a moment. Then his friend’s face gets serious. He’s ready to tell him what he knows. “Sergey…” he says, “I believe I know where our alien friends are hiding.” Sergey’s smile also disappears. “This is the information I was going to tell you before we were cut off. It is close to this area, this is why I have chosen here.” “How did you find this?” his friend asks. “Information is critical in these times, my friend. I have sent a few of my best men to scout the areas ahead and report back what they find. And what they found here was big,” he explains. Thankfully, they all made it back in one piece. “They were fast and swift, haha,” as Andrei puts it. Of course they need to act fast now while they have the upper hand. For now at least, the element of surprise is theirs. “Are these all of the men you have left?” Sergey asks, pointing out that they don’t have much manpower left. “Unfortunately. We lost a lot of good men in this war,” his friend explains, “but the men you see before you are strong. They are enough. We…have to be enough.” He nods, understanding, and says, “We should tell the kids.” “Yes…an interesting bunch. Where did you find them?” he asks, “are you sure they can help us?” “They can, trust me. I have seen what they can do,” he says. “Very well, my friend. I trust you.” Now that they’ve settled that, they go to tell them the good news, if you can call it that. I guess it’s sorta just news. They’re still lying on the floor next to each other, reminiscing and talking about the good old times. It’s nice to forget all the shit that’s happening sometimes. After all, reality is just an illusion, or so they say. It doesn’t matter. Nothing really matters.

Anyway, Sergey and his old pal head on down to them and break the news. Olivia sits up, followed slowly by Takashi, and looks at them with a smile. “What good does that do us?” she asks them. “Well, we can stop their operation. Or at least slow it down,” Sergey tries to explain. “What are they doing there anyway?” she continues. “From what we know, they go to a certain area and they make base there for a few days, maybe weeks,” Andrei explains, “Saint Petersburg was one of these areas. Another was Yekaterinburg and Kazan. I am sure there are more, many more. And not just in Russia.” The unlucky pair looks at each other, knowing what the other is thinking. “Unfortunately, we still do not know what they were doing in these areas. All we know is that huge holes were left behind,” he continues. Olivia suddenly gets a glimpse of a vision, remembering what she saw back in Moscow. Of the, possibly, alien mothership and of the machines hovering high-above over cities, blasting some kinda beam downwards through the atmosphere. She stares blankly for a moment. “Hey, are you okay, my friend?” Sergey asks. “Liv?” Takashi adds. “Huh?” she says, startled. She suddenly stands up. “Yes. We have to go then, to this base you talked about,” she says, adamant. Andrei looks at his friend with a weird expression. “Uhhh, yes. Right. Yes, uhhh…we shall go,” he says, confused. Olivia nods, half-worried. Takashi, noticeably concerned, asks her, “Liv, is everything okay?” “I don’t know,” she says, still half-worried, “that’s what we’re gonna find out, right?” He nods, “Okay.” “It’s just…something I saw back when we were in Moscow,” she explains, “I can’t explain it right now. Please, just trust me.” “Okay. I do,” he says, smiling. “We’ll help in any way we can,” he continues. “Yes, I’ve heard from Sergey of your…special talents that could aid us in this war,” he wonders. They look at each other before Takashi chuckles and says, “You heard right. But honestly, we don’t know much about it either.” “It does not matter. If you two can really help, then you are very much welcome here,” he says. “Well thank you,” Takashi extends his gratitude.

Andrei gets his men in line, what few of them there are left, and prepare for the coming battle. This can go really, really messy…and very badly. In fact, most likely it won’t end well. But they have no choice. They need to find out what the aliens are doing while they have a chance, small it may be, it may be their only shot. After a brief pep talk, they head out to begin their journey. The huge metal doors are opened again, creating that metal grinding sound. It’s rusty and very old. They step out to the old, long dark tunnel. It seems different somehow…darker, more decrepit, especially for the soldiers. Sergey and the gang start going back the way they came. Suddenly, a loud, heavy thump is heard from the surface. “Perhaps we should go this way,” Andrei says, pointing the other way, “there is another way. Follow me.” They look at him while wondering about the sound before following. The pathway starts to go up as they continue through the tunnel. It isn’t long before they can see a ladder at the end of it. “Alright, we go one at a time,” Andrei says. “That’ll take forever,” Liv says, looking at how many there are. “Enough complaining. We need to move,” Sergey asserts. She sighs and continues, murmuring. Leading to a rusting metal door at the end, the ladder leads them back to the surface, a little farther away from the town that they were in. A good thing too, some of the creatures seem to have come back. Although it doesn't seem they know that they were there. The rest comes out of the door before Sergey closes it back, quietly. They stick low around the branches and what little plant life the pathway has as they go through it. The path is quite small, but enough for them to go through. It eventually goes around and lies on the edge of a cliff side and you can see the wide ocean and the sun on the horizon. It isn’t long before they hear a loud breaking sound coming from the town. “What was that?” Sergey says. Olivia looks back, looking worried, before flying—more like levitating—up to see beyond the rocks blocking their view. The aliens seem to be destroying the houses, but it still doesn’t look like they’re looking for anything. “Shit,” she exclaims. “Liv, what is it?” Takashi asks. “It’s nothing,” she levitates back down, “we should keep moving”. The path eventually leads downwards back to the lower parts of the city, the horizon starts to disappear as they get lower and lower between the rocks. As they start to reach the lower parts of the city and farther from the upper town, they can relax more for a bit…at least, for the moment.

The city below is less like the one above them, less houses next to each other, more stores and shops, and of course, closer to the sea, among other things. The roads are more spacious; they’re still roads though. There’s a bridge crossing above the water connecting one part of the city to the other: a small island. But they don’t care about any of that. Their destination is a small patch of area around the outskirts of the city. The problem is getting there without the creatures in the city noticing and alerting the ones at the site. “How are we gonna get to this place again?” Takashi asks, sounding a bit off. Why does it keep coming back? he thinks to himself. “We can walk there if we have to,” Andrei replies. Takashi stares blankly with a scared look. He somewhat snaps out of it, though still staring blankly. “We can fly there,” Olivia says. “No, you two can fly there. We can’t,” Sergey says. Takashi suddenly screams. “Aaarrrggghhhhh!!!!!!” He falls to the ground, knees first. He then bursts out into tears. It rolls profusely down his face. He holds his head with both arms as if in severe pain. Well, he does appear to be in pain. “Takashi??!!” Olivia shouts, worried, “what’s wrong, baby???!!!” Unfortunately, his screams have attracted the attention of the creatures above. Not good. As the group hears their roars from above, three of ‘em, quickly descend towards them. Sergey and Olivia pick him up and start carrying him. The rest of them run while trying to cover, shooting with everything they’ve got. But they know it’s to no avail. At this speed, they’ll never outrun them. The creatures crash behind them, causing a slight rumble, and speeds towards them. They kill some of the men as they do so, them screaming horribly in fear and pain. “Hold on!!” Olivia screams to Sergey. She grabs hold of both of them and flies, avoiding one of their strikes. But she seems to be struggling holding two people up. One of the creatures catches up and is about to jump, but Andrei is able to shoot it and cause it to miss. Not being able to hold on anymore, she slowly floats back down before crash landing on the ground. “Oh f--fuck,” she quietly exclaims.

Andrei smashes the window of a van and unlocks it. “Over here!” he shouts to them. Takashi is still entangled in whatever caused him to freak out. Numb to the event around him, he quietly stays in his mind. He tries to move his arm, but feels unable to—he doesn’t want to. He wants to just give up, but he can’t. So with all his strength, he picks himself back up. He screams at the top of his lungs to the sky before turning around. With the thrust of his hand, he sends all three flying back with a force that destroys the road, causes some cars to fly back with it, and shatters all glass and windows in its path—his eyes and veins glow bright blue as he does so. The creatures partially disintegrate from the sheer force, dead, or at least unable to move for a while. Unfortunately, they can regenerate, somewhat. Everyone stares in amazement, including Andrei who’s in the middle of trying to turn on the van; he quickly snaps himself out of it and continues. Takashi breathes quickly, still holding his arm out, tired, tired of everything. Even he himself is amazed at what just happened. He stops glowing. One of the creatures gets up, though fumbling a little, and prepares to attack again. Takashi motions his head to the right, sending a car flying and smashing the creature to the wall. He then levitates the car away and psychically manipulates the railings, pulling it from its concrete home, and uses it to stab the creature multiple times, burrowing deep into its skin. With all the damage it had already sustained from the blast before, it dies immediately.

As everyone tries to regain their composure—what the fuck is going on??! What the fuck just happened?!?—the car engine spurs and roars as Andrei successfully gets it running. “I got it. Everyone come now!” he yells out, “hurry!” “Come on,” Sergey says to them before going with Viktor. “Takashi? Baby, come on,” she says to him. Still in a trance and tired, he turns to her and looks at her. “Sweetie, we don’t have time for this, please,” she cries out to him, grabbing his arm. He nods, “Right. Let’s go.” They both stand up, but he takes one last look at the horizon, and at the blue sky, as it turns peculiarly grayish. She pulls him forcibly as they don’t have time and they run towards the vehicle. “What about your men??” she asks. “Here they come now,” he says. Two of ‘em come running and enter the vehicle. She stares at them and asks, “Are you guys the only ones left?” He stares at her in confusion before speaking to Sergey in Russian. “Sorry, guys. They don’t speak English. Uhh, he says the others will be here shortly,” he explains. “In fact, there they are.” They come driving up in another car, seven of them inside, the only ones left. “This is all we have left?!” she asks. “With you two, it will be enough,” he replies. “No, it won’t,” she says again, more adamant. “It has to be,” he speaks quietly, but just enough to hear. With that, he steps on the gas and they head off, the others following them behind. As they are on their way, Takashi nods off again on the seat, leaning his head against the window; the vibration of a car has that peculiar effect on a person. One can doze off quickly in its clutter and tiny movements. It isn’t long before the concrete ends and the dirt roads fill the ground. They’ve reached the outskirts and they start to see it, it’s impossible to miss. They all stare at it in awe, a blinding light coming from a huge beam being shot from the sky. The air around it is covered in thick, clouds of dirt. It was impossible to see it from the city. At least they know where they need to go now. They drive off the main “road” and into the dirt landscapes, heading off to some sort of quarry it seems. They can see the remains of a small mining town in the distance, getting closer. Dilapidated and broken; it looks kinda like an old west town you would see in those cowboy movies. It’s unbelievable. It gets closer and closer and before they know it, they are there. Looking at the old buildings left and right as they head deeper into the old town, slowly. Doors hanging from their hinges and dusty rocking chairs sit behind wooden railings that already lost some of its bars, just like in those old movies. It’s not long before they have to stop in front of a huge quarry. And in it, the bright beam shooting from the sky can be seen. They can feel the force of the beam when they step outside. The air rushing downwards with an almost deafening sound that fills the air. The thought of failing again rattles around inside his head. This is different though. It’s not going away this time. What’s wrong with me?? he thinks, looking sick and sad as if holding back a pain, leaning on the side of the car. Why do I feel like this? I can’t be like that again. I have to be strong. I have to accept. With that, he tries to toughen up, ready to face whatever awaits…or so he thinks. He’s said that before. Huh, I’ll probably get down again. Not long after this. But that’s just the way it goes, he thinks again. Just enjoy the journey, right?
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