A week is a lifetime when you think you’ll lose it.

Our escape from Illaria City seems like a miracle now. Three huge vehicles tearing along the freeways, monsters snapping at our heels. The dyybuks were no problem, but other things came for us too, most on foot, some on many feet. I still wake up shivering, thinking about those.

You might call it a case of deus ex machina, except no gods or prophets were involved. People call the Lazloi angels, so I guess it isn’t so wrong, but I don’t think they did it for our benefit.

I should have been looking ahead like the others; I guess I was still a little crazy in those first few hours. The scene unfolding behind us transfixed me. We’d reach an obstruction, cars or trucks usually, and suddenly the size of our vehicle would become a life or death liability.

While we manoeuvred or shunted our way past, the writhing forms would gain on us, so close we could start to hear their jabbering talk. We’d speed away again, moving back and forth across the highway between the cars until our pursuers were distant once more.

It went like that for over half an hour, right until we made a wrong turn.

We made for the bridge but discovered there was a toll station, big enough for cars and trucks, but too small for an off world vehicle. We turned round but it was too late; there on the bridge approach, the armies of hell came for us.

Even with our ammo, we knew there was no way to hold them off, so we figured we’d have to jump over the side.

None of us was prepared for the blue lance that came out of the sky.

I’d seen an orbital gun in action on exercises but this was something else. Again and again, the beam slammed into the starport lagoon sending geysers of steam and debris high into the air. In seconds, a pall of smoke and ash began rising but the beam did not stop. It snapped on and off like liquid lightning.

We were just as transfixed by the sight as the hordes that faced us. Suddenly their purpose was gone, their cries silenced, and they shifted uncertainly. Breaking the trance, I gave the order to lay some PDM across the barriers of three truck lanes.

We worked fast as the beam lit up the daylight sky thinking that at any moment, we’d have to start shooting or jumping. When the PDM levelled the barriers, barely a handful of the creatures noticed and those we dispatched with a couple of clips from the grenade launcher. We bounced over the debris in turn watching the blue beam starting to seek out targets across the city. Only then did the creatures start to move, not after us, but in every direction.

It was though some controlling mind or intelligence had gone.

The hours and days that followed went quickly. We’d only encountered the invaders near inhabited areas so we pushed further into the hinterland. Our attempts to contact the Nike Aegis and her sister ships were in vain and it was only on the second day that we knew why.

We spotted a Lazloi ship with our telescope in a lonely orbit, drifting and apparently damaged. We could only guess the fate of our support ships, scared away, or perhaps destroyed.

On day four we were clear of habitation for many miles and with the looted spoils of far flung supermarkets feeding, fuelling and clothing us, were able to stop and consider our next move. Our first priority was a bath. To be frank, both men and women, we all stank, and a few of us needed it more than others.

Looks like we’re stuck here, surrounded by the remnants of civilisation, and under the constant threat of the alien invaders. We hope that other teams dropped with us have also survived, but our radios won’t go that far. The jamming has stopped, but there are plenty of monsters out there. Perhaps we’ll find a spacecraft and get off this rock.

Whatever happens, the adventure has just begun.

-- Mission log of Lieutenant Ara Mercator, Recon Group
-- Mission Clock: 117 hours, 7 minutes, 15 seconds


Stephanie Petite 3 figures with the DAZ Bikini and Travalian pants. Custom digital camouflage created in Photoshop. Bryce terrains. The AARV is an original model created in Hexagon.

Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 5 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

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Updated: 29 August 2006

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