As she walked the shore for the twelfth time that night, she could see two things off in the distance, almost on the horizon: the Mountain, and the City. In the Ocean between, she knew, the navy was making its way to the Mountain, or maybe they’d arrived by now. Though miles distant, the City shone with colour, brighter than the full moon. If she squinted, she could make out the individual megabuilding, each towering miles high. She wondered how many people were left there. Not many, hopefully. The bombs above and below the city were armed and ready to detonate at the press of a button she hoped she’d never be ordered to do. But even if the City were evacuated, where would the refugees settle? Besides the Mountain where even now the legions were engaged in a last-ditch effort to save them all, she didn’t know of any land within a few thousand miles in any direction. Even this beach she now walked was little more than a rocky sandbar against a barren rock they’d elected to build their base in. she glanced behind, at the sheer rock wall and its small metal door. She didn’t want to return inside. The sun was rising now. If the legions failed, this would be the last time.
So she walked the shoreline again, and again, and finally sat at the edge of the water where the waves slowly lapped up against her feet. She was almost able to relax. Almost.
And then the sun was up, and the sky was clear, except to the north, where the Mountain and the City were only a faint smear in what was either smoke or fog. Dread filled the pit of her stomach, and she stood, put Her boots back on, and went inside.
Not a large base. Really, just a cot, under which she kept her clothes and weapons(why her superiors thought she’d need a sword, gun, and hardlight knives down here, she had no idea, but standard issue was standard issue); an identical setup for her partner, and their console which was lit up for the first time in months.
“Messages?” she asked. Her partner turned from the console to answer. He might have been handsome once, but circumstances and their current posting had stolen that away from him, just as they had her.
“Any second now.” he sounded miserable. Well, why shouldn’t he?
“Attention. The time has come. Execute Detonation.” came a thin, tinny voice from the speaker. She sighed, leaned down, and spoke into the receiver.
“Confirmed.” A different voice, now. “Lieutenant Alley- Lieutenant Alexandra Peralez- ranking officer. Code Delta-Three-Eight-Omega. Pushed’em back, but it was too late. Refugees made it over the horizon but if we don’t detonate, it’ll be for nothing.”
She knew the code.
“Received and confirmed.” she said, after a long moment. Then, she and her partner rummaged through their supplies to find their two keys. One to each side of the small panel at the base of the console. And it opened, revealing the switch. Funny, she’d always thought of it as a button. she locked eyes with him, and they both, together, flipped it.
“Lieutenant Peralez. Thirty minutes to detonation.” There was no reply.
“I’m going back outside. Want to come?” she said.
“What’s the point?” he asked.
“I need to see.”
He said nothing, so she left. And moments after she closed the door, hearing a muffled gunshot,
she finally realized why her superiors insisted on a full kit.
She looked Northward, to the City and the Mountain that were still partly obscured. There were shapes now, she saw, silhouettes and more. Gigantic, lanky, animalistic creatures rising from the Sea and moving, some to the Mountain, and others to the City.
She watched, disbelieving, as the things approached the buildings that only reached their shoulders. She heard on the wind the creatures’ voices, raised in song like a cacophonous hymn.
This was what the Legions tried to stop? No wonder they failed. She hoped Lieutenant Peralez was right about the Refugees. She hoped Lieutenant Peralez was dead. She hoped the bombs were enough. She hoped she was within the blast radius, but even if she wasn’t she knew by nightfall she’d be gone. She took her boots off, sat with her feet in the water, and waited.