NationStates Jolt Archive

Urban Renewal (War of the Worlds RP, Semi-open)

The Freethinkers
01-11-2005, 08:36
Navarre, Freethinker Mainland
0800 Tuesday 27th April

Normal day, really.

Navarre had this wonderful capacity to remind of just how lucky you were to be alive. Nathan Snodgrass was someone who didn’t realise this. He was a man who, day in, day out, week in, week out went back and forth between his humble, dingy office and his humble, dingy flat, taking his five weeks holiday in the same tourist dumps as everyone else and spending Christmas ‘with the family’. Girlfriends and wives came and left in regular succession, intrigued by his seemingly dark exterior only to discover there was nothing underneath.

As such Nathan’s life was incredibly boring, depressing and perhaps most bitterly average. Nathan’s net sum on the course of human existence was zero, and yet, like so many nobodies he had no desire to change it. Life was ‘good’, after all, bills were paid, fun was had, and there was a job and roof over his head, all of which, Nathan reminded himself, made him far luckier than many of the poor people who also inhabited this planet. So he made his way through his little set of journeys and jobs as his life moved slowly forward towards his inevitable demise.

Of course fate had an entirely different path laid out for Nathan, and, indeed, the other three and a half billion souls that made up the Freethinker Commonwealth.

It started on Tuesday morning. Nathan had risen, dressed, cleaned and eaten in the same manner he always did, rising awkwardly from the bed, dressed in yesterday’s un-matching attire, a deodorant bath and some cornflakes well past the sell-by date. He had gotten out the house late, as usual, missed the bus, as usual, and was now hurrying down a side street hoping, most likely in vain to catch the next train to the other side of town where the small building he worked at was located.

Then, quite frankly, all hell broke loose.

It all started with a storm, a freak storm, several freak storms out of nowhere occurring in Navarre when, to be honest, the only weather should have been bright clear skies. These storms, unusual in simply occurring out of nothing, possessed some rather strange qualities, at least as far as Nathan could tell. No wind, no rain, just rolling dark clouds gathering in the summer sky, right above the poor man’s head. Nathan stopped, his bag hit the ground and a hand ran through his short brown hair. The clouds kept turning and twisting, violently clashing in the heavens, and then…

BOOM, a massive burst of lightning struck the cobbled road a hundred yards in front of Nathan, sending chard shards of pavement and tarmac high into the air and spraying everyone around in thick black shrapnel. However, even as people picked themselves up from this, another surge slammed into the ground, knocking over those who had recovered themselves and sending everyone into a panic. A third, then forth, then fifth bolt travelled down in rapid succession, a scene repeated across the city as more and more bolts of lightning inexplicably blasted the same spots over and over again.

Screams of pain and confusion intermingled with the roar of the lightning, but despite the scene in front of him as each successive bolt through up mounds of stone and stunned another set of recovering people, Nathan found himself most frightened by the simple fact there was no rain, no roar of thunder with each successive bolt. Everything he remembered from secondary geography seemed to not apply, the lightning was silent, its origins a mystery. Something strange and weird and deeply unsettling.

Eventually the bolts died down. People stopped crying and yelling, only moans of agony and the sharp crack of a rock or tile returning to earth interrupted the silence. A low cloud of dust obscured the impact site from Nathan, though he could make out people standing in the mist looking down at something as he regained his posture and returned to his feet. He quickly tidied away his briefcase (which had opened in the initial impact) and began moving forward to investigate.

Several police and even what looked like two militiamen had already cordoned of the impact crater itself by the time Nathan had got close enough to investigate, though the barrier they were able to establish in the face of a curious crowd was relatively small. Nathan surprisingly kept his distance, something telling him to exercise caution. A low rumbling had begun to permeate the background, though Nathan dismissed this as a damaged subterranean pipe from the bolts themselves. A wide, spider-web like set of cracks had appeared in the middle of the road, not just scorching but physically driving through several feet of concrete and cement to vaporise the soil and sand beneath it.

The people burned in the blasts were given help as an ambulance and a number of police cars arrived on the scene. Paramedics clutching first aid kits tended those who needed help and armoured cops ran up to the perimeter in front of Nathan, knocking him to the side with barely a ‘sorry, citizen’ to explain the urgency or rudeness. Whereas the beat bobbies looked shaken but nonetheless merely shocked, the new arrivals had a deeper urgency about them, and they began to expand the temporary perimeter towards Nathan, pushing people out the way and shaking their stun guns threateningly at stragglers. Though no one argued directly, the increased presence bought even more attention.

It was then that Nathan and the people around him noticed the rumbling getting louder, and then somebody shouted to look at the surface of the road. Through the legs of the nearest officer Nathan saw the damaged concrete beginning to move, the massive cracks slowly twisting and lengthening, small gaps appearing in the surface as the road caved into the sewer below. But the cracks didn’t stop expanding, instead, they grew faster and faster, the rumbling sound growing louder and causing everyone around Nathan to back up, including the newly arrived police. The cracks overtook them, however as a dull metallic grind suddenly filled the air. The breaks in the road now reached the pavements and even the buildings, and brick and mortar joined the tarmac and pavement in being crushed, vaporised or kicked into the air.

Everyone ran back now, seeking shelter behind cars and trees that often got caught up in the growing disruption. People yelled, screamed and pointed, and the police barked requests for backup and orders to disbelieving officers over their headsets. Parts of the surrounding buildings collapsed into the street, sending up clouds of dust that obscured Nathan’s view and hindered his breathing, forcing him to retreat further back to the protection of a front door alcove. Then a huge roar, a metallic note, sounded above all the other noises in the chaotic scene and suddenly, and almost unbelievingly, the centre of the street began to turn.

Slowly the pavement and tarmac rose up, twisting and turning to a soundtrack of crashing masonry and groaning artificial gears, an entire part of the street moving its alignment and rising into the morning air. Though Nathan’s vision was hazy through the dust, it was clear to him what was happening in front of him. He watched it rise, slowly and surely, and then another sharp metallic bang and the whole turning section collapsed into an unknown cavity beneath it, taking with parts of many buildings and several cars and the people unlucky enough to be in or near them. Then everything went still.

The quiet only lasted for a few seconds however. Dull metallic blasts suddenly filled the air and massive puffs of green smoke bellowed out from the newly formed crater. From Nathan’s limited vantage point little could be seen, but the shocked and terrified looks on the faces of those nearer the pit’s edge belied something of menace. Nathan then made the best decision of his life, he ran back quickly to the nearest corner behind him, watching over his shoulder as more smoke and howls emerged from the crater. Settling into a protected buttress right on the corner he stopped and began watching again.

Something began emerging from the crater. Something huge, an object several times as large as the objectionably big SUV’s parked in front of it that hid the closest of the pit’s observers , rose slowly through the dust and smoke, a bright glowing orb, or maybe a window sat at its centre, sitting the middle of what looked like a heavily shielded canopy. Various small arms and appendages that looked like antenea covered its smooth black surface both above, and, as the object and it became more visible, below the surfaces of the ‘hood’. As the object rose up it became apparent it was supported on several thick yet supple legs, Nathan could make out three carrying the object though not anymore of them through the dust and smoke.

The object rose to what seemed its full height, the legs at maximum extension. The great orb in the centre peered round the onlookers as they emerged from cover to get a better look. Now that people new what was making the noise they felt a little and braver and stepped out to look. The object scanned them for a moment, the legs and appendages unmoving for several moments as the huge craft stared from one group of onlookers to the next. Then the shit hit the fan.

Without warning the object opened fire. Massive bright green, white and red beams, each with a dissimilar effect, some turning objects into flame, some creating hideous explosions and some simply disintegrating whatever they touched shot out of the various appendages. Screams and blasts filled the air once more as the object opened up, firstly in the direction of Nathan but moving slowly in circle, sweeping the area. The few police and militia not instantly incinerated and still keeping their wits opened up with light submachine gun and pistol fire, but this merely brought severe retaliation and instant death for those that stood their ground.

The buildings around Nathan exploded into flame, houses burst into bright orange and red as the cars in front of their immaculate gardens dissolved into molten slag. The disintegrators leapt from man to man, those not finding cover and even some who did disappeared in flashes of bright yellow, leaving nothing but scorch marks and burnt shoes where they had been standing. Nathan closed his eyes, but the cries of pain still reached his ears and nearly caused him to collapse righ there. He remained motionless, scared, as the world around him was reduced to hellish fire and rubble.

Then the firing stopped. Nothing moved at first, then massive thuds permeated the air, footsteps of the great machine, getting nearer and nearer. Nathan crouched into the doorway, subconciously smearing ash over his clothes and trying his hardest to look dead. But this wasn’t perhaps necessary, the massive machine passing right by the corner with only a brief glance up the street to the far end. It opened fire of cars wheeling away, turning them into small pockets of flame in the distance, and then it continued on it merry way, burning and disintergrating and stomping its way to wherever it was going.

Nathan just stared after it, trying to comprehend what he just saw. Then, when it he, he ran as fast as he could in the opposite direction. He was to make the huge mistake of assuming there was only one of these things.