Gears of War – Shattered World
“Good morning Citizens of Ephyra! Another sunny day here, temperature is a nice twenty degree Celsius with no chance of rain so don’t forget the suntan! It’s currently nine thirty and it’s time to bring you this mornings news. Today, experts have urged the people across the continent to remain calm and not to be alarmed after several cities across the country experienced mild seismic activity over the weekend -,”
Darrius Gale slammed his hand down on his radio, shutting the news reader up. He must remember to turn off that sodding alarm on the weekend. Groggily pulling himself out of bed, he winced as light shone through his bedroom window. He rubbed his eyes and staggered over to the wardrobe. There was a knock on the door.
“Yeah?” Darrius called.
“You up, son? Kurt’s downstairs waiting for you and Sarah will be here soon. Hurry up, we’ll be leaving in a minute.
“Sure Dad, just getting dressed.” He replied
His dad stomped off down the hallway and stairs, not because he was annoyed but because he was so damn big.
Darrius quickly pulled on some clothes and paused as he tugged at a hooded jumper. He glanced outside at the sun and wondered whether to bring it just in case. He wrapped it around his waist and went to the bathroom.
Scrubbing his teeth, he stared at himself in the mirror. A fifteen year old boy stared back, messy hair unsuccessfully pressed flat to his head which stuck up a little at the back. He looked older than he was, with dark golden eyes and a stern face.
He thought ahead to his exams during the week and almost groaned out loud. He was the smartest kid in his class and because of that; he would be doing the hardest paper too. He was seriously looking for alternatives if becoming an engineer or scientist was this much hassle, smart or not.
Spitting the contents of his mouth into the sink, he hurried down the hallway, grabbing his trainers from his doorway.
“Hey Kurt,” Darrius said as he hopped into the living room pulling his other trainer on.
“Sup Darrius,” Kurt smiled, he stood almost a head taller than Darrius, his hair was a bright blonde and tied into a ponytail which didn’t quite go with his boyish looks. He had been his best friend for god knows how long. “Things okay?”
“Yeah, just worrying a bit about the test next week.”
“Pfft, I aint worrying.”
Of course he wasn’t, he was planning on enlisting next year. Test results were nothing to him.
“I still need to run the idea by my dad about enlisting,” Darrius said. His dad always managed to slip in the speech about finishing school before deciding anything about his future career. That meant having to go through another 3 or so years of school.
“Yeah well make sure you do. How am I meant to have your back when you are stuck revising and not in uniform?” Kurt smirked.
“Hey,” Darrius pointed a finger at him. “I can hold my own.”
“Sure you can, I’m just saying,” Kurt raised his hands.
Darrius’ dad walked in with his mother and little sister, naturally towering over everyone and getting everyone’s attention without saying a word.
“Son, we will be at your cousins for a few days, give or take a night,” He pulled a duffel bag onto his back. “You know the drill, don’t get into trouble, no going into the city centre, you know it’s going to be packed today because of the finals and…” he pointed a finger at Darrius. “If you insist on showing off with my rifle, make sure to take it out back and don’t shoot too many things with it. Neighbours WILL complain.”
“I think you mean go to Mr Gale, I don’t think they have the guts to complain to you,” Kurt said smiling.
Gale senior almost cracked a smirk but managed to maintain his serious demeanour.
“Be that as it may, don’t go to town with it and I mean that both ways.”
“Sure Dad, don’t worry,” Darrius said. “Oh did Sarah say when she was going to be here?”
“She’s with her mother in town picking up some clothes; she said she wouldn’t be long. See you in a few days.”
Darrius and Kurt glanced at each other with raised eyebrows. Won’t be long our asses.
Darrius’ mum paused as she went passed to kiss her son on the cheek, whispered quietly into his ear about behaving and then moved towards the door.
“See you. Bye mom,” Darrius waved at his family as they left.
They waited until they heard the door shut before speaking again.
“So when are you going to tell your dad?” Kurt said, sitting down on the sofa and looking around for the television remote.
Darrius picked the remote off of the cabinet beside the couch and threw it to Kurt before sitting down himself.
“It’s not as easy as that man and you know it,” he sighed and itched at the back of his neck. “You know what my Dad is like. Yeah, he’ll be proud of me whatever I decide but he doesn’t want my potential to go to waste.”
“Darrius, have you seen how well you can shoot with a Longshot? You managed to outshoot that sniper that came into school one time, to talk about enlisting and what we get to do and stuff, you remember?” Kurt said. “You just need to get your fitness up, get some more muscle on that skinny ass frame of yours and you’d be put straight into Commando or Ranger training.”
“Okay one, I’m not skinny, just because I’m not as big as you, doesn’t mean anything. I’m… athletically built,” Darrius smirked at Kurt’s raised eyebrows and continued. “Secondly, I know, you know and my Dad certainly knows I can shoot well but I also happen to be good at maths, equations and physics which is making this complicated. Dad would want me to make the best of my life.”
Kurt turned the T.V. on. It was predictably on the news channel which Darrius’ mum had on in the mornings. They were still
rambling on about the tremors felt across several of the major cities over the weekend.
“Jeez, I don’t see what all the worry is about, I’m pretty sure COG will use it as an excuse to build more defences all over the place.” Kurt said with a hint of annoyance. He didn’t turn the channel over however.
“I don’t know, seems like a crock of sh*t to me. I don’t really care. When are the Thrashball finals on? I think The Cole Train needs to work off some energy after his last game.”
“Yeah, Leverson better watch himself, no one insults The Cole Train and gets away with it.” Kurt said. “And it’s on at half one, we got a while to wait.”
“We got a while to wait whilst Sarah clothes shops. We’ll have watched the game before she’s done.”
“You know you’d love to be in the changing rooms with her Darrius.” Kurt said with an evil grin.
Darrius threw a cushion at him.
“What?” Kurt laughed. “This is the first girl you’ve ever had your eye on, it’s an occasion to celebrate!”
“Sorry I’m not the ladies man; I have studying and sh*t to do. That stuff can wait till I’m older.”
“Uh huh, we’ll see about that D man.”
“Whatever,” Darrius stood up. “Turn this crap off and put something decent on. I’m gonna phone her and see where she is.”
He walked into the kitchen which was pristine clean as usual. He wished his room could be described as such. His mom probably did too.
“Hey, reckon she has her cell on her?” He called through into the living room.
“Probably, that’s like the second most important thing in her life.”
Suddenly he heard gunfire and explosions rip through the front room. Darrius dropped the phone and rushed into the room to find that Kurt was fine and nothing was damaged. He had simply put the movie channel on.
“Jesus Kurt, you know my surround sound is loud. You gave me a heart attack.” Darrius took a deep breath and went to go back into the kitchen to pick up the phone. He felt stupid. Who the hell would attack them here on the outskirts of Jacinto? Idiot, he thought to himself, the war has been over for almost two years.
“Darrius.” Kurt sounded worried, almost scared. Darrius turned back into the room.
“What? Don’t tell me, it’s another crap movie.”
“No, dude… This is the news channel still.”
Feeling the icy cold of fear once more, he edged towards the T.V.
“What? What do you mean? Advertising?”
“Darrius,” Kurt looked seriously at him. “This is actually happening.”
Darrius stared at the screen. It was showing a city near the coastline, a beautiful city usually full of tourists and locals alike enjoying the sunny weather and latest attractions but that wasn’t what Darrius was seeing. It was madness, explosions tore through a giant memorial fountain in the centre of the city, and water sloshed everywhere as the ruins sunk into the ground along with other buildings nearby. People were screaming, running everywhere to get out of the way. The explosions and screaming were so loud that he couldn’t hear the news reporter frantically try to warn everyone at home to start packing essentials and get the hell out of the city. The ground shook so much that the camera man fell over, the camera slamming into the pavement causing a crack to force its way across the screen.
Out of the smoke, out of the crater where the fountain used to be rose six massive legs, they were gray and scaly; each claw shaped leg towered maybe fifteen to twenty feet above the people running away.
What followed it would haunt his nightmares forever.
The thing hauled itself out of the ground like it had been there forever, waiting for release. Its head was a mass of flashing lights and massive teeth, its abdomen, was small and hung uselessly but just it looked as scaly as the rest of it. It was like something straight out of a horror movie, some sort of giant spider or hand or some sick combination of both with rock like skin. It roared into the sky and swiped a leg across a shop front throwing bricks, glass, tables and cowering people out into the road.
It wasn’t alone.
Climbing out of the hole came more gray things. They were more humanoid. They walked on two legs, had two arms, hands and feet but that’s where the similarities ended. They were massively built and taller than the average human, small heads with glaring white/gray eyes with pinprick pupils and they all carried what looked to be semi automatic rifles, nothing like he had ever seen. They started firing indiscriminately into the crowd. People were dying in their dozens. More and more of them poured out of the hole, emerging into the chaos ready to cause more death and destruction.
One of them noticed the camera crew and ran towards them. It squeezed off a few rounds and someone screamed and fell in front of the camera smearing blood across its lens. The thing didn’t care; it strode towards the stricken man and stamped its huge boot down on his skull, killing him instantly. It then trod on the camera too.
This all happened within five minutes.
Darrius and Kurt stared in numb silence. Their brains refused to comprehend what just happened.
“Change the channel, check the other news stations. This has got to be a hoax or something.”
Kurt flicked through the channels and each one the same, each one showing different cities including Ilima, Andius, Jannermont, Tollen, it went on, each one showing those things killing and slaughtering everything in their sight.
Something started to nag at the back of Darrius’ mind as he wondered whether to sh*t himself now or later. It only took a second.
“Sh*t! What if that’s happening downtown? Sarah’s there! I gotta phone my Dad too.” Darrius rushed into the kitchen and picked up the phone with shaking hands. He dialled Sarah’s number and waited.
It started to ring but she didn’t answer. He tried again and again and again.
“Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t,” Darrius had never felt this sort of fear before. What the f*ck is happening to the world? He dialled his Dad’s number instead. He got the busy tone all three times he tried. No surprise, gears were probably being rounded up all over the country. He put the phone onto the kitchen counter and turned to find Kurt at the doorway.
“What are we gonna do man? What the f*ck are we going to do?” Darrius said. God, he was shaking all over.
Kurt looked just as scared as he did but he managed to force some strength into his voice.
“We… We need to find out what’s happening first. I’m sure COG are sorting something out as we speak. We just need to find out where our nearest base of operation is and head there. You’re dad is a gear, they’ll take you in.”
Darrius nodded and picked up the phone again. He tossed it to Kurt.
“Phone your parents and see what’s happening. We can’t stay here.”
“Go pack some things,” Kurt said, pointing upstairs.
Darrius ran upstairs, knocking over an expensive vase on the way up; he didn’t care as he went into his room. Pulling a rucksack out, he packed it with the bare minimum. Socks, pants, some spare shirts, trousers, a weatherproof coat and his only pair of fingerless gloves. He glanced around the room looking for things he needed.
Of course, his cell phone! He clambered over his bed and rummaged through the bottoms he wore yesterday and pulled it out the back pocket. He checked his phone. Three missed calls from Sarah and two from his Dad. He dialled Sarah first.
This time she answered after the second ring.
“Sarah? Sarah? Are you there?”
All he could hear was screaming and gunfire and a few seconds later, sobbing.
“Sarah! Answer me! Sarah, are you there?”
“D-Darrius? Darrius is that you?” Sarah sounded panicked and shocked, like someone not in control of their senses. “I can’t find mom and… and I’m hurt…Not badly but there’s b-blood and I can’t move that well…”
An even colder wave washed over him.
“Listen, Sarah, you’ll be okay, where are you?”
“Just past the cinema. Me and mom managed to get away but we got separated after they came out the ground… past the Travis Mall.”
“Listen to me Sarah,” Darrius talked over her frantic sobbing. “Stay where you are, I’m coming to get you, you understand?”
“O-okay,” Sarah mumbled.
“Go hide, I’m on my way.”
Darrius disconnected the call and put his phone in his pocket. He knew what he had to do.
What the f*ck was he thinking?
He heard Kurt run up the stairs.
“My parents were going to come here to pick us up but I managed to convince them that it was safer heading deeper into Jacinto, towards Jacinto Plateau, maybe to their parents. As far as the news goes, Jacinto is the only area those things haven’t attacked.” Kurt said.
“Anywhere else safe?”
Kurt shook his head. “No. Everywhere else is being attacked. I’m not sure about the Islands but…” Kurt trailed off. “Any word from Sarah? Your dad?”
“Not from my Dad but he’s a gear and he can look after himself,” Darrius zipped up his rucksack and slung it over one shoulder. “Sarah’s hurt. She’s by the cinema. I told her I’d get her.”
“Darrius, we don’t know what’s out there, where they are or what. We have to get towards Jacinto.”
“Kurt. I’m going to go get her. She is just a few streets away.”
“And so are those things, Darrius. I know you care about her but we are fifteen, fifteen, look at us! We wouldn’t be able to defend ourselves from a grown man. Did you not see the twenty foot monster that was knocking buildings over? What can we possibly do? People are dying in their thousands. Hundreds of thousands of people, Darrius. We NEED to get away from it.”
Darrius didn’t say a word and walked out the room and back downstairs. He was shaking all over but he had to do this. It would be easy, run down to the cinema, grab Sarah and get the hell out of there.
He opened the door to his basement, flicked the light switch and hurried down.
“Darrius!” Kurt called after him. “Darrius, I know you care for Sarah but getting yourself killed is not going to achieve anything. We need to get away from here. We need to get to safer ground.”
The basement was a clutter, a mess of boxes and other random junk that his mum and dad wanted to clear out but never had the time. There wasn’t much room, except a clear path to the one thing he wanted. His dad’s war chest was the only thing valuable down in this part of the house.
He walked to the chest, still ignoring Kurt who was doing his best to convince Darrius to get out of here. He was right, of
course, but he couldn’t leave Sarah.
“Darrius, stop ignoring me. You know this is serious. Stop acting like an ass. We are wasting time.”
Kurt stood at the top of the stairs, watching as Darrius pulled something out of the chest. He turned around clutching his dad’s Longshot rifle; he held it comfortably with the stock just under the armpit. It had a long, sleek black barrel, a telescopic sight with blue optics, attached folded bipod and stock. It was well cleaned and well maintained and in that moment Kurt knew Darrius was very serious about going to get Sarah.
“You have anything for me in that chest of yours?”
“I’m sorry but you must have seen this coming, right? I’m going with you.”