Topic: We call this home 8
Joined Tue 09/06/11
Terrance and Trudy sat at home with Dudley as she groaned about her aching back.
“What do you expect after seven months darling?”
“Perhaps falling pregnant wasn’t such a good idea,” Dudley suggested.
“If only our people could make some beds,” she complained.
“They keep trying without much success dear,” Terrance reminded her. “The camping gear does the job.”
“Not if you look like a beached whale!”
The two men grinned as she winced again.
“Why not take that stodge for the pain?” Dudley suggested.
“I don’t want to risk the baby. I’ve given the same instructions to the other future mothers.”
“How many do we have now?” Terrance asked.
“Fifteen my dear. Our small community will soon be echoing with crying.”
“What a lovely thought,” Dudley commented.
Terrance picked up the strange viewing device.
“What did you make of them mate?”
“They are obviously hostile with those laser rifles. The longer that they remain asleep the better.”
“I tend to agree. What worries me is the chief.”
“Why?” Trudy asked.
“His warriors must have found this within some kind of base. If they poke around too much they might just wake them up.”
“With their firepower,” Dudley added. “We might not be able to take them on.”
“Oh I see,” she said groaning once more.
The door was suddenly rapped and Terry entered.
“Sorry to disturb sir but the chief looks pretty worried.
“I better see what the matter is.”
He found the old warrior waiting and he began gesticulating wildly.
“Hotep bernof ghan se latch.
“I think he has lost someone sir.”
Terrance nodded hopefully.
The old chief pointed south.
“Inform the archers that we move in five.”
He stepped back inside and said, “I have to go love.”
“I’m the leader remember.”
When they were ready, a dozen heavily armed braves joined them and
the expedition got underway.
After a few miles, they reached a hillock and the chief pointed to
the swampy plain below.
“You lost them there?” Terrance asked.
Dudley shrugged his shoulders.
“We should be able to find them.”
“Let’s hope so.”
As they descended onto the plain, the soil became wetter by the second. As the ground levelled off, the chief stopped and pointed.
Lying upon a large grassy clump lay two human skeletons.
“They have been picked clean sir.”
“I can see that Dudley. Question is by what?”
As they looked for clues, the warriors were all set to move inside the swamp itself.
“Oh no you don’t,” Terrance said. “We want you safe here.”
The chief nodded, seeming to understand the warning.
“We can’t find a thing sir,” an archer said. “Whatever did this is long gone now.”
Terrance rubbed his chin.
“I don’t like this one bit.”
A sudden screech from the swamp made everyone look.
“That sounded like distress to me,” Dudley pointed out.
“Me too,” Terrance said. “I want none of our people anywhere near here.”
A large clump of redness began to appear in the middle distance and
“Some kind of animal?” Dudley asked.
“Could well be. Just keep an eye on it.”
As the clump grew larger and flatter, Terrance had a sick feeling in his guts.
“I think a retreat would be in order here.”
As they pulled back, the clump advanced.
“It may be restricted to that habitat sir,” an archer said.
“We are not taking the risk,” Terrance said.
The red clump grew closer to the grass and small red creatures swarmed toward them.
“They look like soldier ants,” Terrance said. “Everyone back to the hill right now.”
As they turned and fled, a warrior slipped and went down.
“Come on move it!” Dudley yelled but it was too late.
The ants swarmed over his body, their tiny choppers cutting him to ribbons. Terrible screams filled the air until the ants cut it off.
From the hillock, the human force looked back.
“What do you want us to do?” Dudley asked.
“Actually I’ve no idea. Arrows and blasters won’t stop them.”
“If they keep going our camp will be overrun,” Dudley said.
“That is my main worry mate. No ruddy insects are going to destroy that.”
The chief pointed at the advancing swarm.
“We can see them chief,” Terrance said. “We better fall back a bit further.”
They retreated as the chomping army came on.
As they reached the base of the hill, the leader had an idea. Grabbing an archer he said, “Go back to the settlement and tell every able bodied man to bring shovels and a couple of our fire lighters now.”
The man saluted and ran off as Dudley watched the swarm appear on the small summit.
“You plan to make a stand?”
“We have no option mate. Let’s fall back again. Hopefully our team will meet us half way.”
The insect army marched on, pushing the people before them. Every animal unlucky to meet them was rapidly torn asunder by the large chomping jaws.
As they retreat came within a half mile of home, help arrived at last. Terrance was thoroughly delighted.
“Right here is the plan of action. I need a long semi circular trench dug and filled with bracken.”
As they watched, the men began digging frantically as the braves watched in utter amazement.
“I just hope this works,” Terrance muttered. “We could end up being surrounded.”
The trench took a half hour to dig and the men began filling it with bracken as the army came into view.
“Give us the firelighters and fall back,” Terrance said.
As the army advanced, it seemed to stop.
“They seem to know,” Dudley whispered.
“This may shake them up.”
He activated one of the lighters and pointed at the swarm. A ray of intense heat swept the mass, setting it alight at once. The vast remainder seemed to panic and marched straight into the trench. As it did so, the lighters struck again and the entire trench exploded into flame.
As thick black smoke rose, the killer ants were rapidly consumed in the conflagration.
“We ruddy well won,” Dudley said with pleasure.
“Not yet we haven’t mate. I need to stop the blighters for good.
He led his team around the inferno and toward the west of the hillock. As they emerged, the vast swamp came into view.
“We can’t go in there sir,” Dudley reminded him.
“I know we can’t but we can at least check it out more thoroughly.”
When they reached the soft ground, Terrance gazed across the huge wasteland.
“Looks quite peaceful you know. Until you remember the horror within.”
He knelt and plunged a hand into the goo. As it surfaced, he noticed thick, black gunge.
“Would you believe it?”
“Is that what I think it is?” Dudley asked.
Terrance stood and smiled.
“The entire swamp is covered in oil and we all know what that means.”
“It floats on top of water too,” Dudley chipped in.
“We need three lighters.”
When they were ready, they pointed toward the centre of the mire and activated. Within seconds, the surface caught light and a roaring wall of orange flame rushed toward them.
“Run for it!”
They scrambled back as the intense wall of heat approached. Even when they reached a safe distance, the heat was still being felt.
As they watched the huge pall of tar coloured smoke rise and drift
Dudley said, “That could burn for weeks or months you know.”
Terrance shook his head.
“I don’t really care how long it burns for. Just as long as every last ant is well and truly fried.”
Terrance turned as the happy chief embraced him.
“You're welcome mate. Only too happy to help.”
The team turned and headed home, where their friends and lovers waited.
That night in camp, everyone watched the huge red glow as it lit up the horizon. Holding his arm Trudy asked, “Is that the end of them?”
“I sure hope so dear. Those choppers were a little too lethal for my liking.”
“What about those machines? Is leaving them alone the best decision in the long term?”
“You heard Dudley my dear. We cannot possibly match them. What else can we do?”
“I just don’t like the idea of them waiting for us.”
“I know how you feel my dear. I’ve tried to explain to the chief but I’m not sure the message got through.”
“What about our evac craft and the empty pet pod?”
“What about them?”
“Could we use them to leave if we really have to?”
Her loving partner shook his head.
“One way only I’m afraid. The power system can only drive the central computers.”
“So we are really stuck then?”
He nodded then scowled.
“The commodore gave us a chance and we took it. We are what remains of a thousand passengers my dear. The last humans on a brand new world. If you ask me I think we have done pretty well.”
She hugged him, as a low rumble came and another fireball rose from the burning swamp.
“What a lovely sight my dear,” Terrance whispered. “Come on time for bed.”
She giggled and winced again.
“Just two months to go now,” he said happily. “Then it’s oh mummy!”
She elbowed his ribs as they walked home laughing like two happy teenagers.