Sue asked for a piece about a Thresher attack as seen from a civilian point of view, this is the one I came up with. Now, as I know Sue is fond of happy endings, I have included one after the main body of the text. The piece is viable wether or not you read the happy ending, those who like the piece (one way or another), let me know which ending you preferred.
I look over the faces of the children that I am teaching, they are a good class, no real trouble makers, no bullies. They are all good children, and even though they know I am different to them, they accept me as their guide.
My name is Harmony, I am of the Ebon race, the first of my kind to teach the knowledge and history of my race to the humans, these children and I will be the first to form the bond that will unite our races as never before. We have been given a room in a small school in the centre of the downtown slums. The parents of the children are amongst the few who care for their offspring, they are a rare breed in amongst the wretches that see no further than their television. The parents hold guard on the school whilst those of us who can, teach. It is a fragile place that we hold, but we are proud to hold it and will do anything to stop it from falling.
My first lesson to the children is to teach them some of the unspoken language between ebons, the sign language that has served us for many generations, and which still serves as a means of emphasising things in common conversation. They are eager to learn, like any small child would be given the chance, and they work hard at the lessons they are given, their small faces glowing with pride when they receive the praise that is rightfully theirs.
We are funded in general by the father of one of the children, young nathaniel, his father owns several of the smaller "soft" companies in the area, and has made a large amount of money. Unlike any of the other companies, he is quite happy to part with it to further the community, it is rare to find such a man in these times, but certainly not unwelcome.
The children have many questions, most of them centre around me, why are my eyes like that, why do I wear these funny clothes, am I a bad person for being different to them? I have no examples to convince them of the fact that being different is nothing wrong, they live in a world where man kills his brother for a shot on prime time TV, what sort of example could I give them? I make do with the fact that everyone deserves to be forgiven for what they have done wrong, everyone deserves a second chance. I think they understand, but I am not too sure, I think the lesson is a little above them.
The school does well, the class progresses beyond my expectations, and word of the success of the school spreads quickly. A month after the school has opened, my class of six has doubled, and more people are anxious to claim a place for their little ones. I am content with what I have.
That all changes one day.
Whilst in the middle of my class, a faint noise makes itself apparent, like wind rushing down a corridor, but coming closer, closer…..
A crash like thunder reverbrates through the entire building, the children scream in fright and stand up. I speak in soothing tones to them as I move to the window to see what has happened. What I see chills me to the bone. Along the main street, five suits of powered armour are laying down interlocking fields of fire up the length of the street, I hear the whistling noise again, and another suit crashes down, instantly coming to it's feet and maintaining the assault.
I was never an Operative, but I know the threat that these people present, they will go through everything without mercy, not stopping till it is time for them to leave, and nothing we do will stop them. I stumble back from the window, my heart racing, nearly tripping over the children behind me.
"We have to go" I manage to stammer, moving to the door Emma, the youngest of the class raises her hand to speak, I glance across at her.
"Is this a fire drill miss?" Her voice is high pitched and tinny, and I know she is scared, but it is her way of dealing with what is happening.
"Yes," I breathe " Yes it is." Bless that little one, with one question, she transforms the class from a frightened huddle into a group that knows what is to be done. They all line up by the door in register order and wait for me to lead them.
A little faster than normal, I walk through the halls and down the stairs towards the basement. As we get to the door, the noise from outside intensifies, and the children begin to fear again, Emma has tears running down her face, but she is still struggling to keep calm for her teacher. I usher the little ones into the basement and seal it shut.
"So what do we do next in a fire drill?" I ask the class as the lights come on.
"REGISTER!" comes back the united yell. Despite the growing sounds of conflict, I find myself smiling at the children as they find comfort in routine. I take the register, but even as I am doing it, I know that something is wrong.
I reach the end of the register and find Nathaniel and Logan missing.
Peter raises his hand to answer the unspoken query, I nod to him.
"They went to get the mascot miss, like we're told, one person to get the keys, one person to make sure that everything's okay."
My heart misses a beat, if they thought it was a standard drill, they would assemble at the usual point….
In the courtyard.
Without thinking, I unbolt the doors and run outside, the outer wall is still holding and the doors are not opened. There is one other exit to the courtyard, through the rear doors. I turn back to the children, trying to make my voice calm and even.
"You must all stay here while I make certain that they are doing the drill correctly, Peter, you are in charge, do you understand?"
"Yes miss!" he stands straight, sticking out his small chest with pride at the responsibility.
"Everyone else understand?"
"YES MISS!" comes back the chorus.
I close the door and lock it behind me and run up the stairs towards the room where the mascot is kept. I reach the room and find the door is open and the mascot missing, I stop for a second at the window, captivated in horror at what is happening outside. The parents, unwilling to leave their children to die, have mounted a defence of the school walls. The power-suits advancing up the road barely even noticed them. The first suit turned and opened fire with some sort of assault cannon, two people went down like wheat in a hurricane, the suit to the rear of the assault stopped and turned towards the school. I saw something on it's back lock into place and screamed down to those brave people to run.
My pleas were as naught as the suit launched it's weapons, a corridor of fire as wide as the street lanced towards us, bringing down the wall in rubble instantly, turning three of those by the wall into stumbling masses of burning flesh. As the smoke cleared, I saw the first suit reach the gap, striding through the flames as if they were not there. The last of the parents turned and charged at it, screaming not with fear I realised, but with rage, rage that these animals had come to take their children.
Still held in place by the futility of it all, I watched as they attacked the suit with pickaxes and poles. The suit did not even deign to try and stop them, instead reaching out to grasp Susan, Emma's mother by the head. It's hand twitched, and susans head came away, trailing spinal cord behind it. Her body fell to the floor, twitching helplessly. The suit took the head by the spinal column, and swung it like an ancient mace, to connect with one of the other parents, Peter's father, Walter. I watched helplessly as he fell to the floor. Alone, Logans mother, Jane, swung a last desperate blow at the suit, it connected squarely with the visor, but had no effect.
What happened next I will take with me to my grave. The suit reached out with it's other hand, stabbing towards her with one fist. It withdrew its hand and stepped back. Jane dropped the axe and began frantically clutching at herself, as I looked, I could see bulges appearing under her skin, moving along her veins. She fell to her knees, as the air coursed through her, then fell silently to the floor, frothing blood from every orifice. The suit appeared to look down at her, then continued towards the school.
It was this that broke my reverie, and I ran downstairs shouting for the children. Again that faint whistling noise, then the building shook as if from an earthquake, and I was flung from my feet by the impact. The entire left wing of the school had been collapsed by the last suit to be dropped into the combat zone, and with it, the children in the basement.
Grief tore at me from inside, I told them to stay there, it was my fault that they were killed. I sank to my knees, a soft keening noise escaping my lips as my sorrow spilled from me, and then a deep understanding passes through me, it was not I killing innocents, it was these animals in the suits, they were the ones responsible. Rage descended on me like the angel of death.
With a berserk scream, I drew on my own abilities and formulated death in my mind. The suit that had just landed stiffened and stood immobile as the blue thermal ability took hold, it's pilot now nothing more than an organic block of ice, forever frozen in the icy grasp of death. I threw myself at the suit, uncaring that its occupant was down, I had to see it for myself, I had to see it dead beneath my hands. My screams echoed through the building as I tore at the suit. In my rage, I did not notice it reach up with one hand until the hand was on me.
My body convulsed helplessly as electricity coursed through me, I felt all conscious control leave me as I slumped to the floor, barely aware of what was happening.
The suit stood over me, looking down at this pathetic creature that had tried to resist it. It pointed to a symbol on its right shoulder and through the haze, I made out the glyph of flux draining. Inwardly I cursed as it reached down and tore my clothing from me. There was a hiss of air as the power-suit began to open and I began to understand what the pilot was planning to do to me. As the suit opened, I heard a babble of comms traffic from inside it.
"Commander, tactical advises that we return to point at once, SLA is closing in on us, ETA 3 minutes."
"Three minutes is plenty of time for what I'm doing" replied the pilot "Sir?" the voice came back.
"I'll be back in time." he snarled into the com-link
I felt my legs opening as he forced his way in-between them, I tried to strike him, to make some form of protest to this, he easily caught my hand and struck me across the jaw. Again, the darkness threatened, I lay helpless on the floor as the animal readied himself to take his prize.
Through the pain and nausea I heard a muffled shout and the pilot fell heavily across me. He scrambled to his feet as I heard yells, high pitched yells break the silence. I struggled to focus on what was happening, my vision was still blurred, but I could see the pilot, his head covered by a large fire-blanket, getting up as Nathaniel, and Logan kicked and bit at him. A bestial snarl came from the corner as Sleepy, our mascot dog identified the pilot as a danger to his charges and bit in the only place he knew where to.
The pilot howled in agony as the dog clung to his genitals with all the power of a steel man-trap, and then a dull sound, like a gong was heard, and the pilot dropped to the floor.
Walter, still dripping blood from his head, dropped to his knees holding the spade from the garden in his hands. The children clustered around him, logan bringing me the blanket to cover myself with.
The suit still stood above us, the comm traffic started again.
"Commander, SLA is still en-route, ETA 30 seconds, we're bugging out, suggest you do the same."
The sound of jets reached us from the courtyard as the four of us breathed a collective sigh of released fear. The danger was passed. Walter looked to me through bloodshot eyes, the question clear within them. The single tear winding down my face answered him, and an anguished sob escaped him as he lowered his head to little Logan, weeping by his side.
A happy ending, for those who want it.