“Soldier, get those civilians to the bunkers,” commanded the sergeant.
“Sarge, the bunkers are full, we have to turn back.”
“Not an option soldier, get those civilians to safety.”
Screams echoed through the tunnels, and the acrid smell of scorched flesh filled the air. Terrified colonists packed into the narrow shafts leading to the bunkers.
An intense heatwave blasted the region. Powerful solar flares bombarded the area and grew more extreme throughout the day. Never in the colony’s history had such a catastrophic event occurred.
“Colonel, casualty reports are coming in from the outlying areas,” said a young soldier in the command center, "there's dead and wounded in all sectors."
“Sir, reports of earth tremors are coming in from the southern sector,” said a second soldier. “The flares cut off the tunnels to the west. Colonists are sheltering in the mountain caves. We have soldiers on the way.”
"Deploy the scout regiment," said the colonel, "I need more intel."
“Yes Sir,” said the soldier, “and the general has ordered an emergency briefing with the scientists. They are waiting for you in the war room.”
The scientist and military personnel gathered in the dimly lit war room. The somber faces of the group spoke volumes.
“What have the scientists learned about this sudden heatwave?” asked the general in a stoic voice. “And the earth tremors, are they related to solar activity?”
“Unfortunately, we have no definitive answer for the events,” said the head scientist, “we are still analyzing the data.”
Another scientist spoke up, “Some experts have theorized that the sun is going supernova, but that is unlikely. The seismic activity does not correlate with the heatwave. Again, there are theories, but—”
"We need answers, not assumptions," the general interrupted, scowling at the scientist, "get back to work on that data."
The earth tremors increased in frequency and became stronger. Tunnels leading to the inner complex in the south collapsed. Dirt and debris rained down on the trapped colonists. They screamed out for help, but none came.
The heat subsided for a short time, but another phenomenon emerged in the central region. Large meteors pelted the outer perimeter, near the command center. Military staff scrambled to evacuate the area.
"What the hell is happening?" shouted the general.
“Sir, meteor fragments are falling close to the area. Are they related to the heatwave and earth tremors?” a soldier responded in a trembling voice.
"Get the scientists out of here. Get them to safety," said the general, "we need an explanation for this chaos, and we need it now."
"Sir, listen, the blasts have stopped," said the soldier, "maybe it's over."
An eerie quiet descended across the colony, and for a brief time, the disasters subsided.
"Let's pray it has, but I wouldn't count on it," said the general, "we still need explanations. Get those scientists to a safe location; we have a colony to save."
The scientist worked for hours, trying to decipher the data that poured in from the neighboring sectors. Nothing in the information made sense. There wasn’t a logical explanation for the sudden onset of the heatwave, the earth tremors, or the meteor strikes. Baffled by the occurrences, they had no immediate answers for the general.
Without warning, the earth shook. The tremors were back in full force. The sweltering heat followed. Communication with the other areas of the colony was sporadic.
"General, we've lost contact with the scout," said a soldier.
"Damn it, how did this happen? Last known locations?" shouted the general, slamming a hand against the wall.
"Sir, the scouts were in the western and southern sectors," said the soldier.
"Did we get any information before losing the signals?"
“Yes Sir, the southern sector was destroyed,” said the soldier, "tremors wiped out the tunnels. No survivors reported.”
"Any intel from the western area?" asked the general.
“No reports from the west," said the soldier, "the signal was lost. No information received.”
The chance of survival was slim. The remaining colonists had limited provisions stocked in the bunkers. Even if the catastrophic events stopped, they only had enough food and water stored to last a few days.
"Sir. The colonel sent a message," said a soldier, "the scientists made a discovery."
"Let him know I'm on the way to the briefing room," said the general.
In the briefing room, the scientists and military assembled. The scene was disorganized and frantic. The specialists had concluded that terrible disasters were not slowing down.
"General, we still have not determined the reason for the sudden catastrophes," said the head scientist, "but we know the colony is facing an extinction-level event."
"How long do we have?" said the colonel.
"Twenty-four hours, maybe less," said the scientist, "and that's if nothing else arises."
Before the words resonated with the group, a soldier raced into the room. More news had come in from the lost scouts.
Wide-eyed and out of breath, the soldier gasped out the words, "Sirs, a tsunami hit the western sector. And it's headed this way."
"Get the colonists out of the tunnels," commanded the general, "get them to higher ground."
"Sir, it's too late, there's nothing we can do," said the colonel, "this is the end of our world."
"God, help us all," the general said weeping, "it's been a pleasure to serve with you brave soldiers."
"Sir, it's been our pleasure to serve under your command," replied the colonel.
The soldiers saluted their commanding officers. Time was up. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. A sweeping wall of water pushed through the tunnels and into the inner rooms. The brave soldiers and scientists were lost.
The few colonists who survived the day resettled to a secure location, higher in the mountains. They told tales of the horrific heatwave and of the heroic individuals that gave their lives to save the colony.
“Johnny, leave those ants alone and get in the house, it’s time for dinner,” said Johnny’s mother.
“Ah, Mom, I wanna play a little longer,” said Johnny.
“You’ve been tormenting the ants all day. Now put your magnifying glass away, turn off that water hose, and get in the house.”