Authors: Kyle West
Tags: #apocalypse, #high tech, #dystopian, #fantasy, #series, #the wasteland chronicles, #post apocalyptic, #coming of age, #science fiction, #ZOMbies, #Epic, #kyle west
The Wasteland Chronicles, Volume 3
by Kyle West
Published by Kyle West, 2013.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
First edition. August 4, 2013.
Copyright © 2013 Kyle West.
Written by Kyle West.
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To those who have read from the beginning: thanks for your continued support. Your encouragement has kept me going.
o matter how far or how fast you run, the past will always follow you.
Two months later, and none of what I’ve lived feels real. My dad will always be dead. Khloe will always be dead. Bunker 108, along with almost every other Bunker, is gone and offline. The United States no longer exists, except as an idea, along with the rest of the world’s governments. In their wake are the new players – the raiders, the gangs, and the empires fueled by slavery, bullets, and blood. And in the end, they won’t matter, either. After all, this world isn’t ours anymore. This world belongs to
– the Xenos. Samuel and Ashton now call them that.
When we return to Earth, it won’t just be survival this time. Our mission is to save a planet doomed to die. We must take what we have learned from the Black Files, and utilize it. The people of the Old World believed global warming, war, or famine would be our undoing. They were wrong. The Xenos pulled the plug before we even had the chance.
Now, we were madly trying to plug it back in.
The break from the action was nice for the first two weeks, but now we’re all just chomping at the bit to get back down there. After that long with nothing to do, I was starting to get bored.
I filled the time by working out and reading. There’s plenty of food up here, a very welcome change. I haven’t had steady meals since Bunker 108. Samuel, also, is training me in hand-to-hand combat, and Anna is training me in the katana. There is only so much I can learn before we head back. My main fear is that I won’t be ready in time.
The coming mission is the only thing I can focus on right now. In a weird way, it’s an escape. Maybe saving the world is the delusion that keeps me going. The four of us are caught in it, each in our separate ways and for our separate reasons. It has become our focus, our obsession. Everything else is on hold until this reaches its resolution, whatever that resolution happens to be.
Samuel said Ragnarok was only the beginning. I’ve come to realize what that beginning actually entails. Everything will become twisted up in the Blights, preparing the way for the Xenos. No one knows when they will come, or what they will be like. We do know, however, that they are advanced enough to have sent a meteor hurtling toward Earth, and that they are probably capable of interstellar travel.
Why they don’t just come right now, when we are already so weak, no one knows. It is a minor thing to be grateful for. It gives us time to find a solution.
Ashton and Samuel say that it is only a matter of time until everything is controlled by the xenovirus, and through the xenovirus, the Voice. Stopping it means going after the Voice itself. They confer hour after hour each day, trying to hash out a plan that will succeed in destroying the Voice while keeping everyone alive. If Bunker One was any indication of what Ragnarok Crater will be like, then we are in for the fight of our lives. Even with backup, the Voice won’t go down easily.
It’s not like Ragnarok Crater is a small thing, either. It is over a hundred miles wide. The Voice, or whatever controls it, is located in that entire area. We have to find a better way of locating its exact point of origin. Ashton said he is working on a solution to that problem.
The bottom line is: we don’t know enough yet. Finding those Black Files opened a Pandora’s Box of questions when we had expected answers. We know the Voice is coming from Ragnarok Crater in a series of low frequency sound waves, and that the xenofungus transmits these waves, communicating with all life forms under its spell. Anything infected with xenovirus will listen to the Voice’s directives. All xenolife behaves as if of one mind.
is controlling it. If we kill that something, it could spell the end of the invasion.
Well, this part of the invasion, anyway. The Black Files said the Xenos themselves are still coming – I assume on some sort of ship – or maybe there is a whole interstellar armada. When they arrive, I’m sure they are expecting to have a planet tailor-made just for them, covered with the Blights and all resistance dead. Assuming we
kill off the Voice, we still have to deal with Xenofall. We don’t know when Xenofall is coming. Xenofall could be tomorrow, one year, or ten years from now. We might even all be
by the time it happens.
Samuel keeps telling me to only take it one step at a time, so that’s what I’m trying to do. Right now, that one step is preparing myself as much as possible – getting my strength back and getting stronger besides. I run along the Outer Ring every day. It’s about a half mile course in total, so if I run around it six times, I can get three miles in. That’s a good pace for me now, because in addition to the running, I’m practicing my sprinting and speed. I’ve had to sprint more in the past few months than at any other point in my life, so I want to be ready for anything. I’m also doing pushups, pull-ups, and crunches in addition to my martial training from Samuel and Anna.
By the end of the day, I am so tired that I usually fall right asleep. At times, though, I can’t turn off my brain. So much has happened in the past few months that it’s impossible to process. I am constantly stressed and frequently have nightmares. I dream of Khloe, buried alive in the dry, red sand. I dream of the night when it all went to hell. And the monsters are always there, surrounding me, chasing me over bleak plains and jagged mountains.
The Blights are growing, festering like open sores on the surface. It would be bad enough without them, but it’s only getting worse. When I look down at Earth, you can see the Blights when the blood red clouds aren’t so thick. They are only in North America for now, but according to Ashton and Samuel, that will change drastically over the next ten years. The planet looks sick, for lack of a better word. It’s like it’s a living thing being poisoned from the inside out.
And there’s the rest of the world, too. The entire planet is depopulated to the same extent that America is – or worse. Ashton calls the ten years following Ragnarok the Chaos Years – a time when the world’s population dropped from 8.4 billion to mere millions. In China, city-states and proto empires fight amongst the ruins of civilization. In Europe, extreme cold has almost completely hampered population regrowth. In equatorial regions, people fared little better. War still consumes much of the world over limited resources. I guess wars will exist as long as there are enough people to fight them.
None of these people know about the xenovirus or Xenofall, and trying to communicate that idea through language barriers would be practically impossible. In his first years on Skyhome, Ashton had visited different parts of the world – China, India, Russia, Japan, Africa...but always found one of two things – either no one had survived, or there were so many survivors still fighting each other that making contact was far too dangerous. Maybe the Chaos Years ended in 2040 in the United States, but for much of the rest of the world, they were still living them.
Yet, we were all in this together. If we didn’t succeed in stopping the xenovirus, then all of humanity was as good as dead – and not just humanity, but every form of life that had managed to evolve in our planet’s tumultuous, 4.6 billion year history. Despite our planet being that old, as unimaginable as that length of time is, I
it has never experienced anything like this. A new form of life has invaded, something it has never seen before. When I left Bunker 108, I never thought to discover something like the xenovirus. All I wanted was a community to live in, another Bunker, somewhere to be safe.
I had found my community, but now, we were the ones trying to keep the world safe.
Anna grabbed my hands, giving me a stern expression. She twisted my clenched fists roughly on the hilt of her katana, forcing them to be vertical.
“Keep your grip loose, yet firm.”
I tried to do what she told me. I looked into her hazel eyes, which she then promptly rolled.
“Stop looking at me and focus. Make your mind blank. I imagine a black plane, a void. Have you been practicing that like I told you?”
“Yes,” I lied.
“No, you haven’t. I can tell.” She sighed. “That’s the most important part.”
“Where did you get this void thing, anyway?”
“I don’t know. I made it up, but it works.”
I smirked, holding the katana as steady as I could. “So, when do I get to swing this thing?”
Anna raised an eyebrow. “Would you quit being perverted and pay attention for once?”
She sighed again, but it was forced, and I could see the beginnings of a smile playing on her lips.
“Seriously. You need to practice meditating. Once you get the hang of it, you can make your mind completely blank. I always do it before a fight. It helps my concentration.” She looked at me. “Do you understand?”
“Yeah. Makes sense.”
“Good. You really need to practice it. I can’t stress that enough.” She looked at my arm, touching my left bicep. “You’re getting stronger. You’ve been working out still?”
“Yeah, of course. I didn’t realize you were such a fan.”
“I’m just commenting on your physique,” she said. Despite this comment, her face flushed slightly red “I can actually see you when you stand sideways, now. You were so rail thin before.”
“Ouch.” I set her katana gently on her bed. “My ‘physique’, huh?”
She ignored my comment. “When you go to your hab today, I want you to do the mediation. I mean it.”
“Alright. I get it.” I turned for the door. “I’m going to grab dinner, if you want to come.”
She shook her head. “I still need to practice myself. Thanks, though.”
“You’ve already practiced this morning.”
“I practice twice a day. If you can wait a couple hours...maybe. We’ll see.”
My stomach growled in protest. Between my hunger and her playing hard to get, I think my stomach was going to win. “No, I probably can’t wait that long. So, you want to meet at the same time tomorrow?”
Anna took up her blade, staring intently ahead. “Works for me.”
I left her room and made my way back to my hab. Two months in Skyhome, I finally got the chance to see Anna a little more. Nothing had happened between us. At least, not yet. I felt some flirtatious vibes from her, but it always looked like she was doing her best to suppress them. Which made sense; after all, we were all here for the mission. But when you spend a lot of time with someone, you can’t help but think about them.
So far, Anna had only agreed to help train me to use the katana. I wanted a backup, in case I somehow couldn’t use my gun, but I think we both knew that I was just using training as an excuse to get to know her. I had learned a lot, but I was still a long way from being even semi-competent. All the same, I appreciated everything I was learning, and it was nice to see her.
Still, after two months, I was hoping that things could have progressed a little more with Anna. And I wasn’t just crazy. After all, it was
she decided to grab down there on Earth, when the crawlers had been coming for us on the runway. And the way she looked at me sometimes, when she thought I wasn’t looking...well, let’s just say there
to be something there.
Hopefully, the right opportunity would present itself.
n returning to my hab, I practiced the meditation Anna taught me. I was failing miserably. No matter how much I tried, my thoughts kept spinning out of control. I’ve always been a sufferer of the disease known as “thinking too much.”