September 19th, 2033
The fire drove me north along the coast and I happened upon the sleepy beach town of Carpinteria. Unlike all the other cities I’ve come across, this place remains eerily untouched. There’s not one demolished building, or glass-strewn street; there aren’t any burnt shells of cars littering the landscape, nor are there any roads that have suffered damage under the weight of the transports.
Everything appears absolutely normal, – which is decidedly not normal.
Is it a trap? Absolutely.
I steered clear and climbed a small hill overlooking the seaside community. I trained my field glasses down on the untouched town and scoped the empty city streets. At first glance, the city appeared deserted, true enough, but it had a black cloud hanging over it. It was all too neat, all too convenient. Confirmation came when the metallic whine of a half-track assault vehicle could be heard off in the distance. There were troopers down there, no doubt about it.
Then I spotted movement on the north end of town.
From a half of a mile away, the silhouettes of nearly a dozen people filled my lens. To my surprise they were human. They were coming up off the beach and heading toward a row of formerly expensive homes lining the beach. They stopped short of the first one they encountered and bunched together, – almost if they were discussing whether or not to proceed any further.
Two streets to the east another flash of movement caught my eye. A squad of six heavily armed troopers emerged from the old fire station and headed for the unsuspecting group. The troopers moved slowly, but would still be on top of the group in no time at all.
I had to warn them.
For the third time in the past few days, I squeezed off a warning shot. It echoed throughout the night, catching the attention of both humans and Threak alike. Both parties reacted quite differently. The troopers stop dead in their tracks, while my fellow survivors scattered back to the beach and disappeared into the night.
I looked back over at the troopers, who were now scanning the hills for the source of the shot. And, for reasons I still can’t explain, I squeezed off another round.
Yeah, I’m up here! What of it!