Zero: “Attack”

Source: Eco-terrorist Video:

 

Section – Cover of Night:

The image is a blur. A quick focus shows a pair of female feet in black gum sole shoes standing on packed gravel.

“Kayla. Recording?” a man from off camera asks.

“Running, Sir.”

“Aim it at me.”

“No problem, Andreas,” Kayla swings the camera up and around to focus on a tall, lanky man. “We’re all about you, Sir.”

Andreas stands outside the gravel area. A short, wooden rail fence delimits the edge. He wears tight black clothing, black gloves, and black gum sole shoes. A black facemask hides his identity. A black breathing mask covers his mouth and nose.

Posing with one foot propped on a chair-sized rock and his hand draped over his knee, he fails to appear casual. He begins speaking with a deliberate pace, “Corporate greed and government corruption continue destroying our world. Tonight, our acts of destruction will force greedy corporate egotists to reconsider their selfish actions. Every day, the rich and greedy accumulate more power, with nobody stopping them. Laws mean nothing to them since they can buy their verdict. The government is useless. With our actions tonight, we demonstrate we will not take any more of their flagrant lawlessness.”

Andreas stops his oration. He puts his foot on the ground and lifts his mask. “What do you think, Kayla, too much?”

 “Wait. Uh…  You are serious?”

“Of course I’m serious.

“Andreas, I agree we must stop exploitation, but you sound like a psychopath.”

Andreas winces. “Maybe I should sound like a psychopath. Our adversaries must become aware of our effort.”

“Do you think a psychopath image will make the proper impression?”

Andreas pauses to think a moment. He pulls the mask over his face. “Okay, Kayla. Try another. Video running?”

“Video running.”

Andreas stands tall with his hands hanging by his side. He sucks in a deep breath from his breather mask. A few moments pass, he tries again, “Tonight, we begin taking back our world for all living beings.” Andreas shrugs. “We see no other choice. Big corporations fill our air with poison. They dump toxic waste into our dwindling fresh water. The wastelands engulf more of our world. Mining strips our forests, leaving coal scars across the rest of our planet.

Coal is how big business makes their money. Coal is why they built too much power. Holding profit above all else, they claim no good reason exists to stop mining. Science proves otherwise, yet nobody blocks these destructive practices. Before we all die, we must stop them. Tonight, we take the first step toward removing their ability to control our world. We won’t let them mine coal. We will remove their funding. They will lose their power.”

Andreas pauses. He takes a deep breath from his breather mask and exhales, “Better?”

Kayla coughs, “Better. You look crazy. But, you look crazy all the time.”

“Thanks, Dear. You’re sweet.”

Kayla pans to two other people in tight black clothing. They look into the camera. “What do you two think?”

The female shrugs, “He sounds desperate. Let’s break something.”

The male smashes a fist into his other palm, “I’m with you, Mary. I joined to see something blow up. I’m not here for disappointment.

Kayla zooms on the man’s face. His mask sits crooked on his head, “Marty, I hope we do blow something up, and to pieces, explaining why we’re here. We must make their digging machine inoperative. We can stop their work for awhile, or they close the mine.”

Marty pinches his lips together, “Am I where I belong?”

Kayla zooms back, “I declare you are. We all in?”

Marty and Mary nod their heads.

“Kayla.” The camera swings to Andreas, “Everybody remember, when walking, tread light, no talking, and no noise. Microphones listen around the perimeter to catch intruders. Monitor my hand signals. Inside the pit, no names. I’m Leader. Kayla, you‘re running the camera, your code name is Recorder. Ready? We can’t leave the bombs behind. Backpacks on.”

“Yes Sir, Leader, Sir.” She swings the camera at Mary and Marty.

The two swing their packs to their shoulders.

“Uh, Kayla.” The camera swings back to Andreas. “Show me respect. I am the leader here.”

“Yes Sir. No argument, Sir. We’re all business.”

“Much better.” Andreas reaches for his pack with one hand. On his first tug, his rucksack stays on the ground, not moving until he uses both hands to lift. Grunting and puffing, he slides a strap over one shoulder and struggles to push his arm through the dangling strap. “Um, can someone help me with my…” Andreas takes another stab at getting his arm through the dangling loop.

Kayla reaches from behind the recorder, grabs, and slides the strap on his shoulder. “Can you make the ridge with this pack?”

Andreas stands tall and stares at Kayla, “Of course. The balance is awkward, but not bad once I buckle the waistband.” Andreas looks at his team, “Head out.”

He walks off the gravel pad to follow a dirt footpath. Marty and Mary follow him, walking together. Kayla follows with the recorder running.

The trail changes to a narrow path as dark woods close in. The commandos move in silence, single file, climbing the slight grade toward the ridge. Their black clothing cloaks their stealthy tactical advance. The ridge before them blocks brilliant lights creating a hazy halo. The trail ends at the silhouette of a solid fence.

The image flickers. Slinking figures become ethereal shapes, glowing in the infrared image. Approaching the barricade, Marty and Mary’s ghost images leave the path. They duck into the undergrowth bordering the trail and merge under cover of the shrubs and trees. Andreas walks the path to the barrier. After struggling, his backpack thuds near the fence. He draws the backpack’s zipper open and reaches inside the pocket. He groans with the effort of hefting out a metallic device and pushing it against the fence. The tool hangs in place from a set of slender legs, making it resemble a spider. Leader presses a button and a quiet whir begins. The device uses an invisible beam to make a silent cut around a section of the fence under its legs. Andreas grabs an edge to remove the panel before it falls free. He removes the spider, legs fold, and he drops it to one side of the trail. The video recorder moves closer and peers through the hole.

The camera switches to “normal light” mode and pans the scene through the cut. Dazzling construction lights flood the open-pit excavation’s extensive scar with daylight-level illumination. The other end of the pit is not visible through the haze, even under the same powerful lights. A precipitous incline drops from their location, to the rocky floor of the crater.

The image zooms in on a gigantic pile of rock. Beside the rock pile, a monstrous digging machine sets idle. The pit lights cast shadows of the pile and digger to the bottom of the drop below. Greener Power emblems stand in prominent locations. The recorder takes a quick pan around the edge of the pit. Mounted on the fences at equal intervals, warning signs surround the rim. She stops panning and zooms tight on one displaying curt warnings. “Property of Greener Power Company. Trespassers executed on detection. Search: Right to Execute.” More of the mine becomes visible as the camera zooms out.

She zooms in on another machine working in the mine. The machine is large, but at a quarter the size of the digging machine, it looks like a toy. The excavator, eight wheels churning against the pit’s floor, crawls away. Its massive blade drags black rocks from the pile, pushing to another destination. Switching to infrared mode, the excavator’s turbines, and exhaust stacks glow. The sound of it working is startling. The recorder pulls away from the hole as the others move to the fence to survey the pit.

Andreas turns to the camera and hisses, “Recorder.”

“Yes Sir.” She speaks above the excavator’s noise.

“Stay close. When we reach the bottom, find an optimal location to record our attack.”

“I will,” Recorder turns the camera to Andreas. “You might help me discover a good place as we move closer.”

“Agreed,” He turns to the others, “The logo on the digger is where we’ll decapitate prisoners. Ready?”

Except for the whine of the excavator’s engine, the answer to his question is silence.

“Uh, I’m kidding. No beheadings today.” He gestures to move-out and climbs through the opening.

The other two commandos follow him. Kayla switches to the standard setting and holds the camera through the opening. Ropes fly over the edge, uncoiling as they fall. The commandos connect to their ropes and rappel down the slope. Each long bound ends with sliding through loose soil and broken rock. Soon, they vanish into the shadow cast by the mountain of coal.

Switching to infrared, she detects three slight contrast shifts behind the digging machine, “They’re together. My turn.”

She steps through the fence, connects to a rope, turns, and steps off the edge. The camera records her descent with flashing images of her feet on each landing. On the mine’s floor, she disconnects from the rope. She aims the recorder at the others and heads their way. A short jog later, she rejoins her team.

Andreas taps Marty on the shoulder and points under the digger. Marty leaves the group in a quiet run. In the darkness beneath the machine, Marty disappears. The image flips to infrared mode and finds his ghost standing under the machine. Moments later, a maintenance hatch clicks open. Dropping a short ladder from the digger’s underside to help climb, he disappears into the hatch. A few moments later, he drops to the ground, replaces the ladder, and latches the hatch. Marty jogs back to the team.

The excavator’s turbine whine drops to a lower pitch, and the scraping blade is quiet.

Andreas looks around the track bogies then back at the crew, “The excavator could be returning for another load. Avoid its headlights.

He draws a circle over his head with one finger and ends the motion by pointing at the buckets of the digger. The team maneuvers through the shadows beneath the machine’s scooping arm and building-sized buckets. Raising a hand, Leader stops in the shadows beneath the silent chainsaw. Lights from the excavator flash through the buckets.

Kayla moves to stand next to Andreas. “Recorder.”

“Sir?”

“Go far enough away to document the entire operation.” He points at a huge bucket. “You can work over by the far bucket until we finish and prepare to leave.”

She leans to his ear to answer over the Excavator noise, “Roger, Sir.” Holding position until the excavator lights turn away, she moves forward. She crosses a gap to the next bucket and stops to catch her breath. “Wow, I want a shot from here.”

She tilts the camera until looking straight up. “The top of the bucket must be two stories high.”

She swings the focus to the next bucket ahead and jogs to the edge of the bucket. The gap is in shadow, allowing her to continue to the next bucket. Half of the bucket rises from the ground. The gigantic shafts and bearings stand out from the rest of the machine. She pauses to catch her breath.

“The digger seemed gigantic from above. Up close, I find the machine intimidating. I hope we brought enough explosives to do more than dent them.” She turns the camera to an equipment rack positioned a ways from the digging arm. “I see enough space under the rack stand.” She zooms in, “Nothing under it. The rack could be the best place to record this.”

Stealing through the shadow of the coal pile, she stops under the stand and turns around. The pit lights illuminate the back of the digger and the bucket arm. “Wow. The digging machine looks like an apartment building.”

She turns to view the assault team and record their work. Andreas waited in place while watching her take position. Opposite the bucket near her, the excavator engines gun. It drags another load of ore across the floor of the mine. Drowning all other sound, earsplitting grating and squealing approach extreme levels. The ground shakes as the excavator drags the load away. Kayla holds her thumb up in front of the lens to motion her readiness to Andreas.

Andreas taps Mary and Marty on the shoulders and points to various locations. They leave, following narrow maintenance ladders and ramps to strategic positions on the digger arm. Andreas follows them. They look like tiny bugs climbing the arm of the digger while they attach small packages to hoses, bearings, and drivelines. The excavator’s roaring engines and scraping blade masks the sounds of their movement as it moves away.

The commandos advance to the ramps across from Kayla’s recording stand. From the body of the digger, distant relays snap in rapid sequence. Light fills the shadows along the bucket arm. The camera jerks toward the sound as lights ignite inside the control bridge. Another relay volley triggers. Brilliant artificial daylight explodes around the machine’s perimeter. Intense beams from work lights flood the area around the buckets, removing the shadows where the team hides. Caught in the beams, they stand motionless, casting shadows along the digger’s sides.

“Not good, they’re going to be seen.”

The commandos scurry to find darkness. Turbine engines spin up on the digger with powerful, ear-piercing whines. The huge buckets jolt into action, dragging across the ground beneath the digging arm.

A bucket drags closer. Sparks fly from the ground where its teeth sink below the surface. It approaches until it fills the entire image, bouncing the camera as it passes. Kayla gasps.

“What the…” her voice rises above the rumble of the merciless digging equipment. The ground quakes around the buckets as they gouge long strips of rock free. The digging arm bounces and drops, recoiling as each bucket tears into the rock. With each jarring rebound, commandos tumble free of their precarious positions along the machine’s digging arm.

Kayla springs from her post at a run, following close to the bucket arm. “Trap!” a dark figure screams before hitting the surface of black rock near Kayla. She swings the recorder and catches all three trying to crawl or roll to safety. Buckets scraping the ground catch them before they can escape. They scoop the commandos off the ground with their loads. The sounds of scraping and crushing rock can’t muffle their screams of fear and pain. At the end of the arm, the buckets lift and round the end to empty onto the main conveyors.

“I must hide!” Buckets chew rock as she passes close, threatening to catch her in their open maw. She maneuvers around them, stopping once to pan the top conveyors. She slips beneath the machine, near the cabin, and leans against a massive bogie to catch her breath. The camera jerks upward to follow the overhead conveyor belts.

Her voice strains as she screams to rise above the noise of the machinery, “This sucks! Stop! Don’t let them die.”

The image tilts down to the moving buckets. The multistory scoops lowering to the ground in front of her block the view. Before the next one lowers, the previous one travels away, dragging along the ground. The ground shakes as the teeth bite deep to peel another layer of rock.

Klaxons sound. The image jumps. “Oh crap! What’s happening?”

The buckets stop, mid gouge. The digging machine turbines fall silent. The excavator makes no sound. Kayla’s breathing is tense and audible. She holds her breath a moment, lets the air out, and whispers, “Now what?”

Footsteps fly overhead, clanging hard on the metal catwalks. Kayla steps from her hiding place and lifts the camera to view the digging machine’s bridge. More operators burst through the doors to run along the ramps. The image pans to the far track as Kayla ducks under the machine and runs across for a better view. She darts from shadow to shadow until reaching the track. She approaches two gigantic bogie wheels. “They should give me cover.” The camera peeks around the edge of the huge track plates. Men climb onto the output conveyors, looking for the people in the coal. Black rock falls from the conveyor’s sides as the crew scoops with their hands to help.

A man yells, his voice is distant, “Someone is over here. I saw them when they fell under the arm. Keep looking.”

Another man laughs with a gruff voice, “What’s the rush to find them. I’m sure they died.”

The first man orders the crew, “Check the belts. Dig through the coal if you don’t see them.”

Coal falls from the conveyors.

A man in the distance whistles, “I found someone. I’m pulling her free.” A moment later, “Her arm must be here somewhere.”

The man with the gruff voice growls nearby, “Yes! We got those damn eco-freaks. Causing minor injuries should stop those saboteurs. I’m glad your drone spotted them as they came down the ridge, Aaron.”

Aaron, his voice no longer soft, snaps, “Yeah, Casey. They sure did deserve a mangling. I can’t believe you would hurt them on purpose. You knew you could kill them when you started the buckets.”

Casey spits, “You saw what they did. The fault is all their own…  and they earned whatever they get. We gave those freaks too much time to get the message. We will not take their crap anymore.”

“I don’t like what they do either, but they don’t deserve to die. Despite how you justify your actions, we’re in deep trouble.”

“Don’t worry. Not a problem. Can’t you read the signs?”

Above the noise from the approaching excavator, Casey raises his voice to address his crew. “How many did you find, and what is their status?”

A distant voice calls, “Over here. I found someone. His head’s cut…  bad. Leg might be broken. He’s out, but alive.”

Another voice answers, “I found a skinny guy. He blacked out but looks unharmed. Could be a concussion, though.”

Casey laughs again, “Take them to the platform by the bridge. Let’s tourniquet her arm. We’ll prepare them to fly out of here.”

Kayla whispers to her recording, “Mary is in trouble. Marty is hurt. Andreas is alive. How did we go wrong? We didn’t consider other possibilities.” She turns toward their ropes. “I can’t help. I must leave, or get caught, too.”

She slips from her hiding spot, skulking in the shadows beneath the gigantic digger. She stops, hiding in the darkness and pans the recorder to the gantry, zooming in on her team. She tiptoes toward the darkness of the slope. The camera dangles, watching her feet throughout her quick ascent of the ridge. At the top, the recorder turns back to the bright lights of the digging machine. Toward the other end of the crater, aircraft lights flash. The digger crew loads the commandos on the platform, lining them up, beside each other.

A white armband marks where Mary’s arm is missing. A crewmember tosses the detached arm on her chest, “Treat her arm with respect, animal. None of my team is moving. I hope they didn’t die.”

An aircraft arrives to hover over the digger, lowering a rescue litter. The image zooms in on the access gantry to focus on the injured forms, documenting the operation. The digger crew drags three limp bodies into the litter and step away.

As the aircraft slips away, the digger goes dark.

Kayla sets the camera on the ground, toppling on its side. A moment later, she retrieves the camera and aims it at the digger. The excavator is moving another load. The digger sets dark beside the huge pile of the rock. “I can’t stand here with my team hurt or dead and let their rock make corporations rich. We didn’t plan our mission well. Damn drones. They detected us coming. We should have beheaded somebody.”

The aircraft disappears over the far rim. The air is quiet, and the image lingers. A slate lights up in view of the camera. The display shows nothing, except a red button. From below the frame, Kayla’s finger moves up and touches the button. The slate drops from view.

A bright flash from below the engine compartment precedes an intense explosion. The fireball mushrooms to the ground and spreads beneath the machine’s entire body, lifting the digger from the ground. The shock wave ascends the ridge in an instant and knocks the camera back.

The image goes dark.

Section – Hellfire:

A mottled blur focuses on the ground. Bright light flickers from one direction. The camera tilts up and pans around. Kayla’s face fills the image, flickering in the light of a fire.

“Addendum. I’m glad I hid behind the fence when I pressed the button. The fence protected me, but the blast knocked me unconscious for a bit. I’m awake now and this is a mess. Whew, I’m a little groggy, but look. We should make an impression with this.”

The image pans away from her face and looks through the hole in the fence. The open pit is ablaze. The coal pile is burning with flames jumping twice as high as the rim of the mine. Kayla tilts the camera up to record the tops of the flames. Men scream frantic orders making an urgent soundtrack of terror for the image.

Refocusing on the floor of the mine, miners struggle to make a futile effort to gain control the flames using a dozen fire suppression units. They spray foam at the immolated pile. The heat of the fire melts the foam before it can reach blazing pyre. The digging machine where the Commandos placed their bombs is in pieces and itself burning.

“Look at the floor beyond the activity.” The camera zooms past the digging machine and stops. “Three bodies. I wonder if others died?”

The camera pans back to the blazing coal. “Those guys should let it burn out. Their efforts can’t touch the fire.”

The camera turns back to Kayla’s face, “I better go. They will be looking for intruders.”

The image goes dark.

~~~~****~~~~

One: “Enchantment”

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