Zero: “Attack”

Source: Eco-terrorist Video:


Section – Cover of Night:

The blurry image focuses on black gum sole shoes standing on packed gravel. A quiet whistle, off camera, precedes a man’s call. “Kayla, recorder on?”

“Running, sir.”

“Point it at me.”

“No problem, Andreas.” Kayla swings the recorder up and around to refocus on a tall, lanky man. “All about you, sir.”

Andreas stands outside the area defined by crushed rock. A short, wooden rail fence delimits the edge. He wears tight black clothing, black gloves, black gum sole shoes, and a black face mask to hide his identity. A black breather mask connecting to a thin pack on his back, covers his mouth and nose.

Posing with one foot propped on a rock the size of a chair and his hand draped over his knee, he fails to appear informal.

Speaking with a crisp voice and deliberate pace, Andreas preaches to the camera. “Corporate greed and government corruption continue destroying our world. Every day, the rich and greedy accumulate more power and more wealth by raping our planet’s resources with no consideration for the consequences of their actions.

“We believed our government would protect us from arrogant corporate leaders. Environmental laws mean nothing to them. Since the offenders can leverage their power and affluence to manipulate the regulations or buy their verdict. The pompous industry moguls feel invulnerable. Our government is useless.

“Beginning tonight, the world fights back. Tonight’s destruction will force greedy corporate egotists to reconsider their caustic dealings. Our actions demonstrate we shall no longer tolerate their flagrant lawlessness. Beginning tonight, we exploit their weaknesses. Beginning tonight, we stand firm against greed and corruption by sadistic conglomerates. Beginning tonight, the wrath of the planet will fall on them all.”

Andreas pauses and inhales. His foot thuds on the ground. He lifts his mask. “What do you think, Kayla? Too intense?”

Kayla hesitates.

Andreas crosses his arms over his chest.

“Funny stuff, sir. Wait. Are you serious?”

Andreas’ teeth grit as his eyes squint. “Of course I’m serious.”

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

Andreas winces at the thought. “Perhaps I should. Our adversaries must fear our attacks if we expect to generate any respect.”

“Ye-ah, but do you think a psychopath image will make the proper impression?”

Andreas pauses to think a moment. He pulls the mask over his face and repositions his breather. “Okay, let’s try another.”

“You’re on.”

Andreas stands tall. His hands hang by his side. He sucks in a deep breath. “Take two.” A few moments pass. “Tonight, we begin taking back our world for all living beings.” Andreas shrugs. “We see no alternative. Big business fills our air with poison. They dump toxic waste into our dwindling reserves of fresh water. The wastelands engulf more of our world. Beyond the deserts, coal mining clears forests of our remaining trees, leaving scars across our planet.

“Coal is how big business builds their fortune. Coal is why they accumulated too much power. Holding profit above all else, they claim no valid reason exists to stop mining. Science proves otherwise, yet nobody blocks these destructive practices. All the wealth and power in the world is worthless when everything is dead.

“Must we stand aside and watch? Do we react after they lay our planet to waste? We must stop them before we all die, or caustic environments force us to hide inside caves.

“Tonight, we take the first step toward removing their ability to control our world. We won’t let them mine coal. When we remove their funding, they will lose their power. Tonight, we reclaim our world for all living things.”

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

Kayla coughs. “Umm, better. You look crazy. But, you always look crazy.”

“Thank you, my dear. You’re sweet.”

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

The female shrugs and frowns at Kayla. “He sounds desperate. Let’s break something.”

The male smashes his 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 breathing mask sits crooked atop his head. “Marty, we’re here to blow something up, and to pieces. We must disable, or destroy, their digging machine to force them to stop their work for a while, or close the mine.”

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

Kayla zooms away to include both commandos. “I declare you are. We all in?”

Marty and Mary nod their heads.

“Kayla, one last announcement before we begin.”

The camera swings to view Andreas. “Remember when walking; tread soft, no talk, and no noise. Microphones around the perimeter listen to catch intruders. Monitor my hand signals. Inside the pit, use your code names from practice. I’m Leader. Marty and Mary, no change. Kayla, you’re running the camera this time, you’re Recorder. Ready? Don’t leave the bombs behind. Backpacks, on.”

“Yes, sir. Leader, sir.” She turns the lens on Mary and Marty.

The two swing their packs to their shoulders.

“Umm, Kayla.” The recorder moves back to Andreas. “Show me respect. I am the leader here.”

“Yes, Leader. No argument, sir. All business, now.”

Andreas wobbles his head and reaches for his pack with one hand. “Much better, Recorder.” On his first tug, his rucksack appears attached to the ground, immovable until he uses both hands to lift. Grunting and puffing, he slides a shoulder band on with both hands, stands erect, and struggles to push his free hand through the swinging strap. “Ugh, can someone help me with my…” His arm stabs at the dangling loop.

Kayla reaches from behind the recorder to grab and slide the strap to his shoulder. “Can you make the ridge with your pack?”

Andreas stands tall and stares at her. “Of course. The balance is awkward, but not bad after buckling the waistband.” He appraises his team and signals with a wave of his hand. “Head out.”

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

The path narrows as dark woods close in. The commandos move in a silent single-file while climbing the slight grade toward the crest. Their black clothing merges them into the darkness to conceal their stealthy tactical advance. The ridge before them blocks brilliant lights, creating a hazy halo. The trail ends in the shadow of a solid fence.

The image flickers. Slinking figures become ethereal shapes, their colorful rainbows glowing in the infrared view. The picture flicks to monochrome.

Approaching the barricade, Marty and Mary’s ghost images leave the path. They duck into the undergrowth bordering the trail and crouch, hiding in the shrubs and trees.

Andreas walks to the barrier. After a struggle, his backpack thuds near the obstruction. He draws open the backpack’s zipper and reaches inside the pocket. He groans with the effort of hefting a metallic device up and pushing it against the security panel. The tool hangs in place from a set of slender legs, making it resemble a giant spider. Leader presses a button, and a breathy whir begins.

The machine emits an invisible beam from its underside at the fence section, burning a glowing, yet silent cut around piece between its supports. Andreas grabs an edge to remove the slice before it falls free. He disconnects the spider. Its articulated attachment rods fold, and he drops it to one side of the trail.

Recorder moves closer and peers through the hole. Switching the camera to amplify mode, she pans the scene.

Dazzling construction lights flood the open-pit excavation’s extensive scar with daylight-level illumination. The pit’s opposite end is invisible beyond the haze, though the distant glow indicates the same intense light source. A precipitous incline drops from the fence to the rocky bottom of the crater.

The image zooms in on a gigantic heap of rock. Beside the pile, a monstrous digging machine sets idle. The pit lamps cast shadows across the floor from the pile and digger to the end of the drop below. Greener Power emblems mark the equipment.

The recorder takes a quick pan around the edge of the pit. Mounted along the fences at regular intervals, warning signs surround the rim. She stops panning and zooms tight on a sign. “Property of Greener Power Company. Trespassers perish on detection. Search: Right to Execute.”

More of the mine becomes visible as the camera backs out to a wider view and pans to another enormous machine working in the quarry. At a quarter the size of the bucket digger, it resembles a toy. The excavator crawls away, eight wheels churning against the pit’s floor. Its massive blade drags black rock from the pile.

Switching modes, the infrared image makes the machine light up with its turbines and exhaust stacks glowing. The sound of roaring engines and dragging rock is deafening. Recorder backs away from the hole to observe the other commandos move against the fence and survey the pit.

Andreas steps out of view. “Recorder.”

“Sir?” Kayla strains to respond above the excavator’s noise.

“After we reach the bottom, stay close until you find an optimal location to record our attack.”

“I will.” She aims the camera to view Andreas. “You might help as we move closer.”

“Of course.” He turns to the others and points below. “The logo on the digger is where we’ll decapitate prisoners. Ready?”

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

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

The other two follow him. Kayla switches to the amplified setting and holds the camera through the opening. Ropes fly off the edge, uncoiling as they fall. The commandos connect to their lines 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 line, turns, and jumps 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 and aims the recorder at the others. She jogs to rejoin her team.

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

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

Andreas peeks around the track bogies. Turning back to the crew, he points at the machine. “The excavator is returning for another load. Avoid its headlights.”

He draws a circle above 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 scoops. Raising a hand, Leader stops in the darkness under the silent chainsaw. Excavator lights flash between the buckets.

Kayla moves to stand beside Andreas.



“Go out far enough to document the entire operation.” He points ahead. The camera follows his gesture to focus along the string of huge buckets. “You can work near the end bucket until we prepare to leave.”

“Roger.” She holds her position until the excavator lights turn away.

“On my way.” She sprints forward to the gap between the scoops and stops. She turns the recorder toward the enormous wheeled machine, which moves away to approach the pile of coal. She breaks into a run, crosses the opening to the next bucket, and halts at the far edge to catch her breath. “Wow, I want a shot from here.”

She tilts the camera until aimed straight up. The gigantic shafts and bearings on the digging arm stand out from the rest of the machine. “I swear the top of the container must be two stories high.”

She swings the focus to the next bucket and jogs to the far side. The gap is in shadow. After pausing to affirm a miner doesn’t spot her, she continues to the next shovel. Half the scoop gouges below ground level.

She pauses again, to catch her breath. “The digger appeared gigantic from above. Up close, I find the machine intimidating. I hope we brought enough explosives to do more than dent them.”

She pans the camera to an equipment rack positioned a quick sprint away from the digging arm. “I see space under the rack stand.” She zooms in on a spherical tank and the stand beneath it. “Nothing under it. The support frame might be the best place to record us.”

Stealing through the shadow of the coal pile, she stops inside the stand and swings around. The pit lights illuminate the far side of the digger and the bucket arm. “Wow. The digging machine resembles an apartment building.”

She turns the camera toward the main body of the machine and spots the assault team, waiting where she left them. Opposite the scoop near her, the excavator engines gun. It drags another batch of ore across the floor of the mine. Drowning all other sounds, the ear-splitting grating and squealing from the work approach extreme levels. The ground shakes as the blade pushes another load away. Kayla holds her thumb up in front of the lens to signal her readiness to Andreas.

He taps Mary and Marty on the shoulders and points to various locations along the digging arm. They leave, following narrow maintenance ladders and ramps to strategic places. Andreas follows them. They look like tiny bugs climbing across the digger while they move between positions and pause to attach small packages to hoses, bearings, and drivelines. The excavator drives away. The din of its roaring engines and scraping blade, masking the sounds of their movement, fade as it moves away.

As the team advances toward Kayla’s recording stand, a single light inside the machine’s control bridge ignites. “What? Oh crap.”

From within the body of the digger, distant relays snap in rapid sequence. Bright lights fill the darkness along the bucket arm. The camera jerks toward the sounds as another relay volley triggers. Blinding artificial daylight explodes around the machine’s perimeter. Intense beams from work lights, flood the area around the buckets and disperse the shroud hiding the team. Caught in the rays, they stand motionless, casting their own long shadows along the digger’s sides. Lights ignite inside the control bridge silhouetting several men watching through the windows at the stranded members of the commandos.

“Not good. They’re visible.”

The shadows scurry to find darkness. Turbine engines spin up on the digger with shrill whines of ear-piercing rising pitch. The enormous buckets jolt into action, dragging through the stone beneath the arm.

A bucket drags closer. Sparks fly from the ground where its teeth grind below the surface. It approaches until it fills the entire image, bouncing the camera as it passes. Kayla gasps. She strains her voice to rise above the rumble of the merciless digging equipment. “What the…”

The ground quakes around the buckets as they gouge long strips of rock free. The drive-chain wrapped arm bounces up and drops, recoiling as the buckets rip into the surface. With each jarring rebound, commandos tumble free of their precarious positions along the machine’s digging arm.

Kayla springs from her post at a sprint, following along the bucket arm. A dark figure screams and smacks the surface of the black rock near her. “Trap, Kayla! Run!” She reaches for Marty but jumps back to avoid a shovel bearing down on her. She swings the recorder and catches all three trying to crawl or roll to safety.

Buckets gouging the ground catch the commandos before they can escape, scooping them with their loads of rock. Scraping and crushing rock sounds can’t muffle their screams from fear and pain. At the end of the arm, the buckets lift and round the end to empty on to the collection conveyors.

“I must hide!” Buckets chew rock as she passes close, threatening to catch her in their open maws. She maneuvers around them, stopping once to pan across the conveyors atop the monster.

She slips beneath the machine beneath 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 outdo the noise from the machinery. “This sucks… Don’t let them die.”

The image tilts down to follow the moving buckets. The multistory scoops driving into the ground in front of Kayla block the view. Before the next one lowers, the previous one travels away, dragging through the rock. The ground shakes as the teeth bite deep, peeling free another layer.

Klaxons sound. The image jumps. “Crap! Now what?”

The buckets stop in mid gash. The digging machine turbine-whines fall silent. The excavator makes no sound. Kayla’s mindful breathing is tense and audible. She holds her breath a moment before letting the air out. “Silence. I hear nothing. Are they dead?”

Footsteps fly overhead, clanging hard on the metal catwalks. Kayla steps from cover and lifts the camera to view the digging machine’s bridge. More operators burst through the doors to sprint along the skywalks and ramps. “Can’t see the conveyers. Must move to the other side.”

The image pans to the far bogie track. Kayla ducks under the machine and heads across. She darts from shadow to shadow until she steps on the track between two of the gigantic bogie wheels. “These should give me cover.” She taps one of the huge track plates. “And stop bullets.”

The camera peeks around the edge of plates. Men climb on output conveyors, searching through the coal. Black rock flies from the conveyor’s sides as the crew scoops with their hands.

A younger sounding man on the catwalk overhead yells to the others. “Someone is over there. I saw them when they fell under the arm. Keep digging.”

An older man overhead lets out a rough laugh, his coarse voice revealing years of breathing unfiltered air. “What’s the rush to find them? I’m sure they died.”

The first man ignores the haughty one and barks orders to the crew. “Check the belts. Dig through the coal if you don’t see them.”

More coal falls from the conveyors.

A man on the far side whistles and yells. “I found someone. I’m pulling her free.” A moment later, he yells again. “Her arm must be here somewhere.”

The man, with the gravelly voice, growls to his younger associate. “Yes! We got those damn eco-freaks. Causing minor injuries should stop those saboteurs. I’m glad your drone spotted them, Aaron. Watching them come down the ridge amused us all. We didn’t give them a chance to do anything.”

Aaron, his voice no longer soft, snaps back in response. “Right, Casey. They deserved a mangling. I can’t believe you would hurt them on purpose. You risked killing them when you tripped the buckets.”

Casey spits. “You saw what they did. The fault is all their own, and they earned whatever happens to them.”

“I don’t like what they do either, but they don’t deserve to die.”

“Those freaks never received the message. Our patience expired, and we will not take their crap anymore.”

“Despite how you justify your actions, we’re in deep trouble.”

“Bull. Don’t worry. Not a problem. Read the signs.”

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

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

Another voice shouts his success. “I found a skinny guy. He blacked out. Appears unharmed. Might be a concussion.”

Casey laughs again and finishes with a protracted cough. “Tourniquet the girl’s arm, but don’t worry about the guy’s leg. Take everyone to the platform by the bridge to fly them out.”

Kayla whispers to her recording. “Update. Mary is critical. Marty is hurt. Andreas is alive. How did we go wrong? We didn’t consider another deterrence, like drones.” She turns toward the ropes. “I can’t help. I must leave, or be caught, too.”

She slips from her hiding spot, skulking in the shadows beneath the gigantic digger. She stops, hiding in a shadow. She pans the recorder to find the gantry. The machine’s body blocks her view.

Kayla tiptoes toward the darkness of the slope. She grabs a line and starts her climb. The camera dangles, watching her feet throughout her quick ascent of the ridge. At the top, the recorder turns back to the dazzling lights of the digging machine. Toward the other end of the crater, aircraft lights flash. The digger crew loads the third commando on the platform, aligning them beside each other.

A white armband marks where Mary’s arm is missing. A crew member tosses the detached arm on to her chest from the conveyor belt.

Kayla sucks in a breath. “Treat her arm with respect, animal…” The image lingers on the team. The aircraft draws nearer. “None of my team is moving. I hope they didn’t die.”

The aircraft arrives and slows to a hover over the gantry. A rescue litter lowers from its belly. The image zooms in on the access gantry to focus on the injured forms. Two of the crew grab shoulders and feet to drag the three limp bodies into the litter and step away. The litter rises.

The crew return to the cabin as the aircraft slips away. The digger floods go dark. The light in the bridge lingers until the aircraft lights drop behind the distant ridge. It extinguishes, and the digger becomes a shadow.

Kayla sets the camera on the ground. It topples on its side. A moment later, she retrieves the recorder and aims it at the digger. The excavator is moving away, dragging another load. The digger sets inert beside the massive pile of the rock. “I can’t stand here with my team hurt, or dead, and allow the dreadful mineral to keep making the corporation rich. The outcome of our mission show flaws in our planning. Damn drones. They saw us coming. Somebody needed beheading.”

The excavator delivers its load and goes silent. The air is quiet. The image lingers on the lifeless scene.

A slate lights up in front of the camera. The display shows a blue background with a lone red dot. From below the frame, Kayla’s finger moves up and touches the button. The screen drops from view.

From inside the turbine compartment, a bright flash, shining through vent panels, precedes an intense explosion. The fireball mushrooms to the ground and spreads beneath the machine’s entire body, lifting the digger from the surface. The shock wave ascends the ridge in an instant and knocks the recorder 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, lit by flickering light.

“Addendum. I’m glad I hid behind the barrier when I pressed the button. The solid panels protected me, but the blast blew the recorder from my hand and knocked me unconscious for a bit. I’m awake now, and the quarry is a mess.”

She climbs to her feet, grabbing the fence to stabilize herself. “Whew, I’m a little woozy.”

The image pans away from her face and focuses through the hole in the section. The open pit is ablaze. The coal pile is burning with flames jumping skyward. Kayla tilts the camera up to record the height, twice as high as the rim of the mine. Billowing smoke, the underside lighted by the inferno attests to the ferocity of the blaze. Men scream frantic orders creating a soundtrack of terror for the image. “Sloppy, but mission accomplished. Tonight, as Andreas wanted, we caused discomfort.”

Refocusing on the floor of the pit, miners struggle with futile effort to gain control of the flames using a dozen fire suppression units. They spray foam at the immolated pile. The heat, from the blaze, melts the smothering agent before it can reach the blazing pyre. The bucket machine burns in pieces where the commandos placed their bombs.

“Look at the floor beyond the activity.” The lens zooms past the digging machine inferno and stops. “For the record, I believe I see three bodies. I can’t tell if others died.”

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

The recorder turns back to Kayla’s face. “I better go. They will search for intruders.”

The image goes dark.


One: “Enchantment”


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