We walk down a staircase and enter the wide concrete bunker. It’s chilly, the ceiling is only about half a foot above my head, and support beams were placed everywhere. There’s blankets and chairs set up, and the dozens of workers occupying the bunker pulled them across the room, huddled around a single radio in the back.
The guild didn’t add the radio, I bought it. They did provide a phone, but it’s no use to me as neither my wife nor kids are at home now.
One of the guys turns from the radio and glances at us. “Oh! Holy crap, Gamon?”
Some more turn and they all wave or cheer, delighted that we’re all still alive.
“Should have known the gurant couldn’t kill you. What happened?”
I explain how we were caught outside and had to hide in the ship, but I say it with a lot more flair so it’s dramatic and suspenseful. Everyone especially gets a kick out of when I threw Eka down the gun hole.
“So, what’s going on outside? What’s the radio saying?”
Everyone pulls up some extra seats. “Nothing much right now. The gurant were just a few miles out from the city and the peldaks were ready. There was a drill going on at the base too, so they were able to roll out faster than normal.”
That explains the short bombardment.
“Nothing about what’s been hit yet, I guess it’s too soon.”
I sit down on the rough metal folding chair, then listen. The broadcaster goes over strategies, she interviews a military spokesman, and accepts callers who share their view of what happened.
She says that it seems more shells hit the city than usual, though we don’t know if that was intentional on the part of the gurant. I clench my teeth and myy heart sinks. I see the worried looks on everyone’s faces. Who died? My family? Friends? Someone I know?
The broadcaster gives updates on fires and how the ambulances are backed up, but no list of what was hit yet.
It feels like we have to wait an hour before reports slowly start to trickle in.
It’s confirmed that the military base wasn’t hit. A certain hospital downtown is fine. Nothing wrong with the offices downtown. A few assembly yards were confirmed hit, ours is mentioned and we give a cheer for having survived. She mentions one school is fine, a small business on the northern island isn’t, a road has been smashed to pieces, a factory was damaged. Finally, she mentions that the school my kids go to is safe.
My shoulders relax as I don’t need to worry. Everything is fine, my family is fine, I’m fine.
I distance myself from the rest of the group as a wave of exhaustion washes over me. Adrenaline and fear must have been pumping through me, but now that it’s gone, I just want to sleep.
Nothing to do now but fiddle away my time in the bunker. I need to get a proper assessment of the damages to the ship, we need to buff out the scorch marks, I’ll need to get in touch with the insurance company and get that gun replaced since I’m confident it’s too damaged to be fixed. The crane should be replaced too, it was ripped in half. At least right now, it doesn’t seem like anybody in our yard died. If there were casualties in the other yards, I should help arrange funerals.
There’s so much to do, but I can’t get a good scope of it until this bombardment stops and we can head out. Though… I guess nobody will want to continue working as if nothing happened. I gotta send these guys home first and foremost, and everything is still so hectic so I doubt phone calls will go through.
…I guess I can go home too. Not like there’s anything for me to do here by myself.
Yeah, schools should be closed for a few days. Natcha, my wife, will take off work from the base. It’s been a long time since I had a vacation, maybe I could take my family somewhere fun. With all the overtime I’ve been doing, I’ve saved enough money that we can go anywhere.
Some more guys peel off from the radio once their families are confirmed safe, and I start asking around for travel destinations. Most recommend going off world, since if you’ve seen one jungle island on Monsoo, you’ve seen them all.
As I’m doing that, the radio starts blasting a terrible hiss. Static echoes off the walls as the broadcaster cuts in and out. I move closer to it with the others, surely a room full of well-paid engineers such as ourselves should be able to fix this mechanical issue. Before we can open the radio and explore its guts, the static fades.
The box falls silent for just a moment, then a voice comes in crystal clear, a better signal than we had before.
“Good afternoon, people of Mae Hiarin.” It’s a man’s voice. He has a distinct accent that I’ve never heard before. “Terribly sorry to interrupt you during this chaotic time, but it is simply the best opportunity. In the aftermath of your most recent bombardment, we of the Gurant Empire have seen the pitiful response by your leaders, and have elected to replace them. The mayor of your fine city is dead in his home. The commander at your military base was shot. Captain of the police force? We collapsed the roof of his station on him. The broadcasting network, which have done nothing but spew propaganda for the vile peldaks, has found itself without a tongue, for your benefit. Your city is now leaderless and uncoordinated, but worry not, dear subjects, for the endless armies of the Gurant Empire are here to bring peace and order. Stay in your homes until our soldiers arrive to escort you to safety. Any found on the streets during these troubled times will be shot, for they must be hostile agents of the peldaks, and collaboration with those creatures is a crime of the highest order. Comply with our soldiers, keep your heads down, do not worry. We did not wish to annex your beautiful city, but the criminal mismanagement of your officials has left us with little choice. Work with us, and we, together, will make the world of Monsoo a golden beacon of prosperity within the Gurant Empire!”
He goes on to talk about other things, but Eka turns the radio off.
This… isn’t good.