The final stand did not take place in the mountains after all. The Cyborg-Arachnids, both type one and two did not follow the remnants of the human population to the mountains. We had finally run out of food and were forced to return to the town of Gondar in spite of fears that we would be confronted by the aliens. I sat on top of the hillock overlooking the town, and somehow everything seemed rather peaceful. I was lost in the music of birdsong, when suddenly from a little beyond came the sound of voices. “Greg, where are you?” called out Guenet, a strapping woman in her thirties, a pulse gun held by the strap slung across her shoulders. She was accompanied by Meseret, a girl in her late teens, and her sister, Almaz, a girl still a baby, at twelve years old. The kids carried the more conventional pulse guns. I stirred from my perch and waved my hand in silent acknowledgement. “Well, what have you found out? Any activity in the town?” To which Guenet answered in a cautious tone, “ no, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of the aliens, the town seems to have been abandoned by the Cyborgs!” Meseret added, “ I don’t think the aliens have gone very far, they are just hiding and waiting for us to return!” It the peacefulness of the town below us seemed so deceptive, “ No, I guess not, Meseret, we need to proceed with great caution towards the town. We will first proceed to the Super Mart and see what we can gather from there and then proceed to the Hospital and gather whatever medicines we can!” Almaz who had been so quiet till now, could not hold herself, and rather wistfully she said, “ can I have some chocolates and Marshmallows from the Super Mart ?” To this Guenet reprimanded her rather crossly, “ you think we have come for Chocolates, Almaz?” “Let her be, Guenet!” I countered, the baby in our group of four had always been addicted to chocolates and marshmallows, which we had run out long ago! I had been taken up as the acknowledged mentor and leader by this mother and daughters trio, and they had always looked up to me as the father they had lost in the initial contact with the aliens before fleeing to the mountains.
We were part of an advance scout group of twenty men women and children, children because we had run out of able men and women who could handle the few weapons we had. After a brief respite in which we had some soup and biscuits, we proceeded towards the town in a single file. There was a slight chill in the morning but otherwise it was quite pleasant. We all walked in a single file and spoke in hushed voices, I lead the group with Guenet, Meseret and Almaz following suit. Sixteen others followed us. We finally reached the Quantex Super Mart but realised that the steel doors were locked! I called up Stephen who was our electronics expert on the two way handset and told him to brings his bag of tricks. Stephen inserted two prongs into the electronic panel and grunted, “ well open sesame.” There a few beeps from the instrument he was holding, and then with a click and a tired grind, the steel doors of the Super Mart rolled back. I patted him on the back, “ good job Stephen,” and indicated to the others to enter the Super Mart, while Stephen, Guenet and I stayed at the entrance to form the rear guard while the others foraged for necessary provisions. The hand held scanner in Stephen’s hands beeped steadily suggesting that there was no Cyborg in the vicinity, but then I was not really convinced, so I said to Guenet, “ It somehow doesn’t feel right! This absence of the aliens is too unnatural!” “True,” mused Stephen,”what do you think we should do?” I looked at the rest of the group foraging in the Mart and called out to them to hurry up. I felt somehow uncomfortable, as if we were being watched by unseen eyes. “Guenet,” I said, “ I am taking Stephen to that ridge where the slightly elevated position might help extend the range of the scanner. You take care of the group. In case of any emergency proceed to the hospital and barricade the Northern gate. Leave the East facing gate open so that you can escape from it.” Sure,” she answered. “And make sure you proceed straight to higher ground, preferably towards the hill from which we came!” I said. “Yes. Sir!” she exclaimed and saluted. I however wanted to make sure she remembered everything although we had gone over the scenario repeatedly. With this, Stephen and I proceeded to the ridge just before the Super Mart.
We climbed the ridge and reached the top which overlooked the town. The birds sang, and the insects buzzed. It looked like any other normal morning the moon still to be seen in the blue sky with the sun looking down with a rather benign expression. The lazy beep of the scanner suddenly increased in intensity and became rather urgent. “What…?” I urged! Stephen looked with alarm towards the South, “Type two Cyborgs approaching from there,” he said pointing. “How far?” I shot back. “About hundred klicks and closing in fast!” he exclaimed. Without missing a beat, I called Guenet on the two-way and got a terse, “Yes, Greg?” “Guenet, herd all the people towards the Hospital and hold fort till we come. The cyborgs are approaching from the South. Don’t, I repeat, don’t take high ground, we will be sitting ducks!” I turned to Stephen and nodded towards the Hospital building and he nodded in acknowledgement as we rushed down towards the Hospital. Down below we could see that the rest of the group had begun to file towards the Hospital building. They were going to reach the building much before Stephen and me.
The building out houses blocked our line of sight to the Northern gate of the Hospital. There was just then a terse hiss from Stephen who pointed towards the South, and there close to the horizon were rather strange looking aerial crafts heading in our direction! “Run!” I shouted to Stephen and rushed towards the Northern gate before Guenet and the others barricaded it. Somehow it was the more evident gate out in the open, and we were fairly sure that the East gate was fairly hidden. We reached just in time as Guenet and the others began to swing the doors shut. They looked apprehensively towards Stephen and me, and we just nodded. “Stephen and I put our shoulders to the door and when they clanged shut, we began to shift whatever furniture came to hand, gurneys, metal cabinets, and chairs. We had barely a minutes before the aliens landed along with the Cyborg-Arachnids. I could see Guenet and Meseret gesticulating to the stragglers down the corridors towards the exit we had decided on. Two of our group fell down to the floor extended the tripods of a couple of automatic pulse guns aiming the snouts towards the gate we had just barricaded. Just then there were some loud, “thuds”, the aliens had landed and were attacking the door. It was a matter of time… all of a sudden, there was a loud screech and the top portion of the left steel door peeled back, and from the gap peered a monster with a spider’s head, the compound eyes looking in. “Back, back” I shouted to the boys with me. We grimly began to retreat down the corridor staying clear of the line of fire of the two pulse guns. We had hardly reached half way down the corridor when gates fell inwards with a crash! Two Spider aliens rushed in, the body oddly suspended from the air on six legs. One of them lashed at Boris grabbing him into its maw. We were helpless and couldn’t do anything as Boris looked helplessly towards us. Suddenly, the twin automatic pulse guns opened up, the bullets stitching up holes in the floor leading up to the monster. It was too late however and the monster retreated towards the exit and we heard a last hair raising scream as Boris was finally devoured whole. There was a trail of fresh blood leading to the exit. Of the other Cyborg, there was no sign. “Stop, stop!” I shouted at Mack and Shirley who were manning the automatic pulse guns. Needed to conserve maximum charge for the worst. The ammunition, molten silicon, would provide up to five thousand rounds. They would have expended a hundred rounds. The sudden stillness seemed to shock all of us. What had happened to Boris was yet to kick in. Suddenly, The spiders began to stream in from the broken down doors. It was a rout as we all rushed away. In the confusion two of our group fell down on to the floor just in the path of the advancing creatures. I grabbed the one nearest to me by the collar of her combat jacket, Ricky her name was. She had the presence of mind to aim her plasma pistol at the nearest creature knocking off one of its antenna. The cyborg let out a screech and a scream which spurred its companions on.While I was able to pull Ricky on to her feet, another of group, Martin was less lucky as he was pounced upon by the rest of the arachnids. While the arachnids were busy feeding on the hapless victim we all rushed towards the Eastern Gate. The corridor was by now a slippery passage with gore and blood all over. Just when the last of us reached the exit, I noticed that Guenet was pointing towards Mack who was bent over his haversack in the middle of the corridor. I beckoned to him to follow us, but then he had something on his mind. Glancing towards the giant Arachnids, he flicked a switch and tossed what seemed to be a rather heavy haversack towards the monsters. “Run,” he yelled, and then it filtered down that he had primed the entire sack of explosives which was powerful enough to bring down the entire building. We rushed out of the building with seconds to spare as the explosives went up with a massive blast which dazed a deafened us. The whole ground shook and the building collapsed like a castle of cards. Dazed and staggering we rushed to high ground. We reached the hill that we had descended from and looked at a dust cloud rising from where the Hospital once stood. Of the Alien arachnids there was no sign. The craft that had brought them had disappeared, it seems pulverised into bits by the blast. We had escaped the blast because it was deflected by the ridge which bounded the Hospital building from the East.
Looking back at the events, it appeared that the aliens had finally left the planet fazed by the stiff pockets of resistance offered to them by human beings all over the planet. Our team now down to eighteen filed on towards the camp we had left behind the previous day. We would return to the town and salvage what ever remained, and rebuild our lives in any way could. I looked towards the group now subdued by the loss of our dear friends. I looked towards Almaz who was clutching at an assortments of chocolates although with a rather thoughtful expression. Guenet came and sat next me and offered me a mug of Tea, and said, “Anyway, we did quite well, we have enough food for the whole week.” “I guess we won’t have to stay in the mountains any longer, we can go back to the town, the Cyborg-Arachnids won’t return any time soon!” “Yes, I guess they won’t!” she replied with a faraway look, perhaps remembering of another happier life with her husband.