The hologram faded, no one had heard a word it said but at least the images were pretty. To them it came out as nothing more than an analogue radio with bad reception, just static, with moving pictures as a bonus.
All anyone knew was that the people represented in the hologram were gone. That included anyone or anything else there, except them and their group of human refugees, if they could called that while still on their own planet. The main group consisted of the ten refugees currently using the room, plus approximately thirty others who were somewhere or other inside the dull metal space ship.
"So... what now?" asked Ricardo expectantly, his arms crossed.
Fucking Ricardo, Jessica Long thought to herself. She rolled her eyes at his words in annoyance and frustration, that always his fucking answer, Always!
She turned her head to him and scowled, staring into his light brown eyes with loathing. His eyes, were almost the exact same colour as hers, except hers were a slightly darker and a more intense brown.
Ricardo had long black hair and dark skin for a white guy. He also had an Italian accent and his signature lazy boy expression that, all combined, made him look like he was above such uncivilized concepts as walking, or breathing.
Jessica could feel her fists balling up and her slender, but athletic frame, moving towards his own equally athletic but, by a good degree, thicker frame. She moved as if drawn by a heavy magnet, everyone else in the circular room were long forgotten. It had suddenly become became him and her, only this was no ballroom dancing, love at first sight moment. This wasn't pretty or beautiful, though if Jessica could help it, it would most certainly be 'touching' and it would 'bring tears'.
To his eyes anyway.
Jack, the group's unopposed leader, stood up at that moment and blocked her way. All without lifting his time and pressure aged face to look at either of them. The sign was clear as the daylight she hadn't seen in three days. It said the pending fight was over. For now anyway.
Damn! Jessica thought wishing she could beat Ricardo to fleshy pulp, knowing just how much it would brighten her day. It was something she day dreamed about.
Jack and Jessica were the only Chinese people in the whole group of refugees but, most people who referred to Jessica as Chinese only said that to describe her skin colour and nothing more. Fully traditional Chinese people who spoke Chinese were a rarity in the middle of South Africa and she wasn't one of them, because of it she never seemed to get a break from him. It was as if there were supposed to be Chinese, or Chinese woman, standards she was supposed to be following and she failed miserably at them. The pair of them had very little in common outside skin colour and almost never spoke but that ,Jessica knew, was just Jack's way. He rarely spoke to anyone but Xolani. His right hand.
Jessica sighed heavily, unable to release her frustration so easily. Jack could have waited first before breaking in and ending the fight, though it was less than likely that Jack ever would. For Jack fighting was a last resort whereas Jessica felt it was the best resort.
Jessica felt confident that, if Jack could just wait, even a little, she would have had enough time to break Ricardo's 'Holier than thou' smirk. She was after all the speed queen of the group. Even with her mediocre fighting techniques, she still managed to be quicker than everyone else.
Nine of ten man group in the room were all Jack's wushu students before the world turned up side down. Assuming it was ever right side up before hand.
The condition of the world before the invasion was something to be left to interpretation, that was what Jessica believed anyway. The most common answer to the question of whether the world was right-side-up or not would be no it hadn't been. War after irrational war hit country after country. Each only lasting a year or less but each with enough impact to hurt billions upon billions of the Earth's one hundred and ten billion human population. Then World war three hit and the world was devastated. But that wasn't enough, after two hundred years of whining about it the first 'actual' sign of global warming hit and hit hard.
Man and that bitch nature left billions dead and tens of billions homeless. All the wars and the hyper-canes were before Jessica was born but the aftermath had hit her as much as any of the other victims and survivors. But like any other aftermath, life carried on and when the last bomb fell, the fight against that vengeful bitch, Mother Nature, truly began. Humanity won that war too, most coastal cities had massive, near indestructible levies that held the oceans at bay, they were so big they had their own navy bases in front of them to keep them from being hit by terrorist attacks.
Then the alien attack came, funny enough both Mother Nature and the world's leaders seemed put aside their differences and fought as one. And once again humanity won. It was good to be a member of mankind.
Jessica didn't give a shit about the aliens as not a bit of the alien war had ever effected her, most of it had happened in the northern hemisphere. She, much like most kids, kept on going to school, she simply kept on studying. The only thing that affected her was the knowledge that aliens existed. As an aspiring scientist, that opened hundreds of doors and excited her. Well until…
Most called it the End of Days, others…
'Others' were too dead to call it anything else.
That was only two years ago… two years ago, the world, in what ever shape people saw it as, came to a crashing halt.
For now there was only them and occasionally there were others whom the group had picked up along the way. It was fascinating how good at surviving humanity was. There always seemed to be survivors, Jessica felt glad to one of them.
As to where 'along the way' was… She didn't know, and she was sure that none of them knew either.
She knew she was headed somewhere though. She hoped it wasn't the most obvious answer.
But nonetheless it was something she always asked herself. The answer as to where was something that she was sure she'd probably never know. Right now they were on this ship, hiding from aliens while inside what she was sure was an alien ship. It was laughable. Ricardo's voice woke her up from her own world. She had to blink twice to regain her focus.
"Shi-Fu wait, this has been building for a while" Ricardo said grinning
from ear to ear.
Ricardo had gotten up and his 'too bored to care' attitude had completely disappeared. His eyes almost shone with excitement the way they did whenever their group ambushed enemy alien patrols and any bases that weren't heavily guarded, which was still a nightmare to go through.
He was ready for war. He was ready to take hell with a smile on his face and give it back as a thank you and wonderfully enough, she was too.
Jessica hated, with every fibre of her being, to admit it but he was right. This had been building for a quite while. Though one could argue that a fight was always building between them, since they were little kids. Fights had been building between them like clock work since Jessica's first day at the orphanage. They were over due.
She knew that she was the better student and he resented being out done by a girl. Jessica just wanted nothing more than to remind him why he deserved to be resentful. She could already picture herself wrapping her hands around his long black hair and pulling his head into the dull metal walls of the room.
"Wait" Whispered, the similarly aged and haggard as Jack, Xolani who now also stood between her and Ricardo. Though, he wasn't looking at either of them, he was staring intently at Jack.
He made a series of hand gestures and Jack nodded before he made simple gestures of his own. Everyone in the room watched, not daring to say a word or even move. Both Jessica and Ricardo forgot about each other for a moment. There was a tense moment of silence before Xolani nodded then they left together silently, leaving their students behind.
There was obviously something was wrong. The rest of group stood up, arming themselves. Everyone in the room and in the ship had a gun. There was no avoiding it. Aliens were trying to kill them, even kids had guns of their own. Though the best belonged to the two leaders, Xolani and Jack. Each rifle was a powdery black to keep from reflecting any light, large in size, layered with a bayonet, torches. Both rifles were viscous and merciless when used on other humans. The most powerful assault rifles in the entire forty man group.
Tense and eager, the group waited for them to return or for the sound of gunfire. A minute passed and nothing happened. The remaining eight pairs of eyes looked from man to man, woman to woman and so on. Another minute passed they all heard a woman scream.
Every man and woman in the group headed down the passage with Jessica in front, even with her heavy SMG on her left hand. She was the group's speed queen after all. She was the fastest member of the group by far and didn't mind showing off her speed.
Three steps behind on her right was Trinity and behind her on Jessica's right was Serenity and Ricardo, leaving the other four beyond Jessica's view when she shot a glance back.
She arrived in what had become the main eating hall. It was the eating hall because of all the rooms this ship had the most sitting areas and had a dishing area in the corner where food was kept. The eating area was filled with dozens upon dozens of meter high boxes which littered the area in uneven intervals, except for the dishing area where there was a set of boxes set close together. At first glance they looked like nothing more than wooden crates, made of a dark wood, well varnished oak perhaps, with metal strips nailed to the sides and corners to keep everything together. Though that was only at first glance. At second glance they were in actual fact one solid bit of metal melded or soldered so perfectly into the metallic floors that it looked like they were part of the floor itself, but Jessica rationed that they couldn't be a part of the floor, that didn't make any sense, though neither did the former. In the centre there was an open space with a squarish horse shoe shape engraved into the floor perfectly.
Jessica was shocked to see three unconscious men, one woman and about thirty five people staring down the barrels of Jack's and Xolani's assault rifle's, all spread across the centre of the eating hall.
The rest of the group plus others who hadn't been in the room before came in droves from the wide door behind her. They all entered and gaped, all of them astonished, just as Jessica was. The look on Xolani's face wasn't hiding his feelings at all, the man was angry and tense. A single pulsing vein following his square trimmed hair cut on his left temple pulsed.
"How did you get in here?" Xolani asked calmly. Far calmer than any other member of the party would have been considering how deep into the ship the intruders were.
The question was met by a silence, only disturbed by the sound of a single woman's whimpering.
Xolani closed his eyes and rolled his head. Jessica knew what that meant. Bad cop and worse cop melded into one body. There were times when it was embarrassing to watch and there were other times when it was absolutely frightening, because unlike others who played this game, he meant every single word he said.
Xolani's eyes flashed open and he picked up the nearest man by pulling him up by his red and curly hair. The man had to be twenty-eight at the most and slightly thicker than her but still he was lifted like a rag doll. His green eyes flashed wide open and he let out a yell which he tried to bring down to little avail. Jessica couldn't fault him, she'd had her hair pulled before. Just watching him reminded it of it, making her want to rub the back of her head.
The dark skinned woman with a thick Afro behind the very white skinned red head held his arm making it worse for the red head who was clearly in enough pain as it was. He let out a heavy gasp and choked trying to pry Xolani's fingers free. Xolani threw his gun to Jessica who caught it with ease. The red head's female friend tried to get up to shield him but half way up she found Xolani's pistol being pushed against her head, pressing her back down.
"LAST TIME HOW'D YOU GET IN HERE!" Xolani roared at the red head. He cocked the pistol pointed at the woman and she screamed.
She screamed yet again when she ran out of breath, much to Jessica's annoyance. All the time she never turned her eyes away from the man she was with. It would have been touching for Jessica if it weren't for the screaming. It took away all of Jessica's sympathy for her.
Jack kept his gun pointed at the crowed. Not saying a word. His eyes never once turned to Xolani or the Afro woman and her red head friend.
The message the look in Xolani's eyes gave was clear to all who knew him throughout these two years of hell. He'd shoot her in the face if he had to and fetch another. He'd keep going till there was no one there or until he got an answer only to shoot them in the face too. It was horrible, but other humans tended to be twice as dangerous as any alien patrol tank. A fact of life they'd learned many times before. Yet even so, it always irritated her to have a human being kill by another human in the middle of an alien attack. That idea lingered in her head over and over again at high speed until it was all she could think about.
Shit this can't be happening, Jessica thought desperately. The people there were too shell shocked and starved to move let alone be useful for interrogation. Jessica had noted that a few had fallen a sleep during the tense encounter. That either took a huge constitution or a weak body and mind. Jessica had no doubt it was the latter.
Jessica never did anything against Xolani and his way of interrogating and she too had grown weary, long ago, of other people's stupidity but even she had limits. She tossed Xolani's rifle at Jack at a high angle so he'd have to turn his gun away to catch it before she took her old fashioned but superbly accurate black and silver Semi-Machine gun and pointed it at the back of Xolani's head. It wasn't as impressive a weapon as Xolani's but it was good enough.
"What the hell are you doing!" Jessica yelled silently hoping for support from the others.
He still had his gaze on the red head, and the dark skinned woman was, unbelievably and annoyingly, still screaming. Her scream was piercing. Most of the group couldn't help but wince with each scream that burst from her dry and chapped lips, all except Xolani, who couldn't have looked cooler to Jessica with his clean hair cut that looked like a brick growing like a flower out his skull. It matched his thick but clean goatee, which too was shaped like a brick. The type you paid extra at the barber for.
The Afro woman's scream died down as she took a breath.
She was about to scream again when she found Xolani's pistol in her mouth. The sound that came out was a tearful gargling sound. Any other time Jessica would have found it hilarious. For the first time the red head who hung by his hair spoke.
"Look we don't know! We followed them inside" He pointed at the Four still unconscious people of the floor. "We saw someone outside this place, we thought it was only one person. We don't know how they got inside, we had to follow, we had an alien scout ship tracking us. We've only just stopped running"
The woman was whimpering now and trying not to choke on the barrel. Now Xolani's expression became a lot cooler as he closed his eyes again and rolled his head in the opposite direction. His own way of saying that the bad cop, psychopathic cop game is over. "Ok" he said in an almost hushed tone. He had dropped down to a lower steam but Jessica didn't drop her gun, the head turning was just a show, it took a split second to turn to bad cop/worse cop all over again and shoot them. Him shooting them was an incredibly real possibility.
The group had hid here to avoid the aliens for weeks and there had never been an incident since. Now these people were saying that they had somehow out run the aliens. The same aliens who had tanks that made Earth tanks look like heavily armoured wheel chairs. "Now this is important so listen carefully. Now, you said you were being tracked by 'them'." It was rare to hear Xolani use the word aliens, the same went for Jack, "Are you sure 'they' never saw you or that 'they' didn't find you?"
"We don't know. We couldn't see them. It didn't seem so but we're a large group it's doubtful-" Jessica wasn't making sense of the red head's babbling, but then her flow of thought cashed. Her grip on her gun tightened, her heart beat which had simply been racing before was beating so fast she couldn't move. There was no out running those tanks. None. Not by fucking foot.
Xolani sighed, cutting him off. "Okay okay. Now here's an important question. Did you make sure that you weren't followed? Did you leave any tracks or a path leading here?" Xolani asked.
It was a good question. Jessica dropped her gun lost in her own curiosity.
Every member of their party stared at the red head chancing the occasional glance at each other. Everyone from Jessica's party was worried at this point. The group knew what it meant if he said yes.
"Well?" said Xolani pushing his gun further in to the screamer's throat causing her to gag but she never moved her head back as if scared he'd shoot if she did.
The red head looked at him and looked at, what Jessica could only assume was, his wife then looked at Xolani before closing his eyes and looking down.