Do you follow your gut instincts and if so are they usually right?
Thunder echoed in the distance at steady intervals. Todd glanced up at the stars as he picked his way through the woods along an unmarked trail. They were wrong. Up above the Earth, new lights shone and danced among the familiar constellations. Spaceships. An alien armada intent on annihilating the human race as far as he could tell. They’d already taken his brother.
Todd’s foot caught a bramble as the name rolled over in his mind like lemon juice over an open wound. And the wound was still fresh. He couldn’t shut his eyes without seeing the smoldering crater. Nothing could have survived a blast like that.
His gut tried to convince him that Jack was still alive, that his younger brother had wandered off a different trail when they got separated. But that was just hope, desperately clinging to delusions so he would keep moving. He had to keep moving. He had to keep the thunder at a distance. He had to find the place his mother had told him about.
Hope teased him again. Maybe Jack would find his way to the secret base. Maybe Jack was already there. Maybe Jack hadn’t sat and waited for Todd to come back to him on the trail. Maybe Todd should pay attention to his steps and get to safety before his grief could overwhelm him.
He freed his foot from the vine and turned his focus back to the trail instead of the sky. The secret base, if it really existed, was somewhere at the end of this path. He didn’t know what he expected to find. Mom hadn’t exactly been clear on what was out there, just that if the stars ever changed, he was to take Jack and head straight to it.
The night the ships appeared, his first thought had been that they looked like stars. His second thought was of the cryptic words his mother had told him several months before. When he tried to call her at the hospital, the cell towers had already gone down. The landline was no use either. In his rising panic, he cursed his grandmother’s timing for falling ill, though in retrospect he hoped she had passed before the invasion began.
Jack had kept him grounded. He needed to protect Jack. They would just be going on an adventure together, like they’d always dreamed. His gut told him to take Jack and go to Mom’s secret base.
Now he was on his own and his gut told him he’d found it. Something about the cant of the rocky outcropping made him think of a rooftop stairwell encasement, though he couldn’t see a door. He approached the strange stone warily, one hand extended in front of himself to feel for any hidden barriers.
He touched the side of the rock and jumped back. It wasn’t stone, but metal, and at his touch it shimmered to reveal a bunker entrance. At the same moment, several dark figures surrounded him, dropping from the canopy and seemingly emerging from the ground with strange guns aimed right at him. Todd threw his hands up in immediate surrender.
One of them spoke, and then, a heartbeat after, a second voice echoed the first in the staccato monotone common to robotic voices. “Who are you?”
“Todd Price,” Todd answered. “My mother told me to come here if the world was ending.” The robot voice echoed him in the language of the first speaker.
They lowered their weapons and spoke quickly to one another in their own language, not bothering to use the translator for their private conversation. He thought he heard his mother’s name, though. He would have found that interesting if he wasn’t about to collapse from fear and exhaustion.
“Where is the rest of your family?” a feminine voice asked from behind him in perfect English.
One of the soldiers made a vexed noise. He spoke to the newcomer in another language.
“I am free to get fresh air if I so choose,” she said, responding in English. Todd tried to turn slowly to see who she was, but a raised gun halted him. “Oh, put that thing away Galandris. He’s an unarmed child. Todd, forgive their rudeness, and mine. I would come over to you but I mustn’t step into the open.”
He gave Galandris a skeptical glance as he turned to face the woman who addressed him. She remained under the cover of the outcropping and he couldn’t make her out clearly. “Who are you?” he asked. “My mother told me how to find this place, but not what it was or that there would be others.”
“Helena,” she said softly. “Where is she? And your father and your brother?”
Todd’s shoulders slumped and he worried his pack would slide right off. “I was hoping they were already here.”
“I am sorry. They are not.” She turned back towards the door and gestured for him to follow. “Perhaps they will join us in time, but please come down. You look as though you are about to fall over and could use a rest. Afterwards, I will answer all of your questions.”
There was one question he wanted an answer to before he followed her. “You haven’t told me who you are yet. How do I know I can trust you?”
“You don’t,” she chuckled. “But you’ll have to if you want to live and help humanity survive.”
She stepped out from the shadows into the faint light of the night and Todd gasped at the same time as one of the guards. Another began speaking, announcing her. “Her Imperial Majesty, The High Princess Faelurion Amadestia, Commander in Chief of the Mosari Resistance Force.”
As his feet carried him toward her, and followed her down into the base, he had another gut feeling. She was going to win the war, and he would be at her side until it was done.
Notes: I had a gut instinct that this prompt wanted to be told from Todd’s POV but when I finally sat down to write it, the words would not come. I blame a very long, bizarre day of work and life. Obviously, the words came to me eventually, but tonight was a struggle. I’m glad to have finally figured out how Todd and Fae met, and also how his parents fit into the story. I love when prompts have world-building coincidences.
I had more to say about instincts and my own, but it’s super late and it was a really dumb day and I am very ready to just go to sleep. Don’t forget to try the prompt for yourself in some way, shape, or form! Have a great day! I’ll see you tomorrow!
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