Author : Sharoda

Sitting in front of the large group of children, the scarred Captain continued reading the dog-eared picture book. “Then, Tinky the Tiny Tank moved out into the open”

“No Tinky, stay in the rocks!” cried many of the younger children; the cave echoed with their voices. Some of the older ones smiled, they’d heard this story many times.

“He tried to be sneaky but then he ran into…”

“A Miitok”, he and the children said together. They all knew the enemy was fast in the open but slow on uneven ground.

“Tinky was scared, he wanted to run but he knew the Miitok would catch him. He wanted to hide but he knew it would find him. He wanted to give up but he knew it would…”

“Eat him.” The children said in hushed voices.

“Then Tinky remembered the Rules To Live By”, he was skipping parts but there wasn’t much time.

He held up his index finger and the children all said “Be brave”.

“Don’t show fear to the Miitok” he added.

He held up 2 fingers and they said “Stand your ground”.

“Don’t try to run, it’ll catch you. Stand and fight”.

He held up 3 fingers and they said “Aim for the face.”

And what rule did Tinky break”, he asked holding up 4 fingers.

“Stay together” came the group reply.

He put down the book, “Just like Tinky, you’re all going to have to be brave because today we have to leave the cave and travel on open ground to the Big Blue Mountain.” The children made nervous scared sounds, some started to cry. Miitok drones were digging thru the other end of the tunnels and their parents were holding them off.

“You all have one of these”, he held up what looked like a toy pistol but was actually a microwave disruptor tuned to only activate on Miitok brainwave patterns. The children could play with these “guns” all they wanted but not hurt each other. However it would cause searing pain to the sensing organs of a Miitok. Several together could kill a drone or even a soldier. “And you all know how to use them. When Tinky crossed open ground he was alone and he survived. We have each other. We’ll make it.” He motioned to the teachers and all the children stood and moved down the path to the cave entrance. A hand full of soldiers and older teens carried heavier weapons.

Jensa was 12, Mina and Jak were 8. Mina was yelling because they were going to miss story time and Jak was yelling because he couldn’t find his parent’s picture and wouldn’t leave without it. Jensa was frazzled and, finding the picture, rushed the twins out to the gathering area.

Everyone was already gone so she herded them to the cave entrance and then out in the open while trying to catch up with the group. Her twin siblings complained bitterly until they realized they were outside, Jensa urged them to keep moving.

When they got to the river the rest of the group was already on the other shore. Suddenly, the large dark figure of a Miitok drone blocked their path.

Jensa froze. She almost screamed but caught herself.

“Be brave” said Jak and pulled his pistol.

“Stand your ground” said Mina and pulled hers.

Jensa unfroze, pulled and aimed her pistol. “Aim for the face” she said.

They pooled their fire and the drone started to scream. It fell dead at their feet.

“Now stay together” she barked and led them into the river.

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