Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

“I can see it from here, Duke, and it’s quite something, I can tell you. Let me give you and our other listeners what I see.

I’m on Parliament mound, facing south. The river Thames is a shallow umber trail flowing sluggishly from west to east, obscured by smoke and ruins before reaching either horizon. Below and to my right is the glassy common that comprises what used to be Kensington, Chelsea, Hammersmith, and Fulham. I still see the occasional bird falling from the sky, emanation-struck as it carelessly flies too low, too far across an edge. Beyond that scar, Ealing, Hounslow, and Richmond are landscapes of blackened ruins and twisted metal. But, at least there is scavenger activity over there, unlike across the river to my left: the wasteland that is Lambeth and Southwark. The hellstorm didn’t leave much, and what moves there is death to anything that ventures in.

Central in my view is the broad corridor comprising Wandsworth, Merton and Sutton. I can see the attackers coming towards me, armour at the front, levitroopers above, a few choppers above them. Behind the armour I see personnel carriers, stormtroopers hitching a lift on the exteriors, drone trailers behind. From that point, back to beyond the outskirts of Croydon, the dust-shrouded ground is covered in combat teams loping along in exos, weapons ready. They’re making good time, given the terrain. Their strategic bombardment over the last few weeks levelled the ground well.

These brave folk are risking their all, attacking the Quintessian burrow that gutted Camden and Islington; a living habitat that is now spreading inexorably into Hackney and Haringey. Their targets are the three great entrance portals that open south of the Thames, two in Wandsworth, one in the uppermost reaches of Richmond. They’ve chosen their time well: Quintessia are largely dormant in temperatures above twenty degrees and it’s a scorching summer afternoon at the moment, with the temperature approaching thirty. The location has also been carefully selected: London is on a large island. Quintessian reinforcements would have to be shuttled in.

They’re crossing Wandsworth! I can see the massed force trifurcate, spreading apart to attack the portals. Within minutes, we’ll see if humanity’s last offensive can turn the tide. The noise, even at this distance, is incredible.

What’s this? There’s a commotion within the dust-cloud concealing the far flank of the easternmost strike force. I can hear firing. Small arms and heavy weapons. There is definitely something – oh, good fates! I can see. Oh, no. This could be disastrous.

It looks like the deadly inhabitants of Lambeth and Southwark are attacking! Huge centipede-like creatures, moving with incredible speed and unerring accuracy. Where impact damage doesn’t down their opponents, powerful jaws or corrosive, flammable venom does. Their night-black hides seem to repulse all but the heaviest weapons, which cannot be used because of the friendly casualties they would cause.

And now, more of these many-legged aggressors are boiling forth from all three portal entrances, where they’ve obviously lain in wait. Is there a chance? Can the attack win out? We’ll have to see.

It’s a massacre. These combatants are too much for human forces. Their every riposte is ignored by these creatures – it’s as if they had been designed to be the nemesis for anything humanity could bring to bear. This is the end of it. Demoralised and decimated, the half-life of a futile resistance movement is the best that remains for the survivors.

Let me be the first to say it clearly, Duke. We’ve won.”