The race huddled together protectively, unsure of what the lights were or from where they originated. Some of their young played chasing games, oblivious to the danger that faced all of them. Those with more empathy noticed the adults’ mood and clung tightly to their legs for protection.
Distant rumbling filled the skies above them as thousands of MIRVs burned bright upon entry. They resembled stars, except these were growing in size. There was no immediate sanctuary, no place for them to hide in the desolate open. Motionless in stature and deathly quiet, they watched and waited. Some had already sought refuge in the tunnels beneath the surface. For those that remained, only the sound of heavy breathing and bare feet scuffling across the earth could be heard as their young continued to chase each other.
The A.I. system deactivated the force fields around each launch vehicle and the outer shrouds fell away piece by piece. A flimsy wire mesh remained to protect the payload. Shiny chemical-filled spheres jostled about inside their final housing, eager to break loose with every twist of hot metal. As the mesh cage disintegrated, several spheres broke free, clashing together and cracking open on impact. Hot liquids and inert gases leached out from their containers and quickly merged. The liquid toxins dropped to the earth like torrential rain. The gases, slightly heavier than the atmosphere, sank more slowly. As more bombs broke free, the payload leached out of tiny fissures that had appeared in their design. A thick gas cloud lingered just below the skyline, waiting.
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