Just, fire and… and flames, just flames are pouring from the buildings now, there’s cars toppled, buildings, entire, just… crushed and crumbled. I’m not sure if it’s safe to report from my vantage point, I — I really need to leave. Civil defenses inform me that the surrounding areas are, are in ruin. I… I see some people running now. In the opinion of this reporter… if this nation or, in fact, the world ever needed heroes, that time is now… that time is now…
WGBH News broadcast from “V-Day”
Emptiness and darkness. Two feelings so often evoked in those staring at the vastness of space. But not today. Today, that emptiness and darkness is broken as an armada of ships spreads across the stars. They pass a small, dusty planetoid and continue past it toward a blue and green and white planet hanging in space. They continue toward Earth.
The ships hit atmosphere and look at first as though they will burn up on entry, their angles too steep for any Earth craft to handle. Retro-rockets fire from beneath the ships and begin to slow their descent almost immediately. Gently, they descend toward Earth, spreading out across the globe to hover above cities, landmarks, anything that can be considered of value to the peoples of Earth.
Soon, the damage will begin. Soon, Earth will be no more.
The Retropocalypse has begun.
Colette Bennett was having a bad day.
As she raced through the streets of downtown L.A. she could hear the sound of gunfire behind her. She swerved to the right, running a red light in the process. Thankfully, no cars were in the intersection. Risking a chance to check on her cargo, Colette very nearly didn’t see her escape hatch ahead of her. A garage door was open on the side of the road. A garage she knew very well. Bullets embedded themselves in her trunk.
“Dammit!” she shouted as she weaved side-to-side. Gotta time this just right.
Colette pressed a button on her dashboard. The garage door started to close. She spun the wheel and slid just underneath the closing door. It clanged shut as Colette shot out through the missing wall in the back of the garage. Bullets hammered against the garage door, but it held. Moments later, a car-shaped imprint was visible in the garage door, as well. But by then, Colette was long gone and her pursuers were splattered against the garage door. The newspaper article would mention the importance of wearing your safety belts. Even if you’re a criminal.
Colette coasted into her parking space at Destructoid headquarters. While Destructoid once started out as merely a gaming website, through the years it had become a force for all things good in the world. Members of the site trained in retro gaming were able to do incredible amounts of good for the community, thanks to their vast experience with the most bizarre of tasks, tasks that became increasingly necessary every day. Only Destructoid and a handful of other retro gaming organizations knew the reason for the bizarre attacks: multi-colored blocks falling from the sky, only to disappear when 10 blocks were lined up horizontally; giant monkeys climbing to the top of construction sites and hurling barrels at passers-by; large turtles crawling up from the sewers to harass innocent people.
Colette grabbed her cargo from her passenger seat and headed inside. She turned down the hall to where her team, Retroforce GO! was housed. It looked like the rest of the team was out. She set down the bag she had recovered and opened it up. Golden rings, gleaming with light even under the fluorescents hanging above, spilled out onto the floor.
Mission accomplished, Colette thought and leaned back in her chair.
No sooner had she closed her eyes than the alarms began to bleat out a warning. She sat up straight and looked at the monitor on the wall.
She could feel the gravity of the situation in the pit of her stomach. She started for the door, stopped, and went back for the bag of rings. These might just come in handy.
Topher Cantler fired his jets as he careened almost out of control toward the station. Destructoid Exo-1 loomed in the distance. Exo-1 was the first private space station and, Topher knew, the most advanced piece of technology off-planet. He prayed that the docking bay was up to spec, though. He was coming in hot.
Behind him, the invading armada hurled wave after wave of energy blasts.
Topher gritted his teeth. Bullet hell. I should have known it’d be bullet hell. He threw himself into a spin as a pulsing blue energy ball slid through the spot he had just been. I hope to God that the Vic Viper is fueled up and ready to go, cause these guys are seriously pissing me off.
Static crackled in his ears. “Topher?”
It was Stella. Topher answered the call with his chin. “Little busy now, sweetie.”
“I’m aware of that, but the blast doors are closing in the docking bay.”
Topher heard Stella through the comlink. She was issuing orders to the crew of the Exo-1. “Sorry, things are a mess down here. What did you say?”
“Why are the blast doors closing?”
“The shield integrity is failing and in moments we’ll be venting atmosphere. The computer triggered an emergency lockdown and we can’t override it.”
Topher cursed under his breath. Time for Plan B. He spun so that he could be facing the enemy armada and judged the time he had remaining. It’s gonna be tight.
Topher brought up his left arm and started pressing buttons on the keypad at his wrist. Turning back toward the docking bay he saw the light of engine flare. Seconds later, a small snubfighter flew toward his position. Slipping into the open cockpit and sealing it around him, Topher waited for the cockpit to recompress and then popped his helmet. The engines fired and he roared toward the incoming fleet.
“Okay, boys. Let’s see if we can’t even the odds.”
Stella Wong shouted to be heard as alarms blared.
“Turn that racket off, we know there’s an alert already!”
The klaxons silenced and Stella turned back to the vidcom. Colette looked back through at her.
“What’s going on up there?” came Colette’s voice via the vidcom.
Stella sighed. “It’s insanity up here, Colette. Topher is taking the fight to them. We managed to get a handful of fighters launched before the shields failed, but there’s no way they can take them all on. We need a plan, and we need it now.”
Colette’s eyes darted offscreen for one moment as an aide handed her some paperwork. She glanced it over and set it aside. “I’m trying to reach Chad right now, but he’s not answering. We’re going to have to assume he’s out of this fight for now. What are the odds of losing Exo-1?”
Stella checked the numbers. They didn’t look good.
“You don’t want to know.”
“That bad, huh? Okay, abandon the station. Give orders to the fighters to do what damage they can and then land. We don’t want to lose every advantage we have up there. Contact me when you’re dirtside.”
Stella nodded and thumbed the vidcom off. She grabbed the mic at her station and spoke to the crew of the station, “All hands, listen up. Get EV suits on and get to anything that can fly. We’re decompressing and detonating the station. Abandon ship. Repeat: all hands, abandon ship.”
So long girl. Stella kissed her fingers, and tapped the console in front of her. Then, with the bridge clear, she headed for her fighter.
Chad Concelmo heard his phone ring again. This had better be important, he thought as he stopped punching the old woman in front of him long enough to pick up his phone. The old woman collapsed in a heap at his feet. Several other members of the Shady Groves retirement home cowered in fear. They didn’t know it, but Chad wasn’t just some asshole that beats up old ladies. He let the world believe that, because it helped his image, but in fact, the old ladies that Chad punched weren’t old ladies at all, but specially built robots to help him release stress.
Destructoid had developed the technology years earlier when they realized that Chad had an addiction and that it was going to get him into trouble one day. The general populace of the world may not care what happens to old geezers in retirement homes, but all it took was an ambitious lawyer and a disgruntled family old person. Destructoid couldn’t afford that kind of bad press.
The addiction had started out innocently enough. After the Senior Citizen Attacks of ’06, the world had come to view the elderly in a different light. Chad, a hero of that skirmish, had come out a changed man. Something inside him had broken and the only way to fix it, even if only for a moment, was to take it out on the very people that caused him to break in the first place.
Chad checked his messages and grinned. He had been right. The Retropocalypse was happening in his lifetime, and he was still badass enough to do something about it. He closed his phone and turned to the old woman robot, which was getting back to its feet. Chad smiled and threw one last punch, clean through the old lady’s head. Satisfied, he headed outside, hopped on his motorcycle, and drove off.
Let’s go have some fun.
Somewhere, deep in the jungles of South America, Dyson Grigsby sat on the steps of an ancient temple. He wiped his handkerchief across his brow and drank deep from his canteen. He stopped, in mid-drink, eyes skyward. He saw several Destructoid fighters streak across the sky, as Nintendo-cartridge shaped ships pursued them. He winced as he realized he was gonna be sitting this one out.
“Good luck, guys. Retroforce, go.”