One day, the mountains awoke.
We still don’t know what triggered them to come alive. There must have been some signal, however, given how coordinated everything was. Maybe they have some way of communicating with each other. Or maybe, somewhere in the world, someone just did the wrong thing.
They awoke on June 29, 2014.
All across the world, the mountains began to shift, to rise. Legs emerged, huge pillars of stone, each one miles across. Slowly, ponderously, unstoppably, they began to advance across the world. Belching smoke and spewing lava, they began to bring about our extinction.
Surprisingly, Australia did the best initially, not counting the loss of New Zealand. It turns out that New Zealand was basically just a bunch of these creatures sitting in the sea, and they decided that it was time to submerge. A few thousand survivors were pulled out of the ocean with rescue choppers, or managed to make it to boats in time and escape being sucked down, but the rest of them were wiped off the map, along with the country.
Second best was probably America. The rural South was trampled by the Appalachians, but they’re fairly small as far as these mountains go. The East Coast and Midwest did all right – they got to sit and listen to the tragedies on the news as California was steamrolled.
The worst faring were probably the Chinese and most of the Europeans. Between the Alps and the Himalayas, they didn’t stand a chance. Half a billion people probably died in the first day.
It only took two hours for the President of the US to get an executive order out, although the jets weren’t scrambled for another couple hours. The generals were experiencing a bit of consternation, it seemed. How did you kill a mountain? And most of the US weapons weren’t pointed in towards our own heartland.
Incredibly, it was Pakistan that was the first to bring one of the monsters down. Satellite surveillance captured the attempt. Despite the dubious honor of getting the first kill, they didn’t make a good job of it. It took six hits, and they managed to vaporize most of their defensive forces as well. But they eventually managed to pierce the abomination’s stony hide, and thermal imaging picked up the subsequent meltdown as the beast literally exploded.
After being briefed, it took six hours more before the President cleared the US arsenal of ICBMs to launch. Unfortunately, the monsters had already begun to trample across the Midwest, where many of the launch silos were located, putting them out of commission. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming was wiped off the map when one of the ICBMs detonated prematurely, still inside its silo.
Still, with over 5,000 nuclear weapons at its disposal, most of the Rockies fell in that initial wave of firepower. Nuclear submarines turned out to be most effective, as they were relatively protected from the monsters and could move into location.
By the end of June, over a thousand nuclear weapons had been detonated. The United Kingdom was heavily crippled, and most of central Europe had gone dark. The Middle East was, for the first time in history, actively requesting the help of Israel, which had finally confirmed rumors that it was a major nuclear power. Most of Western China had been wiped off the map. India claimed that it was holding its northern mountains at bay, although satellite images revealed a different story.
Conservative estimates put the count of the dead at between 1.5 and 2.5 billion.
In the next week, the various nations did their best to counterattack. The United States was momentarily clear, thanks to its massive arsenal, but there were new threats moving up from South America, the Bajas, and down from Canada. Military engineers began stripping the nuclear power plants of all fissile material to replenish their depleted arsenal.
After days of silence, France suddenly erupted spectacularly. Experts knew that they had been sitting on a nuclear arsenal, but it was believed that they hadn’t had time to launch. Surveillance showed that they crippled several of the larger Alps, as well as some of the Pyrenees, but the collateral damage was estimated to be immense.
By a month later, most of the beasts had been brought down. Scientists were already bemoaning the fallout effects from the sheer number of nukes deployed, but they were being largely pushed aside by the sheer scale of the rebuilding movement. It turned out that, inside these gigantic moving mountains, huge deposits of rare and valuable ores were hidden. Even in the wreckage of great cities, new companies were springing up, workers in armored radiation-resistant suits harvesting these great sources of new wealth.
The final kicker, almost an ironic announcement, came from NASA, of all places. They revealed that they had detected movement on the moon, shortly before the initial movement on June 29th. It was believed that the awakening signal had come from there.
A new chapter in the space race was opened. In a matter of days, Congress, acting proactively for the first time in decades, voted to divert huge levels of funding into space travel. We had been attacked, crippled, but we weren’t out yet.
We were headed back to the moon. But this time, we’d be armed.