Thing a Week 18: Attacks on Arthropolis

The capital city of Arthropolis had been on edge ever since the First Attack that left more than half the city destroyed, thousands dead, and hundreds of thousands more wounded, without a home, and unable to maintain their responsibility to the city.

The jobs that still existed struggled to cope with fewer workers and the workers who’d suddenly lost their jobs — literally — struggled to find new ones. The city faltered, structurally and economically ruined, and momentarily lost its way — until an empathetic, powerful speech from the Queen rallied the city in their time of need:

“Comrades,” the Queen began, perched atop a royal alcove that jutted out over thousands of comrades. Sad, defeated faces stared blankly back at her for as far as she could see, wishing for a miracle to exhume them from catastrophic, debilitating depression. The crowd went completely silent as the Queen continued:

“We have behind us an ordeal of the most grievous kind and have suffered and struggled for many, many long months now. It’s still unclear where the Attacker came from, what their motivations or intentions were, or whether they’ll be back again, but with God by our side I can promise you we know one thing for sure: we may be down, but we are still here. We may be damaged, but we are not defeated, and we won’t kneel down and give up against any monstrous threat, known or unknown.

“We’ve been hit hard, sure, but we’ve been hit hard before — and we’re still here, aren’t we? We’ve rebuilt this city in the past and we can rebuild it again; we will rebuild it again, and together we’ll make it bigger, better, and stronger than ever before. As of today, it is my bittersweet pleasure as your Queen to announce we’re making sweeping changes across the government with an emphasis on infrastructure, jobs, and military preparation. The royal advisors will provide you with more information by sundown on the changes.

“But I am hopeful, and I hope you, too, will join me in a concerted effort to recreate the great city of Arthropolis. That is our goal. You may ask, but what is our aim? I can answer that for you in one word: it is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be. We are strong, resilient, potent, and powerful.

“It’s time to show the world — and our unknown Attacker — that we aren’t to be trifled with.

“Thank you, comrades, for being with me today. I would say to you, as I’ve said to those who are working day and night in our government to right the wrongs of this unexpected war: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. But, if history teaches us anything, it’s that that is exactly what a destitute family like us needs in its time of need. Our effort to rebuild will either work or it won’t — but either way, I’ll be with you all day in and day out until the end.

“Thank you, comrades.”

The speech worked, and the city began a monumental, united effort to rebuild. Construction commenced immediately: those without jobs found work and those who needed something to take their mind off the cataclysmic Attack that had destroyed their homes, family, and livelihood found that also. Morale greatly improved and the city regrew, as promised, into something far stronger than it had ever been before.

With the Queen’s calculated leadership, the government expanded in power, reach, and area. The city’s perimeter expanded, and beyond that many outposts were set up to provide advanced notice of any advancing threats, which dissuaded all but the boldest potential attackers from moving into Arthropolis territory (and those who were bold enough to foolishly enter were swiftly dispatched by the full, unapologetic might of the entire Arthropolis arsenal).

Generations passed without another sighting of the Attacker, but the citizens never forgot how abruptly it had appeared the first time and remained constantly vigilant of the threat of its return. For extra security, more and more of the city was moved underground.

Stories were told — and occasionally embellished — of the monstrous creature that had suddenly appeared: it was humanoid, standing on two colossal legs that moved faster than anything anyone in Arthropolis had ever seen before. Each step caused an earthquake that could be felt throughout the entire city and left a muddy crater of death and destruction behind — some of which the older citizens still went out and visited periodically to pay their respects to those who were lost during the Attack. The Attacker’s body was large enough to be visually incomprehensible, completely blotting out the sun and the sky as it stomped across the land. Even after the Attack, the transient darkness that befell the city on some of the cloudiest days resulted in widespread panic throughout the city, including debilitating PTSD attacks from survivors.

Upon the Queen’s eventual death, her successor stepped in and successfully continued her legacy, keeping the walls and outer outposts of Arthropolis sturdy and manned. With a bustling economy, she chose to prioritize research in science and technology, funded primarily through existing military resource grants. The city’s armory flourished, rightfully earning Arthropolis a namesake that struck fear into others when mentioned. The bolstered military was utilized to annex more nearby land, often by force, with what felt like little to no resistance compared to their astounding might.

Eventually, the whole yard was owned by Arthropolis and its powerful, relentless Queen. Nearby lots feared for their lives as the regime continued expanding its civilization in the name of defense and militaristic preparation for another Attack.

And, eventually, another Attack came. And another, and another, and another, in quick succession. A new family moved into the empty house and their daughter, age seven, loved playing in the front yard. With a tall fence and big windows in the living room, the family frequently let her run free — occasionally even with a friend or two from school — in the yard. As they played tag, the civilization of Arthropolis found itself once again enshrouded in darkness by Attackers they had no way to defend themselves against. The Attackers kicked entire mountains around — burying entire cities with one fell swoop — and uprooted trees to murderously fling across the land, destroying entire colonies and maiming many out on the civilization’s roads.

Gargantuan feet tore through the infrastructure that had blossomed uninterrupted for generations while earthquakes destroyed what had been built underground. Outposts and towns became craters full of dead bodies and what little had been stockpiled for the winter — and of that, what hadn’t been buried or destroyed already — depleted quickly, leaving the ants of Arthropolis suffering, wounded, without a home, and again unable to uphold their responsibility to their city and their Queen.

The survivors tended to the wounded and did what they could with the others whenever it was deemed safe enough to trek out to the craters. Military on the outer edges of the lot invaded other lots in search of food but found themselves underpowered against neighbors that, too, had been building defenses in case the glorious city of Arthropolis had decided to eventually invade. Some survivors in devastated colonies resorted to unspeakable acts with the deceased in times of extreme need but, too, soon ran out of food and joined their comrades in death.

The empire of Arthropolis fell to its lowest low when the Queen and many of her royal guards were murdered by another unexpected Attack on the capital. Although the government had amassed an army numbering millions, there was nothing they could do against even a single Attacker; countless lives were lost in a last stand, and most others were horribly wounded.

The Queen’s successor took charge immediately, calling for a strategic retreat and consolidation of the populace to a remote outpost near the foundation of the house that had luckily yet to be affected by any Attack. Mounting a defense was deemed futile and Arthropolis was forced fully underground, hiding in the shadows of the Attackers. Many more died on their way to the underground Promised Land, but even those who somehow made it found nothing more than more despair and death amongst survivors.

Arthropolis had been demolished, ravaged, and systematically annihilated, save for the underground outpost that eventually took on the capital name. The Queen dutifully and diligently led an effort to rebuild the city from the ground up, faltering at first until she made an empathetic, powerful speech that rallied the city in their time of need… and the great city of Arthropolis found itself on the way to greatness once again.

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