Soooo... this is a new fanfic by moi. Just got hit by inspiration last night and got some nice ideas for this. Feel free to comment. Chapter 1: Memory A bird soared majestically through the air, riding on invisible air streams, defying gravity and ignoring the desolate areas underneath it for the moment. It bathed in the early morning light and in its simple brain it found the time to be perfect for a snack. It dove down towards the ground and pulled up at the exactly right time and started picking on the ground. A particularly wriggling worm caught its attention. It crawled away from him, fighting desperately for its life, but the bird was a superior creature in virtually all aspects, and so, it would rightly take its place in the food chain fairly soon. The worm kept on wriggling, running in its own world, trying to get away from its hunter. The bird finally caught it in its beak and was about to cut it in two when another creature entered the arena. The slimy sticky tongue grabbed hold of the bird's wing and yanked it up in the air towards the under railing of the walkway above it. This creature, unlike its prey, had not earned its place in the food chain. It had entered from another world, from outside and was defending its place in the ecosystem with tooth and nail. The bird flapped and twisted, tried to get away, and for each twist and turn it got trapped with another body part on the sticky line which lifted it higher and higher, until the small bird's life was cut short by the forceful mouth of the creature. There was a crunching sound. And that was it. Alan sighed. He had watched the whole scene sitting down against a wall. The barnacles in the city were different from the ones out by the coast. In here, they seemed to hunt the birds. There was no way to explain it, he had always wondered how the barnacles attached themselves to things, but here in the city, they were always near the birds. It was not the first time he had witnessed it. As if they actually tracked the birds. He had a theory that something from the barnacles attracted them, but they never headed for them, they were always looking for food or just flying when out of nowhere a tongue would catch them. Sometimes he himself never even saw the thing, and thanked the bird for revealing this danger to him. This one he knew of from before. It was his main source of entertainment to watch it catch birds all day. He turned half around and marked another X on the wall behind him with a rock. That made eight birds in under a week. That barnacle was actually a big headache and a tactical advantage at the same time. For while it blocked the entrance to the small outpost that made station 19, it also could be helpful if they were ever attacked. Removing it would be too noisy, so instead it was named Albert, and turned into a source of amusement and gambling. The highest expected result was twelve birds before the weekend, and so far it wasn't looking good for Alan, the next bird had better be Albert's last snack or those new shoes were history. The station was actually a few feet below him, this was the lookout. Station 19 was situated under the highway. Ten years ago, this would probably have been one of the noisiest spots one could find in City 14. But just like the city's name had changed, so had that simple fact. Now the highway lay abandoned. The only sound detectable was that of water dripping, the odd scanner disturbing someone, and occasionally a helicopter, all mixed in with different propaganda speeches, most of them delivered by Dr Breen, the Interim Administrator of earth. The odd one was delivered by some well groomed human dressed in clean clothes, praising Civil Protection and begging for co-operation from the rest of the populace. Below him someone banged the grates carefully and called out his name. "Psst, hey Alan!" Below the dirty steel bars appeared Frank, a short and pale guy from block 131B with a big grin on his face. "What's up?" "Nothing. Albert got another one." "Damn! Looks like I'm out. Anyway, it's my shift, you go get some sleep." "Fine by me. Enjoy the show buddy." Alan checked over the edge of the concrete barrier that blocked the small space underneath the freeway from public view. If you stayed behind it not a soul could see you from outside, and even then the dark would help you. He looked out and glanced at the street. It was fairly empty. He grabbed the bars and released it from its hinges and placed it on the dirt mattress by him so as to not make a sound. Frank heaved himself up, and without saying a word to each other Alan slipped by him and climbed down the sewer pipe. Halfway down he heard the grate being put back into place and felt a few dirty raindrop fall down on him. When his foot reached the end of the tube he jumped and landed like a cat on both feet. The cold and damp area underneath the lookout was occupied by the four other resistance members of Station 19. Garry, Phil, Catherine and Frederick. Fred and Garry were sleeping, Catherine was playing with a deck of cards that was missing thirteen cards and Phil was watching the radio. Cath gave a mumbled "hello" as the only sign that Alan had entered the room. Alan grunted something back and immediately collapsed on the mattress. He hugged the dirty piece of cloth tight and closed his eyes. But he did not sleep. It was hard to sleep. He had often though that if that highway above him had been active he might have had an easier time going to sleep. As always he started thinking. Thinking about the days before the Universal Union, before the combine, before the resistance, Breen, Station 19 and City 14. He didn't remember all of it. He had never bought that whole thing about the Combine putting something in the water, he was sure it was just a rumour, but he wouldn't drink anything with Dr Breen's name on it by sheer principle. He did, for example, remember his parents of course, and he did remember their house in downtown... There it was. The first gap. He remembered the city well, he remembered a whole lot about it, but for the life of him he couldn't remember the name. If he was in Europe now he must have always been in Europe, because he didn't take a boat at anytime. Or at least, not that he recalled. He did see a lot of the coast on the way but they never crossed the water. And yet he had a distinct suspicion that he was from England. Or maybe France. No, not France. Maybe Scandinavia? Ah! It was hopeless. His name didn't help him much, his last name he couldn't remember, and like most people who lived within the city limits, their dialects, whatever they may have been before, had sort of gotten worn out and eventually disappeared completely. That fact disturbed him a whole lot more than the water rumours. Occasionally there was a recent arrival who still had a strong Russian accent or Ukrainian, which led him to believe he was now somewhere in Eastern Europe. This theory was also supported by the weather, especially during winters. He remembered the day he came home from school and his mother was yelling at him to get inside from the balcony on the fifth or sixth floor. He hurried up the stairs, afraid something had happened, and when he got inside his mother was sitting transfixed by the TV watching a newscast. The TV was announcing something about escaped animals, and they were showing a map that tracked the creatures from America. It seemed to originate in New Mexico and then in all directions, but there were several red areas spread at random all across the map now, separated from the main outburst. After that there was a lot of experts interrupting each other and then getting cut mid-sentence for live photography from New York, Washington and Los Angeles, and then from London and Paris where apparently one of these things had attacked a woman. The rest of that day was spent in front of the TV, watching newscast after newscast. By nightfall these things seemed to be all over Europe. There were even reports of bigger animals, attacking and damaging entire houses on the countryside. The radio crackled to life and Alan awoke from his thoughts. "Station 11 to Station 19. Come in station 19. Station 11 calling Station 19, do you read? Over." "This is Station 19, read you Station 11, over." "We have a train coming in, looks like six persons in the first car and two in the next." "Understood, Station 18 is closer." "Negative, 18 has an APC parked right infront of it. This one's yours." "Roger 11, 19 out." Alan was already halfway up the pipe when Phil finished waking up the other two.