Domination (A C.H.A.O.S. Novel) - By Jon Lewis


Colt McAlister sat on the scorched hood of a Volvo station wagon as tendrils of smoke rose from the broken landscape all around him, melding into a gray December sky. Rose Hill, Virginia, was gone. As in wiped off the map. Entire neighborhoods were leveled. Trees were uprooted, cars overturned, lives lost. Thousands of lives lost. There was nothing left unless you counted the portable toilets and food trucks that FEMA brought in for the search teams.

None of it seemed real. Not the body bags stacked up in the streets. Not that Colt had been recruited to fight despite the fact that he was only sixteen. Not that his parents had been murdered or that his best friend’s dad had tried to murder him too. And especially not the warmongering aliens who had declared war on all of mankind.

He closed his eyes for a moment and wondered what it would feel like to get a full night of sleep. Over the last few weeks training sessions started well before dawn and lasted into the evening. The CHAOS Military Academy cadets ran, lifted weights, and sparred. They spent endless hours at the shooting range and ran through scenario after scenario in the hologram rooms where three-dimensional images looked and felt real, allowing them to visit strange worlds without ever leaving campus. He was exhausted. They all were, but the stakes were too high to slow down.

Colt’s stomach churned as he watched men in hard hats pull another body from the rubble. This time it was a girl, not much older than nine or ten. A tall man carried her toward the recovery center where Colt stood guard, and for a moment Colt thought he looked familiar. It was something about the way he moved, or maybe it was his olive skin.

But Colt had seen countless volunteers over the past three days, and they all had the same stunned look—lawyers, professors, accountants, housewives—it didn’t matter. They walked around, eyes glassed over and shoulders slumped. It was as though they were going through the motions, unable to comprehend how something like this could happen.

Less than a month ago, a select group had known that aliens from distant worlds lived among humanity. Now everyone knew, and everyone was terrified. It didn’t matter that most of the aliens were scientists and diplomats—these aliens, the Thule, had come to conquer, and they weren’t going to stop until humanity was eradicated.

Colt’s stomach churned as the man walked closer. The girl in his arms was so young. So frail. Her honey-blond hair fluttered in the wind, and though her neck was bent at an awkward angle, Colt could see her empty eyes staring back at him. Her skin was a ghostly shade of white, and her crimson nightgown pooled like blood around her frail body.

The thin material couldn’t fend off the December chill, but as Colt scanned the area for a blanket he realized that it didn’t matter. All the blankets in the world weren’t going to bring her back.

Communities up and down the Potomac River were in ruins. The death toll in Rose Hill alone was expected to reach two thousand, with five times that many in nearby Alexandria, which was only a few miles away from CHAOS Military Academy. Some estimated as many as twenty thousand were lost, but it was too early to tell.

Colt had overheard one of his instructors mentioning that the academy had escaped damage because the real target was Washington, DC, or more to the point, the president of the United States of America. It made sense. After all, between the faculty and the cadets, there were more than a thousand men and women armed with the most advanced weapons in the history of humanity. The aliens had sent a strike force, not an army, and they couldn’t risk a prolonged fight and still accomplish their primary objective.

The attacks had come in the middle of the night while most of the Eastern Seaboard slumbered. Survivors said there was something that looked like a lightning storm as the portals opened and Thule gunships burst out of the sky. At least a dozen transports delivered Thule infantry to the ground, and though local authorities tried to stop them, the Thule tore across the countryside until soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division engaged them just outside Washington.

Reinforcements arrived from as far away as Fort Bragg and Shaw Air Force Base, and when the battle was over, the president held a press conference on