The Yuuzhan Vong came in force on the fifteenth day at sunrise local time, and from the shadows the bedraggled survivors awaited them.
Here was the opposite side of Coruscant, the planet city of spires and towers that had served as the governing head of the galaxy since time immemorial. Here the great and the influential, it was told, emerged at sunset and worked through the night (inasmuch that there ever was nighttime where the glow of lights and engines overwhelmed the stars), so that they would not miss a single happening on Republic Hill, half a planet away, their lives linked with the service mandarins and lords who presided over the galaxy.
Here, in the district surrounding the four graceful towers, the tallest within thirty kilometers, two million permanents and God knew how many itinerants lived out their lives. There were apartments like insect hives and shops, utilities and warehouses and mysterious rooms announced by old-fashioned brass plates, all honeycombed through the blocks, above which the twenty-six hundred meters of the Zoughnies towered like the apostles of wealth overlooking kneeling supplicants. Under the shadows of the towers and the bridges of airspeeders, above the darkened surface that was smothered under the skyline like water beneath oil, life had been normal, before.
Nobody needed to ask before what. For the Coruscantis there could not be a single person in existence who did not know the apocalyptic days that separated before from after, that began with the day that Garm bel Iblis put decency before desperation and refused to order his guns to fire on the helpless ones whom the Yuuzhan Vong had herded before them, and the days of fire that had followed when the government had cast itself and any who could cling along into exile, emerging at sunset beneath the thunder of orbital fire and the earth-shaking answer of the surface batteries. Before, the street oracles would say, staring into banked fires made of salvaged furnishings, we transformed from residents into fugitives.
There had followed straight days of combat, enclaves of New Republic forces and desperate citizens, firing whatever they could against the landing Vong and giving way before the flying wedges of Vong shock troops, vanishing into the underworld. Where they made brave or desperate last stands charred corpses made barricades, before which were piled the bodies of Vong infantry whom they had cut down in the last moments of their lives. Walls of transparisteel, forming the flanks of once-proud towers, showed scorches where infantry fire glanced off, craters where artillery hit, gigantic rends where crashing starfighters and air vehicles ripped through; block after block showed the decaying bodies of Vong war beasts and Republic vehicles, starships half-interred in impact craters or balancing precariously on the wreckage where they had crash-landed, and everywhere the stench of burning concrete and cremated corpses.
Before that, the wise ones said. But it would not be until later that they would decide, with the murmuring assent of street rumor, that though they formed a before, they could not constitute a basis to judge after. This was important, they said. For the inhabitants of Zoughnie Towers the days between the gradual dying of the resistance and the consolidation of their new masters were stunned days, days in a ruined limbo, with held breath and suspended thoughts. Gradually they came to the conclusion that the effort needed to swallow the world had exhausted the Vong, too, and this was strengthened by stories of a half-hearted firefight between a few surviving soldiers and a squad of Vong, before both sides vanished into the maze of buildings and were never seen again.
Those days could not count. And thus it was that after fourteen sunsets and fifteen sunrises in dreamlike suspension, time began flowing again with the arrival of a fleet of air transports in their usual driveless silence, disgorging their troops into the tall spires of the four Zoughnie Towers.
edited 2nd Aug '12 1:51:52 AM by SabresEdge